•11)10 [01 1 If)
Ven. Weragoda Sarada Maha Thero
Web site: www.buddhanet.net
Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.
Venerable Weragoda Sarada Maha Thero
18™ May 2000
Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre
No. 1, Jalan Mas Puteh, Singapore 128607
Tel: (65) 7783330
copyright: The only and universal copyright holder of the material in this publication is The Supreme Buddha. The eternal truths that emanated
from the Supremely Enlightened tongue of the Buddha do not recognize any ephemeral copyright requirements stipulated by mere worldlings.
Great Human Qualities Reflected In Ven. Ananda's Life 15
Venerable Ananda 12
Ven. Ananda And The Outcaste Maiden i§
Prince Ananda Becomes A Monk 33
Ven. Ananda Becomes A Stream-Winner 34
Ven. Ananda Becomes The Buddha's Chief Personal
Eight conditions Essential For The Buddha's
Personal Attendant 39
Ven. Ananda Functions As The Buddha's Attendant 43
Ven. Ananda Becomes The Greatest In Five Areas 45
The Monk Who Had A Great Appeal To Ladies 48
The Two Chief Queens Of King Kosala Learn
The Doctrine From Ven. Ananda 49
Ladies Of The Harem Of King Udeni Request Ven. Ananda
To Preach To Them 51
Ven. Ananda Preaches To The Queens In The Harem 53
Ladies Of The Harem Get Sons Who Resemble
Ven. Ananda 54
A Bhikkhuni Resents Ven. Maha Kassapa Advising
Ven. Ananda 59
Nuns Care More For Ven. Ananda Than For
Ven. Maha Kassapa 62
Ven. Ananda's Mishap At The Palace 64
Ven. Ananda Distributes Rice Cakes To Beggars
Vishakha Forgets Her Headgear: Ven. Ananda
Keeps It Safe 66
Vishakha Auctions The Ornament Touched By
Ven. Ananda 68
Ven. Ananda Consoles A Crying Maiden 70
A Queen Fights For Women's Liberation ^j,
The Second Revolution At The Palace §8
A Bhikkhuni Pretends To Be III To Entice Ven. Ananda iftf
Ven. Ananda And Women 7&S
The Buddha's Attitude To Women 83
Ven. Ananda Ordains Two Orphans 86
The Buddha Refuses Cloths Offered By Maha Pajapati:
Ananda Intervenes 8!^
Ven. Ananda Requests The Buddha To Preach The
Disciplinary Rules To The Monks 91
The Buddha Chases Out A Group Of Noisy Monks 93
The Buddha Refuses To Accept The Medicinal Broth
Prepared By Ven. Ananda 256
Ven. Ananda Chants Protective Chants To Quell The
Three-Fold Menaces Affecting The City Of Vesali 968
Ven. Ananda Gets Water From A Covered Well 98
Ven. Ananda Prevents Questioning Of The Buddha When
The Buddha Was Ailing 2^3
Ven. Ananda Preaches The Doctrine On Behalf Of
Ven. Ananda Preaches The Doctrine On Behalf Of
The Buddha 101
King Kosala Praises Ven. Ananda 102
The Buddha Attends A Sick Monk With Ven. Ananda 105
Preparing Robes Under The Instructions Of The Buddha 107
The Buddha Shows A Serpent To Ven. Ananda 108
Ven. Ananda Advises Ven. Vangisa ijb
Ven. Ananda Helps A Brahmin 112
Ven. Ananda Ordains A Beggar ij§
The Buddha Along With Ven. Ananda Helps
Ven. Anuruddha To Prepare His Robe 116
Ananda Bodhi ij8
Ven. Ananda Requests The Buddha To Go To Another
Village Because The People Are Abusive 121
Ven. Ananda Is Saddened That The Buddha Has Grown Old . 122
Ven. Ananda Says Dependent Origination Is Quite Easy 123
The Buddha Teaches "Object Meditation 7 to Ven. Ananda .... 124
Ven. Ananda And Ven. Kassapa 126
Five Lay Disciples Listen To A Sermon While
Ven. Ananda Fans The Buddha 127
Dialogue Between The Buddha And Ven. Ananda 131
The Buddha Questions Ven. Ananda 136
The Buddha Passes Away 142
Ven. Ananda Wails 145
Ven. Ananda Attains Sainthood 150
Ven. Ananda And Ven. Maha Kassapa 154
Elders Blame Ven. Ananda 155
Ven. Ananda And Ven. Sariputta 157
The Demise Of Ven. Ananda 159
Ven. Ananda's Past Birth 161
Two immortal personalities dominate the totality of the
Buddha's transcendental Dispensation. They are the Supremely
Enlightened Buddha Himself - the sole source and fountain of
the Buddhist system of thought - and Ven. Ananda - the time-
less repository of the Doctrine expounded by the Supreme
Buddha. To my mind there is hardly any other instance in the
whole of human history (either in the field of worldly activi-
ties or in the pursuits of spiritual quests) of such long and
dedicated loyalty of one individual to another, to match the
epic adherence of Ven. Ananda to his Master - the Supreme
In his character and outlook, Ven. Ananda was touchingly
and movingly human. His personality held a special appeal
to womenfolk. This was partly because of his simple, charm-
ing behaviour, and his ever-present readiness to help anyone
who was in distress or difficulty. His unprecedented orienta-
tion towards service was not at all motivated by personal or
selfish urges. In spite of his unceasing preoccupation with the
administrative and organizational matters he invariably had
to deal with, in terms of his position as the Chief Attendant of
the Supremely Enlightened Buddha, Ven. Ananda displayed
a deep intellectuality and a profound grasp of abstruse philo-
Ven. Ananda liaised between the Buddha and numerous per-
sons - ranging from ordinary folks to powerful kings - who
were keen to meet the Enlightened One. Since Ven. Ananda at-
tained the higher fruits of spiritual achievement fairly late in
his religious life, his association with the Buddha was marked
by a pronounced streak of personal attachment. When he read
those tell-tale signs of age encroaching upon the body of the
Buddha, he was sorely aggrieved. The plight of the delicate
Sakyan ladies who had trekked harrowing miles in search of
ordination, moved Ven. Ananda nearly to tears.
In the middle of the night Ven. Ananda would walk right
around the Buddha's Fragrant Chamber to ensure his Master's
undisturbed rest. It was his single-minded, unswerving dedi-
cation to the well-being of the Buddha that slackened his ef-
forts to pursue personal spiritual liberation.
The undiminishing fascination and the vividness of Ven.
Ananda's life story derive from the remarkable synthesis be-
tween the two unlikely qualities of intense humanity on the
one hand, and penetrating spiritual insight on the other.
Mankind is endlessly and perpetually indebted to Ven. Anan-
da's prodigious memory, which enabled him to store in his
mind the formal Discourses of the Buddha delivered in Ven.
Ananda's presence or later recounted to him when delivered
in his absence. Over and above these, Ven. Ananda's memory
was filled with incidents in which the Buddha figured in a
variety of contexts. Viewed this way, the life story of Ven.
Ananda is intricately intertwined with the life story of the
The above are some of the factors that motivated us to publish
the life story of Ven. Ananda during the first Vesak festival
of the 2000s. We have already presented to the world the life
story of the Buddha under the title 'The Greatest Man Who
Ever Lived - The Supreme Buddha". Therefore, it is quite logi-
cal to present the life story of Ven. Ananda as his is the most
significant presence in the Buddha's Dispensation, next to the
Supremely Enlightened One.
The present work is replete with dramatic events that are both
spiritual and temporal. All these ingredients contribute cumu-
latively to elevate the life story of Ven. Ananda to the level of
a pre-eminent biography in the whole history of mankind.
In the progressively evolving publications programme of The
Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre we have now moved
well beyond our 220th publication. To make all this headway,
not only in terms of quantity but in terms of the centrally im-
portant matter of quality as well, I have been blessed with the
continuing assistance of a dedicated and loyal publications
team. I consider it my special duty to extend my gratitude to
all those who have provided unfailing support to me, ensur-
ing the success of our publications programme.
I consider it nothing but proper to single out a handful of
these supporters for special mention. I must record here my
grateful thanks to Mr. Edwin Ariyadasa, media specialist
from Sri Lanka, who functions as the Editor-in-Chief of The
Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre. I am thankful to de-
signer, graphics expert and illustrator Piyaratne Hewabattage,
and artist-illustrator P. Wickremanayake for their contribution
towards the success of the SBMC publications programme.
To all those who contributed towards the fulfillment of this
Dhamma project, I wish happiness, good health and prosperity.
Ven. Weragoda Sarada Maha Thero
Chief Monk / Chief Administrator
Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre
'The Gift of Truth Excels All Other Gifts"
Sabba Danam Dhamma Danam Jinati
Great Human Qualities Reflected In
Venerable Ananda's Life
i. Unswerving, upright, incomparable loyalty to the Master.
2. Receiving a position with due honour.
3. Awaiting the conferring of a position on qualifications
alone, without entering into an unseemly fray.
4. Safeguarding to the utmost the honour of the given office.
5. Performing the duties of the office to the letter.
6. Non-acceptance of the profits and privileges the office en-
7. Not becoming unduly proud because of the high office.
8. Exercising total restraint to see that the office was not
used, in whatever manner, as a weapon to harm others.
9. Performing the duties of the office, not as mere routine
but totally as a service.
10. Never arrogating to himself the powers and the greatness
of his Master - in other words, never misusing the privi-
leges of his office.
11. Being ever-ready to sacrifice his own life for his Master.
12. Never being disobedient to his Master in any matter;
never doing anything to hurt his Master's feelings, even
13. Remaining above the slanders of others.
14. Never making a visitor to his Master feel disappointed,
whether the visitor was important or not. Never hurting
the feelings of such visitors.
15. Making visitors feel happy to see and talk to the compan-
ion of the Master.
16. Behaving in such a way that the visitors would be happy
with the Master merely by meeting the companion.
17. Never allowing sensual desires to enter his mind during
the whole of the 25 years he served the Master.
18. Perpetually emulating the life of the Master (the Supreme
19. Disregarding privations, suffering and exhaustion while
serving the Master.
20. Bearing firmly in mind the Word of the Buddha, and re-
vealing it to the world at the First Council, for the benefit
21. Total disregard of such divisions as race, clan and caste.
22. Helping women, who were considered the weaker sex by
contemporary society, to gain their liberty.
23. Although he was most popular among ladies, never enter-
taining unseemly thoughts about any woman.
24. Possessing a noble name that could be recalled with hon-
our and deference even after 2,500 years, and whose high
qualities could be adored, and whose life could set an ex-
ample to the future brotherhood of the Sangha.
25. Possessing the great good fortune and the unparalleled
privilege of being able to associate with the greatest
human being in the whole of mankind worthy of associat-
'Buddha Dharma is like a bridge well built of flex-
ible steel, it gives a little to wind and water, it adapts
itself to changing circumstances, but at the same
time it has secure foundations and offers a safe way
to the Deathless, to Nirvana."
Phra Khantipalo, "Tolerance'
When we consider the exceptionally noble traits of some great
men in human history, the quality of his loyalty to his master
is alone sufficient to recall with honour and deference, after
more than 2,500 years, the name of Ven. Ananda, the Chief At-
tendant of the Supreme Buddha.
The unswerving devotion, the sincere respect and the genuine
affection Ven. Ananda displayed towards the Supreme Buddha,
as an attendant, as a protector, as His faithful private secretary,
His assistant, and as His companion, can never be forgotten
as long as human society lasts. Ven. Ananda is the best ever
answer to such questions as how one should serve a master,
how one should care for a master, and how one should win
the favour of a master.
Many are the lessons that could be learnt from the Supreme
Buddha and Ven. Ananda by those servants devoid of affec-
tion towards their masters, and by those masters who are
devoid of affection towards their servants.
When we consider the Supreme Buddha as a Master, as a
Chief, as a Leader, and as an Administrator, it can be decid-
edly stated that a greater master, a greater chief, a greater
leader, and a greater administrator than the Supreme Buddha
has not so far been born among men.
The astounding affection Ven. Ananda had towards the Su-
preme Buddha, his Master, establishes what a noble and ex-
ceptional person the Buddha was, and equally, what a noble
and exceptional person Ven. Ananda was.
The gradual waning of the initial affection and deference to-
wards a master or a leader, after keeping company with them
closely, is a common occurrence. But, the devotion and defer-
ence Ven. Ananda entertained towards the Buddha, while as-
sociating with Him closely for 25 years, continued to grow
and flourish, and did not wane at all. This way, the only ex-
ceptional and noble human being who had the rare privilege
and the good fortune to associate with the greatest and the
noblest of human beings, was Ven. Ananda.
In the recorded history of officials who distinguished them-
selves by guarding to the fullest their own honour and the
honour of their office after being appointed to high office, Ven.
Ananda is, without any doubt, one of the greatest.
In the Buddha's days, Ven. Ananda was the most popular of
all the disciples of the Supreme Buddha. In popular adoration
and physical comeliness, he was second only to the Supreme
Buddha. He had inherited, by birth, a royal delicacy. His
body gleamed with a golden hue. Ayasma kira Anando sam-
anta pasadiko. Abhi rupo. Dassaniyo. Bahusasiko. Sangha
(Manorathapurani - Catuttha Nipata)
"Ven. Ananda is handsome on all accounts. He is exceedingly
attractive. He is pleasant to look at. He is erudite. He is an
adornment to the Sangha Brotherhood/ 7
Ven. Ananda, sobbing in grief like an infant at the Great
Demise of the 8o-year-old Buddha, is an episode that moves
the devoted readers who peruse not only the Life of the
Buddha, but the Life of Ven. Ananda, as well. This sorrow is
widely known among Buddhists, just as Ven. Ananda himself is.
Ven. Ananda is one of the exceptionally great human beings
who adorned human history and humanity with the varie-
gated, fragrant blossoms of their virtues. From hereon is indi-
cated how Ven. Ananda is reflected in the Buddhist Scripture,
in other words, in the Tipitaka (The Three Baskets).
Venerable Ananda And The Outcaste Maiden
One day, Ven. Ananda returned to the monastery from his
alms-round. He took his meal and stepped out with the empty
bowl to fetch some water. Ven. Ananda saw a young maiden
obtaining water from a well near the road. He walked to-
wards her and stood beside her with the empty bowl in hand,
Prakirti (the maiden): What do you need, Ven. Sir?
Ven. Ananda: Could I have some water, please?
Prakirti: I am an outcaste girl.
Ven. Ananda: I need only some water.
Prakirti: I am an outcaste girl. No one drinks our water.
Ven. Ananda: I only need some water to quench
my thirst. Water quenches everybody's thirst, with no
thought of caste differences.
Prakirti: I am a low caste girl. Although water in our
well is pure, to those of high caste our water is impure.
No one, other than those of our caste, has drunk water
from this well.
Ven. Ananda: I never asked you what your caste is. I only
need some water.
Prakirti: But, don't you know this much, Ven. Sir? In this
country there are two castes - high caste and low caste.
I am of low caste.
Ven. Ananda: I am just not interested in your caste. I only
need some water.
Prakirti: How can I give you water: I am an outcaste
girl. Those who live in the palatial buildings over there
belong to high caste. We are not permitted even to see
them. They do not even tread upon our shadows. When
we approach they hide to avoid us. If they see us they
wash their faces with scented water, saying, "Y have seen
an outcaste/ 7 With that, how can I give you water? How
can I get near you to give you water? If my shadow falls
on you, you yourself will have to become an outcaste.
Ven. Ananda: I am not aware of castes. I only know that
you too are a human being as much as I am. I have never
heard that caste can make any difference between one
person and another. I do not accept that idea. All beings
of the human kind I have seen so far have two hands,
two feet, two eyes, one mouth, one face, one nose each.
Does the sun rise from the West for people of low caste?
Do they experience happiness and pain differently? Don't
their stomachs get filled when they eat? How are they
Prakirti: There is not much of a difference in appearance.
But those in high caste achieved that status due to
their merit. We committed sin: that is why we were
born in a low caste. They are born from the mouth of
Maha Brahma. But we are born from the sole of Maha
Brahma. We are not permitted to study the sacred Vedas.
Therefore, we are lowly in every way. We are outcastes.
Ven. Ananda: But that is not how I have learnt from our
Teacher. Listen to this Stanza:
"Na jacca vasalo hoti - Na jacca hoti brahmano
Kammana vasalo hoti - Kammana hoti Brahmano."
"No one becomes an outcaste (Vasala) by birth. No one
becomes a brahmin by birth."
Therefore, I am not interested in your being an outcaste.
Please give me some water.
The maid looks around in fear and shame. Trembling with
fear and shame she bends down, brings her pot near the bowl
and pours a bowlful of water. Ven. Ananda blesses her and
takes away the water. The maid keeps on looking at the reced-
ing figure of Ven. Ananda.
While looking at him she thinks this way, "Please give me
some water! Give me some water! Give me some water!" What
sweet words are these! What calm words are these! What a
comely body! Aren't there any other wells in Savatthi? Is there
water only in this well? Why did this person come just to me
for water? Am I the only young woman in Savatthi? Did he
want water from me without being aware that I am an out-
caste girl? He was quite aware. Even a child would know that
we are outcastes by our dress. Who is that handsome man?
From where did he come? I will thank god if he comes back
for water. I learnt that I am a human girl only because of him.
Until now I thought of myself as an animal-girl. What an
attractive face! Eyes overflowing with kindness! Handsome,
young and golden figure! How can I see him again? How
can I listen to that sweet voice again? Life is useless without
seeing him. How good if I can give him water every day. If I
can keep on talking to him every day. If he comes again I will
not let him go back. I will take him home and keep him there.
If I can keep on gazing at him I will not want food or drink.
'Give me some water! Give me some water!' These words are
indelibly etched in my heart."
Outcaste mother: Prakirti! Prakirti! Where has she gone
to? What on earth has happened to her? Has she got
rooted by the side of the well when she went there
to fetch water? This is the sort of thing that invariably
happens when she goes to the well. She starts gossiping
with the girls from the neighbourhood. Prakirti! Prakirti!
Prakirti: Mother, I am here!
Prakirti: Here, by the well.
Mother: It is midday. One cannot even step on the earth,
it is so hot. All the other girls who came to the well are
gone. What are you doing by the well, all alone?
Prakirti: Mother, such a sweet voice, "Please give me
Mother: "Please give me water!"? Who asked you for
Prakirti: An extremely handsome young man. His head
was shaven, he wore yellow clothes and he had an alms-
bowl in hand. A young man of tranquil appearance.
Mother: How can a young man be handsome if he has
shaven his head? Don't you know that they shave heads
to take away the handsomeness?
Prakirti: I do not know that. But to me he was extremely
handsome. His body gleams with a golden hue. His looks
are subdued. He is simple. To me, he looked like an
embodiment of kindness and simplicity.
Mother: Is he of our caste?
Prakirti: Yes. He said that he is of the same caste as I am.
Mother: What's that caste?
Prakirti: Human caste.
Mother: You must have concealed your caste when he
spoke to you. Most outcastes in this country do not like
to reveal their caste. That is a demeaning attitude. If all
are proud of their castes, the lowly caste will disappear.
Didn't you tell him that you are an outcaste maiden?
Prakirti: I told him that I am an outcaste. But he never
accepted that. He repeatedly asked me for water. He said
that, according to what he has learnt, one becomes either
a Brahmin or an outcaste not by birth, but by deed.
Mother: What else did he say?
Prakirti: He said, do not betray the freedom you have as
a human being. Demeaning one's self by one's own self,
considering one's self to be lowly and helpless, insulting
one's own self, are worse than killing one's self. Lack
of self-respect is a lowlier act than self-destruction, he
said. Everyone is born to this world as a free human
being. He said that after one is born that way, human
freedom is restricted by such shackles as race, caste,
religion, language, customs, parents, teachers, priests and
tradition. All this time I thought of myself as a low
person goaded by social customs and manners. I had
thought of myself until now as a stray dog rummaging
the garbage dumps of the street for morsels of food. He
showed me the light. I feel as if I have got a new life. It
is only today that I learnt that I am a new member of
the human society. He is a light to me. He is my light.
"Give me some water! Give me some water!" What sweet
Mother: Although he does not know about outcastes I
know them. People are born because of their kamma.
Prakirti: What have those in the high castes done to be
born in that way?
Mother: That, too, is the result of their kamma.
Prakirti: Whatever that may be, the person who asked
me for water told me that a person does not become
either high-caste or outcaste by birth. He said that even
if a king, a Brahmin, a minister or a guild-leader were to
take life, were to steal, were to misbehave sexually, were
to utter falsehoods, or were to take intoxicating drinks, he
is an outcaste.
Mother: That is exactly what I described as the result of
Prakirti: Mother, everything does not happen according
to kamma. We have been made outcastes not by kamma,
but by society. I do not want all that nonsense. What is
the name of that young man who asked me for water -
that is what I want to know. What does he do? Those are
the things I want to know.
Mother: I made enquiries. His name is Ananda. He is a
disciple of the Buddha. He is of the Sakya clan.
Prakirti: What does he do?
Mother: He is a monk who has given up lay-life and has
become a Bhikkhu.
Prakirti: O mother! He is an extremely good man. It
does not matter to me whoever he is. I want to keep on
looking at him. I just cannot live without him. I need
Ananda somehow. If I do not get him I will fast unto
death. Mother, practise all the black-magic you know and
bring him to me. If not, please understand that you will
never see your only daughter again. I will not take food
until Ananda is brought to me.
Mother: Our King - King Kosala - is the chief devotee
of Ascetic Gotama. The King visits Ascetic Gotama every
day. If they come to know that you love Ven. Ananda they
will set fire to the whole of our outcaste settlement. They
will not allow not only us, but any of our caste, to live
here. You are trying to destroy all of us!
Prakirti: If that is so, chant the mantra (mystic chant) you
know. That will bring Ananda here. If I do not get him
that will be my end.
Mother: The Buddha is a passionless person. He knows
the Buddha mantra. All the other mantras are subdued
by that. Whatever that is I will chant my mantra.
The outcaste mother prepares the centre of her compound ap-
plying cow-dung. She places grass on that spot and kindles a
fire. She places logs in the fire, and throws the flowers one by
one into the fire, chanting her mantra:
"Amale, vimale, kunkume sumane, yena baddhasi
vidyut icchaya devo varsati, vidyotati garjati, vis-
may an. Maharajasya, samabhi vardhayitum, deve-
bhyo manushyebhyo gandharvebhyah shikigraha
deva, visikhigraha grahadeva, Anandasyagamanaya,
Samgamanaya, kramanaya, grahanaya juho svaha."
When the outcaste mother kept on chanting this mantra the
mind of Ven. Ananda, residing at the monastery, became con-
fused. Ven. Ananda left the monastery and walked to the
settlement of the outcastes. The outcaste mother saw Ven.
Ananda approaching in the distance and asked her daughter
to prepare a bed in the room. Prakirti was overwhelmed with
joy. She dressed up and made a bed. Ven. Ananda came to the
house of the outcastes and stood there silently. Ven. Ananda,
seeing the coquetry of the outcaste maiden Prakirti and the
guiles of her mother, realized that he was in difficulty. He
thought of the Buddha and asked for His help. The Buddha,
seeing in His divine eye that Ven. Ananda was in difficulties,
chanted the Buddha mantra this way:
"Sthi racyutith sunitih svastih sarva pranibhyah
sarah prasannam nirdosham prashantam sarvatob-
hayam itayo yatra shamyanti sarva siddhasca yoni-
nani etena satya vakyena svastyanandaya bhiksave."
With the power of this Buddha mantra, the potency of the
outcaste mother's mantra was weakened. Immediately, Ven.
Ananda regained his senses and returned to Jetavanarama.
Seeing this, Prakirti told her mother that Ven. Ananda went
back. Her mother stopped chanting and told her daughter
that the mantra of Ascetic Gotama was more powerful than
all the mantras in the world. She told her daughter that he
would undoubtedly have chanted the Buddha mantra.
