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Sankassa (also Sankasia, Sankissa and Sankasya) was an ancient city in India. The city came into prominence at the time of Gautama Buddha. According to a Buddhist source, it was thirty leagues from Savatthi[1]. Currently it has ruins of old monasteries and Buddhist monuments. It is rarely visited by pilgrims since it is difficult to go to, and there are not many facilities.

Sankassa is now identified with Sankissa Basantapura on the north bank of the Ikkhumati river (Kalinadi), between Atranji and Kannauj, twenty-three miles west of Fatehgarh and forty five north of Kannauj, in Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh state of India.

Ancient Buddhist events at Sankassa

Sankassa received its fame from statements and claims recorded in the ancient commentaries to the Tipitaka. However, in the Tipitaka itself the events that are supposed to have occurred at Sankassa are not mentioned at all.

It was at Sankassa that (according to the commentaries) the Buddha returned to earth, after preaching the Abhidhamma Pitaka in Tavatimsa, following the performance of the Twin Miracle under the Gandamba tree. As the time approached for the Buddha to leave Távatimsa , Moggallana (Anuruddha, according to SNA.ii.570; cf. Vsm., p.391) announced his coming return to the multitude, who had been waiting at Savatthi, fed by Culla Anathapindika, while Moggallana expounded the Dhamma. They then made their way to Sankassa. The descent of the Buddha took place on the day of the Mahapavarana festival. Sakka provides three ladders for the Buddha's descent from Sineru to the earth: on the right was a ladder of gold for the gods; on the left a silver ladder for Maha Brahma and his retinue; and in the middle a ladder of jewels for the Buddha. The assembled people covered the earth for thirty leagues round. There was a clear view of the nine Brahma worlds above and of Avici (a hell) below. The Buddha was accompanied by Pañcasikha, Mátali, Mahá Brahmá and Suyáma. Sariputta was the first to welcome him (followed by Uppalavanna[2], and the Buddha preached the Law, starting with what was within the comprehension even of a puthujjana, and ending with what only a Buddha could understand.

On this occasion was preached the Parosahassa Játaka to proclaim to the multitude the unparalleled wisdom of Sáriputta[3]. It is said' that the Buddha's descent to Sankassa had provided opportunity for Moggallána to show his eminence in iddhi, Anuruddha in dibbacakkhu, and Punna in skill in preaching, and the Buddha wished to give Sariputta a chance of shining in his wisdom [4]. He therefore asked of Sáriputta questions which no one else could answer. The opening words of the Sáriputta Sutta are supposed to refer to this descent from Tusita.

The site of the city gate of Sankassa is one of the "unchangeable" spots of the world (avijahitatthanam). All Buddhas descend at that spot to the world of men after preaching the Abhidhamma[5]. From Sankassa the Buddha went to Jetavana[6].

A shrine was erected on the spot where the Buddha's right foot first touched the ground at Sankassa[7]. When the Chinese pilgrims, Hiouen Thsang and Fa Hien, visited the place, they found three ladders, which had been built of brick and stone by the ancients, to commemorate the Buddha's descent, but the ladders were nearly sunk in the earth[8].

There was, in the Buddha's time, a deer park at Sankassa where Suhemanta Thera heard the Buddha preach[9]. During the Vajjiputta controversy, Revata Thera, on his way from Soreyya to Sahajati, went through Sankassa. The road he took passed through Sankassa, Kannakujja, Udumbara and Aggalapura[10].


  1. Dhammapada Atthakatha,iii.224
  2. SNA.ii.570
  3. DhA.iii.224ff.; see also SNA.ii.570
  4. Ibid., loc. cit.; J.iv.266; see also Jhánasodhana, Sarabhamiga, and Candábha Játakas
  5. BuA.106, 247; MA.i.371, etc.
  6. (J.i.193)
  7. DhA.iii.227
  8. Beal, op. cit., i.203; Fa Hien, p.24
  9. ThagA.i.212
  10. Vin.ii.299f

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