A brahmin youth of the Ambaṭṭha clan who lived with his teacher, Pokkharasādi, at Ukkaṭṭha. He was learned in the three Vedas and the correlated branches of knowledge, including the Lokāyata, as recorded in the Ambaṭṭha Sutta. DN.i.87ff. 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 Ambaṭṭha had once gone on some business of Pokkharasādi’s to Kapilavatthu, to the Mote Hall of the Sākyans, and had been insulted there. DN.i.91
Asked by the Buddha to what family he belonged, Ambaṭṭha replied that he came of the Kaṇhāyanā-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 Kaṇha (devil), hence the family name. Kaṇha later became a mighty seer and married Maddarūpi, daughter of Okkāka. DN.i.96–97
Ambaṭṭha 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 Ambaṭṭha might see on his body the thirty-two signs of a great man. Ambaṭṭha goes back to Pokkharasadi and reports the whole interview. Pokkharasādi is greatly incensed, abuses Ambaṭṭha 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 Ukkaṭṭha. Pokkharasādi himself becomes a Sotāpanna.