A Mahāsāla brahmin of great wealth and learning who lived in
Ukkatthā, on a royal demesne given by
Ambattha was the pupil of Pokkharasāti, who sent him to the Buddha at
Icchānangala to discover if the report of
the Buddha's greatness were true. When Pokkharasāti heard later that Ambattha
had been rude to the Buddha, he sought the Buddha by night and begged for his
forgiveness. The next day he invited the Buddha to a meal, and having listened
to his teaching, declared himself his follower and became a sotāpanna (D.i.87f.,
Owing to his eminence, he was present at the meetings of the brahmins
held in Manasākata (D.i.235) and
Vasettha, of the
Vāsettha Sutta, was also his pupil
(Sn.vs.594). In the Subha Sutta
(M.ii.200ff)*, Subha Todeyyaputta, another disciple, is reported to have said
that Pokkharasāti - here described as Opamañña (of the Upamañña clan) and lord
of Subhagavana (Subhapvanika)
treated as empty boasts the claims of brahmins and recluses to transcend
ordinary human bonds and rise to the height of Aryan knowledge. This evidently
refers to a time prior to his conversion. The same Sutta mentions a slave girl
of Pokkharasāti, Punnikā by name.
* the Vimānavatthu gives the name of another of his disciples,
Chattamānava, who was killed while bringing
presents to his teacher. (Vv.v.3; VvA.229ff.)
The Commentaries (DA.i.244f.; MA.ii.804; SnA.462) dwell at length on
Pokkharasāti's attractive personality. His body was of the colour of the white
lotus, like a silver pandal in heaven, his hair the colour of sapphire, his eyes
like blue lotus, etc. He evidently was of true regal appearance.
In the time of Kassapa Buddha he was a brahmin versed in the three Vedas who,
having heard the doctrine and given alms, was reborn in the deva world.
Thereafter, scorning birth in the womb of a woman, he sprang to life in a lotus,
which grew in a pond in Himāva. An ascetic saw the lotus, adopted the boy, and
taught him the Vedas. The king was pleased with his great learning, and gave him
Ukkatthā as a mark of great favour. The name of Pokkharasāti was given to him
owing to his birth in a lotus.
The Divyāvadāna (p. 616 ff., 620) calls him Puskarasārī, and tells a story of
his daughter Prakrti.