Nephew of Asita (Kāladevala). When Asita
realized that he would not live to see the Buddha,
he sought out Nālaka and asked him to leave the world at once and become an
ascetic and hold himself in readiness to profit by the Buddha's Enlightenment.
This Nālaka did, though possessing eighty thousand crores of wealth, and he
spent his time in Himavā. When the time came, he visited the Buddha seven days
after the Buddha's first sermon and questioned him on the Moneyyapatipadā (also
called the Nālakapatipadā, because it is included in the
Nālaka Sutta). Nālaka retired once more into Himavā and there attained
arahantship. There he spent seven months leaning against a golden rock,
practising patipadā in its highest form. After his death the Buddha, with his
monks, visited the scene of his death, cremated his remains, and had a cetiya
built over them.
It is said that Nālaka’s aspiration to learn and practise the Moneyyapatipadā
was made in the time of Padumuttara Buddha. J. i.55; SnA.ii.483ff., 501. The
story as drawn from Tibetan sources differs greatly from this story. (See, e.g.
Rockhill: op. cit., p. 18, 45 f).
In the Mahāvastu (iii.380, 387) he is called Kātyāyana.