1. Mahā Abhaya. See Abhaya-giri.
2. Mahā Abhaya-Thera
Usually called Dighabhānaka Abhaya. He was evidently an eminent Thera. It is said (Sp.ii.474f.; referred to at DhSA.399) that when news arrived that the brigand Abhaya was coming to Cetiyagiri to pillage it, the patrons of the vihāra informed Abhaya Thera of this. He asked them to collect various kinds of food and drink wherewith to entertain the brigand. The latter was greatly pleased, and, on learning that this hospitality was shown him at the instigation of Abhaya Thera, he visited the Elder and took upon himself the protection of the vihāra from all danger. Later the monks questioned the right of the Elder to entertain a robber with what belonged to the vihāra, but he convened an assembly of the monks and convinced them that he was guiltless, as his act had been solely for the protection of the belongings of the Sangha. This story shows that the Elder lived at Cetiyagiri.
On another occasion (MA.i.65f) Abhaya Thera preached the Mahā Ariyavamsa patipadā, and the whole village (? Mahāgāma) came to hear him. After the sermon he received great honour. An elderly monk was full of envy and abused him, saying that under guise of preaching he had filled the night with noise. The two monks had to travel along the same road for the distance of a gāvuta, and all the way the old monk abused Abhaya. When their roads separated, Abhaya worshipped the monk and took leave of him and said, when asked later, that he had heard none of the abuse because he had been all the time engaged in meditation. One day, a certain woman who had come all the way from Ullabha kolakannikā, a distance of five leagues, to hear Abhaya preach the Ariyavamsa, found that he was about to arise without finishing the sermon, and reminded him that he was omitting the most important part. The monk praised her and continued to preach till dawn, when the woman became a sotāpanna (AA.i.386). It is said that once Abhaya wanted to know if a certain pindapātika monk were a putthujjana or not. While this monk was bathing at the mouth of the Kalyānī River, Abhaya told a novice to dive into the water and catch hold of his foot. The monk, thinking it was a crocodile, screamed with fear, and Abhaya knew that he was a puthujjana (MA.ii.869). Thieves once bound an Elder with creepers and made him lie down. A jungle fire spread to him, but before the creepers could be cut, he established insight and died an arahant. Abhaya, coming along with five hundred others, saw the body, cremated it, and had a shrine built over the remains (Vsm.36).
Abhaya's opinion was evidently greatly respected, and he is mentioned as having been consulted by Maha Dhammarakhita (VibhA.81) and Mallaka (Vsm.266) on problems connected with the Abhidhamma.
Abhaya is mentioned among those who could remember very early incidents in their lives. When he was only nine days old, his mother bent down to embrace him, but her hair became loose and the sumana-flowers she wore on her head fell on him, hurting him. In later life he could remember this incident. DA.ii.530; MNidA.234.
3. Mahā-Abhaya.-A monk of Uddalokaka Vihāra. Ras.ii.1.f.