1. Sáriputta Thera. The chief disciple (aggasávaka) of Gotama - Buddha. He is also called Upatissa, which was evidently his personal name (M.i.150). The commentators say that Upatissa was the name of his village and that he was the eldest son of the chief family in the village, but other accounts give his village as Nálaka. His father was the brahmin, Vanganta (DhA.ii.84), and his mother, Rúpasári. It was because of his mother's name that he came to be called Sáriputta. In Sanskrit texts his name occurs as Sáriputra, Sáliputra, Sárisuta, Sáradvatíputra. In the Apadána (ii.480) he is also called Sárisambhava.
The name Upatissa is hardly ever mentioned in the books. He had three younger brothers - Cunda, Upasena, and Revata (afterwards called Khadiravaniya) - and three sisters - Cálá, Upacálá and Sisúpacálá; all of whom joined the Order. DhA.ii.188; cf. Mtu.iii.50; for details of them see s.v.; mention is also made of an uncle of Sáriputta and of a nephew, both of whom he took to the Buddha, thereby rescuing them from false views (DhA.ii.230 2); Uparevata was his nephew (SA.iii.175).
The story of Sáriputta's conversion and the account of his past lives, which prepared him for his eminent position as the Buddha's Chief Disciple, have been given under Mahá Moggallána. Sáriputta had a very quick intuition, and he became a sotápanna immediately after hearing the first two lines of the stanza spoken by Assaji. After his attainment of sotápatti, Kolita (Moggallána) wished to go with him to Veluvana to see the Buddha, but Sáriputta, always grateful to his teachers, suggested that they should first seek their teacher, Sańjaya, to give him the good news and go with him to the Buddha. But Sańjaya refused to fall in with this plan. Moggallána attained arahantship on the seventh day after his ordination, but it was not till a fortnight later that Sáriputta became an arahant. He was staying, at the time, with the Buddha, in the Súkarakhatalena in Rájagaha, and he reached his goal as a result of hearing the Buddha preach the Vedánapariggaha Sutta to Díghanakha. This account is summarized from DhA.i.73 ff.; AA.i.88 ff.; ThagA.ii.93 ff. Ap.i.15ff.; the story of their conversion is given at Vin.i.38ff.
In the assembly of monks and nuns, Sáriputta was declared by the Buddha foremost among those who possessed wisdom (etadaggam mahápańńánam, A.i.23). He was considered by the Buddha as inferior only to himself in wisdom. SA.ii.45; his greatest exhibition of wisdom followed the Buddha's descent from Távatimsa to the gates of Sankassa, when the Buddha asked questions of the assembled multitude, which none but Sáriputta could answer. But some questions were outside the range of any but a Buddha (DhA.iii.228 f.; cf. SNA.ii.570f.). Similarly knowledge of the thoughts and inclinations of people were beyond Sáriputta; only a Buddha possesses such knowledge (DhA.iii.426; J.i.182). Further, only a Buddha could find suitable subjects for meditation for everybody without error (SNA.i.18), and read their past births without limitation (SNA, ii.571).
The Buddha would frequently merely suggest a topic, and Sáriputta would preach a sermon on it in detail, and thereby win the Buddha's approval. (See, e.g., M.i.13; iii.46, 55, 249). The Buddha is recorded as speaking high praise of him: "Wise art thou, Sáriputta, comprehensive and manifold thy wisdom, joyous and swift, sharp and fastidious. Even as the eldest son of a Cakkavatti king turns the Wheel as his father hath turned it, so dost thou rightly turn the Wheel Supreme of the Dhamma, even as I have turned it." (S.i.191; cf. SN.vs.556 f., where the Buddha is asked by Sela, who is his general, and the Buddha replies that it is Sáriputta who turns the Wheel of the Law; also M.iii.29). He thus came to be called Dhammasenápati, just as Ananda was called Dhammabhandágárika. The Anupada Sutta is one long eulogy of Sáriputta by the Buddha. He is there held up as the supreme example of the perfect disciple, risen to mastery and perfection in noble virtue, noble concentration, noble perception, noble deliverance. M.iii.25ff. In the Mahágosinga Sutta Sáriputta expresses his view that that monk is beat who is master of his heart and is not mastered by it. The Buddha explains that Sáriputta was stating his own nature (M.i.215 f.). The Buddha did not, however, hesitate to blame Sáriputta when necessary e.g., the occasion when some novices, becoming noisy, were sent away by the Buddha, whose motive Sáriputta misunderstood (M.i.459). And again, when Sáriputta did not look after Ráhula properly, making it necessary for Ráhula to spend the whole night in the Buddha's jakes (J.i.161f.).
