Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas
(DPPN: Son of Suddhodana and Mahapajapati, and therefore half-brother of the Buddha. On the third day of the Buddha's visit to Kapilavatthu, after the Enlightenment, the Buddha went to Nanda's house, where festivities were in progress in honor of Nanda's coronation and marriage to Janapadakalyani Nanda. The Buddha wished Nanda good fortune and handed him his bowl to be taken to the vihara. Nanda, thereupon, accompanied the Buddha out of the palace. Janapadakalyani, seeing him go, asked him to return quickly. Once inside the vihara, however, the Buddha asked Nanda to become a monk, and he, unable to refuse the request, agreed with reluctance. But as the days passed he was tormented with thoughts of his beloved, and became very downcast and despondent, and his health suffered. The Buddha suggested that they should visit the Himalaya. On the way there, he showed Nanda the charred remains of a female monkey and asked him whether Janapadakalyani were more beautiful than that. The answer was in the affirmative. The Buddha then took him to Tavatimsa where Sakka, with his most beautiful nymphs, waited on them. In answer to a question by the Buddha, Nanda admitted that these nymphs were far more attractive than Janapadakalyani, and the Buddha promised him one as wife if he would live the monastic life. [The way I heard it Nanda was forced to confess that in the same way as Janapadakalyani was more beautiful than the burned monkey, so The Nymphs made Janapadakalyani look like the burned monkey by comparison.] Nanda was all eagerness and readily agreed. On their return to Jetavana the Buddha related this story to the eighty chief disciples, and when they questioned Nanda, he felt greatly ashamed of his lustfulness. Summoning all his courage, he strove hard and, in no long time, attained arahantship. He thereupon came to the Buddha and absolved him from his promise.
Later, on seeing how eminently Nanda was trained in self-control, the Buddha declared him chief among his disciples in that respect (indriyesu guttadvaranam).
Nanda was very beautiful, and was only four inches shorter than the Buddha. He once wore a robe made according to the dimensions of the Buddha's robe. Discovering this, the Buddha chided him for his presumption.
From PTS, Hare, Trans, The Book of the Gradual Sayings, The Book of the Eights, #ix 9
The Venerable Nanda
Monks, one might say, speaking rightly of Nanda: "He is a clansman"; "He is strong"; one might say: "He is handsome"; one might say, speaking rightly of him: "He is very passionate."
Monks, save he keep the doors of the senses guarded, be moderate in eating, be watchful; save he have mindfulness and self-possession, how can Nanda live the godly life in all its purity?
Monks, this is the way for Nanda to guard the doors of the senses:
Monks, if Nanda has occasion to look to the eastern quarter, concentrating his whole attention, he gazes thereat, reflecting: "thus while I look to the eastern quarter, there shall not flow in upon me covetousness, nor discontent, nor evil, nor any unrighteous state." Thus in this way is he self-possessed. If he has occasion to look to the western quarter ... to the northern quarter ... to the southern quarter ... to the zenith ... to the nadir ... to the points between the quarters, concentrating his whole attention he gazes thereat, reflecting: "Thus while I look to the points between the quarters, covetousness and the rest shall not flow in upon me." Thus in this way is he self-possessed. Monks, this is the way for Nanda to guard the doors of the senses.
[This, for me, is a prime example of what is wrong with books and the Dhamma. The above section, if spoken slowly and in units according to each direction, is completely spell binding ... the mind in some way finds itself projecting itself into the instruction and encircling itself in the directions, something totally lost in this straight line presentation. In my hand written versions of The Course, I attempted to partially redress this fault by presenting individual thoughts on separate pages — this would, of course, result in the complete Dhamma taking up hundreds of thousands of pages. We suffer as a consequence of our abundance. Hardly anyone reads the Dhamma and of those that do only a few hear it.]
Monks, this is the way for Nanda to be moderate in eating:
Monks, herein Nanda eats his food with orderly reflection, not for amusement, for lust, for adornment, for beauty; but to suffice for the sustaining and nourishment of his body, to appease hunger and to aid the practice of the godly life. He reflects: "In this way I shall crush out the old feelings and not allow any new feelings to arise and I shall continue to dwell in blamelessness and comfort." Monks, this is the way for Nanda to be moderate in eating.
Monks, this is the way for Nanda to watchfulness:
Monks, herein by day Nanda purges his mind of thoughts that hinder, when walking, when sitting down; so, too, during the first watch of the night; during the middle watch he lies like a lion on his right side, with foot covering foot, mindful and self-possessed, intent upon the thought of etting up; gettingup in the last watch of the night he purges his mind of thoughts that hinder, when walking and when sitting. Monks, this is the way for Nanda to watchfulness.
Monks, this is the way for Nanda to mindfulness and self-possession:
Monks, herein to Nanda recognized feelings rise, [this is very awkward to us; the meaning is: when feelings arise, they are recognized as such by Nanda] recognized they endure, recognized they set; recognized perceptions rise, recognized they endure, recognized they set; recognized reflections rise, recognized they endure, recognized they set. Monks, this is the way for Nanda to mindfulness and self possession.
Monks, save Nanda keep the doors of the senses guarded, be moderate in eating, be watchful, save he have mindfulness and self-possession, how can Nanda live the godly life in all its purity?'
From the Psalms:
Heedless and shallow once my thoughts were set
On all the bravery of outward show;
Fickle was I and frivolous; all my days
Were worn with wanton sensuality.
But by the Buddha's skillful art benign.
Who of sun's lineage cometh, was I brought
To live by deeper thought, whereby my heart
From (the great swamp of endless) life I drew.