The younger brother of Tapassu, their father being a caravan leader of Pokkharavatī in Ukkalā (AA.i.207 calls their birthplace Asitañjana). While they were going along with five hundred trading carts, these stopped near the Rājāyatana tree where the Buddha was sitting, eight weeks after his Enlightenment. When they investigated the cause for their carts thus stopping, a deity, their kinsman in a former life (their mother according to AA.i.207), pointed out to them the Buddha and asked them to give him a meal as he had eaten nothing for seven weeks. Not waiting to cook, the merchants gave the Buddha some butter and honey in a bowl provided by the Four Regent Gods. At the end of the meal the Buddha talked to them. They accepted the Buddha and the Dhamma as their Refuge (the Dvevācikasarana, they thus became the Buddha's first lay disciples; A.i.26), and obtained from the Buddha a few hairs as an object of worship. Later, when the Buddha was in Rājagaha after the preaching of his First Sermon, the merchants visited him and listened to his preaching. Tapassu became a sotāpanna, and Bhallika entered the Order and became an arahant.
In the past, Bhallika had given fruit to a Pacceka Buddha, named Sumana. During this life of Sikhī Buddha, he was a brahmin of Arunavatī, and hearing that Ujita and Ojita had given the Buddha his first meal, he and his friend invited the Buddha to eat at their house, and resolved to win a similar distinction for themselves in the future. They were herdsmen in the life of Kassapa Buddha, and for many years supplied milk rice to the Buddha and the monks (ThagA.i.48f.; AA.i.207f.; Vin.i.3f.; J.i.80. Mhv.iii.303f).
The Theragāthā (vs.7), contains a verse spoken by Bhallika when Māra tried to frighten him by assuming a hideous form.
It is said that the hair (eight handfuls) given by the Buddha was deposited in a cetiya in Asitañjana and that on fast days blue rays shone from the cetiya. AA.i.208. There is a tradition in Ceylon (recorded in the Pūjāvaliya) that Tapassu and Bhalluka visited the east coast of Ceylon and built a cetiya, there. An inscription makes a similar record.
2. Bhallika, Bhalluka. One of the of the chief lay patrons of Dīpankara Buddha. Bu.ii.215.