How Buddha resolved the problem of water scarcity between 2 kingdoms ?

There was a situation of war between the two states regarding the water of a river. How did Buddha deal with this problem and why is this incident so relevant even in the present circumstances?

In general, water scarcity or water crisis makes us feel that this is a modern problem, and this problem is limited to some big metropolitan cities, to some extent it is okay to think so, but water problem has always been there and due to man’s greed, jealousy, fake pride, this problem has become even worse.

Similarly, around the time of Buddha, there was a violent dispute between two provinces regarding the usage of the water of a river.

The manner in which Buddha settled this dispute between the two states over the water of the river is equally relevant today.

About 2600 years ago from today. The boundaries of two major kingdoms used to meet at what is presently the Indo-Nepal border.

These two major kingdoms were Sakya and Koliya.

Rohini river used to flow between Sakya and Koliya kingdom. In this way, the geographical division of both the states was done by the Rohini river only. The relations between the two states were very good.

Current geographical location of Rohini river

The Rohini River originates from the hills of the Shivalik Mountains in the Kapilvastu Districts of the Lumbini region of Nepal and enters the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, flowing southwards. It joins the Rapti river near Gorakhpur inside the border of India, which joins Ghaghra and Ghaghra goes ahead and meets the Ganges river.

Drought and conflict between the states.

The residents of both the states used the water of the Rohini river in their daily life. Once it did not rain for many days, as a result of which there was a severe famine, both the states also had to face the shortage of water.

The farmers of both the states depended on the water of the Rohini river for agriculture.
Due to lack of rain, water was not available in abundance in the Rohini river that year. At the time of rice planting, (Rice was the major crop of both the states). The farmers of both the states wanted to use the water as much as they possibly could, as a result, the farmers of both the states started showing their desire to use the water of the river by building dams in their respective borders.

People who had been living together for generations became enemies of each other due to lack of water. People on both sides wanted water. In the beginning, the farmers of both the states said bad things to each other, there was a round of accusations and counter-accusations between them, then a lot of ill-will was generated by the use of abusive language.

One day there was a fight between the farmers on both sides after listening to each other. Many farmers of both the states were injured in the conflict over the rights to the water of the Rohini river. The conflict increased so much that first the police of both the states and then later the army had to be deployed.

Relations between the two states had become extremely tense. An armed conflict could break out between the two states at any time.

Arrival of Buddha and solution to the problem

Buddha came to know about this incident, he immediately went to meet the kings of both the states to solve this problem.

Both the states were important to Buddha. Sakya region was the homeland of Buddha, while Buddha’s mother and wife Yashodhara both came from Koliya region.

After meeting the members of the royal family of both the countries, Buddha also met the officials, farmers of both the states and took stock of the real situation. Buddha came to this conclusion after thoroughly understanding the problem:-

@ At the root of the problem is water scarcity. The people of both the states can overcome this shortcoming with mutual understanding.

@To deal with this problem long term measures were needed which was possible only with the efforts of the ruling class of both the states.

@Buddha found that corrupt politics and arbitrary behavior of officials had made the problem worse.


Buddha explained to the rulers of both the states that life is more precious than water. Buddha said that the lack of water had fanned the flames of anger and hatred among the people of the two kingdoms and this led to war. Had hatred and anger been kept under control, this unfortunate situation would not have arisen.

Buddha suggested the rulers of both the states to sit down and look forward for negotiations. Buddha also suggested the farmers of both the states to face this difficult time together. Buddha suggested equal distribution of water to the farmers of both the states, which was happily accepted by the people and rulers of both the states.

Buddha was highly respected both by the ruling class of the state and the public, so soon peace was established with the efforts of Buddha and warm and cordial relations were again established between the two states.



At present the whole world is suffering this water crisis. There is a situation of conflict between many countries regarding the distribution of water. Within countries, conflicts have also seen between provinces, or between cities and villages regarding the distribution of water.

Instead of solving this problem together, the ruling class escapes from its duty by inciting anger and hatred among the general public. People blinded by hatred do not even try to solve the root problem. If Buddha’s words are heeded, then undoubtedly it is possible to get rid of the world’s water crisis. Remember that Buddha’s teachings are also based on experience instead of pure idealism and public welfare is his one and only goal.

Author: nitinsingh

Postgraduate in International relations. Experience in writing in various journals, from BBC WORLD NEWS SERVICE to India's one of the oldest hindi daily. I like to write on international relations, religion, religious conflict. Social media has bridged the distance between writing and reading. Now writing is not just the expression of one's own thought, but also knowing the expression of people on various subject.

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