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Religion Vedic
Caste Kshatriya
Vansh Suryavansha
Descended from: Ikshvaku, the grandson of Vivasvan (Surya)
Ruled in Kapilavastu
Shakyamuni Buddha, the most famous of the Shakyas. Seated bronze from the Tibet, 11th century.

Shakya[1] is a clan of the ancient Vedic period (1750–500 BCE). The name is derived from the Sanskrit word śakya which means 'the one who is capable'.

The Shakyas formed an independent republican state, known as Sakya Gaṇa-rajya. The Shakya capital was Kapilavastu which may be located either in Tilaurakot, present day Nepal or Piprahwa, India.[2][page needed][3][4][5]

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


The accounts of Buddhist texts

The Śākyas 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)[6] or the Ādichchas (solar race or Suryavansh) and as descendants of the legendary king Ikṣvāku (Pāli: Okkāka)

There lived once upon a time a king of the Śākya, a scion of the solar race, whose name was Śuddhodana. 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 Māyā, from her resemblance to Māyā the Goddess.

Buddhacarita of Aśvaghoṣa, I.1–2

The Buddhist text Mahavamsa (II, 1–24) traces the origin of the Sakyas (Śākyas) to king Okkaka (Ikshvaku) and gives their genealogy from Mahasammata, an ancestor of Okkaka. This list comprises the names of a number of prominent kings of the Ikshvaku dynasty, which include Mandhata and Sagara.[6] According to this text, Okkamukha was the eldest son of Okkaka. 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 Sakyas. 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 Anjana.[7]

The Brahmin lineage

The Shakya clan belonged to the Gautama gotra of Brahmins.[8][9]

The Shakya clan, even though a Kshatriya clan, traces its lineage from Maharishi Gautam, one of the great seven rishis or Saptrishi.[8][10]

This is the reason why Buddha is known as Gautama Buddha.[11]

Shakya administration

Kapilavastu is located in India
Location of Kapilavastu in South Asia

According to the Mahāvastu and the Lalitavistara, the seat of the Shakya administration was the saṃsthāgāra (Pali:santhāgāra) (assembly hall) at Kapilavastu. A new building for the Shakya samsthagara 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 samsthagara to transact any important business. The Shakya Parishad was headed by an elected raja, who presided over the meetings.[6]

Annexation by Kosala

Vidaḍūbha, the son of Pasenadi and Vāsavakhattiyā, the daughter of a Śākya 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 Śākya territory, massacred them and annexed it.[12][13]

Claimed descents

According to Hmannan Yazawin, first published in 1823, the legendary king Abhiraja, who founded the Kingdom of Tagaung and the Burmese monarchy belonged to the same Shakya clan of the Buddha.[14] 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.[15]

See also


  1. ^ per J. F. Fleet, "The Inscription on the Piprawa Vase", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, in Pāli, "Sākiya" is used primarily to refer to people of Shakya in general; "Sakka", primarily to the Shakya country as well as to its noble families; and "Sakya", primarily to members of the Buddhist order.
  2. ^ Warder, AK (2000). Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 
  3. ^ Srivastava, K.M. (1980), "Archaeological Exvacations at Priprahwa and Ganwaria and the Identification of Kapilavastu", Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 3 (1): 108 
  4. ^ Tuladhar, Swoyambhu D. (November 2002), "The Ancient City of Kapilvastu - Revisited" (PDF), Ancient Nepal (151): 1–7 
  5. ^ 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 
  6. ^ a b c Law, BC. (1973). Tribes in Ancient India, Bhandarkar Oriental Series No.4, Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, pp. 245–56.
  7. ^ Misra, VS (2007). Ancient Indian Dynasties, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ISBN 81-7276-413-8, pp. 285–6.
  8. ^ a b The Indian Encyclopaedia (GOOGLE BOOKS), p. 2677 .
  9. ^ Thakur, Amarnath, Buddha and Buddhist Synods in India and Abroad (GBOOKS), p. 12 .
  10. ^ Thakur, p. 12.
  11. ^ Gupta, K Manohar, The Āryan Path of the Buddha (GBOOKS), p. 71 
  12. ^ Raychaudhuri H. (1972). Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, pp.177-8
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ 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. 


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