1. Sona Thera. Aggasāvaka (great disciple) of Vessabhū Buddha. He was the Buddha's younger brother, and the Buddha's first sermon was preached to him. J.i.42; Bu.xxii.23; BuA.205; D.ii.4.
2. Sona Thera. The enemy and rival of Piyadassī Buddha, corresponding to Devadatta. He conspired with Mahāpaduma to kill the Buddha, but was unsuccessful. BuA.174f.; for details see Piyadassī.
3. Sona. A fierce horse belonging to the king of Benares; he was also called Mahāsona. See the Suhanu Jātaka.
4. Sona-Kutikanna, Sona-Kotikanna. A Thera, declared chief - of those possessing clear utterance (A.i.24). He was the son of Kālī Kuraragharikā, and was conceived before the Buddha appeared in the world. (According to ThagA.i.429, his father was a rich setthi; no mention is made there of his mother).
A little while before the birth of the child Kālī went to her parents' house in Rājagaha, and one day, as she was cooling herself, she heard a conversation between two Yakkhas, Sātāgira and Hemavata. As she listened to their talk, her mind was filled with thoughts of the virtues of the Buddha, and she became a sotāpanna. That same night the child was born and was called Sona. His mother later returned to Kuraraghara. At that time Mahā Kaccāna lived near by and often visited her home. Sona was very attached to him, and was later ordained by him. Three years later he received the upasampadā, and, with Mahā Kaccāna’s leave, visited the, Buddha. Kālī gave him a large carpet to spread in the Buddha's Gandhakuti.
When Sona arrived at the Gandhakuti, he worshipped the Buddha, who asked Ananda to find him a lodging. Ananda, reading the Buddha's thoughts, spread a rug in the Buddha's chamber. Late at night Sona went to bed, and, very early the next morning, the Buddha woke him and asked him to recite the Dhamma. Sona recited the whole of the Atthakavagga, which he had learnt from Mahā Kaccāna. At the end of the recital the Buddha applauded him and gave him a boon. Sona asked for the "Vinaya-dharapañcamaganena upasampadā, which Kaccāna had asked him to choose. (This means permission to admit a monk into the Order with a chapter of only five monks, one of whom was versed in the Vinaya. For details of Sona's visit to the Buddha, see Vin.i.194ff.; cf. Ud.v.6). Later he returned to Kuraraghara and visited his mother's house. She had heard of the Buddha's applause from the devas, and wished Sona to recite the Dhamma just as he had done before the Buddha, and this he did.
In the time of Padumuttara Buddha Sona had resolved to win this eminence. In the time of Vipassī Buddha he was a member of the Order and sewed a robe for a monk. Later he was a tailor of Benares and mended a Pacceka Buddha's robe (Thag.vss.365-9; AA.i.133f.; ThagA.i.429).
The Dhammapada Commentary says (DhA.iv.103f) that, on the day when Sona recited the Dhamma in Kuraraghara, Kālī went to listen to him, leaving only one female slave in the house. Her house had seven walls and fortified gates and savage dogs on leash. Molten lead flowed round the walls at night, and in the night it proved a slippery surface, difficult to walk on. Nine hundred thieves had been awaiting a chance of breaking into the house, and this day they saw their opportunity. They stationed one of their number to watch Kālī going to the monastery, and to kill her if she started homewards after the thieves entered her house. When they came her female servant ran to the monastery to tell her about it. But she would not be disturbed and sent her back. Again the servant went, and again she was sent back. When the thief, stationed near Kālī, saw her extraordinary piety, he was filled with remorse, and, at the end of the sermon, begged her forgiveness. All the nine hundred thieves joined the Order under Sona Kutikanna, and on the day they became arahants the Buddha appeared before them in a ray of light to encourage them.
