Ananda and Buddha

Ananda and Buddha

Question: Your book, “The Lost Key of the Buddha” equates John the Beloved as the reincarnation of Ananda who was the beloved disciple of Buddha. Can you give us more information on him?

First here are a couple quotes indicating he was a beloved disciple.

MANY people in Kapilavatthu believed in the Tathagata and took refuge in his doctrine, among them Nanda Sidhattha’s half-brother, the son of Pajapati; Devadatta, his cousin and brother-in-law; Upali the barber; and Anuruddha the philosopher. Some years later Ananda, another cousin of the Blessed One, also joined the Sangha.

Ananda was a man after the heart of the Blessed One; he was his most beloved disciple, profound in comprehension and gentle in spirit. And Ananda remained always near the Blessed Master of truth, until death parted them.

Below is an account of the end of Buddha’s life illustrating Ananda’s dedication to him.

ANANDA, the favorite disciple of the Buddha, having been sent by the Lord on a mission, passed by a well near a village, and seeing Pakati, a girl of the Matanga caste, he asked her for water to drink.

Pakati said: “O Brahman, I am too humble and mean to give thee water to drink, do not ask any service of me lest thy holiness be contaminated, for I am of low caste.”

And Ananda replied: “I ask not for caste but for water”; and the Matanga girl’s heart leaped joyfully and she gave Ananda to drink. Ananda thanked her and went away; but she followed him at a distance.

Having heard that Ananda was a disciple of Gotama Sakyamuni, the girl repaired to the Blessed One and cried: “O Lord help me, and let me live in the place where Ananda thy disciple dwells, so that I may see him and minister unto him, for I love Ananda.”

The Blessed One understood the emotions of her heart and he said: “Pakati, thy heart is full of love, but thou understandest not thine own sentiments. It is not Ananda that thou lovest, but his kindness. Accept, then, the kindness thou hast seen him practice unto thee, and in the humility of thy station practice it unto others. Verily there is great merit in the generosity of a king when he is kind to a slave; but there is a greater merit in the slave when he ignores the wrongs which he suffers and cherishes kindness and good-will to all mankind. He will cease to hate his oppressors, and even when powerless to resist their usurpation will with compassion pity their arrogance and supercilious demeanor.

***

THE Blessed One went to Pava. When Chunda, the worker in metals, heard that the Blessed One had come to Pava and was staying in his mango grove, he came to the Buddha and respectfully invited him and the brethren to take their meal at his house. And Chunda prepared rice-cakes and a dish of dried boar’s meat. When the Blessed One had eaten the food prepared by Chunda, the worker in metals, there fell upon him a dire sickness, and sharp pain came upon him even unto death. But the Blessed One, mindful and self-possessed, bore it without complaint. And the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Come, Ananda, let us go on to Kusinara.” On his way the Blessed One grew tired, and he went aside from the road to rest at the foot of a tree, and said: “Fold the robe, I pray thee, Ananda, and spread it out for me. I am weary, Ananda, and must rest awhile!”

“Be it so, Lord!” said the venerable Ananda; and he spread out the robe folded fourfold.

The Blessed One seated himself, and when he was seated he addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda. I am thirsty, Ananda, and would drink.”

When he had thus spoken, the venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: “But just now, Lord, five hundred carts have gone across the brook and have stirred the water; but a river, O Lord, is not far off. Its water is clear and pleasant, cool and transparent, and it is easy to get down to it. the Blessed One may both drink water and cool his limbs.”

A second time the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, saying: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am thirsty, Ananda, and would drink.”

And a second time the venerable Ananda said: “Let us go to the river.”

Then the third time the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am thirsty, Ananda and would drink.”

“Be it so, Lord!” said the venerable Ananda in assent to the Blessed One; and, taking a bowl, he went down to the streamlet. And lo! the streamlet, which, stirred up by wheels, had become muddy, when the venerable Ananda came up to it, flowed clear and bright and free from all turbidity. And he thought: “How wonderful, how marvelous is the great might and power of the Tathagata!” Ananda brought the water in the bowl to the Lord, saying: “Let the Blessed One take the bowl. Let the Happy One drink the water. Let the Teacher of men and gods quench his thirst. Then the Blessed One drank of the water.

Now, at that time a man of low caste, named Pukkusa, a young Malla, a disciple of Alara Kalama, was passing along the high road from Kusinara to Pava. Pukkusa, the young Malla, saw the Blessed One seated at the foot of a tree. On seeing him he went up to the place where the Blessed One was, and when he had come there, he saluted the Blessed One and took his seat respectfully on one side. Then the Blessed One instructed, edified, and gladdened Kukkusa, the young Malla, with religious discourse.

Aroused and gladdened by the words of the Blessed One, Pukkusa, the young Malla, addressed a certain man who happened to pass by, and said: “Fetch me, I pray thee, my good man, two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear.”

“Be it so, sir!” said that man in assent to Pukkusa, the young Malla; and he brought two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear.

The Malla Pukkusa presented the two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear, to the Blessed One, saying: “Lord, these two robes of burnished cloth of gold are ready for wear. May the Blessed One show me favor and accept them at my hands!”

