Author Topic: Entering Nirvana - Buddha and his loyal attendant Ananda  (Read 6429 times)

Positive Change

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Entering Nirvana - Buddha and his loyal attendant Ananda
« on: July 10, 2012, 04:08:31 PM »
Beautiful account of Buddha's final teachings to those present and his beloved Ananda. Ananda was Buddha's attendant for twenty-seven years. He was a good organizer. No matter who came to see Buddha, he could arrange an appropriate time. Especially those bhikkhus that came from faraway places, they loved to talk to Ananda first before they see Buddha because Ananda was very warm towards them. Lay Buddhists like to listen to Ananda's preachings and Ananda always taught them to respect the triple gems, observe five precepts, be filial towards parents, make offerings to the Sangha. Even though Ananda had not attained enlightenment, he already possessed such virtues. He accompanied Buddha to preach at various places and soon.

Buddha's Final Nirvana

Forty-five years after he attained enlightenment, Lord Buddha entered Parinirvana between two shala trees at Kushinagara.

Like the radiance of the enchanting evening sun, the Buddha, before he entered Nirvana, gave out an unusual radiance. The Buddha laid on a bed made by Ananda. Soon, darkness fell, incidentally the shala trees burst into bloom, shedding a rain of flowers on Buddha's body. Ananda knelt beside the Buddha's bed and gently asked, "Lord Buddha! What should be our attitude towards women in the future?" Please give me guidance again!"

Buddha answered, "Ananda! To attain enlightenment, one should not think of women, especially you. Although you are growing old, nevertheless it is better for you not to look at women. If it is unavoidance, then treat old women as your mother, elder women as your elder sister and young women as your young sister. Ananda! You must bear in mind my words!"

Buddha explained to Ananda various matters such as the construction of monasteries. Thinking that these were the Buddha's final words, the soft-heartened Ananda began to cry, especially so when he thought of his own unenlightened mind. When the Buddha entered Nirvana, who can be rely to attain enlightenment? The more he thought, the more sadly he cried.

The Buddha talked to him again, "Ananda, do not be sad. Don't I often tell you that the world is impermanent. While there is life, there is death. You have served me for so long, hardworking and tolerant. I will use these meritorious deeds to repay you. Practice hard for zealous progress and soon you will leave the binding of miseries to attain enlightenment!" Buddha followed by addressing the rest, " Fellow bhikkhus! Ananda have loyally served me for so many years. He is gentle and kind. His memory is good. His meritorious deeds will bring brilliance to the world!"

At that time, the moon quietly shone at the Shela Grove. The quiet and lofty mind of the Buddha shone at all the people in the grove. That was a touching yet solemn scene. Everybody, including those enlightened sage, weeps. Ananda was especially sad and cried tearfully.

However, crying wouldn't help, the most important was to ask the Buddha how to keep the Dharma forever. They discussed and chose Ananda to represent them to ask the Buddha:

"First, when Lord Buddha enter Nirvana, who shall be the master? Second, when Lord Buddha enter Nirvana, how shall we live? Third, when Lord Buddha enter Nirvana, how to treat evil people? Fourth when Lord Buddha enter Nirvana, how do we propagate the Teachings"

In his usual compassionate tone, Buddha replied, "Fellow bhikkhus! All of you must remember to take precepts as your master and take the Dharma (Truth) as your refuge, in this way you will ensure the continuance of the Dharma."

After hearing Buddha's words, everyone felt touched. Eventually Buddha entered Parinirvana quietly.

The news that Buddha entered Parinirvana spread and many people from everywhere rushed to see him. Ananda felt that before Buddha die, very few women had the opportunity to pay their respects to Buddha, so he let bhikkhunis and female lay disciples pay their respects first. From here we can see that he was always sympathising with women.

After the Buddha had entered Parinirvana, Ananda rested for three days. Then he hurried to Rajarha because of the First Council where disciples of Buddha would compile the sutras, containing Buddha's sermons and the precepts for believers. Although Ananda had not attained enlightenment, nonetheless as one of Buddha's greatest disciples, he felt he had the responsibility to help out.

