Jetavana had been one of the most esteemed of the monasteries in India during Buddha's lifetime. The second monastery donated to Buddha, after the Veluvana in Rajagaha, Jetavana sits just outside the old city of Savatthi. Buddha gave many teachings and discourses in Jetavana, more than in any other place. Buddha spent 19 (out of 45) rainy-seasons (also pansah or vassa) at Jetavana, more than any other monastery.12 After the Migāramātupāsāda (a second monastery erected at Pubbarama, close to Savatthi) had been established, the Buddha would dwell alternately in Jetavana and Migāramātupāsāda, often spending the day in one and the night in the other.13

Donation of Jetavana

Buddhist monks meditating under the Anandabodhi tree, Jetavana Monastery.

When the Buddha accepted Anāthapindika's invitation to visit Sāvatthi, Anāthapindika, seeking a suitable place for the Buddha's residence, discovered a park belonging to Jetakumāra. 14 When he asked to be allowed to buy it, Jeta replied: "Not even if you could cover the whole place with money." Anāthapindika said that he would buy it at that price, and when Jeta answered that he had had no intention of making a bargain, the matter went before the Lords of Justice, who decided that if the price mentioned were paid, Anāthapindika had the right of purchase.

Anāthapindika had gold brought down in carts and covered Jetavana with pieces laid side by side. A bas-relief at the Bharhut Tope illustrates that incident.15 The money brought in the first journey proved insufficient to cover one small spot near the gateway. So Anāthapindika sent his servants back for more, but Jeta, inspired by Anāthapindika's earnestness, offered to give that spot. Anāthapindika agreed and Jeta erected a gateway, with a room over it, there. Anāthapindika built in the grounds dwelling rooms, retiring rooms, store rooms and service halls, halls with fireplaces, closets, cloisters, halls for exercise, wells, bathrooms, ponds, and open and roofed sheds.16 MA.i.50; UdA.56f states that Anāthapindika paid 18 crores for the purchase of the site, all of which Jeta spent in the construction of the gateway gifted by him. (The gateway was evidently an imposing structure)17). Jeta gave, besides, many valuable trees for timber. Anāthapindika himself spent 54 crores in connection with the purchase of the park and the buildings erected in it.

The ceremony of dedication was one of great splendor. Not only Anāthapindika himself, but his whole family took part. His son with 500 other youths, his wife with 500 other noble women, and his daughters Mahā Subhaddā and Cūla Subhaddā with 500 other maidens attended. Five hundred bankers accompanied Anāthapindika. The festivities in connection with the dedication lasted for nine months.18

The vihāra has been typically referred to as Jetavane Anāthapindikassa ārāma (Pali, meaning: in Jeta Grove, Anathapindika's Monastery). The Commentaries 19 state that this was deliberate20 that the names of both earlier and later owners might be recorded and that people might be reminded of two men, both very generous in the cause of the religion, so that others might follow their example. The vihāra is sometimes referred to as Jetārāma. 21

Description of ancient Jetavana

Inside Jetavana

Stupa of Angulimala.

Some of the chief buildings attached to the Jetavana have mentioned by name, viz., Mahāgandhakuti, Kaverimandalamāla, Kosambakuti and Candanamāla.22 Some detached buildings have also been mentioned - e.g., the Ambalakotthaka-āsanasālā.23 According to Tibetan sources, the devas of Tusita planned the vihāra which contained 60 large halls and 60 small halls. The Dulva also gives details of the decorative scheme of the vihāra. Anāthapindika built all of those. Pasenadi constructed Salalaghara, another large building.24 A guardian deity had been placed over the gateway to prevent evildoers from entering the grounds.25 A rājayatana-tree, the residence of the god Samiddhisumana, stood just outside the monastery.26 Jetavanapokkharanī, a large pond, may have been on the grounds.27

The grounds themselves were a wooded grove (arañña).28 A mango-grove stood on the outskirts of the monastery.29 Anāthapindika planted the Bodhi-tree, Anandabodhi, in front of the gateway.30 A cave, which became famous as the Kapallapūvapabbhāra on account of an incident connected with Macchariyakosiya, lay close by the gateway.31 According to the Divyāvadāna,32 the thūpas of Sāriputta and Moggallāna were on the grounds of Jetavana and existed until the time of Asoka. Both Fa Hien and Houien Thsang give descriptions of other incidents connected with the Buddha, which took place in the neighbourhood of Jetavana - e.g., the murder of Sundarikā, the calumny of Ciñcā, and Devadatta's attempt to poison the Buddha, among others.

The Gandhakuti: Buddha's dwelling in Jetavana

Scene in Jetavana, showing some small stupas.

The space covered by the four bedposts of the Buddha's Gandhakuti in Jetavana is one of the four avijahitatthānāni. All Buddhas possess the same, though the size of the actual vihāra differs in the case of the various Buddhas. For Vipassī Buddha, the setthi Punabbasumitta built a monastery extends for a whole league, while for Sikhī, the setthi Sirivaddha made one covering three gavutas. The Sanghārāma built by Sotthiya for Vessabhū measured half a league in extent, while that erected by Accuta for Kakusandha covered only one gāvuta. Konagamana's monastery, built by the setthi Ugga, extended for half a gāvuta, while Kassapa's built by Sumangala covered sixteen karīsas. Anāthapindika's monastery covered a space of 18 karīsas.33

According to a description given by Fa Hien,34 the vihāra originally had seven sections or stories, filled with various offerings, embroidered banners, and canopies. Lamps burnt from dusk to dawn. One day a rat, holding in its mouth a lamp wick, set fire to the banners and canopies, destroying entirely the seven sections or stories. The vihāra was later rebuilt in two sections. Two main entrances, one on the east, one on the west, were built. Fa Hsien found thūpas erected at the places connected with the Buddha, each with its name inscribed.

