among the princes, Buddha had the greatest hope that Ananda
would leave home with him. The Buddha could foresee the future
and he thought, " If Ananda leaves home, he shall spread
Buddha Dharma to the future generations.
Buddha knew Ananda had returned to Kapilavastu, he immediately
went to the palace of King Suklodana. When Ananda saw the
Buddha, he paid his respects to the Buddha and used a fan
to fan Him. From here we can see that little Ananda had respected
Buddha even at a young age.
time was ripe, Ananda and prince Bhadra joined the monk's
in the Setting up of the Order of Nuns
up in the Sangha, Ananda had a gentle and compassionate disposition.
He was most respected by women because he was caring towards
the bhikkhunis and women followers of the Buddha.
due to the effort of Ananda that Buddha allowed female to
foster mother Mahaprajapati saw that the Buddha had attained
enlightenment, that some of the princes had taken refuge in
Buddha and the king was dead, she wanted to leave home to
be a bhikkhuni or nun.
begged the Buddha to permit her to stay in the Buddha's community
or Sangha but the Buddha refused. To avoid the frequent begging
from his foster mother, the Buddha went to preach in Namantini
monastery which was not far from Vaisali.
was not deterred. She gathered five hundred women of the Sakyan
clan who had similar thoughts as her, shaved their hair and
walked bare-footed to catch up with the Buddha. They walked
for over two thousand miles and finally reached the monastery
where the Buddha stayed. Having stayed in the palace for so
long and not used to walking such long distances, the women
looked tired and haggard. They paced outside the monastery
and dared not enter. Ananda happened to come out and when
he saw Mahaprajapati and the other women wearing the robes
of bhikkunis, with dust and tears on their faces, he had a
shock. He asked them, "What is going on?"
replied, "We leave our loved ones and relatives and walked
all the way here to become bhikkunis. If Buddha refuse us
again, we shall die here and never return!"
was so touched by the words that he could not control his
tears. He related the message to Buddha and begged the Buddha
to grant the women their wish.
however, refused, "Ananda, I sympathise with them but
it is not appropriate to let women enter our community."
Buddha! Are men and women different in the Buddha Dharma?"
Ananda picked up the courage to ask.
the Dharma is the same in heaven or in the world. I do not
discriminate against women, that is to say that I treat all
sentient beings as equal. Women can do as the men did, follow
my Dharma and practice but they need not become bhikkunis.
This is the question of our system and not whether men and
women are equal. Women leaving home are like wild grass in
the field which will affect the harvest."
of the Buddha had profound meaning. On the aspect of humanity,
women should be allowed to leave home however on the aspect
of Dharma logic, it s not good to allow the two sexes to practice
together. Wisdom and love move opposite ways, some people
might give up practice for love so Buddha refused to let women
to join the Sangha. Or perhaps the Buddha felt that as compared
to men, women are more vain, delicate and slower than men
so he disallowed women from entering to teach them a lesson.
the Buddha refused, nevertheless Ananda said in tears, "Lord
Buddha! Can you bear to see them die, shouldn't you show them
compassion and give them a helping hand?"
felt that at times, it was impossible to care for both Dharma
and feelings at the same time, he also understood that there
was no pure and unchanging Dharma. Buddha was quiet for a
while and finally agreed to Ananda's request to allow women
to leave home. Happily, Ananda rushed outside to announce
the good news. Mahaprajapti and the other women were overjoyed
with tears. The Buddha met the five hundred women and wanted
them to obey eight extra rules towards the monks.
was young and handsome and this caused him some trouble. One
day, he begged in Sravasti and on the way back he saw a well.
A peasant girl was getting water from the well. Ananda was
thirsty so he asked the girl to give him some water.
recognised the young bhikkhu in front of her was Ananda. Very
shyly she said, "Venerable! I am a lowly peasant who
is not fit to offer you anything."
heard this, he consoled her, "Young lady! I am a bhikkhu
and I am equal towards the rich and poor!"
was deeply attracted by Ananda's looks and his gentle speech.
She even dreamed of marrying him. In actual fact, young Ananda
could not forget the young lady too! Next day, when he passed
by her house, the girl smiled and acknowledged him. Ananda
began to feel confused. However at the moment he remembered
he was the bhikkhu who had to abide by the precepts, he though
of Buddha, his power engulfed him. Ananda suddenly found wisdom,
as if the Buddha had turned into a gust of wind to guide him
back to the Jetavana monastery.
second day, Ananda calmed himself then went to the city to
beg. The young girl wore a new dress and had a new hairdo.
