One of the foremost disciples of the Buddha, ranked foremost among masters of analytical knowledge. AN.i.24 His Theragāthā verse speaks of contentment and shaking off evil qualities. Thag.2
Several instances are given of discussions between Koṭṭhita and other eminent theras—e.g., the Naḷakalāpiya Sutta on kamma, SN.ii.112f. the Sīla Sutta on religious discipline, SN.iii.165ff. three suttas on the nature of arising, two on satisfaction, SN.iii.172–177 two on arising, SN.iii.173 and three on ignorance and knowledge. SN.iii.17 Another similar sutta is on sense and sense objects, SN.iv.162–165 and there is a series of suttas on matters not revealed by the Buddha. SN.iv.384–391
All these suttas took the form of discussions with Sāriputta, in which Mahā Koṭṭhita is the questioner and Sāriputta the instructor.
One sutta SN.iv.145–147 records a “lesson” given by the Buddha to Koṭṭhita on conceptions of impermanence, suffering and not-self. The Aṅguttara Nikāya AN.i.118f. records a discussion at Jetavana between Savittha, Koṭṭhita and Sāriputta, as to who is best: one who has testified to the truth with body, one who has won view, or one released by faith. Another discussion AN.ii.161f. takes place between Sāriputta and Koṭṭhita as to whether anything continues to exist after the ending of the six spheres of contact. Once there was a dispute between Koṭṭhita and Citta Hatthisāriputta; Citta was constantly interrupting the elder monks who were gathered at Isipatana for the discussion of the Abhidhamma, and was asked by Koṭṭhita to abide his time and not interrupt. Citta’s friends protested that Citta was well qualified to take part in the discussion; but Koṭṭhita declared that, far from being wise enough, Citta would, not long after, renounce the Order. And so it happened. AN.iii.392ff.
Sāriputta evidently had a great regard for Koṭṭhita; the Theragāthā Thag.1006–1008 contains three stanzas in which Sāriputta proclaims his excellence.