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Udāna

Udāna
3.2 Nanda Sutta
Arahant Nanda

The story of Arahant Nanda, who at one point was about to leave monkhood, but instead realizes the Four Noble Truths.

This is what I heard from the Blessed One. Those days the Blessed One was living in the province of Sāvatthī, at Jeta’s Park, at Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Venerable Nanda, the Blessed One’s cousin, son of his maternal aunt, kept saying to many monks, “I don’t enjoy leading the monk-life, my friends. I can’t keep up the monk-life. Giving up the training, I will return to the laylife.”

Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he told the Blessed One, “Bhante, Venerable Nanda, the Blessed One’s cousin, son of his maternal aunt, kept saying to many monks, ‘I don’t enjoy leading the monk-life, my friends. I can’t keep up the monk-life. Giving up the training, I will return to the laylife.’”

Then the Blessed One told a certain monk, “Come, monk. In my name, call Nanda, saying, ‘The Buddha calls you, friend Nanda.’”

Responding, “Okay, Bhante” to the Blessed One, the monk went to Venerable Nanda and said, “The Buddha calls you, friend Nanda.”

Responding, “Okay, my friend,” to the monk, Venerable Nanda went to the Blessed One and, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One asked him, “Is it true, Nanda, that you keep saying to many monks, ‘I don’t enjoy leading the monk-life, my friends. I can’t keep up the monk-life. Giving up the training, I will return to the laylife’?”

“Yes, Bhante.”

“Nanda why don’t you enjoy leading the monk-life? Why can’t you keep up the monk-life? Why will you return to the laylife, giving up the training?”

“Bhante, as I was leaving the palace, a Sakyan girl, my wife to be, glanced at me with her hair beautifully adorned and with a comb still in her hair, said, ‘Hurry back, master.’ Recollecting that, I don’t enjoy leading the monk-life. I can’t keep up the monk-life. Giving up the training, I will return to the laylife.”

Then, taking Venerable Nanda by the arm, as a strong man might flex his extended arm or extend his flexed arm, the Blessed One disappeared from Jeta’s Park and reappeared among the gods of the Tāvatiṃsa heaven. Now on that occasion about 500 nymphs, with feet similar to doves in colour (pink), had come to wait upon Sakka, the ruler of the gods. The Blessed One asked Venerable Nanda, “Nanda, do you see these 500 nymphs, with feet similar to doves in colour?”

“Yes, Bhante.”

“What do you think, Nanda? Who is lovelier, more gorgeous, more charming, the Sakyan girl, or these 500 nymphs, with feet similar to doves in colour?”

“Bhante, compared to these 500 nymphs, with feet similar to doves in colour, the Sakyan girl, is like a burnt she-monkey with its ears and nose missing. She doesn’t count. She’s not even a small fraction. There’s no comparison. The 500 nymphs are lovelier, more gorgeous and more charming.”

“Then, be happy with the monk-life Nanda. I am your guarantor for getting 500 nymphs, with feet similar to doves in colour.”

“If the Blessed One is my guarantor for getting 500 nymphs, with feet similar to doves in colour, I will happily lead the monk-life under the Blessed One.”

Then, taking Venerable Nanda by the arm, as a strong man might flex his extended arm or extend his flexed arm, the Blessed One disappeared from among the gods of the Tāvatiṃsa heaven and reappeared at Jeta’s Park. The monks learned about this incident and heard rumors as this, “They say that Venerable Nanda the Blessed One’s cousin, son of his maternal aunt is leading the monk-life for the sake of nymphs. They say that the Blessed One is his guarantor for getting 500 nymphs, with feet similar to doves in colour.”

Then the monks who were companions of Venerable Nanda treated him as they would a slave and a merchant and made fun of him saying, “Venerable Nanda, they say, is like a slave. Venerable Nanda, they say, is like a merchant. He’s leading the monk-life for the sake of nymphs. The Blessed One is his guarantor for getting 500 nymphs, with feet similar to doves in colour.”

Then Venerable Nanda was humiliated, ashamed and disgusted, because the monks who were his companions were making fun of him and treating him like they would a slave and a merchant. Venerable Nanda went to live alone, secluded, heedful, determined and took the training seriously. He in a short time entered and remained in the supreme goal of the monk-life for which men rightly become monks. He attained liberation. He knew, “Birth is ended, the holy life is fulfilled, the training is completed. There are no more rebirths.” In this way, Venerable Nanda became another one of the arahants.

Then a certain god, late into the night, his extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta’s Park, approached the Blessed One, having bowed down to him, stood to one side. As he was standing there, he said to the Blessed One, “Bhante, Venerable Nanda the Blessed One’s cousin, son of his maternal aunt through the ending of the defilements, has entered and remains in the defilement-free liberation by mind and wisdom. He directly knows and realizes the liberation for himself in this very life.” Within the Blessed One also, the knowledge arose: “Nanda, through the ending of the defilements, has entered and remains in the defilement-free liberation by mind and wisdom. He directly knows and realizes the liberation for himself in this very life.”

Then, when the night had passed, Venerable Nanda went to the Blessed One and, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, “Bhante, about the Blessed One being my guarantor for getting 500 nymphs with feet similar to doves in colour, I release the Blessed One from that promise.”

“Nanda, having read your mind with my own mind, I realized that ‘Nanda, through the ending of the defilements, has entered and remains in the defilement-free liberation by mind and wisdom. He directly knows and realizes the liberation for himself in this very life.’ A god also informed me that ‘Venerable Nanda, through the ending of the defilements, has entered and remains in the defilement-free liberation by mind and wisdom. He directly knows and realizes the liberation for himself in this very life.’ When your mind, through non-clinging, was released from the defilements, I was at the same time released from that promise.”

Then, on realizing the benefit of liberation, the Blessed One spoke the following inspired verses:

“Whoever crossed over the mud pit of sense desires, crushed the thorn of sense pleasures and destroyed delusion, has attained Nibbāna. He is not agitated by pain or pleasure, he is called a ‘monk’”.

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Udāna 3.2 Nanda Sutta: Arahant Nanda

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