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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[258] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Female Upasakas who first took Refuge (saranam gacchantinam) is Sujata Senanidhita.

Sujata Senanidhita

(DPPN: Daughter of Senani, a landowner of the village of Senani near Uruvela. She made a promise to the god of the Banyan-tree near by that she would offer a meal of milk-rice to the god if she gave birth to a son. Her wish was fulfilled, the son was born, and she sent her maid, Punna, to prepare the place for the offering. This was on the very day of the Buddha's Enlightenment, and Punna, finding Gotama sitting under the Banyan, thought that he was the tree-god present in person to receive the offering. She brought the news to Sujata, who, in great joy, brought the food in a golden bowl and offered it to him. Gotama took the bowl to the river bank, bathed at the Suppatitthita ford and ate the food. This was his only meal for forty-nine days (J.i.68).

Sujata's meal was considered one of the most important of those offered to the Buddha, and the devas, therefore, added to it divine flavors.

Yasa was Sujata's son, and when he attained arahantship his father, who had come in search of him, became the Buddha's follower and invited him to a meal. The Buddha accepted the invitation and went with Yasa to the house. The Buddha preached at the end of the meal, and both Sujata and Yasa's wife became sotapannas. On that day Sujata took the threefold formula of Refuge. She thus became foremost among lay women who had taken the threefold formula.

[There is something not right about this story. If Sujata's son was an early Arahant (becoming such at Isipatana in the Deer Park while still a layman — I believe he was the sixth to enter the Order) and his father the first of laymen to take the full 3 refuges — Tapassu and Bhalluka only took the first two), then it is difficult to place Sujata as the new mother of Yasa at the time of the Buddha's enlightenment. But the fact that Yasa was Sujata's son is apparently only claimed by the commentary.]