She was born in the family of a very rich burgess of Sāvatthi and was married to the king of Kosala (probably Pasenadi). After a few years a daughter was born to her, whom she named Jivā (v.l. Jīvantī). The king was so pleased with the child that he had Ubbirī anointed as queen. But the girl died soon afterwards, and Ubbirī, distracted, went daily to the charnel-field. One day, as she sat lamenting on the bank of the Aciravatī, the Buddha appeared before her in a ray of glory. Having listened to her story, the Master pointed out to her that in that same burial-ground, eighty-four thousand of her daughters, all named Jīvā, had been burnt. Pondering on the Master's words, she developed insight and became an arahant.
When she was a young girl in Hamsavatī in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, she was one day left alone in the house. Seeing an arahant begging for alms, she invited him in and gave him food. As a result she was born in Tāvatimsa. Eighty times she reigned as queen in heaven and seventy times as queen among men (Thig.vv.51-2; ThigA.53ff).
No mention is made in the Therīgāthā Commentary of her having joined the Order, but the Apadāna (ii.525f) states that she did so.