A town in Kosala. It was regarded in the Buddha’s time as one of the six great cities of India, the others being Campā, Rājagaha, Sāvatthī, Kosambī and Benares. DN.ii.146 In the Vinaya Vin.i.253 however, the distance between āvatthī and Sāketa is given as six leagues. The town lay on the direct route between Sāvatthī and Patiṭṭhāna, and is mentioned Snp.1011–1013 as the first stopping place out of Sāvatthī. The distance between the two places could be covered in one day, with seven relays of horses, MN.i.149 but the books contain several references Vin.i.88 Vin.i.89 Vin.i.270 Vin.iii.212 Vin.iv.63 Vin.iv.120 to the dangers of the journey when undertaken on foot. The road was infested with robbers, and the king had to maintain soldiers to protect travellers.
Midway between Sāketa and Sāvatthī was Toraṇavatthu, and it is said SN.iv.374ff. that, when Pasenadi went from the capital to Sāketa, he spent a night in Toraṇavatthu, where be visited Khemā Therī who lived there. Between Sāketa and Sāvatthī was a broad river which could be crossed only by boat.Vin.iv.65 Vin.iv.228 Near Sāketa was the Añjanavana, where the Buddha sometimes stayed during his visits to Sāketa and where he had several discussions e.g., with Kakudha, SN.i.54 Mendasira, and Kuṇḍaliya. SN.v.73
On other occasions he stayed at the Kāḷakārāma AN.ii.24 gifted to the Order by Kāḷaka, and the Tikantakivana, AN.iii.169 both of which were evidently near the city. Mention is also made SN.v.174 SN.v.298f. Vin.i.289 of Sāriputta, Moggallāna and Anuruddha staying together in Sāketa. Bhaddākāpilāni Vin.iv.292 also stayed there, so did Ānanda. Once when Ānanda was staying in the Migadāya in the Añjanavana, a nun, described as Jatilagāhikā, visited him and questioned him regarding concentration. AN.iv.427 Among others who lived in Sāketa were Jambugāmikaputta, Gavampati, Mendasira, Uttara, Madhuvāsettha and his son Mahānāga, and Visākhā. Bhūta Thera was born in a suburb of Sāketa.
The Vinaya Vin.i.270f. mentions another seṭṭhi of Sāketa. His wife had suffered for seven years from a disease of the head, and even skilled physicians failed to cure her. Jīvaka, on his way to Rājagaha, after finishing his studies in Takkasilā, visited Sāketa, heard of her illness, and offered to cure her. At first the seṭṭhi was sceptic, but in the end allowed Jīvaka to attend on his wife. Jīvaka cured her by the administration of ghee through the nose, and, as reward, received sixteen thousand kahāpanas from her and her various kinsmen.