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Aṅga

1. Aṅga.– (See also Aṅgā) One of the stock list of the sixteen Powers or Great Countries (Mahājanapadā), mentioned in the Tipiṭaka.¹ The countries mentioned are Aṅga, Magadha, Kāsī, Kosala, Vajji, Mallā, Cetī, Vaṃsā, Kuru, Pañcāla, Macchā, Sūrasena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhāra, and Kamboja. Other similar lists occur elsewhere.² It was to the east of Magadha, from which it was separated by the River Campā, and had as its capital city Campā, near the modern Bhagalpur.³ Other cities mentioned are Bhaddiya ⁴ and Assapura.⁵

The country is generally referred to by the name of its people, the Aṅgā, though occasionally ⁶ the name Aṅgaraṭṭha is used. In the Buddha’s time it was subject to Magadha,⁷ whose king Bimbisāra was, we are told, held in esteem also by the people of Aṅga,⁸ and the people of the two countries evidently used to pay frequent visits to each other.⁹ We never hear of its having regained its former independence, and traditions of war between the two countries are mentioned.¹⁰

In the Buddha’s time the Aṅgarājā was just a wealthy nobleman, and he is mentioned merely as having granted a pension to a Brahmin.¹¹

The people of Aṅga and Magadha are generally mentioned together, so we may gather that by the Buddha’s time they had become one people. They provide Uruvela-Kassapa with offerings for his great sacrifice.¹² It was their custom to offer an annual sacrifice to Mahā-Brahmā in the hope of gaining reward a hundred thousand fold. On one occasion Sakka appears in person and goes with them to the Buddha so that they may not waste their energies in futile sacrifices.¹³

Several discourses were taught in the Aṅga country, among them being the Sonadanda Sutta and the Cūḷa° and Mahā Assapura Suttas. The Mahāgovinda Sutta seems to indicate that once, in the past, Dhataraṭṭha was king of Aṅga. However, this perhaps refers to another country.¹⁴ Soṇa Koḷivisa, before he entered the Order, was a squire (paddhagu) of Aṅga.¹⁵

¹ E.g., A.i.213; iv.252, 256, 260.

² E.g. D.ii.200 (where ten countries are mentioned); see also Mtu.i.34 and i.198; and Lal.24(22)

³ Cunningham, pp.546‑7. ⁴ DA.i.279; DhA.i.384. ⁵ M.i.271.

E.g., DhA.i.384. ⁷ ThagA.i.548. ⁸ MA.i.394. ⁹ J.ii.211.

¹⁰ E.g., J.iv.454; J.v.316; J.vi.271. ¹¹ M.ii.163. ¹² Vin.i.27. ¹³ SA.i.269‑70.

¹⁴ Dial.ii.270 n; see also The Rāmāyana i.8, 9, 17, 25. ¹⁵ Thag.v.632.

2. Aṅga. King.– Chief lay supporter of Sumana Buddha (BuA.130); the Buddhavaṃsa mentions Varuṇa and Saraṇa as Sumana’s leading attendant (aggupaṭṭhākā) and Udena as his attendant (upaṭṭhāka). Bu.v.28.

3. Aṅga.– A king of Bārāṇasī on whose feet hair grew. He inquired of the brahmins the way to heaven, and was told to retire to the forest and tend the sacred fire. He went to Himavā with many cows and women and did as he was counselled. The milk and ghee left over from his sacrifices were thrown away, and from them arose many minor rivers, the Gaṅgā itself, and even the sea. Later he became Indra’s companion. J.vi.203

4. Aṅga.– King of the Aṅga country, between whom and King Magadha there was constant war, with varying fortunes. In the end, Magadha, with the help of the Nāga king Campeyya, seized Aṅga and slew him. J.iv.453.

5. Aṅga.– One of the Pacceka Buddhas mentioned in the list in the Apadāna Commentary. ApA.i.107.

6. Aṅgā.– Chieftains of Aṅga, so called, according to the Dīghanikāya Commentary (DA.i.279), because of the beauty of their limbs. Their name was customarily (rūḷhi-vasena) used to denote their country.

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