This article is about the ancient Shakya Republic. For various communities using Shakya surname, see shakya (disambiguation).
Religion Historical Vedic religion, Śramaṇa movements
Caste Kshatriya
Vansh Suryavansha
Descended from: Ikshvaku, the grandson of Vivasvan (Surya)
Ruled in Kapilavastu
Gautama Buddha, called Shakyamuni "sage of the Shakyas", the most famous Shakya. Seated bronze from Tibet, 11th century.

The Shakya were a clan of the Vedic period (1750500 BCE). The name Śākya is derived from the Sanskrit word śakya, which means "the one who is capable".

The Shakyas formed an independent republican state known as the Śākya Gaṇarājya. The Shakya capital was Kapilavastu, which may have been located either in Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, India.[1][2][3]

The best-known Shakya was the prince Siddhartha (5th century BCE), who was the founder of Buddhism and came to be known as Gautama Buddha. Siddhartha was the son of Śuddhodana, the elected leader of Shakya Republic. Because Gautama Buddha founded a new religion and abdicated the throne, the lineage continued with his son Rāhula.


The accounts of Buddhist texts

The Shakyas are mentioned in later Buddhist texts as well, including the Mahāvastu (c. late 2nd century BCE), Mahāvaṃsa and Sumaṅgalavilāsinī (c. 5th century CE), mostly in the accounts of the birth of the Buddha, as a part of the Adichchabandhus (kinsmen of the sun)[4] or the Ādichchas and as descendants of the legendary king Ikshvaku.

There lived once upon a time a king of the Śākya, a scion of the solar race, whose name was Suddhodana. He was pure in conduct, and beloved of the Śākya like the autumn moon. He had a wife, splendid, beautiful, and steadfast, who was called the Great Maya, from her resemblance to Maya the Goddess.
Buddhacarita of Aśvaghoṣa, I.1–2

The Buddhist Mahavamsa (II, 1–24) traces the origin of the Shakyas to king Ikshvaku and gives their genealogy from Maha Sammata, an ancestor of Ikshvaku . This list comprises the names of a number of prominent kings of the Ikshvaku dynasty, which include Mandhata and Sagara.[4] According to this text, Okkamukha was the eldest son of Ikshvaku. Sivisamjaya and Sihassara were the son and grandson of Okkamukha. King Sihassara had eighty-two thousand sons and grandsons, who were together known as the Shakyas. The youngest son of Sihassara was Jayasena. Jayasena had a son, Sihahanu, and a daughter, Yashodhara (not to be confused with prince Siddhartha's wife), who was married to Devadahasakka. Devadahasakka had two daughters, Anjana and Kaccana. Sihahanu married Kaccana, and they had five sons and two daughters; Suddhodana was one of them. Suddhodana had two queens, Maya and Prajapati, both daughters of Anjana. Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) was the son of Suddhodana and Maya. Rahula was the son of Siddhartha and Yashodara (also known as Bhaddakaccana), daughter of Suppabuddha and granddaughter of Añjana.[5]

Map of Mahajanapadas with Shakya republic next to Shravasti and Kosala.

Shakya administration

According to the Mahāvastu and the Lalitavistara Sūtra, the seat of the Shakya administration was the santhagara ("assembly hall") at Kapilavastu. A new building for the Shakya santhagara was constructed at the time of Gautama Buddha, which was inaugurated by him. The highest administrative authority was the sidharth , comprising 500 members, which met in the santhagara to transact any important business. The Shakya Parishad was headed by an elected raja, who presided over the meetings.[4]

Annexation by Kosala

Virudhaka, son of Pasenadi and Vāsavakhattiyā, the daughter of a Shakya named Mahānāma by a slave girl, ascended the throne of Kosala after overthrowing his father. As an act of vengeance for cheating Kosala by sending his mother, the daughter of a slave woman, for marriage to his father, he invaded the Shakya territory, massacred them and annexed it.[6][7]

Claimed descents

According to Hmannan Yazawin, first published in 1823, the legendary king Abhiyaza, who founded the Tagaung Kingdom and the Burmese monarchy belonged to the same Shakya clan of the Buddha.[8] He migrated to the present-day Burma after the annexation of the Shakya kingdom by Kosala. The earlier Burmese accounts stated that he was a descendant of Pyusawhti, son of a solar spirit and a dragon princess.[9]

See also


  1. Srivastava, K.M. (1980), "Archaeological Excavations at Priprahwa and Ganwaria and the Identification of Kapilavastu", Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 3 (1): 108
  2. Tuladhar, Swoyambhu D. (November 2002), "The Ancient City of Kapilvastu - Revisited" (PDF), Ancient Nepal (151): 1–7
  3. Huntington, John C (1986), "Sowing the Seeds of the Lotus" (PDF), Orientations, September 1986: 54–56, archived from the original (PDF) on Nov 28, 2014
  4. 1 2 3 Law, BC. (1973). Tribes in Ancient India, Bhandarkar Oriental Series No.4, Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, pp. 245–56.
  5. Misra, VS (2007). Ancient Indian Dynasties, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ISBN 81-7276-413-8, pp. 285–6.
  6. Raychaudhuri H. (1972). Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, pp.177-8
  7. Kosambi D.D. (1988). The Culture and Civilsation of Ancient India in Historical Outline, New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, ISBN 0-7069-4200-0, pp.128-9
  8. Hla Pe, U (1985). Burma: Literature, Historiography, Scholarship, Language, Life, and Buddhism. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 57. ISBN 978-9971-98-800-5.
  9. Lieberman, Victor B. (2003). Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, volume 1, Integration on the Mainland. Cambridge University Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-521-80496-7.


External links

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