by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The Noble Qualities of Venerable Ananda 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 Buddha Declared the Seven Factors of Non-Decline for Rulers. 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).
“The Bhagavā has discoursed to me on the four places which inspire emotional religious awakening, and the benefits arising from pilgrimage to these places; he has answered to me about bhikkhu conduct regarding women; he has detailed to me the procedure about performing the last rites in honour of the Tathāgata: and he has explained to me about the four classes of persons worthy of a stupa. And just today the Tathāgata is going to realize Parinibbāna.”
These thoughts made him miserable. He felt like crying but, remembering that it would not be proper to make the Buddha unpleasant if he were to cry near the Buddha, he retired into the assembly chamber and leaning against the door-post, he wailed: “I am still training myself for the three higher maggas, and my Teacher who has been so compassionate to me, is about to pass away.”
Then the Buddha asked the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus, where is Ānanda?”
“Venerable Sir,” the bhikkhus replied, “Venerable Ānanda has gone into the pavilion and leaning against the door-post, he wailed: ‘I am still training myself for the three higher maggas, and my Teacher who has been so compassionate to me, is about to pass away!’ ”
Then the Buddha said to a bhikkhu: “Go, bhikkhu, say to Ānanda in My words: ‘Friend Ānanda, the Teacher calls you.’ ”
Responding to that bhikkhu's message, the Venerable Ānanda went to the Buddha and
(making obeisance to Him,) sat in a suitable place. To Ānanda sitting there, the Buddha said:
“Enough Ānanda, do not grieve, nor weep. Have I not previously told you that it is the very nature of things most near and dear to us that one must part with them somehow even while we are living, or when death divides us, or when we are of different planes of existence? Ānanda in this matter, how could one expect anything that has the nature of arising, of appearing, of being conditioned, and of dissolution, not to disintegrate? It is not possible for anyone to wish so.
“For a long time, Ānanda, you have attended upon the Tathāgata faithfully, whether in His presence or not, with infinite kindness in deed, with the welfare and happiness of the Tathāgata at heart; faithfully whether in His presence or not, with infinite kindness in words, with the welfare and happiness of the Tathāgata at heart, faithfully whether in His presence or not, with infinite kindness in thought, with the welfare and benefit of the Tathāgata at heart. Ānanda, you have earned much merit. Apply yourself to the task of Insight meditation, and you will soon attain arahatship.”
Thus said the Buddha to console Venerable Ānanda.
(Ānanda’s personal service to the Buddha with infinite kindness in deed included all bodily activities, such as preparing the water and toothbrushes for the Buddha’s morning ablutions. His infinite kindness in words included all courteous, respectful communication with the Buddha such as answering: “Venerable Sir, it is time for the Bhagavā to wash his face, etc.” Taken in another sense, it also included words of appreciation and gladness on hearing the Buddha’s admonition. Infinite kindness in thought means after rising early and had his personal cleanliness attended, Ānanda would sit in a secluded corner and wish the Buddha well: “May the Bhagavā be free from ailments, may He be free from harm, may He be at ease physically and mentally.”)
Then as if a strong man were to spread out the great earth that was folded somewhere, or as if a strong man were to smoothen the sky that was wrinkled, or as if a strong man were to push downwards Mount Cakkavaḷā, which is a hundred and sixty-four thousand yojanas high, or as if a strong man were to lift up Mount Meru which is a hundred and sixty-eight thousand yojanas high, or as if a strong man were to shake the stem of the Jambu Tree (Rose Apple Tree) which is a hundred yojanas high and a hundred yojanas wide, in order to incite wonder in the hearts of his audience.
Regarding the meritorious qualities of Venerable Ānanda, the Buddha spoke thus to the bhikkhus:
“Bhikkhus, the attendant bhikkhus of the Homage-worthy, Perfectly Self-Enlightened Buddhas of the past were as accomplished and devoted as My attendant Ānanda.
“Bhikkhus, the attendant bhikkhus of the Homage-worthy, Perfectly Self-Enlightened Buddhas of the future will be as accomplished and devoted as My attendant Ānanda.
“Bhikkhus, Ānanda is wise and intelligent. He knows: ‘This is the proper time for the bhikkhus to approach and see the Tathāgata, or this is the proper time for the bhikkhunīs to approach and see the Tathāgata, or this is the proper time for the male lay disciples to approach and see the Tathāgata, or this is the proper time for female lay disciples to approach and see the Tathāgata, or this is the proper time for the king, the king’s ministers, or the teachers of other faiths or their adherents to approach and see the Tathāgata.”
(Note that the Buddha does not say anything about other Buddhas of the present time because in no other world-system was another Buddha of Infinite attributes in existence.)