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Amarā (Amarādevī)

Wife of Mahosadha. She was the daughter of a merchant who had fallen on evil days. Mahosadha, while seeking for a wife, met her as she was taking a meal to her father and entered into conversation with her. He asked her various questions and she answered in riddles. Mahosadha went to her father’s house and plied his trade as a tailor, taking the opportunity of observing the girl’s behaviour. He tested her temper and her character in various ways, and being satisfied that she was altogether desirable, he married her with the approval of Queen Udumbarā. She became popular with everybody and was of great assistance to her husband in frustrating the attempts of his enemies to work him harm (J.vi.364‑72, 392; the story appears also in Mtu.ii.83).

In the present age Amarā was the beautiful Bimbādevī (J.vi.478).

In the Milindapañha (pp.205 ff) the king mentions the story of Amarādevī having been left behind in the village while her husband was away on a journey, and of her resisting a temptation to be unfaithful to him. “If that be true, how,” asks the king, “could you justify the Buddha’s statement ¹ that all women will go wrong, failing others, even with a cripple?” Nāgasena explains this by saying that Amarā did not sin because she had neither real secrecy nor opportunity nor the right-wooer!

¹ Incidentally, these words do not really belong to the Buddha. They appear in the Kuṇāla Jātaka (J.v.435), which is a specimen of Indian folklore and not of Buddhist belief.

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