Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas
Mahaa Cunda, Cunda the Great
Dictionary of Pali Proper Names: The books appear to refer to two theras by the name of Cunda, the better known being Mahaa-Cunda and the other Cuu.la-Cunda. But the legends connected with them are so confused that it is not possible to differentiate clearly one from the other. Mention is also made of a Cunda-Sama.nuddesa whom, however, the Commentaries identify with Mahaa-Cunda. Mahaa-Cunda is, for instance, described in the Theragaathaa Commentary as the younger brother of Saariputta, under whom he joined the Order, winning arahantship after arduous and strenuous effort. In the time of Vipassii Buddha he had been a potter and had given to the Buddha a bowl made of clay. The Apadaana verses quoted in the Theragaathaa Commentary are, in the Apadaana itself, ascribed to a monk named Ekapattadaayaka. They make no mention whatever of his relationship to Saariputta. On the other hand, there are to be found elsewhere in the Apadaana certain verses ascribed to a Cunda Thera, which definitely state that he was the son of the brahmin Va'nganta, and that his mother was Saarii. But in these verses he is called Cuu.la-Cunda, and mention is made of his previous birth in the time of Siddhattha Buddha, to whom he gave a bouquet of jasmine flowers. As a result he became king of the devas seventy-seven times and was once king of men, by name Dujjaya. It is further stated that he became arahant while yet a saama.nera and that waited upon the Buddha and his own brother and other virtuous monks. This account goes on to say that after his brother's death, Cunda brought his relics in a bowl and presented them to the Buddha, who uttered praises of Saariputta. This would identify Cuu.la-Cunda with Conda Sama.nuddesa who, according to the Sa.myutta Nikaaya, [S.v.161] attended Saariputta in his last illness and, after his death, brought to the Buddha at Jetavana Saariputta's bowl and outer robe and his relics wrapt in his water-strainer. Therefore if Buddhaghosa is correct in identifying Cunda Sama.nuddesa with Mahaa-Cunda, then all three are one and the same.
Cunda Sama.nuddesa was, for some time, the personal attendant of the Buddha, and when the Buddha prepared to perform the Twin Miracle, offered to perform a miracle himself and so save the Buddha trouble and exertion. Cunda's teacher was Aananda, and it was to Aananda that he first brought thenews of Saariputta's death.
Mahaa-Cunda was evidently a disciple of great eminence, and is mentioned by the Buddha [A.iii.299, M.iii.78] in company with the Two Chief Disciples, Mahaa-Kassapa, Mahaa Ko.t.thita, Mahaa Kaccaana and other very eminent Elders.
The Pi.takas contain several discourses [A.iii.355; v. 41, 157] given to the monks by Mahaa-Cunda while residing at Sahajaatii among the Cetis, probably after the Buddha's death. Cunda (or Cundaka as he is called in this context) was with the Buddha in his last journey to Kusinaaraa, and spread a bed for him in the Mangogrove by the Kakutthaa River. Cunda is mentioned [S.iv.50; M.iii.263] as having accompanied Siiriputta when he went to see Channa at theKalandakanivaapa in Raajagaha, just before Channa's suicide. Once, when the Buddha lay ill in theKalandakanivaapa, Cunda visited him and they talked of the bojjha'ngas. There and then the Buddha's sickness vanished.[S.v.81]
Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, by G. P. Malalasekera, D.Litt., Ph.D., M.A. (Lond.), O.B.E., Pali Text Society, 1974
see also M. i, 40; [MN 8]
M. iii, 78; [MN 118]
K.S. iv, 30;
S. v, 81
S. v. 161
A. iii. 299 [AN 6.17]