A wanderer who later became an arahant Thera. Several conversations he had with the Buddha are mentioned in the books. For details see the Tevijja Vacchagotta-, Aggi Vacchagotta-, Mahā Vacchagotta-, Vaccha—and Vacchagotta-Suttas. The Saṃyutta Nikāya contains a whole section on Vacchagotta; his discussions were chiefly concerned with such mythical questions as to whether the world is eternal, the nature of life, the existence or otherwise of the Tathāgata after death, etc. SN.iii.257ff. SN.iv.391ff. The three Vacchagotta Suttas of the Majjhima Nikāya seem to contain the story of Vacchagotta’s conversion, in due order: at the conclusion of the Tevijja Vacchagotta it is merely stated that “the Paribbājaka Vacchagotta rejoiced in what the Blessed One has said.” At the end of the next, the Aggi Vacchagotta, he is mentioned as having accepted the Buddha as his teacher. In the third, the Mahā Vacchagotta, he seeks ordination from the Buddha at Rājagaha, and receives it after the requisite probationary period of four months. He returns to the Buddha after two weeks and tells him that he has attained all that is to be attained by a non arahant’s understanding and asks for a further exposition of the Doctrine. The Buddha tells him to proceed to the study of calm and insight, whereby sixfold abhiññā may be acquired. Vacchagotta profits by the lesson and soon after becomes an arahant. He thereupon sends news of his attainment to the Buddha through some monks, and the Buddha says he has already heard the news from the devas. MN.i.493–497
This story definitely identifies the Paribbājaka with the Thera of the same name, whose verse of ecstasy is included in the Theragāthā. Thag.112
Vacchagotta was a native of Rājagaha, but seems to have travelled widely, for we find him visiting the Buddha at Vesāli, MN.i.481 at Sāvatthī, MN.i.483 SN.iii.257 and at Ñātikā, SN.iv.401 in addition to his visits to Rājagaha. MN.i.489
in the Aṅguttara Nikāya AN.i.180f. a Vacchagotta who is a wanderer visits the Buddha at Venāgapura, where he was at the head of the brahmins. He is possibly the same person, though here he is called Venāgapurika.