Ven. Ananda, who returned to the monastery escaping the
spell cast by the outcastes, worshipped the Buddha and stood
there respectfully. The Buddha addressed Ven. Ananda and
said thus: 'Ananda, you must listen to sadaksara vidya (The
Magic of Six Letters) and memorize it. This will benefit you,
monks, nuns, and male and female lay-devotees. This sadak-
sara vidya has been preached by six Buddhas. This has been
preached by the Four Guardian Gods, by the Chief of Gods,
Sahampati Maha Brahma, and by me the Sakya Sage (Sakya-
muni). Ananda, you too must memorize it, and meditate upon
it. This is how it goes:
"An&are pandare karande keyurerci haste svara grive
Bandhumati, viramati, dhara vidha cilimile, vilodaya,
visani loke visa cala cala golamati gandavile cili mile
satimimena yatha samvibhaketa golamati ganda vi-
"Ananda, if someone chants this sadaksari vidya he will
become free if he is being tortured. He will be free from pun-
ishment if he is ordered to be punished. If he is frightened
he will be free from fright. Ananda, a person who has been
protected by this chant cannot be overwhelmed by any action
other than the result of a previous kamma."
Ven. Ananda escaped the spell cast by the outcaste mother.
But Prakirti, the outcaste maiden, did not stop loving Ven.
Ananda. One day, when Ven. Ananda was on his alms-round.
Prakirti started following him. Thoroughly ashamed, Ven.
Ananda stopped his alms-round quickly and went back to the
monastery. There, he informed the Enlightened One about
this development. The outcaste girl followed Ven. Ananda
to the monastery and lingered at the gate. The Buddha sent
word and asked her to come in.
The Buddha: Is it true that you keep following Ananda?
Prakirti: Yes, Sir. I follow him.
The Buddha: Why?
Prakirti: To make Ananda my husband.
The Buddha: Do your parents approve?
Prakirti: They approve.
The Buddha: That's not enough. Bring your parents here.
Prakirti rushed home and brought back her parents, saying
that the Buddha wanted to see them.
The Buddha: Your daughter says that she wants Ananda.
Do you approve that?
Parents: Yes, Sir. We approve it. Our daughter says she
cannot live without Ananda. She says she will kill herself
if she cannot have him.
The Buddha: All right. The two of you can go now,
leaving Prakirti here.
Prakirti's parents worshipped the Buddha, and left.
The Buddha: In the city of Savatthi there are all the young
men one wants. Why do you love only Ananda?
Prakirti: I like him very much. I love him a lot. My mind
got illuminated because of him. I learned to think freely
because of him. It was he who made me understand that
I am a being belonging to the human-kind. It was he who
convinced me that I, too, am entitled to all the privileges,
all the rights, and all the freedom that a human being
should have. He is the only person who taught me when
I had been discarded to the garbage heap, to the corner
and to the edge of society, beaten with the goad of caste,
like a stray dog, that I too belong in the human race.
Therefore, he is my light. He is my new life. I just cannot
live without him. The sight of him is a treat to my eyes.
His sweet voice is delightful to my ears. His subdued way
of looking at me, and his compassionate words are deeply
etched in my heart. I must have him.
The Buddha: All right. I will give you Ananda. But you
must do what I ask you to do.
Prakirti: I will do whatever you ask me, if you give me
The Buddha: If you need Ananda, you too must wear
what he does. Ananda's head is shaven. You must have
your head shaven. Ananda is clad in yellow robes. You
too must be clad in yellow robes. If you do these things
you will be able to get Ananda.
Prakirti: All right, I will go home and come back just as
Prakirti rushes home and tells her mother the whole story.
The mother blames her. Prakirti cries. She stops taking her
Mother: My daughter, have you gone mad? Are you
trying to fast unto death?
Prakirti: O my dear mother! Please shave my head. If you
do not, I will die.
Mother: You foolish girl, don't you know that a woman's
greatest beauty feature is her hair? How ugly does a
woman become when her hair is shaven! Are you blind?
Is there anything else that will make a woman ugly?
When your comely head of hair is cut off, and when
your head is shaven, how ugly you will become! There is
hardly any other maiden as beautiful as you in the whole
city of Savatthi. I will find you a good noble youth. Don't
be in a hurry Be patient for a little while. Besides, what
is beautiful in a woman whose head is devoid of hair?
Don't be mad!
Prakirti: I do not need any other person. I want only
Ananda. To me he is very handsome. His face gleams
like gold. I like very much the way he looks, his sweet
voice, his subdued gait. I do not want any other person
on earth, but him.
Mother: All right. Now, eat your food!
Prakirti: I will not eat until my head is shaven.
Prakirti refuses to eat for several days. Her mother is fright-
ened lest she will starve to death. At last, her mother shaves
Mother: Now you look like a nun. You will invariably
get deceived by those monks. This is a trick of Ananda's
Teacher. No one lured by Him comes back home. He has
powers of hypnotism.
Prakirti: It does not matter. I do not mind anything as
long as I get Ananda. It does not matter to me if I have to
beg in the street with him. Mother, I am going to Jetavana
Mother: All right, you go along - but, just see what is
going to happen to you.
Prakirti: It does not really matter what happens to me as
long as I get Ananda.
Shaven-head Prakirti goes to Jetavana Monastery clad in
yellow robes. She worshipped the Buddha and stood to one
side. Hundreds of monks, including Ven. Ananda, are seated
around the Buddha.
Prakirti: O Blessed One! I acted exactly as you instructed.
Now, please give Ananda to me.
The Buddha: Yes, you are now fit to receive Ananda. Before
I give him to you, I have to put some questions to you.
Prakirti: Please go ahead.
The Buddha: What feature of Ananda do you love? His
appearance? His face? His eyes? His way of speaking?
His gait - what?
Prakirti: To me, Ananda's face is comely. His nose is
beautiful. His eyes are lovely. His ears are attractive. His
voice is very sweet. His ideas are quite just. His total
appearance is quite alluring. This way, I love all his
The Buddha: You consider Ananda's body to be beautiful.
But, if his skin is bruised he bleeds. If it is not treated
it gets swollen. It begins to ache. Pus will ooze out.
What you describe as beautiful is the complexion you
see, which is limited to the skin on the surface. This
way, beauty or attractiveness is only the view of various
people about the appearance of an individual's skin. If
we were to strip off the skin of any individual, no one
would even want to look at that person. If what is inside
the body is turned outside, one would have to take a
cudgel to prevent the dogs and crows from attacking.
This body is not made of pearls or gold or silver - nor of
gems or corals. It is made up of bones, skin, veins, flesh,
blood, spittle, excrement, etc. The body is worthless the
moment you look at it. When you consider its nature it is
repulsive. People who are not wise think of it as "good".
It is as impermanent as froth and bubble, as temporary
as a flash of lightning, as illusory as magic, or as a
figure seen in a dream. The body is ephemeral, uncertain,
false. It is like a vessel full of waste-matter. The body
is like a disease. One becomes one's own enemy. If a
person were to forgo meals for one day, if one were
not to bathe for one day, if one were not to brush one's
teeth for one day, one would tend to find one's own self
repulsive. All forms of repulsive things ooze out of the
body. The body is a repository of diseases, of sorrows,
of fears, of disasters. There is no knowing whether one
will die today or tomorrow. One's own bodily waste is
repulsive to one's own self. The body is the store-house
of repulsiveness. One cannot take along this body. It
cannot be given to anyone. One cannot even think about
it. The skeleton has 300 bones, not to mention the teeth.
These bones are joined together in 180 places. The body
is bound together with 900 veins. Nine-hundred lumps
of flesh have been pasted on to it. The total skeleton is
covered up with a skin so that what is inside cannot
be seen. That skin is polished with a slightly gleaming
tissue. This body has millions of minute pores. Waste
matter oozes out of this body like fat from a grease-pot.
It is the dwelling place of millions of worms. It is a place
where weeping, mourning and lamentation take shelter.
It is like a vessel of waste matter with nine openings -
unclean sweat and perspiration ooze out of 99 pores.
Once the life-breath leaves this body, people are
frightened even to touch it. In a couple of days it becomes
a putrid dead body with waste matter oozing out of
it. There is only very little difference between love of
one dead body and the love of another dead body. Love
springs entirely because of craving. Where there is no
craving there is no affection. Where there is affection
there is sorrow, too. From the day you started loving
Ananda until now, you experienced sorrow, weeping,
lamentation, agony, sleeplessness, starving, exhaustion,
emaciation and fatigue. None of this is happiness.
You must consider now, with your wisdom, whether
Ananda's body is an entity that should be loved.
Prakirti: O my Enlightened One, I acquired a sense of
reality from your Sermon. I understood the reality of the
body from what you preached. My mind experienced a
great sense of relief from what you said. I understood
clearly all the things you said.
The Buddha: Is that right? If that is so I will fulfil my
promise to give you Ananda. You can now go with Ananda.
Prakirti: O Enlightened One, I do not need Ven. Ananda
now. Your Words cured me of my mental derangement -
my madness. I am not a woman who will stoop to that
kind of folly now. All such defilements as passion have
now left my mind. Please take pity on me and allow me
to enter the order of nuns.
The Buddha: Yes, my Dispensation is like a great
ocean. The waters of such rivers as the Ganga, Yamuna,
Aciravati, Sindhu and Godhavari, all flow into the
ocean and merge their separate names in the one name
of ocean. In the same way, people of various levels
from various races, castes, lands, enter my Dispensation.
When they enter my Dispensation all those previous
differences disappear and they begin to live together
like the children of one father, assuming the name 'The
Brotherhood ,/ , belonging to one family. All those become
Buddha Putras (the Children of the Buddha) and Sakya
Putra (the Children of Sakya Sage). Therefore, there is no
obstacle to your entering the Bhikkhuni (Nun) Order.
Prakirti entered the Bhikkhuni Order and became an Arahant.
The news that the Buddha ordained an outcaste girl spread
throughout the city by word of mouth. Those of the warrior
clan, Brahmins, householders and aristocrats of the city of
Savatthi were shaken. They kept on asking how an outcaste
woman, when she became a nun, could enter the houses of
the high-born, how can the high-born approach her and how
can she receive alms from the high-born.
They informed King Kosala of this development. At this, King
Kosala and members of the high-born families of Savatthi saw
the Buddha and discussed this issue with Him. The Buddha
called Bhikkhuni Prakirti, Ven. Ananda and the disciples and,
in their presence and in the presence of King Kosala and the
aristocrats, asked whether they would like to know the story
of Prakirti's past birth. As they all wanted to know it the
Buddha revealed her past birth to them this way:
In the past, on the banks of the Ganga, there was an outcaste
chief called Trishanka. He had a comely son named Shardula
Kama who was deeply learned in the Three Vedas. When it was
the ripe age for him to marry, his father discussed with a learned
Brahmin called Pushkaar Shari about giving his daughter in
marriage to his son. This daughter was called Prakirti. The
Brahmin resented this proposal very much and refused to
give his daughter in marriage to the outcaste leader's son.
The outcaste leader tried to demonstrate the evil of observing
caste differences. He pointed out that whatever the differences,
humans are of the same race. The Brahmin Pushkari Shari
was quite pleased at the discourse of the outcaste leader Tris-
hanka, and at last consented to give his daughter Prakirti in
marriage to the outcaste leader's son.
The beautiful daughter Prakirti of the high-born Brahmin
Pushkari Shari is this Bhikkhuni Prakirti who is here now.
The son of the outcaste leader is Ven. Ananda. I, the Buddha,
am the outcaste leader Trishanka of that time. The assembled
leaders were amazed by the story. King Kosala and others
worshipped the Buddha and left.
(Divyavadana - Shiardula karnavadana)
Prince Ananda Becomes A Monk
On Friday, the Vesak full-moon day of the year 2478 in the
Kali Era - that is, exactly on the day Aspirant Buddha Prince
Siddhartha was born - the Chief Queen of King Amitodana,
brother of king Suddhodana, gave birth to a fortunate Prince.
He was named Ananda because his birth gave happiness to
all his relatives.
Prince Ananda grew up amidst near divine luxury, and came
of age. At that time the Aspirant Buddha, after His Great
Renunciation, had attained Supreme Buddhahood. After His
first visit to Kapilavatthu, during which He extended spiritual
assistance to His kinsmen, He left Kapilavatthu and arrived
at Anupiya Mango Grove of the Malla Kings.
On the day Prince Siddhartha displayed his prowess his clans-
men, numbering about 80,000, pledged that Prince Siddhartha
should have a retinue of the Warrior Clan, whether he became
Universal Monarch or Supreme Buddha. After he realized
Buddhahood many of those Warrior Princes did not become
monks. At this the great King Suddhodana assembled the
royal Princes once more, and said: "If my son remained a
householder he would have become a Universal Monarch.
Then you would have become his retinue. But now he is
the Supreme Buddha, He must have the same retinue as the
Buddha as he would have had if he had become Universal
Monarch. Therefore, your families must give a prince each."
When this was said, about 1,000 princes from well-known
families became monks. From some families none became
monks. When the rumour spread that the families who did
not have monks were not kinsmen of the Buddha, those fami-
lies too agreed to send a prince, each to become monks.
Under those circumstances, this Prince Ananda, along with
the five Warrior Princes Bhaddiya, Anuruddha, Bhagu, Kim-
bila and Devadatta, and the valet Upali, went over to Anu-
piya Mango Grove, and became monks. When Prince Ananda
was ordained, Elder Bellatthi Sisa became his mentor. Elder
Mantaniputta Punna, son of the Brahmin lady Mantani,
became his teacher. Soon after Ven. Ananda was ordained he
achieved Stream-Winner status by listening to a sermon by
his teacher, Elder Punna.
Venerable Ananda Becomes A Stream-Winner
When Ven. Ananda was a novice his teacher, Elder Mantani-
putta Punna preached him a sermon. Listening to his sermon
Ven. Ananda attained the status of Stream-Winner (Sotapatti).
Ven. Punna addressed Ven. Ananda: "O Ananda, what brings
about the egotism to say, 'I am'?" Ven. Ananda replied: 'The
egotism 'I am' occurs due to corporeality (rupa). It also
occurs due to sensation (vedana), perception (sanna), forma-
tion (sankhara), and due to consciousness (vinnana).
Elder Punna, continuing to preach to Ven. Ananda, said: "O
Ananda, a well-dressed man or woman, a young man or
young woman, views his or her reflection in the mirror. This
viewing is done due to corporeality (rupa). Therefore, the
pride, the egotism T am' occurs due to corporeality (rupa).
Similarly, the pride, egotism T am 7 can occur due to sensation
(vedana), perception (sanna) formation (sankhara), and due
to consciousness (vinnana). O Ananda, is corporeality (rupa)
permanent or impermanent? "
Ven. Ananda: Impermanent.
Ven. Punna: If an entity is impermanent is it pleasant or
Ven. Ananda: If something is impermanent, subject to
change, if it is sorrow-fraught, is it proper and good to
think This is mine/ This is 1/ and 'This is my soul/?
Ven. Punna: It is not proper and good to think like that.
Ven. Ananda: Are sensations (vedana), perceptions
(sanna), formations (sankhara), and consciousness
(vinnana) permanent or impermanent?
Ven. Punna: Impermanent.
Ven. Ananda: If something is impermanent it is sorrow-
fraught. If something is impermanent, sorrow-fraught,
subject to change, is it proper to think of such a thing
as T or 'mine'?
Ven. Punna: Not proper.
Ven. Ananda: In that case if you see a form, either
yours or someone else's, either young or beautiful
or otherwise, you must view these with a sense
of reality and wisdom, and must consider that they
are not mine, not permanent and are subject to
change. Then you become disillusioned with the Five
Aggregates - namely, corporeality (rupa), sensation
(vedana), perception (sanna), formations (sankhara),
and consciousness (vinnana). Once you are disillusioned
you will not cling to them. When you are liberated true
wisdom dawns. You achieve realization.
Listening to this discourse by Elder Mattaniputta Punna, Ven.
Ananda achieved the status of Stream-Winner.
(Samyutta Nikaya - Khandha Samyutta - Thera Vagga)
Venerable Ananda Becomes The Buddha's
Chief Personal Attendant
The Enlightened One was a great ascetic who discarded the
life of luxury, royal lifestyle and busy public life because of
his own personal experience of them. However that may be,
since his glory spread throughout the length and breadth of
the country with the speed of wind, the number of persons
who wanted to see Him, who desired to talk to Him, who
were keen to find solutions to profound problems and to listen
to His sermons, began to increase rapidly. Some travelled hun-
dreds and thousands of miles to see Him. There were visitors
from many countries and distant kingdoms.
The Enlightened One delighted in solitude. He had realized
its value through His personal experience. But, wherever He
went, crowds of devotees thronged to see Him. People from
all walks of life, ranging from ordinary poor people and peas-
ants to great kings, visited Him. Meeting them all at once
became a serious obstacle to His solitude. This made it neces-
sary to have some control over the visitors.
The Buddha never thought in terms of deploying the police
to restrain these crowds. It was the habit of the supremely
Enlightened One to receive all those who came to Him, with
no thought whatsoever of their status, and to talk to them in
the kindest possible words. But, as the Buddha advanced in
years, He needed the assistance of a person to receive these
visitors, and to help Him in His activities. He needed a com-
panion, an attendant, in other words, a valet. The Buddha
needed someone to attend on Him in His tours of villages,
market towns and cities, when He travelled hundreds of miles
on foot. In the first twenty years of His life as the Buddha,
Elders Nagasamala, Nagita, Upavana, Chunda Samanud-
desa, Sagata, Radha and Meghiya attended upon the Buddha
from time to time, performing such tasks as taking along the
Buddha's alms-bowl and robes. But they were not able to per-
form that service to the Buddha's fullest satisfaction.
On one occasion, when the Buddha was travelling along in
villages and market towns with Ven. Nagasamala, they came
to a two-way junction. The Buddha turned to the road along
which they should go. Nagasamala said, "I cannot go along
this path. I want to go along the other road." The Buddha said
that He was not keen to take that road. Then Nagasamala re-
sponded, "If that is so, you go along that road. I will take this
path." So saying, he placed the Buddha's alms-bowl and robes
at the center of the junction and went away. The Buddha had
to face this kind of difficulty on account of His attendants, on
One day, twenty years after He became the Buddha, He as-
sembled the monks together. He said to them, "O monks, I
have now reached old age. Those monks who attend upon me
go along a different path when I want to travel along a given
road. Some monks even place my alms-bowl and robes on the
ground and go away. Under these circumstances, I need a per-
manent attendant." All the assembled monks were shocked
and moved by the statement made by the Buddha.
Ven. Sariputta stood up at once, and said, "Sir, I will be
your attendant from this day on." The Buddha responded,
"Sariputta, I do not quite like you attending upon me. If you
are present somewhere, that area is not empty. Your advice is
quite similar to mine. Therefore, I do not need you to attend
Next, Ven. Moggallana stood up and volunteered to be the
Buddha's attendant. This way, many out of the eighty prom-
inent disciples volunteered with great vehemence to be the
Buddha's personal attendant. The Buddha set them all aside.
While this was going on, only Ven. Ananda did not stand up
to offer his services. Seeing this the monks addressed Ven.
Ananda. They said, "Ven. Ananda, all the monks requested to
be made the Buddha's personal attendant. Only you are silent.
Why don't you ask for that position? "
Ven. Ananda responded, "My venerable colleagues, there is
not much value in obtaining posts by begging for them. The
Buddha knows me well. If He likes me, the Buddha will tell
me Ananda, you must become my personal attendant '.
Eight Conditions Essential For The Buddha's
The whole assembly of monks requested Ven. Ananda to ask
for the position of the Buddha's personal attendant. But Ven.
Ananda remained silent. The Buddha, observing this situa-
tion, said: "O Monks, Ananda should not be persuaded by
others. He himself will make up his mind to become my per-
sonal attendant." Hearing this the other monks asked Ven.
Ananda to stand up and ask for the position of the Buddha's
personal attendant. Ven. Ananda stood up and said:
"O Sir, I will become your personal attendant if the
Blessed One recognizes the four factors I dislike and the
four factors I like."
The Buddha: "What are the four things you dislike?"
Ven. Ananda: "Sir, you must not give me the good robes
offered to you. You must not give me the delicious choice
foods offered to you. You must not make me reside in
your Fragrant Chamber. You must not take me along to
alms-givings to which you are invited."
The Buddha: "All right. Those are the things you dislike.
Now, what are the things you like?"
Ven. Ananda: "You must attend the alms-givings to
which I have accepted invitations. You must allow me
to escort to you those people who come from various
countries to see you. I must have permission to come and
talk to you anytime I have some doubt. You must tell me
exactly all the Sermons, Discourses and discussions you
have had when I was not present. You must describe to
me all the incidents that took place during my absence."
The Buddha: "Why do you dislike the four things you
Ven. Ananda: Sir, if I lived in the same Fragrant Chamber
with you, partaking of the delicious choice foods you are
offered, using valuable robes and other requisites offered
to you, and responding to invitations sent to you, while
attending upon you, others will begin to say 'Who will
not be able to attend upon the Buddha, if such advantages
can be enjoyed? ' I do not brook such fault findings."
The Buddha: "All right. You said that you liked four
things. With what advantage in mind did you ask for
those four things?"
Ven. Ananda: "Sir, if a devotee who cannot meet you
were to meet me and invite me to come to their house
for alms with the Buddha, I must have the privilege to
take you along there. If that cannot be done it is not in
keeping with my position as your attendant. I must have
the privilege of bringing to you those who come to see
you. If I have a doubt about the Doctrine, about an issue
or about an incident, I must have direct access to you to
get that doubt dispelled. If I do not have that privilege it
is not in keeping with my position. People ask me where
or for whom such and such a Stanza, such and such a
Discourse or such and such a birth tale was preached
by the Buddha. If I cannot answer such a question it
is demeaning for me. Therefore, you must tell me the
Discourses you had when I was not with you.
The Buddha: 'The conditions you stipulated are just. I
will very gladly grant you those. I will appoint you to the
position of my permanent attendant from this day."
Ven. Ananda accepted that high position with great pleasure.
The whole assembly of monks was highly pleased that the
person who was really suitable for the position received it.
The attitude of Ven. Ananda teaches an outstanding moral
lesson both to those who receive various positions, and also
to those who give various positions. In spite of the fact that
Ven. Ananda had all the qualifications for the position, he did
not ask for it, because any position you ask for and get is not
of much value. Asking for it is, by itself, a major disqualifica-
tion. It is the primary duty of those leaders, rulers and author-
ities who appoint people, to give such positions only to those
who really deserve them. Appointing people to positions for
which they are not qualified brings about the deterioration
of society. Besides, giving such appointments is an unpardon-
As a leader and an administrator, of his eighty main disciples,
the Buddha would appoint monks to various positions only in
terms of their efficiency in certain areas. He never appointed
monks to these positions just by looking at their faces. (Na
bhikkhave, mukham oloketva dammi.) Giving a position to
the individual who deserved it - to the person who had the
ability - was a policy the Buddha implemented 2,500 years
ago. This is now being esteemed by the moderns.
Ven. Ananda, who received those eight privileges, was not only
the Buddha's personal attendant, he was also the Buddha's pri-
vate secretary. Like an expert writer Ven. Ananda recorded
in his mind as in a note-book the Sermons and Discourses of
the Buddha, His discussions and dialogues, questions asked
of Him and replies given by Him, and also the events and in-
cidents that took place. He kept all those in mind. He memo-
rized them thoroughly.
All these Suttas (Discourses - Sermons) - introduced by the
phrase "Evam me sutam" ('Thus have I heard") - are from
Ven. Ananda's memory. He had asked the Buddha about them,
and kept them in his mind. Although he did not put pen
to paper, the totality of the Three Baskets (Tipitaka) is Ven.
Ananda's work. This is a great treasure endowed upon the
world by Ven. Ananda.
The highest limit that a human brain can contain, the max-
imum a human memory can retain, is exemplified by Ven.
Ananda's memorization of the Tipitaka (The Three Baskets).
In a way this is a record of human heroism. No one else, other
than Ven. Ananda, has performed this kind of feat in human
He set a human record as the Chief Attendant to the Enlight-
ened One. That is, the rejection of all the glory praise, ad-
vantages and privileges due to him for holding that position.
This is a quality that is very rarely seen in a human being.
Venerable Ananda Functions As The
Ven. Ananda had performed the duties of the Buddha's attend-
ant sporadically. But after he was officially appointed as the
permanent personal attendant of the Buddha, he performed
his duties to the letter. He performed all the duties of this
position which he had aspired to, over a long period of time.
