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Nāgasamāla Thera

1. Nāgasamāla Thera.– He was a Sākyan and entered the Order when the Buddha visited his kinsmen at Kapilavatthu. For some time he was the Buddha’s personal attendant — e.g., when the Buddha taught the Mahāsīhanāda Sutta (or the Lomahaṃsa-pariyāya) (M.i.83 ; MA.i.283; AA.i.163; UdA. 217; J.iv.95).

One day, when entering the city for alms, he saw a nautch girl gaily dressed, dancing to the accompaniment of music and contemplated her as the snare of Māra. Making this his topic of thought, he developed insight into the perishability of life and became an Arahant (Thag.vs.267‑70; ThagA.i.378). Another day (evidently earlier than the previous incident), while walking with the Buddha, they came to a fork in the road, and the Buddha wished to go along one way, while Nāgasamāla wished to go along another, in spite of the Buddha’s warning that it was dangerous. In the end, he put the Buddha’s begging bowl and robe on the ground and left him. Brigands waylaid him and ill-treated him, breaking his bowl and threatening to kill him. Thereupon he turned back to the Buddha and asked his forgiveness (Ud.viii.7; UdA.425 f).

Nāgasamāla was a householder in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, and, seeing the Buddha walking in the sun, he gave him an umbrella. After that, wherever he went a white parasol appeared over his head. For thirty world-cycles he was king of the gods. He is probably to be identified with Ekachattiya of the Apadāna. Ap.ii.405.

2. Nāgasamāla Thera.– An Arahant. The Apadāna (Ap.i.119) distinguishes him from the above, whom it calls Ekachattiya. Thirty-one world-cycles ago he placed a pātali flower on the thūpa of Sikhī Buddha. Fifteen world-cycles ago he was a king named Bhūmiya.

The Apadāna Commentary says, however, that this thera was the personal attendant (pacchāsamaṇa = monk who walks behind) of the Buddha for some time and that he was called Nāgasamāla because his body was tender as nāga-buds.

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