He belonged to the family of a Licchavi nobleman of Vesāli and, when he grew up, his chief interest was war, hence his name ("ever destroying what is dear to his enemies"). When the Buddha visited Vesāli, Piyañjaha found faith in him, joined the Order and became an arahant, dwelling in the forest.
In the time of Vipassī Buddha he had been a tree sprite, and, standing on the edge of a concourse of devas because his influence was small, he had heard the Buddha preach. One day seeing a bank of pure sand by a beautiful river, he reflected that the Buddha's virtues were more numerous than even the grains of sand. Seventy three kappas ago he was a king named Pulinapupphiya. Thag.vs.76; ThagA.i.168f.
He is probably identical with Ñānasaññaka of the Apadāna. Ap.i.161.