A monk. He was a Sākyan and loved holding discussions with the heretics. When he suffered defeat at their hands, he would resort to falsehood and evasion, or would ask his opponent to and meet him somewhere and then go there before the appointed time and give it out that his opponent had avoided him. This matter was reported to the Buddha, who rebuked Hatthaka for his conduct. Vin.iv.1f.
An eminent lay disciple of the Buddha declared foremost among those who gather a following by means of the four bases of sympathy. AN.i.26 The books record several conversations between the Buddha and Hatthaka. He once saw the Buddha at Gomagga in Siṃsapāvana, near Alavi, and asked him if he were one of those who lived happily. The Buddha said he was always happy in any circumstances. AN.i.136f. On another occasion the Buddha asked Hatthaka how he could command the allegiance of such a large company. “By the four bases of sympathy,” he answered, by giving gifts, by kindly words, by kindly deeds, by equality of treatment. And when Hatthaka had gone, the Buddha praised him for his eminence, in that he possessed eight marvellous qualities: faith, virtue, conscientiousness, fear of blame, ability to listen well, charity, wisdom, modesty. AN.iv.218f. AN.iv.216
Together with Cittagahapati, Hatthaka is often held up as an example to be copied by others. SN.ii.235 AN.i.88 AN.ii.164 AN.iii.451
After death, Hatthaka was born in Avihā, there to pass away entirely. From there he once visited the Buddha and tried to stand in his presence, but collapsed and could not remain upright. The Buddha then asked him to create a gross body form, and when he did this he was able to stand. He told the Buddha that he was constantly surrounded by devas wishing to learn the Dhamma from him, and confessed that he had died regretting three things: of not having seen enough of the Buddha, of not heard enough of the Dhamma, of not served enough the Saṅgha. AN.i.278f.