When the Buddha needed cold water he offered it to Him.
When the Buddha needed warm water he would offer Him
that too. He kept the Buddha's Fragrant Chamber scrupu-
lously clean - morning and night. He never left room for the
Buddha to say I need such and such things. He did not allow
the Buddha to summon him by his name, Ananda, twice. He
would come immediately when he called. He acted with a
perfect awareness of the Buddha's feelings, his activities and
Daily, both day and night, people of various calibre called
upon the Buddha. Among this steady stream of callers
were kings, guild-leaders, ministers, courtiers, Brahmins well-
versed in the Three Vedas, ascetics of various types, queens,
princesses, poor people, way-farers, opponents and disciples
of the Buddha. Most of them had not met the Buddha before.
Ven. Ananda performed the duty of having the various call-
ers meet the Buddha in such a manner that the visitors would
not be disappointed, and the Buddha would not be exhausted.
He performed these duties in the best possible way.
There is no knowing whether he adopted the "first come -
first served" principle or some other system. But most visi-
tors thought meeting Ven. Ananda was itself a blessing, even
if they could not meet the Buddha. Most people were happy
just to see Ven. Ananda. He safeguarded the Buddha's lei-
sure while winning the good-will of the visitors. Throughout
the night he walked nine times around the Fragrant Cham-
ber with a lighted torch in hand, and protected the Buddha
as a dedicated, strong and sincere sentinel. Human history
does not record such a dedicated service accorded, such an
amazingly sincere protection given by one man to another,
by a servant to the master, or by a pupil to the teacher. Ven.
Ananda never, even for a moment, attempted to exploit the
Buddha's greatness. He never tried to arrogate to himself the
greatness of the Enlightened One. To those "little" men who
associate with great men closely and remain always by their
side, Ven. Ananda's humility, honesty and loyalty to his supe-
rior are a great moral lesson.
Venerable Ananda Becomes The Greatest
In Five Areas
O monks, of all my disciples, the greatest in terms of versatil-
ity is Ven. Ananda. Ven. Ananda is the greatest among those
with high memory power, greatest in wise behavior, greatest
among the energetic and greatest among committed attend-
ants. Etadaggam bhikkhave mama savakanam bhikkhunam
bahussutanam yadidam Anando, satimantanam yadidam
Anando, gatimantanam yadidam Anando, dhitimantanam
yadidam Anando, upatthakanam yadidam Anando.
One day, a Brahmin named Gopaka Moggallana came to
Ven. Ananda and spoke to him thus: "O Ven. Ananda, the
long-lived one, you are well-known as a versatile person in
the Order of the Buddha. To achieve that status, what is the
quantity of Dhamma preached to you by the Buddha? How
much Dhamma have you preached? "
Responding to him, Ven. Ananda said: "Dvasiti Buddhato
ganhim dve sahassani bhikkhuto caturasiti sahassani ye
me Dhamma pavattino."
"O Brahmin, I have learnt eighty-two thousand forms of
Dhamma from the Buddha. And, from such Venerables as
Sariputta I have learnt two thousand forms of Dhamma.
All together I have studied eighty-four thousand forms of
Of the two thousand forms studied through the Discourses
delivered by the Buddha's disciples, Sariputta Sutta, three
Ananda Suttas, Samadhi Asama, subha Bahitika, Sekha,
Atthakanagara, Gopaka Moggallana, Annatitthi, Bhumija
Nidhana, Bhaddaji, Nigantha and other suttas, and several
variations of Dasadhamma and other Suttas, and Ananda
Sthavirapadana were all preached by Ven. Ananda himself.
This way, from the position of Dhamma treasurer, he studied,
memorized and preached the Dhamma, he was designated the
foremost among the versatiles. How is it that Ven. Ananda was
pronounced the most outstanding in the power of memory?
There are other monks whose memory is distinguished. But
they cannot be compared to Ven. Ananda.
He, Ven. Ananda, bears in his mind the words of the Buddha
for ever, just as lion-oil poured into a vessel of gold. Herein,
his capacity to retain the Dhamma in memory is far greater
than that of other disciples. There is a reason for this memory
Ven, Ananda possessed a potentiality acquired in past births.
He made his knowledge perfectly clear by studying, by listen-
ing and by questioning in association with his teachers. He
had attained the stream-winner (sotapanna) status in spirit-
ual achievement. He had obtained much learning through lis-
tening to the Dhamma. Because of these four efficiencies, Ven.
Ananda was capable of understanding teachings with tremen-
dous articulation in the four ways - namely - the realization
of the significance of the Dhamma in depth, realization of the
doctrinal in depth, acquiring the method of discoursing in
depth and the achievement of comprehensive in-depth aware-
Ven. Ananda was adorned with seven types of qualities -
namely, introductory awareness, higher understanding, previ-
ous potentialities, capacity to analyze what is right and wrong,
establishment in the foundations of Dhamma, proper consid-
eration, and all were acquired through his close association
with the Buddha.
Because of these seven qualities, the mind-body phenomena
became clear to him, just as such pieces of furniture as beds
and chairs become clearly visible when a lamp is lit in a four-
cubit room. This way, Ven. Ananda was pronounced the high-
est among the disciples in mindfulness.
How did Ven. Ananda become the greatest among the disci-
ples in the wisdom asset? There are other disciples who pos-
sess the wisdom asset. But none of those is comparable to Ven.
Ananda, who could memorize, while remaining in one pos-
ture, sixty thousand lines, or in other words fifteen-thousand
stanzas. This way, he retained the doctrine exactly as it was
expounded by the Buddha. This explains why he was pro-
nounced the higher among the disciples possessing the wis-
dom-asset. How did Ven. Ananda possess the virile diligence
to study, practise and memorize the word of the Buddha? Ven.
Ananda was pronounced the greatest among the disciples in
How did Ven. Ananda become the greatest among attendant
disciples? There were other attendant disciples. But the other
attendant disciples did not render that service to the satisfac-
tion of the Buddha. That is why there were no attendant disci-
ples comparable to Ven. Ananda. As attendant, Ven. Ananda
did not serve the Buddha like other attendant disciples such
as Ven. Nagasamala. Besides, other attendant disciples did
not serve as long as Ven. Ananda. They failed to win the mind
of the Buddha just as Ven. Ananda did. But Ven. Ananda at-
tended upon the Buddha, since he was appointed to that po-
sition, with unflagging effort, with affection, with obedience
and with devotion, entirely to the satisfaction of the Buddha.
When Nalagiri the Elephant approached the Buddha to de-
stroy him, Ven. Ananda, desiring to sacrifice his own life,
stood in front of the Buddha saying "I will save my Blessed
immortal Buddha/ 7 This was why he was pronounced the
greatest among attendant disciples.
(Savaka Carita - Manotathapurani - Etadegga Pali)
The Monk Who Had A Great Appeal To Ladies
There was no other monk in the whole of the Buddha's Order
who had such a great appeal to ladies as Ven. Ananda. He
was a Warrior Prince. His physical appearance was comely
and outstanding. His voice was appealing in the extreme. He
had a pleasant personality, a quality of humility. He was quite
kind. Because of all these qualities, ladies liked very much to
see him and to talk to him. They were happy with him. Chief
consorts of kings, ladies of harems and nuns were happy to
listen to his sermons.
Ven. Ananda became an Arahant only after the demise of the
Enlightened One. Ven. Ananda, who was in the Stream-Win-
ner stage, did not have any passionate thoughts at any time,
any day, any moment. Many women may have loved Ven.
Ananda. Many nuns would have loved him. But Ven. Ananda
never reciprocated the love, the affection they had. He never
generated even an iota of passionate thought in response to
This is a very strange situation for a human mind that was
not devoid of attachment but was disciplined. It is a miracle.
Ven. Ananda, who was a royal Prince, never forgot the status
of his clan, the position of his Master, his own office, and the
state of the most noble Person to whom he was companion.
He never allowed his greatness to be blemished because of
a woman. He never allowed his monkhood to be sullied be-
cause of a woman. He had accepted the fact that monkhood
was a hundred times - nay - a thousand times greater than a
The Two Chief Queens Of King Kosala Learn
The Doctrine From Venerable Ananda
It was Ven. Ananda who instructed the two chief queens of
king Kosala - Queen Mallika and Queen Vasabhakhattiya
- in the Dhamma. The author of Saddharmaratanavah de-
scribes this situation in the following manner.
King Kosala went to the Buddha and said:
"Sir, Queen Mallika and Vasabhakhattiya are keen to
learn the Dhamma. Please visit the palace with 500
monks and teach them the Dhamma."
The Buddha replied:
"O, Great King, the Buddha does not visit one place
always. That would prevent the masses acquiring merit."
"If that is so, please assign one monk," the King said.
The Buddha assigned Ven. Ananda. Ven. Ananda visited the
palace alone and taught Dhamma. Of these two, Queen Mallika
learned the Dhamma well. She studied it and repeated it later.
Vasabhakhattiya did not learn well. She did not study. She
was unable to repeat what was taught.
One day, the Buddha asked Ven. Ananda:
"How, Ananda, do the Queens study Dhamma?"
"Yes, Sir," he replied.
"Of these two, who studies with concentration of mind?"
"Sir, Mallika studies with concentration. Her method of
study and her style of repeating what was learned are
both satisfactory. Vasabhakhattiya, the daughter of your
kinsman, does not learn well. The way she studies and
repeats is unsatisfactory."
Ladies Of The Harem Of King Udeni Request
Venerable Ananda To Preach To Them
The five hundred queens of King Kosala went to the mon-
astery daily but were not able to listen to the Sermon. The
queens saw the king and said: "O Lord, you go to see the
Buddha three times a day, and listen to Sermons. Ladies, like
Visakha too, visit the monastery and acquire merit. But we of
your harem cannot acquire merit by listening to the Dhamma.
After long aeons the Buddha has appeared among us. He lives
in our city like a wish-fulfilling tree that has sprung up in
front of the house of a poor person. But we are like those
suffering thirst in the middle of the sea. We are like birds
who cannot escape even after reaching the sky. We are like
those who cannot get help even on earth. We are very unfor-
tunate. We are like birds in a cage. We are like those who
suffer greatly, unable to reach the path to merit by travelling
"As we cannot hear the Sermons preached by the Buddha in
His sweet voice we are like those without ears. As we cannot
see at least one of the Three Gems each day, we are like those
without eyes. As we have no opportunities to learn at least
one virtue of the Buddha, we are like those devoid of life.
As we cannot derive any delight through the Dhamma we
are like those without minds. As we cannot walk to see the
Buddha, we are like those without feet. As we cannot see
Him and worship Him everyday, we are like those without
bodies. As we cannot offer what we like after listening to the
Dhamma, we are like those without money though we have
wealth. Although you have given us all this affluence, as we
cannot acquire merit, it is like suffering in the woeful state.
O Lord, if you like us especially, please take us to the monas-
tery each day when you go to the monastery to listen to the
Sermons. If it is not possible, make an arrangement for us to
listen to the Dhamma everyday."
The king replied: "Going to the monastery every day with
ladies is awkward. I will make an arrangement for you to
listen to the Dhamma." He pacified the ladies that way and
tried to find out who was capable of preaching sermons most
effectively in the whole city.
One day, he heard from the Buddha Himself that a male lay-
devotee by the name of Chattapani who was a non-retumer
(anagami), was greatly advanced spiritually. The king sum-
moned him to the palace and said that the Buddha told him
about his virtuous ways. "The Buddha said that you were
very much learned in the Dhamma. He also said that you are
a great exponent of the Dhamma. Could you please preach
the Dhamma to my harem from today?"
Chattapani replied this way: "O Lord, preaching Dhamma to
the harem is not proper for us laymen who wear white clothes.
It is fit only for robed monks. Ladies do not love laymen. They
are frightened of virtuous persons. Therefore, please request
the Buddha to send a great elder to preach Dhamma. This
way it will be useful both to those who preach and to those
who listen. Besides, when the Dhamma is learned from those
virtuous persons the results are very good." Convincing the
king that way he escaped the responsibility. The king was con-
vinced that it was the proper thing to do. He told the queens:
"I am going to see the Buddha to request Him to assign a great
elder to preach the Dhamma to you. Who is the Elder you
"Ven. Ananda is the most blessed person in the Buddhist
Order. All men and women hold him in high affection. Be-
sides, his voice is sweet. Therefore, as women are fond of
sweet voices, without any other suggestion, we would like to
listen to the Dhamma from Ven. Ananda himself/ 7
Venerable Ananda Preaches To The Queens
In The Harem
Hearing this, the King worshipped the Buddha and said: "Sir,
please visit my palace with five hundred monks, without an
interruption. Five hundred women, including Samawathie,
wish to listen to sermons/ 7
Then the Supreme Buddha replied: "O, Great King, Enlight-
ened Buddhas are compassionate towards all. Even the masses
desire to see the Buddha Himself. Therefore, if we were to visit
one place without interruption, how could the masses acquire
At this, the King said: "If that is so, please assign one monk to
preach to Samawathie and 500 ladies/ 7
Hearing this, the Buddha summoned Ven. Ananda and said:
"Ananda, from now on you must preach to King Udeni's
harem/ 7 The Buddha thus arranged for Ven. Ananda to preach
to them. Ven. Ananda, with a retinue of 500 monks, visited the
palace and preached constantly. The 500 ladies would offer
alms to 500 monks and would listen only to Ven. Ananda.
One day, exceedingly pleased at the sermon preached by Ven.
Ananda, these five hundred ladies offered him 500 shawls.
Ladies Of The Harem Get Sons Who Resemble
The king visited the Buddha at Jetavanarama and said: "O
Sir, the ladies of my harem desire to listen to the Dhamma
from Ven. Ananda himself. Please assign him to preach the
Dhamma to the harem." Seeing that the king hesitated even
about trivial matters the Buddha told him: "O great king, you
can be turned in any direction like a round plate or a stake
planted in the mud. Ven. Ananda has achieved Sotapatti
(Stream- Winner) status. Knowing that you yourself must be
circumspect Ven. Ananda is quite suitable to preach to your
harem. You yourself must be aware/
Preparing the king that way, He called in Ven. Ananda.
"Ananda, visit the harem of King Kosala daily and preach the
From that day on Ven. Ananda visited the harem and, preach-
ing the Dhamma to the ladies, made it possible for them to ac-
cumulate much merit. When this Dhamma preaching contin-
ued for some time those ladies became passionately engrossed
in the Dhamma preaching voice of Ven. Ananda, like she-
elephants attracted by the mantram that charms them, and
like heavenly maidens exceedingly attached to the Chitralata
Pleasure Park. They gave birth to five hundred sons whose
limbs were exactly like those of Ven. Ananda.
The queens, because of the passion they conceived for the
voice of Ven. Ananda, gave birth to five hundred sons, exactly
like Ven. Ananda. When that happened many people went to
the king and said: 'The sons given birth to by your queens
do not resemble you. They look like Ven. Ananda/ 7 This way
those of different faiths tried to make the king ashamed.
The king too had suspicions. He went to the Buddha and in-
formed Him of this. The Buddha said: "Didn't I tell you at the
beginning itself of your own status?" By explaining what is
mentioned in the code of discipline the Buddha dispelled the
king's doubts. The king, understanding the Ven. Elder, wor-
shipped him and put the five hundred princes in Ven. Anan-
da's charge, saying: "That is the atonement for my suspicion
about you." Those five hundred princes grew up and were or-
dained by Ven. Ananda. They eventually became Arahants.
On one occasion about a thousand silk shawls worth thou-
sands were presented to the king from the state of Kasi.
Seeing these the king was pleased. He presented five hundred
of these to the five hundred queens. They happily presented
all five hundred shawls to Ven. Ananda, after listening to his
sermon that day, and went to the place where the king had
his meals, wearing old clothes. The king asked them: "Why
have you worn old clothes without wearing the new ones I
gave you yesterday?"
"O Sir, we listened to the sermon preached by Ven. Ananda
and offered all those shawls to him as a Dhamma gift." The
king was astonished. He asked: "Did Ven. Ananda himself
take all those five hundred shawls?" "Yes, he did," the ladies
"When he has received so many shawls, undoubtedly he has
started a trade in shawls. It is not proper for monks to re-
ceive many offerings." He resented the action of Ven. Ananda.
At the end of his meal, even before the water on his hands
dried up, he rushed to the monastery and, before seeing the
Buddha, he entered into the assembly hall of monks and wor-
shipped Ven. Ananda. Standing at a respectable distance the
king asked him:
The king: "O Sir, do queens of my palace learn the
Dhamma from you? Do they ask you questions?"
Ven. Ananda: "O great king, they learn what has to be
learnt. They ask what has to be asked."
The king: "O Venerable Sir, do they enquire after your
well-being? Do they offer you robes and cloths? "
Ven. Ananda: "Last evening after listening to the
Dhamma they offered me five hundred shawls."
The king: "Did you accept all of them?"
Ven. Ananda: "Yes, O great king, I accepted."
The king: "The Buddha has approved only three robes
for one monk. Why did you accept the additional
Ven. Ananda: "O great king, the Buddha has approved
three robes for each monk for personal use. But He has
not prevented anyone from accepting any quantity of
offerings. Some monks receive excess offerings according
to the pleasure of those who offer, and according to the
merit of those who receive. Forest-dwelling Monk Tissa,
when he was a child of seven, received about a thousand
alms bowls of milk-rice in one day. The Elder gave those
thousand alms bowls of milk-rice to a thousand monks.
The same Elder received a thousand carpets in one day.
Those too he gave to a thousand monks. In the same way,
I accepted those five hundred shawls and offered them to
five hundred monks whose robes were thread-bare."
The king: "When they receive the new robes what do
they do with worn robes?"
Ven. Ananda: "O great king, they patch up the old robes
and make them robes for covering themselves with."
The king: "What do they do with the old robes they use
for covering themselves with, when they are worn out?"
Ven. Ananda: "They cut away worn places, take the
unworn places, and use them as under-robes."
The king: "What do they do with old under-robes?"
Ven. Ananda: "O great king, they use them for bed
The king: "What do they do with their old bed sheets?"
Ven. Ananda: "They spread them on the floor."
The king: "What do they do to the old floor cloths?"
Ven. Ananda: "They make foot cloths out of them."
The king: "What do they do with old foot cloths?"
Ven. Ananda: "O great king, it is not proper to throw
away what has been offered by devotees. Therefore, those
worn out foot cloths are cut up into bits and pieces, mixed
with clay and are used them to make walls of residences
that belong to the brotherhood."
The king became exceedingly happy with Ven. Ananda. He
became extremely pleased with the Buddha's Dispensation.
"O Sir, I learnt from you that what is offered to you does not
get wasted even after it has been used as foot cloths. This way
great merit accrues to those people who make offerings to the
Buddha's Dispensation." The king extolled the virtues of Ven.
Ananda. I will compensate for suspecting such a noble person
like you." Seated there, he sent word to the palace and had
the remaining five hundred shawls sent as well. He offered
them, too, to Ven. Ananda.
This way, Ven. Ananda is the greatest among those who get of-
ferings of robes in the Dispensation of the Buddha. This way,
he received on five hundred occasions, five hundred offerings
of robes. Other offerings he received were numerous. All the
offerings received by the disciples were offerings received by
the Buddha Himself. When soldiers win a battle the king is
said to have won. When a field produces paddy, such and
such a farmer is said to have produced paddy. In the same way
the Buddha gets the credit for the achievements of disciples.
A Bhikkhuni Resents Venerable Maha Kassapa
Advising Venerable Ananda
Ven. Maha Kassapa resided at one time at Kalandaka Nivapa
in Veluvana at Rajagaha. At this time Ven. Ananda was so-
journing in Dakkhina Giri Region with a large retinue of
monks. Of these about thirty monks gave up robes. Ven.
Ananda had an audience with Ven. Maha Kassapa, wor-
shipped him and informed him about this incident.
Hearing this, Ven. Maha Kassapa said: "Ven. Ananda, why
did you go on a sojourn with those newly ordained undisci-
plined young monks? I feel that you too behave like a novice,
without any consideration for your status." Ven. Ananda re-
sponded: "Ven. Maha Kassapa, even my hair has turned grey
now. But you say that I am like a child." At this, Ven. Maha
Kassapa said: "Ven. Ananda, when you travel with newly or-
dained young monks who are devoid of restraint or discipline,
it is like the destruction of grains. It amounts to the destruc-
tion of families of devotees. When you travel along with such
people, devotees get disillusioned."
The story that Ven. Maha Kassapa told Ven. Ananda that he
was like a novice - a child - came to the ears of a nun called
Thullananda. She resented this statement and said: "Who is
this Ven. Maha Kassapa? He is a person who lived with mis-
believers. Later on he came to the Buddha and was ordained.
Is it proper for such a person to talk that way to Vedeha Muni
Ven. Maha Kassapa heard the statement made by Nun Thul-
lananda. Hearing it, Ven. Maha Kassapa addressed Ven.
Ananda: "Consider this, Ven. Ananda. Just see what Thul-
lananda has said. She has said that I was once a follower of
non-believers. If I became ordained some day it was entirely
because of the Buddha - and not because of any other teacher.
I do not know of any other religious teacher than the Buddha.
Thullananda has made this statement in a spirit of malice. I
became a monk entirely disillusioned with lay-life. And be-
cause I was convinced of the virtues of being a monk. I gave
up silk apparel, Kasi shawls. I was on my way to see the
Buddha in yellow robes. On my way I saw the Buddha at
Bahuputtaka monastery, between the cities of Rajagaha and
Nalanda. I went near Him, going down on my knees I wor-
shipped Him, saying: 'This is my Teacher, I became a monk
because of you." The Buddha accepted me and preached the
Dhamma to me. Within seven days I attained Sainthood.
On another occasion I heard that the Buddha was seated
under a tree. I went there and folded my silk robe four-fold,
and made Him a seat to sit on. The Buddha sat on it and
touched it with his hand and said that the robe was very
smooth. When he said that I offered that robe to Him. I clad
myself in the thread-bare hemp robe the Buddha was wear-
ing. Therefore, if someone has to be described as the Buddha's
true son, as the person born of His mouth, as the individual
who has been completely fashioned by His Dhamma, as the
person who is born out of His Dhamma, as the person who
accepted the worn-out, thread-bare robe discarded by the
Buddha, it is I who should be described that way.
Ven. Ananda, I have acquired the highest fruits of spirituality
through the elimination of defilements in this birth itself,
through my own effort and through my own higher wisdom.
If someone were to consider that my six-fold higher powers
could be concealed, that person is like an individual who
feels that an elephant who is either seven-and-a-half cubits or
seven cubits tall could be covered with a palm-leaf "
Nun Thullananda repented her unrestrained words and gave
up robes of her own choice.
Nuns Care More For Venerable Ananda Than For
Venerable Maha Kassapa
On one occasion when Ven. Maha Kassapa was residing
at Jetavanarama in the city of Savatthi, Ven. Ananda ap-
proached him and suggested: "Ven. Sir, shall we go over to the
monastery of nuns and preach them Dhamma?" Ven. Maha
Kassapa said: "You are a busy person. Why don't you go your-
self?" Ven. Ananda insisted several times, and on that insist-
ence he agreed to the suggestion. He visited the monastery
of nuns with Ven. Ananda following him and preached the
Dhamma to them.
The nuns who listened were exceedingly pleased. But one of
the nuns - Thullatissa - said with displeasure: "It looks as if
a forest-dwelling, shroud-clad monk is trying to be an expo-
nent of the Dhamma in the presence of Ven. Ananda, who is
well-versed in the Tipitaka (The Three Baskets) and is also the
Treasurer of the Dhamma. Ven. Maha Kassapa, preaching the
Dhamma in the presence of Ven. Ananda, is similar to selling
needles in the presence of a needle-maker."
Hearing this, Ven. Maha Kassapa observed: "Ven. Ananda, if
that were so you are the needle-maker and I am the needle-
seller." Ven. Ananda responded: "Ven. Sir, women are foolish
(balo matugamo). Please do not take that statement seriously."