In the Saccavibhanga Sutta (M.iii.248) he is compared to a mother teacher, while Moggallána is like a child's wet nurse; Sáriputta trains in the fruits of conversion, Moggallána trains in the highest good. In the Pindapáta párisuddhi Sutta (M.iii.294f) the Buddha commends Sáriputta for the aloofness of his life and instructs him in the value of reflection. Other instances are given of the Buddha instructing and examining him on various topics e.g., on bhútam ("what has come to be") (S.ii.47f), on the five indriyas, (S.v.220f., 225f., 233f ) and on sotápatti. S.v.347; we find the Buddha also instructing him on the cultivation of tranquillity (A.i.65); on the destruction of "I" and "mine" (A.i.133); the reasons for failure and success in enterprises (A.ii.81f.); the four ways of acquiring personality (attabháva) (A.ii.159); the methods of exhortation (A.iii.198); the acquisition of joy that comes through seclusion (A.iii.207); the noble training for the layman (211f.); six things that bring spiritual progress to a monk (424f.); seven similar things (A.iv.30); the seven grounds for praising a monk (35); the things and persons a monk should revere (120f.); the eight attributes of a monk free from the cankers (223 f.); the nine persons who, although they die with an attached remainder for rebirth, are yet free from birth in hell among animals and among petas (379 f.); and the ten powers of a monk who has destroyed the cankers (A.v.174 f.).
We also find instances of Sáriputta questioning his colleagues, or being questioned by them, on various topics. Thus he is questioned by Mahá Kotthita on kamma (S.ii.112 f.); and on yoniso manasikára (progressive discipline, S.iii.176 f.); on avijjá and vijjá (ibid., 172 f.); on the fetters of sense perception (S.iv.162 f.); on certain questions pronounced by the Buddha as indeterminate (ibid., 384 f.); on whether anything is left remaining after the passionless ending of the six spheres of contact (A.ii.161); and on the purpose for which monks lead the brahmacariya under the Buddha (A.iv.382). The Mahávedalla Sutta (M.i.292 ff.) records a long discourse preached by Sáriputta to Mahá Kotthita. He is mentioned as questioning Mahá Kassapa on the terms átápí and ottápí (S.ii.195f.), and Anuruddha on sekha (S.v.174 f., 298f.). On another occasion, Anuruddha tells Sáriputta of his power of seeing the thousand fold world system, his unshaken energy, and his untroubled mindfulness. Sáriputta tells him that his deva sight is mere conceit, his claims to energy conceit, and his mindfulness just worrying, and exhorts him to abandon thoughts of them all. Anuruddha follows his advice and becomes an arahant. A.i.281f.
Moggallána asks Sáriputta regarding the "undefiled" (their conversation forms the Anangana Sutta, M.i.25 ff.), and, at the conclusion of the Gulissáni Sutta, inquires whether the states of consciousness mentioned in that sutta were incumbent only on monks from the wilds or also on those from the villages (M.i.472f.). Sáriputta questions Upavána regarding the bojjhangá (S.v.76), and is questioned by Ananda regarding sotápatti (S.v.346, 362) as regards the reason why some beings are set free in this very life while others are not (A.ii.167), and on the winning of perfect concentration (A.v.8, 320). Ananda also questions Sáriputta (A.iii.201f.) on the speedy knowledge of aptness in things (kusaladhammesu khippanisanti), and, again, on how a monk may learn new doctrines and retain old ones without confusion (A.iii.361). In both these cases Sáriputta asks Ananda to answer the questions himself, and, at the end of his discourse, praises him. The Rathaviníta Sutta (M.i.145 ff.) records a conversation between Sáriputta and Punna Mantáníputta, for whom he had the greatest respect, after hearing the Buddha's eulogy of him. Sáriputta had given instructions that he should be told as soon as Punna came to Sávatthi and took the first opportunity of seeing him. Among others who held discussions with Sáriputta are mentioned Samiddhi (A.iv.385), Yamaka (S.iii.109f.), Candikáputta (A.iv.403), and Laludáyi (A.iv.414).
