An Ājivaka whom the Buddha met
on his way between Gayā and the Bodhi Tree, after he set out from
the preaching of the First Sermon. Upaka questioned the Buddha on his
attainments, and when the Buddha told him what he had accomplished he asked the
Buddha if he were "Anantajina." When the Buddha acknowledged it, Upaka shook his
bead saying, "It may be so, friend," and went along by another road (J.i.81;
Vin.i.8; M.i.170-1; DhA.iv.71-2). It is said (DA.ii.471) that the Buddha walked
all the way from the Bodhi Tree to Isipatana - instead of flying through the
air, as is the custom of Buddhas - because he wished to meet Upaka.
After this meeting Upaka went to the
Vankahāra country and there, having fallen desperately in love with
the daughter of a huntsman who looked after him, starved for seven days and in
the end persuaded the huntsman to give her to him in marriage. For a living, Upaka hawked about the flesh brought by the huntsman. In due course Cāpā bore
him a son, Subhadda. When the baby cried, Cāpā sang to him saying, "Upaka's son,
ascetic's son, game-dealer's boy, don't cry," thus mocking her husband. In
exasperation he told her of his friend Anantajina, but she did not stop teasing
him. One day, in spite of her attempts to keep him, he left her and went to the
Buddha at Sāvatthi. The Buddha, seeing him coming, gave orders that anyone
asking for Anantajina should be brought to him. Having learnt from Upaka his
story, the Buddha had him admitted to the Order. As a result of his meditation,
Upaka became an anāgāmī and was reborn in the Avihā heaven (ThigA.220ff;
MA.i.388f. Upaka's story is also given in SnA.i.258ff, with several variations
in detail). The Samyutta Nikāya (i.35, 60) records a visit paid to the Buddha by
Upaka and six other beings born in Avihā. According to the Majjhima Commentary
(i.389), Upaka became an arahant as soon as he was born in Avihā.
In the Therīgāthā he is also called Kāla
(v.309. This may have been a term of affection used because of his dark colour)
and his birth-place is given as Nāla, a village near the Bodhi Tree, where he is
said to have been living with his wife at the time he left her (ThigA.225).
Later, Cāpā, too, left the world and
became an arahant Therī.
The Divyāvadana (p.393) calls Upaka
The enumeration of the Buddha's virtues
which was made to Upaka is not regarded as a real dhammadesanā because it took
place before the preaching of the first sermon. It produced only a
vāsanā-bhāgiya result, not sekha- or ribaddha-bhāgiya (UdA.54).
The words of the Buddha's speech to
Upaka are often quoted (E.g., Kvu.289).
2. Upaka Mandikāputta.He once visited
the Buddha at Gijjhakūta and stated before him his view that whoever starts
abusive talk of another, without being able to make good his case, is
blameworthy. The Buddha agrees and says that Upaka himself has been guilty of
this offence. The Commentary (AA.ii.554) explains that Upaka was a supporter of
Devadatta. Upaka protests against being caught in a big noose of words, like a
fish caught as soon as he pops up his head. The Buddha explains that it is
necessary for him to teach with endless variations of words and similes. Upaka
is pleased with the Buddha's talk and reports the conversation to
The king shows his anger at the man's presumption in having remonstrated with
the Buddha (A.ii.181f), and the Commentary adds that he had him seized by the
neck and cast out.
Buddhaghosa says (AA.ii.554-5) that
Upaka went to visit the Buddha in order to find out whether the Buddha would
blame him for being a supporter of Devadatta. According to others, he came to
abuse the Buddha because he had heard that the Buddha had consigned Devadatta to
hell. He was apparently of low caste, and Ajātasattu addresses him as
"salt-worker's boy" (lonakārakadāraka) (A.ii.182).