Is Vatsa attested as one of the Mahajanapadas? (Chinese help appreciated!)

I’ve been trying to chase down the name of one of the Mahajanapadas. Per my post here I think we should use Vaccha/Vatsa rather than Vamsa (or Vanga).

But I’m a bit uneasy as i can’t find any Pali readings to support Vaccha. So I’m wondering what we have in the non-Pali texts. I haven’t been able to locate a list of the Mahajanapadas in Sanskrit, but if anyone knows one that would be great. The Sanskrit texts on SC, so far as I can tells, just mention the “sixteen Mahajapadas” without naming them.

In a text called Mahāsāhasrapramardanī, Pañcarakṣā I on Gretil, about which I know nothing, I found the following list, which has fourteen Mahājanapadas associated with their local yakkhas. This partially overlaps with the Pali.

  1. puṣpeṣu
  2. magadheṣu
  3. bharukaccheṣu
  4. kośaleṣu
  5. madreṣu
  6. malleṣu
  7. pāñcāle
  8. aśvaje
  9. avanteṣu
  10. vaidiśe
  11. matseṣu
  12. sūrateṣu
  13. gāndhāre
  14. kambuṣu

Unfortunately it omits the Vamsa/Vatsas so isn’t much help.

I did come across one in Chinese, and as you can imagine it is lots of fun trying to figure out the identifications.

Most of the names are not in DDB. As a reminder, the Pali list is: Aṅga, Magadha, Kāsī, Kosala, Vajjī, Malla, Ceti, Vaccha, Kuru, Pañcāla, Maccha, Sūrusena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhāra, and Kamboja.

Here’s what I managed to come up with.

  1. 鴦迦 = anga
  2. 摩竭 = magadha
  3. 迦夷 = kasi?
  4. 拘薛羅 = kosala
  5. 鳩溜 = kuru
  6. 般闍荼 = pañcāla
  7. 阿波耶 = asmaka
  8. 阿洹提渝 = avanti
  9. 脂提渝 = kit-tci-lo = gandhara?
  10. 越祇渝 = wat-ge-lo = vajji?
  11. 速摩 = sok-ma ???
  12. 速賴吒 = sok-la-sa = surasena?
  13. 越蹉 = wa-sha = vatsa?
  14. 末羅 = malla
  15. 渝匿 = yona (? ddb)
  16. 劍善提 = kamboja?

Perhaps this supports a reading of vatsa, but it seems so uncertain. I’m wondering if there are any other texts or readings that might shed light on this?


The lists of countries aren’t always the same. I.e., they have different names, not just in different orders. Makes decoding transliterated Chinese “fun” (in the Dwarf Fortress sense of fun).

越蹉 would be hwat-ts’a. The Middle Chinese would approximate a “w.”

In DA 4, the transliteration is “bwat-ts’a” (= Vatsa).


Okay, thanks, well that shows we do have some root texts that had the form Vatsa, which makes me feel more comfortable about choosing that name.

One of the reasons I thought that variant sounded plausible was because I asked, “where are these people”? If this is a major nation within the Buddha’s orbit, surely we should know something of them. And of course, there are many “vacchas” in Pali: Vacchagotta being the best known. I think they’re from Vatsa/Vaccha/Vamsa, whose name is that of a brahmanical gotra vatsa.


Yeah. I can’t find an attestation of the country in Gandhari, but cow is “vatsa” in the fragments that’ve been found, so that must’ve been the case for the country, too. Sometimes Gandhari sounds like Sanskrit, like here, though just as often it’s closer to Pali (e.g. Lohicca, instead of S. Lohitya). And then it also goes off on its own tangent, not having long vowels, turning “j” into “y”, not pronouncing “k”, etc.