The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes Nandavana Garden contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as the Jewel of the Buddha. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

Part 2 - Nandavana Garden

An account of Nandavana Garden will be given here as described in Nandana Vagga, etc., of the Sagāthā Vagga Saṃyutta Commentary. Nandavana Garden is so named because it gives delight to all devas who visit it.

Each of the six planes of the deva-world has its own Nandavana Garden. All these gardens give the same delight, whether they belong to lower or upper celestial planes. Therefore, only the Nandavana Garden of Tāvatiṃsa abode is described in detail in the Texts (as an example).

This Nandavana Garden is a pleasant, splendid place with all kinds of precious celestial trees, flowers, pavilions, vehicles and a variety of enjoyable things which are enchanting, marvellous, awe-inspiring to the worldling. It is a true garden resort where devas can amuse themselves with singing, dancing and other entertainments presented by dancers and artistes of various ages, various beauties, various voices, various forms and various colours. Each troupe of performers tries to rival and outplay the other in providing freely all kinds of sensual pleasures to those who come from all the four quarters.

This Nandavana Garden, considered by devas to be a great adornment of their abode with all its splendour and auspiciousness, stands as the most charming resort, and those entering it to seek the five pleasures of senses, namely, enjoyable sights, enjoyable sounds, enjoyable scents, enjoyable tastes and enjoyable touch, are all delighted and satisfied.

This Nandavana Garden is also a place of solace to those devas who are nearing the end of their life span. The five portents of impending demise which warn them of the coming fate inevitably appear. Many devas break down, sobbing and grieving at their imminent predicament of losing the blissful life forever. But once they enter this enchanting garden, they feel transformed back into persons of serenity, peace and happiness in an instant.

On whatever account they are afflicted with despair and lamentation, but once these devas step inside Nandavana Garden, they are absorbed in pleasures. As the morning dew and mist evaporate at the touch of the rays of the rising sun, as the flame of the oil lamp flickers and dies out through a strong gust of wind, so the worries of the dying devas are laid to rest. A saying has come into existence thus: “He, who has not been to Nandavana Garden where all the best sensual pleasures of the world converge, cannot understand the real worldly happiness.” Such is the attraction of Nandavana Garden to all worldlings.

In the exposition of Verañjakaṇḍa in the Vinaya Sārattha Dīpanī, Volume One, is given the following description: “Nandavana Garden of Tāvatiṃsa devas covers the area of sixty yojanas in extent. (According to some teachers, its extent is five hundred yojanas.) It is splendidly decorated by celestial trees of one thousand species.”

The Jinālaṅkāra Tika in its comment on Tividha Buddha Khetta also says: “Nandavana Garden lies to the east of Sudassana City of Tāvatiṃsa and is surrounded by walls, fire screens and arched gateways made of jewels. The area measures one thousand yojanas. It is a recreational resort for all devas. Two beautiful lakes, Mahānandā and Cūḷananda, are located between Nandavana Garden and Sudassana City. The environment of the lakes is clean. The surface water of the lakes is dark blue green, matching the sky free of mist and clouds.”

Time for The Bodhisatta Deva’s Demise

When Bodhisatta, Deva Setaketu, entered Nandavana Garden, the accompanying retinue of male and female deities addressed him:

“On your demise from this abode of devas, may you proceed to a good abode, the destination of being accomplished in meritorious deeds!”

The devas, who were accompanying Bodhisatta Setaketu also urged him to recollect again and again his acts of merit done in the past and moved about in Nandavana Garden, surrounding the Bodhisatta. While the Bodhisatta was roaming about in Nandavana Garden in the company of the devas, who were urging him to reflect upon his previous meritorious life, the time of his demise arrived.

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