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Moggallana, who is popularly known as Maha Moggallana
in the Pali tradition, was one of the two chief
disciples of the Buddha. He was meant along
with Sariputta; and on the same day the Buddha,
too, had declared that they both were the Chief
Disciples. As Sariputta was known for his
wisdom, Moggallana was then best known for the
ownership of the supernatural powers. For
example, he was capable of creating multiple
living shapes; and assuming any form. Moreover,
he shook the monastery called Migaramatupasada
by the touch of his great toe to warn some
who were gossiping on the ground floor in spite
the knowledge that the Buddha was giving upstairs.
Moggallana and Sariputta was born on the same day. He
was given his name by his
mother who was called Moggali.
He was also called Kolita, which was the name of
his village. The friendship between the families
of Moggallana and Sariputta continued for seven
generations; and the two were the friends from
their childhood itself. Once, the two friends
went to see a mime-play and realized
through the play that the “world itself is a
drama” as “all the worldly things are
temporary”. This realization made them
refuse the world. First, they became the
devotee of Sanjaya; and when unhappy with
his teachings they roamed all over the Indian
subcontinent to discuss with the scholars of the
time. Ultimately, not being happy by them
they separated with the understanding that each
would inform the other of any admirable
So, when Sariputta heard a conversation of Assaji,
a devotee of the Buddha, he was impressed with
his policy and became a Sotapanna. He then
went to Moggallana to inform him of his
invention; who also became a Sotapanna,
soon after hearing the teaching of the Buddha.
The two then went to the Buddha along with
five hundred devotee of Sanjaya. They all met
the Buddha and heard his conversation and became
the arahatas but for the two, Moggallana and
Sariputta. Moggallana then went to the
settlement of Kallavala in Magadha and a week after his
ordination he, too, achieved a high stage of
trance, where he received the refrain of the
Buddha and finally achieved the arahatahood.
Moggallana’s revelation of the great
supernatural power was best represented in the
defeat of the great serpent called the Naga Nandopananda, as he could enter the fourth stage
of the trance most quickly.
When there was a break in the Order provoked
by Devadatta, the Buddha sent the two chief
devotees to Gayasisa to bring back the
foolish priest. Both the priests talented
their task by bringing back all the five hundred
priests to the order. If Sariputta was the
principle of Rahula; Moggallana was his teacher. Both Sariputta and
Moggallana had a mutual request for each other.
Moggallana died a fortnight after Sariputta had
died on a
new moon night.
Moggallana’s end was dismal as he was beaten
and killed by the thief in his cell in Kalasila. He then
moved slowly and pull his body
with several crushed bones to the Buddha and
sought his leave to go away from the world.
According to the tradition the cause of his
dismal end was due to his coarse misbehavior
against his old, senile and blind parents in one
of his births, as he had undertaken the
ill-advice of his wife to carry them to a forest
and to led them to death. He had followed that
advice out of his passion during that birth.
As no one can escape the fruits of the karma, he
too had his death in the similar way in his
up to date birth.
Moggallana is well-known with numerous
characters in the Jataka tales, e.g., Kisavaccha
in the Indriya Jataka, the tortoise in the
Kurungamiga Jataka, the tiger in the Tittira
Jataka, the Garuda king in the Vidhurapandita
Jataka and so on and on.