Mahāparinibbānasuttaṁ
The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[Dutiyabhāṇavāraṁ]
[The Second Chapter for Recitation]

[15: Ambapālī Gaṇikā] cf. Satisuttaṁ SN 47:2; and Bhesajjakkhandakaṁ: Ambapālīvatthu, Licchavīvatthu Vin. Mhv.1.231-233.01
[The Courtesan Ambapālī]

Atha kho Bhagavā Nādike yathābhirantaṁ viharitvā,
Then the Gracious One, after living near Nādika for as long as he liked,

āyasmantaṁ Ānandaṁ āmantesi:
addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying):

“Āyām' Ānanda yena Vesālī tenupasaṅkamissāmā.” ti
“Come Ānanda let us approach Vesālī.”

“Evaṁ Bhante,” ti kho āyasmā Ānando Bhagavato paccassosi.
“Very well, reverend Sir,” venerable Ānanda replied to the Gracious One.

Atha kho Bhagavā mahatā bhikkhusaṅghena saddhiṁ yena Vesālī tad-avasari.
Then the Gracious One together with a great Community of monks arrived at Vesālī.

Tatra sudaṁ Bhagavā Vesāliyaṁ viharati Ambapālivane.
There the Gracious One lived near Vesālī in Ambapālī's Wood.

Tatra kho Bhagavā bhikkhū āmantesi:
There the Gracious One addressed the monks, (saying):

“Sato bhikkhave bhikkhu vihareyya sampajāno ayaṁ vo amhākaṁ anusāsanī.
“Mindfully and with full awareness, monks, a monk should live, this is our advice to you. Comm: sato bhikkhave ti Bhagavā Ambapālidassane satipaccupaṭṭhānatthaṁ visesato idha satipaṭṭhānadesanaṁ ārabhi; mindful, monks, the Gracious One began the teaching of mindfulness specially here, so that they would be attending to mindfulness when they saw Ambapālī.02

Kathañ-ca bhikkhave bhikkhu sato hoti?
And how, monks, is a monk mindful? What follows is the summary of the ways of attending to mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna), a translation of which is found elsewhere on this website.03

Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati,
Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body,

ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṁ;
ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world;

vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati,
he dwells contemplating (the nature of) feelings in feelings,

ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṁ;
ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world;

citte cittānupassī viharati,
he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the mind in the mind,

ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṁ;
ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world;

dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati,
he dwells contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things,

ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṁ.
ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.

Evaṁ kho bhikkhave bhikkhu sato hoti.
Thus, monks, a monk is mindful.

 

Kathañ-ca bhikkhave bhikkhu sampajāno hoti?
And how, monks, does a monk have full awareness? This now forms of section in the Satipaṭṭhānasutta.04

Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu abhikkante paṭikkante sampajānakārī hoti,
Here, monks, a monk in going forwards, in going back, is one who practises with full awareness,

ālokite vilokite sampajānakārī hoti,
in looking ahead, or in looking around, he is one who practises with full awareness,

sammiñjite pasārite sampajānakārī hoti,
in bending or in stretching, he is one who practises with full awareness,

saṅghāṭipattacīvaradhāraṇe sampajānakārī hoti,
in bearing his double-robe, bowl, and (other) robes, he is one who practises with full awareness,

asite pīte khāyite sāyite sampajānakārī hoti,
in eating, in drinking, in chewing, in tasting, he is one who practises with full awareness,

uccārapassāvakamme sampajānakārī hoti,
in passing stool and urine, he is one who practises with full awareness,

gate ṭhite nisinne, sutte jāgarite, bhāsite tuṇhībhāve sampajānakārī hoti.
in going, in standing, in sitting, in sleeping, in waking, in talking, and in maintaining silence, he is one who practises with full awareness.

Evaṁ kho bhikkhave bhikkhu sampajāno hoti.
Thus, monks, a monk has full awareness.

Sato bhikkhave bhikkhu vihareyya sampajāno ayaṁ vo amhākaṁ anusāsanī.” ti
Mindfully and with full awareness, monks, a monk should live, this is our advice to you.”

