1. Mahākāla Thera. He belonged to a merchant family of Setavyā, and, while on a journey to Sāvatthi with five hundred carts, he heard the Buddha preach at Jetavana and entered the Order. He lived in the charnel field meditating, and, one day, the crematrix Kālā, noticing him, arranged the limbs of a recently cremated body near the Thera that he might gaze at them. With these as a topic of meditation, he soon became an arahant.
Thag.vss.151f.; his story is given in much greater detail at DhA.i.66ff.; there he is said to have been the eldest of three brothers, of whom the others were Majjhimakāla and Cūlakāla. He went with the latter to Sāvatthi, where both of them joined the Order. After becoming an arahant, Mahākāla went with the Buddha to Setavyā and dwelt in the Simsapā grove, Cūlakāla accompanying him. Cūlakāla's wives invited the Buddha and the other monks to a meal, and he himself went on earlier to make arrangements. His wives disrobed him. At the end of the meal, Mahākāla was left behind by the Buddha to make the thanksgiving. His eight wives surrounded him and stripped him of his robes, but, knowing their intention, he disappeared through the air.
Ninety one kappas ago, while wandering near the mountain Urugana, he saw the rag robe of an ascetic and offered three kinkinika flowers in its honour (ThagA.i.271f). He is probably identical with Pamsukūlapūjaka Thera of the Apadāna. Ap.ii.434; but see ThagA.i.79, where the same Apadāna verses are quoted.
2. Mahākāla. An upāsaka of Savatthi who was a sotāpanna. One day he took the uposatha vows and, having listened throughout the night to the preaching, was washing his face in the pool near Jetavana early the next morning, when thieves who had broken into a house and were being pursued put their stolen goods near him and ran away. He, being taken for a thief, was beaten to death. When this was reported to the Buddha, he related a story of the past in which Mahākāla had been a forest guard of the king of Benares. One day he saw a man entering the forest road with his beautiful wife and, falling in love with the wife, invited them to his house. He then had a gem placed in the man's cart, and the latter was beaten to death as a thief. DhA.iii.149ff.
3. Mahākāla. A Naga king who dwelt in the Mañjerika Nāgabhavana. When the Buddha, after eating the meal given by Sujātā, launched the bowl up stream, it travelled a short way and then stopped, having reached the Nāga's abode under the Nerañjarā, and then came into contact with the bowls similarly launched by the three previous Buddhas of this kappa. To the Nāga because of his long life it seemed that the previous Buddha had died only the preceding day, and he rejoiced to think that another had been born. He went therefore to the scene of the Buddha's Enlightenment with his Nāga maidens and they sang the Buddha's praises. J.i.70, 72; this incident is among those sculpturally represented in the Relic Chamber of the Mahā Thūpa (Mhv.xxxi.83); see also Dvy.392; Mtu.ii.265, 302, 304.
Kāla's life span was one kappa; therefore he saw all the four Buddhas of this kappa, and when Asoka wished to see the form of the Buddha, he sent for Mahākāla, who created for him a beautiful figure of the Buddha, complete in every detail (Mhv.v.87f.; Sp.i.43, etc.).
When the Buddha's relics, deposited at Rāmagāma, were washed away, Mahākāla took the basket containing them into his abode and there did them honour till they were removed, against his will, by Sonuttara. Mhv.xxxi.25ff.
4. Mahākāla. A householder of Bandhumati in the time of Vipassī Buddha. He was a previous birth of Aññā-Kondañña. He and his brother Cūlakāla gave the first fruits of their harvest, in nine stages of its growth, to the Buddha. AA.i.79ff.; ThagA.ii.1f.
5. Mahākāla. One of the seven mountains surrounding Gandhamādana. SNA.i.66; J.v.38.