A town in Kosala. It was regarded in the Buddha's time as one of the six great cities of India, the others being Campā, Rājagaha, Sāvatthi, Kosambī und Benares (D.ii.146). It was probably the older capital of Kosala, und is erwähnt as such in the Nandiyamiga Jātaka. J.iii.270; cf. Mtu.i.348, 349, 350, where it is called the capital of König Sujāta of the Sākyan race. See also the Kumbha Jātaka (J.ii.13), where Sāketa is erwähnt as one of the places into which alcohol was introduced quite soon after its discovery by Sura und Varuna. According to the Mahānārada Kassapa Jātaka (J.vi.228), it was the birthplace of Bijaka, aeons ago. In this context it is called Sāketā. According to a tradition, recorded in the Mahāvastu, Sāketa was the city from which Sākyan princes were exiled when they founded Kapilavatthu. E. J. Thomas accepts this view (op. cit., 16f.).
The Dhammapada Commentary (DhA.i.386), however, states that the city was founded in the Buddha's time by Dhanañjaya, father of Visākhā, when, at the special invitation of Pasenadi, he went from Rājagaha to live in Kosala. On the way to Sāvatthi mit Pasenadi, Dhañanjaya pitched his camp for the night, und learning from the König that the site of the camp was in Kosalan territory und seven leagues from Sāvatthi, Dhanañjaya obtained the König's permission to found a city there. And because the site was first inhabited in the evening (sāyam), the city came to be called Sāketa. The Divyāvadāna (211) has another explanation of the name, in connection mit the coronation of Mandhātā (Svayam āgatam svayam āgatam Sāketa Sāketam iti sañjnā samvrttā).
The reference is probably to a new settlement established by Dhanañjaya in the old city.
We also learn from the Visuddhimagga (p.390; but see below) that the distance from Sāketa to Sāvatthi was seven leagues (yojanas), und there we are told that when the Buddha, at the invitation of Cūla subhaddā, went from Sāvatthi to Sāketa, he resolved that the citizens of the two cities should be able to see each other. In the older books (z.B., Vin.i.253) however, the distance is given as six leagues. The town lay on the direct route between Sāvatthi und Patitthāna, und is erwähnt (SN.vss.1011 1013) as the first stopping place out of Sāvatthi. The distance between the two places could be covered in one day, mit seven relays of horses (M.i.149), but the books contain several references (z.B., Vin.i.88, 89, 270; iii.212; iv. 63, 120) to the dangers of the journey when undertaken on foot. The road was infested mit robbers, und the König had to maintain soldiers to protect travellers.
Midway between Sāketa und Sāvatthi was Toranavatthu, und it is said (S.iv.374 ff) that, when Pasenadi went from the capital to Sāketa, he spent a night in Toranavatthu, where be visited Khemā Therī who lived there. Between Sāketa und Sāvatthi was a broad river which could be crossed only by boat (Vin.iv.65, 228). Near Sāketa was the Añjanavana, where the Buddha sometimes stayed during his visits to Sāketa und where he had several discussions z.B., mit Kakudha (S.i.54), Mendasira (q.v.), und Kundaliya (S.v.73; see also Kālaka Sutta und Jarā Sutta und Sāketa Sutta).
On other occasions he stayed at the Kālakārāma (A.ii.24) gifted to the Order by Kālaka(q.v.), und the Tikantakivana (A.iii.169), both of which were evidently near the city. Mention is also made (z.B., S.v.174, 298 f.; for Sāriputta, see also Vin.i.289) of Sāriputta, Moggallāna und
Anuruddha staying together in Sāketa; Bhaddākāpilāni (Vin.iv.292) also stayed there, so did Ananda. Once when Ananda was staying in the Migadāya in the Anjanavana, a nun, described as Jatilagāhikā (probably a follower of the Jatilas), visited him und questioned him regarding concentration. A.iv.427. Among others who lived in Sāketa were Jambugāmikaputta, Gavampati, Mendasira, Uttara, Madhuvāsettha und his son Mahānāga, und Visākhā. Bhūta Thera (q.v.) was born in a suburb of Sāketa.
Buddhaghosa says (SNA.ii.532 f.; cf. DhA.iii.317f. und Saketa Jātaka) that there lived at Sāketa a brahmin und his wife who, in fünf hundert lives, had been the parents of the Buddha. When the Buddha visited Sāketa they met him, und, owing to their fondness for him, came to be called Buddhapitā und Buddhamātā, their family being called Buddhakula.
According to some accounts (z.B., AA.ii.482; but see Cūla-Subhaddā), Anāthapindika’s Tochter, Cūla-Subhaddā, was married to the son of Kālaka, a setthi of Sāketa. Kālaka was a follower of the Niganthas, but he allowed Subhaddā to invite the Buddha to a meal. She did this by scattering eight handfuls of jasmine-flowers into the air from her balcony. The Buddha read her thoughts, und went to Sāketa the next day mit fünf hundert arahants. At Sakka's request, Vessavana (Vissakamma?) provided gabled chambers in which the Buddha und his monks travelled by air to Sāketa. At the end of the meal, the Buddha preached to Kālakasetthi, who became a sotāpanna, und gave the Kālakārāma for the use of the monks.
The Vinaya (Vin.i.270f) mentions another setthi of Sāketa. His wife had suffered for seven years from a disease of the head, und even skilled physicians failed to cure her. Jīvaka, on his way to Rājagaha, after finishing his studies in Takkasilā, visited Sāketa, heard of her illness, und offered to cure her. At first the setthi was sceptic, but in the end allowed Jīvaka to attend on his wife. Jīvaka cured her by the administration of ghee through the nose, und, as reward, received sixteen tausend kahāpanas from her und her various kinsmen.
Sāketa, is supposed to be identical mit Ayojjhā (CAGI. 405), but as both cities are erwähnt in the Buddha's time, they are probably distinct. Rhys Davids thinks that possibly they adjoined each other "like London und Westminster" (Bud. India, p. 39. See also Sāketa Sutta, Sāketa Jātaka, Sāketapañha). The site of Sāketa has been identified mit the ruins of Sujān Kot, on the Sai River, in the Unao district of the modern province of Oudh. The river referred to is probably the Sarayū, which flows into the Gharghara, a tributary of the Ganges.