Son of a chieftain of the Mallas in Kusinārā. He studied at Takkasilā with Mahāli and Pasenadi. On his return home, he wished to give an exhibition of his skill, and the princely families of the Mallas bound sticks of bamboo in bundles of sixty, inserting a strip of iron in each bundle; they then suspended the bundles in the air and challenged Bandhula to cut them down. He leapt up in the air and smote them with his sword, but on discovering the treachery of his kinsmen, he threatened to kill them all; his parents, however, dissuaded him, and he went to live in Sāvatthi, where Pasenadi appointed him as a General (senāpati).
Bandhula’s wife was Mallikā (known as Bandhula-
Mallikā bore twin sons sixteen times; each of them became perfect in the various arts, and each had a retinue of one thousand men. One day, Bandhula retried a case, which had been unjustly decided by the judge and his decision was greatly applauded. The king, hearing the applause and learning the reason, appointed him judge.¹
However, the former judges poisoned the king’s mind against Bandhula, and the king, listening to them, sent Bandhula and his sons to quell a frontier rebellion, giving orders that they should all be murdered on the way home. This was done, and the news of the massacre was brought to Mallikā while she was entertaining five hundred monks led by the two Chief Disciples.² Mallikā read the message, and placing it in a fold of her dress, went on with her duties. Sāriputta discovered her fortitude at the end of the meal and greatly praised her. Mallikā sending for her daughters in law, broke the news to them, urging them to harbour no resentment against the king. The king’s spies, discovering this, brought the news to Pasenadi. The king was greatly moved, and having sent for Mallikā, begged her forgiveness and granted her a boon. She chose as her boon that she and her thirty-
Bandhula is sometimes referred to as Bandhulamalla.⁴
From the time of her husband’s death Mallikā laid aside the pasādhana, but, on the day on which the Buddha’s body was being removed for cremation, she washed the pasādhana in perfumed water and placed it on the body, which it completely covered. She expressed the wish that, as long as she remained in saṃsāra, her body should need no ornament.⁶
¹ It is probably this incident, which is referred to at S.i.74 (Aṭṭhakaraṇa Sutta); see also KS.i.101, n.3.
² According to MA.ii.753 the Buddha was also present.
⁵ However, see DhA.i.412, where the daughter of Bārāṇasīseṭṭhi is substituted for Devadāniya.