Rājā (Rājan)

king, a ruling potentate. The defn at Vin.iii.222 is “yo koci rajjaṃ kāreti.” The fanciful etym. at DN.iii.93 Vism.419 is “dhammena pare rañjetī ti rājā” i.e. he gladdens others with his righteousness
■ At the latter passage the origin of kingly government is given as the third stage in the constitution of a people, the 2 preceding being mahā-sammata (general consent) and khattiya (the land-aristocrats)


We find 3 systems of cases for the original Sk. forms, viz. the contracted, the diaeretic and (in the pl.) a new formation with-ū-. Thus
■ gen. & dat. sg. rañño [Sk. rājñaḥ] Vin.iii.107; Vin.iv.157; Ja.ii.378; Ja.iii.5; Vv.74#4; and rājino Snp.299, Snp.415; Thig.463; Ja.iv.495; Mhvs.2, Mhvs.14;
■ instr. sg. raññā Vin.iii.43; Ja.v.444; Dhp-a.i.164; Pv-a.22; Vb-a.106; and rājinā [Sk. rajña] Mhvs.6, Mhvs.2;
■ acc. sg. rājānaṃ Vin.iv.157;
■ loc. raññe Pv-a.76;
■ voc. rāja Snp.422, Snp.423
■ pl. nom. rājāno AN.i.68;
■ gen. dat. raññaṃ [Sk. rājñaṃ] DN.ii.87; Mhvs.18, Mhvs.32; and rājūnaṃ Vin.i.228; Ud.11; Ja.ii.104; Ja.iii.487; Snp-a.484; Pv-a.101, Pv-a.133;
■ instr. raññāhi AN.i.279 rājūhi Ud.41; MN.ii.120; Ja.i.179; Ja.iii.45 Mhvs.5, Mhvs.80; Mhvs.8, Mhvs.21; and rājubhi DN.ii.258. Cp. Geiger

Pali Grammar

§ 92#1.

  1. rājā is a term of sovereignship. The term rājā as used in Buddhist India does not admit of a uniform interpretation and translation. It is primarily an appellative (or title) of a khattiya, and often the two are used promiscuously. Besides, it has a far wider sphere of meaning than we convey by any translation like “king” or even “sovereign,” or “prince.” We find it used as a designation of “king” in the sense of an elected or successory (crowned) monarch, but also in the meaning of a distinguished nobleman, or a local chieftain, or a prince with var. attributes characterizing his position according to special functions. From this we get the foll. scheme:

