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Mahasammata

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Mahasammata Mahasammata A king who lived in the beginning of this present age.

The Pali Chronicles (Mhv.ii.1ff.; Dpv.iii.1ff.; MT. 122ff.; also J.ii.311; iii.454, etc.) mention him as the original ancestor of the Sakiyan family, to which the Buddha belonged, and gives a list of the dynasties from his day to the time of the Buddha, to prove that the line was unbroken.

Mahasammata belonged to the Solar Race and is identified with the Bodhisatta, who was born among men after sojourn in the Brahma worlds (MT. 121 f). He was called Mahasammata, because, on the arising of wickedness in the world, he was chosen by the people (sannipatitva samaggajatehi mahajanchi sammannitva kato Mahasammato; MT.122; cp. D.iii.92f.; Mtu.i.248; DhSA. 390, 392) to show indignation against and disapproval of those worthy of blame. In return for his services, he was given a portion of their harvest.

It is said (J.iv.192) that in the dynasty of Mahasammata the idea of meting out punishments, such as torture, fining, expulsion, was unknown. These were invented later with the advance of civilisation!

The Vimanavatthu Commentary (p.15) explains that Mahasammata is the name given in the sacred books (sasane) for Manu. Some, at least, of the Ceylon kings traced their descent from Mahasammata. See, e.g., Cv.xlvii.2.