Among laymen who had discussions with Sáriputta are Atula (DhA.iii.327), Nakulapitá (S.iii.2f.) and Dhánańjáni (M.ii.186); Sívalí (immediately after his birth; J.i.408), also the Paribbájakas, Jambukhádaka (S.iv.251f.), Sámandaka (S.iv.261 f.; A.v.120), and Pasúra (SNA.ii.538), and the female Paribbájakas Saccá, Lolá, Avavádaká and Patácárá (J.iii.1), and Kundalakesí (DhA.ii.223f.). He is also said to have visited the Paribbájakas in order to hold discussion with them (A.iv.378); see also S.iii.238f., where a Paribbájaka consults him on modes of eating.
The care of the Sangha and the protection of its members' integrity was Sáriputta's especial concern by virtue of his position as the Buddha's Chief Disciple. Thus we find him being sent with Moggallána to bring back the monks who had seceded with Devadatta. His admonitions to the monks sometimes made him unpopular e.g., in the case of the Assaji Punaabbasuká, the Chabbaggiyá (who singled him out for special venom) and Kokálika (See Channa, who reviled both Sáriputta and Moggallána, DhA.ii.110 f.). When Channa declared his intention of committing suicide, Sáriputta attempted to dissuade him, but without success (S.iv.55ff.; see also the Channováda Sutta). Monks sought his advice in their difficulties. (See, e.g., S.iv.103, where a monk reports to him that a colleague has returned to the household life, and asks what he is to do about it). He was greatly perturbed by the dissensions of the monks of Kosambí, and consulted the Buddha, at length, as to what he could do about it (Vin.i.354). He was meticulous about rules laid down by the Buddha. Thus a rule had been laid down that one monk could ordain only one samanera, and when a boy was sent to him for ordination from a family which had been of great service to him, Sáriputta refused the request of the parents till the Buddha had rescinded the rule (Vin.i.83). Another rule forbade monks to eat garlic (lasuna), and when Sáriputta lay ill and knew he could be cured by garlic, even then he refused to eat them till permission was given by the Buddha for him to do so (Vin.ii.140). The Dhammapada Commentary (Vin.ii.140f) describes how, at the monastery in which Sáriputta lived, when the other monks had gone for alms, he made the round of the entire building, sweeping the un-swept places, filling empty vessels with water, arranging furniture, etc., lest heretics, coming to the monastery, should say: "Behold the residences of Gotama's pupils." But even then he did not escape censure from his critics. A story is told (DhA.iv.184f) of how he was once charged with greed, and the Buddha himself had to explain to the monks that Sáriputta was blameless. While Sáriputta was severe in the case of those who failed to follow the Buddha's discipline, he did not hesitate to rejoice with his fellow monks in their successes. Thus we find him congratulating Moggallána on the joy he obtained from his iddhi powers, and praising his great attainments (praise which evoked equally generous counter praise), (S.ii.275 f ) and eulogising Anuruddha on his perfected discipline won through the practice of the four satipatthánas (S.v.301f). It was the great encouragement given by Sáriputta to Samitigutta (q.v.), when the latter lay ill with leprosy in the infirmary, which helped him to become an arahant. It was evidently the custom of Sáriputta to visit sick monks, as did the Buddha himself (ThagA.i.176). So great was Sáriputta’s desire to encourage and recognize merit in his colleagues that he once went about praising Devadatta's iddhi powers, which made it difficult for him when later he had to proclaim, at the bidding of the Sangha, Devadatta's evil nature (Vin.ii.189).