    1. rājā* never takes the place of deva in the meaning king, but that mahārāja is used in voc equivalent to deva ] a world-king, over-lord, a so-called cakkavatti rājā. This is an office (as “Universal King”) peculiar to the Mahāpurisa or the (mythol. “Great Man,” who may become either the Saviour of men in the religious sense, a Sammā-sambuddha, or a just Ruler of the earth in the worldly sense, a King of Righteousness. These are the 2 gatis of such a being as described at var. places of the Canon (e.g. Snp.p.106; Snp.1002, Snp.1003; DN.iii.142; AN.i.76). His power is absolute, and is described in the standard phrase “c dhammiko dhamma-rājā cāturanto vijitāvī janapadatthāvariya-ppatto satta-ratana-samannāgato,” e.g. DN.iii.59. Dhammapāla gives the dignity of a C. as the first “human sovereign powers” (Pv-a.117). The four iddhi’s of a C. are given (quite crudely) at MN.iii.176: he is beautiful, lives longer than others, is of a healthier constitution than others, he is beloved by the brahmins and householders. Other qualities: how his remains should be treated = DN.ii.141; deserves a thūpa DN.ii.142 sq.; his four qualities DN.ii.145 (the 4 assemblies of khattiyas, brāhmaṇas, gahapatis samaṇas are pleased with him). See under cakkavatti & ratana
      ■ In a similar sense the term; dhamma-rājā is used as epithet of the Buddha Snp.554 (rāj’ âham asmi dh-.r. anuttaro); Ja.i.262; and a reflection of the higher sphere is seen in the title of politeness (only used in voc.) mahārāja, e.g. Snp.416 (addressed to Bimbisāra Pv-a.22 (id.); Ja.vi.515
    2. [in a larger constitutional state] the crowned (muddhâvasitta) monarch (i.e. khattiya) as the head of the principality or kingdom The defn of this (general) rājā at Cnd.542 is significant of the idea of a king prevalent in early Buddhist times It is: “khattiyo muddh’ âbhisitto vijita-sangāmo nihata-paccāmitto laddh’ adhippāyo paripuṇṇa-koṭthāgāro,” i.e. “a crowned noble, victorious in battle slaying his foes, fulfilling his desires, having his storehouses full.” This king is “the top of men” (mukhaṃ manussānaṃ) Vin.i.246 = Snp.568. Cp. DN.i.7; Snp.46 (raṭṭhaṃ vijitam pahāya); Ja.v.448 and passim. See also below 3, 4 & 6
      ■ In similes: see J.P.T.S. 1907 128; & cp. Vism.152 (r. va saddh’ antagato), Vism.336 (wishing to become an artisan). Here belongs the title of the king of the devas (Sakka) “deva-rājā,” e.g. Dhp-a.iii.269, Dhp-a.iii.441; Pv-a.62
    3. (in an oligarchic sense) member of a kula of khattiyas, e.g. the kumāras of the Sakiyans and Koliyans are all called rājāno of the rājakulānaṃ in Ja.v.413 sq., or at least the heads of those kulas. Cp. B. Ind. p. 19
    4. (in a smaller, autocratic state) a chieftain, prince, ruler; usually (collectively as a group: rājāno, thus indicating their lesser importance e.g. AN.v.22 (kuḍḍa-rājāno rañño cakkavattissa anuyuttā bhavanti: so read for anuyantā); Snp.553 (bhoja˚ similar to rāja-bhoggā or bhogiyā as given at Snp-a.453); AN.ii.74 sq. (dhammikā & a˚); Ja.iv.495 Similarly at Vin.i.228 we find the division into the 3 ranks: mahesakkhā rājāno, majjhimā r., nīcā r. Here also belongs the designation of the 4 lokapālā (or Guardians of the World) at cattāro mahā-rājāno, the mahā˚ being added for sake of politeness (cp. Note A on mahā), e.g. AN.iv.242. See also paṭirājā & cp. below 4 c
    5. A wider range of meaning is attached to several sub-divisions (with rājā or without): officials and men who occasionally take the place of the king (royal functionaries), but are by public opinion considered almost equal to the king. Here belongs the defn of what is termed “rājāno” (pl. like d) at Vin.iii.47, viz. rājā, padesa-rājā, maṇḍalikā, antarabhogikā akkhadassā, mahāmattā, ye vā pana chejjabhejjaṃ anusāsanti (i.e. those who have juridical power). See also below 4 b, and ˚putta, ˚bhogga [other compounds].
  2. It would fill a separate book, if we were to give a full monograph of kingship in and after the Buddha’s time; we therefore content ourselves with a few principal remarks. The office of king was hereditary: kula-santakaṃ rajjaṃ Ja.i.395; Ja.ii.116; Ja.iv.124 but we sometimes read of a king being elected with great pomp: Ja.i.470; Pv-a.74. He had the political and military power in his hand, also the jurisdiction although in this he is often represented by the mahāmatta, the active head of the state. His 10 duties are mentioned at several places (see below under ˚dhammā) Others are mentioned e.g. at DN.i.135, where it is said he gives food and seed-corn to the farmer, capital to the trader, wages to the people in government service. His qualifications are 8 fold (see DN.i.137): well-born (“gentleman,” khattiya), handsome, wealthy, powerful (with his army), a believer, learned, clever, intelligent. His wealth is proverbial and is characterized in a stock phrase, which is also used of other ranks, like seṭṭhi’s & brāhmaṇa’s, viz. “aḍḍha mahaddhana mahābhoga pahūta-jātarūpa-rajata pahūta-vitt’ ûpakaraṇa pahūtadhana-dhañña paripuṇṇa-kosa-koṭṭhāgāra,” e.g. DN.i.134. For a late description of a king’s quality and distinction see Mil.226, Mil.227
    ■ His disciplinary authority is emphasized; he spares no tortures in punishing adversaries or malefactors, esp. the cora (see below 4 c). A summary example of these punishments inflicted on criminals is the long passage illustrating dukkha (bodily pain) at Cnd.304#iii cp. MN.iii.163 (here also on a cora).