Ven. Maha Kassapa said: "Ven. Ananda, please take care that
the monks will not begin to have suspicions about nuns in
the future/ 7 (Agamehi tarn avuso Ananda ma te sangho ut-
"Ven. Ananda, I can dwell as long as I like, absorbed in the
first stage of trance, savouring the bliss and ease arising out
of the sense of freedom, mixed with thought-conception and
discursive thinking. Has the Buddha said in the presence of
the assembly of monks that Ananda too is capable of achiev-
ing this?" Ven. Ananda responds saying: "No, he has not."
Ven. Maha Kassapa said: "But, Ven. Ananda, the Buddha has
declared in the presence of the assembly of monks that if I
can remain absorbed in the First Stage of Trance savouring
the bliss and ease arising out of the sense of freedom, mixed
with thought-conception and discursive thinking, Ven. Maha
Kassapa too can remain absorbed as long. Ven. Ananda, has
the Buddha declared that, 'O Monks, I have, for all practical
purposes, achieved the trance and the deep wisdom of saint-
hood, and that Ven. Ananda, too, has achieved that status/?"
Responded Ven. Ananda: "No, Sir." On that, Ven. Maha Kas-
sapa said: "But the Buddha declared in the presence of the
assembly of monks that just as I have, for all practical pur-
poses, achieved the trance and the deep wisdom of sainthood,
Maha Kassapa too has achieved it." "Therefore, Ven. Ananda,
if someone were to think that he or she could hide my six
higher powers (Chalabinna) it is like the attempt to hide
under a palm-leaf an elephant who is either seven cubits or
seven-and-a-half cubits tall.
Nun Thullatissa, repenting her undisciplined use of words,
left the robes of her own choice.
Venerable Ananda's Mishap At The Palace
At the request of King Kosala the Buddha assigned Ven.
Ananda to preach the Dhamma to the women of the harem.
In terms of this Ven. Ananda visited the palace from time to
time. One day, when Ven. Ananda visited the palace, the King
and Queen Mallika were in one bed. Seeing Ven. Ananda
approaching at a distance, Queen Mallika got up hurriedly.
When she stood up that way, the gold hued silk saree she was
wearing fell off her body.
Ven. Ananda directly went back to the Monastery and told
the other monks about this. The monks informed the Buddha.
The Buddha instructed Ven. Ananda not to visit the palace
without informing someone in advance that he was coming
on such-and-such a day at such-and-such an hour. He prom-
ulgated a law. The Buddha explained ten issues that a person
visiting the King's harem would have to face.
Venerable Ananda Distributes Rice Cakes
The Buddha resided at the domed hall in Mahavana at Vesali.
At that time alms began to arrive for the monks like a vast
flood. Ven. Ananda informed the Buddha that even after the
monks had their meals, a great amount of rice, curries and
sweet meats were left over.
The Buddha asked for these to be given to beggars. Ven.
Ananda got beggar-men and beggar-women seated in a row
and started distributing rice cakes, one for each person. But,
without knowing it, he had given two rice cakes to a beggar
woman. The other beggar woman seated next to her asked
the woman who got two cakes: "Why did he give you two
cakes? Is Ven. Ananda your illicit lover?" That beggar-woman
replied: "No, it is not so. When he wanted to give one, two
came in error."
Whatever had happened, even at the second round of distri-
bution, she got two rice cakes. The beggar-woman next to her
asked for the second time: "Why did he give two rice cakes
to you alone? Is Ven. Ananda your illicit lover?" Again, she
replied: "Maybe it is an error."
Visakha Forgets Her Headgear:
Venerable Ananda Keeps It Safe
Female lay-devotee Visakha went to the monastery wearing
her expensive headgear. When she was close to the monastery
she took it off and handed it over to her servant maid for safe-
keeping. She told the maid: "When I visit my Teacher I cannot
otherwise go near him, it is not proper to wear ornaments,
covering oneself from head to foot like an actor or actress."
She took off the ornament, wrapped it in a cloth and gave it
to her maid to keep so that she could wear it on her way back.
Wearing a simple ornament she saw the Buddha. After listen-
ing to the Buddha she got ready to return home. Her maid
had put her expensive ornament somewhere without remem-
bering exactly where.
Seeing the ornament Ven. Ananda informed the Buddha that
Visakha had forgotten to take back her expensive ornament.
The Buddha asked Ven. Ananda to keep it safe. As Ven.
Ananda had the strength of five elephants he carried it and
kept it safe.
Visakha went about the monastery in the company of Suppia,
a female lay-devotee. Visakha was in the habit of enquiring
after the health of monks. When she visited young monks
would come to her with receptacles and gather round her for
ghee and candy. On that day too they gathered round her.
Visakha enquired after the health of invalid monks and left
the monastery from a side-gate. From outside the monastery
she asked the maid to fetch the ornament to wear it on her
way home. The girl said: "Lady, I forgot about it." "If that is so,
try to see whether it is in the place where you kept it. But if
Ven. Ananda has put it elsewhere do not bring it back."
Ven. Ananda, seeing the maid, asked her why she came. "I
came in search of the ornament," she said. "I had left it near
the stair-case." "Go and fetch it," Ven. Ananda said. The maid
said: "I was asked not to bring it back if you had touched
it." The maid then returned to Visakha empty-handed, and
told her what had happened. "I will not wear the ornament
touched by the sacred hand of my master Ven. Ananda. It be-
longs to him now. But he cannot utilize it. I will raise money
for it and get something he can use." she thought, and said to
the maid: "Go and fetch it." Visakha went back home without
wearing it. At home she summoned those who valued such
objects. They said that it was worth ninety million and one
lakh. She put it in a cart and asked for it to be sold. But in
the whole city there was no one who had the wealth to buy
it. Visakha herself bought it back for ninety-nine million and
In the whole world there were only three people who could
wear the ornament - Visakha, Bandhula Mallika and the
daughter of the guild leader of Benares, not to say anything
about being able to buy it.
Visakha Auctions The Ornament Touched
By Venerable Ananda
Visakha took the money equal to the value of the ornament in
a cart to the monastery, worshipped the Buddha, and said: "I
did not want to wear the ornament touched by Ven. Ananda.
I will sell it and with the money raised that way, I will do
whatever is useful. Although I directed that it be sold there
was no one but me in this city who could buy it. Therefore, I
bought it myself. Now I have brought along the money I paid
for it. Please let me know what requisite out of the four forms
of requisites I should provide."
The Buddha said: "If that is so, please build a hall at the East-
ern Gate for the whole of the Brotherhood/ 7 As Visakha knew
that the building of residential structures was an act that
yielded high results she agreed and acquired land for ninety
million. Utilizing another nine million she started the build-
One morning when the Buddha contemplated the world with
limitless compassion, He discovered that Bhaddiya, the guild
leader who, leaving the world of deities, was born in the
family of the guild leader in the city of Bhaddiya and had the
potentiality to attain Arahanthood. The Buddha had His meal
at the residence of Anathapinidika the guild leader, and left
for the North Gate of the city.
Earlier, the Enlightened One used to take his meals at the
residence of Visakha, leave the city through the Southern
Gate and to go to Jetavana Monastery, where He dwelt. After
Purvarama Monastery was built the Buddha would take His
meals at the residence of guild leader Anathapindika, and
would leave through the Eastern Gate of the city to go and
reside at Purvarama. When He left by the North Gate people
knew that He was leaving the city to sojourn elsewhere. Hear-
ing that the Buddha was leaving by the North Gate Visakha
came over hurriedly, worshipped Him, and asked whether
He was leaving to sojourn elsewhere. The Buddha said: "Yes."
Visakha said: I am building you a monastery at a cost of one
hundred and eight million. Please stay."
"Please do not stop my journey Visakha," the Buddha said.
She knew that He had someone in mind who had the potenti-
ality to achieve Nibbana. "If you are going, please assign some-
one to stay and supervise the construction activity," Visakha
said. The Buddha said: "If you would like a particular person
to stay back, please take his alms-bowl."
She had a special loyalty towards Ven. Ananda. But since
Ven. Moggallana had the psychic power to accomplish things
and as the work could be completed quickly through his
power, she took Ven. Moggallana's alms-bowl. Ven. Moggal-
lana looked at the Buddha. The Buddha said: "Take five hun-
dred of your monks and stay back."
As requested by the Buddha, he stayed back. With his power
those who travelled long distances for timber would come
back the same day. People never experienced tiredness load-
ing the carts. Whatever the weight of the goods loaded in
them the carts did not break. In a short while a two-storeyed
building was constructed. It had one thousand rooms, with
five hundred in each floor.
The Buddha returned to the city of Savatthi after nine months.
It seemed that work on the two-storeyed building constructed
by Visakha would not be completed in one year. But due
to the miraculous powers of Ven. Moggallana, the merit of
Visakha and the power of the Buddha, the work was com-
pleted in nine months.
The Buddha, on His return, was invited to reside at Purvarama.
The Buddha accepted the invitation. Visakha provided all the
meals and other provisions to the Buddha and the monks,
without allowing them to go out on their alms-round.
Venerable Ananda Consoles A Crying Maiden
A friend of Visakha brought along a cloth worth a thousand,
and said to Visakha: "I want to spread this cloth as a carpet in
your mansion. Please give me permission." She said: "Friend,
if I said there is no place for it you would think I am reluc-
tant to give you permission. You can go yourself, examine
the upper floor, the lower floor and the thousand rooms, and
select a place for it."
The friend examined the place and found that there was no
place where there was a cloth cheaper than that, spread as a
carpet. She started crying because she was not able to partici-
pate in this meritorious deed.
Ven. Ananda heard her crying. Just as the Aspirant Buddha,
who was Pandit Senaka, asked him why he was crying when
Ven. Ananda was a Brahmin in Sattubhatta Jataka, he asked
the maiden why she was crying. She explained why she was
crying. Ven. Ananda said: "Do not feel disappointed. I will
find you a suitable place/ 7 He said: "Fold it and keep it be-
tween the steps and the moonstone as a floor mat. The monks
wash their feet and go into the house wiping their feet. This
way, you will reap great merit."
This way he found a place even when Visakha could not find
one, and allowed her to participate in the meritorious deed.
A Queen Fights For Women's Liberation.
Venerable Ananda Helps
Just as in our time, in the past too, there were disputes and
conflicts about the distribution of water from India's rivers,
among various kingdoms. In the days of the Buddha there
was a major dispute between the Sakyas and the Koliyas
about the distribution of the waters of the River Rohini.
The Buddha intervened on this occasion and asked what was
of greater value - water or human life. The Buddha allowed
them to understand reality and preached the Dhamma to
them. This way, He brought about the unity between these
two clans. After listening to the Dhamma, five hundred royal
princes became monks under the Buddha. When they were
ordained monks, their wives and the ladies betrothed to them
thought it was no use remaining at home when their men
All of them went to see Maha Pajapati Gotami and said:
"Your spouse King Suddhodana passed away into Nibbana
after achieving Sainthood. Now you are a lady without a hus-
band, just as all of us are. We too must become ordained, just
as our husbands. In this effort you must provide us leader-
ship/ 7 Maha Pajapati Gotami approved this idea eagerly. She
went to see the Buddha with a retinue of five hundred royal
princesses. They worshipped the Buddha, and stayed at a re-
Maha Pajapati Gotami spoke to the Buddha: "Enlightened
One, your father and my husband, King Suddhodana, passed
away recently after attaining Sainthood. Princes Nanda and
Rahula became monks. How can I stay in the palace all alone?
The husbands of these princesses too have been ordained
monks by you. In consequence, these princesses too desire
to be ordained. Therefore please ordain us and establish an
order of nuns."
The Buddha knew more than anyone else that women too
should have liberty. Therefore, the Buddha considered at once
the status of women in India at that time, their social status
and the protection of the Order of Bhikkhunis in the future.
Therefore, He did not give His consent at once. He stated the
serious problems that would arise and rejected their request.
Maha Pajapati Gotami repeated her request several times.
But the Buddha rejected the request on all those occasions. Bit-
terly disappointed the royal ladies, headed by Maha Pajapati
Gotami, returned home. Several days later the Buddha left
Nigrodharama at Kapilavatthu for the Kutagara monastery
The five hundred royal princesses, headed by Maha Pajapati
Gotami, did not totally give up the idea of being ordained,
although the Buddha rejected their request. They were con-
vinced that one day, somehow, they would receive ordination.
Deciding to shave their heads on their own and to get or-
dained themselves, if the Buddha did not allow it, they put on
yellow robes after barbers shaved their heads. Thus prepared,
all of them marched towards the city of Visala.
The Second Revolution At The Palace
The first revolution in the palace was the Buddha going on the
alms-round in the streets of the capital city of His kingdom,
after returning to it as an Ascetic, since He left the palace
giving up all His royal luxuries to practise austerities in the
forest. The second royal revolution was the serene and dis-
ciplined march of the five hundred royal ladies, headed by
Maha Pajapati Gotami, who had discarded their glamorous
costumes and put on yellow robes, with their heads shaven.
They had come down from the upper storeys of the royal
palace and were marching towards the city of Visala, their
gaze fixed upon the ground.
In their revolution 2,500 years ago, these great royal ladies
of North India did not shout such slogans as "Freedom for
Women", "Allow us the Right to be Ordained", "Make Us
Nuns", "If You Do Not Ordain Us, Give Back Our Husbands
To Us". Instead, they went along in the most subdued and dis-
The news that five hundred royal ladies clad in yellow robes,
with their heads shaven, were walking along in a disciplined
and orderly line towards the city of Visala, spread like wild-
fire throughout the city. North Indian royal ladies, who are
like divine damsels in beauty, could be seen even by the
people of that city only very rarely. The people of that city
assembled in their thousands on either side of the streets to
catch a glimpse of these royal ladies, exceedingly beautiful in
appearance, delicate and given to descending from the upper
storeys of their palaces, only very rarely.
Members of the Sakya-Koliya royal families heard this news
and came hurrying in their golden royal coaches. They
brought along five hundred coaches and requested the ladies
to travel in their coaches. But they rejected the offer of those
five hundred royal coaches, assuming that the Buddha was
reluctant to ordain them, thinking that they were too delicate.
Therefore, they decided to walk on foot.
The men and women who thronged the streets leading to
the city of Visala started worshipping them, impressed by
the serene, restrained gait of these royal ladies. They started
making them offerings. They begged them to travel in vehi-
cles. As they travelled barefoot, blisters formed on the soles of
their feet and burst, making them bleed. Those who saw their
bleeding feet started weeping.
This way, they walked a distance of fifty-one yojanas, making
thousands of onlookers cry at their ordeal. They ended their
historic march to see the Buddha, and the five hundred royal
ladies, headed by Maha Pajapati Gotami, arrived near the
monastery of Kutagara. But they did not see the Buddha
In a brief while Ven. Ananda came to know what was happen-
ing. Ven. Ananda was exceedingly aggrieved to see their blis-
tered, bleeding and swollen feet, their bodies withered and
dirtied by sweat and dust, and their appearance as nuns.
"O mothers, what is it that has happened to you? Why are
your soles bleeding? Have you taken to robes like this because
some harm has befallen the Warrior Clan (Kshatriyas)? Have
you been banished from your land? How have you come to
this miserable level? Why have you not met the Buddha even
after you visited the monastery? "
At this, Maha Pajapati Gotami responded thus: "Son, Ven.
Ananda, no harm has befallen the Warrior Clan. Nor were we
banished from the land. My son, Ven. Ananda, I requested the
Buddha three times before to ordain us. This time we came
clad like nuns. Since we were not sure whether this time too
we would be ordained or not, we did not enter the monastery.
We rested here, outside/ 7 Ven. Ananda said: "Mother, please
rest here for a while/ 7 He went into the monastery and stood
respectfully to one side. Then he informed the Buddha: "Sir,
your step-mother Maha Pajapati Gotami has arrived with a
retinue of five hundred royal ladies clad in yellow robes. They
are outside crying, not knowing whether they will be given
the ordination or not. O Sir, they have travelled fifty-one yo-
janas. Some of them have bleeding soles as they are split.
Some have swollen feet. Some are exhausted and fatigued as
if they have faced a great calamity. O Sir, it is good if they
could be ordained in this Dispensation/ 7
The Buddha, seeing what was likely to happen in the future,
said: "Ananda, please do not try to get women ordained/ 7 Ven.
Ananda requested for the second time, and for the third time.
The Buddha rejected the request on those two occasions too.
Next Ven. Ananda put a question to the Enlightened One: "Sir,
if a woman is ordained in this Dispensation, will she be able
to reach the fruit of Sotapatti or Anagami, by practising In-
sight Meditation? 77
The Buddha: Ananda, if a woman is ordained and makes
a strong effort she will be able to achieve higher reaches
Ven. Ananda: O Sir, if women after being ordained in
this Dispensation can reach higher levels of spirituality,
why do you not allow them to be ordained? O Sir, Maha
Pajapati Gotami helped you immensely when your
mother Queen Maya passed away She breast-fed you,
putting her own infant son Prince Nanda in the charge
of nursing mothers. She nourished you and brought you
up, turning her blood into milk to feed you. Therefore, Sir,
please ordain your step-mother.
Deciding that the pleas and appeals made so far for the estab-
lishment of the Bhikkhuni order were sufficient, the Buddha
addressed Ven. Ananda: "Ananda, if Maha Pajapati Gotami
is quite keen to be ordained, let her accept the eight principal
requirements stipulated by the female disciples of the past
Buddhas. That itself will be her higher ordination/ 7
The Buddha proclaimed the Eight Principal Requirements. Ven.
Ananda went to Maha Pajapati Gotami and said: "Mother,
the Buddha has stipulated Eight Principal Requirements for
the ordination of women. If you accept these from me you
will receive ordination and higher ordination too. That will
also be the establishment of the Order of Bhikkhunis (female
monks - nuns)." Gotami was exceedingly happy merely at the
expression that she could be ordained. She said three times
over that she would accept those Eight Principal Require-
ments. That itself was her higher ordination. The members
of her retinue also accepted those Principals and obtained or-
dination and higher ordination. This is a record set up by
women of ancient times in their struggle for liberation. It was
their victory. The mediator in this victory was Ven. Ananda.
In consequence, Ven. Ananda is the hero in the freedom-strug-
gle of Indian womanhood.
A Bhikkhuni Pretends To Be III To Entice
Once, Ven. Ananda lived at Ghositarama in the city of Ko-
sambiya. A nun who lived in the monastery for Bhikkhunis
became enamoured of Ven. Ananda's physical beauty. She
loved him secretly. She resorted to a ruse to entice Ven.
Ananda. She called a person known to her and told him thus:
"You must go and meet Ven. Ananda. Worship him for me
and say this: 'Such and such a nun Bhikkhuni is seriously ill.
She is keen to see you in her last hours. Therefore, taking pity
on her, please visit the monastery of the Bhikkhunis, see her
and make her mind calm'."
Ven. Ananda accepted this invitation in sympathy. He wore
his robes and, with his alms-bowl in hand, went to the mon-
astery. Seeing Ven. Ananda in the distance the nun rushed to
her cell, lay down in her bed, covered from head to foot, and
pretended to be seriously ill.
Immediately he entered the place Ven. Ananda realized the
truth. Seated in the chair next to her Ven. Ananda began to
preach a sermon to her: "Sister, this body is built of food. But
through that food itself one must give up the craving for food.
The monk ordained in this dispensation takes meals with in-
sight. T take this food not for sports, nor to increase my pas-
sion, nor for becoming beautiful. And not even to become at-
tractive. But totally for the sustenance of the body - to survive
- to quench the hunger, to protect the monk's vows, to con-
tinue the monkhood, to maintain life/ These must be contem-
plated with wisdom.
"Sister, this body is built of craving. Hearing that a monk or-
dained in this Dispensation has acquired the liberation of
thought by eradicating defilements by one's self, if one were
to think T too will achieve that state one day', and gives up
craving, one can say that craving has been given up through
"Sister, this body is built of pride. Pride should be eradicated
through pride itself. It can be done only by eradicating all
defilements. This body has arisen through sexuality. The
Buddha totally eradicated all causes of sexuality. He destroyed
The nun who pretended to be ill heard this sermon. She
jumped off the bed and fell at the feet of Ven. Ananda and
begged for forgiveness, saying: "O Sir, what I did was wrong.
Please forgive me for it." Ven. Ananda forgave her.
Venerable Ananda And Women
When we study all the references to Ven. Ananda scattered
in various sections of the Tipitaka (The Three Baskets) it be-
comes quite clear that the Buddhist women in India at that
time held Ven. Ananda in great affection, respect and concern.
Ayasma Anando maha punno sambhavito. Tarn
rajaraja maha maccadayo, nimantetva anto nivesane
nisidapeti. Sabbalamkara patimanditapi itthiyo
theram upasamkamitva vanditya tala vanthena
vijenti upanisiditva panham pucchanti. Dham-
(Ven. Ananda is an exceptionally fortunate and greatly re-
spected person. Kings, ministers, invite him to their resi-
dences for alms. Ladies, resplendent in every way, go to him,
worship him, fan him, and ask him questions.)
This illustrates the attitude of women towards Ven. Ananda.
But Ven. Ananda never intended, even in his dreams, to
misuse this concern, respect and affection of women towards
him. This is quite certain.
Panna visati vassani - Sekha bhutassa me sato
Na kama sanna uppaji - Passa dhamma sud-
(Although it was twenty-five years before I reached the
Sotapatti status not even a vestige of sensuous passion arose
within me. Consider the greatness of Dhamma.)
This was how Ven. Ananda exulted in the purity of his life.
The only great and noble person who knew better than most
was the Buddha Himself. When kings of Kosala and Udeni re-
quested the Buddha to assign a monk to preach the Dhamma
to the ladies of their harems, the Buddha assigned not such
great saints as Ven. Sariputta and Moggallana, but Ven.
Ananda, who had not attained Sainthood. This was an occa-
sion that demonstrated the unshaken, firm and strange confi-
dence the Buddha had in Ven. Ananda.
Let us look at the following:
1. Assigned to the harems of both kings for the preaching of
2. Assisting five hundred royal ladies, headed by Maha Pa-
japati Gotami, to receive ordination.
3. Being the object of love of an outcaste maiden.
4. A nun pretending to be ill in order to entice Ven. Ananda.
5. Nuns finding fault with Ven. Maha Kassapa for preach-
ing the Dhamma at the monastery of nuns when Ven.
Ananda was present.
6. A nun finding fault with Ven. Maha Kassapa for describ-
ing Ven. Ananda as a 'novice'.
7. Enquiring from the Buddha, when the Buddha was in His
death bed, about the attitude that should be adopted to-
8. When the Buddha passed away in the Great Demise he
got the ladies to worship the Buddha's sacred body first,
out of the masses who assembled to see the Buddha's
When such matters as these are considered one may think
that Ven. Ananda had a partiality towards women. If that was
so it was because women embodied motherhood.
Two thousand five hundred years ago in India, a country
where the social system was determined by Brahmanic
thought, one can imagine the kind of freedom women would
have had. Buddhist women too desired to be ordained. When
they requested permission for it the Buddha at first rejected
the request, primarily to impress upon them the seriousness
of the issue and also to see that they were better protected. At
such a critical stage Ven. Ananda stepped in and discussed
the matter at some length and obtained permission for women
to enter the Order as nuns.
This is the first occasion in written history when five hundred
women, with no husbands, took the initiative to win free-
dom. The march of five hundred royal ladies, under the lead-
ership of Maha Pajapati Gotami, from the city of Kapilavat-
thu, with their heads shaven, with bleeding and swollen feet,
is an event that should be recorded in golden letters in history.
These heroic ladies refused the offer of vehicles, walked on
foot, forgetting their royal origin and delicate breeding, with
the intention of being ordained.
The only male who helped them in their one request - which
was for permission to be ordained - was Ven. Ananda. Ven.
Ananda's recognition 2,500 years ago that women too must
have an equal right to liberation, Nibbana, just as men do,
should be highly esteemed. This was done not because of a
special partiality towards women, but because he was moti-
vated by the thought that good things - the highest things -
should be common to all.
This way, the name of Ven. Ananda should not be overlooked
by women. The respect and esteem of such queens as Mallika
and such affluent female lay-devotees as Visakha, of nuns
and of ladies of harems, were won by Ven. Ananda more than
by any other person. But never was there even the slightest
suspicion held regarding him - not by the Buddha, the monks,
the nuns or by the general public.
