Mahānāma ［摩訶男］ (, Pali; Makanan): (1) One of the five ascetics who heard Shakyamuni Buddha’s first sermon and became his first converts. The Increasing by One Āgama Sutra describes him as excelling in supernatural powers. The Medium-Length Āgama Sutra describes him as one of the virtuous and venerable senior monks of the Buddhist Order. While Shakyamuni was still a prince, Mahānāma served him and his father, King Shuddhodana. When Shakyamuni renounced the secular world and embarked on his religious quest for truth, King Shuddhodana ordered Mahānāma and four others to accompany him. All five engaged in ascetic practice together with Shakyamuni. When Shakyamuni realized that such austere practices would not lead to enlightenment and gave them up, the five continued without him. Later, after attaining enlightenment, Shakyamuni delivered his first sermon to Mahānāma and the other four ascetics at Deer Park, and all five became the Buddha’s disciples.
(2) A member of the Shākya tribe in Kapilavastu, India. He gave his maidservant’s daughter away in marriage to Prasenajit, the king of Kosala, claiming her to be his own daughter. Virūdhaka, the son of Prasenajit and this woman, motivated by a grudge he bore against the Shākyas because of this deception, later killed the majority of the Shākyas. According to the Increasing by One Āgama Sutra, when King Virūdhaka attacked the Shākyas, Mahānāma asked the king to grant him one wish. That was that the king allow the Shākyas to escape for as long as he, Mahānāma, could remain under water. Virūdhaka granted his wish, and Mahānāma remained under water for so long the king wondered what had happened. The king sent some attendants into the water to find him, and they discovered Mahānāma tied his hair to the root of a tree and drowned. Mahānāma had sacrificed his life to save the Shākyas. It is also said that Mahānāma frequently offered medicine to the Buddhist monks. According to The Fivefold Rules of Discipline, Mahānāma was Shakyamuni’s cousin and Aniruddha’s brother.