She stood on the road waiting for Ananda. When she saw him,
she followed him and refused to let him go. Ananda was nervous
and helpless. He returned to the monastery and told the Buddha
everything. The Buddha then told him to bring the girl to
girl heard that Buddha wanted to see her, she was shocked
but in order to get Ananda, she picked up courage to see the
Buddha. Upon seeing her, Buddha said, " Ananda is a practising
monk, to be his wife you need to leave home and be a bhikkhuni
for a year, are you willing?"
an willing, Lord Buddha!" The girl was surprised that
the Buddha had so easily made her wish come true, so she answered
to my system, leaving home needs approval from parents, can
you get your parents to approve of it?"
did not make things difficult for her. His conditions were
not impossible and the girl immediately went home to fetch
her mother. Her mother very happily agreed to let her daughter
become a bhikkuni first before marrying Ananda.
to be Ananda's wife, the girl very happily shaved her hair
to become a bhikkuni. She listened to Buddha's preachings
very enthusiastically and practised according to Buddha's
guidance. Her desires and emotions calmed down after each
passing day and in less than half a year, she realised that
in the past her pursuits for love was a shameful behaviour.
always preached that the five forms of desires were unclean
Dharma and the source of sufferings. Only when the five desires
were cleared could the mind become pure and the life peaceful.
realised her obsession with Ananda was unclean and bad. She
regretted and one day, she knelt in front of Buddha and tearfully
repented, " Buddha! I am awake now, I will not be ignorant
like I used to be. I am very grateful to you. In order to
convert ignorant sentient beings like us, you have put in
so much effort to think of various ways! From now on, I am
going to be a bhikkuni forever, follow Buddha's footsteps
to be a messenger of truth!"
earnest teachings had finally awakened her to become a model
was the well-known Matanga. In allowing a peasant girl to
be a bhikkhuni, Buddha received a lot of criticism and opposition
from people as the caste system was prevalent at that time.
However, Buddha advocated equality of the four castes. The
incidence of Matanga's attraction to Ananda's looks and the
turning of misfortune into happiness had become a matter of
great interest in the Buddhist community and a charming story
through the ages.
was helpful towards bhikkhunis. As he could get along well
with people, all women, especially bhikkunis had deep respect
for him. Sometimes when he walked with Maha Kassapa, bhikkhunis
usually asked for Ananda's advice before they asked Maha Kassapa,
though Maha Kassapa was more senior than Ananda, in terms
of knowledge, experience and age.
of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are constantly at war with their
sensible reasonings and emotions. If sensibility win, they
can become Buddha, if emotions win, they remain as ordinary
people. It is difficult to expect all bhikkhus and bhikkhunis
to lead a withered and dull life without any form of love
of the world.
Jetavana monastery, there lived a young female bhikkhuni.
She was deeply attracted by Ananda's outstanding features
and grace and loved him secretly. However, living in the strict
Buddhist community, she was not allowed to break the precepts,
so she felt helpless and frustrated.
this young bhikkhuni fell sick and she asked someone to pass
a message to Ananda asking him to visit her. Next morning,
before he went to beg for food, the kind Ananda went to visit
the bhikkhuni. However she was half dressed and when Ananda
walked near her, she looked at him with deep love. Ananda
immediately understood and without uttering a single word,
he turned and walked away. The young bhikkhuni quickly got
up from bed, dressed and rushed after Ananda. She invited
Ananda to sit down. When Ananda sat down, he said, "
Sister! Do not use unclean things to feed your body, do not
have incorrect thoughts of sexual desire. Sister! You are
unwell, as long as you put your body and mind in an undemanding
state, you will soon recover."
the young bhikkhuni still looked at Ananda with tenderness
and love, she said, "I understand what you mean but no
matter how hard I try, I can't control my feeling for you.
People, in order to feel protected and peaceful, cannot be
You must not think this way. People work for clothes, food
and shelter for cultivation of body. To cultivate a healthy
body is to practice the way, then the mind can be peaceful.
To forget the path but instead pursue the impermanent desire
is incorrect. We cultivate our body and mind, cut off all
desires to pursue the true path and not be lured by void and
was deeply touched and put off her desire for love. She received
the Dharma eyes.
Ananda had no thoughts of love nor desire for women but only
pure friendship. However, because of women, he encountered
a lot of problems thereby causing jealousy and criticisms.
heart, Ananda was the person to spread Buddha's seeds. However,
his problems with women were especially much. In order to
let Ananda control himself and practice with concentration,
Buddha intended to make Ananda his attendant.
ever since Buddha attained enlightenment, Sariputra, Mogallana,
Kapala and others, had taken turns to serve the Buddha. We
could say that within these twenty over years, the Buddha
had no permanent attendant serving him.
be due to Buddha's old age that he needs a constant attendant.
A number of bhikkhu volunteered to serve Buddha but Buddha
rejected and assigned them to preach in various places. Mogallan
understood the Buddha's feelings so together with Sariputra,
they persuaded Ananda, "Ananda bhikkhu! The Buddha's
intention is that you become his attendant. You are young,
capable, intelligent and gentle, we hope you will agree."
