A Yakkha. He and his friend, Hemavata, were two of the twenty eight leaders of the Yakkhas. They had both been monks in the time of Kassapa Buddha, but had been guilty of deciding wrongly in the dispute which arose between Dhammavādī and Adhammavādī, hence their birth as Yakkhas, Sātāgira in Sātapabbata, and Hemavata in Himavā. They recognized each other at the Yakkha assembly in the Bhagalavatī pabbata, and promised to inform each other if, in their lives, they came across anything of interest.
When the Buddha was born and when he preached his first sermon, Sātāgira was present in the assembly, but, because he was constantly looking about to see if Hemavata was there, he could not concentrate his mind on the Buddha's teaching. When the sun set and the Buddha was still preaching, he went with five hundred of his followers to fetch Hemavata. At Rājagaha they met Hemavata, who was on the way to invite Sātāgira to Himavā, which was covered with such flowers as had never before been seen. Sātāgira explains that the reason for this miracle is the appearance of the Buddha in the world, and, in answer to Hemavata's questions, declares the greatness of the Buddha.
Their conversation is found in the introductory gāthā of the Hemavata Sutta (q.v.). Buddhaghosa says (SNA.i.199) that, according to some, this meeting took place, not on the occasion of the first sermon, but later, when the Buddha was living in the Gotāmaka cetiya. Kāli Kuraragharikā, as she sat by her window cooling herself, heard the conversation of the two Yakkhas, and her mind being filed with devotion to the Buddha, as she heard his wonderful qualities being enumerated she attained sotāpatti.
When Hemavata is satisfied, from Sātāgira's description, that the Buddha is really the Awakened One, he decides to go to him with Sātagira. Together they go with their followers to Isipatana in the middle watch of the night, and Hemavata questions the Buddha about his teaching. Hemavata is, by nature, powerful and wise and filled with respect for the good, and the Buddha's marvellous exposition of the dhamma fills him with great joy. He sings the Buddha's praises in five stanzas, and, after taking leave of him and of Sātāgira, returns home with the promise that he will wander from place to place carrying the joyful news of the Buddha and his Dhamma among all beings. This story is given in the Commentary to the Hemavata Sutta; SNA.i.194 216; cf. AA.i.134f.
Later, when journeying through the air in various conveyances, on their way to the Yakkha assembly, Sātāgira and Hemavata and their followers were about to pass over Alavaka's hermitage; but because the Buddha was then inside, the Yakkhas found that their conveyances remained stationary as no one could pass over the head of the Buddha. When they thus discovered his presence, they alighted and made obeisance to the Buddha, and congratulated Alavaka on his extreme good fortune in having an opportunity of meeting and listening to the Buddha. AA.i.221; a similar story is related (UdA.64) about them when they passed the abode of the Yakkha Ajakalāpaka.
Sātāgira is mentioned in the Atānātiya Sutta (D.iii.204) as one of the Yakkhas to be invoked in time of need by the Buddha's followers. He is identified with the Yakkha of the Bhisa Jātaka. J.iv.314.