Upali was originally a barber from a low-caste family in service to the Sakyan princes. When the princes left home to become monks, Upali also sought ordination.
Several variations on the story of Upali's ordination exist, but all of them emphasize that his status in the Sangha was independent of his caste origin. In the Pali version, the princes voluntarily allow Upali to ordain before them in order to give him seniority and abandon their own attachment to caste and social status. In some Tibetan versions, Sariputra encourages Upali to ordain when he hesitates because of his caste origin.
In the literature of every Buddhist school, Upali is depicted as an expert in monastic discipline and the monastic code. At the First Buddhist Council, he was asked to recite the Vinaya and monastic code. He attained the state of arhatship before his death, and is regarded as the 'patron saint' of monks who specialize in the Vinaya.
- "Upali". What-Buddha-Said.net. Retrieved 2017-09-28.
- "Buddhist Studies: Disciples of the Buddha: Upali (Student version)". buddhanet.net. Retrieved 2017-09-28.
- "Upāli". palikanon.com. Retrieved 2017-09-28.