Ananda, the Loyal Attendant
Buddha had no regular attendant during the first twenty years
of his ministry. Several monks used to attend to the Buddha,
accompany him on alms rounds and carry his extra robes and bowl.
The monks who served him were Nagasamala, Nagita, Upavana, Sunakhatta,
Cunda, Sagata, Radha and Meghiya.
monks did not always obey the Buddha's instructions. For example,
one day when the Buddha and Venerable Nagasamala came up to
a crossroads, the Venerable Nagasamala decided to go one way,
although the Buddha suggested that they should go the other
way. The monk went along the road of his choice and he was
robbed and beaten by highway robbers. He came back to the Buddha
to be reminded of his disobedience and consoled.
another day, as the Buddha was on his way to the village of
Jantu, Venerable Meghiya, who accompanied him, wanted to stop
by a mango grove and practise asceticism. Three times the Buddha
advised him against his idea, but Meghiva went his way. Eventually
he returned to the Buddha and confessed that he had failed in
his practice because almost all the time he was in the grove,
three kinds of evil thoughts disturbed his mind: thoughts of
sensual desires, ill-will and cruelty.
the Buddha came to the Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi, he said,
"Now I am old, Bhikkhus. When I say, 'Let us go this way,'
some of you go the other way; some drop my bowl and robe on
the ground. Choose one disciple to attend always on me."
The Buddha was fifty-five years of age at that time.
Venerable Sariputta and Moggallana both volunteered their services,
but the Buddha didn't accept as they had other valuable services
to perform for the world. The offers of other disciples were
also turned down. As Venerable Ananda was silent, waiting to
be nominated by the Buddha himself, other monks advised him
to offer his services.
Buddha said, "It is not necessary for Ananda to be induced
by others. He will serve me of his own accord."
Ananda agreed to serve the Buddha regularly, subject to eight
He should not be given the robes received by the Buddha.
2. He should not be given the food received by the Buddha.
3. He should not sleep in the Fragrant Chamber of the Buddha.
4. He should not be asked to go with the Buddha to accept alms
5. The Buddha should consent to invitations received by him.
6. The Buddha should give him permission to introduce visitors
who came from afar to see the Buddha.
7. He should be allowed to consult the Buddha whenever he had
any doubts to clarify.
8. The Buddha should repeat to him the discourses preached in
the Buddha consented to these eight conditions, Venerable Ananda
became the regular attendant of the Buddha and remained with
him for twenty-five years.
Ananda was the son of King Suddhodana's younger brother, and
therefore a cousin of the Buddha. He entered the order of monks
during the second year of the Buddha's ministry and long after
attained the first stage of sainthood (sotapanna) after hearing
the sermon given by Venerable Punna Mantaniputta.
the time he became the Buddha's personal attendant, Ananda served
the Buddha with devotion and care, right up until his
master's last moments. Day and night, he served the Master and
he was faithful and dedicated. At night, for example, he would
patrol the place where the Buddha was resting to prevent his
sleep from being disturbed.
acknowledging the qualities of his disciples, the Buddha said
that Venerable Ananda was first among monks who are learned,
mindful, well-behaved and determined. He was very much involved
in the establishment of the order of nuns (bhikkhunis). And he
is reputed to have had the Ananda bodhi tree, which
survives today near the Jetavana Monastery, planted.
Venerable Ananda had the rare privilege to listen to every discourse
of the Buddha, he did not attain arahantship until after the
Buddha had passed away.
Ananda was said to have lived to one hundred and twenty years