the disciples of Buddha, Venerable Ananda had the most solemn
looks and the best memory. Ananda joined the Sangha when he
was a child. Growing up in the Sangha, Ananda was gentle and
in the Setting Up of the Order of Nuns
Buddha's aunt Mahaprajapati saw Buddha 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.
begged Buddha to permit her to stay in Buddha's community
but the Buddha refused. Mahaprajapati 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
for over two thousand miles and finally reached the monastery
where 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 bhikkhunis, 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 bhikkhunis. If Buddha
refuses us again, we shall die here and never return!"
was so touched by the words that he could not control his
tears. He relayed the message to Buddha and begged Buddha
to grant the women their wish.
however, refused. Ananda pleaded with the Buddha again.
Buddha was quiet for a while and finally agreed to Ananda's
request. Mahaprajapti and the other women were overjoyed
with tears. Due to Ananda's help, the bhikkhunis community
was set up. Buddhist organisations nowadays allow women
to leave home because of Ananda's effort.
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 Matanga was getting water from the
well. Ananda was thirsty so he asked the girl to give him
recognised that 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." When Ananda
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. On the second day, she
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 him.
Matanga heard that the 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, the 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?"
to be Ananda's wife, Matanga very happily shaved her hair
to become a bhikkhuni. 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.
She knelt in front of the 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 bhikkhuni forever, follow Buddha's footsteps to
be a messenger of truth!"
the Buddha attained enlightenment, Sariputra, Mogallana,
Kapala and some other monks had taken turns to serve the
Buddha. A number of bhikkhus also volunteered to serve the
Buddha but the Buddha rejected them and assigned them to
preach in various places. Mogallana understood the Buddha's
feelings, so together with Sariputra, they persuaded Ananda,
"Ananda! 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 Mogallana. But Ananda listed three conditions:
will not wear Buddha's clothing, whether new or old.
2. When devotees invite Buddha to receive offerings, he
will not go along.
3. When it is not time to see Buddha, he will not see him.
Other than these, he is willing to serve Buddha.
and Sariputra related Ananda's conditions to 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 the Buddha only because of good clothes and
food. He knows how to prevent these conditions
then on, Ananda became the 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.
years after he attained enlightenment, Buddha entered Parinirvana
(Final Nirvana) between two twin-trunked shala trees in
Buddha entered Parinirvana, Ananda 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.
That was a great blow to Ananda, but he was not deterred.
At night, he practised hard and meditated. At midnight,
he eventually attained enlightenment. The next day, before
the door was opened, he was already inside the hall. The
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 the Buddha's Teachings from his memory.
initial scriptures such as the four Agamas and the Dhammapada
were recited by Ananda in the First Council.