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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[261] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Female Upasakas who lives in Friendly Vibrations (mettaviharinam) is Samavati.


(DPPN: One of the three chief consorts of King Udena. She was the daughter of the setthi Bhaddavatiya of Bhaddavati, who was a friend of Ghosaka of Kosambī. When plague broke out in Bhaddavati, she and her parents fled to Kosambī, and there obtained food from the alms-hall provided by Ghosaka. On the first day Samavati asked for three portions, on the second two, on the third only one. For her father had died after the meal on the first day, her mother on the second. When, on the third day, she asked for only one portion, Mitta, who was distributing alms, teased her, saying: "Today you know the capacity of your belly." She asked what he meant, and when he explained his words, she told him what had happened. Mitta pitied her and adopted her as his daughter.

One day, when she arrived at the refectory, she found a great uproar going on, people rushing everywhere to get alms. She asked to be allowed to bring order into this chaos, and had a fence erected round the refectory with separate doors for entrance and exit. This put an end to the disturbances. Ghosaka, hearing no noise in the refectory as before, inquired the reason, and, finding out what Samavati had done, adopted her as his own child. Samava' ti. original name was Sama, but after building the fence (vati) round the refectory she was called Samavati.

On a festival day Udena saw Samavati going to the river to bathe, and, falling in love with her, asked Ghosaka to send her to the palace. But Ghosaka refused, and the king turned him and his wife out of doors and sealed up his house. When Samavati discovered this, she made Ghosaka send her to the palace, and Udena made her his chief consort. Some time afterwards Udena took Magandiya also as consort.

When the Buddha visited Kosambī at the request of Ghosaka, Kukkuta and Pavariya, Khujjutara, the servant-woman of Samavati, heard him preach and became a sotapanna. She had been on her way to the gardener, Sumana, to buy flowers for Samavati, with the eight pieces of money given to her daily by the king for this purpose. On Sumana's invitation, she had gone to hear the Buddha at his house. On other days she had spent only half the money on flowers, appropriating the rest for herself; but this day, having become a sotapanna, she bought flowers with the whole amount and took them to Samavati, to whom she confessed her story. At Samava' ti. request, Khujjuttara repeated to her and her companions the sermon she had heard from the Buddha. After this, she visited the Buddha daily, repeating his sermon to Samavati and her friends. Having learnt that the Buddha passed along the street in which the palace stood, Samavati had holes made in the walls so that she and her friends might see the Buddha and do obeisance to him. Magandiya heard of this during a visit to Samava' ti. quarters, and, because of her hatred for the Buddha, she determined to have Samavati punished.

[SIDEBAR: (also from DPPN: Magandiya was a brahmin of the Kuru country. He had a very beautiful daughter, called Magandiya. Many men of high station sought her hand, but the brahmin did not consider them worthy. The Buddha, one day, became aware that both Magandiya and his wife were ready for conversion, so he visited their village (Kammasadamma — a potter's village, where several famous suttas were delivered, the foremost being The Satipatthana Sutta) Magandiya saw him, and, noting the auspicious marks on his body, told him of his daughter and begged him to wait til she could be brought. The Buddha said nothing, and Magandiya went home and returned with his wife and daughter arrayed in all splendor. On arriving, they found the Buddha had gone, but his footprint was visible, and Magandiya's wife, skilled in such matters, said that the owner of such a footprint was free from all passion. But Magandiya paid no attention, and, going a little way, saw the Buddha and offered him his daughter. The Buddha thereupon told them of his past life, his renunciation of the world, his conquest of Mara, and the unsuccessful attempts of Mara's very beautiful daughters to tempt him. Compared with them, Magandiya was, he said, a corpse, filled with thirty-two impurities, an impure vessel painted without; he would not touch her with his foot. At the end of the discourse, Magandiya and his wife became anagamins (and later left the world, joined the Order and became arahants). Magandiya, was, as you can imagine, somewhat bent out of shape at all this.]

At first her plots miscarried, and Udena, convinced of Samava' ti. goodness, gave her a boon, and she chose that the Buddha be invited to visit the palace daily and to preach to her and her friends. But the Buddha sent Ananda instead, and they provided him with food every day and listened to the Law. One day they presented him with five hundred robes given to them by the king, who, at first, was very angry, but on hearing from Ananda that nothing given to the monks was lost, he gave another five hundred robes himself.

In the end, Magandiya's plot succeeded, and Samavati and her companions were burned to death in their own house. Udena was in his park, and, on his arrival, he found them all dead. When the Buddha was asked, he said that some of the women hat attained to the First Fruit of the Path, others to the second, yet others to the third. It is said that in a previous birth Samavati and her friends had belonged to the harem of the king of Benares. One day they went bathing with the king, and, feeling cold when they came out of the water, they set fire to a tangle of grass near by. When the grass burned down, they found a Pacceka Buddha [Usually translated "Silent Buddha", my understanding that this is an individual who has attained complete self awakening without the direct or indirect aid of a Buddha, but, lacking the extensive training that is part of the awakening process of a SammasamBuddha, a Pacceka Buddha is unable to lead a large following. They are not "Silent," nor are they unable to teach individuals; they simply do not possess the requisites for leading a large following.] seated in the tangle, and fearing that they had burnt him to death, they pulled more grass, which they placed round his body, and, after pouring oil on it, set fire to it so that all traces of their crime might be destroyed. The Pacceka Buddha was in Samadhi and nothing could therefore harm him, but it was this act which brought retribution to Samavati and her companions.