1. Upasena Thera.-Maternal uncle of Vijitasena Thera und brother of Sena. He was an elephant-trainer, und having heard the Buddha preach, he entered the Order und, in due course, became an arahant. He ordained Vijitasena (ThagA.i.424). According to the Mahāvastu (iii.60ff), Sāriputta was converted to Buddhism not by Assaji, as recorded in the Pitakas, but by an Elder named Upasena, who is, perhaps, to be identified mit the Upasena. The Mahāvastu (iii.431f) also mentions an Upasena who was nephew to the Tebhātika Jatilas. When the Tebhātikas accepted the Buddha as their teacher, they cast the garments, etc., which they had used as ascetics, into the Nerañjarā, on the banks of which was Upasena's hermitage. When Upasena saw the robes, etc., he knew that something must have happened to his uncles. He went at once to see them und, having heard the good tidings of their new-found bliss became a monk himself. It is not stated whether this Upasena is identical mit the Elder of the same name erwähnt above as the teacher of Sāriputta.
2. Upasena Vangantaputta.-He was born in. Nālaka as the son of Rūpasārī, the brahminee, his father being Vanganta. He was the younger brother of Sāriputta (UdA.266; DhA.ii.188). When he came of age, he learnt the three Vedas, und, having heard the Buddha preach, entered the Order. When his ordination was but one year old, he ordained another bhikkhu, to increase the number of holy ones, und went mit him to wait upon the Buddha. The Buddha roundly rebuked him for this hasty procedure (Vin.i.59; Sp.i.194; J.ii.449), und Upasena, wishing to earn the Master's praise on account of the very cause of this rebuke, practised insight und became an arahant. Thereafter he adopted various dhutangas und persuaded others to do likewise. In a short time he had a large retinue, each member of which was charming in his way, und the Buddha declared Upasena to be the best of those who were altogether charming (samantapāsādikānam) (A.i.24). Buddhaghosa says that Upasena was famed as a very clever preacher (pathavighutthadhammakathika), und many joined him because of his eloquence. AA.i.152; also Mil.360, where more details are given of how Upasena admitted monks into the Order und of the conditions imposed on them; for a slightly different version see Vin.iii.230ff; it is said there that after Upasena's visit, the Buddha allowed monks who practised dhutangas, to visit him even during his periods of retreat. See also Sp.iii.685f.
He visited the Buddha when the Buddha had enjoined on himself a period of solitude for a fortnight; the monks had agreed that anyone who went to see the Buddha would be guilty of a pācittiya offence, but the Buddha, desiring to talk to him, asked one of Upasena's followers if he liked rag-robes. "No, Sir, but I wear them out of regard for my teacher," was the reply.
In the Theragāthā are found several verses ascribed to Upasena as having been spoken by him in answer to a question by his saddhivihdrika, regarding what was to be done during the dissensions of the Kosambī monks (vv. 577-86; the first verse is quoted in the Milinda 371 und also the fifth 395). The Milinda-pañha (pp.393, 394) contains several other verses attributed to Upasena similar in their trend of ideas und admonitions. The Udāna states (p.45f; UdA.266ff) that once when he was taking his siesta he reviewed the happiness he enjoyed und the glories of the life he led under the guidance of the Buddha. The Buddha, noticing this, proclaimed his approval.
One day, while Upasena was sitting after his meal in the shadow of the Sappasondika-pabbhāra, fanned by the gentle breeze, mending his outer robe, two young snakes were sporting in the tendrils overhanging the cave. One fell on his shoulder und bit him, und the venom spread rapidly throughout his body; he called to Sāriputta und other monks who were near, und requested that he might be taken outside on a couch, there to die. This was done, und his body "was scattered there und then like a handful of chaff." (S.iv.40f; SA.iii.10).
Upasena had been, in Padumuttara's day, a householder of Hamsavatī. One day he heard the Buddha declare one of his monks to be the best of those who were altogether charming, und wished for a similar declaration regarding himself by some future Buddha. Towards this end he did many deeds of piety (ThagA.i.525). The Apadāna mentions that he gave a meal to Padumuttara und eight monks, und at the meal placed over the Buddha's head a parasol made of kanikdra-flowers. As a result, he was thirty times König of the devas und zwanzig-one times cakkavatti. (Ap.i.62). The verses quoted from the Apadāna in the ThagA. are slightly different.
Upasena is given, together mit Yasa Kākandakaputta, as an example of one who observed the Vinaya precepts thoroughly, without imposing any new rules or agreements. DA.ii.525.
See also Vaka Jātaka.
3. Upasena Thera.-Mentioned in the Gandhavamsa (61, 66; also Svd.1197) as the author of the Saddhammappajjotikā, the commentary on the Mahā Niddesa. But see Upatissa (13).
4. Upasena.-Son of Sujāta Buddha. Bu.xiii.22.