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Sundari Nanda

Posted by myanmarpedia on September 27, 2007

I. Immediate family of the Buddha
1.King Suddhodana(father)

2.Queen Maha Maya(mother)
3.Maha Pajapati Gotami(aunt and foster mother)
4.Yasodhara(cousin and wife)

II. Male Disciples
6.Sariputta (first chief male disciple)
7.Moggallana (second chief male disciple)
8.Ananda(cousin and personal attendant)
9.Maha Kassapa(preserver of the Dhamma)
10.Anuruddha (cousin and foremost in divine eye)
11.Maha kaccana (foremost in explaining deep and complex sayings )
12.Bakkula (foremost in good health and longevity)
13.Sivali (foremost in obtaining monastic requisites)
14.Angulimala(murderer turned saint)
16.Devadatta(cousin and brother-in-law)

III. Female Disciples
17.khema (first chief female disciple)
18.Uppalavanna (second chief female disciple)
19.Bhadda Kundalakesa(debating nun, foremost in quick understanding)
20.Patacara(foremost in discipline)
21.Sundari Nand (stepsister)
22.Bhadda Kapilani (foremost in recollecting past births)
23.Kisa Gotami (foremost in wearing coarse rag-robes)
25.Sona(foremost in effort)

IV. Royal Patrons
26.king Bimbisara
27.Queen mallika
28.King Pasenadi
29.Queen Samavati

V. Lay Disciples
30.Anathapindika(chief male lay disciple)
31.Visakha (chief female lay disciple)
32.Citta (foremost lay disciple in teaching the Dhamma)
33.Rohini(cousin of the Buddha)

Sundari Nanda

Nanda was the daughter of King Suddhodana and Queen Maha Pajapati Gotami and the stepsister of Prince Siddhattha. As she brought great pleasure and joy to her parents she was named Nanda, which means joy and pleasure. Nanda grew up to be extremely graceful and beautiful and was often referred to as Sunadari Nanda or ‘Nanda the Beautiful’.

When her mother, Queen Pajapati, and many other Sakyan ladies gave up the household life to take up the holy life, Nanda decided to join them. However, she did not do so out of confidence in the Buddha or the Dhamma. Nanda was ordained as a nun to conform to the wishes of her relatives, whom she loved.

The lovely Nanda was very popular and respected by all. People were touched by the sight of the lovely royal daughter, sister of the Buddha, wandering the streets for alms in the simple robes of a nun. Nanda’s mind, however, was not on her emancipation. She was enthralled by her beauty and popularity.

Nanda knew that she was not keeping the high ideals of the Holy Order. Afraid that the Buddha would admonish her for her vanity and preoccupation with beauty, she avoided meeting Him.

One day the Buddha had all His nuns who were in residence come to Him one at a time for instruction. Nanda did not comply as she felt guilty and did not want to face the Buddha. The Buddha then called her and gave her a spiritual message that emphasized all her good qualities. Even though this discourse made Nanda joyful and uplifted her, the Buddha realized that Nanda was not yet ready for a discourse on the Four Noble Truths.

Seeing that Nanda was still enthralled with her beauty, He created an exquisite vision of a beautiful maiden whose beauty surpassed Nanda’s radiance. He then made the image age before her eyes. Nanda saw the beautiful maiden age, her skin growing old and wrinkled and her hair turning grey. She saw the woman collapse with age and finally die. She saw the body decompose and turn into an ugly sight, bloated with worms. Nanda realized the impermanence of this body with which she was so preoccupied. Her mind was now ready for the teachings. The Buddha then explained the Dhamma of impermanence and the loathsomeness of this body to her. He also gave her the loathsomeness of the body as her topic of meditation. Because of her strong attraction to her beauty it was necessary for her to contemplate the loathsomeness of her body to penetrate the Truth. Before long Nanda attained Arahanthship and expressed her struggle for attainment and the bliss of Nibbana as follows:

“Nanda, behold this body,
Ailing, impure and putrid,
Develop the meditation on the foul,
Make the mind unified, well composed.
As is this so was that,
As is that so this will be (doctrine of cause and effect),
Putrid, exhaling a foul odour,
A thing in which fools delight.
Inspecting it as it is,
Unwearying by day and night,
With my own wisdom I pierced right through,
And then I saw for myself.
As I dwelt ever heedful,
Dissecting it (the body) with methodical thought,
I saw this body as it really is,
Both inside and outside.
Then I became disenchanted with the body,
My inward attachment faded away,
Being diligent and detached at heart,
I live in peace, fully quenched.”
— (Therigatha 82-86)


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