Is there a nice "literary" map of early Buddhism?

No, sorry. They’re all regions/countries. Videha is a kingdom, which used to be the major power in the region, but which by the time of the Buddha is mostly or wholly swallowed up by the Vajjis. The others are small clan-districts (like Sakya or Kalama).

One reason for representing regions is that we often don’t know the exact location of towns, and also there may be multiple towns identified as in that region, so this helps locate all of them.

Yeah, thanks, I should review that.


Actually, my bad, the form in Pali is Aṅguttarāpa, which literally means “Anga north of the water”, i.e. north of the Ganges. It only appears in a couple of places, and the location is pretty clear, so we can leave it out.

Tell you what, I think we can solve a bunch of problems by leaving out Bhoganagara. It’s a fairly minor town, and because it’s mentioned as part of journeys, the location is pretty clear from context. Then we can position Vajji better and include Videha.

No worries, leave them out if need be. If we’re up to it, maybe at some point we could think of doing a second map to detail this area.


pātaligāma ?

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Yes, I thought of that too. If there’s space, sure. It’s on the south bank of the Ganges, pretty much on a straight line from Rajagaha to Vaishali.

According to Wikipedia, the river we call Neranjara, in modern times meets the Ganges about 25km downstream of Patna. (It seems different on Google maps, but I think it’s a very seasonal flow.) So if we include Pataligama, it’s just to the left of the river confluence.

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I found this in Ven Nyanamoli’s Life of the Buddha, I’m not sure if it helps in any way ( might be outdated). Add a scale or directionality perhaps?

:dizzy:Lovely work Jonas :dizzy:



The thought did cross my mind, but I didn‘t want to give you any ideas :smile:

Technically, there is space. But here, too, I‘d ask you to consider carefully, or the map will end up looking more and more like an excel sheet with random squiggles thrown in.
The map we have right now is several times more detailed than any other „literary“ map of the Buddha‘s India I‘ve seen posted on this thread, and we‘re approaching the point where this may turn from an advantage to a problem if we keep adding stuff, at least to the Ganges plain.

Thanks for the resource! There are quite a few differences compared to our map. No idea about the reason, though.

Oh yeah, I completely forgot about the scale indicator. Will add it for the next update! As to directionality, I‘ve never seen a modern map where up wasn‘t north, so I wouldn‘t bother to crowd ours further with redundant info.


Just for reference, here‘s the current version:

  • Most forests are still missing, that‘ll be the next task.
  • Of the four pilgrimage sites, only Sarnath is missing. I‘ll have to re-place Baranasi to fit it in, but wanted to ask for the correct Pali spelling before.
  • Otherwise, I think I made all the changes you asked for, Bhante - except stuff that didn‘t fit, like Bhagga.
  • Don‘t worry about the eraser marks. It‘s getting pretty dirty now, but once it‘s inked and edited, they‘ll be gone.

I’ll leave this to your discretion.

I think our map is quite a bit more accurate. Eg., it has “Vajji and Videha”, but we know Vajji is to the s-w of Videha.

Speaking of which, Videha isn’t quite right in the new map. It doesn’t go down to Apana, which is, rather, part of Anga.

Actually, I notice that the river there is not quite right. You have it going from Apana n-w thru Vajji. In fact it hooks around and arrives at the Himalayas pretty much north of Apana. This river, the Koshi, marks the eastern border of Videha, according to Wikipedia.

The borders of the Videha kingdom were the Sadānirā river in the west, the Kauśikī river in the east, the Gaṅgā river in the south, and the Himālaya mountains in the north.

I’ve marked the new course of the Koshi, and emphasized the Gandak to the west, although that doesn’t need changing. Videha should probably fit above Mithila, emphasizing that it was pretty much squeezed out by Vajji at this point. It’s doubtful they had a sphere of influence to the Ganges. (Conventional wisdom has it that Videha was incorporated into Vajji at this time, but I think it remained as a reduced but independent kingdom.)

In other news, liking the italics!

Just leave it, the site is called “Baranasi” in the text, technically it’s just outside of town but there’s no gain from adding a separate place. You can just star Baranasi.


Just (again) offering bows of gratitude and respect for your patience, effort, and skill creating this beautiful and informative map!
And, of course, to Ven. Sujato.
:pray: :slightly_smiling_face:


The river you erased is marked as the Kamla on the map I‘ve been working off. The river you marked in is identical with the Koshi on my source map (though when looking up Koshi on Wikipedia, it seems to omit that and instead includes the Kamla as tributary), and it‘s already on our Jambudipa map, though I did erase a fair bit of it to make space for your previous suggestion for the placement of Videha, and for some reason I didn‘t draw it all the way north to the Himalayas.
I‘d suggest we keep the Kamla, restore the middle bits of the Koshi after I‘ve put Videha at the Himalayan foothills, and draw it all the way to the north.

