He belonged to a very wealthy family in Sāvatthi. One day, after his midday meal, he went with others to hear the Buddha preach and, accepting the word of the Buddha, he entered the Order. According to the Apadāna (ii.491), he heard the Buddha preach at Kapilavatthu.
He attained arahantship by way of practising jhāna, and so proficient in jhāna did he become that the Buddha declared him chief of the monks who practised it (A.i.24; Ud.v.9; AA.i.129f; Thag.3; ThagA.33f). Before he became an arahant he was greatly troubled in mind as to what was permissible for him to use and what was not (akappiyā muggā, na kappanti muggā paribhuñjitum, etc.). This characteristic of his became well known, hence his name (UdA.314).
In the time of Padumuttara he was a brahmin of Hamsavatī, well versed in the Vedas. One day, while listening to the Buddha's preaching, he heard him declare a monk in the assembly as chief among those who practised jhāna, and himself wished for the same honour under a future Buddha (Ap.ii.419f). He is often mentioned in company with other very eminent disciples - e.g., Anuruddha, Nandiya, Kimbila, Kundadhāna and Ananda - at the preaching of the Nalakapāna Sutta (M.i.462). The Mahāgosinga Sutta (M.i.212ff) records a discussion between Moggallāna, Mahā Kassapa, Anuruddha, Revata and Ananda, and there we find Revata praising, as the highest type of monk, one who delights in meditation and has his habitation in the abodes of solitude.
Kankhā-Revata appears to have survived the Buddha.
In the Uttaramātu-peta Vatthu (PvA.141ff), Uttara's mother having been born as a peta, and having wandered about for fifty-five years without water, came upon Revata enjoying the siesta on the banks of the Ganges and begged him for succor. Having learnt her story, Revata gave various gifts to the Sangha in her name, and so brought her happiness.