He was the son of a brahmin of the
Vaccha family. Having heard the Buddha preach, he entered the Order and dwelt in
a village settlement in Kosala. He learnt the doctrine from the various monks
who came there from time to time, but it was not until he learnt from Sāriputta
that he was able to distinguish between Sutta, Vinaya and Abhidhamma. He thus
became versed in the Three Pitakas even before the First Council (On this see
Brethren, p.66. n.1). He practised meditation and soon attained arahantship
(Thag.v.65; ThagA.i.147f). Later he became a teacher of the doctrine. According
to Dhammapāla (ThagA.ii.149), the soubriquet Ukkhepakata was given to him because
he was able to teach and recite passages from the three Pitakas "casting them in
their proper setting, according as they belonged to each Pitaka." The title was
meant to emphasise his eminent repertory of orally-learnt doctrine.
He had been a householder in the time of
the Buddha Siddhattha and had helped a guild who built a hall for the Buddha by
giving them a pillar for the building.
Fifty-five kappas ago he was a king
named Yasodhara and twenty-one kappas ago another king named Udena. His
seven-storied palaces were all built on one pillar. He is probably to be
identified with Ekatthambhika Thera of the Apadāna (i.56-7).