1. Ratthapāla Thera
Chief of those who had left the world through faith (saddhāpabbajitānam) (A.i.24). He was born at Thullakotthita in the Kuru country as the son of a very wealthy councillor and was called by his family name of Ratthapāla. Given to the family because it retrieved the fortunes of a disrupted kingdom, says the Commentary. He lived in great luxury, and, in due course, married a suitable wife. When the Buddha visited Thullakotthita, Ratthapāla went to hear him preach and decided to leave the world. His parents would not, however, give their consent till he threatened to starve himself to death. Realizing then that he was in earnest, they agreed to let him go on condition that he would visit them after his ordination. Ratthapāla accompanied the Buddha to Sāvatthi, and there, dwelling alone, he attained arahantship within a short time (But MA.ii.725 says he took twelve years, during which time he never slept on a bed, DA.iii.236). Then, with the Buddha's permission, he returned to Thullakotthita and dwelt in the deer park of the Kuru king. The day after his arrival, while begging for alms, he came to his father's house. His father was in the entrance hall having his hair combed, but, failing to recognize his son, he started to abuse him, taking him for an ordinary monk, one of those who had robbed him of his son. Just at that moment the slave girl of the house was about to throw away some stale rice, which Ratthapāla begged of her. The girl recognized his voice, gave him the rice and told his parents who he was. When his father came to look for his son, he found him eating stale rice as though it were ambrosia. (This eating of stale rice made of him an aggaariyavamsika, Sp.i.208; MA.ii.726). Having already finished eating, when invited to enter the house, he would not do so, but on the next day he went again, and his father tried to tempt him by making a display of the immense wealth which would be his should he return to the lay life, while his former wives, beautifully clothed, asked him about the nymphs, for whose sake he led the homeless life. "For the sake of no nymphs, Sisters," he said, and they fell fainting under the shock of being addressed as "Sisters." Growing impatient at the conduct of his family, he asked for his meal, ate it, preached to them (Buddhaghosa says that according to the Commentators of India, parasamuddavāsītherānām, he preached standing; the stanzas so preached are given in M.i.64f. and again in Thag.769-75) on the impermanence of all things, the futility of wealth, the snare of beauty, etc., and returned to Migācīra. Through the air, says the Commentary (ThagA.ii.34; MA.ii.730), because his father put bolts on the house and tried to keep him there. He also sent men to remove his yellow robes and clothe him in white.
There the Kuru king, who was feasting there, and had often heard of Ratthapāla's fame, visited him. Their conversation is recorded in the Ratthapāla Sutta. Ratthapāla then returned to the Buddha. Ratthapāla's story is given in M.ii.54ff.; MA.ii.722; ThagA.ii.30ff.; AA.i.144ff., cp. Avadas. ii.118ff.; Mtu.iii.41, n.1.
In a previous birth, before the appearance of Padumuttara Buddha, Ratthapāla was one of two rich householders of Hamsavatī, both of whom spent their wealth in good deeds. They once waited on two companies of ascetics from Himavā; the ascetics left, but their leaders remained, and the two householders looked after them till they died. After death, one of them (Ratthapāla) was reborn as Sakka, while the other was born as the Nāga king Pālita (v.l. Pathavindhara), who, in this Buddha age, became Rāhula. At Sakka's request, Pālita gave alms to Padumuttara and wished to be like the Buddha's son, Uparevata. Sakka himself entertained the Buddha and his monks for seven days and wished to resemble the monk Ratthapāla, whom Padumuttara Buddha had declared to be foremost among those who had joined the Order through faith. Padumuttara declared that the wish of both would be fulfilled in the time of Gotama Buddha.
MA.ii.722; ThagA.ii.30 differs in many details; it makes no mention of Pālita, and says that in Padumuttara's time, too, the householder's name was Ratthapāla. The name of the monk, disciple of Padumuttara, whose example incited the householder to wish for similar honour, is not given. This account adds (see also AA.i.143f.) that in the time of Phussa Buddha (q.v.) he was one of those in charge of the almsgiving held in the Buddha's honour by his three step brothers. Bimbisāra and Visākha were his colleagues (AA.i.165). The Ap.i.63f is again different. It says that in Padumuttara's time the householder gave the Buddha an elephant with all its trappings, and then, buying it back, built with the money a sanghā-rāma containing fifty four thousand rooms. As a result he was king of the gods fifty times and Cakkavatti fifty eight times. AA.i.141 gives the story at greater length, some of the minor details varying.
Ratthapāla is mentioned (E.g., SNA.i.232; at AA.ii.596 Yasa's name is added ) with Sona-setthiputta as one who enjoyed great luxury as a householder. He is an example (DA.ii.642; SA.iii.201; VibhA.306; DhA.iv.195) of one who attained to the higher knowledge through resolution (chandam dhuram katvā). The Vinayapitaka (Vin.iii.148; Ratthapāla is here called a kulaputta. The incident probably refers to his lay life) contains a stanza quoted by the Buddha, in which Ratthapāla's father enquires of his son why the latter never asked him for anything. "Because begging is a degrading thing," says Ratthapāla.
2. Ratthapāla. A monk in the time of Padumuttara Buddha. He was declared foremost among those who left the world through faith. But see Ratthapāla, (1).
3. Ratthapāla. The name of the family into which Ratthapāla (1) was born. See Ratthapāla (1).
4. Ratthapāla Thera. A monk of Ceylon, author of the Madhura-Rasavāhinī (q.v.).
The eighty second sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya. It contains an account of Ratthapāla's admission into the Order, his visits to his parents after attaining arahantship, and his conversation with the Kuru king in the latter's Deer Park. This last conversation forms the chief theme. The king asks Ratthapāla why he has left his home when he suffers neither from old age, failing health, poverty, nor death of kinsfolk. Ratthapāla answers that his reason for leaving it was his conviction of the truth of the four propositions enunciated by the Buddha that the world (1) is in a state of continual flux and change; (2) there is no protector or preserver; (3) in it, we own nothing, but must leave all behind us; (4) it lacks and bankers, being enslaved by craving. These four propositions are referred to as Cattāro dhammuddesā (MA.i.361).
He explains the meaning of these statements to the satisfaction of the king and summarizes his statements in a series of stanzas. M.ii.54 74. The stanzas included in the sutta are found in Thag.769 75 (those preached to Ratthapāla's father), and 776 93.
The Ratthapāla, Sutta (VibhA.267; MA.i.225; what this means is not quite clear; this sutta makes no mention of kammatthāna; another sutta of the same name is probably meant.) is mentioned as an example of a discourse in which the rūpa-kammatthāna is given first, leading on through vedanā to the arūpa-kammatthāna.
An unorthodox Buddhist work, whose views were rejected by the Theravādins as beings contrary to the teachings of the Buddha (abuddhavacana). E.g., Sp.iv.742; SA.ii.150.