The name of a people and their country.
The country is included in the sixteen Great Nations of the Buddha’s time. The kingdom, at that time, was divided into two parts, having their respective capitals in Pāvā and Kusinārā. The Mallas of Pāvā were called Pāveyyakā Mallā, those of Kusināra, Kosinārakā. That these were separate kingdoms is shown by the fact that after the Buddha’s death at Kusināra, the Mallas of Pāvā sent messengers to claim their share of the Buddha’s relics. DN.ii.165 Each had their Mote Hall.
In the Saṅgīti Sutta we are told that the Buddha, in the course of one of his journeys, came with five hundred followers to Pāvā and stayed in the Ambavana of Cunda the smith. A new Mote Hall, called Ubbhataka, had just been completed for the Mallas of Pāvā, and the Buddha was invited to be the first to occupy it that it might be consecrated thereby. The Buddha accepted the invitation, and preached in the Hall far into the night. It was also at Pāvā that the Buddha took his last meal, of Sūkaramaddava, at the house of Cunda. DN.ii.126f. From there he went to Kusinārā, and there, as he lay dying, he sent Ānanda to the Mallas of Kusināra, who were assembled in their Mote Hall to announce his approaching death. The Mallas thereupon came to the Upavattana Sāla grove where the Buddha was, in order to pay him their last respects. Ānanda made them stand in groups according to family, and then presented them to the Buddha, announcing the name of each family. After the Buddha’s death, they met together once more in the Mote Hall, and made arrangements to pay him all the honour due to a Cakkavatti. They cremated the Buddha’s body at the Makuṭabandhana cetiya, and then collected the relics, which they deposited in their Mote Hall, surrounding them with a lattice work of spears and a rampart of bows till they were distributed among the various claimants by Doṇa. DN.ii.166 The Mallas, both of Pāvā and Kusināra, erected thūpas over their respective shares of the relics and held feasts in their honour. DN.ii.167
The Malla capital of Kusinārā was, in the Buddha’s day, a place of small importance. Ānanda contemptuously refers to it as a “little wattle and daub town in the midst of a jungle, a branch township,” quite unworthy of being the scene of the Buddha’s Parinibbāna. But the Buddha informs Ānanda that it was once Kusāvatī, the mighty capital of Kusa and Mahāsudassana. They were regarded, together with the Vajjis, as a typical example of a republic. MN.i.231 The chief Mallas administered the state in turn.
Both the Buddha and Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta appear to have had followers among the Mallas. Pāvā was the scene of Nāṭaputta’s death, just as Kusinārā was of the Buddha’s. Several followers of the Buddha among the Mallas are mentioned by name—e.g., Dabba, Pukkusa, Khaṇḍasumana, Bhadragaka, Rāsiya, Rojā and Sīha.
Other places in the Malla country, besides Pāvā and Kusinārā, are mentioned where the Buddha stayed—e.g., Bhoganagara, Anupiya and Uruvelakappa, near which was the Mahāvana, a wide tract of forest.