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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Vanavasa (वनवास) or Vanavasi (वनवासी) refers to a country mentioned in Mahabharata and Mahavansha. It is probably Northern Kanara in Karnataka.




A district, probably Northern Kanara, in South India. After the Third Council, Rakkhita Thera was sent there to convert the people, and he preached the Anamatagga Samyutta poised in mid air. It is said that sixty thousand persons embraced the faith, thirty seven thousand joined the Order, while fifty viharas were established in the country.[1][2]

Mhv.xii.4, 30f.; Sp.i.63 66; Dpv.viii.6. The Vanavasi are mentioned in the Mahabharata (6. 366) and the Harivamsa (5232) as a people of S. India. The Sas (p.12) also mentions a county called Vanavasi, which, however, is the country round Prome in Lower Burma.[3]


Banavasi is an ancient temple town in Sirsi, Uttara Kannada in the South Indian state of Karnataka. Banavasi was the ancient capital of the Kannada empire Kadamba who ruled entire Karnataka state. They were the first native empire to give prominence to Kannada and Karnataka.

Banavasi is the oldest town in the Karnataka state.[4] It has grown up around the Madhukeshwara Temple built in the 9th century and dedicated to Shiva.[5] Coin of the Kadamba king who calls himself on the coin "sri dosharashi," thought to be Krishnavarma II (ruled c. 516-540). The reverse of the coin has the legend shashanka, which means "moon." The Kannada letters and another coin can be seen in the entry for Kadambas of Banavasi.

5th-century copper coin was discovered here with an inscription in the Kannada script, one of the oldest such coins ever discovered.[6]

The town once was the capital of the Kadamba rulers, an ancient royal dynasty of Karnataka.[7] They established themselves there in A.D. 345 and ruled South India for at least two centuries.[8]

Banavasi contains some of the oldest architectural monuments in southern India.

In Mahavansa

Mahavansa/Chapter 29 mentions about The Obtaining of the Wherewithal to build the Great Thupa.....From various (foreign) countries also did many bhikkhus come hither. ...The great thera Candagutta came hither from the Vanavasa country with eighty thousand ascetics.

Mahavansa/Chapter 12 mentions about The Converting of Different Countries. ....When the thera Moggaliputta had brought the (third) Buddhist council to an end and when, looking into the future, he had beheld the founding of the religion in adjacent countries, (then) in the month Kattika he sent forth theras, one here and one there.....To Vanaväsa he sent the thera named Rakkhita.

In Mahabharata

Vanavasi (वनवासी) is mentioned in Mahabharata (II.28.47), (VI.10.57)

Sabha Parva, Mahabharata/Book II Chapter 28 mentions Sahadeva's victory march towards south: kings and tribes defeated. Vanavasi (वनवासी) is mentioned in Mahabharata (II.28.47). [9].....The high-souled warrior (Sahadeva), having brought under subjection king Timingila, conquered a Ekapadas, the Purushas, the Kevalas, the Vanavasis. The son of Pandu also conquered the town of Sanjayanti and the country of the Pashandas (Pichchhanda) and the Karahatakas by means of his messengers alone, and made all of them pay tributes to him.

Bhisma Parva, Mahabharata/Book VI Chapter 10 describes geography and provinces of Bharatavarsha. Vanavasi (वनवासी) is mentioned in the list of Provinces in south in Mahabharata (VI.10.57). [10].....There are other kingdoms, O bull of Bharata's race, in the south. They are the Dravidas, the Keralas, the Prachyas, the Mushikas, and the Vanavasis; the Unnatyakas, the Mahishakas, the Vikalpas, and also the Mushakas; (VI.10.57).

वनवास = वनवासी

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[11] ने लेख किया है .....वनवास अथवा वनवासी नामक (AS, p.831): एक प्रदेश का उल्लेख बौद्ध ग्रन्थ महावंश 12, 4 में हुआ है, जिसका अभिज्ञान वर्तमान मैसूर के उत्तरी भाग (उत्तर कनारा) से किया गया है। इस उल्लेख से जान पड़ता है कि मौर्य शासक अशोक के शासन काल में मोग्गलीपुत्र ने रक्षित नामक एक स्थविर को बौद्ध धर्म के प्रचारार्थ यहाँ भेजा था।

महाभारत में सम्भवत: इसी प्रदेश के निवासियों को वनवासी कहा गया है- 'तिमिंगलं च स नृपं वशेकृत्वा महामतिः, एकपादांश्च पुरुषान, केरलान् वनवासिनः।' महाभारत, सभापर्व 31, 69 वायुपुराण 45, 125 और हरिवंशपुराण 95 में भी इस प्रदेश का उल्लेख है। वनवासी या वनवास जनपद का उल्लेख शातकर्णी नरेशों (द्वितीय शती ई.) के अभिलेखों में भी है। यहाँ इन आंध्र राजाओं के अमात्य का मुख्य स्थान था। वनवास प्रदेश का वर्णन 'दशकुमारचरित' के 8वें उच्छ्वास में भी आया है। बृहत्संहिता (14,12) में वनवासी को दक्षिण में स्थित बताया गया है।

External links


  1. Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
  4. Kamat, Jyotsna (6 August 2006). "Ancient City of Banavasi". Archived from the original on 20 August 2006.
  5. "Banavasi- 'Kadambothsav'".
  6. "5th century copper coin discovered at Banavasi". Deccan Herald.
  7. Kamat, Jyotsna (5 August 2006). "Kadambas of Banavasi".
  8. "South Indian Coins - The Kadambas of Hangal"
  9. एकपादांश च पुरुषान केवलान वनवासिनः, नगरीं संजयन्तीं च पिच्छण्डं करहाटकम, दूतैर एव वशे चक्रे करं चैनान अथापयत (II.28.47)
  10. द्रविडाः केरलाः पराच्या भूषिका वनवासिनः, उन्नत्यका माहिषका विकल्पा मूषकास तदा (VI.10.57)
  11. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.831