  3. The king (rājā or khattiya) in the popular opinion, as reflected in language, heads several lists, which have often been taken as enumerating “castes,” but which are simply inclusive statements of var. prominent ranks as playing a rôle in the social life of the state, and which were formulated according to diff. occasions. Thus some show a more political, some a more religious aspect. e.g. khattiya amacca brāhmaṇa gahapati DN.i.136; rājā brāhmaṇa gahapatika AN.i.68, where another formula has khattiya br. g. AN.i.66; Ja.i.217; and the foll. with an intermediate “rank” (something like “royalty, “the royal household”) between the king and the brahmins: rājā rājaputtā brāhmaṇā gahapatikā negama-jānapadā AN.ii.74 sq.; rājāno rāja-mahāmattā khattiyā br., gah., titthiyā DN.iii.44 (translation Dialogues too weak “rājas & their officials”); rājā rājabhogga br. gah. Vin.iii.221.

  4. Var. aspects illustrating the position of the king in relation to other prominent groups of the court or populace:

    1. rājā & khattiya; All kings were khattiyas. The kh. is a noble κα ̓τἐςοξήν (cp. Gr. ἡγεμών) as seen fr. defn jāti-khattiya at Snp-a.453 and var. contexts. Already in the Rig Veda the kṣatriya is a person belonging to a royal family (RV x.109, 3), and rājanya is an epithet of kṣatriya (see Zimmer Altindisches Leben 213)
      rājā khattiyo muddhâvassito “a crowned king” DN.i.69; DN.iii.61 sq.; Vin.iv.160; AN.i.106 sq.; AN.ii.207 (contrasted with brāhmaṇa mahāsāla); AN.iii.299 (if lazy, he is not liked by the people) MN.iii.172 sq. (how he becomes a cakkavatti through the appearance of the cakka-ratana)
      ■ Without muddhāvasitta: rājāno khattiyā Dhp.294 = Ne.165. Cp khattiyā bhoja-rājāno the khattiyas, the (noble or lesser?) kings (as followers of the cakkavatti) Snp.553 (see bhoja). At Ja.vi.515. rājāno corresponds directly to khattiyā on p. 517 (saṭṭhisahassa˚); cp. expression khattiya-kula Ja.i.217 as equivalent to rāja-kula
    2. rājā & mahāmatta. The latter occupies the position of “Premier,” but is a rank equal to the king hence often called rājā himself: Vin.iii.47 where styled “akkhadassa mahāmatta.” Otherwise he is always termed rāja-mahāmatta “royal minister,” or “H.R.H the Premier,” e.g. Vin.i.172; AN.i.279; Vin.i.228 (see [as Magadha-mahāmatta](/define/as Magadha-mahāmatta)), and called himself a khattiya DN.iii.44
    3. rājā & cora. A prominent figure in the affairs of State is the “robber-chief” (mahā-cora) The contrast-pair rajāno (so always pl.) & cora is very frequent, and in this connection we have to think of rājāno as either smaller kings, knights or royals (royalists), i.e. officers of the kings or “the king’s Guards. Thus at Ja.iii.34 the C. expln as rāja-purisā. It is here used as a term of warning or frightening “get up robber, so that the kings (alias ʻpoliceman’) won’t catch you”: uṭṭhehi cora mā taṃ gahesuṃ rājāno Other passages are e.g. : DN.i.7 (rāja-kathā & corakathā) = Vin.i.188; MN.iii.163 (rājāno coraṃ āgucāriṃ gahetvā); AN.i.68, AN.i.154; Iti.89 (rāj’ âbhinīta + cor˚); in sequence; rājāno corā dhuttā (as being dangerous to the bhikkhus) at Vin.i.150, Vin.i.161.
  5. On the question of kingship in Ancient India see Zimmer Altind. Leben pp. 162–175, 212 sq.; Macdonell & Keith; Vedic Index ii.210 sq.; Fick, Soc. Gl. 63–90; Foy, Die Königl. Gewalt nach den altind. Rechtsbüchern (Leipzig 1895); Rh. Davids, Buddhist India pp. 1–16; Hopkins E. W., The social and military position of the ruling caste in A. I. in J.A.O.S. 13, 179 sq.; Banerjee Public Administration in A. I. 1916, pp. 63, 93.

