Sariputta | The Story of Sumanadevi Sariputta

The Story of Sumanadevi

While residing at the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha uttered Verse (18) of this book, with reference to Sumanadevi, the youngest daughter of Anathapindika.

In Savatthi, at the house of Anathapindika and the house of Visakha, two thousand bhikkhus were served with food daily. At the house of Visakha, the offering of alms-food was supervised by her granddaughter. At the house of Anathapindika, the supervision was done, first by the eldest daughter, next by the second daughter and finally by Sumanadevi, the youngest daughter. The two elder sisters attained Sotapatti Fruition by listening to the Dhamma, while serving food to the bhikkhus. Sumanadevi did even better and she attained Sakadagami Fruition.

Later, Sumanadevi fell ill and on her death-bed she asked for her father. Her father came, and she addressed her father as "younger brother" (Kanittha bhatika) and passed away soon after. Her form of address kept her father wondering and made him uneasy and depressed, thinking that his daughter was delirious and not in her right senses at the time of her death. So, he approached the Buddha and reported to him about his daughter, Sumanadevi. Then the Buddha told the noble rich man that his daughter was in her right senses and fully self-possessed at the time of her passing away. The Buddha also explained that Sumanadevi had addressed her father as "younger brother" because her attainment of Magga and Phala was higher than that of her father's. She was a Sakadagam whereas her father was only a Sotapanna. Anathapindika was also told that Sumanadevi was reborn in the Tusita deva world.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 18: Here he is happy, hereafter he is happy; one who performs meritorious deeds is happy in both existences. Happily he exclaims: I have done meritorious deeds." He is happier still when he is reborn in a higher world (suggati).
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