Ven. Ananda, a handsome prince, a monk who had not erad-
icated all defilements, associated with women but he was
never found to be at fault by anyone. This is a great, noble
and shining example to the whole of the Brotherhood.
This demonstrates the greatness, personality, moral upright-
ness and gentlemanly qualities Ven. Ananda possessed as a
man. When he kept company with women, when he became
considerate towards them, it was entirely for their benefit, and
not at all for personal pleasure or personal profit. The noblest
characteristic of his great life is that he never thought in terms
of getting his monkhood blemished because of women.
The Buddha's Attitude To Women
Most people may tend to feel that the Buddha did not give
sufficient consideration to women or that his rating of women
was rather low. They are led to think this way for several rea-
sons. When five hundred royal ladies, led by Maha Pajapati
Gotami, requested permission to enter the Order as nuns, the
Buddha did not grant this at first, but allowed it only after
When the Buddha was on His death-bed, Ven. Ananda asked
Him what their attitude toward women should be. The
Buddha said it would be better not to see them at all if that can
be done. The Buddha adopted that attitude not because He
had the slightest misgiving about the importance of women.
He made this observation because he had a greater regard for
the well-being of the Brotherhood and the Dispensation, their
purity, and their continued existence. Among factors condu-
cive to the attainment of Liberation - Nibbana - such con-
ditions as unblemished chastity and not being married, as-
sumed a very important position. An unmarried person has
an amazing sense of freedom and a capacity to be committed
to common good. The moment such a person gets married his
public interest turns into selfishness. When he gets children,
this selfishness increases several fold. His sense of freedom
disappears. His responsibilities and bonds begin to burgeon.
That explains why Prince Siddhartha renounced the world,
leaving his wife and child behind. In most instances wives
and children prove an obstacle to the achievement of the
noble and high ideals of some exceptional people. Had Prince
Siddhartha not renounced lay-life probably he would have
never achieved Supreme Enlightenment.
Since the Buddha has experienced this situation fully He
promulgated all possible laws to keep His disciples out of
a sensuous life. He stipulated indulgence in sex as the first
cause for the loss of monkhood. He promulgated that law be-
cause a proper monkhood was not possible with wives and
children, and also because defilements cannot be eradicated
that way. Nor can craving be subdued under the same condi-
tion. In that situation life cannot be totally dedicated to serv-
ice. The order of Buddhist monks continues so long primarily
because the monks are a group of chaste, unmarried people.
The Buddha had a very clear vision of the positive side of
womanhood as well. The Buddha did not despise women. He
did not think of them as low. The Buddha assigned women a
higher position than had been given them by contemporary
Indian society. He preached to such chief queens as Mallika
and Samawathie. The Buddha assigned high positions to
great nuns who achieved sainthood, such as Maha Pajapati
Gotami. He helped such ladies as Kisa Gotami and Patacara,
who had been overwhelmed by sorrow. He accepted alms
even from courtesans, such as Ambapali.
One day, when King Kosala was in conversation with the
Buddha, a royal messenger came and whispered in the
king's ear: "Queen Mallika has given birth to a daughter.
Hearing this the king's face looked disgruntled. Seeing this,
the Buddha asked the king: "Why did you look depressed
after hearing the secret message of the royal courier?" The
king said: "Sir, Mallika has given birth to a daughter." The
Buddha said: "O Great King, how good is it to have a daugh-
ter. In time she will give birth to a son who will rule a coun-
try. Therefore, please bring her up with love and affection."
The Buddha consoled King Kosala that way.
This demonstrates the intellectually advanced view adopted
by the Buddha about women in a society that tended to assign
a low position to women. The Buddha showed an initial re-
luctance towards the ordaining of women not at all with the
intention of refusing them the opportunity to be ordained. It
was only to strengthen their discipline, indicating what a seri-
ous matter it was to get ordained. It was also with the inten-
tion of providing greater protection to monks and nuns.
When Arahant Maha Pajapati Gotami passed away even the
Buddha walked along in the funeral procession. After her
body was cremated, the Buddha requested Ven. Ananda to
place her bodily relics in the Buddha's own alms-bowl. The
Buddha requested the Licchava kings to build a stupa enshrin-
ing the alms-bowl containing her bodily relics. The Buddha
worshipped that stupa.
What becomes quite evident from the rules of discipline
promulgated by the Buddha is that it was dangerous for the
monkhood of males with their chaste life to associate closely
with women and that it was dangerous for the priesthood and
their chaste life, for women to have close associations with
men. What the Buddha did was to announce this truth - indi-
cating it as truth.
Venerable Ananda Ordains Two Orphans
In a household that was frequented by Ven. Ananda every-
body, with the exception of two children, succumbed to an
epidemic disease called 'Ahi-vataka roga". These two chil-
dren would run to meet the monks when they saw them. The
monks would chase them away.
One day, Ven. Ananda saw this and was exceedingly moved
by the fate of these two children. He decided to save their
lives, at least by ordaining them. But the Buddha had banned
the ordaining of children who were less than fifteen years of
Knowing this, Ven. Ananda took these two children to see
the Buddha, and explained the distress they faced. He re-
quested the Buddha to allow the ordaining of these two chil-
dren. Altering the Law He had imposed, considering the
special circumstances, the Buddha allowed the ordaining of
children below fifteen, who could shoo away a crow. In terms
of the concession Ven. Ananda had the two orphan children
(Maha vaggapali - Abhyuvara Bhanavaram)
The Buddha Refuses Cloths Offered By
Maha Pajapati: Ananda Intervenes
Once, when the Buddha was residing at Nigrodharama Mon-
astery in Kapilavattu, Maha Pajapati Gotami went to see Him,
taking along two new cloths. After worshipping the Buddha,
she said, "O Blessed One, I have made these two cloths espe-
cially for you. I have spun the cotton, made the threads and
woven them. I would like to see you wearing these cloths.
Therefore, taking pity on me, please accept these."
The Buddha replied, "O Gotami, please give this to the Sangha
(brotherhood). Then, you would have offered them to me. You
would have given them to the brotherhood, as well." (Sanghe
Gotami dehi. Sanghe te dinne ahamceva pujito bhavissami
"Sir, there are cloths to be offered to even five hundred
monks, in the royal stores. Those can be given to the
brotherhood. What I would like is to offer these to you
yourself, and to see you wearing them. Therefore, please
The Buddha said,
"Gotami, give these to the Sangha. That way, you give
them to me, too." He refused the offer for the second time,
too. Gotami entreated for the third time. The Buddha
refused for the third time, as well.
Ven. Ananda observed all this. He said,
"Sir, please accept these cloths offered to you by Maha
Pajapati Gotami, with such earnestness. It is this Gotami
who breast-fed you, bathed you, kept you on her lap,
and brought you up. Your own mother, Queen Maha
Maya, passed away seven days after you were born.
Maha Pajapati Gotami placed her own son in the care
of wet-nurses, and fed you at her own breast. She has
helped you immensely. She took refuge in the Buddha
because of you. She took refuge in the Dhamma because
of you. She took refuge in the Sangha because of you.
She refrained from taking life, from taking what did
not belong to her, from sexual misconduct, from uttering
falsehood, and from taking intoxicating liquor, because of
you. She dispelled her doubts about suffering, the cause
of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path to
the cessation of suffering because of you/ 7
The Buddha replied,
"Ananda, it is true. If a person were to take refuge in
the Three Refuges, were to refrain from five evil actions,
were to have unswerving devotion to the Buddha, the
Dhamma and the Sangha, I would not consider that
person to have done a great favour to anyone else. If a
person were to worship, make offerings, provide the four
requisites, I would not consider that such a person would
have done a great favour to that individual."
"Ananda, there are fourteen forms of personal offerings.
1. The first personal offering is giving things to the
supremely Enlightened One.
2. The second is the offering given to a Pacceka
Buddha (Private Buddha).
3. The third is the offering made to an arahant who is
a disciple of the Buddha.
4. The offering made to a person making an effort to
5. The offering given to a non-returner (anagami).
6. The offering to a person who is about to achieve
the fruit of anagami.
7. The offering to a once-returner (sakadagami).
8. The offering to a person making an effort to
achieve the fruit of once-returner state.
9. The offering to a stream-winner (sotapatti).
10. The offering to a person who is making an effort to
achieve the fruit of stream-winner state.
11. The offering to a person who is detached from
12. The offering to a virtuous worldling.
13. The offering to a non-virtuous worldling.
14. The offering made to animals.
''By giving to an animal, one can expect a hundred-fold return;
to a non-virtuous worldling, a thousand; to a virtuous world-
ling, one hundred thousand. If this is the outcome when offer-
ings are made to these persons, who can adequately describe
the result of making offerings to those who progress in the
path - to arahants, to Private Buddhas, and to a supremely En-
"Ananda, there are seven-fold offerings to the Sangha (brother-
1. The first is the offering made to monks and nuns
headed by the Buddha.
2. After the demise of the Buddha, the offering made
to monks and nuns.
3- The offering made to monks.
4. The offering made to nuns.
5. The offering given, saying, T need so many monks
and so many nuns, indicating a specific number/
6. The offering given, saying, T need so many monks/
7. The offering given, saying, T need so many nuns/
"Ananda, in the future, the offering made even to yellow-robe
clad ones will have immense good results. Therefore, I
would not say that a personal offering, to whomsoever it
is offered, is of higher merit than an offering made to
the brotherhood. (Na cevaham Ananda, keneci pariyayena,
sanghagataya dakkhinayu patipugglikam danam mahap-
phalataram vadami.) I did not accept the pair of cloths of-
fered to me by Maha Prajapati Gotami, to increase the merit
of the offering by giving them to the brotherhood headed by
me, and not because of an animosity towards her, or because
I forgot the good she has done to me."
(Dakkina Vibhanga Sutta)
Venerable Ananda Requests The Buddha To Preach
The Disciplinary Rules
The Buddha resided at Purvarama (also known as Migara
Mat a Mansion) in the city of Savatthi. On a full-moon day
Ven. Ananda went to the Buddha, worshipped Him respect-
fully and said: "Ven. Sir, it is late in the night. The first watch
of the night is past. The monks have been seated for a long
time. Blessed One, could you kindly preach them the Discipli-
nary Rules (Patimokkha)?"
The Buddha did not respond. For the second time Ven. Ananda
made the request. On the second occasion too the Buddha
was silent. On the third occasion when Ven. Ananda made
the request the Buddha said: 'Ananda, the assembled persons
At this Ven. Moggallana examined the minds of all with
his own mind. Ven. Moggallana saw with his divine eye
that there was one individual whose potential was concealed,
whose actions were suspicious, devoid of monastic qualities,
corrupted inside, drenched with evil, and full of the garbage
Ven. Moggallana got up from his seat and went over to that
corrupt monk. Ven. Moggallana spoke to him: "Monk, please
stand up. The Buddha has seen you. You are not fit to work
along with other monks/ 7
But that corrupt monk continued to be seated without saying
a thing. Ven. Moggallana ordered him for the second time
and for the third time. At this Ven. Moggallana took him by
the hand, pulled him out of his seat, sent him out of the door
and had the door locked.
He went to the Buddha and said: "Sir, I have sent him out.
Now the assembly is clean. Please preach the Patimokkha
(Disciplinary Rules) to the monks."
The Buddha said: "Moggallana, it is very strange. Imagine -
that corrupt person did not go out until he was taken by his
hand and was forcibly led out."
(Udanapali - Sonawagga Uposata Sutta)
The Buddha Chases Out A Group Of Noisy Monks
When the Buddha was residing at Jetavanarama in Savatthi,
five hundred Bhikkhus headed by Monk Yasoja visited Jeta-
vana Monastery to see the Buddha. These monks started talk-
ing to the resident monks, exchanging friendly pleasantries.
They went about their tasks of preparing their belongings,
making beds. All the while they were laughing, shouting.
Their loud guffawing could be heard. The Buddha heard this.
He asked Ven. Ananda: "Who are those people who keep on
shouting like a crowd that has gathered at a place where they
are fishing? "
Ven. Ananda responded: "Sir, about five hundred Bhikkhus,
headed by Ven. Yasoja have come to see you. They are ex-
changing pleasantries with resident monks. It is that sound
that is being heard."
The Buddha said: "If that is so let them come in here, Ananda."
Those monks came to the presence of the Buddha and wor-
shipped Him. The Buddha spoke to them: "Monks, why did
you keep on shouting, laughing, guffawing like a crowd of
fishermen, and hardly like a gathering of monks? "
Ven. Yasoja replied: 'These monks travelled a long distance to
see you. But when they started exchanging pleasantries with
the resident monks they had forgotten that they were here
next to where you resided/ 7
The Buddha responded: "Monks, I am not prepared to receive
you. I do not wish to talk to you. You can leave this place." The
five hundred monks picked up their robes and alms-bowls,
accepted their fault and left without a word.
They left Savatthi immediately, travelled to Vajji and spent the
rainy season in cells thatched with leaves, on the bank of the
River Vaggumuda. Ven. Yasoja addressed the monks: "Just
consider, because our discipline - our restraint - had waned
the Buddha chased us out. He did that because of His com-
passion and kindness for us. From now on we must behave
in a manner that the Buddha will approve." All the monks
agreed. During the rainy season all the monks acquired the
three-fold Higher Knowledge (Te-vijja).
The Buddha resided at Savatthi as long as He wished and
then set out for a sojourn in the city of Visala. While residing
at Kutagara Monastery in the forest near the city of Vesali, He
examined the fortunes of the monks who went to the banks
of Vaggamuda. He found that they were acquiring the monas-
tic discipline well. The Buddha asked Ven. Ananda to keep
those monks informed that the Buddha was now quite keen
to see the monks from Vaggumuda. The five hundred monks,
who had attained Sainthood by that time, were quite happy
to hear it. They took up their robes and alms-bowls, vanished
from the banks of River Vaggumuda, and appeared in the
presence of the Buddha. Praising those monks who had been
earlier chased out by the Buddha, the Enlightened One spoke
thus: 'Those who have conquered the spike of passion and de-
filements, and have overcome the bonds and tortures, remain
unshaken like a rock." ("Yassajito kamakanthako akkoso ca
vadhaca bandhanan ca. Pabbato viya so thito anejo - sukha
dukkhesu navedhati sa bhikkhu.)
(Udanapali - Nandana Vagga - Yasoja Sutta)
The Buddha Refuses To Accept The Medicinal
Broth Prepared By Venerable Ananda
The Buddha was sojourning in various villages and market
towns, and eventually arrived at Veluvana Monastery in Ka-
landaka Nivapa in Rajagaha. There He was afflicted with
a stomach disorder. Ven. Ananda knew that on earlier oc-
casions when the Buddha had this disorder, He recovered
when he took the medicinal broth made out of three varieties
of grains. The grains are rice, sesame seed and green gram.
Knowing this, Ven. Ananda got these three varieties from a
home and, using equal shares of the three varieties of grain,
prepared a broth himself. He offered the Buddha the broth he
The Buddha: 'Ananda, Where did you get this broth? "
Ven. Ananda: I prepared it myself, obtaining rice, sesame
seed and green gram."
The Buddha: "Ananda, what you did was improper. It is
wrong and unsuitable. It is not befitting a monk. I took
my meals off golden plates, prepared with fragrant rice
and tasty curries. I gave up all that and became a monk.
I did not become a monk to prepare my own meals. Nor
did I become a monk to get someone to cook my meals."
So saying, He refused the medicinal broth prepared by
Ven. Ananda. He stipulated that preparing one's own
meals is not something a monk should do. He made this
a Law of Discipline.
(Maha Vaggapali - Abbyuvara Bhanavaram)
Venerable Ananda Chants Protective Chants
To Quell Vesali City Disaster
In the afternoon the Buddha was seated near the gateway
to the city. He addressed Ven. Ananda: 'Ananda, study this
Ratana Sutta (the Sermon of the Jewels). Protect the three-fold
fortresses of the great city of Vesali. With that, eradicate the
harm done by demons/ 7
Ven. Ananda learnt the Sermon, filled the Buddha's alms-
bowl with protective water and sat at the gateway of the city.
Ven. Ananda contemplated the various births of the Buddha
since he received confirmation from Buddha Dipankara. Ven.
Ananda reflected upon the Perfections fulfilled by the Buddha.
He recalled the sacrifices made by the Aspirant Buddha. Next
He contemplated the conception of Prince Siddhartha and his
birth at Lumbini Pleasure Park. He recalled the twenty-nine
years of Prince Siddhartha's life in the palace and his renunci-
ation. He reflected upon the six years of austerity and how As-
cetic Siddhartha attained Buddhahood, defeating the forces
of Mara (Death). He contemplated the virtues of the Buddha.
After that he entered the city and walked around the three-
fortress walls chanting the Protective Chants throughout the
Ven. Ananda chanted the phrase "Yam kinci" in the Ratana
Sutta (the Sermon of the Jewels). Because of the power and
the efficacy of the phrase, the moment he chanted those words
and sprinkled water, the demons who were touched by the
water started fleeing. Those who were afflicted became to-
tally cured at the touch of the water. Those who recovered
thronged round Ven. Ananda. The demons ran away, top-
pling whatever there was in their path as they fled. This way,
the danger from demons disappeared.
When the demons were gone diseases too disappeared. The
people prepared a decorated assembly hall with a special seat
in the centre for the Buddha. The retinue of five hundred
monks sat around the seat of the Buddha. Licchavi royals too
assembled. The chief of gods too was present. Ven. Ananda
walked about the city chanting the protective chants. Those
people who had regained their health due to the efficacy of
the chanting thronged around Ven. Ananda. Surrounded by
them Ven. Ananda went to see the Buddha.
The Buddha preached the Ratana Sutta to those who were
assembled. The Buddha continued to chant it for one whole
week. Seeing that all calamities were over the Buddha kept
the Licchavi royals informed of it.
Venerable Ananda Gets Water From
A Covered Well
The Buddha, while on a sojourn with a retinue of monks in
the kingdom of the Mallas, visited the Brahmin village called
Thuna. The moment they heard that the Buddha had arrived
in their village with a vast retinue of monks, the Brahmins
of the village said: "We will not allow these shaven-headed
monks to drink from our wells."
So saying, they filled the public well with grass and straw.
The Buddha, after walking a long distance, came close to
that well and sat under a tree. Seated there the Buddha said:
"Ananda, fetch me some water to drink."
Ven. Ananda said: "Sir, the Brahmins of this village, hearing
that we were coming, have filled the well with grass and
The Buddha said: "All right, Ananda, fetch me some water
from that well." For the second time Ven. Ananda explained
what the Brahmins had done to the well. For the third time
too the Buddha said: "All right, Ananda, go and fetch me
some water from that well."
When He insisted, Ven. Ananda went to the well with the
alms-bowl. Lo and behold, the well that had been filled with
grass and straw was totally filled with water - in fact, it was
Ven. Ananda said the miraculous powers of the Enlightened
One are truly amazing, astonishing, stunning.
"Acchariyam bhante, abbhutam bhante tathagatassa,
So saying, Ven. Ananda filled the bowl with water and of-
fered it to the Buddha, saying:
"O Blessed One, please drink this water; O the Well-
Established One, please drink the water/ 7 Pivatu
bhagava paniyam. Pivatu sugato paniyam.
(Udana Pali - Chulla Vagga - Upadana Pali)
Venerable Ananda Prevents Questioning
Of The Ailing Buddha
Once, when the Buddha was residing at Nigrodarama in
Kapilavatthu, He became slightly indisposed. Immediately
after He recovered a little, the Sakya King Mahanama visited
Him. Seated to one side, the king said: "Sir, once when you
preached a Sermon sometime ago, you said that the person
who is capable of keeping his mind concentrated, is a wise
one. You also said that those who are not able to concentrate
lack wisdom (samahitassa nanam na asama hitasa). I remem-
ber this. O Sir, what comes first - does trance come first, and
wisdom come second? Or on the other hand, does wisdom
come first, and trance second? "
Ven. Ananda overheard this. He said: "O Mahanama, the
Buddha has been ailing lately. He is recovering now. You
asked a very profound question. It is not proper to exhaust
Him by getting Him to answer such questions. Do come
round. I will answer that question/ 7
So saying, Ven. Ananda took King Mahanama by his hand,
took him aside and answered his question.
(Anguttara Nikaya - Tika Nipataya)
Venerable Ananda Preaches The Doctrine
On Behalf Of The Buddha
When the Buddha was residing at Nigrodharama in Kapil-
avatthu, the Sakyas constructed a new assembly hall. They
invited the Buddha to open it. The Buddha accepted the in-
vitation. The Sakyas received the Buddha and the monks,
washed their feet and led them into the Assembly Hall.
The Buddha was offered the special seat prepared at the centre
of the Hall. They got the other monks to sit on either side of
the Buddha. The Sakyas too washed their feet and entered
the Hall, sat on one side of the Hall, and talked to the Buddha.
The Buddha entertained the Sakyas with a pleasant conversa-
tion and called Ven. Ananda. He said: "Ananda, my back is
aching. Therefore, I will rest a little." (Pitthim me agilayati.
Tamaham ayamissa mi ti.)
The Buddha folded His outer robe four-fold, spread it on the
ground and lay down on it in the Tion-style'. Ven. Ananda
preached the Dhamma to the Sakyas headed by the Sakya
King Mahanama. The Buddha listened to his sermon. At
the end of the sermon the Buddha spoke to Ven. Ananda:
'Ananda, you preached the Dhamma exceedingly well."
Venerable Ananda Preaches The Doctrine
On Behalf Of The Buddha
Once, the Buddha resided at Ghositarama in the city of
Kosambiya. At that time the wandering monk, known as
Sandaka, lived in the cave called Pulila with a retinue of
five hundred wandering ascetics. One evening, Ven. Ananda,
with a retinue of monks, visited the dwelling place of the wan-
dering Ascetic Sandaka and his followers.
When Ven. Ananda visited that area the ascetics were talking
at the top of their voices, bantering, laughing and indulging
in small-talk. Seeing Ven. Ananda approaching, Wandering
Ascetic Sandaka addressed his followers:
"Brothers, be silent. Do not shout. Do not speak out
loud. I see Ven. Ananda, a disciple of the Buddha,
approaching with some of his followers. Ven. Ananda is
a very disciplined, subdued person. He likes quietness
and silence. He extols the virtues of being calm and
quiet. Therefore, when he comes no one should shout or
whisper or talk aloud."
Sandaka advised his followers.
Hearing that, the wandering Ascetics were totally silent.
When Ven. Ananda arrived Sandaka walked towards him
and received him cordially. Ven. Ananda was given a seat.
The wandering Ascetic Sandaka was delighted by the pleas-
ant Dhamma sermon of Ven. Ananda. Sandaka requested
his disciples to follow the Buddha, who was Ven. Ananda's
King Kosala Praises Venerable Ananda
On one occasion when the Buddha was residing at Jetavana
Monastery Ven. Ananda went out on his alms round. In the
afternoon, he went over to Purvarama. King Kosala, mounted
on his elephant "Ekapundarika", saw Ven. Ananda in the dis-
tance when he was on his way to Purvarama.
The king asked his Prime Minister Siriwardene whether that
monk was Ven. Ananda. The Prime Minister replied: "Yes,
that is Ven. Ananda." The king sent a royal messenger to meet
Ven. Ananda and requested him to kindly stay just for one
moment if the Venerable was not in a particular hurry.
The messenger took the king's word to Ven. Ananda. Ven.
Ananda accepted the king's request in silence, and stopped.
The king alighted from the elephant, walked over to Ven.
Ananda, and worshipped him. He then asked the monk to
come over to the River Aciravati, if he was not particularly
Ven. Ananda went to the River Aciravati as invited, and sat
under a tree. The king went as far as he could go on his el-
ephant, walked the rest of the distance, came to Ven. Ananda
and worshipped him. The king spread the carpet used for
the elephant-ride and asked Ven. Ananda to sit on it. Ven.
Ananda said that it was all right for him as it was, but asked
the king to sit on the carpet.