The Blessed One said: “Pukkusa, robe me in one, and Ananda in the other one.” And the Tathagata’s body appeared shining like a flame, and he was beautiful above all expression.

The venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: “How wonderful a thing is it, Lord, and how marvelous, that the color of the skin of the Blessed One should be so clear, so exceedingly bright! When I placed this robe of burnished cloth of gold on the body of the Blessed One, lo! it seemed as if it had lost its splendor!”

The Blessed One said: “There are two occasions on which a Tathagata’s appearance becomes clear and exceeding bright. In the night, Ananda, in which a Tathagata attains to the supreme and perfect insight, and in the night in which he passes finally away in that utter passing away which leaves nothing whatever of his earthly existence to remain. And the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Now it may happen, Ananda, that some one should stir up remorse in Chunda, the smith, by saying: ‘It is evil to thee, Chunda, and loss to thee, that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from thy provision.’ Any such remorse, Ananda, in Chunda, the smith, should be checked by saying: ‘It is good to thee, Chunda, and gain to thee, that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from thy provision.

From the very mouth of the Blessed One, O Chunda, have I heard, from his own mouth have I received this saying, “These two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of much greater profit than any other: the offerings of food which a Tathagata accepts when he has attained perfect enlightenment and when he passes away by the utter passing away in which nothing whatever of his earthly existence remains behind-these two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of equal profit, and of much greater fruit and much greater profit than any other. There has been laid up by Chunda, the smith, a karma redounding to length of life, redounding to good birth, redounding to good fortune, redounding to good fame, redounding to the inheritance of heaven and of great power.”’

In this way, Ananda, should be checked any remorse in Chunda, the smith.” Then the Blessed One, perceiving that death was near, uttered these words: “He who gives away shall have real gain. He who subdues himself shall be free, he shall cease to be a slave of passions. The righteous man casts off evil; and by rooting out lust, bitterness, and illusion, do we reach Nirvana.”

METTEYYA

THE Blessed One proceeded with a great company of the brethren to the sala grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of Kusinara on the further side of the river Hirannavati, and when he had arrived he addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Make ready for me, I pray you, Ananda, the couch with its head to the north, between the twin sala trees. I am weary, Ananda, and wish to lie down.”

“Be it so, Lord!” said the venerable Ananda, and he spread a couch with its head to the north, between the twin sala trees. And the Blessed One laid himself down, and he was mindful and self-possessed.

Now, at that time the twin sala trees were full of bloom with flowers out of season; and heavenly songs came wafted from the skies, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And Ananda was filled with wonder that the Blessed One was thus honored. But the Blessed One said: “Not by such events, Ananda, is the Tathagata rightly honored, held sacred, or revered. But the devout man, who continually fulfills the greater and lesser duties, walking according to the precepts, it is who rightly honors, holds sacred, and reveres the Tathagata with the worthiest homage. Therefore, O Ananda, be ye constant in the fulfillment of the greater and of the lesser duties, and walk according to the precepts; thus, Ananda, will ye honor the Master.”

Then the venerable Ananda went into the vihara, and stood leaning against the doorpost, weeping at the thought: “Alas! I remain still but a learner, one who has yet to work out his own perfection. And the Master is about to pass away from me-who is so kind!”

Now, the Blessed One called the brethren, and said: “Where, O brethren, is Ananda?”

One of the brethren went and called Ananda. And Ananda came and said to the Blessed One: “Deep darkness reigned for want of wisdom; the world of sentient creatures was groping for want of light; then the Tathagata lit up the lamp of wisdom, and now it will be extinguished again, ere he has brought it out.”

The Blessed One said to the venerable Ananda, as he sat there by his side: “Enough, Ananda Let not thy self be troubled; do not weep! Have I not already, on former occasions, told you that it is in the very nature of all things most near and dear unto us that we must separate from them and leave them? The foolish man conceives the idea of ‘self,’ the wise man sees there is no ground on which to build the idea of ‘self,’ thus he has a right conception of the world and well concludes that all compounds amassed by sorrow will be dissolved again, but the truth will remain. Why should I preserve this body of flesh, when the body of the excellent law will endure? I am resolved; having accomplished my purpose and attended to the work set me, I look for rest I For a long time, Ananda, thou hast been very near to me by thoughts and acts of such love as is beyond all measure. Thou hast done well, Ananda I Be earnest in effort and thou too shalt soon be free from evils, from sensuality, from selfishness, from delusion, and from ignorance!”

Ananda, suppressing his tears, said to the Blessed One: “Who shall teach us when thou art gone?”

And the Blessed One replied: “I am not the first Buddha who came upon earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy One, a supremely enlightened One, endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will preach his religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax, and glorious at the goal, in the spirit and in the letter. He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure; such as I now proclaim.”

Ananda said: “How shall we know him?” The Blessed One said: “He will be known as Metteyya, which means ‘he whose name is kindness.”

ENTERING INTO NIRVANA

THEN the Mallas, with their young men and maidens and their wives, being grieved, and sad, and afflicted at heart, went to the Upavattana, the sala grove of the Mallas, and wanted to see the Blessed One, in order to partake of the bliss that devolves upon those who are in the presence of the Holy One.