Near Jetavana

Near Jetavana is a monastery of the heretics where Ciñcāmānavikā spent her nights hatching her conspiracy against the Buddha. 35 Once the heretics bribed Pasenadi to let them make a rival settlement behind Jetavana, but the Buddha frustrated their plans.36 There seems to have been a playground just outside Jetavana used by the children of the neighborhood, who, when thirsty, would go into Jetavana to drink.37 The high road to Sāvatthi passed by the edge of Jetavana, and travelers would enter the park to rest and refresh themselves.38


  • Anandabodhi tree in Jetavana monastery.

  • Scene in Jetavana.

  • City walls of Sravasti, with ancient city gate.

See Also

  • Bodhi Tree (Bo tree)
  • Mahajanapadas
  • Sacred fig
  • Borobudur
  • Monastery


  1. ↑ SNA.i.300; PSA. 367
  2. ↑ Sp.iii.614
  3. ↑ SNA.i.371
  4. ↑ SN.vss.1011 13
  5. ↑ S.iv.374
  6. ↑ DhA.iv.40
  7. ↑ DhA.i.330
  8. ↑ KS.v.xviii
  9. ↑ DhA.i.4
  10. ↑ DhA.iii.205; cf. Mtu.iii.115; J.i.88
  11. ↑ Beal, ii.1 13
  12. ↑ DhA.i.3; BuA.3; AA.i.314
  13. ↑ SNA.i.336
  14. ↑ MA.i.471 puts it to the south of Sāvatthi
  15. ↑ Alexander Cunningham and Vasudeva S. Agarwala. The Stūpa of Bharhut: a buddhist monument ornamented with numerous sculptures illustr. of buddhist legend and history in the 3. century B.C.E. (Werke Complete works, 4. Varanasi: Indological Book House, 1962- ), Pl.lvii., 84-86.
  16. ↑ Vin.ii.158f
  17. ↑ J.ii.216
  18. ↑ J.i.92ff
  19. ↑ MA.ii.50; UdA.56f, etc.
  20. ↑ at the Buddha's own suggestion, 81-131
  21. ↑ Ap.i.400
  22. ↑ SNA.ii.403
  23. ↑ J.ii.246
  24. ↑ DA.ii.407
  25. ↑ SA.i.239
  26. ↑ Mhv.i.52f; MT 105; but see DhA.i.41, where the guardian of the gateway is called Sumana
  27. ↑ AA.i.264; Here the Buddha often bathed; J.i.329ff. That may have been the Pubbakotthaka referred to at A.iii.345. See S.v.220 for contradictory evidence. Devadatta swallowed up in Avīci near that pond (J.iv.158)).
  28. ↑ Sp.iii.532
  29. ↑ J.iii.137
  30. ↑ J.iv.228f
  31. ↑ J.i.348
  32. ↑ Dvy.395f
  33. ↑ BuA.2, 47; J.i.94; DA.ii.424
  34. ↑ Giles, 31, 33
  35. ↑ DhA.iii.179; Behind Jetavana was a spot where the Ajivakas practiced their austerities (J.i.493)
  36. ↑ J.ii.170
  37. ↑ DhA.iii.492
  38. ↑ J.ii.203, 341; see also vi.70


  • Ahir, D. C. Sravasti: where the Buddha spent 25 retreats. Delhi: Buddhist World Press, 2009. ISBN 9788190638852.
  • Cunningham, Alexander. Reports of operations of the archæological surveyer to the Government of India during the seasons of 1861-1865. 1864. OCLC 35669966.
  • __________, and Vasudeva S. Agarwala. The Stūpa of Bharhut: a buddhist monument ornamented with numerous sculptures illustr. of buddhist legend and history in the 3. century B.C.E. Cunningham: Werke Complete works, 4. Varanasi: Indological Book House, 1962. OCLC 252284930.
  • Law, Bimala Charan. Śrāvastī in Indian literature. (Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India, 50). Delhi: Swati Publ., 1991. OCLC 255895081.
  • Sahni, Daya Ram, and Daya Ram Sahni. "A Buddhist image inscription from 'Srāvastī." 1909. OCLC 79844691.
  • Sinha, Krishna K. Excavations of Sravasti, 1959. Varanasi: Banaras Hindu University, 1967. OCLC 693627.
  • Venkataramayya, M. Śrāvastī. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1981. OCLC 11828579.
  • Vogel, Jean Philippe. The site of Sravasti. London: University of London. Royal Asiatic society, 1908. OCLC 236130631.

External links

All links retrieved October 19, 2015.

  • Entry on Savatthi in the Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names
  • Entry on Jetavana in the Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names
  • Suttas spoken by Gautama Buddha concerning Sravasti: (more)
  1. Angulimala Sutta - About Angulimala
  2. Maha-Rahulovada Sutta - The Greater Exhortation to Rahula"
  • Suttas spoken by Gautama Buddha concerning Jetavana: (more)
  1. Potthapada Sutta - About Potthapada
  2. Bhaya-bherava Sutta - Fear & Terror"