A Licchavi chief, mentioned as having visited the Buddha at the Kūtāgārasālā to ask if he had seen Sakka (S.i.230; DhA.i.263ff. add that the Buddha here related to him the story of Magha) and also to beg information as to the teachings of Pūrana Kassapa (S.iii.68). This conversation resulted from Mahāli having heard the Sakkapañha Sutta. (See Mahāli Sutta.)
Mahāli was educated at Takkasilā. After his return to Vesāli, he devoted himself to the education of the young Licchavi men, but, through overexertion, lost his sight. He continued to instruct them, however, and was given a house by the gate, which led from Sāvatthi into Vesāli. The revenue from this gate, worth one hundred thousand, was given to him (DhA.i.338). When Bandhula came to Vesāli, to satisfy the pregnancy longings of his wife Mallikā, Mahāli, hearing the rumble of his chariot, instantly recognised it. He warned the Licchavis not to interfere with Bandhula, and, finding that they insisted on pursuing him, urged them to turn back when they saw Bandhula's chariot sink up to the nave, or at least when they heard a, sound like the crash of a thunderbolt, or when they saw a hole in the yokes of the chariot. But they paid no heed to his warnings and were killed (DhA.i.350f.; J.iv.148f).
When the Licchavis decided to invite the Buddha to Vesāli, to rid the city of its plagues, Mahāli it was who went with the son of the purohita to Veluvana to intercede with Bimbisāra, that he might persuade the Buddha to come. Mahāli was a favourite of Bimbisāra and a member of his retinue. He had attained sotāpatti at the same time as the king (DhA.iii.438).
This Mahāli is perhaps identical with the Mahāli mentioned in the Apadāna (Ap.ii.494, vs.28) as the father of Sīvalī. His wife was Suppavāsā.
2. Mahāli. See Otthaddha.
3. Mahāli. A Sākiyan prince, one of seven grandsons of Amitodana. They were brothers of Bhaddakaccānā, wife of Panduvāsadeva, and came to Ceylon, where they settled. Dpv.x.6. See Mhv.ix.6, 9.