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Dictionary of Pali Proper Names

by G.P. Malalasekera, D.Litt., Ph.D., M.A. (Lond.), O.B.E.

The Pali Text Society
No copyright

Koliya, Koliya

One of the republican clans in the time of the Buddha. The Koliya owned two chief settlements - one at Ramagama and the other at Devadaha. The Commentaries[1] contain accounts of the origin of the Koliyas. We are told that a king of Benares, named Rama,[2] suffered from leprosy, and being detested by the women of the court, he left the kingdom to his eldest son and retired into the forest. There, living on woodland leaves and fruits, he soon recovered, and, while [690] wandering aboüt, came across Piya, the eldest of the five daughters of Okkaka, she herself being afflicted with leprosy. Rama, having cured her, married her, and they begot thirty-two sons. With the help of the king of Benares, they built a town in the forest, removing a big kola-tree in doing so. The city thereupon came to be called Kolanagara, and because the site was discovered on a tiger-track (vyagghapatha) it was also called Vyagghapajja. The descendants of the king were known as Koliya. According to the Kunala Jataka,[3] when the Sakyans wished to abuse the Koliyans, they said that the Koliyans had once "lived like animals in a Kola-tree," as their name signified. The territories of the Sakyans and the Koliyans were adjacent, separated by the river Rohini. The khattiyas of both tribes intermarried,[4] and both claimed relationship with the Buddha. A quarrel once arose between the two tribes regarding the right to the waters of the Rohini, which irrigated the land on both sides, and a bloody feud was averted only by the intervention of the Buddha. In gratitude, each tribe dedicated some of its young men to the membership of the Order, and during the Buddha’s stay in the neighbourhood, he lived alternately in Kapilavatthu and in Koliyanagara.[5]

Attached probably to the Koliyan central authorities, was a special body of officials, presumably police, who wore a distinguishing headdress with a drooping crest (Lambaculakabhata). They bore a bad reputation for extortion and violence.[6]

Besides the places aheady mentioned, several other townships of the Koliyans, visited by the Buddha or by his disciples, are mentioned in literature - e.g., Uttara, the residence of the headman Pataliya[7]; Sajjanela, residence of Suppavasa[8]; Sapuga, where Ananda once stayed[9]; kakkarapatta, where lived Dighajanu[10]; and Haliddavasana, residence of the ascetics Punna Koliyaputta and Seniya.[11] Nisabha,[12] Kakudha[13] (attendant of Moggallana), and Kankha-Revata[14] (and perhaps Sona Kolivisa, q.v.), were also Koliyans.

After the Buddha’s death the Koliyans of Ramagama claimed and obtained one-eighth of the Buddha’s relics, over which they erected a thupa.[15] See also s.v. Suppavasa.

 


[1] DA. i. 260 f.; SNA. i. 356 f.; A. ii. 558; ThagA. i. 546; also Ap. i. 94.

[2] The Mtu (i. 353) calls him Kola and explains from this the name of the Koliyas.

[3] J. v. 413.

[4] It is said that once the Koliyan youths carried away many Sakyan maidens while they were bathing, but the Sakyans, regarding the Koliyans as relatives, took no action. (DA. i. 262.)

[5] For details of this quarrel and its consequences see J. v. 412 ff.; DA. ii. 672 ff.; DhA. iii. 254 ff.

[6] S. iv. 341.

[7] Ibid., 340.

[8] A. ii. 62.

[9] Ibid., 194.

[10] A. iv. 281.

[11] M. i. 387; see also S. v. 115.

[12] ThagA. i. 318.

[13] SA. i. 89.

[14] Ap. ii. 491.

[15] D. ii. 167; Mhv. xxi. 18, 22 ff.

 


 

References:

AN 4.194


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