Several instances are given (E.g., S.ii.274; v.70; A.i.63; ii.160; iii.186, 190, 196, 200, 292, 340; iv.325, 328, 365; v.94, 102, 123, 315, 356f) of Sáriputta instructing the monks and preaching to them of his own accord on various topics - apart from the preaching of the well known suttas assigned to him. Sometimes these suttas were supplementary to the Buddha's own discourses (E.g., M.i.13, 24, 184, 469). Among the most famous of Sáriputta's discourses are the Dasuttara and the Sangíti Suttas (q.v.). Though Sáriputta was friendly with all the eminent monks surrounding the Buddha, there was very special affection between him and Ananda and also Moggallána. We are told that this was because Amanda was the Buddha's special attendant, a duty which Sáriputta would have been glad to undertake For details of this see Mahá Moggallána, Ananda. Ananda himself had the highest regard and affection for Sáriputta. It is recorded in the Samyutta Nikáya (S.i.63) that once, when the Buddha asked Ananda, "Do you also, Ananda, approve of our Sáriputta?" Amanda replied, "Who, Sir, that is not childish or corrupt or stupid or of perverted mind, will not approve of him? Wise is he, his wisdom comprehensive and joyous and swift, sharp and fastidious. Small is he in his desires and contented; loving seclusion and detachment, of rampant energy. A preacher is he, accepting advice, a critic, a scourge of evil."
Sáriputta was specially attached, also, to Ráhula, the Buddha's son, who was entrusted to Sáriputta for ordination. Mention is made of a special sutta in the Majjhima Nikáya, (the Mahá Ráhulováda Sutta; M.i.421f ) in which he urges Ráhula to practise the study of breathing. The special regard which Sáriputta had for the Buddha and Ráhula extended also to Ráhulamátá, for we find that when she was suffering from flatulence. Ráhula consulted Sáriputta, who obtained for her some mango juice, a known remedy for the disease. (J.ii.392f) On another occasion (J.ii.433) he obtained from Pasenadi rice mixed with ghee and with red fish for flavouring when Ráhulamátá suffered from some stomach trouble. Among laymen Sáriputta had special regard for Anáthapindika; when the latter lay ill he sent for Sáriputta, who visited him with Ananda and preached to him the Anáthapindikováda Sutta. At the end of the discourse Anáthapindika said he had never before heard such a homily. Sáriputta said they were reserved for monks only, but Anáthapindika asked that they could be given to the laity and to young men of undimmed vision. Anáthapindika died soon after and was reborn in Tusita. M.iii.258 ff.; cf. S.v.380, which probably refers to an earlier illness of Anáthapindika. He recovered immediately after the preaching of Sáriputta's sermon, and served Sáriputta with rice from his own cooking pot.
Sáriputta also, evidently, had great esteem for the householder Citta, for we are told (DhA.ii.74) that he once paid a special visit to Macchikásanda to see him.
Several incidents are related in the books showing the exemplary qualities possessed by Sáriputta e.g., the stories of Tambadáthika, Punna and his wife, the poor woman in the Kundakakucchisindhava Játaka and Losaka Tissa (q.v.). These show his great compassion for the poor and his eagerness to help them. Reference has already been made to his first teacher, Sańjaya, whom he tried, but failed, to convert to the Buddha's faith. His second teacher was Assaji. It is said that every night on going to bed he would do obeisance to the quarter in which he knew Assaji to be and would sleep with his head in that direction. DhA.iv.150 f.; cf. SNA.i.328. If Assaji were in the same vihára, Sáriputta would visit him immediately after visiting the Buddha. It was in connection with this that the Dhamma Sutta (q.v.) was preached.