Ananda declined giving the excuse of heavy responsibility.
However, he finally agreed after much persuasion from Sariputra
and Mollagana. But Ananda listed three conditions:
clothing, whether new or old, he refuses to wear.
2. When devotees invite the Buddha to receive offerings, he
will not go along.
3. When it is not time to see the Buddha, he will not see
him. Other than these, he is willing to serve Lord Buddha.
and Sariputra related Ananda's conditions to the Buddha. Not
only was Buddha not angry, instead he happily praised,
is really a bhikkhu with character. He listed three conditions
to avoid criticisms. He does not want others to criticise
that he serve Buddha because of good clothes and food. He
knows how to prevent these conditions
on, Ananda became Buddha's attendant. He was only twenty over
years old. During his twenty-seven years with Buddha, he acted
according to Buddha's instructions and accompanied Buddha
to preach at various places. He was also the mediator between
Buddha and bhikkhus. In the Sangha, Ananda maintained a modest
and respectful attitude. Many devotees took refuge in Buddha
because of him.
regret in Ananda's life was his brother, Devadatta.
might have become a bhikkhu just because others did and not
because he really wanted to be. As a result, he did not practice
hard but instead misled the others and was always dreaming
of acquiring supernatural powers.
and his brother Ananda had very different characters. Devadatta
was ambitious and discontented. The Buddha even asked him
to return to the ordinary world to become a lay Buddhist and
not create problems in the Sangha, however, Devadatta refused
to listen to the Buddha.
the Buddha to teach him the ways to acquire supernatural powers
but the Buddha told him to purify his body and mind and that
supernatural powers were not representative of virtuous behaviours.
After the Buddha rejected him, Devadatta was very unhappy
and he begged Arahats like Sariputra and Mogallana to teach
him the supernatural power. Sariputra and the others knew
his bad character so they rejected him.
rebellious behaviour gradually expanded. He even intended
to kill Buddha to ease his anger and made himself the leader.
Ananda and the Buddha were walking at the foot of a mountain
cliff and were seen by Devadatta who was at the mountain top.
He felt that it was an opportunity not to be missed, disregarding
the fact that his brother Ananda was there too. Devadatta
rolled huge rocks down the cliff. The Buddha did not attempt
to avoid them but Ananda ran off. The rocks fell beside the
Buddha and after a while, Ananda returned and nervously rushed
to Buddha and asked, "Lord Buddha are you all right?
This is my brother's doing, I am so ashamed. Your situation
is too dangerous." The Buddha calmly answered, "
Ananda whether through violence or plots, the Buddha cannot
be harmed. You need not feel ashamed because of Devadatta,
whoever commits the crime is responsible, the Buddha's situation
is not dangerous. I think you are the one in danger, look
how you behave just now."
cultivation was definitely not comparable to the Buddha. He
thought of his nervous behaviour just now and felt regretful.
Devadatta paid for his bad deeds and had a tragic death. However
having such a brother was Ananda's greatest regrets in life.
Buddha's Final Nirvana
was Buddha's attendant for twenty-seven years. He was a good
organizer. No matter who came to see Buddha, he could arrange
an appropriate time. Especially those bhikkhus that came from
faraway places, they loved to talk to Ananda first before
they see Buddha because Ananda was very warm towards them.
Lay Buddhists like to listen to Ananda's preachings and Ananda
always taught them to respect the triple gems, observe five
precepts, be filial towards parents, make offerings to the
Sangha. Even though Ananda had not attained enlightenment,
he already possessed such virtues. He accompanied Buddha to
preach at various places and soon, he was fifty years old.
years after he attained enlightenment, Lord Buddha entered
Parinirvana between two shala trees at Kushinagara.
radiance of the enchanting evening sun, the Buddha, before
he entered Nirvana, gave out an unusual radiance. The Buddha
laid on a bed made by Ananda. Soon, darkness fell, incidentally
the shala trees burst into bloom, shedding a rain of flowers
on Buddha's body. Ananda knelt beside the Buddha's bed and
gently asked, "Lord Buddha! What should be our attitude
towards women in the future?" Please give me guidance
answered, "Ananda! To attain enlightenment, one should
not think of women, especially you. Although you are growing
old, nevertheless it is better for you not to look at women.
If it is unavoidance, then treat old women as your mother,
elder women as your elder sister and young women as your young
sister. Ananda! You must bear in mind my words!"
explained to Ananda various matters such as the construction
of monasteries. Thinking that these were the Buddha's final
words, the soft-heartened Ananda began to cry, especially
so when he thought of his own unenlightened mind. When the
Buddha entered Nirvana, who can be rely to attain enlightenment?
