MOGGALIPUTTATISSA , Buddhist elder and arahant leader of the monastic order (saṃgha ) in India during the reign of Aśoka (274–232 bce). According to the chronicles of the Theravāda tradition (Mahāvaṃsa and Dīpavaṃsa ), he was the chief Buddhist adviser to Aśoka. After Aśoka became a generous supporter of Buddhism, he asked Moggaliputtatissa whether anyone had ever been a greater kinsman of the Buddha's religion. Moggaliputtatissa responded that a true kinsman of the Buddha must let his son or daughter enter the saṃgha. As a result, Aśoka encouraged one of his sons, Mahinda, to become a monk and one of his daughters, Saṃghamitta, to become a nun. Moggaliputtatissa subsequently became Mahinda's teacher in the saṃgha.
The primary work of Moggaliputtatissa is reported to have been the purification of the saṃgha and the organization of the Third Buddhist Council. Because Aśoka supported the saṃgha with lavish patronage, the saṃgha became corrupt and filled with undisciplined monks. When Aśoka's ministers, sent to ascertain what was wrong within the saṃgha, rashly executed some of the monks, Aśoka feared that the blame for the sin would accrue to him. Moggaliputtatissa, however, reassured Aśoka that he was not to blame for the act. Then, seated beside Aśoka, Moggaliputtatissa questioned all the monks and purged the saṃgha of those who did not subscribe to the Vibbhajjavāda interpretation of the teachings. The chronicles relate that he then chose a thousand arahant s and held the Third Council, at which the Tipiṭaka was recited and committed to memory in its complete and final form. Moggaliputtatissa himself recited the Kathāvatthuppakaraṇa at this council.
Moggaliputtatissa also arranged for Buddhist monks to be sent as missionaries to other countries. The most notable of these missionaries was Mahinda, who is credited with the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka.
The primary source for Moggaliputtatissa is The Mahāvaṃsa, or, The Great Chronicle of Ceylon, translated and edited by Wilhelm Geiger (1912; reprint, Colombo, 1950). An important secondary source is Walpola Rahula's History of Buddhism in Ceylon: The Anuradhapura Period (Colombo, 1956).
Bullis, Douglas. The Mahavamsa: The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka. Fremont, Calif., 1999.
George D. Bond (1987)