  6. Kings mentioned by name (a very limited & casual list only, for detailed refs. see DPPN) Ajātasattu; Udena (Dhp-a.i.185); Okkāka; Dīghī (of Kosala; Vin.i.342); Parantapa (of Kosambī; Dhp-a.i.164;) Pasenadi (of Kosala; DN.i.87, DN.i.103; Vin.iv.112 Vin.iv.157); Bimbisāra (of Magadha; Vin.iv.116 sq.; Snp.419) Bhaddiya; etc.

  7. (fig.) king as sign of distinction (“princeps”), as the lion is called rājā migānaṃ Snp.72; Vism.650; the Himavant is pabbata -rājā AN.i.152; AN.iii.44; and Gotama’s horse Kaṇthaka is called assa -rājā Ja.i.62 = Vv-a.314
    Note. The compound form of rājā is rāja˚.

  • -āgāra a king’s (garden-or pleasure-) house DN.i.7 (˚ka); DN-a.i.42.

  • -aṅga royal mark, characteristic or qualification; king’s property Vin.i.219 (rājangaṃ hatthī: the elephants belong to the king), cp. AN.i.244 assājāniyo rañño angan t’ eva sankhaṃ gacchati is called king’s property.

  • -aṅgana royal court Pv-a.74.

  • -āṇatti king’s permission Tikp.26 (in simile).

  • -āṇā 1 the king’s command Ja.iii.180; cp. Pv-a.217 “rañño āṇā” 2 the king’s fine or punishment, i.e. a punishment inflicted by the king (cp. Fick, Soc. Gl. 74), synonymous with rāja-daṇḍa: Ja.i.369, Ja.i.433 (rājāṇaṃ karoti to inflict), Ja.ii.197; Ja.iii.18, Ja.iii.232, Ja.iii.351; Ja.iv.42; Ja.vi.18; Pv-a.242.

  • -ānubhāva king’s power, majesty, authority, pomp Ja.iv.247; Pv-a.279.

  • -antepura the royal harem AN.v.81, AN.v.82 (the 10 risks which a bhikkhu is running when visiting it for alms).

  • -ābhinīta brought by a king Iti.89 (+ corâbhinīta).

  • -ābhirājā “king of kings” Snp.553; Dhs-a.20.

  • -āmacca royal minister Ja.v.444 (˚majjhe).

  • -āyatana Name of a tree: “Kingstead tree,” the royal tree (as residence of a king of fairies), Buchanania latifolia Vin.i.3 sq. (where Mvu.iii.303 reads kṣīrikā, i.e. milk-giving tree) Ja.i.80 Ja.iv.361f. Dhs-a 35 Vb-a.433 (˚cetiya)

  • -iddhi royal power Pv-a.279.

  • -isi a royal seer, a king who gives up his throne & becomes an ascetic (cp. Sanskrit rājarṣi, frequently in Mhbhārata & Rāmāyana) Thag.i.1127 (read rāja-d-isi) Iti.21 (rājīsayo, with various variant readings not quite the same meaning) Ja.vi.116 Ja.vi.124 Ja.vi.127, Ja.vi.518 Dhp-a iv.29 Kern,


    s.v. proposes reading rājīsi.

