1. Sāgata Thera.– He was the personal attendant of the Buddha at he time when Soṇa Koḷivisa visited Bimbisāra, with overseers of the eighty thousand townships of Bimbisāra’s kingdom. Sāgata was endowed with supernatural power, and the overseers, who went to visit the Buddha at Gijjhakūṭa, were very impressed by his psychic powers, so much so that even while the Buddha was teaching they could not take their eyes off him. The king thereupon asked Sāgata to show them a greater marvel, and Sāgata, having shown in the open sky wonders of various kinds, fell at the Buddha’s feet and declared the Buddha his teacher (Vin.i.179 f).
Later, when the Buddha went to stay in Bhaddavatikā, having heard men warn the Buddha of the proximity of a Nāga of great power in the Jatiḷā hermitage at Ambatittha, Sāgata went there and lived in the Nāga’s abode. The Nāga showed great resentment, but Sāgata overpowered him with his psychic powers (iddhi) and then returned to Bhaddavatikā. From there he went with the Buddha to Kosambī, where the lay disciples, hearing of his wondrous feat, paid him great honour. When they asked what they could do for his comfort, he remained silent, but the group of six monks (Chabbaggiyā) suggested that they should provide him with white spirits (kāpotikā).
The next day, when Sāgata went for alms, he was invited to various houses, where the inmates plied him with intoxicating drinks. So deep were his potations that on his way out of the town he fell prostrate at the gateway. The monks carried him, and at the monastery they laid him down with his head at the Buddha’s feet, but he turned round so that his feet lay towards the Buddha. The Buddha pointed out his condition to the monks, using it as an example of the evil effects of liquor; and he made this the occasion for the passing of a rule against the use of alcohol. Vin.iv.108 f; the story: is also given as the introduction to the Surāpāna Jātaka (J.i.360 ﬀ.) which, too, was taught on this occasion; cf. AA.i.178 f.
It is said (AA.i.179) that on the next day, when Sāgata came to himself and realised the enormity of his offence, he sought the Buddha and, having begged his forgiveness, developed insight, attaining Arahantship. The Buddha later declared him foremost among those skilled in the contemplation of the heat element (tejodhātukusalānaṃ) (A.i.25).
It is curious that no verses are ascribed to Sāgata in the Theragāthā. The Apadāna (Ap.i.83 f) contains a set of verses said to have been spoken by him. In the time of Padumuttara Buddha he was Sobhita, a brahmin. The Buddha came to his hermitage with his disciples, and Sāgata spoke verses in praise of the Buddha, who declared his future destiny. The Commentary adds that he was called Sāgata because he was greatly welcome (sāgata) to his parents.