Tale of Arahant Nanda
Apr 29, 2016
Namo Buddhaya! May homage to the Blessed One, the Noble One, the Perfectly Enlightened One! 13th, 14th Stanzas Tale of Arahant Nanda “One falls into trouble if the mind is not protected by the Dhamma. Mind that remains within the Dhamma is always safe.” You are aware of most of the facts about the family of Prince Siddhartha. Queen Mahamaya passed away seven days after the birth of Prince Siddhartha. The reason for that was not the birth of Prince Siddhartha. You are aware that when Bodhisattva is in the heavenly abode of Tusita he considered five important factors. Those five included the identity of the mother. The life span of the lady who becomes the mother to Bodhisattva should be only till ten months and seven days from the date of conception. In respect of any Buddha, the mother’s life span will be the same. This is a common fact in the lives of all Buddhas. Queen Mahamaya did not die due to any sickness after giving birth. It was solely due to her life span coming to an end. She was reborn as a heavenly prince in the heaven of Tusita. Prajapathi Gothami became the queen after that. She was a very kind lady. She breast fed prince Siddhartha like one of her own children. She got two children. One was prince Nanda. The other was princes Nanda. As mentioned earlier, the Lord Buddha visited Kapilavatthu after His enlightenment. After the renunciation of prince Siddhartha, prince Nanda became the crown prince. Arrangements were being made to have the prince Nanda’s coronation, coming into occupation of the palace and marriage ceremony on the same day. It was during this time that the Lord Buddha visited the palace and preached. King Suddhodana and queen Prajapathi attained the first sainthood in path to Nibbana on hearing the Dhamma. On that day, the Lord Buddha was getting ready to go back to Nigrodharamaya after preaching Dhamma. Prince Nanda was standing close to him. The Lord Buddha handed over his begging bowl to prince Nanda. Prince Nanda was very happy because his brother was a Buddha. The Lord Buddha was slowly walking towards Nigrodharamaya with the monks. Prince Nanda thought the Lord Buddha would take back the begging bowl near the steps to the palace or entrance. But the Lord Buddha did not take it back. Therefore, prince Nanda had to follow the Lord Buddha. At this time Janapada Kalyani, the very beautiful princess who was to get married to prince Nanda was watching from the balcony. She made signs with eyes and hands and requested him to come back soon. He also smiled indicating that he would come soon. Ultimately, prince Nanda walked up to Nigrodharamaya with the begging bowl and handed it over to the Lord Buddha there. The Lord Buddha asked prince Nanda, “Nanda, isn’t it good if you also become a monk like these other monks?” Prince Nanda could not do anything. Memories of Janapada Kalyani started coming to his mind. All along, he was thinking of running back to the palace. But the Lord Buddha was now asking him to enter the order of monks. How could he refuse the request of becoming a monk by his dearly and beloved brother? It was impossible. So he agreed. It may appear that a great injustice was done to prince Nanda. You may think that a prince who was about to be crowned and married to a beautiful princess lost that chance. But, we should think about this matter in a way that a Buddha would look. This sansara is a journey in which one keeps on falling to four planes of sorrowful existence. The Lord Buddha has understood this journey of sansara in the following way. Being born as a chakkawatti king is much better than being born as an ordinary king. The reason is that a chakkawatti king rules righteously and not the other way. He creates a Dhamma kingdom by making the people virtuous without using weapons or punishments. It is a great victorious deed. Because of that meritorious deed, he gets born among divine beings after death. But after the expiry of his life span as such a divine being, it is possible for him to be born in hell, or as an animal or as a petha. That is, he could be born in any of the four hells. If such a danger is before him, isn’t chakkawatti kingship very temporary? If one becomes Sotapanna after understanding the Four Noble Truths, he will be born among divine beings after death even if that person was very poor in the human world. After the expiry of the life span in that divine realm, he will be born as a human being or will be born among divine beings again. He will not fall into the four hells. Therefore, who has the greater protection: Chakkawatti king or poor person who attains Sotapanna state? Therefore, the Lord Buddha perceived that understanding the Dhamma was the better option. He preached that “It is better to attain Sotapanna state than becoming the chief of the land, being born in the realm of divine beings, or becoming the chief of the entire world.” Therefore, we must think of prince Nanda’s monkhood from that point of view. If not, we will not be able to understand the difference. Prince Nanda, Janapada Kalyani and others had enough merit to enter monkhood and become Arahants. Only the Lord Buddha knew about it. After becoming a monk, Nanda Thero wore beautiful robes, used an expensive begging bowl, and sometimes he even applied unguent on his eyes. Although he was a monk, his idea was to stay beautiful. Whenever he was alone in the forest or under the shade of a tree, he did not contemplate on the Dhamma, but kept on thinking of Janapada Kalyani. It resulted in loosing his concentration and thoughts of lust arose. Finally, by keeping on thinking of Janapada Kalyani his mind got very much disturbed. Even in his dreams, he saw Janapada Kalyani beckoning him. Finally, it was impossible for him to control his mind. He decided to disrobe himself. He told the other monks, “I feel very uncomfortable. My body feels heavy. Mind is not calm. I do not understand what to do. I am not following the precepts with any pleasure. I am going back to the palace.” The monks who heard this felt very sympathetic. This body is comprised of lots of impure matter. Tears come from