The stories of the Sámaneras Sukha and Pandita, and of the monk Rádhá, also show his gratitude towards any who had shown him favour (See also Vin.i.55 f). His extreme affection for and gratitude to the Buddha are shown in the Sampasádaníya Sutta (q.v.). That Sáriputta possessed great patience is shown by the story (DhA.iv.146f) of the brahmin who, to test his patience, struck him as he entered the city for alms. But when he was wrongly accused and found it necessary to vindicate his good name, he did not hesitate to proclaim his innocence at great length and to declare his pre eminence in virtue. (See, e.g., his "lion's roar" at A.iv.373ff). Another characteristic of Sáriputta was his readiness to take instruction from others, however modest. Thus one story relates how, in absent mindedness, he let the fold of his robe hang down. A novice said, "Sir, the robe should be draped around you," and Sáriputta agreed, saying, "Good, you have done well to point it out to me," and going a little way, he draped the robe round him (ThagA.ii.116). A quaint story is told (Ud.iv.4) of a Yakkha who, going through the air at night, saw Sáriputta wrapt in meditation, his head newly shaved. The sight of the shining head was a great temptation to the Yakkha, and, in spite of his companion's warning, he dealt a blow on the Thera's head. The blow was said to have been hard enough to shatter a mountain, but Sáriputta suffered only a slight headache afterwards.
Mention is made of two occasions on which Sáriputta fell ill. Once he had fever and was cured by lotus stalks which Moggallána obtained for him from the Mandákiní Lake (Vin.i.214). On the other occasion he had stomach trouble, which was again cured by Moggallána giving him garlic (lasuna), to eat which the rule regarding the use of garlic had to be rescinded by the Buddha (Vin.ii.140).
Sáriputta was fond of meal cakes (pitthakhajjaka), but finding that they tended to make him greedy he made a vow never to eat them (J.i.310).
Sáriputta died some months before the Buddha. It is true that the account of the Buddha's death in the Mahá Parinibbána Sutta ignores all reference to Sáriputta, though it does introduce him (D.ii.81 ff ) shortly before as uttering his "lion's roar" (síhanáda), his great confession of faith in the Buddha, which, in the commentarial account, he made when he took leave of the Buddha to die. The Samyutta Nikáya (S.v.161) records that he died at Nálagámaka (the place of his birth), and gives an eulogy of him pronounced by the Buddha after his death (S.v.163f).
There is no need to doubt the authenticity of this account. It merely states that when Sáriputta was at Nálagámaka he was afflicted with a sore disease. His brother, Cunda Samanuddesa, was attending on him when he died. His body was cremated, and Cunda took the relics to Sávatthi with Sáriputta's begging bowl and outer robe. The relics were wrapped in his water-strainer. Cunda first broke the news to Ananda, who confessed that when he heard it his mind was confused and his body felt as though drugged. Cf. Thag.vs.1034; see also the eulogy of Sáriputta by Vangísa during his lifetime (Thag.1231 3). Hiouen Thsang saw the stúpa erected over the relics of Sáriputta in the town of Kálapináka (Beal, op. cit., ii.177).
Together they sought the Buddha and told him of the event, and the Buddha pointed out to them the impermanence of all things.
The Commentaries give more details. The Buddha returned to Sávatthi after his last vassa in Beluvagáma. Sáriputta sought him there, and, realizing that his death would come in seven days, he decided to visit his mother, for she, though the mother of seven arahants, had no faith in the Sangha. [This was because all her children joined the Order and left her desolate in spite of the forty crores of wealth which lay in the house. It is said (DhA.iv.164f.) that when Sáriputta had gone home on a previous occasion, she abused both him and his companions roundly. Ráhula was also in the company.] He therefore asked his brother, Cunda, to prepare for the journey to Nálagámaka with five hundred others, and then took leave of the Buddha after performing various miracles and declaring his faith in the Buddha and uttering his "lion's roar." A large concourse followed him to the gates of Sávatthi, and there he addressed them and bade them stay behind. In seven days he reached Nálaka, where he wais met by his nephew, Uparevata, outside the gates. Him he sent on to warn his mother of his arrival with a large number of people. She, thinking that he had once more returned to the lay life, made all preparations to welcome him and his companions. Sáriputta took up his abode in the room in which he was born (játovaraka). There he was afflicted with dysentery. His mother, unaware of this and sulking because she found he was still a monk, remained in her room. The Four Regent Gods and Sakka and Mahá Brahmá waited upon him. She saw them, and having found out who they were, went to her son's room. There she asked him if he were really greater than all these deities, and, when he replied that it was so, she reflected on the greatness of her son and her whole body was suffused with joy. Sáriputta then preached to her, and she became a sotápanna. Feeling that he had paid his debt to his mother, he sent Cunda to fetch the monks, and, on their arrival, he sat up with Cunda's help and asked if he had offended them in any way during the forty four years of his life as a monk. On receiving their assurance that he had been entirely blameless, he wiped his lips with his robe and lay down, and, after passing through various trances, died at break of dawn.
