Ambapali or Amrapali
circa 600-500 BCE

Kate Lindemann's 

Women Philosophers


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Ambapali (Amparapali ) appears to have been an orphan. She lives about 600 (or 500) BCE. Usually it is difficult to find specific information about women from such early times. But she was an important figure in Valshali, or Vesali (Pali)an ancient city of India that was the capital of the Licchavis and the Vajjian Confederacy and she later became an important disciple of Buddha and so there is more information available about her.

Her name appears to come from two Sanskrit words, “amra” mango and “pali”, which means leaves. This is usually interpreted as “(a child) of the mango grove”. It is believed that she was given this name since she was found at the foot of a mango tree, in a royal garden of Vaishali .

Tradition holds that she was very beautiful. She became a well known Courtesan of Vaishali and it is said that she did much to increase the prestige and importance of the city.

She was very intelligent and had a great yearning for truth. When Buddha came to the area, she went to hear him. It is said that he was struck with her wisdom.

During this first encounter, Ambapali invited Buddha and his disciples to dine with her; an invitation he accepted despite the advice of others who thought he should not go.

Having heard him talk, she gave her lands to him and his followers. She became a disciple of the Buddha and is said to have attained the status of arhat (a perfected person).

To read the passage from the Buddhist scripture about her, go to Ambapali and Buddha

Here you will find the section from the Life of the Buddha which is about The gift

Works: The Gospel of Buddha

A hard to find biography from Asia house is available at Amazon: Ambapali

Some of her work is included in this anthology available at Amazon. Click on:


First Buddhist Women

Susan Murcott

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This page was updated October 25, 2014

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