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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[264] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Female Upasakas who looks after the sick (gilanupatthakinam) is Suppiya the Upasika.

Suppiya the Upasika

(DPPN: An upasika of Benares. Her husband was Suppiya, and they were both greatly devoted to the Order. One day, while on a visit to the monastery, Suppiya saw a sick monk who needed a meat broth. On her return home, she sent an attendant to fetch meat; but there was none to be had in the whole of Benares. She therefore, with a knife, cut a piece of flesh from her thigh and gave it to her servant to make into soup for the monk. She then went to her room and lay on her bed. When Suppiya returned and discovered what had happened he was overjoyed, and, going to the monastery, invited the Buddha to a meal the next day. The Buddha accepted the invitation, and when, on the next day, he arrived with his monks, he asked for Suppiya. On hearing that she was ill, he desired that she be brought to see him. At the moment when the Buddha saw her the wound was healed, covered with good skin, on which grew fine hairs as on the rest of her body.

It was as a result of this incident that the Buddha lay down a rule forbidding monks to eat human flesh, even when willingly given.

Suppiya is given as an example of one whose good deeds bore fruit in this very life. She was declared by the Buddha foremost among women who waited on the sick ...