She was born of a nurse in the house of the banker Ghosita (AA.i.232), and later became a slave of Queen Sāmāvati. The queen gave her daily the eight pieces of money allowed to her by the king for the purchase of flowers. Khujjuttarā bought flowers with four pieces from the gardener Sumana, the remaining four pieces she kept. One day the Buddha visited Sumana, and Khujjuttarā, having heard the Buddha preach to him, became a sotāpanna. That day she spent the whole amount on flowers. The queen asked her how she had obtained so many, and she told her the whole story. From that time Sāmāvatī showed Khujjuttarā all honour, bathed her in perfumed water, and heard the Dhamma from her. Khujjuttarā became, as it were, a mother to Sāmāvatī, and going regularly to hear the Dhamma, would return and preach it to her and her five hundred attendant women. Under the instruction of Khujjuttarā they all became sotāpannas. When Sāmāvatī expressed a desire to see the Buddha, Khujjuttarā suggested that she should pierce holes in the walls of the palace and gaze on the Buddha as he passed along the street. After the death of Sāmāvatī, Khujjuttarā seems to have spent all her time in religious works, listening to the preaching of the Dhamma. The Buddha declared her foremost among lay women by reason of her extensive knowledge (bahussutānam). A.i.26; DhA.i.208ff; AA.i.226, 237f; ItvA.23f.; PsA.498f.
Once, in the past, she was a serving-woman of the king of Benares, and one day, having seen a Pacceka Buddha who was slightly hunch-backed, she threw a blanket over her shoulder, and bending down to look like a hunchback, she imitated the Buddha's manner of walking. Therefore, in this present birth she herself was hunchbacked. On another occasion eight Pacceka Buddhas, receiving their bowls filled with rice-porridge from the palace, found the bowls so hot that they were obliged to move them from one hand to the other. Seeing this, Khujjuttarā gave them eight ivory bracelets as stands for their bowls. It is said that these bracelets are still preserved in the Nandamūla-pabbhāra. Because of this act Khujjuttarā obtained profound wisdom in this birth, and was able to learn the Tipitaka by heart. In the time of Kassapa Buddha she was the daughter of a treasurer, and had a friend who was a nun; one day when she was adorning herself at eventide the nun visited her, and as there was no servant-girl at the time Khujjuttarā asked the nun to do various things for her. As a result she was born as a slave. Her desire to become chief among learned lay-women was formed in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, on her seeing a similar rank bestowed on a lay-woman (DhA.i.226f, etc.; Dvy.339-41).
It is said that the discourses in the Itivuttaka are those which Khujjuttarā learned from the Buddha and later repeated to Sāmāvatī and her attendant women. Because these discourses were all preached at Kosambī and repeated there by her, there was no need to specify the place of their preaching; hence the formula "Ekam samayam Bhagavā Kosambiyam viharati" is omitted, and instead is found "vuttam h'etam Bhagavatā arahatā." (ItvA.32).
Khujjuttarā is several times mentioned as the paragon among lay-women disciples (E.g., A.i.88; ii.164; iv.368; S.ii.236), and in the Commentaries (E.g., DA.iii.910) she is given as an example of kāmabhoginiyo (women who enjoyed the pleasures of the senses). She possessed the patisambhidā while yet a householder, but it was the patisambhidā of the probationer (sekha) (Vsm.442; VibhA.388).
Khujjuttarā is identified with the slave-girl in the Uraga Jātaka (J.iii.168) and in the Bhisa Jātaka (J.iv.314), the nurse in the Culla-Sutasoma Jātaka (J.v.192) and the hunchback in the Kusa Jātaka (J.v.312). Owing to her personal experience (abhijānato) she had the power of recalling her past births (Mil.78).
It is said (UdA.384) that when Sāmāvatī and her companions were burnt to death, Khujjuttarā escaped because she had not participated in their previous misdeeds. At the time of the fire she was absent from the palace, some say ten leagues away.