1. Ambattha.-(usually called Ambattha-mānava). A brahmin youth of the Ambattha clan who lived with his teacher, Pokkharasādi, at Ukkatthā. He was learned in the three Vedas and the correlated branches of knowledge, including the Lokāyata, as recorded in the Ambattha Sutta (D.3). Once, at the request of his teacher, he visited the Buddha in the Icchānadkala wood and seems to have opened his conversation by reviling the Sākiyans and calling them menials. It appears that Ambattha had once gone on some business of Pokkharasādi's to Kapilavatthu, to the Mote Hall of the Sākyans, and had been insulted there (D.i.91).
Asked by the Buddha to what family he belonged, Ambattha replied that he came of the Kanhāyana-gotta; thereupon the Buddha traced the family back to its ancestor, who had been the offspring of a slave girl of Okkāka, named Disā. The child had been able to talk as soon as he was born and, because of this devilish trait, had been called Kanha (devil), hence the family name. Kanha later became a mighty seer and married Maddarūpī, daughter of Okkāka (D.i.96-7).
Ambattha makes no remonstrance against this genealogy and, under pressure, accepts it as true. This gives the Buddha an opportunity of preaching on the futility of feeling vanity regarding one's caste and on the worth of morality and conduct.
At the end of the discourse the Buddha walked up and down outside his chamber so that Ambattha might see on his body the thirty-two signs of a great man. Ambattha goes back to Pokkharasadi and reports the whole interview. Pokkharasādi is greatly incensed, abuses Ambattha and kicks him. Later Pokkharasādi goes himself to the Buddha and invites him for a meal. At the end of the meal the Buddha instructs him in his Doctrine and is accepted as the Teacher both of Pokkharasādi himself and of his followers and dependants at Ukkatthā. Pokkharasādi himself becomes a Sotāpanna (DA.i.278).
We are not told that Ambattha became a follower of the Buddha. Buddhaghosa says (DA.i.274) that the Buddha knew that Ambattha would not profit by his discourse in his present life (iminā attabhāvena magga-pātubhāvo natthi), and that therefore a sermon with the idea of converting him would only have meant spending unnecessary time. Ambattha himself only visited the Buddha on account of his interest in physiognomy. According to Buddhaghosa the idea of the Buddha in preaching the Ambattha Sutta at such length was that it might be repeated to Pokkharasādi.
It is conjectured that the Ambattha, who is identified with Kāvinda, one of the counsellors of King Vedeha, in the Ummagga Jātaka (J.vi.478), probably refers to the Ambattha of this sutta.
2. Ambattha.-A king of old, at whose court Rāhulamātā in one of her former lives had been a handmaid. In that life she had given alms to a holy man and, as a result, became in her next birth consort of the King of Benares. J.iii.413-14.