Next, King Kosala put several questions to Ven. Ananda. The
king was exceedingly happy about the philosophic replies
given to those by Ven. Ananda. The king said:
"Ven. Ananda, if it is all right for you to accept a noble el-
ephant I will gladly offer you one. If it is proper for you
to accept a high-bred horse I will give you one. If it is cor-
rect for you to accept the offer of a village I will give you a
village. But, I know that they are unacceptable. Therefore,
I will offer you this priceless cloth known as bahitika, six-
teen cubits in length and eight cubits in width, and pre-
sented to me by King Ajasatta."
Ven. Ananda replied: "O Great King I have the three-fold
robes. Therefore, I do not need that cloth/ 7 The king spoke
this way: "Ven. Sir, when it rains in the mountains in the
upper reaches this River Aciravati floods and overflows. In
the same way make your three-fold robes out of this cloth.
You can give your old robes to someone else. Therefore, please
accept this cloth." Ven. Ananda accepted it as requested by
After the king left Ven. Ananda narrated the whole story to
the Buddha and offered it to the Buddha. The Buddha, ad-
dressing the monks, spoke this way:
"O Monks, it was most profitable for King Kosala to be
able to see Ven. Ananda. It is a matter of high profit for
King Kosala to be able to associate with Ven. Ananda/ 7
Labha bhikkhave ranno pasenadissa Kosalassa, sulad-
dham labha bhikkhave, Ranno pasenadissa Kosalassa
yam raja pasenadi Kosalo labhati, Anandam dassanaya.
The Buddha Attends A Sick Monk
With Venerable Ananda
One day, the Buddha was walking along examining the resi-
dences of the monks with Ven. Ananda attending Him. In the
inspection tour they came upon a monk who was lying on his
own body waste, suffering from an acute stomach ache.
The Buddha: What is troubling you?
The monk: My stomach aches - 1 cannot bear up.
The Buddha: Is there no one to attend to you?
The monk: No, Sir.
The Buddha: Why don't they help you?
The monk: I did not help others when they fell ill. That
may be the reason.
The Buddha: Ananda, please come here. Please bring
water to bathe this monk.
Ven. Ananda brought a vessel of water. The Buddha washed
the monk who was lying on his own body-waste. Ven. Ananda
washed him, rubbing his body. The Buddha took him by the
hand. Ven. Ananda took him by his feet. Two of them to-
gether put the monk on another bed. Necessary medical at-
tention was provided. Because of this the Buddha had all the
monks in the monastery assembled. Addressing the assem-
bled monks the Buddha spoke thus: "Is there a sick monk in
any of these rooms?"
Monks: Sir, there is a sick monk in one of the rooms.
The Buddha: What is ailing him?
Monks: A stomach-ache.
The Buddha: Is there anyone to attend upon him?
Monks: No, Sir.
The Buddha: How is that?
Monks: Sir, that monk never even looked at a sick monk.
Because of that there is no one to look after him when he
The Buddha: Monks, you monks do not have a mother, or
a father. There is no one else responsible for you. Monks
do not have guardians. Therefore, monks must help each
other. When one monk falls ill others must get together
and attend upon him. If that is not done who else would
help the monks? If that is not done, whose help can they
get? O Monks, if someone attends upon me he has to
attend upon the sick. (Yo bhikkhave mam upatthaheyya,
so gilanam upatthaheyya.)
Preparing Robes Under The Instructions
Of The Buddha
The retinue of the Buddha, who is the "Monarch of the
Dhamma", is the Order of Monks. In contemporary India
men of religion - ascetics, hermits, etc. - wore robes made of
leopard's skin, barks, animal-hair and various other materials.
The Buddha did not promulgate any law about robes until the
right moment arrived. Monks started wearing robes made of
uncut cloth and robes of stained-hue. People started finding
fault with the monks, saying: "The monks who are the sons
of Sakya have started wearing clothes like sensuous laymen."
One day, when the Buddha was on His way to the Dakkhina-
giri area from Rajagaha, He noticed the stretch of paddy-fields
called "Maghadha Kethu" (the stretch of Magadha paddy-
fields). He observed how a large area was delimited by large
ridges which were long and wide, and how inside that large
enclosure there were small enclosures, delimited by smaller
ridges. Seeing this He said to Ven. Ananda: "Ananda, order
the monks to cut the cloth for their robes in the manner ridges
are built in that stretch of paddy-fields."
Accordingly, Ven. Ananda trained the monks to cut the cloth
for the robes with large enclosures, cross enclosures, large
spaces, small spaces, branches, etc. The system initiated by
Ven. Ananda to prepare robes spread among all the monks.
The Buddha praised Ven. Ananda as a great genius for plan-
ning out the robes of monks as a methodical wearing item.
Praising Ven. Ananda the Buddha said: "Ven. Ananda is a
man of wisdom. He is a great genius/ 7 ("Pandito bhikkhave
Anando. Maha panno bhikkhave Anando.)
It is 2,500 years since the cut of the robe was planned accord-
ing to the pattern in which a field had been laid out. The only
group in the world continuing that pattern intact with no
change, to date, is the order of Buddhist monks of the Thera-
The Buddha Shows A Serpent To Venerable Ananda
A peasant in an area close to the city of Savatthi was busy
ploughing his field. In the previous night a band of robbers
had broken into the house of an affluent person in the city,
had stolen much gold and other objects. One robber in the
band took a bundle of one-thousand gold coins, unknown to
the others, and hid it in his waist band. The robbers shared
the booty and walked along that peasant's field. The stolen
bundle of thousand gold coins had fallen on the ridge of the
field, unknown to the robber who stole it from the other mem-
bers of the gang.
When the Buddha contemplated the world in the morning
with His compassionate eye, He saw the innocent farmer. The
Buddha saw with His divine eye that the innocent farmer
would be charged for a theft he did not commit, and that he
would be sentenced to death if the Buddha did not intervene.
Only the Word of the Buddha would be accepted. The Buddha
also knew that the farmer had the potentiality to achieve ad-
vanced spiritual progress. That was why He decided to go to
that field early in the morning. Accordingly, the Buddha vis-
ited the field in the company of Ven. Ananda.
The farmer saw the Buddha and Ven. Ananda visiting his
field. He worshipped the Buddha and Ven. Ananda, and went
back to his work in the field. The Buddha did not tell him any-
thing. He addressed Ven. Ananda: 'Ananda, please see that
serpent/' So saying the Buddha pointed to the bundle of gold
coins on the ridge of the field. Ven. Ananda went near the
bundle, and without saying it was not a serpent but a bag of
gold coins, told the Buddha: "Yes, Sir, it is a serpent/ 7 After
the Buddha and Ven. Ananda left the place the farmer went
there with the intention of killing the serpent. When he went
to the spot shown by the Buddha, he saw that there was a
bundle of gold coins. He took it, kept it close to where he was
ploughing, and went on with his task.
The next day the owners of the house that had been broken
into, started looking for thieves who stole their wealth. They
kept on following the foot-prints of the thieves. They traced
the foot-prints to that field. There they found the bag of gold
coins. They arrested the farmer. They took the bundle of gold
coins and the farmer and lodged a complaint before the king.
The king's men took the farmer away, torturing him. He was
being led to the place where criminals were executed. As
he was being led away the farmer, as if he were repeating a
mantra kept on repeating: "Ananda, did you see the serpent?
Ananda, did you see the serpent?" The king's men were puz-
zled why this man should keep on repeating the names of the
Buddha and Ven. Ananda. The king was informed about this.
He then summoned the farmer and asked him about it. The
farmer said that the Buddha came to his field that morning
with Ven. Ananda, and that they spoke about a serpent. The
farmer said that when he went to that spot he found that
bundle of gold coins. The king took the farmer to the presence
of the Buddha. The king worshipped the Buddha and asked
him: "Sir, did you visit this man's field yesterday with Ven.
Ananda? Was this farmer ploughing there? Did you show Ven.
Ananda a serpent in that field? "
The Buddha replied: "Yes, O great king, I went there. I saw a
serpent there and showed it to Ven. Ananda. This farmer took
hold of that serpent with no regard for my advice and has
got into difficulties. What I referred to as a "serpent" was the
bundle of gold coins. Money is like a serpent. Many people
get into difficulties and come to grief because of money. This
man is not a thief. He is innocent. But because he touched a
bundle of gold coins which was a stolen thing belonging to
others he was reduced to this state." The Buddha delivered
a sermon about the incident. The farmer was freed on the
evidence of the Buddha. Besides, the farmer attained Stream-
winner status (Sotapatti).
Venerable Ananda Advises Venerable Vangisa
Once, when he was residing at Jetavana Monastery in Savat-
thi, Ven. Ananda went on his alms-round. Ven. Vangisa came
behind him on his alms-round. Ven. Vangisa saw a beautiful
young woman. He thought well of her appearance and shape.
An erotic feeling arose within him. Since he was a monk who
entered the order entirely because of his devotion, his ways
were direct and open. Therefore he informed Ven. Ananda of
the passion that arose within him.
Kamaragena dayihami - Cittam me pari dayihati
Sadhu nibbapanam bruhi - Anukampaya Gotama.
My body is aflame with passion. My mind is burning al-
together. Ven. Gotama, please let me know how I could
quench this fire. ,,
Ven. Ananda said: "Vangisa, your mind burns because you
cannot know the reality - the true state of things. Give up
the impressions, good, beautiful and auspicious, which cause
passion. Consider all formations as impermanent, and sorrow-
fraught. Do not think of those as a soul or self. Quench the
great fire of passion that keeps on burning people. Turn your
mind to the Meditation on Impurities. Keep your mind in a
trance. Meditate on the Nature of the Body, and increase your
disillusionment. Develop insight meditation and discard your
pride." Ven. Ananda advised him in that way.
Venerable Ananda Helps A Brahmin
The Buddha resided in Benares for a long while and went
for a sojourn in an area called Andakavinda with a retinue
of 1,250 bhikkhus. At that time the people in villages and
market towns followed the Buddha and His retinue of monks
with cart-loads of such provisions as rice, salt, oil, so that they
would be able to offer alms to the Buddha and the monks the
moment there was an opportunity.
About five hundred beggars, too, followed them. The Buddha
continued along the road to Andakavinda and finally arrived
there. One affluent Brahmin waited for over two months to
offer alms to the Buddha and the monks, but was still unable
to get an appointment. He decided that he should look for
dishes not included in the usual alms offers. When he kept on
exploring what dishes had not been offered, he found that no
one had given gruel, bee's honey and honey-combs.
He met Ven. Ananda and requested him to ask the Buddha
if the Enlightened One would accept the alms offer of gruel,
bee's honey and honey-combs. Ven. Ananda informed the
Buddha of the Brahmin's request. The Buddha said that He
would accept the offer. The Brahmin offered gruel, bee's honey
and honey-combs to the Buddha and the monks.
At the end of the alms-offering the Buddha preached a
Sermon indicating ten advantages that accrue from taking
gruel. These are the ten advantages: When you take gruel you
become long-lived; your complexion improves; you become
healthy; you become strong; your wisdom and intelligence im-
prove; the gruel quenches hunger; quells thirst; balances the
wind element in the body; cleanses the bowels and enables
the digestion of undigested particles of food."
Venerable Ananda Ordains A Beggar
One day, Ven. Ananda saw a little urchin wearing a rag, with
a broken vessel in hand, going about begging. Ven. Ananda
asked him: "Child, is it not better for you to become a monk,
giving up begging?" The urchin replied: "Ven. Sir, I would
like to be ordained. But who would ordain people like us?"
Ven. Ananda said: "To be ordained it does not matter whether
a person is rich or poor. What is essential is only the consent
of the person. If you would like to be ordained I will certainly
So saying, Ven. Ananda took him along to the monastery,
bathed the urchin himself, taught him the objects of medita-
tion to remove obstacles to the attainment of Sainthood, and
He washed the rag that was worn by the urchin, and tried to
find out whether it could be put to some use, like draining
water. He found that it could not be used in any way. There-
fore, he placed that rag along with his begging vessel on the
branch of a tree. The way he placed those showed that Ven.
Ananda was not quite certain how things would turn out.
That urchin, because he was ordained belatedly, consumed
what was offered to the Buddha, acquired flesh and blood
and started wearing magnificent robes that became available
due to the power of the Buddha. Eventually, he became bored
with the life at the monastery. He thought: "When one is not
attached to the Order, what is given by devotees is of no use.
As my rag is still there I will give up robes."
He took the rag in his hand and found that his thoughts
were as coarse as his rag. He addressed himself. "You are a
shameless person. Did you think that you could give up the
Buddha's Dispensation, which gives you fine robes, and go
around begging, taking this broken vessel in hand instead of
the alms-bowl? When you were ordained you discarded the
rag and the broken vessel. What if both of those had been de-
stroyed at that time? What would you have done then? You
seem totally shameless/ 7
He advised himself this way, as if someone else was advising
him. When he kept on advising himself his disillusionment
with the Dispensation too disappeared. He kept the rag and,
leaving the broken begging vessel there by itself, returned to
On several occasions he repeated this process. He would go
to the place where the rag was placed, talk to himself, advis-
ing himself and, changing his mind, would come back to the
monastery. The monks would ask him occasionally where he
was going. When asked he would say: I went to my teacher
to obtain his advice." This way, learning the absorption to the
Dispensation from the rag and the broken vessel, he devel-
oped insight and, in a few days, became an Arahant.
When he became an Arahant his journey in the cycle of births
came to an end. Along with it his journey to the rag also
ended. Monks would ask him: "Friend, don't you go to see
the teacher these days?" The monk would reply: "When there
was a reason I would go. But now that reason is gone." The
monks went to the Buddha and informed Him thus: "Sir,
Elder Pilotika says that he is an Arahant." The Buddha lis-
tened and responded: "Yes, monks, when the minds of my
sons are defiled and blemished, the wanderings in samsara
increase. Now he is devoid of blemishes, has travelled in
samsara, has become diminished. His walk, too, stopped in
the same manner."
The Buddha then preached a Sermon: "A disciplined horse
avoids weapons aimed at it. In the same way, those who prac-
tise the rules of monkhood do not allow insults and abuses to
affect them. Even if some kammic forces affect them during
this birth they avoid them in the next birth. Anyone who
eradicates an evil thought through a sense of shame will be
like this monk Pilotika. A good horse may, at one point, get
attacked by a weapon. But next time he will make an effort to
avoid it. In the same way, you too must make an effort. You
must develop a disillusionment about the cycle of births. You
must discard all the sufferings you experienced in your wan-
derings through samsara, just as Ven. Pilotika gave up his suf-
ferings by concentrating on the rag and the broken begging
vessel. You must, in the same way, concentrate on the suffer-
ings you faced during the cycle of birth."
Venerable Ananda Helps Venerable Anuruddha
To Prepare His Robe
Ven. Anuruddha was a strict adherent of the practice of wear-
ing robes made of cemetery shrouds and discarded clothes.
One day, Ven. Anuruddha found that his robe was worn out
and thread-bare. He tried to find cloth for a robe in garbage
dumps and thirty-three places of that type.
The wife of his third previous life had been reborn in the Tava-
timsa Heaven as celestial maiden Jalini. She saw how this
monk who enjoyed tremendous luxury in that previous birth,
was now going about looking for rags. She selected three
divine cloths, each thirteen cubits in length and four cubits
in width. She thought: "If I presented these in this form itself,
he would not accept them because of his austerity." She then
placed the cloths in a garbage heap in which the monk would
be rummaging for rags, making only the edge appear.
The monk, searching for rags along that street, saw only the
edge of the divine cloths. He kept on pulling it and saw the
divine cloths. He decided that they were in keeping with his
principal of using only discarded cloths.
On the day appointed for the making of robes the Buddha
went to this monastery with a retinue of five hundred monks.
Eighty principal disciples were also there. Ven. Maha Kas-
sapa assumed the position of the chief monk for the ritual
of preparing robes. Ven. Sariputta was seated in the centre.
Ven. Ananda sat at the end. Beyond him the other monks sat.
Those who were seated at the outer edge would weave the
threads. The Buddha did not stay inactive as He was the All
Enlightened One. He would thread the needles. The monks
assigned to stitch - Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Sariputta and
Ven. Ananda - went on sewing the robes. If there were certain
things needed for the sewing of the robes Ven. Maha Moggal-
lana would look after those needs. The divine damsel who do-
nated the cloths for the robes entered the village and exulted
that "for the preparation of the robes for Ven. Anuruddha, the
Buddha and the eighty great disciples arrived, with their con-
stant retinue of five hundred monks/ 7
Once, the Buddha resided at Savatthi. After a while He
traveled to various settlements. At the time he was away from
Savatthi, many devotees came to the monastery with flowers,
incense, etc., and not seeing the Buddha, they were sorely
distressed. Not knowing any other place where these things
could be offered, they heaped whatever they brought along
near the monastery, and went away.
Guild leader Anathapindika and many other devotees, seeing
these discarded flowers, were totally overcome with emotion.
They felt that they should have an object that could be vener-
ated like the Buddha whenever they could not see the Buddha.
After discussing the matter among themselves, they went to
the monastery on one occasion when the Buddha was present
there. They were exceedingly happy to see the Buddha.
Next, they visited Ven. Ananda, and spoke to him thus: " Ven-
erable Sir, we were not able to see the Buddha all these days.
There was no opportunity for us to make offerings to Him.
This made us sorely distressed. It is the nature of the Buddha
to travel about for the well-being of many. Please ask the
Buddha to grant us something to worship and make offerings
to, when the Buddha is not at the monastery/ 7 Ven. Ananda
went to the Buddha and informed Him of this situation. He
asked the Buddha: "Venerable Sir, what are the objects that
should be worshipped in place of you, assuming that we see
you in them?"
The Buddha replied: 'Ananda, objects of worship are three-
fold, namely, saririka, uddesika and paribhogika. Of these
saririka (bodily relics) are objects of the Buddha's body. Ud-
desika objects are the Buddha's Doctrine, and images that
look like the Buddha. Paribhogika objects are those used by
the Buddha. The Buddha's alms-bowl. The Bodhi Tree that
sheltered Him. Therefore, if you bring a sapling from the
sacred Bodhi Tree, plant it here at Jetavana Monastery, and
honour and worship it as if you were seeing me in it - that is
equivalent to honouring and respecting me personally."
Ven. Ananda told this to King Kosala and all those who mat-
tered. Immediately, he had a hole dug at the entrance to Jeta-
vana Monastery, and had the site decorated. He went to Ven.
Moggallana and said: "Venerable Sir, could you please go to
the sacred Bodhi Tree and bring back a sapling for us?"
At that time Ven. Moggallana resolved that all those present
there should see him going, and bringing back a sapling of
the Tree. After that resolve he rose into the sky and went to
the site of the Bodhi Tree, bringing a sapling back, without
allowing it to hit the ground. He returned instantly through
the sky, alighted on the ground and handed over the sapling
to Ven. Ananda.
Ven. Ananda received it with both hands and handed it over
to King Kosala. Ven. Ananda said to the king: "O great King,
plant this with your own hands."
The king received it in a jewel-casket, kept it on his head, cir-
cled the hole three times with his right-hand side turned to
the site, and thought thus: "I cannot be sure of being king
always. Therefore, I do not know whether any other king suc-
ceeding me will have the same affection for this tree as I have.
But guild leaders are like solid earth. I will get guild leader
Anathapindika to plant this."
With that thought he handed it over to the guild leader, saying:
"Guild leader, please plant this with your own hands." At that
stage they had a golden bowl, worth one hundred thousand,
filled with fragrant mud, with a hole made at its bottom, and
the guild leader placed the Bo sapling in the fragrant mud.
Instantly, while all the people looked on, the plant rose up,
piercing the earth like a celestial serpent. The plant had a
large leaf and a tender leaf. This plant which arose due to
the power of the Buddha and the arahants, and the devotion
of the king and the guild leader, kept on growing up with
a large trunk and branches spreading in all directions. Its
leaves were like emeralds. The tender leaves resembled corals,
and instantly it became comely with reddened fruits. All the
people in and around the city of Savatthi were overjoyed by
this miracle. They continued to celebrate this event.
Kings and influential men and women of Savatthi built a wall
around this Bodhi Tree. Since the Bodhi Tree was planted at
the request of Ven. Ananda, it was called the Ananda Bodhi
Tree. Devotees were assigned to make offerings to the Bodhi
Tree each day.
Ven. Ananda saw the Buddha, worshipped him and said:
"Venerable Sir, you need not declare your greatness from today
on. From today on, this Ananda Bodhi Tree will delight the
whole world and will be of service to the whole of mankind.
The masses made offerings to this Ananda Bodhi Tree. Vener-
able Sir, you must consecrate this Bodhi Tree by sitting at the
foot of it, contemplating just as you did when you sat under
the sacred Bodhi Tree and attained Enlightenment."
The Buddha sat down under the Ananda Bodhi Tree, entered
into deep meditation, and spent one whole night there in that
posture. From that day on, even when the Buddha was not
at Jetavana Monastery, it was as if the Buddha were perma-
nently present there. Offerings continued to be made to the
Ananda Bodhi Tree at the rate of one hundred thousand.
Venerable Ananda Requests The Buddha
To Go To Another Village
Magandhi was frustrated that she could not get anything
done. She decided that she would do something to the Buddha
Himself. Determined that way, she bribed the people of the
city and told them to get their urchins to stand in various
places and to scold and abuse the Buddha when He came to
the city for the alms-round, and so to chase him out. Accept-
ing that assignment, those misbelievers who were not happy
with the Three Jewels saw the Buddha entering the city on
His alms-round and started abusing Him. They scolded Him
and insulted Him using the ten-fold abusive terms.
They said: "You are a thief. You are a fool. You are an idiot.
You are a camel. You are an animal. You are a beast. You will
never gain a pleasant place. You will get only woeful states/ 7
Ven. Ananda, hearing these abusive words, informed the
Buddha this way: "Sir, people of this city have no devotion to
the Three Jewels. They scold, insult and abuse. Let us please
leave this place and go to some other city."
The Buddha listened to him and asked: If in this city that we
will go to, people started insulting us, where will we go?"
Ven. Ananda said: "If they too are equally abusive we will go
to another city."
The Buddha spoke thus: "Ananda, that way of going from one
city to another is not the proper thing to do. If an offence has
happened in one place we will put it right there. We will go
to another place only after the matter has been fully settled
Next, He asked Ven. Ananda: "Ananda, who are those who
insult us?" Ven. Ananda replied: "Sir, all the people, starting
from servants and labourers, are insulting us."
Hearing this, the Buddha said: "I am like an elephant who has
entered the battle ground. The elephant in the battle ground
tolerates arrows from all four directions. I am prepared to for-
give the insults of unvirtuous people."
The Buddha continued: "Ananda, do not worry. They will
insult for about seven days. On the eighth day they will be
silent like dumb people. If there is an offence against the
Buddha it will not last more than seven days."
Venerable Ananda Is Saddened That
The Buddha Has Grown Old
The Buddha resided at Purvarama built by Vishaka. One day
when it was extremely cold the Buddha had a seat prepared
for Himself in the open air outside the monastery. He sat in
it and adjusted the robe to uncover his back so that the sun's
rays fell on His back. In this way He basked in the sun.
Ven. Ananda came there and worshipped Him, stroking the
Buddha's back. Ven. Ananda remarked: "O Sir, it is quite
strange. In earlier days your complexion was very clear. It
really gleamed then. Now it is changed. Earlier, the skin
was very smooth. Now, little wrinkles have begun to appear.
Your body was straight earlier. Now it is beginning to bend.
Your organs, eyes, ears, nose, tongue and the body have now
changed from those days. They do not look the same today/ 7
The Buddha then said: "Yes, you are right, Ananda. It is natu-
ral that one gets old when youth ends. Natural too that one
gets sick when good health is gone. It is natural that death
should occur when life ends. In those days my skin was very
smooth. It was very clear. The body that was upright is now
bent. My sense organs, eyes, ears, nose, are now weak."
Venerable Ananda Says Dependent Origination
Is Quite Easy
The Buddha resided at one time in the market town of Kam-
masa damma in the country of Kurus. Then one day, Ven.
Ananda went to the Buddha, worshipped Him and stood
to one side. Addressing the Buddha, he said: "Sir, it is very
strange. It is unbelievable. This Teaching of Dependent Origi-
nation (paticca samuppada) seems deep and difficult for all.
