Ambapali

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Ambapali, also known as "Amrapali", was a nagarvadhu (royal courtesan) of the republic of Vaishali in ancient India around 500 BC. She is mentioned in the old Pali texts and Buddhist traditions. Legends surrounding her state the following:

Ambapali or Amrapali was of unknown parentage, and received her name because at her birth she was found at the foot of a mango tree in one of the royal gardens in Vaishali. (Etymologically, the name, Ambapali or Amrapali, is derived from a combination of two Sanskrit words: "amra", meaning mango, and "pallawa", meaning young leaves or sprouts.)

Ambapali grew to be a lady of extraordinary beauty, charm, and grace, and many young nobles of the republic desired her company. To avoid confrontations among her suitors, she was accorded the status of the state courtesan of Vaishali. Stories of her beauty traveled to the ears of Ajatasatru, who was then the king of the neighboring, hostile kingdom of Magadha. Becoming infatuated with her, he invaded Vaishali, and romanced her. She bore him a son named Vimala Kondanna.

Ambapali once desired to have the privilege of serving food to Buddha. The Buddhist traditions state that Buddha accepted the invitation against the wishes of the ruling aristocracy of Vaishali. Ambapali received Buddha with her retinue, and offered meals to him. Soon thereafter, she renounced her position as courtesan, accepted Buddhist faith, and remained an active supporter of the Buddhist order.

On growing up, Vimala Kondanna too became a Buddhist monk.