A Sākiyan rājā, son of Amitodana; he was elder brother of Anuruddha and cousin of the Buddha. When the Sākiyan families of Kapilavatthu sent their representatives to join the Order of their distinguished kinsman, Mahānāma allowed Anuruddha to leave the household, he knowing nothing of household affairs. Vin.ii.180f.
Mahānāma showed great generosity to the Saṅgha, and was proclaimed best of those who gave choice alms to the monks. AN.i.26 Once, with the Buddha’s permission, he supplied the Order with medicaments for three periods of four months each. The Chabbaggiyā, always intent on mischief, tried in vain to discourage him. Vin.iv.101 At the end of the year, Mahānāma wished to continue the supply of good food to the Buddha and his monks, but the Buddha refused his permission.
Mahānāma was a devoted follower of the Buddha and wished to understand the Doctrine. The books record several conversations between him and the Buddha, and Ānanda, Godha, and Lomasavaṅgīsa. Once when the Buddha arrived at Kapilavatthu he asked Mahānāma to find him lodging for the night. Mahānāma tried everywhere without success, and finally suggested that the Buddha should spend the night in the hermitage of Bharaṇḍu Kālāma. SN.v.327f. This he did, and was joined there the next morning by Mahānāma; as a result of the discussion between the Buddha, Mahānāma and Bharaṇḍu, the last-named left Kapilavatthu never to return. On another occasion, Mahānāma visited the Buddha at Nigrodhārāma where the Buddha was convalescing after a severe illness, and at once Mahānāma asked a question as to whether concentration followed or preceded knowledge. Ānanda, who was present, not wishing the Buddha to be troubled, took Mahānāma aside and explained to him the Buddha’s teachings on the subject. SN.i.219f.
See also the Cūḷa Dukkhakkhandha Sutta and Sekha Sutta, both preached to Mahānāma.
Mahānāma is included in a list of exemplary lay devotees. AN.iii.451
A Licchavi. One day while walking about in the Mahāvana in Vesāli he saw some young Licchavis paying homage to the Buddha and accused them of inconsistency. AN.iii.75ff.
A monk whose Theragāthā verse speaks of the beauty of Mount Nesadaka. Thag.115