He was the son of a very wealthy treasurer of Benares, and was brought up in great luxury, living in three mansions, according to the seasons and surrounded with all kinds of pleasures. Impelled by antecedent conditions, he saw one night the indecorum of his sleeping attendants, and, greatly distressed, put on his gold slippers and left the house and the town, non humans opening the gates for him. He took the direction of Isipatana, exclaiming— “Alas! What distress! Alas! What danger!” The Buddha saw him in the distance and called to him, “Come Yasa, here is neither distress nor danger.” Filled with joy, Yasa took off his slippers and sat beside the Buddha. The Buddha preached to him a graduated discourse, and when he had finished teaching the Truths, Yasa attained realization of the Dhamma. To Yasa’s father, too, who had come in search of his son, the Buddha preached the Doctrine, having first made Yasa invisible to him. At the end of the sermon he acknowledged himself the Buddha’s follower, and Yasa, who had been listening, became an arahant. When, therefore, Yasa’s presence became known to his father, who asked him to return to his grieving mother, the Buddha declared that household life had no attractions for Yasa and granted his request to be admitted to the Order. The next day, at the invitation of Yasa’s father, he went, accompanied by Yasa, to his house, and there, at the conclusion of the meal, he preached to Yasa’s mother and other members of the household, who all became his followers, thus becoming the first tevācikā upāsikā. When Yasa’s intimate friends, Vimala, Subāhu, Punnaji and Gavampati, heard of Yasa’s ordination they followed his example and joined the Order, attaining arahantship in due course, as did fifty others of Yasa’s former friends and acquaintances. Vin.i.15–20
A verse attributed to him in the Theragāthā says that he attained the Three Knowledges even while still adorned with fine clothes. Thag.117
A monk who lived about a century after the Buddha, and who was one of the leaders in the events of the Second Council. When he arrived at the Kūṭāgārasālā in the Mahāvana, he discovered that the Vajjian monks had raised the “Ten Points” contrary to the Buddha’s teachings, and that they were publicly asking for money from their lay disciples. Yasa thereupon protested against such misdemeanours, and the Vajjian monks, hoping to win him over, offered him a share of the money they had collected.
This offer he rejected with scorn, and the monks passed on him the Patisārattiyakamma (craving of pardon from lay folk). This necessitated that Yasa should be sent among the laymen, accompanied by a messenger, presumably to ask their pardon for having misinformed them. But instead of this, Yasa told the lay people that the behaviour of the Vajjian monks was completely at variance with the rules laid down by the Buddha, and quoted the Buddha’s discourses to prove his charge.
When the Vajjian monks heard of this, they pronounced on him the Ukkhepaniyakamma (Act of Suspension), but when they assembled to carry it out, Yasa disappeared through the air to Kosambī, from where he sent messengers to the monks of Avanti, of the west (Pātheyyakā or Pāveyyakā) and of the south (Dakkhiṇāpatha), asking for their assistance in checking the corruption of the religion. With them he visited Sambhūta Sānavāsī at Ahogangapabbata, and there they decided to consult Revata who lived in Soreyya. Yasa, therefore, went to Revata, following him through Saṅkassa, Kaṇṇakujja, Udumbara, Aggalapura and Sahajāti. Having found Revata, he questioned him regarding the ten points, and obtained from him promise of assistance.
Together they returned to Vesāli, where lived Sabbakāmī, the oldest Thera of the day. After obtaining his opinion on the matter, an assembly of the monks was held and a committee was appointed of four from the East: Sabbakāmī, Sāḷha, Khujjasobhita, and Vāsabhagāmika; and four from the West: Revata, Sambhūta-Sānavāsī, Yasa and Sumana. They debated the question at the Vālikārāma, Revata acting as questioner and Sabbakāmī answering his questions. At the end of the enquiry the decision was given against the ten points of the Vajjian monks, and this decision was conveyed to the assembly. Then the recital of the Vinaya was held in which seven hundred monks participated; this recital was called the Sattasatī. Vin.ii.294ff.
A deva, present at the preaching of the Mahāsamaya Sutta. DN.ii.259 Perhaps the name is Yasasā.