According to the Udāna Commentary (UdA.307), Sona was called Kutikanna because he wore ear ornaments worth one crore (koti). It is said that he once went with a caravan to Ujjeni, and when the caravan stopped for the night he slept away from the rest of its members. The caravan started very early and nobody waked Sona. When he finally awoke, he ran along the road till he came to a large tree. There he saw an ugly man tearing off his own flesh and eating it. On enquiry, Sona learnt that he had been a wicked merchant of Bhārukaccha, who had been born as a peta because he had deceived his patrons. This revelation filled Sona with great misgivings, which were increased by the sight of two peta boys with blood pouring out of their lips. They had been youths, also of Bhārukaccha, who had found fault with their mother for feeding an arahant monk. When Sona returned from Ujjeni he consulted Mahā Kaccāna about these things, and resolved to enter the Order.
The Vinaya says (Vin.i.195f) that when Kaccāna wished to confer the higher ordination on Sona, it was three years before he could get together the necessary chapter of ten monks. This was because there were but few monks in Avanti and in the Southern Country; hence Sona's request to the Buddha that he should allow five monks to officiate in Avanti. Other boons asked for by Sona and allowed by the Buddha were:
Sona is evidently identical with Pātihīrasaññaka of the Apadāna (Ap.ii.392). Gosāla Thera was a friend of Sona Kutikanna. ThagA.i.79.
5. Sona-Kolivisa Thera, also called Sukhumāla Sona (AA.ii.679). He was born in Campā, his father being Usabhasetthi. From the time of his conception his father's wealth continued to increase, and, on the day of his birth, the whole town kept festival. Because in a previous birth he had given a ring, worth one hundred thousand, to a Pacceka Buddha, his body was like burnished gold - hence his name. (He was evidently called Kolivisa because he was a Koliyan, Ap.i.95, 21). His hands and feet were soft like bandhujīvaka-flowers, and a fine down grew on them (four inches long on his feet, Ap.i.298) curved "like ear ornaments." He lived in great luxury in three palaces, each having its own season.
King Bimbisāra, hearing of him, sent for him and Sona went with eighty thousand fellow townsmen.
In Rājagaha he heard the Buddha preach, and, winning faith, entered the Order with his parents' consent. The Buddha gave him a subject for meditation, and he went to Sītavana, but many people visited him and he was unable to concentrate. He strove hard, and, through pacing up and down in meditation, painful sores developed on his feet. But he won no attainment and was filled with despair. The Buddha saw this and visited him, and by preaching to him the Vīnūpamovāda Sutta (see Sona Sutta), taught him how to temper energy with calm. Thus corrected, he put forth fresh effort and attained arahantship (Thag.vss.632).
The Vinaya (i.179ff) gives details of Sona's visit to Bimbisāra. The king, being curious to see Sona's feet, sent for him. He and his eighty-thousand companions went to see the Buddha, and there they were greatly impressed by the iddhi-power of Sāgata. Sona then sought the Buddha alone and joined the Order. After ordination he walked about meditating, his feet bled, and his cankamana was covered with blood "like a slaughter house for oxen." After Sona attained arahantship, the Buddha gave him permission to wear shoes with one lining. Sona said he had abandoned eighty cartloads of gold and a retinue of seven elephants. He did not wish, as a monk, to have any luxuries which his colleagues did not share, The Buddha then gave permission to all monks to wear shoes with one lining.
In the time of Anomadassī Buddha he was a very rich setthi, and, having gone with others to the vihāra and heard the Buddha preach, he decorated a cankamana for the Buddha and a long hall (dīghasālā) for the monks. On the cankamana he scattered various flowers, and, above it, he hung canopies. In the time of Padumuttara Buddha he was a setthi of Hamsavatī named Sirivaddha. It was then that he resolved to win eminence as foremost of those who strove energetically (aggam āraddhaviriyānan), and in this he was successful (A.i.24). After the death of Kassapa Buddha Sona was a householder in Benares, and built a hut by the river for a Pacceka Buddha, whom he looked after during the rainy season. He was king of the gods for twenty five kappas, and seventy-seven times king among men under the name of Yasodhara. ThagA.i.544f.; cf. Ap.i.93f., where he is called Koliyavessa. The ApA. confused his story with that of Kutikanna; see also AA.i.130f., where the details are different, especially regarding the honour paid by Sona to the Pacceka Buddha. Once, on visiting the Pacceka Buddha's cell, he noticed that the ground outside it was muddy; so he spread on the ground a rug worth one hundred thousand, so that the Pacceka Buddha's feet might not be soiled.
