In the literature we generally read that the Koliya clan, a neighbouring clan of the Sakyans, had two capitals - Devadaha and Ramagama. Moreover, the Buddha's mother Mayadevi and foster mother Mahapajapati Gautami were Koliyan ladies from Devadaha. But the following few facts cast doubt on whether Devadaha was actually a Koliyan town and whether the Buddha's maternal relatives were actually Koliyans.

  1. We read that the Sakyans and the Koliyans resided on the opposite sides of the river Rohini and they often quarelled with each other over the water of that river. Now, the Sakyan capital Kapilavatthu is on the west side of the Rohini. In keeping with this, the Koliyan capital Ramagama is on the east side of the river. In contrast, Devadaha is on the west side of the Rohini.

  2. In her Apadana, Gautami says that she was born in Devadaha and her father was Anjana Sakya.

  3. In the opening of the Devadaha Sutta (MN 101), Devadaha is mentioned as a Sakyan town.

These facts strongly point to the possibility that only Ramagama was the capital of the Koliyans. Devadaha was actually a Sakyan town and the Buddha's maternal relatives were also Sakyans. There are few additional points that strengthen this conclusion:

  1. Since the Sakyans and the Koliyans were opponents, it is unlikely that they would make marrital relationship with each other.

  2. We know from Bidudabha's story that the Sakyans were so proud about their nobility that they were unwilling to make relationship even with the mighty king of Kosala, Pasenadi. So how could they make relationship with the small clan Koliya?

  3. The Koliyans, being a small clan like the Sakyans, were unlikely to have two capitals.

Is my conclusion correct? If so, I would like to know how the ideas that the Buddha's maternal relatives were Koliyans from Devadaha entered the literature. Are there any evidence in support of this in the Pali canon or commentaries?

3 Answers 3


This might be exactly what you're looking for: https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/the-woman-who-raised-the-buddha-by-wendy-garling/20804


The Buddha and his wife were first cousins through his paternal aunt, Amita. You can check out the numbered references on the wiki page to get more information from the listed sources.

Yaśodharā was the daughter of King Suppabuddha,[4][5] and Amita, sister of the Buddha's father, King Śuddhodana. She was born on same day in the month of "Vaishaka" as prince Siddhartha. Her grandfather was Añjana a Koliya[6] chief, her father was Suppabuddha and her mother, Amitā, came from a Shakya family. The Shakya and the Koliya were branches of the Ādicca (Sanskrit: Aditya) or Ikshvaku dynasty. There were no other families considered equal to them in the region and therefore members of these two royal families married only among themselves.[7]

  • I should have read your question more carefully. You were asking about his maternal side. This is all I could find on wiki which states that the Buddha's parents were also first cousins: > Māyā married King Śuddhodana (Pāli: Suddhodana), the ruler of the Śākya clan of Kapilvastu. She was the daughter of King Śuddhodhana's uncle and therefore his cousin; her father was king of Devadaha. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_(mother_of_the_Buddha)#Life_of_Maya
    – SlowBurn
    Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 12:15
  • I have consulted all the relevant wiki pages and references therein. But I could not find any canonical or commentarial reference to support the general idea that the Buddha's maternal relations were Koliyans. On the contrary, I have found a few such references in support of their Sakyan identity which I have mentioned in my question. What I actually want is the original source of the idea of their Koliyan identity - be it canonical, commentarial, or even some later works.
    – Soumen
    Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 13:50
  • @Soumen Yes, wiki is either a great source or a terrible source of information depending on the topic, but the listed references are a starting point for your research. If you don't find what you want here, then you can contact the authors/site administrators of the listed sources or just look at the references listed in the references themselves, following the chain of references until you get to primary sources. Hope this helps.
    – SlowBurn
    Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 13:55
  • @Soumen You could also try this forum which seems to specialize is early Buddhist writings and historical references: discourse.suttacentral.net
    – SlowBurn
    Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 14:01
  • Thank you very much for your concern. Maybe I'll also try the suttacentral forum.
    – Soumen
    Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 14:24

Lord Buddha's father was a Sakyan King and his mother's Queen Mayadevi and Queen Prajapati were Koliyan princesses. They were daughters of King Suddhodhana' paternal aunt who was married to a Koliyan King of Devdaha. His wife Yashodhara was also a koliyan princess. The Sakyans and Koliyans married only among themselves because they were very proud of their caste and aristocracy.There is a long story behind that.

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