Home page Up (parent) Next (right) Previous (left) Abbreviations

Page last updated on 8 October, 2020

Association for Insight Meditation Home Page


1. Kokālika (Kokāliya).– A monk, one of the chief partisans of Devadatta. Knowing the Buddha’s might, he was, at first, reluctant to join in Devadatta’s plot against him, but later allowed himself to be persuaded on hearing the scheme explained (Vin.ii.196; iii.171). When the monks blamed Devadatta for his misdeeds, Kokālika was always ready to defend him (Vin.iii.174). When Devadatta’s gains diminished, Kokālika went about praising him, his birth, accomplishments and holiness, and many believed him (J.ii.438 f). He was a great friend of Thullanandā (Vin.iv.335). We are told that once he expressed resentment because he had never been asked to recite the texts; so one day the monks gave him his chance. He ate his favourite soup, and at sundown, wearing a blue lower robe and an outer robe of white and carrying an elegantly carved fan, he appeared in the assembly. However, when he tried to recite sweat poured from his body and he was utterly confused. Henceforth the monks knew that his claim to learning was but pretence (J.ii.65 f).

Several Jātaka stories are related showing how, in previous births also, Kokālika had come to grief because of his fondness for talk and how he had been the accomplice of Devadatta. He is identified with: the jackal in the Daddara Jātaka (ii.65 ff) and the Sīhakotthu Jātaka (ii.108); the ass in the lion’s skin in the Sīhacamma Jātaka (ii.110); the talkative turtle in the Kacchapa Jātaka (ii.175); the crow who praised the jackal (Devadatta) in the Jambukhādaka Jātaka (ii.438); the young cuckoo who lost his life because he sang, in the Koki Jātaka (iii.102); the tawny-brown brahmin in the Takkāriya Jātaka (iv.242; but see Kokālika 2); and the wicked deity in the Samuddavāṇija Jātaka (iv.166).

Buddhaghosa says (SNA.ii.473; AA.ii.850; SA.i.167) that this Kokālika was a brahmin and a pupil of Devadatta, and that he was called Mahā Kokālika to distinguish him from another Kokālika who was similarly called Cūḷa Kokālika (see Kokālika 2). There seems to be great confusions in the stories of these two men — if they were really two. In the Jātaka Commentary, for instance, the introductory stories of several of the Jātaka stories refer to the Takkāriya Jātaka for details of Kokālika, obviously having in mind Devadatta’s partisan; but the introductory story of the Takkāriya Jātaka is identical with that related elsewhere of Cūḷa Kokālika. See also DhA.iv.91 f, where the story of the talkative turtle is related to Kokālika of the Kokālika Sutta which, according to Buddhaghosa (SNA.ii.473) refers to Cūḷa Kokālika.

In the Byaggha Jātaka (J.ii.356) Kokālika is mentioned as having tried to persuade Sāriputta and Moggallāna to go with him to his own country and as having been very angry when they refused. Possibly this story also refers to Cūḷa Kokālika. See also Devadatta.

2. Kokālika (Kokāliya).– A monk, also called Cūḷa Kokālika to distinguish him from Kokālika (1). He was the son of Kokāli-seṭṭhi of Kokāli and lived in the monastery erected by his father in Kokāli. Once the two Chief Disciples, desiring quiet, spent the rainy season with him, he promising to tell nobody of their presence. After the rains, as the Elders were about to return, Kokālika informed the inhabitants of their stay and blamed them for not showing them hospitality. The townspeople hurried to the Elders with various offerings; these were, however, refused, and Kokālika, who had expected that the gifts would be given to him, was disappointed. The Elders promised the townsmen to visit them again, and on their return were accompanied by a large following of monks to whom the townsmen showed all honour. The gifts were divided among the monks, Kokālika not receiving a share. He thereupon became abusive, and the Chief Disciples left the place. The people were annoyed, and insisted that Kokālika should either bring them back or depart himself. The Elders refused to return, and Kokālika, in great anger, sought the Buddha at Sāvatthi, and in spite of his injunctions spoke ill of the Chief Disciples. Having three times accused the Elders of sinful desires, he left Jetavana, but boils immediately came out on his body, swelling and bursting. Groaning with pain, he fell down at the gate of Jetavana. His spiritual teacher, the Non-returner Brahmā, Tudu, hearing his cries, came to him and begged him to seek forgiveness from the Elders. However, he cursed the Brahmā and refused to listen to him. Kokālika died and was born in Paduma-niraya. S.i.149 ff; A.v.171 f; SN.123 f; SNA.ii.473 f; J.iv.242 f; AA.ii.850; SA.i.167 f; DhA.iv.91 f The different sources vary in a few minor details; the Jātaka version is the fullest. It was in reference to this incident that the Takkāriya Jātaka was taught.

The Brahmā Sahampati informed the Buddha of Kokālika’s birth in the Paduma-niraya (S.i.151; SN. p.125). The Kokālika Sutta was taught in reference to this Kokālika. See also Kokālika (1). Kokālika is mentioned as an example of a person guilty of misdemeanour regarding the Buddha’s disciples (Tathāgatasāvake micchāpaṭipanno). AA.i.335, 466.