The second of the Chief Disciples of the Buddha. He and Sāriputta went forth as disciples of Sañjaya. After some time, Sāriputta, wandering about in Rājagaha, met Assaji, was converted by him to the faith of the Buddha, and became a sotāpanna. He found Moggallāna and repeated the stanza he had heard from Assaji ye dhammā hetuppabhavā, etc., and Moggallāna also became a sotāpanna. The two then resolved to visit the Buddha at Veḷuvana, after an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Sañjaya to accompany them. Sañjaya’s disciples, however, five hundred in number, agreed to go, and they all arrived at Veḷuvana. The Buddha preached to them, and ordained them by saying, “Come, monks.” Vin.i.39ff. Moggallāna went to the hamlet of Kallavāla AN.iv.85f. in Māgadha, and there, on the seventh day after his ordination, drowsiness overcame him as he sat meditating. The Buddha knew this, and appearing before him, exhorted him to be zealous. That very day he attained arahantship.
Sāriputta and Moggallāna are declared to be the ideal disciples, whose example others should try to follow.SN.ii.235 AN.i.88 In the Saccavibhaṅga Sutta MN.iii.248 the Buddha thus distinguishes these “twin brethren” from the others— “Sāriputta is as she who brings forth and Moggallāna is as the nurse of what is brought forth; Sāriputta trains in the fruits of conversion, Moggallāna trains in the highest good.” Moggallāna’s pre eminence lay in his possession of psychic power. AN.i.23 He could create a living shape innumerable times and could transfer himself into any shape at will. Thag.1183 When the Buddha and his monks failed to get alms in Verañja, Moggallāna offered to turn the earth upside down, so that the essence of the earth, which lay on the under surface, might serve as food. He also offered to open a way from Nalerupu, that the monks might easily go there for alms; but this offer was refused by the Buddha. Vin.iii.7
Several instances are given of this special display of iddhi. Once, at the Buddha’s request, with his great toe he shook the Migāramātupāsāda, and made it rattle in order to terrify some monks who sat in the ground floor of the building, talking loosely and frivolously, regardless even of the fact that the Buddha was in the upper story. SN.v.269ff.
On another occasion, when Moggallāna visited Sakka to find out if he had profited by the Buddha’s teaching, he found him far too proud and obsessed by the thought of his own splendour. He thereupon shook Sakka’s palace, Vejayanta, till Sakka’s hair stood on end with fright and his pride was humbled. MN.i.251ff. Again, Moggallāna is mentioned as visiting the Brahma world in order to help the Buddha in quelling the arrogance of Baka Brahmā. He himself questioned Baka in solemn conclave in the Sudhamma-Hall in the Brahma world and made him confess his conviction that his earlier views were erroneous. Thag.1198 SN.i.144f. Other visits of his to the Brahma world are also recorded when he held converse with Tissa Brahmā. AN.iii.331ff. AN.iv.75ff.
In the Māratajjanīya Sutta MN.i.332ff. we are told how Māra worried Moggallāna by entering into his belly, but Moggallāna ordered him out and told him how he himself had once been a Māra named Dūsī whose sister Kāḷī was the mother of the present Māra. Dūsī incited the householders against Kakusandha Buddha and was, as a result, born in purgatory.
Moggallāna could see petas and other spirits invisible to the ordinary mortal eye. SN.ii.254ff. We are told SN.v.366f. that Moggallāna’s visits to the deva worlds were very welcome to the devas.
The Buddha paid a compliment to Moggallāna’s powers of preaching, when, having preached himself to the Sākyans in their new Mote Hall at Kapilavatthu, he asked Moggallāna, after their departure, to talk to the monks, as he himself was weary. And Moggallāna spoke to them of lusts and of the means of getting rid of them. At the end of the sermon the Buddha praised him warmly. SN.iv.183ff. Mention is made elsewhere SN.iv.262–269 of eloquent sermons preached by him on the jhānas, on qualities which lead to true emancipation, AN.v.155ff. and of visits paid to him by Sakka in company with numerous other gods in order to hear him preach. Other devas also went to hear him—e.g., Candana, Suyāma, Santusita, Sunimitta and Vasavatti SN.iv.269–280 He was also consulted by those, such as Vacchagotta, SN.iv.391ff. and Vappa, AN.ii.196ff. eager to learn from him the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha placed great faith in his two chief disciples and looked to them to keep the Order pure. There is one instance recorded of Moggallāna seizing a wicked monk, thrusting outside and bolting the door. AN.iv.204ff. Once, when a monk charged Sāriputta with having offended him as he was about to start on a journey, Moggallāna and Ānanda went from lodging to lodging to summon the monks that they might hear Sāriputta vindicate himself. Vin.ii.236 AN.iv.374
Their fame had reached even to the Brahma world, for we find Tudu Brahmā singing their praises, much to the annoyance of the Kokālika monk.AN.v.170ff. Snp.p.231ff. When Devadatta created a schism among the monks and took five hundred of them to Gayāsīsa, the Buddha sent Sāriputta and Moggallāna to bring them back. They were successful in this mission. Kakudha Koliyaputta, once servant of Moggallāna and later born in a huge manomayakāya, had warned Moggallāna of Devadatta’s intrigues against the Buddha, but the Buddha ignored this information carried to him by Moggallāna.Vin.ii.185 AN.iii.122ff. Moggallāna seems to have carried out diligently the charge laid on him by the Buddha of looking after the monks’ welfare. Among the verses attributed to him in the Theragāthā are several containing exhortations to his colleagues. Thag.1146–1149 Thag.1165f. Some of the colleagues are mentioned by name—e.g., Tissa, Vaḍḍhamāna and Potthila.Thag.1162 Thag.1163 Thag.1174f. Elsewhere SN.i.194f. mention is made of his living at Kāḷasilā, with a company of five hundred monks, watching over them and discovering that all were arahants. Vaṅgīsa witnessed this and praised Moggallāna in verse before the Buddha.
The love existing between Moggallāna and Sāriputta was mutual, as was the admiration. Sāriputta’s verses in praise of Moggallāna Thag.1178–1181 are even more eloquent than those of Moggallāna in praise of Sāriputta. Thag.1176 Their strongest bond was the love of each for the Buddha; when away from him, they would relate to each other how they had been conversing with him by means of the divine ear and the divine eye. SN.ii.275ff. Moggallāna elsewhere also SN.ii.273f. tells the monks of a conversation he held with the Buddha by means of these divine powers. For another discussion between Sāriputta and Moggallāna, see. AN.ii.154f.
In the Mahāgosiṅga Sutta MN.i.212 we find them staying in the Gosiṅgasālavana in the company of Mahā Kassapa, Ānanda, Revata and Anuruddha, engaged in friendly discussion, referring their conclusions to the Buddha for his opinion. Sāriputta, Moggallāna, and Anuruddha are again mentioned SN.v.174f. SN.v.299 as staying in the Ketakīvana in Sāketa. Among discussions between Anuruddha and Moggallāna is recorded one in which Anuruddha speaks of the value of cultivating the four satipaṭṭhānas. SN.v.294f. It seems to have been usual for Sāriputta and Moggallāna, in their journeys, to travel together at the head of the monks, and lay disciples, who gave alms to the monks, were anxious to include them in their invitations. AN.iii.336 AN.iv.63
Sāriputta dies before Moggallāna. The Theragāthā contains several verses attributed to Moggallāna regarding Sāriputta’s death. Thag.1158–1161 Moggallāna evidently dies before the Buddha, as the Saṃyutta contains a reference to the Buddha speaking of them both as dead. However the early texts contain no record of the circumstances of Moggallāna’s death.