Shrāvastī ［舎衛城］ (; Pali Sāvatthī; Shae-jō): The capital of the Kosala kingdom of ancient India. In Shakyamuni’s time, Kosala was under the rule of King Prasenajit; along with Magadha, it was one of the greatest political powers in India. Shrāvastī was among India’s most prosperous cities, along with Rājagriha in Magadha. Shakyamuni is said to have made Shrāvastī the center of his activities, and there he converted King Prasenajit and many others. The wealthy Sudatta, a resident of Shrāvastī, built Jetavana Monastery on the outskirts of Shrāvastī as an offering to Shakyamuni Buddha.
The city later declined; according to an account by Fa-hsien, a Chinese priest who visited Shrāvastī in the early fifth century, it was by that time in ruins and only about two hundred families lived there. Excavations carried out in the nineteenth century in the twin villages of Sahet and Mahet near Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh state uncovered the remains of Shrāvastī. The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom attributed to Nāgārjuna refers to the three hundred thousand families of Shrāvastī who met Shakyamuni Buddha. At that time, the treatise says, nine hundred thousand families lived in the city: one third had actually seen the Buddha, another third had only heard of him, and the remaining third had neither heard of nor seen the Buddha. Nāgārjuna indicates that, such being the case in the city where the Buddha was physically present for twenty-five years, it would have been all the more difficult for those living far away from Shrāvastī to encounter the Buddha.