But for me, it is quite easy. I can understand it well and
The Buddha said: "O Ananda, do not say such things. This De-
pendent Origination (paticca samuppada Dhamma) is quite
deep and profound. As they cannot comprehend this Doctrine
all the people in this world are like a spool of thread nibbled
by mice, or else like birds' nests built of all kinds of bits and
pieces, or else they are like a rope woven out of various strands
of grasses. They are incapable of finding out the beginning
or the end of things, and are confused. They remain glued to
the present existence, full of wrong views, incapable of getting
over the sufferings of the woeful states and the sufferings of
the cycle of existence," the Buddha said, indicating just how
profound Dependent Origination (paticca samuppada) was.
The Buddha Teaches 'Object Meditation'
To Venerable Ananda
The Buddha spoke thus to Ven. Ananda: 'Ananda, Brahmin
Parasariya teaches a system of meditation to his disciples, ad-
vocating that one must not look at visual objects with one's
eyes and one should not listen to sounds with one's ears. In
terms of that the blind person who cannot see and the deaf
person who cannot hear, are practitioners of object medita-
tion. But, the object meditation I teach is the highest and it is
Then Ven. Ananda requested the Buddha to explain to him
the form of object meditation advocated by the Buddha.
The Buddha explained: "A monk ordained by my Dispensa-
tion is happy seeing visual objects. Or else he will feel un-
happy seeing a visual object - or else he will have a neutral
feeling of being neither happy nor unhappy. The monk be-
comes aware that he has experienced a happy feeling, an
unhappy feeling or a neutral feeling of being neither happy
nor unhappy. Being thus aware he keeps his mind neutral
or unaffected by the impact of the visual object. To keep the
mind neutral he contemplates the Three Characteristics (Ti-
lakkhana) which are impermanence, suffering and soulless-
ness (anicca, dukkha, anatta). Since the thoughts arise either
through liking or disliking, such thoughts tend to fluctuate
and to be impermanent. He concentrates his mind on neutral
"A person who possesses eyes opens and closes the eyes in-
stantly. In the same way, the liking or disliking arising from
seeing a visual object disappear in a trice.
That kind of insight neutrality established in a mind is de-
scribed by me as the object meditation relating to visual ob-
jects. "In the unparalleled 'object meditation' relating to a
sound heard through the ear, a smell experienced through
the nose, a taste experienced through the tongue, a touch ex-
perienced through the body, and the mental phenomenon ex-
perienced through the mind have to be learnt in terms of the
Visual objective' meditation.
If a monk is able to establish in his mind the 'insight neutral-
ity', contemplating as impermanence, suffering and soul-less-
ness, the likes and dislikes that appear in the mind, through
the six sense-objects of visual object, sounds, smells, etc.,
taken in by the six organs - eyes, ears, nose, etc., - that is the
'unparalleled object' meditation advocated by Buddhism.
"O Ananda, if a given monk, seeing a visual object with the
eye, hearing a sound through the ear, experiencing a smell
through the nose, obtaining a taste through the tongue, feel-
ing a touch through the body, and acquiring an experience
through the mind, receives a pleasure, a displeasure or a neu-
tral attitude, if at that the monk becomes ashamed or repelled,
that is 'the attitude of the disciple' ('sekhapatipada').
"Ananda, the greatest meditation is 'object meditation'. By
teaching this I have done what a compassionate kind teacher
should do to his disciples. "Ananda, meditate. Here are trees.
Here are empty houses. Meditate. Do not delay. Do not repent
later. This is my admonition to you."
"Etani Ananda rukkhamulani, etani sunnagarani jhayatha-
nanda, ma pamadattha, ma pacchavippatisarino ahuvattha,
ayam vo amhatam anusasana.
Venerable Ananda And Venerable Kassapa
Bhikkhunis liked Ven. Ananda better than Ven. Maha Kas-
sapa. But Ven. Ananda had a high regard for Ven. Maha
Kassapa. It was the kind of regard one has for one's teacher.
One day, a novice monk wanted to obtain higher ordination
from Ven. Maha Kassapa. On this occasion Ven. Maha Kas-
sapa sent word to Ven. Ananda to read the disciplinary rule
(Kamma Vakya) at the higher ordination. Ven. Ananda re-
fused the invitation because he did not want to mention Ven.
Maha Kassapa's name. He sent word saying that he could not
pronounce the Disciplinary Regulation (Kamma Vakya) be-
cause he could not refer to Ven. Maha Kassapa, as he was his
teacher. (Naham ussami therassa namam gahetum garu me
Thero' iti). "I cannot speak the name of Ven. Maha Kassapa
because he is my teacher/ 7
Five Lay Disciples Listen To A Sermon While
Venerable Ananda Fans The Buddha
Five lay disciples went to the monastery, keen to listen to a
Sermon by the Buddha. They worshipped Him, and stayed to
one side. It never occured to the Buddha, 'These are royals;
these are brahmans; these are wealthy ones; these are poor. I
will preach longer to these; I will preach briefly to these."
Since the Dhamma preached by the Buddha does not become
rich when it reaches the wealthy, or poor when it reaches the
poor, the Dhamma is always of the same quality. Therefore,
He preaches in detail, like the celestial river coming down to
earth, with due respect to the Dhamma.
Of the five people listening to the Buddha's preaching, one
was not very interested in listening to the Dhamma. There-
fore, he slept seated. Another was drawing lines on the floor
with his fingers. Another was shaking a branch of a tree
nearby. Another was looking at the sky, as if watching the
place from where the Sermon emerged. One of them listened
to the Sermon without any distraction from the time he first
went to listen to the Buddha.
Ven. Ananda was fanning the Buddha at that time. Therefore,
he was able to observe how those five listened to the Sermon.
He said to the Buddha, "O Sir, you keep on preaching to them
like a torrential rain pouring on all the four great islands,
without ever thinking there are only five and they are not suf-
ficient. While you are preaching this way, one person is sleep-
ing as if he broke rest last night. Another draws lines on the
ground, as if committing the Sermon he heard to memory by
writing it on the sand. Another keeps on shaking a branch,
like a person who has lost his way in the wilderness, indicat-
ing his presence. Another keeps on looking at the sky, as if he
were stargazing. Another listens with attention well focused/ 7
Hearing this, the Buddha said, 'Ananda, do you know all
these people? "
"No, Sir, I do not know them," replied Ananda. The Buddha
said, "Listen, one of them who sleeps forgetting that he is lis-
tening to the Dhamma, had been born in one hundred births
as a serpent, and was sleeping with his head on his coils. At
present, too, his fondness for sleep has not diminished. There-
fore, my Sermon does not reach his ears."
Ven. Ananda enquired, "Was he born a serpent in five hun-
dred births continuously?"
The Buddha said, "Ananda, this person was sometimes born
as a human, sometimes as a deity, and sometimes as a cobra.
The number of births he was born a serpent cannot be known
even through a Buddha's wisdom. As he was born continu-
ously for five hundred births as a cobra and slept deeply, now,
too, he is inclined to sleep."
After explaining why that person slept while listening to the
Dhamma, the Buddha said: 'The person who draws lines on
the ground was an earthworm for five hundred births, and
drew lines wherever he went. Today, too, he draws lines ac-
cording to that habit, and does not listen to the Dhamma.
The person who kept on shaking the branch had been born
a monkey for five hundred consecutive births. Now, too, he
keeps on shaking branches according to his previous habit.
Though he hears the sound of the branch shaking, nothing
from my Sermon reaches his ear. The Brahmin who keeps
on gazing at the sky had been an astronomer for five hun-
dred births consecutively. Due to his star-gazing habit during
those births, now, too, he keeps on gazing at the sky. He hears
nothing of my Sermon. Since no water reaches the field when
the canal is clogged, the canals of action of all those people
had become clogged, and the waters of Dhamma did not
enter into their fields of ideas. That person who listens to the
Dhamma with due attention had been born for five hundred
consecutive births as a brahmin, studying the Vedas. Today,
too, he listens to the Dhamma with a well-composed mind,
like a person learning the Vedic chants."
Ven. Ananda enquired, "The Dhamma you preach is suffi-
cient for anyone listening to it attentively to pierce the outer
skin, inner skin, the flesh, the sinews and bones, and to pen-
etrate to the marrow. Why have these four not listened to the
Dhamma with due attention? "
The Buddha asked, "Can all listen to our Dhamma?"
"Why, Sir, is there a reason why one cannot?"
When the Buddha said, "Yes," Ven. Ananda asked why.
The Buddha replied, "These beings have not even heard the
name of the Three Gems in hundreds of thousands of aeons.
As they are not used to it they do not get even a desire to listen
to it. In the boundless cycle of existence that cannot be known
even by the wisdom of a Buddha, these beings are used only
to stories that are not conducive to the bliss of heaven or Nib-
bana. Therefore, no merit accrues in the theatres and pleasure-
grounds they wander about in, singing and dancing. Instead
of getting ready to go out and listen to the Dhamma, they
spent their days in playing and dancing. They did not even
have such a noble thought."
The Buddha further explained why such ideas did not occur.
"Ananda, beings do not get such beneficial ideas because of
such defilements as passion and ill-will. The end-of-the-world-
fire that arises due to the rising of seven suns will burn every-
thing that must be burnt. But, that fire burns only in a specific
age. But, there is no time when the fire of passions does not
burn. There is, therefore, no fire like passion as it burns with-
out creating smoke, and without leaving charcoal, and burns
within the body itself. One is not always caught by demons,
pythons and crocodiles. But ill-will catches you as long as it is
not fully eradicated. Therefore, there is nothing like ill-will to
catch one firmly, and take one to hell. And again, there is no
net like ignorance, as it confuses the mind by spreading over
the head. One can see when the rivers and lakes are full of
water, and when they are dried up. But one cannot see when
the river of craving is full or dried up until it is destroyed by
attaining arahanthood. Since it always seems diminished, it
can never be filled. This way, there is no river like craving/ 7
At the end of the Sermon the devotee who listened to the
preaching attentively attained stream-winning status. The
Sermon was also of benefit to some others who were present.
Dialogue Between The Buddha
And Venerable Ananda
(From Surangama Sutta in the Chinese Tipitaka)
The Buddha: "Ananda, you and I are both from the same
blood-clan. In addition, the two of us live with brotherly
affection for one another. I will put some questions
to you. You must answer them freely. Why did you
take an interest in Buddhism, initially? How were you
enamoured of your Buddhist way of life? What made you
give up worldly pleasures and your youthful sex desires?"
Ven. Ananda: "My venerable Sir, the first things that
attracted me were the thirty-two special characteristics
of a supreme being seen in your personality. I saw
those exceptional characteristics within you, like seeing
the contents in a transparent crystal casket. They were
gleaming and clear. From the day I saw them that way, I
kept on thinking about them. I was convinced that those
unusual characteristics could not be present in anyone
other than a person who had given up all sensual desires.
Why is it? When a person is aflame with passion his
mind becomes troubled. It gets disturbed. His self-control
falls away. He becomes rash. He gets toughened. His
sense of shame and fear vanishes. When you indulge
in sensual pleasures your blood gets heated. It becomes
impure. It gets polluted.
"The gold-hued, variegated rays that emanate from your
body could never radiate from the body of an individual
who is given to sex desires. This is why I consider you
noble. These were the reasons that compelled me to seek
to be a disciple of yours - your follower/ 7
The Buddha: "Ananda, it is very good. All those
assembled in this hall must know and appreciate why
beings endlessly die and are reborn, migrating from one
life to another. The reason is that they have not realized
the truth about sensation/ 7
Ven. Ananda: "Yes, Sir."
The Buddha: "Ananda, I will put yet another question
to you. Please listen to me carefully. You said just now
that you became devoted to me by seeing the thirty-two
supreme personality characteristics of my body. Who
created the feeling to see them? Who made you feel
happy to see them?"
Ven. Ananda: "My eyes and my mind persuaded me
to see them. They made me happy seeing them. When
my eyes saw them my mind instantly created the feeling
of happiness. This prompted my mind to direct me to
become one of your disciples. I feel that because of this
I will be able to escape the cycle of existence which
includes birth and death."
The Buddha: "Ananda, you said just now that your
happiness arose in your eye and in your mind. But you
would never be able to get rid of your defilements, and
your worldly attachments, if you did not have a realistic,
pragmatic awareness of the vision of the eye, and the
functioning of the mind. It is just like the frustration of
the efforts of a king who strives to get rid of thieves and
robbers in a city infested with them. He is frustrated in
his attempts to destroy them because he cannot know
where those evil fellows lurk. The life of human beings,
constantly troubled by worldly bonds and attachments,
endlessly tortured by various defilements, with their
practical wisdom and vision gone awry, devoid of firm
beliefs, and being taken hither and thither by ignorance,
without any control, is also like that.
"Ananda, let me ask you about your eye and your head.
Do you know where they lurk secretly?"
Ven. Ananda: "Sir, of the ten features of a life, the eyes
are situated in the front section of the face. Your eyes
which are like blue lotuses, and my eyes are situated that
way. Other organs, too, are situated on the outer section
of the body But, only my mind is hidden inside the body."
The Buddha (interrupting Ananda): "You are now seated
inside the assembly hall. Isn't that so? When you look at
the forest grove of Jeta, can you say where the assembly
hall is, and where the Jeta forest grove is?"
Ven. Ananda: "Yes, Sir, I can clearly say that. This
majestic and quiet assembly hall, and the Jeta grove are
both situated in the great attractive park of guild leader
The Buddha: "Ananda, what do you see first - those
people who are assembled inside this hall, or the park?"
Ven. Ananda: "Sir, I see you first of all. Next, I see the
disciples and others assembled inside the hall. It is only
then that I see the grove and the comely park."
The Buddha: "Ananda, it is quite true. Alright, tell me
now. When you look at the grove and the park from here,
how can you discriminate between the various sights you
see? What makes you see them separately?"
Ven. Ananda: "The doors and windows of the assembly
hall are wide open. Therefore, I can clearly view from
here what is beyond." The Buddha (in the presence of the
disciples, stretching His golden-hued hand, the Buddha
strokes Ven. Ananda's head, and speaks): "Ananda, you
said at first that your mind is within your body. But, if
this clear mind is really situated inside your body, you
must, in the first instance, be able to see the inside of your
body. But, there is no one who can see the inside of one's
body as clearly as one can see the outside of one's body
If there is no one who can see one's own heart, lungs,
intestines, liver and other internal organs, at least one
must be able to see how one's nails grow, one's hair grows,
and how the heart beats. If the mind is inside the body,
how is it that we cannot see them? If the mind cannot
see what is inside the body, how can one see it without
the body? Therefore, we cannot accept the view that the
mind is within the body."
Ven. Ananda: "When I listened to you it occurred to me
that my mind must be situated outside my body. It is like
a lamp. When a lamp is lit inside a room, it first lights up
the room; next, the light spreads to the outside places and
the courtyard, through doors and windows. If that were
so, how is it that a person cannot see what is inside, and
can see what is outside?"
"The mind is like a lamp placed outside a room. Inside it
is dark. If one can clearly understand what the mind is,
he will have no problem at all. He will have no puzzles
and enigmas. He will have the wisdom of a Buddha, and
the realization of Truth, like a Buddha."
The Buddha Questions Venerable Ananda
The Buddha preached the Doctrine in a delightful, smooth
voice. His Sermons were good at the beginning, in the middle,
and at the end. Ven. Ananda and other disciples listened to
His preachings extremely attentively. They were happy and
they praised the Buddha.
But once, Ven. Ananda was not happy with that. He came to
the Buddha, worshipped Him, and said: "O Blessed Buddha,
you expounded, taking pity on us, the perpetual quality of
the Absolute Phenomena which are pure and wondrous. But,
I could not fully comprehend what you said. This is how I
understood it - The six doors of perception cling on to all
objects of defilement. When we get release from those cling-
ings, only the independent perceptions remain in the mind
and thought processes. They, too, disappear on their own.
And, what remains is only the original nature of those mental
states. Their disappearance and their reduction continue una-
bated without one's effort/ Sir, could you please explain this
for the benefit of such worldling monks as us, and also for the
benefit of the future monks? "
Then the Buddha took a silk handkerchief into His hand, tied
a knot in it, showed it to the monks, and asked, "O monks,
what is this?"
Ven. Ananda: "Sir, it is a silk handkerchief with a knot
in it made by you."
The Buddha (makes another knot): "What is this now?"
Ven. Ananda: "The handkerchief with another knot."
The Buddha (ties another knot. In this way He tied six
knots and asked the monks at each turn): "What is this?"
"What is this?"
Ven. Ananda: "This is another knot. There are six knots now."
The Buddha: "When I showed you the first knot, Ananda,
you said that it was a knot. You said so about the second
knot, too. You continued to say so when I showed you
all the six knots."
Ven. Ananda: "The handkerchief is a piece of cloth,
woven in silk thread. When a knot is tied in it, it is proper
to describe it as a knot. Even if a hundred knots are tied
in it, it could still be described the same way. Each knot
can be described as a knot. But, you made exactly six
knots. Sir, why did you describe only the first one as a
The Buddha: "Ananda, this attractive handkerchief is just
one piece of cloth. It is true to say that it has six knots in
it. Now, take a closer look at this. This silk handkerchief
is one piece of cloth woven with silk threads. It has not
changed in any way due to the knots. It has changed
only in its external appearance. It is still the handkerchief
that existed at the beginning. It has never changed. When
I tied it at first, the first knot appeared. When I tied it
the second time, the second knot appeared. In this way,
six knots appeared in one and the same handkerchief. If
I count backwards from the sixth knot, that sixth knot
becomes the first knot. Isn't that so?"
Ven. Ananda: "No, Sir. When you tie knots in the
handkerchief one after the other, the last one should be
The Buddha: "All right, I accept your view. But, these
six knots are not similar to one another. You may try
to understand why they are different from one another.
Then you will find that all these knots are made in
one handkerchief. You cannot change this handkerchief.
But, if you like, you can change the shape, form and
the nature of these knots. Why can't you change the
handkerchief? Because, Ananda, it is one piece of cloth.
The real nature of the six organs of perception is also the
same. The six doors of perception are like six knots in the
original, simple state of mind of people. The difference
of these doors of perception is also seen through the
wholeness of the mind."
Ven. Ananda: "As long as the knots exist in the
handkerchief, various views and arguments are likely
to arise about their priority, their shape, etc. But, if in
some way the knots are untied, those arguments do not
arise. This is because when the knots are untied only the
original handkerchief remains."
The Buddha: "Yes, Ananda, indeed, it is so. This is
similar to the manner in which the six doors of
perception are bound up with the original mind. When
all the defilements are gone from the six doors of
perception, the concepts that automatically arise in the
exploratory mind disappear. This is because in the mind
that is deformed and diseased due to wrong concepts
brought in by the doors of perception and deposited in
the mind over a long period of time, such defilements
as craving, ill-will and passion, continued to grow and
take root. Due to these defilements such other views
as sakkaya ditthi, vicikiccha, have also arisen. The
false concepts that have continued to grow in association
with these doors of perception, life after life, are illusory
concepts. They are like an illusory bouquet of flowers
that appears in the air to a person with a deformed
mind. Though they may resemble the nature of concepts
that arise in the original mind, illuminated due to the
eradication of defilements, they actually arise in the mind
because of its diseased quality.
"This nature is common not only to such internal
concepts as death and rebirth, but also to such external
phenomena as rivers, hills and valleys. In those disturbed
minds that are scattered, bewildered and deformed, even
such discriminatory thoughts about the nature of mind
and of Nibbana, may become like illusory miraculous
and wondrous flowers seen in the sky by a sick mind."
Ven. Ananda: "If, O Blessed One, those automatic
concepts (which identify such ideas as male and female)
which have the nature of constantly arising and changing,
are like the knots in the handkerchief, how can one untie
The Buddha (takes the handkerchief, pulls it casually this
way and that, and asks): "Can these knots be untied this
Ven. Ananda: 'No, Sir."
The Buddha: I tried to untie these knots in the
handkerchief in this casual manner, but to no purpose. I
tried other methods, but to no avail. My efforts became
futile. Ananda, how can we untie these knots?"
Ven. Ananda: "I will initially try to examine how these
knots are tied. I will first try to understand the real
nature of these knots. Then I will untie them."
The Buddha: "Quite right, Ananda. That is exactly what
should be done to untie these knots. This is just what
you should do even about the Doctrine I have taught
you. I have taught you that everything occurs in terms of
cause and effect. I realized this through my own effort.
This knowledge is beneficial both to this world and the
next. It is true of all phenomena. Ananda, the Teacher
(the Buddha) knows the reality of all phenomena. He can
declare it in any manner He wishes. He knows about
each drop of water on the sandy banks of the Ganges.
The straightness of the pine tree, the crookedness of a
thorn-bush, the whiteness of the crane, the ashen colour
of the magpie - He knows the reality of such things in
terms of cause and effect.
"Therefore, Ananda, if you select any door of perception
you prefer, and break asunder all the internal and
external bonds and attachments associated with it, all
the misconceptions in the exploratory mind will be
eradicated. If you realize that any sense perception or
a thought built on it is impermanent and illusory, the
tendency to cling onto sensations brought in by various
doors of perception will also be eradicated. This way,
when you eradicate fully the tendency to be enslaved by
your sense organs, only the true, real mental phenomena
"Ananda, I will ask you yet another question. Can all
these six knots in the handkerchief be untied at once?"
Ven. Ananda: 'Not at all, Sir. You tied these knots
separately. Therefore, they have to be untied one by one,
The Buddha: 'Ananda, the eradication of the bonds of the
six sense-perceptions is also similar to this. Of the knots
of wrong views, the very first knot that should be untied,
that should be eradicated - is the I-ness (the selfishness)
found in all human beings. Human beings must initially
realize the falsehood and the impermanence of the I-ness
(concept of self) within one. When one has realized this
fully and comprehensively, his mind becomes bright -
glorious - shiny.
'The next knot that should be untied is the knot of
one's personal attainment. One must untie that knot,
realizing fully, comprehensively, the wrongness and the
impermanence of that concept. Once an individual has
been able to realize the wrongness and confusion of the T
concept, and the sense of one's personal attainment, one
will also realize that they have to be fully and totally
eradicated. Then they will not allow those to cling onto
one's pure and original mind, and to confuse and disturb
The Buddha Passes Away
One day, the Buddha, who was eighty, addressed Ven. Ananda
as follows: 'Ananda, let us cross the River Hiranyathie, and
go to the Upavattana Sala Park of the Malla kings of the city
of Kusinara." Ven. Ananda, approving the Buddha's sugges-
tion, said, "Yes, Sir, let us go." At that stage the Buddha, with
the vast retinue of monks who were around Him, arrived
at Upavattana Sala Park. There, the Buddha, addressing Ven.
Ananda, showing him two large Sala trees, said, "Please keep
a bed between these two Sala trees."
Ven. Ananda brought along a bed that had been kept in the
park for the use of kings. The Buddha lay down on the bed on
his right side, with his left leg on his right leg. The whole place
looked like a bed decked with flower petals, as the petals of
flowers were strewn everywhere.
The Buddha, addressing Ven. Ananda, said thus: "Just see,
Ananda, how even these two inanimate Sala trees felicitate
me with these strewn flower petals, and scent-laden breezes.
Ananda, even though you cannot see, those deities in this
whole area and in the air, offer me flowers and fragrances. Of-
fering me these various material gifts is not the best way to
honour me. They are not the proper form of showing me re-
spect. If a given monk, nun, male lay devotee or a female lay
devotee were to practise the virtues, if they follow a moral
way of life, such a person is the individual who has respected
me in the correct manner. He is the person who respects me
in the best way. He is the person who has made me the high-
"Ananda, therefore, you must pay special attention to what I
said. Ananda, there are four places a devoted person must see
and be moved. They are the place the Buddha was born, the
place where the Buddha attained Enlightenment, the place
where he delivered the First Sermon, and the place where His
demise took place. Any devoted person visiting these four
sites will never fail to be moved/ 7
Ven. Ananda: "How should we treat women? I would
like to know this from you/ 7
The Buddha: "It is good if you do not see them."
Ven. Ananda: "But if we happen to see them?"
The Buddha: "Even if you see them it is good to refrain
from talking to them."
Ven. Ananda: "But what if we have to talk to them?"
