In the 7th Century BCE, Rājagaha (modern-day Rajgir) was the old capital city of Magadha Kingdom. During the reign of King Bimbisara, it was one of the largest cities in the world. King Bimbisara was a good administrator and a generous, spiritual person. Thus, many religious and meditation teachers of the day were attracted to Rājagaha due to his munificent support.
After Prince Siddhattha left the home-life and began his serious pursuit for liberation from ‘Samsāra’, he first traveled to Rājagaha where he sought out two famous meditation teachers – Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. He learned their meditation teachings and soon mastered their techniques; yet he found those techniques to be inadequate for the purpose of Enlightenment. Thus, after a few months in Rājagaha, the ascetic Siddhattha Gotama left for Uruvela for further practice.
At Rājagaha, King Bimbisara had met with the ascetic Gotama. After finding out about his royal background, Bimbisara invited ascetic Gotama to return to lay-life and serve in the kingdom of Magadha. The future Buddha politely refused, and stated that his only aim was to attain liberation.
King Bimbisara applauded ascetic Gotama’s clarity of mind and firm determination, and wished him success. Bimbisara then sought ascetic Gotama’s promise to return to Rājagaha after attaining Enlightenment to teach the people of Magadha. Six years later, Siddhattha Gotama fulfilled his promise to King Bimbisara and returned to Rājagaha as the Perfectly-Enlightened Buddha!