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Sundarika-Bhāradvāja

A brahmin of the Bhāradvāja-gotta. Once, when he was performing Fire-rites on the banks of the Sundarikā, he looked round to see if there were anyone, to whom he could give what was left over from the oblations. He saw the Buddha seated under a tree, his head covered; (to rouse the brahmin’s curiosity and to prevent him from being repelled by the sight of a shaven head, says the Commentary) he approached him with the oblation and a water pitcher and addressed him. The Buddha uncovered his head. The sight of the shaven head at first made Sundarika draw back, but, realising that some brahmins too were shaved, he questioned the Buddha about his birth. The Buddha explained to him that the important thing was not birth, but the leading of a good life. The brahmin was pleased and offered him the oblation, but the Buddha refused it, saying that he did not accept presents for chanting verses. He advised Sundarika to throw the food into the water, where there were no creatures, for who could digest food that had once been offered to a Buddha? The brahmin followed this advice and saw the water hiss and seethe with steam and smoke. Alarmed and with hair on end, he worshipped the Buddha, who taught him. Sundarika entered the Order and became an Arahant. S.i.167 f. The account of the meeting between the Buddha and Sundarika is given in the Suttanipāta too (p.79 f), but there the details differ greatly, though the topic of discussion is the same. Several additional verses are attributed to the Buddha regarding the true “sacrifice.” The Commentary calls the Suttanipāta discourse the Pūralāsa Sutta (SNA.ii.400).

Sundarika-Bhāradvāja was so called from his habit of offering oblations on the banks of the Sundarikā (SA.i.181 f). He is also mentioned (M.i.39 f) as meeting the Buddha on the banks of the Bāhukā and asking him whether he bathed in that river, because it had the reputation of cleansing sins. The Buddha answered that purity was not to be won that way and taught him the Vatthūpama Sutta.

According to the Dhammapada Commentary (DhA.iv.163), Sundarika was the brother of Akkosaka and Bilaṅgika Bhāradvāja. There he is mentioned as having abused the Buddha in much the same way as Akkosaka.

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