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Pokkharasāti

v.l. Pokkharasādi.– A Mahāsāla brahmin of great wealth and learning who lived in Ukkaṭṭhā, on a royal demesne given by Pasenadi. Ambaṭṭha was the pupil of Pokkharasāti, who sent him to the Buddha at Icchānaṅgala to discover if the report of the Buddha’s greatness were true. When Pokkharasāti heard later that Ambaṭṭha had been rude to the Buddha, he sought the Buddha by night and begged for his forgiveness. The next day he invited the Buddha to a meal, and having listened to his teaching, declared himself his follower and became a Stream-winner (D.i.87 f., 106 ff). Owing to his eminence, he was present at the meetings of the brahmins held in Manasākaṭa (D.i.235) and Icchānaṅgala (SN.p.115). Vaseṭṭha, of the Vāseṭṭha Sutta, was also his pupil (SN.vs.594). In the Subha Sutta (M.ii.200 ff),¹ Subha Todeyyaputta, another disciple, is reported to have said that Pokkharasāti — here described as Opamañña (of the Upamañña clan) and lord of Subhagavana (Subhagavanika) — treated as empty boasts the claims of brahmins and recluses to transcend ordinary human bonds and rise to the height of noble knowledge. This evidently refers to a time prior to his conversion. The same Sutta mentions a slave girl of Pokkharasāti, Puṇṇikā by name.

The Commentaries (DA.i.244 f; MA.ii.804; SNA.462) dwell at length on Pokkharasāti’s attractive personality. His body was of the colour of the white lotus, like a silver pandal in heaven, his hair the colour of sapphire, his eyes like blue lotus, etc. He evidently was of true regal appearance.

In the time of Kassapa Buddha he was a brahmin versed in the three Vedas who, having heard the doctrine and given alms, was reborn in the deva world. Thereafter, scorning birth in the womb of a woman, he sprang to life in a lotus, which grew in a pond in Himavā. An ascetic saw the lotus, adopted the boy, and taught him the Vedas. The king was pleased with his great learning, and gave him Ukkaṭṭhā as a mark of great favour. The name of Pokkharasāti was given to him owing to his birth in a lotus.

The Divyāvadāna (p.616 ff., 620) calls him Puskarasārī, and tells a story of his daughter Prakṛti.

¹ The Vimānavatthu gives the name of another of his disciples, Chatta-māṇava (q.v.), who was killed while bringing presents to his teacher. (Vv.v.3; VvA.229 ff.)

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