The Apadāna mentions (Ap.i.298) a Thera, called Sona Kotivīsa, evidently identical with the above, the reason given for the name being that he gave away wealth equal in value to twenty crores (vīsa koti). His eminence is ascribed to the fact that, in the time of Vipassī Buddha, he made a lena (cave) for the Buddha and his monks and spread it with rugs. Buddhaghosa (AA.i.130) gives a variant of his name, calling him Kotivessa, and explains this by saying that he belonged to a vessa (merchant) family worth a crore.
The Sona Sutta (Cf. AA.ii.680, where he is described as gandhabbasippe cheko) mentions that Sona was a clever player of the vīnā before he joined the Order. It was the example of Sona Kolivisa which urged Nandaka and his brother, Bharata, to leave the world. ThagA.i.299.
6. Sona. An arahant monk who was sent with Uttara to convert Suvannabhūmi. Dpv.viii.12; Sp.i.68, 69; Mhv.xii.6, 44ff.; for details see Suvannabhūmi.
7. Sona. A minister of Mahāsena and a follower of the heretic monk, Sanghamitta. He helped Sanghamitta in the despoliation of the Lohapāsāda and other buildings. He was killed in an attempt to destroy the Thūpārāma (Mhv.xxxvii.10, 13, 28). In the Dīpavamsa (Dpv.xxii.70, 71) he is called Pāpasona.
8. Sona. See Mahāsona.
9. Sona-Potirīyaputta (or Setthiputta) Thera. He was born in Kapilavatthu as the son of the zemindar Potirīya (Selissariya), and became chief of the forces of the Sākiyan Bhaddiya. When Bhaddiya left the world, Sona followed his example and entered the Order. But he was lazy and not given to meditation. The Buddha saw this from the Ambavana at Anupiyā and, sending forth a ray of glory, spurred him on. Sona became agitated, and putting forth effort became an arahant.
In the time of Sikhī Buddha he was a forester and gave the Buddha a kuruñjiya-fruit (Thag.vss.193, 194; ThagA.i.316f). He is probably identical with Kuruñjiyaphaladāyaka of the Apadāna. Ap.ii.448f.
10. Sona. A gahapatiputta of Rājagaha. He is mentioned as having had two conversations with the. Buddha at Veluvana: one on the impermanence of the body, feelings, etc., their origin and their cessation (S.iii.48f); and, on another occasion, as to why some beings achieve complete cessation in this life and others do not. S.iv.113.
11. Sona. A gifted preacher, who lived in the Pipphali vihāra at the foot of Sonnagiri. His father was a hunter, and all Sona's efforts to lead him away from sin failed, until he was very old, when Sona ordained him just before his death. The old man saw the Niraya and dogs coming to devour him. He shouted in his fright, and Sona took him on his bed to the vihāra and made him worship the cetiya, the bodhi-tree, etc., and offered various things in his father's name. He then saw the Devaloka before him. VibhA.439; cf. AA.i.255, where the vihāra is called Pañcala-vihāra, and MA.ii.887, where it is called Paceli-vihāra.
12. Sona. A Thera of the Mahāvihāra, at whose request the Kankhāvitaranī was written. Knv., p.1.
13. Sona. See Sona and its compounds.
1. Sona Suttā. Two suttas, recording conversations between the Buddha and Sona-gahapati of Rājagaha. S.iii.48f.; iv.113.
2. Sona Sutta. Sona Kolivisa, living in Sītavana, despairs of ever attaining arahantship. The Buddha, on Gijjhakūta, becomes aware of this and visits him. The Buddha reminds him that when he was a vīnā player his vīnā sounded neither tuneful nor playable when the strings were either over-strung or over-lax. Even so, energy, when over-strung, ends in flurry, when over-lax, in idleness. Sona profits by the lesson and becomes an arahant. He then visits the Buddha and declares to him his new found vision. A.iii.374f.