The Sakya kingdom of early northern India is renowned as the homeland of Gautama Buddha. It should be distinguished from the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism that is associated with Vajrayana Buddhism.

Sakya is identified as a territory on the borders of Nepal and India and had a capital at Kapilavatthu, from which Gautama Buddha’s mother traveled on foot on a visit to her parents and, on the way, gave birth to the Buddha in a park called Lumbini. The Sakyas have been identified with a clan and also with the nomadic people better known as the Scythians.

The Scythians were present during Alexander the Great’s invasion of India and inflicted the only defeat upon the Macedonian as he sought to cross the river. The Scythians eventually moved westward and established an empire that stretched as far as eastern Europe during the period of the early Roman Empire.

The Mahabharata records the Kiratas as rulers of eastern Nepal, and there were other tribes Tibeto Burman in nature. The Aryan invasions of India represented an influx of peoples who created numerous small states that existed in a state of conflict but also represented increased opportunities for trade.

In response a confederation of tribes began to congregate in the Tarai region at the far extremity of the Ganges Plain. Among the Tarai Confederacy was the Sakya clan. This confederacy continued in different forms until the arrival of King Ashoka (r. 268–231 b.c.e.), who consolidated the Mauryan Empire into which Nepal was subsumed.