The First Council

When Ananda reached Rajarha, it was the eve of the Council. As the leader, Maha Kassapa chose five hundred bhikkhus to take part. All of them were arahats who had attained enlightenment. As Ananda was unenlightened, he was not selected.

Actually, Maha Kassapa recognised Ananda's strong point, especially his memory of the discourses given by the Buddha. However, in such an important matter, Maha Kassapa feared that to let the unenlightened Ananda participate might be a mistake. However, people loved Ananda and they unanimously voted him but Maha Kassapa objected.

That was a great blow to Ananda, but he was not deterred. At night, he practised hard, pondered deeply, let down everything and at midnight, he eventually attained enlightenment. The next day, before the door was opened, he was already inside the hall.

Ananda at that moment was bright and charmingly graceful as the beautiful lily under the bright sun. The eminent bhikkhus stared at him surprisingly but nevertheless they welcome Ananda. Under the leadership of Maha Kassapa, Ananda was carried by the bhikkhus onto the lion's seat and started to recite from his memory. The bhikkhus once again received Buddha's guidance which they were very grateful.

The initial scriptures such as the four Agamas and the Dhammapada, etc were recited by Ananda in the First Council.

After Buddha entered Nirvana, Maha Kassapa became his successor. Twenty years later, Maha Kassapa was over a hundred years old. He went to Cock's foot mountain to enter Nirvana. Before he left, he handed everything over to Ananda. At that time, Ananda was already eighty years old.

Ananda's Nirvana

Ananda passed his responsibility of spreading Buddhism to his disciples Sanakavasa whom he had trained. Then he walked towards River Ganges in the north. At this time King Ajatasatru of Magadha declared war with Vaisali. Ananda felt it was unfair of him to enter Nirvana in either country as one of them would not be able to have his remaining relics so he decided to enter Nirvana in the boundary of both countries which was the middle of river Ganges.

When King Ajatastru got news of Ananda's Nirvana, he quickly led some of his men and rushed to River Ganges. When he reached the bank, Ananda had already rowed the boat to the middle of the river. King Ajatasatru immediately knelt on the ground and shouted loudly, "The Supreme Buddha! Please have great compassion. Honoured Venerable who gives us peace! Honoured Venerable of the three realms of lights!" Please come back!"

On the opposite bank, the people of Vaisali shouted similar words. Sitting in the boat, Ananda shouted, "I consider the hatred between both your countries, that's why I come here, the middle of the River Ganges to enter Nirvana so that both countries will each have half of my body!"

After saying, Ananda entered the fourth dhyana and into Nirvana, dividing his holy body into two halves for the two countries to worship. Because of Ananda, Magaha and Vaisali stopped fighting and the two countries patched up the differences, saving thousands of lives.

Big Uncle

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Re: Entering Nirvana - Buddha and his loyal attendant Ananda
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2012, 04:51:26 PM »
Wow! I love Ananda now. He's amazing and such a loyal disciple of the Buddha. Reading his story brings tears to my eyes because he cared so much for the Buddha, worked so very hard for the preservation of the Buddhadharma and even at the moment of his passing, he left a legacy of peace and powerful blessings for his disciples.

I love his story the most when compared to all the other disciples of the Buddha. I really like him because I can relate to his failings and I think he tried his very best to overcome them and proof his faith and love in the Buddha's teachings. I think that is such a powerful example for us modern practitioners. All of us recognized our failings but its what we do with it that makes us great sublime beings. All highly-realized Lamas will tell you that they have a million faults but it is because they made tremendous effort towards the Dharma and overcoming their faults. It is this human quality of perseverance and devotion that wins the hearts of many.

