Saturday, November 13, 2010

Half brother of the Buddha, Prince Nanda

Nanda was the son of King Suddhodana and Mahapajapati Gotami. King Suddhodana was also the father of Siddharttha Gotama. So, they were half brothers. They were cousins too, as their mothers were sisters. He was born three days after the birth of Siddharttha Gotama, who was fostered by his mother.

During his stay in Kapilavathu, the Buddha went to the marriage ceremony of Nanda for alms. The Buddha handed over the alms bowl to Nanda and left without taking it back. Thus, Nanda had to follow the Buddha. Seeing this, his bride, Janapada Kalyani rushed forth and cried out to him, to hurry back home.

When they arrived to the monastery, the Buddha asked Nanda that whether he liked to be a bhikkhu. Being respectful to his brother, Nanda said, "Yes". But Nanda was unhappy in his holy life. He could not erase the image and the words of his bride from his memory.

The Buddha, who foreseen that Nanda would become an arahat, took him to Tavatimsa. On the way, Nanda saw a she-monkey with scalds all over its body. It held tightly to the charred stump on the land razed by fire. There at Tavatimsa, Nanda saw female devas with surpassing beauties.

The Buddha questioned Nanda that who were prettier, Janapada Kalyani or those devas. Without delay, Nanda answered that the devas were prettier and Janapada Kalyani was like that she-monkey.

Then the Buddha promised him to get those devas for him if he works hard in the Dhamma practice. Again, Nanda said, "Yes".

Nanda was teased by the other bhikkhus for this agreement. He felt ashamed and suffered very much. So, he isolated himself and strove very hard in the practice of the Dhamma. Finally, he won arahatship.

The Buddha explained to those bhikkhus, who were uncertain about Nanda's detachment of desires, in the following verses:

"Just as rain penetrates a badly-roofed house, so also passion (raga) penetrates a mind of not cultivated Tranquillity and Insight Development (Samatha and Vipassana)".

"Just as rain cannot penetrate a well-roofed house, so also passion (raga) cannot penetrate a mind well cultivated in Tranquillity and Insight Development (Samatha and Vipassana)".

Posted by Aye Sat

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