  • -upaṭṭhāna attendance on the king, royal audience Vin.i.269; Ja.i.269, Ja.i.349; Ja.iii.119, Ja.iii.299; Ja.iv.63

  • -ūpabhoga fit for use by the king Mil.252.

  • -uyyāna royal garden or pleasure ground Ja.iii.143; Mhvs.15, Mhvs.2

  • -orodhā a lady from the king’s harem, a royal concubine Vin.iv.261.

  • -kakudha-bhaṇḍa an ensign of royalty (5: khagga, chatta, uṇhīsa, pādukā, vālavījanī) Dhp-a.i.356. See under kakudha.

  • -kathā talk about kings (as tiracchānakathā in disgrace), combined with corakathā (see above 4 c) DN.i.7; DN.iii.36, DN.iii.54; Vin.i.188.

  • -kammika a royal official, one employed by the king Ja.i.439 Ja.iv.169.

  • -kuṭumba the king’s property Ja.i.439.

  • -kuṇḍa a “crook of a king” Dhp-a.iii.56.

  • -kumāra a (royal prince (cp. khattiya-kumāra) Vin.i.269; Ja.iii.122 Vb-a.196 (in comparison).

  • -kumbhakāra a “royal potter,” i.e. a potter being “purveyor to the king Ja.v.290.

  • -kula the king’s court or palace AN.i.128 AN.ii.205; Vin.iv.265; Ja.ii.301; Dhp-a.ii.44, Dhp-a.ii.46; Dhp-a.iii.124

  • -khādāya puṭṭha at Snp.831 is according to Kern


    to be read as rajakkhatāya ph. (fr. rajakkha) The old Niddesa, however, reads ˚khādāya & explains the word (Mnd.171) by rājabhojanīyena, i.e. the king’s food, which is alright without being changed.

  • -guṇa “virtue of a king” MN.i.446 (trick of a circus horse + rāja-vaṃsa).

  • -daṇḍa punishment ordered by the king Pv-a.216, Pv-a.217.

  • -dāya a royal gift DN.i.127; DN-a.i.246

  • -dūta king’s messenger Snp.411, Snp.412; in meaning of “message,” i.e. calling somebody to court, summons at Ja.ii.101, Ja.ii.305.

  • -dhamma “king’s rule,” i.e. rule of governing, norm of kingship; usually given as a set of 10, which are enumerated at Ja.iii.274 as “dāna, sīla, pariccāga, ajjava, maddava, tapo, akkodha, avihiṃsā, khanti avirodhana,” i.e. alms-giving, morality, liberality straightness, gentleness, self-restriction, non-anger non-hurtfulness, forbearance non-opposition. These are referred to as dasa rājadhammā at Ja.i.260 Ja.i.399 Ja.ii.400; Ja.iii.320; Ja.v.119, Ja.v.378; usually in phrase “dasa rāja-dhamme akopetvā dhammena rajjan kāresi” he ruled in righteousness, not shaking the tenfold code of the king. Another set of 3 are mentioned at Ja.v.112 viz. “vitathaṁ kodhaṁ hāsaṁ nivāraye” (explained as giving up musāvāda, kodha & adhamma-hāsa)

  • -dhānī a royal city (usually combined with gāma & nigama AN.i.159 AN.ii.33 AN.iii.108 Vin.iii.89 Ja.v.453 Pv.1318-dhītā king’s daughter, princess Ja.i.207 Pv-a.74

  • -nivesana the king’s abode, i.e. palace Dhp-a.iv.92

  • -parisā royal assembly Vin.ii.296

  • -pīla (?) Dhp-a.i.323

  • -putta literally “king’s son,” prince, one belonging to the royal clan (cp. similarly kulaputta), one of royal descent, Rājput Snp.455 Mil.331 Vb-a.312 Vb-a.319 (in simile) Pv-a.20

  • feminine -puttī princess Ja.iv.108 Ja.v.94

  • -purisa “king’s man,” only in pl. -purisā the men of the king, those in the king’s service (as soldiers, body-guard policeman etc.) Ja.iii.34 Vb-a.80 (˚ânubandha-corā) Vb-a.109

  • -porisa (masculine & neuter) servant of the king, collectively: king’s service, those who devote themselves to Govt. service DN.i.135 MN.i.85 = Cnd.199 AN.iv.281 AN.iv.286 ‣See also porisa.

