A group of monks, contemporary with the Buddha, frequently mentioned as being guilty of various Vinaya offences.
Vin.i.84f, 104, 106, 111, 113, 114, 138, 160, 170, 185, 189, 192, 194, 203f, 216, 285, 306, 316; ii.73, 105ff, 145ff, 213ff, 241, 262, etc.: J.i.191, 217, 360; iii.149; DhA.iii.48f., 330, 382.
Six monks - Assaji, Punabbasu, Panduka, Lohitaka, Mettiya and Bhummaja - were their leaders, hence their name.
There were also nuns in their following, who likewise violated the Vinaya rules in various ways. (Vin.ii.262, 266, 269, 271, 276).
It is said that Assaji and Punabbasu had their headquarters at Kītāgiri, Mettiya and Bhummaja(ka) at Rājagaha and Panduka and Lohitaka at Jetavana (J.ii.387).
According to the Samantapāsādikā (iii.613f) they were all of Sāvatthi and all originally acquainted. Finding a living hard to obtain, they entered the Order under the two Chief Disciples. They decided among themselves that it was unwise for them all to live in the same place, and they therefore divided into three groups as mentioned above. Each group had five hundred monks attached to it. Of the three groups, the followers of Panduka and Lohitaka were the most virtuous. They remained near the Buddha, accompanying him on his tours. They did not, like the others, transgress Vinaya rules.