The name of a people and their country.
The country is included in the sixteen Mahājanapadas of the Buddha's time. The kingdom, at that time, was divided into two parts, having their respective capitals in Pāvā and Kusinārā. The Mallas of Pāvā were called Pāveyyaka Mallā, those of Kusināra, Kosinārakā. That these were separate kingdoms is shown by the fact that after the Buddha's death at Kusināra, the Mallas of Pāvā sent messengers to claim their share of the Buddha's relics (D.ii.165). Each had their Mote Hall.
In the Sangīti Sutta we are told that the Buddha, in the course of one of his journeys, came with five hundred followers to Pāvā and stayed in the Ambavana of Cunda the smith. A new Mote Hall, called Ubbhataka, had just been completed for the Mallas of Pāvā, and the Buddha was invited to be the first to occupy it that it might be consecrated thereby. The Buddha accepted the invitation, and preached in the Hall far into the night. It was also at Pāvā that the Buddha took his last meal, of Sūkaramaddava, at the house of Cunda (D.ii.126f). From there he went to Kusinārā, and there, as he lay dying, he sent Ananda to the Mallas of Kusināra, who were assembled in their Mote Hall to announce his approaching death. The Mallas thereupon came to the Upavattana Sāla grove where the Buddha was, in order to pay him their last respects. Ananda made them stand in groups according to family, and then presented them to the Buddha, announcing the name of each family. After the Buddha's death, they met together once more in the Mote Hall, and made arrangements to pay him all the honour due to a Cakkavatti. They cremated the Buddha's body at the Makutabandhana cetiya, and then collected the relics, which they deposited in their Mote Hall, surrounding them with a lattice work of spears and a rampart of bows till they were distributed among the various claimants by Dona (D.ii.166). The Mallas, both of Pāvā and Kusināra, erected thūpas over their respective shares of the relics and held feasts in their honour (D.ii.167).
The Malla capital of Kujsinārā was, in the Buddha's day, a place of small importance. Ananda contemptuously refers to it as a "little wattle and daub town in the midst of a jungle, a branch township," quite unworthy of being the scene of the Buddha's Parinibbāna. But the Buddha informs Ananda that it was once Kusāvatī, the mighty capital of Kusa and Mahāsudassana. This shows that the Mallas had, at first, a monarchical constitution, but in the sixth century B.C. they were regarded, together with the Vajjis, as a typical example of a republic (sangha, gana) (M.i.231). The chief Mallas administered the state in turn. Those who were free from such duties engaged in trade, sometimes undertaking long caravan journeys (DA.ii.569).
Both the Buddha and Nigantha Nātaputta appear to have had followers among the Mallas. Pāvā was the scene of Nātaputta's death, just as Kusinārā was of the Buddha’s (see Pāvā). Several followers of the Buddha among the Mallas are mentioned by name - e.g., Dabba, Pukkusa, Khandasumana, Bhadragaka, Rāsiya, Roja and Sīha.
The Mallas seem to have lived at peace with their neighbours, though there was apparently some trouble between them and the Licchavis, as shown by the story of Bandhula Malla. Both the Mallas and the Licchavis were khattiyas, belonging to the Vasittha gotta, because in the books both tribes are repeatedly referred to as Vāsetthā. Manu says that both Licchavis and Mallas had ksatriya parents, but their fathers were Vrātyas - i.e., had not gone through the ceremony of Vedic initiation at the proper time.
There is reason to believe that the Malla republic fell into the hands of Ajātasattu, as did that of the Licchavis (Bhandarkar, Carmichael Lectures, 1918, p.79).
The Mallas are generally identified with the Malloi mentioned in the Greek accounts of Alexander's invasion of India. The Malloi were a warlike tribe who, for some time, successfully resisted Alexander's attack. Their territory must have been situated in or near the Panjab.
Other places in the Malla country, besides Pāvā and Kusinārā, are mentioned where the Buddha stayed - e.g., Bhoganagara, Anupiyā and Uruvelakappa, near which was the Mahāvana, a wide tract of forest.
Bandhula went from Kusināra to Takkasilā for purposes of study. v.l. Mālā (E.g., UdA.377) and Malatā (E.g., AA.ii.814), evidently both wrong readings.
2. Mallā. A bhikkhunī who came to Ceylon from Jambudīpa; she was an eminent teacher of the Vinaya at Anurādhapura. Dpv.xviii.12.