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A country often mentioned in the Nikāyas and in later literature as a mythical region. A detailed description of it is given in the Āṭānāṭiya Sutta. (D.iii.199 ff; here Uttarakuru is spoken of as a city, pura; see also Uttarakuru in Hopkins: Epic Mythology, especially p.186). The men who live there own no property nor have they wives of their own; they do not have to work for their living. The corn ripens by itself and sweet-scented rice is found boiling on hot oven-stoves. The inhabitants go about riding on cows, on men and women, on maids and youths. Their king rides on an elephant, on a horse, on celestial cars and in state palanquins. Their cities are built in the air, and among those mentioned are Āṭānāṭā, Kusinātā, Nātapuriyā, Parakusinātā, Kapīvanta, Janogha, Navanavatiya, Ambara-Ambaravatiya and Ālakamandā, the last being the chief city.

The king of Uttarakuru is Kuvera, also called Vessavaṇa, because the name of his citadel (? rājadhāni) is Visāna. His proclamations are made known by Tatolā, Tattalā, Tatotalā, Ojasi, Tejasi, Tetojasi, Sūra, Rāja, Arittha and Nemi. Mention is also made of a lake named Dharanī and a hall named Bhagalavati where the yakkhas, as the inhabitants of Uttarakuru are called, hold their assemblies.

The country is always spoken of as being to the north of Jambudīpa. It is eight thousand leagues in extent and is surrounded by the sea (DA.ii.623; BuA.113). Sometimes it is spoken of (e.g., A.i.227; v.59; SnA.ii.443) as one of the four Mahādīpā — the others being Aparagoyāna, Pubbavideha, and Jambudīpa — each being surrounded by five hundred minor islands. These four make up a Cakkavāḷa, with Mount Meru in their midst, a flat-world system. A Cakkavattī’s rule extends over all these four continents (D.ii.173; DA.ii.623) and his chief queen comes either from the race of King Madda or from Uttarakuru; in the latter case she appears before him of her own accord, urged on by her good fortune (DA.ii.626; KhA.173).

The trees in Uttarakuru bear perpetual fruit and foliage, and it also possesses a wish-fulfilling tree (kapparukkha) that lasts for a whole world-cycle (A.i.264; MA.ii.948). There are no houses in Uttarakuru, the inhabitants sleep on the earth and are called, therefore, bhūmisayā (ThagA.ii.187‑8).

The men of Uttarakuru surpass even the gods of Tāvatiṃsa in four things:

  1. they have no greed (amamā) (the people of Uttarakuru are not ambitious (acchandikā), VibhA.461),
  2. no private property (apariggahā),
  3. they have a definite term of life (niyatāyukā) (one thousand years, after which they are born in heaven, says Buddhaghosa, AA.ii.806)
  4. and they possess great elegance (visesabhuno).

They are, however, inferior to the men of Jambudīpa in courage, mindfulness and in the religious life (A.iv.396; Kvu.99).

Several instances are given of the Buddha having gone to Uttarakuru for alms. Having obtained his food there, he would go to the Anotatta lake, bathe in its waters and, after the meal, spend the afternoon on its banks (See, e.g., Vin.i.27‑8; DhsA.16; DhA.iii.222). The power of going to Uttarakuru for alms is not restricted to the Buddha; Pacceka Buddhas and various ascetics are mentioned as having visited Uttarakuru on their begging rounds (See, e.g., J.v.316; vi.100; MA.i.340; SnA.ii.420). It is considered a mark of great psychic-power to be able to do this (e.g., Rohita, SA.i.93; also Mil.84).

Jotika’s wife was a woman of Uttarakuru; she was brought to Jotika by the gods. She brought with her a single pint pot of rice and three crystals. The rice-pot was never exhausted; whenever a meal was desired, the rice was put in a boiler and the boiler set over the crystals; the heat of the crystals went out as soon as the rice was cooked. The same thing happened with curries (DhA.iv.209 ff). Food never ran short in Uttarakuru; once when there was a famine in Verañjā and the Buddha and his monks were finding it difficult to get alms, we find Moggallāna suggesting that they should go to Uttarakuru for alms (Vin.iii.7). The clothes worn by the inhabitants resembled divine robes (See, e.g., PvA.76).

It was natural for the men of Uttarakuru not to transgress virtue, they had natural virtue (pakati-sīla) (Vism.i.15).

Uttarakuru is probably identical with the Kuru country mentioned in the Rg-Veda (See Vedic Index).

2. Uttuakuru.– A garden laid out by Parakkamabāhu I. (Cv.lxxix.11).