His mother made all arrangements for the funeral, and Vissakamma assisted in the ceremony. When the cremation was over, Anuruddha extinguished the flames with perfumed water, and Cunda gathered together the relics. This account is summarized from SA.iii.172ff.; similar accounts are found at DA.ii.549f, etc. Sáriputta's death is also referred to at J.i.391.
Among those who came to pay honour to the pyre was the goddess Revatí (q.v.). Sáriputta died on the full moon day of Kattika (October to November) preceding the Buddha's death, and Moggallána died a fortnight later. SA.iii.181; J.i.391; both Sáriputta and Moggallána were older than the Buddha because they were born "anuppanne yeva hi Buddhe" (DhA.i.73).
Sáriputta had many pupils, some of whom have already been mentioned. Among others were Kosiya, Kandhadinna, Cullasárí, Vanavásika Tissa, Sankicca (q.v.), and Sarabhú, who brought to Ceylon the Buddha's collar bone, which he deposited in the Mahiyangana-cetiya (Mhv.i.37f). Sáriputta's brother, Upavána, predeceased him, and Sáriputta was with him when he died of snake bite at Sappasondikapabbára (S.iv.40f).
Sáriputta's special proficiency was in the Abhidhamma. It is said (DhSA.16f., DA.i.15, where it is said that at the end of the First Recital the Abhidhamma was given in charge of five hundred arahants, Sáriputta being already dead) that when preaching the Abhidhamma, to the gods of Távatimsa, the Buddha would visit Anotatta every day, leaving a nimitta Buddha, on Sakka's throne to continue the preaching. After having bathed in the lake he would take his midday rest. During this time Sáriputta would visit him and learn from the Buddha all that had been preached of the Abhidhamma during the previous day. Having thus learnt the Abhidhamma, Sáriputta taught it to his five hundred pupils. Their acquirement of the seven books of the Abhidhamma coincided with the conclusion of the Buddha's sermon in Távatimsa. Thus the textual order of the Abhidhamma originated with Sáriputta, and the numerical series was determined by him.
Sáriputta is identified with various characters in numerous Játakas. Thus he was
2. Sáriputta Thera. A monk of Ceylon. He lived in the reign of Parakkamabáhu I., and was called Ságaramatí (SadS.63) on account of his erudition. The king built for him a special residence attached to the Jetavana-vihára in Pulatthipura (Cv.lxxviii.34).
Among his works are the Vinayasangaha or the Vinaya-Vinicchaya, a summary of the Vinaya, and the Sáratthadípaní on the Samantapásádiká,, the Sáratthamańjúsá on the Atthasáliní and the Línatthappakásiní on the Papańcasúdani.
Sáriputta had several well known pupils, among whom were Sangharakkhita, Sumangala, Buddhanága, Udumbaragiri Medhankara and Vácissara (Gv. 67, 71; Svd.1203; SM. 69; P.L.C, 189ff).
Sáriputta was also a Sanskrit scholar, and wrote the Pańjikálankára or Ratnamatipańjikátíká to Ratnasríjńána's Pańjiká to the Candragomivyákarana.
3. Sáriputta. A monk of Dala in the Rámańńa country. He was born in Padípajeyya in the reign of Narapatisithu, and was ordained by Ananda of the Síhalasangha. He became one of the leaders of this group in Rámańńa. Narapati conferred on him the title of "Dhammavilása," and he was the author of one of the earliest law codes (dhammasattha) of Burma. Sás.41f.; Bode, op. cit., 31.
4. Sáriputta. A Choliyan monk, author of the Padávatára. Gv.67; Svd.12, 44.
5. Sáriputta. One of the sons of king Buddhadása. Cv.xxxvii.177.