eyes, waxes from ears, mucus from the nose, and saliva from the mouth. Sweat comes from the skin. Feces and urine are expelled from this body. Except for these disgusting things, nothing of sweet smelling comes out of the body. It is like a beautiful vessel full of dirt. Everyone gets deceived by this external appearance. The Arahants felt pity regarding Nanda thero’s plight. He was going to fall into trouble by getting misled by the lust arising in the mind due to being charmed by the appearance of a woman. He is going to fall into sansara where one is subjected to birth and death over and over again. They informed the Lord Buddha about Nanda thero’s disappointment. He called Nanda thero and said, “Nanda, come here. We shall go on a trip,” and held his hand. Instantaneously, the Lord Buddha and Nanda thero appeared in heaven. Nanda thero was amazed. “Oh, this is the heaven then. How wonderful. There, divine mates are coming. They are coming this way. They are very beautiful. Hair is golden. Eyes are blue. The soles of the feet are pink. They are really beautiful.” Only the beauty of the divine maidens struck the uncontrolled mind of Nanda thero. He was gazing at them in wonder. All those divine maidens came worshipping the Lord Buddha from a distance. They worshipped Him with great devotion and spoke to the Lord Buddha. Nanda thero’s mind was completely charmed by those divine damsels. The Lord Buddha held his hand again. They now appeared in Veluvanaramaya. Nanda thero gazed at the Lord Buddha who asked, “Nanda, what do you think now? Who is more beautiful? Is it Janapada Kalyani or divine damsels?” “Oh Lord Buddha, I am still surprised. It is still like a dream. I never thought that such beautiful women existed until I went to heaven. Whenever I think of the divine damsels Janapada Kalyani seems to be like a female monkey burnt in a forest. There is no such a beauty in human bodies as we think. It becomes clear only when one sees divine bodies.” The Lord Buddha told Nanda thero, “If that’s the case Nanda, I promise if you observe the precepts the way I tell you and behave according to the Dhamma, you will be born in heaven. Then you will have a retinue of five hundred maidens.” Nanda thero was amazed and smiled with pleasure. His words were not coherent. “Sir, is it true? Will I get five hundred divine maidens?” “Yes Nanda. You will get five hundred divine maidens.” Nanda thero got it confirmed thrice. He firmly decided not to disrobe. He determined to observe the precepts. He gave up beautiful robes and wore a robe made of cloth taken from a corpse. He took a bowl made of clay, washed off the unguent on the eyes and became an ordinary monk. Everyone was surprised. How did this monk changed during such a short time? The news spread little by little. Arahants jokingly asked Nanda thero, “You have entered into a deal. You are observing precepts with the idea of getting paid for it. You are giving monkhood at a low price. Are you being celibate with the intention of getting divine maidens?” These remarks of Arahants caused embarrassment to Nanda thero. Even the thought of divine maidens disgusted him. He did not want them anymore. He lost interest in Janapada Kalyani also. Finally, he became alone, developed the concentration and determined to get rid of impurities in the mind. He could control his mind and entered the Dhamma. He dispelled all mental impurities and became an Arahant. Nanda thero who suffered a lot due to desires towards material things achieved victory at last: craving was defeated. Based on this Nanda’s story, the Lord Buddha preached two beautiful stanzas. Their meanings are given below, When the roof is not thatched properly During the rainy season, water will come to the house When the mind is not protected by meditation Impurities of desire will flow into the uncontrolled mind When the roof is thatched properly Water will not come into the house through the roof When the mind is protected by meditation Impurities will not flow into the controlled mind Many people lose valuable things when they desire valueless things. Some people like to play and as a result fail to get educated. They lose avenues for development. They repent at the end. Some people get involved in love affairs while studying. They keep on talking about it. They enjoy doing so. Consequently, they get into distress at the end, fail examinations and even lose their jobs. Some people desire alcohol. They drink and dance proudly at parties. They try to be prominent in the crowds. They start drinking thinking that it is a great feat of bravery. In the end, they become drunkards and waste their money. They get surrounded by sinful friends. They destroy their health and end up in sorrow. Some people like to kill animals and go hunting, go fishing to torment animals. By all these sinful acts, the mind gets deteriorated. In fact, such things enter the mind solely because one has a depraved mind. If the roof is not thatched properly and if water leaks into the house during rain, how could a leak is stopped? How can one stop sinful thoughts occurring in the deteriorated mind? In fact, it is a very difficult task. Many people in this world live without protection to the mind. Therefore, impure thoughts arise in one’s mind and destroy the individual without even ones knowledge. The mind protected by the Dhamma is fantastic. Such a mind is worthy of respect. An outsider cannot spoil that purity by any means. The mind becomes impure by desire, hatred, ignorance, conceit, jealousy, revenge, retaliation, ingratitude and etc. The mind becomes purified by getting rid of them. Good qualities like discipline, determination, virtue, humility, detachment, and loving kindness develop a mind. The protection comes from them. Even in a house if the roof is well thatched, there will be no problem with any amount of rain. The inside of the house will not get wet by that rain. The mind protected by the Dhamma will be like that. Good will is the only result and it is safeguard from evil. by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero.


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