Ven Maha Kaccana

Maha Kaccana: Master of Doctrinal Exposition.

Katyayana, also known as Kaccana (or Kaccayana), Mahakatyayana, Mahakaccana and in Japanese as Kasennen, is one of the “Ten Disciples of the Buddha”. He was foremost in explaining Dharma.

He was born at Ujjení in the brahmin family of the chaplain of King Candappajjota, and was called Kaccána both because of his golden colour and because Kaccána was the name of his gotta. He received a classical Brahminical education studying the Vedas and, on the death of his father, succeeded him as chaplain. Kaccána’s father was called Tirítivaccha (or Tidivavaccha), and his mother Candapadumá. Katyayana studied assiduously under Asita on Mount Vindhya, who had predicted that Prince Siddharta would become either a cakravartin, a great worldly ruler, or a Buddha.

With seven others he visited the Buddha, at the request of Candappajjota, to invite him to come to Ujjení. Kaccána and his friends listened to the Buddha’s sermon, and having attained arahantship, joined the order. He then conveyed the king’s invitation to the Buddha, who pointed out that it would now suffice if Kaccána himself returned to Ujjení.

Kaccána accordingly set out for Ujjení with his seven companions, accepting alms on the way at the house of a very poor girl of Telappanáli, who later became Candappajjota’s queen. For details see Telappanáli.

Arrived in Ujjení, Kaccána lived in the royal park, where the king showed him all honour. He preached constantly to the people, and, attracted by his discourses, numerous persons joined the Order, so that the whole city was one blaze of orange robes. It is said that after having duly established the sásana in Avantí, Kaccána returned once more to the Buddha. (Thus, the explanation of the Madhupindika Sutta was given at Kapilavatthu). Candappajjota consulted him on various occasions, and among the verses attributed to him in the Theragáthá (Thag.vss.494 501), are several addressed to the king himself.

It is said (DhA.ii.176) that even when Kaccána was living at Avanti, a long distance away, he went regularly to hear the Buddha preach, and when the chief theras took their places in the assembly, they always left room for him. On one such occasion Sakka showed him great honour, falling at his feet, and the Buddha explained that this was because Mahá Kaccána kept his senses well guarded.

He understood Shakyamuni Buddha’s lecture the best. Although he had only five master in the rural areas, he was permitted to learn Vinaya by the Buddha.

Tradition attributes the authorship to Katyayana of the Nettipakarana, a work of grammar, and the Petakopadesa, a treatise on exegetical methodology, although these were most probably composed by a school descended from him.

In Lotus Sutra Chapter 6 (Bestowal of Prophecy), the Buddha bestows prophecies of enlightenment on the disciples Mahakashyapa, Subhuti, Maha Katyayana, and Mahamaudgalyayana.

He is known as Phra Sangkajai in Thai Buddhism and portrayed as extremely portly.


  • Great Disciples of the Buddha, Their Lives Their Works Their Legacy, Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom Publications, 2003, ISBN 0-86171-381-8, chapter 6
  • Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography. Aditya Prakashan, Chandra Lokesh, 2002, ISBN 8177420496, pages 1652–1653
  • A Dictionary of Buddhism, Keown Damien, 2003, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198605609, page 140

1. Katyayana (Buddhist) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2. Maha Kaccana: Master of Doctrinal Exposition
3. Petakopadesa – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
4. Nettipakarana – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
5. Mahá Kaccána
6. Wh405–6 — Mahakaccana: Master of Doctrinal Exposition — Plain Text

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