The more he thought, the more sadly he cried.
talked to him again, "Ananda, do not be sad. Don't I
often tell you that the world is impermanent. While there
is life, there is death. You have served me for so long, hardworking
and tolerant. I will use these meritorious deeds to repay
you. Practice hard for zealous progress and soon you will
leave the binding of miseries to attain enlightenment!"
Buddha followed by addressing the rest, " Fellow bhikkhus!
Ananda have loyally served me for so many years. He is gentle
and kind. His memory is good. His meritorious deeds will bring
brilliance to the world!"
time, the moon quietly shone at the Shela Grove. The quiet
and lofty mind of the Buddha shone at all the people in the
grove. That was a touching yet solemn scene. Everybody, including
those enlightened sage, weeps. Ananda was especially sad and
crying wouldn't help, the most important was to ask the Buddha
how to keep the Dharma forever. They discussed and chose Ananda
to represent them to ask the Buddha:
when Lord Buddha enter Nirvana, who shall be the master? Second,
when Lord Buddha enter Nirvana, how shall we live? Third,
when Lord Buddha enter Nirvana, how to treat evil people?
Fourth when Lord Buddha enter Nirvana, how do we propagate
usual compassionate tone, Buddha replied, "Fellow bhikkhus!
All of you must remember to take precepts as your master and
take the Dharma (Truth) as your refuge, in this way you will
ensure the continuance of the Dharma."
hearing Buddha's words, everyone felt touched. Eventually
Buddha entered Parinirvana quietly.
that Buddha entered Parinirvana spread and many people from
everywhere rushed to see him. Ananda felt that before Buddha
die, very few women had the opportunity to pay their respects
to Buddha, so he let bhikkhunis and female lay disciples pay
their respects first. From here we can see that he was always
sympathising with women.
the Buddha had entered Parinirvana, Ananda rested for three
days. Then he hurried to Rajarha because of the First Council
where disciples of Buddha would compile the sutras, containing
Buddha's sermons and the precepts for believers. Although
Ananda had not attained enlightenment, nonetheless as one
of Buddha's greatest disciples, he felt he had the responsibility
to help out.
Ananda reached Rajarha, it was the eve of the Council. As
the leader, Maha Kassapa chose five hundred bhikkhus to take
part. All of them were arahats who had attained enlightenment.
As Ananda was unenlightened, he was not selected.
Maha Kassapa recognised Ananda's strong point, especially
his memory of the discourses given by the Buddha. However,
in such an important matter, Maha Kassapa feared that to let
the unenlightened Ananda participate might be a mistake. However,
people loved Ananda and they unanimously voted him but Maha
a great blow to Ananda, but he was not deterred. At night,
he practised hard, pondered deeply, let down everything and
at midnight, he eventually attained enlightenment. The next
day, before the door was opened, he was already inside the
at that moment was bright and charmingly graceful as the beautiful
lily under the bright sun. The eminent bhikkhus stared at
him surprisingly but nevertheless they welcome Ananda. Under
the leadership of Maha Kassapa, Ananda was carried by the
bhikkhus onto the lion's seat and started to recite from his
memory. The bhikkhus once again received Buddha's guidance
which they were very grateful.
scriptures such as the four Agamas and the Dhammapada, etc
were recited by Ananda in the First Council.
Buddha entered Nirvana, Maha Kassapa became his successor.
Twenty years later, Maha Kassapa was over a hundred years
old. He went to Cock's foot mountain to enter Nirvana. Before
he left, he handed everything over to Ananda. At that time,
Ananda was already eighty years old.
passed his responsibility of spreading Buddhism to his disciples
Sanakavasa whom he had trained. Then he walked towards River
Ganges in the north. At this time King Ajatasatru of Magadha
declared war with Vaisali. Ananda felt it was unfair of him
to enter Nirvana in either country as one of them would not
be able to have his remaining relics so he decided to enter
Nirvana in the boundary of both countries which was the middle
of river Ganges.
Ajatastru got news of Ananda's Nirvana, he quickly led some
of his men and rushed to River Ganges. When he reached the
bank, Ananda had already rowed the boat to the middle of the
river. King Ajatasatru immediately knelt on the ground and
shouted loudly, "The Supreme Buddha! Please have great
compassion. Honoured Venerable who gives us peace! Honoured
Venerable of the three realms of lights!" Please come
opposite bank, the people of Vaisali shouted similar words.
Sitting in the boat, Ananda shouted, "I consider the
hatred between both your countries, that's why I come here,
the middle of the River Ganges to enter Nirvana so that both
countries will each have half of my body!"
saying, Ananda entered the fourth dhyana and into Nirvana,
dividing his holy body into two halves for the two countries
to worship. Because of Ananda, Magaha and Vaisali stopped
fighting and the two countries patched up the differences,
saving thousands of lives.