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Udena

1. Udena.– King of Kosambī. He was the son of Parantapa. His mother, when pregnant with him, was carried off by a monster-bird and deposited on a tree near the residence of Allakappa. The child was born in a storm (utu?) — hence the name. Allakappa, having discovered the mother and child, took them under his protection. One day, when Udena was grown up, Allakappa saw by the conjunction of the planets that Parantapa had died. When he announced the news, Udena’s mother revealed to him her identity. Allakappa taught Udena the various charms he knew for taming elephants and sent him to Kosambī, with a large following of elephants, to claim the kingdom. Some time after he became king, Udena appointed Ghosaka as his treasurer, and one day, having seen Ghosaka’s adopted daughter, Sāmāvatī, going to the river to bathe, sent for her and married her. Later he married, in very romantic circumstances, Vāsuladattā, daughter of Caṇḍapajjota, king of Ujjeni. The Dhammapada Commentary ¹ contains a whole story-cycle of Udena from which these details, except where otherwise stated, are taken. For details of other persons mentioned in the article and their encounters with Udena, see under their respective names.

Udena had another wife, Māgandiyā, who took advantage of her new position to wreak vengeance on the Buddha for having once slighted her. When Sāmāvatī was converted to the Buddha’s faith by her handmaiden Khujjuttarā, Māgaṇḍiyā tried to poison the king’s mind against her, but the attempt was frustrated, though Sāmāvatī very nearly lost her life at the king’s hand. When Udena realised how grievously he had wronged her, he promised to grant her a boon, and, as the result of her choice, the Buddha sent Ānanda with five hundred monks to the palace every day, to teach the women of the court. Udena himself does not seem to have been interested in religion. Once when be discovered that the women of the court had given five hundred costly robes to Ānanda, he was annoyed, but when in answer to his questions Ānanda explained to him that nothing given to members of the Order was wasted, he was pleased and himself made a similar offering of robes to Ānanda.² The incident took place after the Buddha’s death.

His encounter in his park the Udakavana with Piṇḍola-Bhāradvāja, in somewhat similar circumstances, did not, however, end so happily. Udena’s women had given Piṇḍola their robes, and when the king questioned Piṇḍola as to the appropriateness of the gift, he remained silent. Udena threatened to have him bitten by red ants; but Piṇḍola vanished through the airLater ⁴ we find him visiting Piṇḍola again on friendly terms and receiving information as to how young members of the Order succeeded in curbing their passions in spite of their youth. In this context Udena calls himself a follower of the Buddha.

Udena had a son named Bodhi, among whose activities the building of a palace, called Kokanada, is specially recorded. It is clear from the incident of the presentation of robes to Ānanda, referred to above, as well as by a definite statement to that effect contained in the Petavatthu Commentary,⁶ that Udena survived the Buddha; but whether his son Bodhi succeeded him or not is not known.

Among Udena’s possessions mention is made of his bow, requiring one thousand men to string it,⁷ and of his elephant Bhaddavatikā. Udena is sometimes referred to as Vaṃsarājā.⁹

In the Udāna Commentary ¹⁰ he is called Vajjirājā. The Milindapañha¹¹ tells a story of a woman called Gopālamātā, who became a queen of Udena. She was the daughter of peasant-folk, and, being poor, she sold her hair for eight pennies, with which she gave a meal to Mahā-Kaccāna and his seven companions. That very day she became Udena’s queen.

2. Udena.– An elder. He once stayed, after the Buddha’s death, in the Khemiyambavana near Bārāṇasī. There the brahmin Ghoṭamukha visited him. Their conversation is recorded in the Ghoṭamukha Sutta. At the end of Udena’s discourse, the brahmin offered to share with him the daily allowance he received from the Aṅga king. This offer was refused, and at Udena’s suggestion Ghoṭamukha built an assembly-hall for monks at Pāṭaliputta; this assembly-hall was named after him.¹²

See also Udena (9).

3. Udena.– A lay disciple (upāsaka) of Kosala. He built a vihāra for the Order, and he invited monks for its dedication, which took place during the Rainy Season (vassa). It being against the rules to go on a journey before the end of the Rains, the monks asked him to postpone the dedication. This annoyed him. When the matter was referred to the Buddha, he altered the rule so that a journey lasting not more than seven days could be undertaken during the Rainy Season.¹³

4. Udena Thera.– The personal attendant of Sumana Buddha.¹⁴

5. Udena.– A king. He joined the Order under Koṇḍañña Buddha, with nine hundred million followers, all of whom became Arahants.¹⁵

6. Udena.– A yakkha. See Udena-cetiya.

7. Udena.– A king, father of Siddhattha Buddha.¹⁶

8. Udena.– A king, a former birth of Ukkhepakatavaccha Thera,¹⁷ in the Apadāna,¹⁸ called Ekatthambhika Thera.

9. Udena Thera.– An Arahant, probably identical with Udena (2). During the time of Padumuttara Buddha he was a hermit, with eighty-four thousand others, living in a hermitage near Paduma-pabbata in the Himavā. Having heard the Buddha’s praises from a yakkha, he visited Padumuttara, offered him a lotus flower and spoke verses in praise of him.¹⁹

Footnotes

¹ DhA.i.161 ff. ² Mentioned also in Vin.ii.291.

³ SnA.ii.514‑5; SA.iii.27; in a previous birth too, as Maṇḍavya, Udena had been guilty of abusing holy men, see the Mātaṅga Jātaka, J.iv.375 ff.

S.iv.110 f. J.iii.157. p.140. DhA.i.216. J.iv.384.

King of the Vaṃsā, e.g., J.iv.375; the Dvy. e.g., 528, calls him Vatsarājā, the Vaṃsā or the Vacchā being the inhabitants of Kosambī.

¹⁰ p.382. ¹¹ p.291. ¹² M.ii.157 ff. ¹³ Vin.i.139. ¹⁴ Bu.v.24; J.i.34.

¹⁵ BuA.111. ¹⁶ Bu.xvii.13; also called Jayasena, BuA.187.

¹⁷ ThagA.i.148. ¹⁸ Ap.i.56. ¹⁹ Ap.ii.362 ff.

Finding Footnote References

Dhammapada Commentary: Appamāda Vagga, Story of Udena, DA.i.161

References in the notes are to the Pāḷi texts of the PTS. In the translations, these are usually printed in the headers near the spine, or in square brackets in the body of the text, thus it would be i 161 in the spine or [161] in the text. References to the Commentaries are usually suffixed with A for Aṭṭhakathā (DA, MA, SNA, etc.) but references to the Jātaka Commentary are given as J, not JA, which would normally be used, as that is reserved for the Journal Asiatic.

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