I must say that I am an Ananda fan right now. I love stories of such great masters who have transcended their faults and limitations to become an even greater person. Their stories are such an inspiration for all of us.

vajrastorm

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Re: Entering Nirvana - Buddha and his loyal attendant Ananda
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2012, 07:39:06 AM »
From this lovely story, I will always remember the way Ananda reacted to the disappointing news that he had not been made a member of the all-important First Council and love him for it. ( He  had not qualified to be a member because he had not yet gained arhatship).Instead of engaging in self -pity and thoughts of anger, he spent the whole night of the eve of the Council practicing hard and in deep contemplation, letting down everything. By midnight, he had gained enlightenment and was ready to join the First Council the next morning! This is a remarkable example of what a strong determination and single-minded focus on the Dharma can do.

Then there is also the skillful way in which he showed equal love and effected peace between two neighboring countries by entering Nirvana on the boundary between the two countries and bequeathing half his body to each.

These two stories give us eternal lessons to guide us on the Path to Enlightenment. 


dsiluvu

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Re: Entering Nirvana - Buddha and his loyal attendant Ananda
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2012, 09:37:32 AM »
Thank you positive change for this lovely story on Ananda... it is very touching and inspiring. What I took from this story is Ananda's great devotion and loyalty in serving Lord Buddha but what was most inpiring is his kind warm nature that shows humility. Even though Ananda was a direct student of Lord Buddha and is especially close to Lord Buddha, perhaps the closest, yet he is so humble. Obviously his kind gentle nature was felt by many and that is why so many loved him, even though he was not qualified for the first council yet many voted for him to be in "However, people loved Ananda and they unanimously voted him but Maha Kassapa objected."

This shows that Ananda is sincere and had a genuine kind heart and because of this, he could benefit so many, help so many when Buddha was around and continued to do so after Buddha has passed in to Nirvana...and like what Buddha said "Fellow bhikkhus! Ananda have loyally served me for so many years. He is gentle and kind. His memory is good. His meritorious deeds will bring brilliance to the world!"

This is a great virtuous example to follow as the more closer we are to the Lama the more humility we should always keep in check as it represents the Buddha and Dharma.

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: Entering Nirvana - Buddha and his loyal attendant Ananda
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2012, 10:13:58 AM »
What an amazing story of Ananda's devotion to Lord Buddha.  He cared so much to have the Dharma safe and taught to others.  It is such devoted practitioners like Ananda that till today we still have the Dharma. 

It is so inspiring to know that within one night, Ananda would achieve enlightenment in order to be in the First Council so that he could continue with Buddha's work and teachings.

The wonderful teaching that Ananda taught the citizens of Magaha and Vaisali with his death that the two countries no longer were enemies is so awesome.  From this I learn that even in death living Buddhas benefit people.

I also like the teaching that Buddha gave Ananda about how to take on the view of women and how Ananda put into practice by permitting women to view Buddha's holy body after Buddha passed into Nirvana.

In great appreciation of such wonderful teachers may the Dharma propagate in ten directions to benefit many sentient beings.


Vajraprotector

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Re: Entering Nirvana - Buddha and his loyal attendant Ananda
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2012, 12:41:16 PM »
Thank you for the inspiring story Positive Change.
 
Amongst the Buddha's many disciples, Ananda had the most retentive memory and most of the suttas in the Sutta Pitaka are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings during the First Buddhist Council that was held at Rajgir, the capital of the kingdom of Magadha.

At the council, Mahakashyapa selected some of the Buddha’s foremost disciples to recite from memory the teachings they’d heard. As Ananda was Buddha's personal attendant and constant companion for more than 25 years, he had heard more of the Buddha's discourses than anyone else and so was the first to speak.

I am sure we are all familiar with the words "Thus I have heard".  Ananda began each recitation with these words to indicate that Ananda himself had been present at the teaching he was about to relate. Then Ananda mention the place where the Buddha had given that particular discourse.  After that, Ananda recited from memory what he remembered. Monks who had also been present at that particular teaching were asked to confirm that Ananda's recitation was accurate. When they agreed, the recitation was accepted, and Mahakashyapa directed the assembly to commit it to memory.