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Sundarasamudda Thera

He was the son of a wealthy millionaire of Rājagaha and was called Sundara on account of his beauty. While yet young, he realised the majesty of the Buddha, when he visited Rājagaha, and Samudda entered the Order. He once went to Sāvatthi, where he stayed with a friend, learning how to practise insight. On a festival day his mother thought of him and wept, seeing the sons of other families enjoying themselves with their wives. A courtesan offered to entice him back, and the mother promised that should she succeed she would make her Samudda’s wife and give her many gifts. The courtesan went, well attended, to Sāvatthi and took lodgings in a house to which Samudda frequently came for alms. She saw that he was well seen to and showed herself to him, decked and adorned and wearing golden slippers. One day, slipping off her sandals at the door, she saluted him with clasped hands as he passed, and invited him in with a seductive manner.

Then the Thera, realising that the heart of a worldling is unsteady, made then and there a supreme effort and attained Arahantship (Thag.vss.459‑65; ThagA.i.467 f).

According to the Dhammapada Commentary (DhA.iv.194 ff; cf. the story of Cūḷapiṇḍapātika Tissa), Samudda accepted the invitation of the courtesan and went with her to the top floor of her seven storeyed house. There she provided him with a seat and practised her wiles. Samudda suddenly realised what he was doing and was much distressed.

The Buddha, seated in Jetavana, forty-five leagues away, saw what was happening and smiled. On being asked by Ānanda why he smiled, he said: “A battle royal is being waged between Sundarasamudda and a courtesan, but Samudda will win.” So saying, he sent forth a ray of light to Samudda and taught him. At the end of the discourse Samudda became an Arahant.

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