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A young monk whom the Buddha met at the house of Bhaggava, the potter, in Rājagaha. Pukkusāti was already occupying the guest room of the house, and the Buddha asked to be allowed to share it, to which Pukkusāti readily agreed. They sat together for sometime in silence, and then the Buddha taught the Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta. Pukkusāti recognised the Buddha at the end of the discourse and begged his forgiveness for not having paid him due honour; he then begged to have the higher ordination (upasampadā) conferred on him. The Buddha consented and sent him to procure a begging bowl and a robe. On the way Pukkusāti was gored to death by a mad cow. When this was reported to the Buddha, he said that Pukkusāti was a Non-returner and had been born in the realms above, never more to return. M.iii.237‑47. In this context Pukkusāti is spoken of as a young man of a good family (kulaputta) (iii.238); see also J.iv.180 and DhA.ii.35.

In his comments on the Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta, Buddhaghosa gives a long account of Pukkusāti. MA.ii.979 ff. Cp. the story of Tissa, king of Roruka (ThagA.i.199 f )

He had been the king of Takkasilā, contemporary of Bimbisāra and of about the same age. A friendly alliance was established between the two kings through the medium of merchants who travelled between the two countries for purposes of trade. In the course of time, although the two kings had never seen each other, there grew up between them a deep bond of affection. Pukkusāti once sent to Bimbisāra, as a gift, eight priceless garments in lacquered caskets. This gift was accepted at a special meeting of the whole court, and Bimbisāra having nothing of a material nature, which he considered precious enough to send to Pukkusāti, conceived the idea of acquainting Pukkusāti with the appearance in the world of the Three Jewels: the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha. He had inscribed on a golden plate, four cubits long and a span in breadth, descriptions of these Three Jewels and of various tenets of the Buddha’s teachings, such as the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the Noble Eightfold Path, and the Thirty-seven factors of Enlightenment. This plate was placed in the innermost of several caskets of various precious substances, and was taken in procession on the back of the state elephant up to the frontier of Bimbisāra’s kingdom. Similar honours were paid to it by the chiefs of other territories, through which lay the route to Takkasilā.

Pukkusāti was one of seven monks who, in the time of Kassapa Buddha, decided to abstain from eating until they should attain Arahantship. They lived on the top of a mountain. The senior monk attained Arahantship, the second became an Non-returner, but the remaining five died of starvation and were reborn in Tusita. In this age they became, respectively, Pukkusāti, Kumāra-Kassapa, Bāhiya Dārucīriya, Dabba-Mallaputta, and Sabhiya. Ap.ii.473; DhA.ii.212; UdA.81; but see MA.i.335, where only three are mentioned (Pukkusāti, Dārucīriya, and Kassapa).

When Pukkusāti, in the solitude of his chamber, read the inscription on the plate, he was filled with boundless joy and decided to renounce the world. He cut off his hair, donned the yellow robes of a monk, and left the palace alone amid the lamentations of his subjects. He travelled the one hundred and ninety-two leagues to Sāvatthi, passing the gates of Jetavana; but having understood from Bimbisāra’s letter that the Buddha was at Rājagaha, he omitted to enquire for him at Jetavana, and travelled on forty-five leagues more to Rājagaha, only to find that the Buddha was all the time in Sāvatthi. As it was then evening, he took lodging in Bhaggava’s house. The Buddha, with his divine-eye, saw what was in store for Pukkusāti, and travelling on foot from Sāvatthi, reached Bhaggava’s house at sundown, and, waiting his opportunity, engaged Pukkusāti in talk and taught him the Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta, as related above. After his untimely death ¹ Pukkusāti was born in the Avihā world, where, together with six others, he became an Arahant at the moment of his birth (see S.i.35, 60, for the names of the others.).

¹ The cow that killed Pukkusāti is said to have been a yakkhiṇī who was a cow in one hundred births. In her last birth as a cow, she killed, in addition to Pukkusāti, Bāhiya Dārucīriya, Tambadāṭhika, and Suppabuddha the leper (DhA.ii.35).