An ājivaka whom the Buddha met on his way between Gayā and the Bodhi Tree, after he set out from Isipatana for the preaching of the First Sermon. Upaka questioned the Buddha on his attainments, and when the Buddha told him what he had accomplished he asked the Buddha if he were "Anantajina." When the Buddha acknowledged it, Upaka shook his bead saying, "It may be so, friend," and went along by another road (J.i.81; Vin.i.8; M.i.170-1; DhA.iv.71-2). It is said (DA.ii.471) that the Buddha walked all the way from the Bodhi Tree to Isipatana - instead of flying through the air, as is the custom of Buddhas - because he wished to meet Upaka.
After this meeting Upaka went to the Vankahāra country and there, having fallen desperately in love with Cāpā, the daughter of a huntsman who looked after him, starved for seven days and in the end persuaded the huntsman to give her to him in marriage. For a living, Upaka hawked about the flesh brought by the huntsman. In due course Cāpā bore him a son, Subhadda. When the baby cried, Cāpā sang to him saying, "Upaka's son, ascetic's son, game-dealer's boy, don't cry," thus mocking her husband. In exasperation he told her of his friend Anantajina, but she did not stop teasing him. One day, in spite of her attempts to keep him, he left her and went to the Buddha at Sāvatthi. The Buddha, seeing him coming, gave orders that anyone asking for Anantajina should be brought to him. Having learnt from Upaka his story, the Buddha had him admitted to the Order. As a result of his meditation, Upaka became an anāgāmī and was reborn in the Avihā heaven (ThigA.220ff; MA.i.388f. Upaka's story is also given in SnA.i.258ff, with several variations in detail). The Samyutta Nikāya (i.35, 60) records a visit paid to the Buddha by Upaka and six other beings born in Avihā. According to the Majjhima Commentary (i.389), Upaka became an arahant as soon as he was born in Avihā.
In the Therīgāthā he is also called Kāla (v.309. This may have been a term of affection used because of his dark colour) and his birth-place is given as Nāla, a village near the Bodhi Tree, where he is said to have been living with his wife at the time he left her (ThigA.225).
Later, Cāpā, too, left the world and became an arahant Therī.
The Divyāvadana (p.393) calls Upaka Upagana.
The enumeration of the Buddha's virtues which was made to Upaka is not regarded as a real dhammadesanā because it took place before the preaching of the first sermon. It produced only a vāsanā-bhāgiya result, not sekha- or ribaddha-bhāgiya (UdA.54).
The words of the Buddha's speech to Upaka are often quoted (E.g., Kvu.289).
2. Upaka Mandikāputta.-He once visited the Buddha at Gijjhakūta and stated before him his view that whoever starts abusive talk of another, without being able to make good his case, is blameworthy. The Buddha agrees and says that Upaka himself has been guilty of this offence. The Commentary (AA.ii.554) explains that Upaka was a supporter of Devadatta. Upaka protests against being caught in a big noose of words, like a fish caught as soon as he pops up his head. The Buddha explains that it is necessary for him to teach with endless variations of words and similes. Upaka is pleased with the Buddha's talk and reports the conversation to Ajātasattu. The king shows his anger at the man's presumption in having remonstrated with the Buddha (A.ii.181f), and the Commentary adds that he had him seized by the neck and cast out.
Buddhaghosa says (AA.ii.554-5) that Upaka went to visit the Buddha in order to find out whether the Buddha would blame him for being a supporter of Devadatta. According to others, he came to abuse the Buddha because he had heard that the Buddha had consigned Devadatta to hell. He was apparently of low caste, and Ajātasattu addresses him as "salt-worker's boy" (lonakārakadāraka) (A.ii.182).