Ambapali, Ambapālī, Ambapāli: 3 definitions



Ambapali means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

A courtesan of Vesali.

She is said to have come spontaneously into being at Vesali in the gardens of the king. The gardener found her at the foot of a mango tree - hence her name - and brought her to the city. She grew up so full of beauty and of grace that many young princes vied with each other for the honour of her hand. Finally, in order to end their strife, they appointed her courtesan. Later she became a devout follower of the Buddha, and building a vihara in her own garden, gave it to him and the Order. This was during the Buddhas last visit to Vesali shortly before his death. It is said that when Ambapali heard of the Buddhas visit to Kotigama near Vesali she and her retinue drove out of the city in magnificent chariots to meet him, and, after hearing a discourse, invited him and the monks to a meal the next day. The Buddha accepted this invitation and had, as a result, to refuse that of the Licchavis of Vesali.

While returning from her visit to the Buddha, Ambapali was so elated at the idea of having the Buddha to a meal the next day, that she refused to make way for the Licchavi princes who were on their way to the Buddha. She refused to give up her invitation for anything in the world. The DA. says that just before Ambapalis visit to him, the Buddha admonished the monks to be steadfast and mindful, lest they should lose their heads about her (DA.ii.545).

It was after this meal that Ambapali gave over her park, the Ambapalivana, to the Buddha and the Order. The Buddha accepted the gift and stayed there some time before going on to Beluva. Vin.i.231-3; D.ii.95-8; the two accounts vary in details, e.g. in the Digha version the Buddha was already in Ambapalivana, and not in Kotigama, when the courtesan visited him.

Ambapali had a son, Vimala Kondanna, who was an eminent Elder. 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).

Nineteen verses ascribed to her are found in the Therigatha (252-70).

In the time of Sikhi Buddha she had entered the Order. While yet a novice, she took part in a procession of Bhikkhunis, and was doing homage at a shrine when an arahant Theri 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.

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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India history and geogprahy

Source: Ancient Buddhist Texts: Geography of Early Buddhism

Ambapāli (अम्बपालि) or Ambapālivana is the name of a forest situated in Majjhimadesa (Middle Country) of ancient India, as recorded in the Pāli Buddhist texts (detailing the geography of ancient India as it was known in to Early Buddhism).—In the Dīgha Nikāya we find that the Buddha once went from Nādikā to Vesālī and dwelt in the Ambapālivana in Vesālī. This park was a gift from the courtesan named Ambapāli.

India history book cover
context information

The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit dictionary

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Ambapālī (अम्बपाली):—[=amba-pālī] [from ambaka] f. Name of a courtezan (converted by Gautama Buddha), [Monier-Williams’ Buddhism 409].

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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