And they‘re fun to do! Not sure if we should put in many more regions, the map probably needs some white space… But I‘d be up for a handful, if just for consistency.


Okay, no worries, it just tripped me up.

There seems to be a lot of variability: the rivers are highly seasonal, they flood with the Himalaya melt, and they can change course a lot. But I do think it’s nice to demark the east of Videha.

Some spellings. In some cases I can’t exactly make out if you’re using a diacritical, so I’ll just post it in case. It’s really hard to figure out the right endings on a lot of these!

  • Probably use Gaṅgā rather than Ganges, as we have Pali names everywhere.
  • Vesālī rather than Vesāli
  • Kammāsadamma
  • Maccha
  • Lumbinī
  • Bārāṇasī
  • Malla
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You‘ve deciphered them correctly! I‘ve made the appropriate changes now. While some might be oversights on my part, you might also want to look up the spellings on the SC map page and revise where necessary - like Magadha, Malla and Maccha are given with diacritics there, for example.

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I will attend to these at some point, I’m just trying to get the texts in order!

BTW this is the Mahī in Pali, which if we can get the name in that would be great.

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Sure, will do. Any other rivers or regions you want named?

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I’m looking around, but I can’t really find anything. There are a few more nations mentioned to the north-west, but they lie off the map: Gandhara, Kamboja (Persia?), Yona (Greece).

We might be able to fit Sunāparanta, which is on the coast at the very south-west extreme of the map. I tried adding it and I don’t think it will work, but anyway just for your interest, here’s where it is.

It was a wild and rough place in the Buddha’s day, but later it became the major trading port with Persia, Greece, and Rome. It’s better known as Aparanta, but Sunāparanta is what we find in the Pali.


Nope :sweat_smile:
One more thing that might be hard to fit in would be the „inlay“ showing the map in relation to the rest of India. We have that white space in the upper left corner, but if it‘s large enough to be deciphered it‘s probably still not gonna fit. Anyway, your call. Here‘s the map with all of the forests and the scale indicator:

As far as I‘m concerned, this is ready for inking. However, all changes made after that would have to be digital, and the process would be… not very organic as I don’t own a digital art tablet, so I‘d prefer to avoid that. Please take some time, maybe a few days even, to think about any other changes you might want, and then we can commit to it.


Wow, it looks fantastic, Jonas! I’m eager to see it when you have it inked. It’s exciting to watch this unfold from an idea into a collaborative map that brings a certain context to the Buddha’s travels. Thank you for your skill, patience and work. :heart:


Jonas, would you put the approximate date on the map to show which era the names originated from?


Technically, that would be the canonization of the suttas, but it‘s depicting a political landscape which at that time was already historical. I mean, we could always go with ± 500 BCE, but then, if the location and timeframe isn‘t clear from context (i.e., the map showing up in an EBT book), we‘d also have to add „India“ somewhere under the Jambudipa plaque (which technically isn‘t correct either, as Jambudipa is both a cosmological-mythological term, and a name for the historical Indian sphere of cultural influence).

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Fantastic. I’ll take a day or two to sit with it and review.

I have no idea how these things work, but would it be useful to use such a thing? I mean, I like doing this the organic way! But if you felt it would be helpful, perhaps we could contract this out? Up to you.

Also lol at including “miles” for Americans and Americans only. Never change, USA!

What about something like

in the Buddha’s day

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I thought all Anglos used Imperial units? You gave the measurements for the page in inches, after all.

If you‘re contracting out to someone who does this by hand, it‘ll cost you. (Someone posted a link to an affordable artist some time ago, but those maps weren‘t hand-drawn as far as I could tell. Wouldn‘t be economical at such low prices, either.) And if you have that kind of donation cash handy, you‘d probably get a better result having a professional do it from scratch instead of poking around in my homebrew. So if we‘re gonna go ahead with my version, let‘s keep this between us :wink:
To that end, we could finalize the map and then ink it - you know, the old-fashioned way. If you‘re still researching, we can always put that step off. Minor adjustments after the fact (adding or removing diacritics, anything that amounts to erasing something) would still be possible without much of a hassle, but new lettering or major geography changes would involve redrawing part of the grid on paper and digitally grafting it together.