* * *

Assosi kho Ambapālī gaṇikā: “Bhagavā kira Vesāliṁ anuppatto
The courtesan Ambapālī heard: “The Gracious One, it seems, has reached Vesālī

Vesāliyaṁ viharati mayhaṁ Ambavane.” ti
and is living near Vesālī in my Mango Wood.” Ambapālī's name means ‘(daughter of the) Mango Keeper’, though according to the Commentary she was born spontaneously in a mango wood (perhaps this one?), and hence acquired the name. Courtesans like Ambapāli were often very rich as we can see from the description of her vehicles and pleasure garden.05

Atha kho Ambapālī gaṇikā bhaddāni bhaddāni yānāni yojāpetvā,
Then the courtesan Ambapālī, after having (many) great and august vehicles prepared,

bhaddaṁ bhaddaṁ yānaṁ abhiruhitvā,
and mounting (those) great and august vehicles,

bhaddehi bhaddehi yānehi Vesāliyā niyyāsi,
departed with those great and august vehicles from Vesālī,

yena sako ārāmo tena pāyāsi yāvatikā yānassa bhūmi yānena gantvā,
and after approaching by vehicle to her pleasure garden as far as the ground for vehicles (would allow),

yānā paccorohitvā, pattikā va yena Bhagavā tenupasaṅkami,
and descending from the vehicles, she approached the Gracious One by foot,

upasaṅkamitvā Bhagavantaṁ abhivādetvā, ekam-antaṁ nisīdi.
and after approaching and worshipping the Gracious One, she sat down on one side.

Ekam-antaṁ nisinnaṁ kho Ambapāliṁ gaṇikaṁ Bhagavā
* While the courtesan Ambapālī was sitting on one side the Gracious One

Dhammiyā kathāya sandassesi, samādapesi, samuttejesi, sampahaṁsesi.
instructed, roused, enthused, and cheered her with a talk about the Teaching.

Atha kho Ambapālī gaṇikā,
Then the courtesan Ambapālī,

Bhagavatā Dhammiyā kathāya sandassitā samādapitā samuttejitā sampahaṁsitā,
having been instructed, roused, enthused, and cheered by the Gracious One with a talk about the Teaching,

Bhagavantaṁ etad-avoca:
said to the Gracious One:

“Adhivāsetu me Bhante Bhagavā
“May the Gracious One consent, reverend Sir, to me

svātanāya bhattaṁ saddhiṁ bhikkhusaṅghenā.” ti
(offering him) a meal on the morrow, together with the Community of monks.”

Adhivāsesi Bhagavā tuṇhībhāvena.
The Gracious One consented by maintaining silence.

Atha kho Ambapālī gaṇikā Bhagavato adhivāsanaṁ viditvā,
Then the courtesan Ambapālī, having understood the Gracious One's consent,

uṭṭhāyāsanā, Bhagavantaṁ abhivādetvā padakkhiṇaṁ katvā pakkāmi.
after rising from her seat, worshipping and circumambulating the Gracious One, went away.

 

Assosuṁ kho Vesālikā Licchavī: “Bhagavā kira Vesāliṁ anuppatto
The Licchavīs from Vesālī heard: “The Gracious One, it seems, had reached Vesālī

Vesāliyaṁ viharati Ambapālivane.” ti
and is living near Vesālī in Ambapālī's Wood.”

Atha kho te Licchavī, bhaddāni bhaddāni yānāni yojāpetvā,
Then those Licchavīs, after having (many) great and august vehicles prepared,

bhaddaṁ bhaddaṁ yānaṁ abhiruhitvā,
and mounting (those) great and august vehicles,

bhaddehi bhaddehi yānehi Vesāliyā niyyiṁsu.
departed with those great and august vehicles from Vesālī.

Tatra ekacce Licchavī nīlā honti nīlavaṇṇā nīlavatthā nīlālaṅkārā,
There some of the Licchavīs were blue, having a blue appearance, with blue clothes and blue decorations,

ekacce Licchavī pītā honti pītavaṇṇā pītavatthā pītālaṅkārā,
some of the Licchavīs were yellow, having a yellow appearance, with yellow clothes and yellow decorations,

ekacce Licchavī lohitā honti lohitavaṇṇā lohitavatthā lohitālaṅkārā,
some of the Licchavīs were red, having a red appearance, with red clothes and red decorations,

ekacce Licchavī odātā honti odātavaṇṇā odātavatthā odātālaṅkārā.
some of the Licchavīs were white, having a white appearance, with white clothes and white decorations.

Atha kho Ambapālī gaṇikā daharānaṁ daharānaṁ Licchavīnaṁ
Then the courtesan Ambapālī rolled alongside the Licchavī youths

akkhena akkhaṁ cakkena cakkaṁ yugena yugaṁ paṭivaṭṭesi.
axle by axle, wheel by wheel, and yoke by yoke.

