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Ambapali









Then the Blessed One proceeded with a great number of brethren to
Vesali, and he stayed at the grove of the courtesan Ambapali. And
he said to the brethren: "Let a brother, O bhikkhus, be mindful
and thoughtful. Let a brother, whilst in the world, overcome the
grief which arises from bodily craving, from the lust of
sensations, and from the errors of wrong reasoning. Whatever you
do, act always in full presence of mind. Be thoughtful in eating
and drinking, in walking or standing, in sleeping or waking,
while talking or being silent."

When the courtesan Ambapali heard that the Blessed One was
staying in her mango grove, she was exceedingly glad and went in
a carriage as far as the ground was passable for carriages. There
she alighted and thence proceeding to the place where the Blessed
One was, she took her seat respectfully at his feet on one side.
As a prudent woman goes forth to perform her religious duties, so
she appeared in a simple dress without any ornaments, yet
beautiful to look upon.

And the Blessed One thought to himself: "This woman moves in
worldly circles and is a favorite of kings and princes; yet is
her heart calm and composed. Young in years, rich, surrounded by
pleasures, she is thoughtful and steadfast. This, indeed, is rare
in the world. Women, as a rule, are scant in wisdom and deeply
immersed in vanity; but she, although living in luxury, has
acquired the wisdom of a master, taking delight in piety, and
able to receive the truth in its completeness."

When she was seated, the Blessed One instructed, aroused, and
gladdened her with religious discourse.

As she listened to the law, her face brightened with delight.
Then she rose and said to the Blessed One: "Will the Blessed One
do me the honor of taking his meal, together with the brethren,
at my house to-morrow?" And the Blessed One gave, by silence, his
consent.

Now, the Licchavi, a wealthy family of princely rank, hearing
that the Blessed One had arrived at Vesali and was staying at
Ambapali's grove, mounted their magnificent carriages, and
proceeded with their retinue to the place where the Blessed One
was. And the Licchavi were gorgeously dressed in bright colors
and decorated with costly jewels.

And Ambapali drove up against the young Licchavi, axle to axle,
wheel to wheel, and yoke to yoke, and the Licchavi said to
Ambapali, the courtesan: "How is it, Ambapali, that you drive up
against us thus?"

"My lords," said she, "I have just invited the Blessed One and
his brethren for their to-morrow's meal."

And the princes replied: "Ambapali! give up this meal to us for a
hundred thousand."

"My lords, were you to offer all Vesali with its subject
territory, I would not give up so great an honor!"

Then the Licchavi went on to Ambapali's grove.

When the Blessed One saw the Licchavi approaching in the
distance, he addressed the brethren, and said: "O brethren,
let those of the brethren who have never seen the gods gaze upon
this company of the Licchavi, for they are dressed gorgeously,
like immortals."

And when they had driven as far as the ground was passable for
carriages, the Licchavi alighted and went on foot to the place
where the Blessed One was, taking their seats respectfully by his
side. And when they were thus seated, the Blessed One instructed,
aroused, and gladdened them with religious discourse.

Then they addressed the Blessed One and said: "Will the Blessed
One do us the honor of taking his meal, together with the
brethren, at our palace to-morrow?"

"O Licchavi," said the Blessed One, "I have promised to dine
to-morrow with Ambapali, the courtesan."

Then the Licchavi, expressing their approval of the words of the
Blessed One, arose from their seats and bowed down before the
Blessed One, and, keeping him on their right hand as they passed
him, they departed thence; but when they came home, they cast up
their hands, saying: "A worldly woman has outdone us; we have
been left behind by a frivolous girl!"

And at the end of the night Ambapali, the courtesan, made ready
in her mansion sweet rice and cakes, and on the next day
announced through a messenger the time to the Blessed One,
saying, "The hour, Lord, has come, and the meal is ready!"

And the Blessed One robed himself early in the morning, took his
bowl, and went with the brethren to the place where Ambapali's
dwelling-house was; and when they had come there they seated
themselves on the seats prepared for them. And Ambapali, the
courtesan, set the sweet rice and cakes before the order, with
the Buddha at their head, and waited upon them till they refused
to take more.

And when the Blessed One had finished his meal, the courtesan had
a low stool brought, and sat down at his side, and addressed the
Blessed One, and said: "Lord, I present this mansion to the order
of bhikkhus, of which the Buddha is the chief."

And the Blessed One accepted the gift; and after instructing,
arousing, and gladdening her with religious edification, he rose
from his seat and departed thence.





Next: The Buddha's Farewell Address

Previous: The Mirror Of Truth



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Buddha's Gospels