Ambattha, aka: Ambaṭṭha; 2 Definition(s)


Ambattha means something in Buddhism, Pali. 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)

[Ambattha in Theravada glossaries]

1. Ambattha - (usually called Ambattha manava). A brahmin youth of the Ambattha clan who lived with his teacher, Pokkharasadi, at Ukkattha. He was learned in the three Vedas and the correlated branches of knowledge, including the Lokayata, as recorded in the Ambattha Sutta (D.i.87ff). Once, at the request of his teacher, he visited the Buddha in the Icchanadkala wood and seems to have opened his conversation by reviling the Sakiyans and calling them menials. It appears that Ambattha had once gone on some business of Pokkharasadis to Kapilavatthu, to the Mote Hall of the Sakyans, and had been insulted there (D.i.91).

Asked by the Buddha to what family he belonged, Ambattha replied that he came of the Kanhayana gotta; thereupon the Buddha traced the family back to its ancestor, who had been the offspring of a slave girl of Okkaka, named Disa. The child had been able to talk as soon as he was born and, because of this devilish trait, had been called Kanha (devil), hence the family name. Kanha later became a mighty seer and married Maddarupi, daughter of Okkaka (D.i.96-7).

Ambattha makes no remonstrance against this genealogy and, under pressure, accepts it as true. This gives the Buddha an opportunity of preaching on the futility of feeling vanity regarding ones caste and on the worth of morality and conduct.

At the end of the discourse the Buddha walked up and down outside his chamber so that Ambattha might see on his body the thirty two signs of a great man. Ambattha goes back to Pokkharasadi and reports the whole interview. Pokkharasadi is greatly incensed, abuses Ambattha and kicks him. Later Pokkharasadi goes himself to the Buddha and invites him for a meal. At the end of the meal the Buddha instructs him in his Doctrine and is accepted as the Teacher both of Pokkharasadi himself and of his followers and dependants at Ukkattha. Pokkharasadi himself becomes a Sotapanna (DA.i.278).

We are not told that Ambattha became a follower of the Buddha. Buddhaghosa says (DA.i.274) that the Buddha knew that Ambattha would not profit by his discourse in his present life (imina attabhavena magga patubhavo natthi), and that therefore a sermon with the idea of converting him would only have meant spending unnecessary time. Ambattha himself only visited the Buddha on account of his interest in physiognomy. According to Buddhaghosa the idea of the Buddha in preaching the Ambattha Sutta at such length was that it might be repeated to Pokkharasadi.

It is conjectured that the Ambattha, who is identified with Kavinda, one of the counsellors of King Vedeha, in the Ummagga Jataka (, probably refers to the Ambattha of this sutta.

2. Ambattha - A king of old, at whose court Rahulamata in one of her former lives had been a handmaid. In that life she had given alms to a holy man and, as a result,

(Source): Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

[Ambattha in Mahayana glossaries]

Ambaṭṭha (अम्बट्ठ) is the name of a Brāhmin of olden times subdued by the Buddha mentioned in order to demonstrate the fearlessness of the Buddha according to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XL.1.4. Accordingly, “there were formidable people, such as these scholars who were absorbed in the height of pride. Intoxicated by their false wisdom, they presented themselves as unique in the world and unrivalled. Knowing their own books deeply, they refuted others’ books and criticized all the systems with wicked words. They were like mad elephants caring for nothing. Among these madmen, we cite: Ngan-po-tcha (Ambaṭṭha), etc.”.

Ambaṭṭha was a young brāhmin of the Ambaṭṭha clan, versed in the three Vedas and auxiliary sciences. He lived at Ukkaṭṭhā in Kosala and had as teacher Pokkharasādi. The Buddha preached the Ambaṭṭhasutta for him (Dīgha, I, p. 87–110), but in contrast to his master, he was not converted.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
context information

Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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Relevant definitions

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