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Vasabha

1. Vasabha.– A householder of Kuṭumbiyaṅgana and father of Veḷusumana. Mhv.xxiii.68.

2. Vasabha.– King of Sri Lanka (127‑171 A.C.). He was a Lambakaṇṇa of Uttarapassa and served under his uncle, the general of King Subha. As it was declared by the soothsayers that one named Vasabha would be king, Subha ordered the slaughter of all bearing that name and Vasabha’s uncle took him to the court to surrender him. However, the general’s wife, Potthā, gave her husband betel without lime to take with him, and, on the way to the palace, Vasabha was sent back to fetch the lime. There Potthā told him of the plot against his life, gave him one thousand pieces and helped him to escape. When his plans were ready, he fought against Subha, killed both him and his uncle in battle and became king. Potthā was made his queen. Soothsayers told him that he would live only twelve years, and, after consultation with the monks, Vasabha did many acts of merit in order to prolong his life; he reigned for forty-four years. Among the buildings erected by him were the Mahāvalligotta-vihāra, the Anurārāma-vihāra and the Mucela-vihāra. He also built twelve tanks and raised the wall of Anurādhapura. His son and successor was Vaṅkannāsikattissa. For details of Vasabha’s reign and works, see Dpv.xxii.1 ff. and Mhv.xxxv.59 ff

It is said (DA.ii.635) that once Vasabha listened to Dīghabhāṇaka monks reciting the Mahāsudassana Sutta in the Ambalaṭṭhika-pāsāda, near Lohapāsāda, and applauded the Buddha’s statement contained in the sutta that all things are transient. On another occasion he went to the Kaṭṭhakasāla-pariveṇa to worship an elder named Mahāsaṭṭhivassa (this may be only a descriptive title), but as he approached the door of his cell, he heard the elder’s groans of pain, and, disappointed that he had not yet developed the power of suppressing pain even after sixty years of monastic life, the king turned away. The elder was told of this by his attendant, and, putting forth great effort, attained Arahantship; he thereupon sent for the king. The king lay at full length on the ground and worshipped him, saying, “It is not your Arahantship I worship, but the morality (sīla) that you observed as a worldling (puthujjana).” (DA.i.291)

Another story is related of Vasabha, of how once, in order to test a monk, he sat near him and began to crush a jujube fruit. The monk’s mouth watered, and Vasabha knew that he was not an Arahant (MA.ii.869).

Once when Vasabha’s queen was ill, she was cured by medicines suggested by Mahāpaduma Thera. Sp.ii.471.

3. Vasabha.– A brahmin of Varuṇa village. His daughter gave milk-rice to Piyadassī Buddha before his Enlightenment. BuA.172.

4. Vasabha.– One of the chief lay supporters of Nārada Buddha. Bu.x.25; J.i.37.

5. Vasabha Thera.– He belonged to a family of a Licchavi rājā of Vesāli and joined the Order when the Buddha visited that town, winning Arahantship in due course. According to the Apadāna verses quoted, he was born in Sāvatthi and was ordained under Sāriputta at the age of seven. Out of compassion for his patrons, he enjoyed what he received from them; the common minded thereupon deemed him self indulgent. Near him lived a fraudulent monk who deceived the people by pretending to live the simple life and was greatly honoured by them. Sakka, discerning this, visited Vasabha and questioned him concerning the ways of an impostor. The elder replied in two verses (Thag.139‑40), and Sakka then warned the impostor and departed.

In the past, when the world was without a Buddha, Vasabha was a Jaṭila named Nārada on Samagga-pabbata, with a retinue of fourteen thousand. Seeing no one deserving of his worship, he made a cetiya of sand on the bank of the River Apadika, in the name of the Buddhas, gilded it and offered it his homage. Eighty times he was king of devas and three hundred times king of men (ThagA.i.257 ff). He is evidently to be identified with Pulinathūpiya Thera of the Apadāna. Ap.ii.437 f.

6. Vasabha. Called Labhiya Vasabha.– One of the famous warriors of Duṭṭhagāmaṇī. He was called Labhiya because his body was noble in form, “straight like a stick (yatthi).” (MT. 459) When he was twenty years old, he started to build a reservoir with some friends, and he threw away masses of earth which would have needed ten or twelve ordinary men to move them. Kākavaṇṇatissa heard of this and summoned him to the court. The village irrigated by the reservoir was given to him, and it came to be called Vasabhodakavāra. Mhv.xxiii.90 ff.

7. Vasabha.– A mountain near Himavā. ThagA.i.182; Ap.i.166.

8. Vasabha.– An Arahant Thera in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, declared foremost for austere practices (Ras.i.27). The name is evidently a variant of Nisabha (q.v.)

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