The Buddha: "You must speak to them with great
presence of mind. If you have to talk to a woman younger
than you, consider her purely as your younger sister. If
you have to talk to a woman who is older than you,
consider her purely as your elder sister. If you have to talk
to an elderly lady, talk to her with the pure thought that
she is your mother."
Ven. Ananda: "What should be the attitude we must
adopt towards the Buddha's body? I would like to know
The Buddha: "Ananda, do not waste your time making
offerings to the body of the Buddha. There are many
kings, guild leaders, Brahmins, householders who are
devoted to me. They will look after it."
Ven. Ananda: "How should they treat the Buddha's
The Buddha: "To the Buddha's body, too, they must adopt
the same attitude as to the body of a universal king."
Ven. Ananda: I would like to know how one should treat
the body of a universal monarch."
The Buddha: "The body of a universal monarch should
be wrapped in new silk cloths. Next, it should be
wrapped in soft cotton. Once again, the body should be
wrapped in new silk cloths. This way, the body should
be wrapped in about five hundred silk cloths. Next, a
coffin made of gold is brought. Oil is poured into it.
It is then closed with a lid of gold. It is then placed
in a pyre made of sandalwood. Then the cremation is
done with due respect. There are four persons, Ananda,
for whom cetiyas (pagodas) should be made for the
devotees to worship. These four persons are the Buddha,
Pacceka Buddha (Private Buddha), Buddha's disciples and
universal monarchs. Seeing their cetiyas many become
serene in mind. They worship these stupas. Due to that
merit they are reborn in a beneficial place after death/ 7
Venerable Ananda wails
After that previous discussion with the Buddha Ven. Ananda
slipped out quietly. He went into Mandalamala monastery
and started wailing, saying, I aspired for long aeons to be the
chief personal attendant of a supreme Buddha. He is my elder
uncle's son, eldest born on the same day as I. He allowed me
all the eight requests I made.
"He is my own supreme Buddha who appointed me chief at-
tendant in spite of the fact that great Elders like Ven. Sariputta
aspired to this post. He took me along for twenty-five years
as his own shadow. When a monk was required to teach the
Dhamma to the ladies of the harem, He appointed me to that
position, although there were many arahants. In this way He
showed that He did not have even the trace of a suspicion
about me. He praised my efficiency in various places.
"My own supreme Buddha, who knew me better than any
other person - my supreme Buddha passes away today in
His Great Demise. I am still only a stream-winner. I have not
yet attained arahantship (sainthood). The supreme Buddha,
my Master who had pity on me, passes away today I will
be left all alone. When will I ever again experience such an
ocean of compassion - such a symbol of loving-kindness -
such a gleaming body with an aura spreading in the ten direc-
tions - such a delightful voice - such a kindly glance - a cas-
cade of words like a stream of compassion - such an unparal-
leled physical presence - such a serene gait - such a presence
that hypnotizes everyone? Did I not look after my supreme
Buddha, sleeplessly, going round His fragrant chamber sev-
eral times in the night? "
Overwhelmed by myriads of thoughts of this sort Ven.
Ananda broke down and wept. As Ven. Ananda was not seen
for some time, the Buddha asked the monks:
" Where is Ananda? " The monks informed Him that he was
weeping. The Buddha sent a monk to fetch him. Ven. Ananda
approached the Buddha in deep sorrow.
The Buddha spoke to Ven. Ananda: 'Ananda, do not cry. Do
not grieve. Have I not said at the beginning itself that we will
have to separate from those we love? All those that come into
being invariably disintegrate. They have the tendency to dis-
appear. No one can prevent this by saying 'Let not such things
happen/ Ananda, you looked after me over a long period of
time, honestly, wholeheartedly, compassionately, without any
wavering. You have acquired great merit in the past. Strive
hard. Be diligent. Achieve sainthood quickly/ 7 The Buddha
consoled Ven. Ananda.
Next, the Buddha addressed the monks: "O monks, all the Bud-
dhas in the past also had chief attendants like Ven. Ananda.
Even those Buddhas who will appear in the future, too, will
have attendants like Ven. Ananda. Whenever kings, guild
leaders, monks, nuns, male lay devotees, female lay devotees
and others come to see me, Ven. Ananda knows the exact
time to make them meet me. He knows quite well the time
best suited to meet each individual.
"O monks, Ven. Ananda possesses four amazing, surprising
qualities. Any group of monks coming to see me will first
meet Ven. Ananda. Immediately they see Ven. Ananda they
become strangely attracted to him. When Ven. Ananda talks
to them, they become more and more attracted to him. If he
preaches a brief sermon to them they are not happy with only
a brief discourse. They like to keep on listening to him. Then
Ven. Ananda becomes silent. Those monks are attracted even
to his silence. They are very happy even with that."
Ven. Ananda spoke to them: "O Venerable Buddha, do not pass
away in a small city like this city of Kusinara. In India there
are many great cities such as Champa, Rajagaha, Savatthi,
Saketa, Kosambi and Benares. In those cities there are em-
perors, kings, guild leaders, prime ministers who are devoted
to you. They will pay last respects to your body in a grand
and glorious manner."
The Buddha replied: 'Ananda, do not describe Kusinara as a
minor city or a branch city. In ancient times there was a uni-
versal monarch called Maha Sudassana in this city. In those
days this city was called Kusarathie. That city was twelve
leagues in length, seven leagues in width. That city was as af-
fluent and populous as Alakamanda - the kingdom of gods.
Ananda, please meet the Malla kings of Kusinara and inform
them that the Buddha will pass away tonight. Please ask them
to come quickly."
Ven. Ananda, accompanied by another monk, went to Kusi-
nara and informed the kings of this. At that news Malla kings,
queens, princes and princesses began to wail. They began
wailing and weeping, clutching their heads, rolling on the
ground. Weeping and wailing they rushed to the Sala park
and went down on their knees by the side of the Buddha.
At this time a wandering ascetic, by the name of Subhadda,
came to Ven. Ananda and said, "I heard that the Buddha will
pass away today. I have a doubt about a certain matter. I need
to get my doubt dispelled. Please allow me to see the Buddha
for that purpose."
Ven. Ananda said: "The Buddha is very ill. Do not trouble
Him." So saying, Ven. Ananda rejected his request. The as-
cetic asked him for the second time, and for the third time.
The Buddha heard this dialogue and said: "Ananda, allow
Subhadda to see me."
Ven. Ananda allowed him to see the Buddha. The Buddha told
Subhadda to ask any question he wished to ask. The Buddha
gave appropriate answers to all the questions asked by Sub-
hadda, and he was exceedingly pleased with the Buddha. He
requested to be ordained a monk instantly. Accordingly, he
was given the ordination and the higher ordination at the
same time. Subhadda was the last to receive the ordination
and the higher ordination from the Buddha.
The Buddha then addressed Ven. Ananda: "Ananda, it is quite
likely that you may think that my Teachings, too, would
pass away, when I am gone. Ananda, never think that way.
Ananda, I have well preached some Dhamma to you. I have
given you righteous rules of conduct. Those two - Dhamma
and rules of conduct - will be your teacher after I am gone."
(Yovo Ananda, dhammoca vinayoca desito pannatto so vo
'Ananda, impose Brahmadanda (non- communication) on
monk Channa. What is Brahmadanda. It implies not talking
to that monk - not advising that monk and segregating him -
casting him away from the community/ 7
Next, the Buddha addressed the monks: If any of you monks
have a doubt about me, about my Teaching, about the brother-
hood, or about the practice, ask me now. Do not repent later,
saying 'We were not able to ask this when our Buddha was
still alive'. If someone is reluctant to ask personally, get a
friend to ask me." But not a single monk had a question to
The Buddha said: "Ananda, I am quite surprised. Not even one
monk has a doubt. I am very happy about this group of monks."
Then He addressed the monks: "O monks, I address you now.
All component things tend naturally to disintegrate. In conse-
quence, work out your own liberation diligently. This is my last
word - my last request. (Handadani bhikkhave amantayami
vo vaya dhamma sadkhara appamadena sampadetha. Ayam
Tathagatassa pacchima vaca.)"
After this the supreme Buddha, the Teacher of the Three
Worlds, the Master, the Father, the Buddha, entered into a vari-
ety of deep trances, and at the end, passed away in His Great
Venerable Ananda Attains Sainthood
The chief prelate Ven. Maha Kassapa addressed Ven. Ananda:
"Ven. Ananda, we will reside at the city of Rajagaha for the
rainy season. There, we will hold a council. Therefore, please
retire to a forest and please make an effort to win the three
remaining Paths and attain arahanthood (sainthood) ."
In response to those words Ven. Ananda took his robes and
his alms-bowl, and went to the Kosala country. There, he en-
tered a forest monastery and started making an effort. On
the second day itself he attained Sakadagami (once-returner
status). Hearing that he was there people went to see him.
They asked him where the Buddha was, and started weeping.
Ven. Ananda would preach to them and console them.
While he was going on like this a forest-dwelling deity who
was friendly to Ven. Ananda, thought this way: 'This monk
who has come to the forest to make an effort as was requested
by the Elders, spends his time consoling the people. Knowl-
edge is presently like a heap of flowers that is not put to-
gether into garlands. Without this monk no reviewing of the
Dhamma is possible/ 7
The deity came to Ven. Ananda and said: "Venerable Sir, how can
you, grieving due to the loss of the Buddha, console others?"
He said: "Ven. Ananda of the Gotama clan you have come
to the forest to make an effort to achieve Nibbana. You have
been meditating with Nibbana as your goal. Your only objec-
tive is Nibbana. Therefore, please meditate with that spiritual
aim in mind. Be diligent. Of what use is this small-talk with
Rukkhamula gahanam pasakkiya Nibbanam hada-
yasmim opiya Jhaya Gotama mava pamado Kinte
Ven. Ananda was moved by the deity's words. Since he had
been physically stressed from the time the Buddha passed
away, Ven. Ananda went back to the monastery and took
relaxation. He had Jetavana monastery repaired. When the
rainy season was nearing he went all alone to the city of Ra-
jagaha. He started the retreat of the rainy season with the
other monks selected for the Dhamma council.
King Ajatasattu completed the assembly hall for the council
and informed the monks about it. Of the monks, some went
about saying: "Among all these monks assembled here, there
is one who goes about exuding all smells."
Ven. Ananda heard this and thought, "Among all these monks,
there is no other monk exuding "all smells', other than me. Un-
doubtedly, these monks mean me." He was very much sad-
dened by this. Some monks told him: "Ven. Ananda, the coun-
cil meeting for the reviewing of Dhamma will start tomorrow.
You must make an effort to win the remaining Paths to saint-
hood. You are not qualified to attend the council meeting. Do
Ven. Ananda thought this way: 'The Dhamma council meet-
ing will be tomorrow. I am still a learner. Therefore, I am not
fit to attend the meeting with those learned monks/ 7 With
resolution and determination he practised insight meditation.
He spent a good part of the night mindful of the body. But he
was not able to achieve any special spiritual attainment. He
thought this way: 'The Blessed One said this to me: 'Ananda,
you are a person who has acquired much merit. Attending to
a Buddha like me is not at all a futile effort. Make an effort
and become a blemishless one (a saint)/ There is no falsehood
in the Words of the Buddha. I have made a highly strenuous
effort. This has strained my mind. Therefore, I will strive
without going to extremes/'
He was not able to make the modest effort in the ambulatory.
Deciding to give the body a rest he washed his feet, and en-
tered the monastery. Thinking that he would rest a while on
the bed, he brought his body to the bed. Then his feet rose
free of the floor. His head did not reach the pillow. At this
moment, his mind became free of such blemishes as passion
and craving. In other words, he destroyed all the defilements
and became an arahant.
Thus, Ven. Ananda became a full-fledged arahant. The ara-
hantship attained by Ven. Ananda was free of all four pos-
tures. (If the question is asked, 'Who attained arahanthood in
this dispensation, without lying down, without sitting down,
without standing, without moving, it is fit to answer "Ven.
Ananda.") On the second day after he attained arahanthood
without being in any of the four postures - or in other words,
three months and four days after the Buddha passed away,
the monks conducting the council procedures assembled in
the council hall, after their meals.
At that stage Ven. Ananda happily decided that it was high
time he went to the assembly Hall. He robed himself and, like
a fruit that has detached from the stem, or like a gem in a
casket, or like the moon that has emerged from the clouds, or
like a lotus that has awakened in the rays of the morning sun,
appeared through miraculous powers in the seat reserved for
him, as if informing the assembly that he had attained ara-
hantship, and as if displaying to them that the advice given
to him to be diligent had borne fruit. Ven. Maha Kassapa,
seeing this, thought: "Ven. Ananda, who has attained arahant-
hood, is quite appealing. If the Buddha lived today He would
have appreciated this achievement with 'Sadhu!' (Well done!)
Since the Buddha is not around today, I will say 'Sadhu!'
myself." So thinking, he said "Sadhu!" three times, according
to the scriptures. According to some others Ven. Ananda was
keen to announce his attainment of sainthood. Therefore, he
did not enter the assembly hall with the other monks. When
the other monks occupied the seats reserved for them, the
seat reserved for Ven. Ananda became vacant. Monks, seeing
this, asked for whom was the seat reserved. They said: "For
Ven. Ananda." They then asked: "Where has he gone?" Ven.
Ananda then decided it was high time he went there, and ap-
peared there through his psychic power, diving through the
floor, and sat down in the seat reserved for him. But, what-
ever that may be, if some monks said "One monk here exudes
worldly smell," Ven. Ananda made him feel ashamed by en-
tering Saptaparni cave, where the assembly was held.
At this stage a great blemishless Brahma from Suddhavasa
(Pure Land) said the following, to show that Ven. Ananda
was now a blemishless arahant: "If someone possesses the
Teachings of the Buddha, who is a kinsman of the sun, it is
this treasurer of Dhamma who is born in the Gotama clan.
He has achieved Nibbana in his life. He is, therefore, on his
way to the attainment of total Nibbana."
Yasmim patitthita dhamma Buddhassadicca ban-
dhu no Nibbada gamane magge - So yam titthati
"Ven. Ananda, who protects the jewel of Dhamma of the ver-
satile, virtuous great sage, has attained the totally blemishless
Bahussuto dhammadharo Kosarakkho mahesino
cakkhu sabbassa lokassa Anando parinibbauto
Venerable Ananda And Venerable Maha Kassapa
Bhikkhunis liked Ven. Ananda better than Ven. Maha Kas-
sapa. But Ven. Ananda had a high regard for Ven. Maha
Kassapa. It was the kind of regard one has for one's teacher.
One day, a novice monk wanted to obtain higher ordination
from Ven. Maha Kassapa. On this occasion Ven. Maha Kas-
sapa sent word to Ven. Ananda to read the conferring for-
mulae (Kamma Vaca) at the higher ordination. Ven. Ananda
refused the invitation because he did not want to pronounce
Ven. Maha Kassapa's name. He sent word saying that he could
not read the conferring formulae because he could not refer to
Ven. Maha Kassapa by name, as he was his teacher.
"(Naham ussahami therassa namam gahetum garu me thero'
ti)." "I cannot speak the name of Ven. Maha Kassapa because
he is my teacher/ 7
Elders Blame Venerable Ananda
Those Elders who assembled for the First Council to review
the Dhamma and the Rules of Discipline, found fault with
Ven. Ananda for five reasons. (The Tibetan Book of Discipline
states that Ven. Ananda was found fault with by Ven. Maha
Kassapa Thero, and that was before Ven. Ananda attained ara-
hanthood - sainthood.)
1. Ananda, you did not enquire from the Buddha as to
what were the rules of little importance that He permitted
us to change when necessary. In consequence, we had to
review all rules of discipline. This is your fault. You must
admit this. Ven. Ananda said this in reply: "I was deeply
distressed by the Demise of the Buddha. In consequence, I
could not refer these matters to the Buddha. Thus, I cannot
see there was any fault on my part. But submitting to your
wish, and honouring your word, I will confess my omission."
2. Ananda you stitched the Buddha's outer robe while
trampling upon it. This is a fault on your part. Therefore,
please confess this. Ven. Ananda said this in reply: "I never
trampled upon it in disrespect. I did not have anyone to
help me when I stitched it. That is why I had to resort to it.
Thus, I cannot consider it a fault at all. But, in due respect
to you venerables, I will confess that fault."
3. Ananda, you got females to worship the Buddha's
dead body first. The tears they dropped sullied the
Buddha's dead body. This is your fault. Therefore, the
Elders asked him to confess that fault. Ven. Ananda re-
plied: "\ did that because they wanted to go home without
delay. I wanted to send them back home before it became
late. (When the Buddha passed away a vast mass of people
gathered together. These crowds were segregated and the
women were first shown the Buddha's body.) I cannot see
any fault in this. But, in due respect to your words, I will
confess this fault."
4. Ananda, the Buddha informed you in several places
such as Chapala stupa that He had decided to pass away.
But you never requested the Buddha to live for a hundred
years, for the well-being of the people. This is your fault.
You must confess that this is your fault. Ven. Ananda
replied: "At those times, perhaps Mara (Death) had pos-
sessed me. That is why I was not able to request the
Buddha to live for a hundred years. Therefore, I do not see
this as my fault. But, I will still confess this as my fault."
5. Ananda, you encouraged women to become ordained
in the Buddha's sasana. This is an error. You must confess
this. Replied Ven. Ananda: "When the Buddha's mother
passed away, Maha Prajapati Gotami breast-fed him with-
out giving her milk to her own son Prince Nanda. I did
this as an honour and a mark of gratitude to the Buddha's
wet-nurse, Maha Prajapati Gotami. Therefore, I do not con-
sider this a fault at all. But, I will confess this, as you ask
me to do this."
Venerable Ananda And Venerable Sariputta
There existed a very strange intimacy between Ven. Ananda
and Ven. Sariputta. Whenever he received any delicacies, Ven.
Ananda would offer them and share them with Ven. Sariputta.
Ven. Ananda would ordain the children of his devotees and
would give them higher ordination with Ven. Sariputta as the
teacher and the preceptor. (Ven. Sariputta, too, would adopt
the same attitude towards Ven. Ananda.)
(Panitani labhitva therassa deti. Attano upatthaka darake
pabbajetva, therassa santike upajjham gadhapeti. Upasam-
padeti. Sariputta thero'pi Ananda therassa tatheva karoti.)
Such an intimate friendship between these two monks ex-
isted solely because of mutual respect for their moral and vir-
tuous integrity. One day, the Buddha addressed Ven. Ananda
thus: "Ananda, do you like Ven. Sariputta? Do you appreciate
Replied Ven. Ananda: "Venerable Sir, anyone who has not
gone astray, anyone who is not wicked, anyone who is not
foolish, anyone whose brain has not gone wrong, will invari-
ably like Ven. Sariputta. If there is someone who does not like
Ven. Sariputta, he must be an ignorant person. Such a person
must be a villain - a person whose brain is crooked. Vener-
able Sir, Ven. Sariputta is an erudite person (Pandito bhanto
Sariputto). He is a great genius (Maha panno). He is know-
ledgeable in many subjects (puthu panno). He is a wise one
with a sense of humour (hasu panno). He has the ability to
grasp anything with alacrity (javana panno). His wit is sharp
(tikkha panno). His mind is analytical (nibbedhika panno).
He is content with the least (appiccho). He remains full of
joy always (santuttho). He does not usually move in crowds
(asamsattho). He lives with a deep sense of solitude (paviv-
itto). He is such a resolute person that he has not lain on his
back in bed for forty-four years (araddha viriyo). Whenever
advice is due, he gives it (vatta). He accepts advice given by
others with due respect (vacanakhamo). Whenever he sees
the fault of a monk he advises him, accusing him about it
(codako). He wishes that he may not have to see or talk to evil
persons (papa garahi)."
Ven. Ananda said that these sixteen virtues were found
in Ven. Sariputta. The Buddha Himself said: "Ananda, Ven.
Sariputta is versatile (pandito Ananda Sariputto)." This way,
the Buddha approved the sixteen virtues of Ven. Sariputta
and placed the Enlightened One's sacred seal of approval on
what Ven. Ananda said, making those sixteen virtues part of
the Buddha's Word.
The Demise Of Venerable Ananda
When Ven. Ananda was past 120, he examined the extent of
his life-span. He discovered that his allotted life-span was
over. He announced that seven days hence, he would pass
away. Hearing this, people on the two banks of the River
Rohini were quite moved. They began to lament and wail.
People on one bank requested Ven. Ananda to pass away on
their bank, saying that they attended upon Ven. Ananda all
this time. The people on the other bank, too, started wailing
and lamenting, saying that they looked after Ven. Ananda all
this time. They said that Ven. Ananda should pass away on
their bank, close to them.
Ven. Ananda Maha Thero heard all this. He spoke thus:
"People of both banks were helpful to me. I cannot just say
that they helped and those others did not help. In such a con-
text if I passed away either on this bank or the other bank,
people on both banks will start a row over my bodily relics.
If a row were to start, it will be entirely because of me. If the
row is quelled it will also be because of me. Therefore, let
those on the other bank assemble on their bank. Let those on
this bank assemble on this bank."
On the seventh day he rose into the sky above the centre of
the river and, at a height of about seven fathoms, he sat in
the air with his legs crossed. From that position he preached
a sermon to the masses. He made a firm determination that
one half of his bodily relics should fall onto one bank, and the
other half should fall onto the other bank. Seated that way he
entered into the five-trance.
Immediately he passed away a fire arose from his body con-
suming the flesh, skin and sinews. The bodily relics remained.
These relics went through the air like white flowers and, as if
exactly measured, half of them fell on this bank and the other
half on the other bank.
Many people broke down and wept. The earth nearly split.
There was even more lamentation than on the day the Buddha
passed away in the Great Demise. The people mourned for
four months, saying: "If Ven. Ananda survived though the
Buddha passed away, it would have seemed as if the Buddha
were still living. It is only today that the Buddha passed
Venerable Ananda's Past Birth
Buddha Padumuttara visited the city of Hansawathie with
His disciples to be of benefit to His father the king. He resided
in that city. Throughout their stay in the city the king (the
father) looked after the four-fold requirements of the brother-
hood led by the Buddha.
Prince Sumana, son of the Buddha's step-mother, was the sub-
king in a place far away from the city. At that time a distant
province of the king was being roused against him by some
secret enemies. Prince Sumana informed his father, the king,
The king requested prince Sumana to quell the uprising. The
prince went there, and quelled the uprising. Pleased at this,
the king asked Prince Sumana to make any request he wished
to make. The prince asked for permission to look after the
Buddha for three months, providing Him with the four requi-
sites. The king said he could not allow that request, and that
the prince should ask another. The prince said that was the
only thing he wished. The king requested the prince to ask
the Buddha about it.
Prince Sumana went to the monastery to see the Buddha.
When he visited the monastery the Buddha was in the fra-
grant chamber. Prince Sumana met the monks in the monas-
tery, and told them that he came to see the Buddha.
The monks informed him that one could not see the Buddha
just as one wished, and that Buddha Padumuttara could be
seen only through a monk named Sumana.
Prince Sumana saw Monk Sumana, and informed him that
he had come to meet the Buddha. Monk Sumana took a chair
from the Buddha's fragrant chamber and disappeared. Next,
he appeared with it outside the fragrant chamber, and pre-
pared the seat for the Buddha. Seeing this miracle Prince
Sumana thought, "Monk Sumana is a great monk/ 7
The Buddha sat on the seat prepared for Him. Prince Sumana
worshipped the Buddha and asked Him about Monk Sumana.
The Buddha explained that Monk Sumana was the Buddha's
chief attendant, and described the various meritorious acts he
performed to attain that status. Prince Sumana informed the
Buddha that he, too, would like to be the chief attendant of a
Prince Sumana performed many such meritorious acts as
offering alms to monks led by the Buddha. Buddha Padumu-
tara addressed Prince Sumana thus: In the one hundred thou-
sandth aeon from now, you will be the chief attendant of
Buddha Gotama." This way, he was given confirmation.
Later on he performed many meritorious acts during the Dis-
pensations of Buddha Vipassi and Buddha Kassapa. He was
reborn in human form and as a deity many-a-time. In the
days of the Buddha he was born as the son of Sakya King Ami-
todhana, brother of great king Suddhodana of Kapilavatthu.
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