The Blessed One addressed them and said: “Seeking the way, ye must exert yourselves and strive with diligence. It is not enough to have seen me Walk as I have commanded you; free yourselves from the tangled net of sorrow. Walk in the path with steadfast aim. A sick man may be cured by the healing power of medicine and will be rid of all his ailments without beholding the physician. He who does not do what I command sees me in vain. This brings no profit; while he who lives far off from where I am and yet walks righteously is ever near me. A man may dwell beside me, and yet, being disobedient, be far away from me. Yet he who obeys the Dharma will always enjoy the bliss of the Tathagata’s presence.”

Then the mendicant Subhadda went to the sala grove of the Mallas and said to the venerable Ananda: “I have heard from fellow mendicants of mine, who were deep stricken in years and teachers of great experience: ‘Sometimes and full seldom do Tathagatas appear in the world, the holy Buddhas.’ Now it is said that today in the last watch of the night, the final passing away of the samana Gotama will take place. My mind is full of uncertainty, yet have I faith in the samana Gotama and trust he will be able so to present the truth that I may become rid of my doubts. O that I might be allowed to see the samana Gotama!”

When he had thus spoken the venerable Ananda said to the mendicant Subhadda: “Enough! friend Subhadda. Trouble not the Tathagata. The Blessed One is weary.” Now the Blessed One overheard this conversation of the venerable Ananda with the mendicant Subhadda.

And the Blessed One called the venerable Ananda, and said: “Ananda! Do not keep out Subhadda. Subhadda may be allowed to see the Tathagata. Whatever Subhadda will ask of me, he will ask from a desire for knowledge, and not to annoy me, and whatever I may say in answer to his questions, that he will quickly understand.”

Then the venerable Ananda said: “Step in, friend Subhadda; for the Blessed One gives thee leave.”

When the Blessed One had instructed Subhadda, and aroused and gladdened him with words of wisdom and comfort, Subhadda said to the Blessed One: “Glorious Lord, glorious Lord! Most excellent are the words of thy mouth, most excellent! They set up that which has been overturned, they reveal that which has been hidden. They point out the right road to the wanderer who has gone astray. They bring a lamp into the darkness so that those who have eyes to see can see. Thus, Lord, the truth has been made known to me by the Blessed One and I take my refuge in the Blessed One, in the Truth, and in the Order. May the Blessed One accept me as a disciple and true believer, from this day forth as long as life endures.”

And Subhadda, the mendicant, said to the venerable Ananda: “Great is thy gain, friend Ananda, great is thy good fortune, that for so many years thou hast been sprinkled with the sprinkling of discipleship in this brotherhood at the hands of the Master himself!”

Now the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “It may be, Ananda, that in some of you the thought may arise The word of the Master is ended, we have no teacher more!’ But it is not thus, Ananda, that you should regard it. It is true that no more shall I receive a body, for all future sorrow has now forever passed away. But though this body will be dissolved, the Tathagata remains. The truth and the rules of the order which I have set forth and laid down for you all, let them, after I am gone, be a teacher unto you.When I am gone, Ananda, let the order, if it should so wish, abolish all the lesser and minor precepts.”

Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said: “There may be some doubt or misgiving in the mind of a brother as to the Buddha, or the truth, or the path. Do not have to reproach yourselves afterwards with the thought, ‘We did not inquire of the Blessed One when we were face to face with him.’ Therefore inquire now, O brethren, inquire freely.”

The brethren remained silent. Then the venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: “Verily, I believe that in this whole assembly of the brethren there is not one brother who has any doubt or misgiving as to the Buddha, or the truth, or the path!”

Said the Blessed One: “It is out of the fullness of faith that thou hast spoken, Ananda! But Ananda, the Tathagata knows for certain that in this whole assembly of the brethren there is not one brother who has any doubt or misgiving as to the Buddha, or the truth, or the path! For even the most backward, Ananda, of all these brethren has become converted, and is assured of final salvation.”

Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren and said: “If ye now know the Dharma the cause of all suffering, and the path of salvation, O disciples, will ye then say: ‘We respect the Master, and out of reverence for the Master do we thus speak?’“ The brethren replied: “That we shall not, O Lord.”

And the Holy One continued: “Of those beings who live in ignorance, shut up and confined, as it were, in an egg, I have first broken the egg-shell of ignorance and alone in the universe obtained the most exalted, universal Buddhahood. Thus, O disciples, I am the eldest, the noblest of beings.

“But what ye speak, O disciples, is it not even that which ye have yourselves known, yourselves seen, yourselves realized?” Ananda and the brethren said: “It is, O Lord.”

Once more the Blessed One began to speak: “Behold now, brethren, said he, I exhort you, saying, ‘Decay is inherent in all component things, but the truth will remain forever Work out your salvation with diligence!” This was the last word of the Tathagata. Then the Tathagata fell into a deep meditation, and having passed through the four jhanas, entered Nirvana.

Quotes Taken From The Gospel of Buddha

Sept 15, 2002

Copyright By J J Dewey

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