One of the six heretical teachers contemporaneous with the Buddha. He held that there is no cause, either ultimate or remote, for the depravity of beings or for their rectitude. The attainment of any given condition or character does not depend either on one’s own acts, nor on the acts of another, nor on human effort. There is no such thing as power or energy or human strength or human vigour. All beings, all lives, all existent things, all living substances, are bent this way and that by their fate, by the necessary conditions of the class to which they belong, by their individual nature; it is according to their position in one or other of the six classes that they experience ease or pain. DN.i.53f. Makkhali, his views and his followers are also referred to in several places. MN.i.231 MN.i.238 MN.i.483 MN.i.516f. SN.i.66 SN.i.68 SN.iii.211 SN.iv.398 AN.i.33f. AN.i.286 AN.iii.276 AN.iii.384 Sometimes the views normally ascribed to Makkhali DN.i.53 are instead ascribed to Pūraṇa Kassapa. SN.iii.69 Elsewhere. AN.i.286 Makkhali is confounded with Ajita Kesakambala, and sometimes. AN.iii.383f. Pūraṇa Kassapa appears as though he were a disciple of Makkhali.
Makkhali’s followers are known as the Ājīvakas.
The Buddha considered Makkhali as the most dangerous of the heretical teachers— “I know not of any other single person fraught with such loss to many folk, such discomfort, such sorrow to devas and men, as Makkhali, the infatuate. AN.i.33 The Buddha also considered his view the meanest—just as the hair blanket is reckoned the meanest of all woven garments, even so, of all the teachings of recluses, that of Makkhali is the meanest. AN.i.286