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Sumanā Sutta

Sumanā, sister of Pasenadi, visits the Buddha at Jetavana with five hundred companions in five hundred chariots and asks him whether, in the case of two disciples, alike in faith, virtue and insight, the one being an almsgiver and the other not, there be any distinction. The Buddha replies that whether they be born in the deva world or in the world of men, the giver would be superior in life span, beauty, happiness, honour, and power. There would still be a difference between them, even when, in later life, they both enter the Order, but the difference would cease to exist on their becoming Arahants (A.iii.32 f).

The Commentary adds (AA.ii.595 f) that Sumanā’s questions were the result of a conversation between two babies born in the house of the King of Kosala, one as the king’s son, the other as the son of one of the attendant women. The children were laid side by side on two beds, the prince’s bed being higher and better. They had both been monks in their previous life; the prince was a refuge taker (sārāṇīyadhammapūraka), the other a manager of a refectory (bhattaggapūraka). The prince saw his past life, and, realising that the other had not taken his advice and had, therefore, suffered eclipse, addressed him as he lay on the next bed. Sumanā heard their talk, but spoke no word of it to anyone, in case the children should be thought to be possessed of evil spirits.

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