Atha kho te Licchavī Ambapāliṁ gaṇikaṁ etad-avocuṁ:
Then those Licchavīs said this to the courtesan Ambapālī:

“Kiṁ je Ambapāli daharānaṁ daharānaṁ Licchavīnaṁ
“Why do you, Ambapālī, roll alongside the Licchavī youths

akkhena akkhaṁ cakkena cakkaṁ yugena yugaṁ paṭivaṭṭesī?” ti
axle by axle, wheel by wheel, and yoke by yoke?”

“Tathā hi pana me ayyaputtā Bhagavā nimantito,
“Because I have invited the Gracious One, noble sirs,

svātanāya bhattaṁ saddhiṁ bhikkhusaṅghenā.” ti
for a meal on the morrow, together with the Community of monks.”

“Dehi je Ambapāli etaṁ bhattaṁ satasahassenā.” ti
“Give (us) this meal, Ambapālī, for a hundred thousand (kahapanas).”

“Sace pi me ayyaputtā Vesāliṁ sāhāraṁ dassatha
“If, noble sirs, you would give Vesālī and its revenues Lit: with its means (of existence) (sāhāraṁ).06

evam-ahaṁ taṁ bhattaṁ na dassāmī.” ti
still I would not give this meal (to you).”

Atha kho te Licchavī aṅgulī poṭhesuṁ:
Then the Licchavīs snapped their fingers, (thinking):

“Jitamhā vata bho Ambakāya, jitamhā vata bho Ambakāyā.” ti
“We have surely been defeated by a woman, we have surely been defeated by a woman.” This is a play on Ambapālī's name. Ambaka, means a woman.07

 

Atha kho te Licchavī yena Ambapālivanaṁ tena pāyiṁsu.
Then the Licchavīs entered Ambapālī's Wood.

Addasā kho Bhagavā te Licchavī dūrato va āgacchante,
The Gracious One saw those Licchavīs coming from afar,

disvā bhikkhū āmantesi:
and having seen (them), he addressed the monks, (saying):

“Yesaṁ bhikkhave bhikkhūnaṁ devā Tāvatiṁsā adiṭṭhā,
* “Let those monks who have not seen the Tāvatiṁsa Divinities, monks,

oloketha bhikkhave Licchaviparisaṁ,
look at the Licchavī troupe, monks,

apaloketha bhikkhave Licchaviparisaṁ,
look upon the Licchavī troupe, monks,

upasaṁharatha bhikkhave Licchaviparisaṁ Tāvatiṁsasadisan.”-ti
contemplate the Licchavī troupe, monks, who are like the Tāvatiṁsa (Divinities).” The Commentary says that the Buddha urged the monks to look on the splendour of the Licchavī princes so that they would remember it and realise the nature of impermanence when they were destroyed by the Magadahan King Ajātasattu.08

Atha kho te Licchavī yāvatikā yānassa bhūmi yānena gantvā,
Then after the Licchavīs had gone as far as the ground for vehicles (would allow),

yānā paccorohitvā, pattikā va yena Bhagavā tenupasaṅkamiṁsu,
and had descended from the vehicles, they approached the Gracious One by foot,

upasaṅkamitvā Bhagavantaṁ abhivādetvā, ekam-antaṁ nisīdiṁsu.
and after approaching and worshipping the Gracious One, they sat down at one side.

Ekam-antaṁ nisinne kho te Licchavī Bhagavā
* While the Licchavīs were sitting on one side the Gracious One

Dhammiyā kathāya sandassesi, samādapesi, samuttejesi, sampahaṁsesi.
instructed, roused, enthused, and cheered them with a talk about the Teaching.

Atha kho te Licchavī
Then the Licchavīs,

Bhagavatā Dhammiyā kathāya sandassitā samādapitā samuttejitā sampahaṁsitā,
having been instructed, roused, enthused, and cheered by the Gracious One with a talk about the Teaching,

Bhagavantaṁ etad-avocuṁ:
said to the Gracious One:

“Adhivāsetu no Bhante Bhagavā svātanāya bhattaṁ saddhiṁ bhikkhusaṅghenā.” ti
“Please consent to us (offering) a meal on the morrow, together with the Community of monks.”

“Adhivutthaṁ kho me Licchavī svātanāya Ambapāliyā gaṇikāya bhattan.”-ti
“I have (already) consented to the courtesan Ambapālī's meal on the morrow.”

Atha kho te Licchavī aṅgulī poṭhesuṁ:
Then the Licchavīs snapped their fingers, (thinking):

“Jitamhā vata bho Ambakāya Jitamhā vata bho Ambakāyā.” ti
“We have surely been defeated by a woman, we have surely been defeated by a woman.”

