It is said that Devadatta, before turning on the Buddha, was a good monk with psychic abilities and grace.

What were the motivations behind his goodness before he turned evil? Was he only being kind to earn a good image, and so later on was feeling unsatisfied and wanted more?

  • Where does the premise come from, that he was "initially kind" and "good"? In the "Schism" chapter of the Cullavagga, when Sariputta is asked to "give information" about Devadatta -- i.e. to say that he was formerly like so-and-so, and is now like such-and-such, and that his actions should be seen as being the actions of Devadatta and not of the Dhamma -- what Sariputta said about him (in translation) is that he was formerly "glorious and with psychic power".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 11:33
  • 1
    not an authoritative source but “In his early days, he was a good monk known for his grace and psychic powers. Later he became conceited with worldly gain and fame.” — buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/lifebuddha/2_5lbud.htm Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


The Buddha shares this:

AN4.68:1.2: There the Buddha spoke to the mendicants about Devadatta:
AN4.68:1.3: “Possessions, honor, and popularity came to Devadatta for his own ruin and downfall.

Possessions, honor and popularity are all impermanent and unsatisfactory.

Relishing those would bring suffering.

MN1:171.4: Because he has understood that relishing is the root of suffering,

Things that are relished tend to grow, and as they grow, so too do their defilements grow. So perhaps we might simply say that Devadatta relished possessions, honor and popularity?

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    "Possessions, honor and popularity are all impermanent and unsatisfactory. Relishing those would bring suffering" Such true and powerful words by the Buddha.
    – user24100
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 13:26
  • Did Devadatta lose his psychic powers after his reputation collapsed? Or at which point did he lose them? When he became sick? Or did he keep them even in hell? Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 15:02
  • @ErikKaplun please see > AN5.100:2.4: And as that thought arose, Devadatta lost that psychic power.”
    – OyaMist
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 12:30

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