1. Mahānāma Thera
He was born in a brahmin family of Sāvatthi, and, after hearing the Buddha
preach, entered the Order. Taking a formula of meditation, he dwelt on the hill
called Nesādaka. Unable to prevent the rising of evil thoughts, he was disgusted
with himself, and climbing a steep crag, made as if to throw himself down, and
evoking insight became an arahant.
In the time of Sumedhā Buddha he was a brahmin teacher skilled in the Vedas,
and the Buddha visited him in his hermitage on the banks of the Sindhū and was
given honey by him (ThagA.ivs.115; ThagA.i.227ff). Mahānāma is probably identical
with Madhudāyaka Thera of the Apadāna. Ap.ii.325f.
2. Mahānāma Thera
One of the Pañcavaggiyā (J.i.82). He
became a sotāpanna on the third day
after the preaching of the
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. He became an arahant on the day of the
preaching of the Anattalakkhana Sutta,
together with the other Pañcavaggiyā (AA.i.84; MA.i.390).
Mahānāma once visited Macchikāsanda,
and there Cittagahapati, seeing him beg for alms
and pleased with his bearing, invited him to his house, gave him a meal, and
listened to a sermon by him. Citta was greatly pleased, and offered his pleasure
garden of Ambātakavana to Mahānāma as a
gift to the Order and built there a great monastery. DhA.ii.74.
A Sākiyan rājā, son of
Amitodana; he was elder brother of
Anuruddha and cousin of the
Buddha. When the Sākiyan families of
Kapilavatthu sent their representatives to
join the Order of their distinguished kinsman, Mahānāma allowed Anuruddha to
leave the household, he knowing nothing of household affairs. Vin.ii.180f.;
DhA.i.133; iv.124, etc.; but according to Northern sources (Rockhill, p. 13) he
was son of Dronodana; according to ThagA. (ii.123) Ananda was a brother (or, at
least, a step brother) of Mahānāma, for there Ananda's father is given as
Amitodana. But see MA.i.289, where Mahānāma's father is called Sukkodana and
Mahānāma showed great generosity to the Sangha, and was proclaimed best of
those who gave choice alms to the monks (A.i.26). Once, with the Buddha's
permission, he supplied the Order with medicaments for three periods of four
months each. The Chabbaggiyā, always intent
on mischief, tried in vain to discourage him. Vin.iv.101; AA. (i.213) adds that
this was during the period of want experienced by the Buddha and his monks at
Verañjā. At the end of the year, Mahānāma
wished to continue the supply of good food to the Buddha and his monks, but the
Buddha refused his permission.
Mahānāma was a devoted follower of the Buddha and wished to understand the
Doctrine. The books record several conversations between him and the Buddha, and
Ananda, Godha, and Lomasavangīsa (see Mahānāma Sutta
and Lomasavangisa). Once when the Buddha
arrived at Kapilavatthu he asked Mahānāma to find him lodging for the night.
Mahānāma tried everywhere without success, and finally suggested that the Buddha
should spend the night in the hermitage of
Bharandu Kālāma (S.v.327f). This he did, and was joined there the next
morning by Mahānāma; as a result of the discussion between the Buddha, Mahānāma
and Bharandu, the last-named left Kapilavatthu never to return. On another
occasion, Mahānāma visited the Buddha at
Nigrodhārāma where the Buddha was convalescing after a severe illness, and
at once Mahānāma asked a question as to whether concentration followed or
preceded knowledge. Ananda, who was present, not wishing the Buddha to be
troubled, took Mahānāma aside and explained to him the Buddha's teachings on the
subject. See Sakka Sutta (S.i.219f.).
Mahānāma had a daughter
Vāsābhakhattiyā, born to him by a slave-girl named Nāgamundā, and when
Pasenadi asked the Sākiyans to give him in
marriage a Sākiyan maiden they met in the Mote Hall, and, following the advice
of Mahānāma, sent Vāsabhakhattiyā to him. In order to allay any suspicions,
Mahānāma sat down to a meal with her, taking one mouthful from the same dish;
but before he could swallow it a messenger arrived, as secretly arranged, and
summoned him away. He left, asking Vāsabhakhattiyā to continue her meal
(DhA.i.345f.; J. i.133; iv. 145f).
See also the Cūla Dukkhakkhandha
Sutta and Sekha Sutta, both preached to
His resolve to attain to eminence as the best distributor of pleasant food to
the monks was made in the time of Padumuttara Buddha. He was then a householder
of Hamsavatī and heard the Buddha confer a similar rank on a monk (AA.i.213).
Mahānāma is included in a list of exemplary lay devotees (A.iii.451). The
Samantapāsādikā (Sp.iv.857) adds that
Mahānāma was one month older than the Buddha and that he was a sakadāgāmī.
A Licchavi. One day while walking about in the Mahāvana in Vesāli he saw some
young Licchavis paying homage to the Buddha and accused them of inconsistency.
For details see the Kumāra Sutta
King of Ceylon. He was the younger brother of Upatissa II. and was for some
time a monk, but he carried on an intrigue with Upatissa's wife, and she killed
her husband. Then Mahānāma became a layman, assumed the sovereignty, and married
Upatissa's queen. He built refuges for the sick, enlarged the Mahāpāli Hall, and
erected the Lohadvāra , Ralaggāma, and Kotipassāvana vihāras, which he gave to
the monks of Abhayagiri. A vihāra which he built on the Dhūmarakkha mountain, he
gave, at the instigation of his queen, to the monks of Mahāvihāra. He ruled for
twenty two years (409 31 A.C.). It was during his reign that Buddhaghosa arrived
in Ceylon and wrote his Commentaries, dwelling in a vihāra given by the king.
Cv.xxxvii.209ff.; see also P.L.C. 96. The king seems to have also been called
Sirinivāsa and Sirikudda.
6. Mahānāma Thera
Incumbent of Dīghasanda (or Dīghāsana) Vihāra (Cv.xxxix.42). He is generally
identified with the uncle of Dhātusena mentioned elsewhere (Cv.xxxviii.16).
Moggallāna I. built for him the Pabbata vihāra (Cv.xxxix.42). Mahānāma is
generally regarded as the author of the older part of the Mahāvamsa. MT. 687;
e.g., in Gv.61, 66; Svd.1266; for a discussion on this see P.L.C.139ff.
7. Mahānāma Thera
Author of the Saddhammappakāsanī Commentary on the Patisambhidāmagga (Gv.61;
Svd.1196). The colophon to the book (PSA.526) states that he lived in the
Uttaramanti parivena in the Mahāvihāra and finished his work in the third year
after the death of Moggallāna (probably Moggallāna I.). The Gandhavamsa (Gv.70)
says that the work was written at the request of an upāsaka, also named Mahānāma.
A lake in Nāgadīpa. Near it was the Mucalinda-vana. Ras.ii.18; see also Naga.