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Uttaramātā

1. Uttaramātā.– Mother of Uttara, who was a son of Udena’s minister. See Uttara (7). She was miserly, and when her son gave alms she abused him, and spoke disparagingly of the holy men who accepted his gifts. On one occasion, however, she approved of a gift of a tuft of peacock’s feathers at the festival of dedication of a vihāra. After death she was born as a peta. Because of her approval of the gift of peacock’s feathers she had lovely hair, but when she stepped into the river to drink water, all the water turned into blood. (She had told her son that his gifts would turn into blood in his nest birth). For fifty-five years she wandered, famished and thirsty, until one day, seeing the elder Kaṅkhā-Revata spending the day on the banks of the Gaṅgā, she approached him, covering her nudity with her hair, and begged him for a drink. The elder, having learnt from her her story, gave food and drink and clothes to the monks on her behalf and she obtained release from her suffering and enjoyed great bliss (Pv.28 f; PvA.140 ff).

According to the Visuddhimagga (ii.382), Uttaramātā was able to go through the sky because of the psychic power inborn in her as a result of Kamma. This probably refers to another woman. (See below 2.)

2. Uttaramātā.– A yakkhinī, mother of Punabbasu and Uttarā. Once as she passed Jetavana at sunset looking for food, with her daughter on her hip and holding her son by his finger, she saw the assembly, intently listening to the Buddha’s discourse. She, too, hoping to get some benefit, listened quietly and with great earnestness, hushing her children to quietness. The Buddha taught in such a manner that both she and her son could understand, and at the end of the discourse they both became Stream-winner. She immediately got rid of her sad yakkha-state and obtained heavenly bliss, and took up her residence in a tree near the Buddha’s Fragrant Chamber.

Little Uttarā was too young to realise the Truth. S.i.210; SA.i.238‑40; DA.ii.500 f.

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