Jetavana Vihara (祇園精舎)

Jetavana Vihara (the formal name is "Jetavana Anathapindadasya-arama" in Sanskrit) was a temple at Sravasti in Middle India, where Buddha preached sermons. Jetavana Vihara was one of five Shoja (a hall where priests practiced asceticism, with similarities to a temple) in India that existed during Buddha's lifetime.


The name is composed of two elements, 'Jetavana' (a tree-clad land belonging to Prince Jeta) and 'Anathapindada' (to give charity to people with no relatives), and originates from the following episode.

There was a wealthy person named Sudatta in Sravasti, India, who was widely called 'Anathapindada' because he, out of a sense of pity, provided people without a family with food.

After listening to Buddha's sermon one day, Sudatta decided to convert and become a believer and donate to Buddha a temple for preaching.

The land he chose for this was the tree-clad land belonging to Prince Jeta.
In jest Prince Jeta said to Sudatta who asked him to cede the land, 'If you should cover the land with gold coins, I will give it to you.'
On seeing Sudatta starting to spread gold coins, Prince Jeta was so surprised that he not only gave Sudatta the land, but also supported the construction of the temple by donating trees.

Therefore, the land contributed to Buddha was called Jetavana Anathapindada by adopting both of the names of Prince Jeta and Anathapindada Sudatta, and the temple established in the land was called Jetavana Anathapindadasya-arama.


Jetavana Vihara is well-known in Japan from the introduction to "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike) which runs 'The sound of the temple bell in Jetavana Vihara echoes as if it is telling us that all things existing in our world are not eternal.'

Moreover, the name of Gion, a famous Hanamachi (entertainment area and geisha district in Kyoto), originates from the fact that the area it covers was a Monzen-machi (temple town) built around Yasaka-jinja Shrine, formerly called Gion-sha Shrine. The name of Gion-sha Shrine, another name for Yasaka-jinja Shrine, originates from that of Gion-ji Temple, itself another name of Kankei-ji Temple.

[Original Japanese]