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Santati

A minister of Pasenadi. Because he quelled a frontier disturbance, the king gave over the kingdom to him for seven days, and gave him a woman skilled in song and dance. For seven days Santati enjoyed himself, drinking deeply; on the seventh day he went to the bathing place fully adorned, riding the state elephant. The Buddha met him on the way, and Santati saluted him from the elephant. The Buddha smiled and passed on. When questioned by Ānanda, the Buddha answered that on that very day Santati would attain Arahantship and die.

Santati spent part of the day amusing himself in the water, and then sat in the drinking hall of the park. The woman came on the stage and sang and danced, but she had fasted for seven days to acquire more grace of body, and, as she danced, she fell down dead. Santati was overwhelmed with a mighty sorrow, and straightway became sober. He then sought the Buddha for consolation in his grief. The Buddha taught a four line stanza, and Santati attained Arahantship and asked the Buddha’s permission to attain parinibbāna. The Buddha agreed, on condition that he rose into the air and told to the assembled people the story of his past life. Santati agreed to this, and, rising to a height of seven palm trees, related the meritorious deed of his past life.

Ninety world-cycles ago, in the time of Vipassī Buddha, he was a householder of Bandhumatī, and became a follower of the Buddha and went about proclaiming the virtues of the Three Refuges. King Bandhumā met him and gave him a garland of flowers to wear and a horse on which to ride, while teaching the Dhamma. He later gave him a chariot, great wealth, beautiful jewels and an elephant. Thus, for eighty-four thousand years, Santati went about teaching the Dhamma, and there was diffused from his body the fragrance of sandalwood, and from his mouth the fragrance of the lotus.

As he related his story, seated cross-legged in the air, he developed the idea of fire and attained parinibbāna. Flames burst from his body and burnt it up. The Buddha had his relics collected and a shrine built for them at the meeting of four highways. Discussion arose as to whether Santati should be called a brahmin or a monk. The Buddha said that both names were equally appropriate. DhA.iii.78‑84; SN.i.350; MA.i.188; cf. the story of Abhayarājakumāra.

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