  • -bali royal tax Ja.i.354.

  • -bhaṭa king’s hireling or soldier Vin.i.74, Vin.i.88; Snp-a.38 (in simile

  • -bhaya fear of the king’s punishment Vism.121

  • -bhāga the king’s share Ja.ii.378.

  • -bhogga

    1. royal, in the service of the king, in foll. phrases: rāja-bhoggaṃ raññā dinnaṃ rāja-dāyaṃ brahma-deyyaṃ DN.i.87, of a flourishing place. Dial. i.108 trsls “with power over it as if he were king,” and explains with: “where the king has proprietary rights.” The C. rather unmeaningly explains as “rāja-laddha” (DN-a.i.245). The BSk. has a curious version of this phrase: “rājñā-agni- dattena brahmadeyyaṃ dattaṃ” (given by the king in the place of agni?) Divy.620
      ■ Further at Vin.iii.221 in sequence rājā r-bhogga, brāhmaṇa, gahapatika where the C. explains (on p. 222) as “yo koci rañño bhatta-vetan’ āhāro.” (We should be inclined to take this as No. 2.). Thirdly, in stock phrase “rājâraha rājabhogga rañño angan t’ eva sankhaṃ gacchati,” i.e. worthy of a king, imperial, he justifies the royal qualification said of a thoroughbred horse at AN.i.244 AN.ii.113; of a soldier (yodh’ ājīva) at AN.i.284; of an elephant at Ja.ii.370 (where it is explained as “rāja paribhoga”) Also as “royal possessions” in general at Dhp-a.i.312 Dhp-a.i.13
      ■ Fick, Soc. Gl. 99 does not help much, he takes it as “king’s official.”
    2. royal, of royal power, one entitled to the throne. Either as bhogga, bhogiya (Snp-a.453) or (khattiyā) bhoja-rājāno (Snp.553). Thus at Vin.iii.221, where it takes the place of the usual khattiya “royal noble” & Snp.553, where it is combd (as bhoja rājano) with khattiyā. See also bhoja & cp (antara); bhogika and rājañña
  • -mahāmatta king’s prime minister (see above 4 b, to which add: DN.iii.44; AN.i.154, AN.i.252, AN.i.279; AN.iii.128; Vb-a.312 (simile of 2), Vb-a.340.

  • -mālakāra royal gardener Ja.v.292

  • -muddā the royal seal Dhp-a.i.21.

  • -muddikā id. Snp-a.577.

  • -ratha the king’s chariot Dhp-a.iii.122.

  • -rukkha “royal tree,” Cathartocarpus fistula Vv-a.43.

  • -vara the best king, famous king Vv.32#1 (= Sakka Vv-a.134)

  • -vallabha the king’s favourite, or overseer Mhvs.37, Mhvs.10; Vb-a.501 (in simile).

  • -vibhūti royal splendour or dignity Pv-a.216, Pv-a.279.

  • -haṃsa “royal swan,” a sort of swan or flamingo Vism.650 (suvaṇṇa˚, in simile).

cp. Vedic rājā, n-stem. To root *reg, as in Lat. rego (to lead, di-rect, cp. in meaning Gr. ἡγεμών): see etym. under uju. Cp. Oir. rī king, Gallic Catu-rīx battle king, Goth reiks = Ohg. rīhhi = rich or Ger. reich. Besides we have *reig in Ags. rāēcean reach; Ger. reichen
■ The Dhtp only knows of one root rāj in meaning “ditti” i.e. splendour