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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[240] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Female Beggars who has mastered The Burnings (jhayinam) is Nanda.


(DPPN: AKA Sundari-Nanda)

From the Psalms:

... she took birth in this Buddha-epoch in the reigning family of the Sakiyas. Named Nanda, she became known as Beautiful Nanda, the Bell of the country. And when our Exalted One had acquired all knowledge, had gone to Kapilavatthu, and caused the princess Nanda and Rāhula to join the Order; when too King Suddhodana died, and the Great Pajapati entered the Order, then Nanda thought: 'My elder brother has renounced the heritage of empire, has left the world, and is become a Buddha, a Superman (aggapuggalo). His son too, Rāhula, has left the world, so has my brother, King Nanda, my mother, Maha Pajapati, and my sister, Rāhula's mother. But I now, what shall I do at home? I will leave the world.' Thus she went forth, not from faith, but from love of her kin. And thus, even after her renunciation, she was intoxicated with her beauty, and would not go into the Master's presence, lest he should rebuke her. But it fared with her even as with Sister Abhirupa-Nanda, with this difference: When she saw the female shape conjured up by the Master growing gradually aged, her mind, intent on the impermanence and suffering of life, turned to meditative discipline. And the Master, seeing that, taught her suitable doctrine, thus:

Behold, Nanda, the foul compound, diseased,
Impure! Compel thy heart to contemplate
What is not fair to view. So steel thyself
And concentrate the well-composed mind.
As with this body, so with thine; as with
Thy beauty, so with this — thus shall it be
With this malodorous, offensive shape.
Wherein the foolish only take delight.
So look thou on it day and night with mind
Unfalteringly steadfast, till alone,
By thine own wit, delivered from the thrall
Of beauty, thou dost gain vision serene.

Then she, heeding the teaching, summoned up wisdom and stood firm in the fruition of the First Path. And, to give her an exercise for higher progress, he taught her, saying: 'Nanda, there is in this body not even the smallest essence. 'Tis but a heap of bones smeared with flesh and blood under the form of decay and death.' As it is said in the Dhammapada:

'Have made a citadel of bones besmeared
With flesh and blood, where ever reign decay
And death, and where conceit and fraud is stored.

Then she, as he finished, attained Arahantship. And when she pondered on her victory, she exulted in the Master's words, and added:

I, even I, have seen, inside and out,
This body as in truth it really is,
Who sought to know the 'what' and 'why' of it,
With zeal unfaltering and ardor fired.
Now for the body care I never more,
And all my consciousness is passion-free.
Keen with unfettered zeal, detached,
Calm and serene I taste Nibbana's peace.