Last night, the moon was so beautiful, so bright that I could see the hare on
the moon so clearly. Today is Uposatha Observance day, and I will keep the Eight
Precepts from sunrise until next dawn.
The exquisite full moon of April inspires me to post this wonderful story(in full details) for you all.
Ambapali, the Beautiful Royal Courtesan [religion.wikia.com ]
Ambapali, also known as "Ambapalika" or "Amrapali", was a royal courtesan of the republic of Vesali in ancient India around 500 BC. She was wealthy, highly intelligent and famous far and wide. her matchless beauty together her youth, talent and intelligence made Ambapali the cynosure and dream of entire Vesali. Following the Buddha's teachings she became an Arahant. She is mentioned in the old Pali texts and Buddhist traditions. Legends surrounding her state the following:
Ambapali or Amrapali, the full significance of her name stands as 'a child of the mango grove'. She was so named, as the identity of her parents were not known and was given her name because at her birth she was found at the foot of a mango tree in one of the royal gardens in Vesali.
Ambapali grew up to be a lady of extraordinary beauty, charm, and grace. Many young nobles of the republic desired her company. To avoid confrontations among her suitors, she was accorded the status of the state courtesan of Vesali. Stories of her beauty traveled to the ears of Bimbisara, who was at that time king of the hostile neighboring kingdom of Magadha. He attacked Vesali, and for some days he took refuge in Ambapali house as a traveller. Bimbisara was a good musician. Before long, Ambapali and Bimbisara fell in love. When she learned that he was actually Bimbisara, the king of Magadha, Ambapali asked him to go away and stop the war. Bimbisara, smitten with love, really did stop the war. In the eyes of the people of Vesali, this incident made him a coward King. Later, Ambapali bore him a son named Vimala Kondanna. Later on, Ajatashatru, Bimbisara's son (by one of his queens), took a revenge by invading Vesali.
At one time, Ambapali desired the privilege of serving food to Buddha. The Buddhist traditions state that Buddha accepted the invitation against the wishes of the ruling aristocracy of Vesali. Ambapali received Buddha with her retinue, and offered meals to him. Soon thereafter, she renounced her position as courtesan, accepted the Buddhist faith, and remained an active supporter of the Buddhist order.
On growing up, her son,Vimala Kondanna too became a Buddhist monk.
Ambapali, The Beautiful Courtesan [ sacredtexs.com]
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. 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 tomorrow?" 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. 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 tomorrow'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 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 tomorrow?"
"O Licchavi," said the Blessed One, I have promised to dine tomorrow 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!"
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. 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.
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.
Ambapali,The courtesan who became enlightened [Wisdomlibrary]
VESALI, India — People of all castes, exalted and untouchable, female and male, educated and illiterate, powerful and powerless — all sought out the Teaching of the Buddha. He gladly received them. To the Buddha there was no caste by birth. One's status was determined by action (karma), that is, what one did in this life.
When the Buddha and his disciples stopped at Vesali, a rich courtesan named Ambapali offered them the use of her mango garden just outside the city, giving them a place to rest in the cool shade of her grove.
Eager to see the Buddha, Ambapali leaped to her feet, got on one of her coaches, and rushed towards the garden. Arriving at the gate, she alighted from the coach and walked through the palm and mango trees. It was very quiet. Even the leaves did not stir. Beneath the deep shade of trees, the Buddha was seated with folded hands and feet. And behind his head an aura glowed like the midnight moon. Ambapali stood transfixed, forgetting herself, her beauty, absorbed by the arresting sight of the Buddha. Tentatively, respectfully, she approached the Buddha and fell before his feet, setting her face on the earth.
The Buddha asked her to rise and take a seat. And he spoke the Dharma to her. She listened to these momentous words with parched ears. She drank the Dhrama the way the hot sand absorbs the rain. Having received the Dharma and bowing at the great seer's feet, she invited the Buddha and his disciples to a meal (dana) on the following day. The Buddha accepted her invitation.
The following day, Ambapali set sweet milk-rice and cakes before the Buddha and his followers. She herself attended upon them in great humility. After the Buddha had eaten, Ambapali sat respectfully to one side. With folded palms (anjali) she said, "O, Holy One, I present this garden to the Sangha. Please accept it if it is fitting."
The Buddha accepted her great gift, seeing the purity of heart that offered it. He then gladdened Ambapali with the Dharma. Her mind calm and brightened, her heart grown great with generosity, this was the turning point in Ambapali's life: She understood the profound Dharma and became a virtuous person.
Ambapali had a son, Vimala-Kondanna, who was an eminent thera. Having heard him preach one day, she renounced the world and, working for insight by studying the law of impermanence as illustrated in her own ageing body, she attained arahantship (ThigA.206-7). Just as a lotus springs from muck and mud and blossoms above the water, Ambapali managed to achieve the height of spiritual development despite her past.
Ambapali's past existences [www.meta-religion.com]
In the time of Sikhí Buddha she had entered the Order. While yet a novice, she took part in a procession of Bhikkhunís, and was doing homage at a shrine when an arahant Therí in front of her hastily spat in the court of the shrine. Seeing the spittle and not knowing who had committed the fault, she said in reproof, "What prostitute has been spitting here?" It was owing to this remark that she was born as a courtesan in her last birth (ThigA.206-7).
The Apadana (quoted also in ThigA) gives some more details about her. She had been a daughter of a Khattiya family in the time of Phussa Buddha and had done many good deeds in order to be beautiful in later births. As a result of the abuse of the nun (referred to above) she had been born in hell and later had, for ten thousand lives, been a courtesan. In Kassapa Buddha's time she had practised celibacy (Ap.ii.613ff. ; ThigA.213f).
-It is said that she charged fifty kahapanas a night from her patrons and that Vesali became very prosperous through her. It was this that prompted Bimbisara to get a courtesan for his own city of Rajagaha (Vin.i.268).
-Among Ambapali's patrons was Bimbisára, and he was the father of her son Vimala-Kondañña (ThagA.i.146).
-When Bimbisara, the powerful Magadhan Emperor, heard of Ambapali, he became jealous and thought of prodcuing in his kingdom a courtesan who would be superior to her. Hence, Salavati came into picture and she also became famous in Magadha. The glory and prosperity of Vesali was a thorn in the eyes of Bimbisara.
-In the Theragatha (vv.1020-21; ThagA.ii.129) there are two verses which, according to tradition, were spoken by Ananda in admonition of monks who lost their heads at the sight of Ambapali. Whether this was before or after she joined the Order we are not told.
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