Atha kho te Licchavī Bhagavato bhāsitaṁ abhinanditvā anumoditvā,
Then the Licchavīs, after greatly rejoicing and gladly receiving this word of the Gracious One, This stock phrase seems out of place here, given the circumstances.09

uṭṭhāyāsanā, Bhagavantaṁ abhivādetvā padakkhiṇaṁ katvā pakkamiṁsu.
rising from their seats, worshipping and circumambulating the Gracious One, went away.

 

Atha kho Ambapālī gaṇikā tassā rattiyā accayena,
Then the courtesan Ambapālī after the night had passed,

sake ārāme paṇītaṁ khādanīyaṁ bhojanīyaṁ paṭiyādāpetvā,
having had excellent foodstuffs made ready in her own pleasure park,

Bhagavato kālaṁ ārocāpesi: “Kālo Bhante niṭṭhitaṁ bhattan.”-ti
had the time announced to the Gracious One, (saying): “It is time, reverend Sir, the meal is ready.”

Atha kho Bhagavā, pubbaṇhasamayaṁ nivāsetvā,
Then the Gracious One, having dressed in the morning time,

pattacīvaram-ādāya, saddhiṁ Bhikkhusaṅghena,
after picking up his bowl and robe, together with the Community of monks,

yena Ambapāliyā gaṇikāya nivesanaṁ tenupasaṅkami,
approached the courtesan Ambapālī's residence,

upasaṅkamitvā paññatte āsane nisīdi.
and after approaching he sat down on the prepared seat.

Atha kho Ambapālī gaṇikā Buddhappamukhaṁ Bhikkhusaṅghaṁ
Then the courtesan Ambapālī with her own hand served and satisfied the Community of monks

paṇītena khādanīyena bhojanīyena sahatthā santappesi sampavāresi.
with the Buddha at its head with excellent foodstuffs.

Atha kho Ambapālī gaṇikā Bhagavantaṁ bhuttāviṁ onītapattapāṇiṁ,
Then the courtesan Ambapālī, when the Gracious One had eaten and washed his hand and bowl,

aññataraṁ nīcaṁ āsanaṁ gahetvā ekam-antaṁ nisīdi.
having taken a certain low seat, sat down on one side.

Ekam-antaṁ nisinnā kho Ambapālī gaṇikā Bhagavantaṁ etad-avoca:
While sitting on one side the courtesan Ambapālī said this to the Gracious One:

“Imāhaṁ Bhante ārāmaṁ Buddhappamukhassa Bhikkhusaṅghassa dammī.” ti
“I donate this pleasure park, reverend Sir, to the Community of monks with the Buddha at its head.” Ārāma (from √ram) originally meant a pleasure park, but they were ideal places for monks, and many were given over for that purpose, and the name eventually came to mean monastery.10

Paṭiggahesi Bhagavā ārāmaṁ.
The Gracious One accepted the pleasure park.

Atha kho Bhagavā Ambapāliṁ gaṇikaṁ Dhammiyā kathāya
* Then the Gracious One, after instructing, rousing,

sandassetvā samādapetvā samuttejetvā sampahaṁsetvā uṭṭhāyāsanā pakkāmi.
enthusing, and cheering the courtesan Ambapālī with a talk about the Teaching, having risen from the seat, went away. Unfortunately the Commentary gives us no idea what the Buddha taught to Ambapāli on this occasion.11

* * *

Tatra pi sudaṁ Bhagavā Vesāliyaṁ viharanto Ambapālivane,
There also the Gracious One, while living in Vesālī in Ambapālī's Wood,

etad-eva bahulaṁ bhikkhūnaṁ Dhammiṁ kathaṁ karoti:
spoke frequently to the monks about the Teaching, (saying):

“Iti sīlaṁ, iti samādhi, iti paññā,
“Such is virtue, such is concentration, such is wisdom,

sīlaparibhāvito samādhi mahapphalo hoti mahānisaṁso,
when virtue is well-developed it yields great fruit and brings great advantages in regard to concentration,

samādhiparibhāvitā paññā mahapphalā hoti mahānisaṁsā,
when concentration is well-developed it yields great fruit and brings great advantages in regard to wisdom,

paññāparibhāvitaṁ cittaṁ sammad-eva āsavehi vimuccati,
when wisdom is well-developed the mind is completely liberated from the pollutants,

seyyathīdaṁ: kāmāsavā bhavāsavā avijjāsavā.” ti
that is to say: the pollutant of sensuality, the pollutant of (craving for) continued existence, the pollutant of ignorance.”