Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

"Nirvana Sutra" Continued (Z30)


"Then Maudgalyayana went back to Ananda and said: "I entreated the Buddha for the three things you wished to have, and the Tathagata, out of his great pity, has consented." Ananda said: "O greatly virtuous one! If the Buddha has agreed, I shall go and serve him."

"O Manjusri! Ananda has served me for over 20 years and possesses eight wonders. What are the eight? These are:  1) for 20 years since he began to serve me, he has never eaten a meal [on the occasion] of any private invitation;  2) he has never once accepted used clothing;  3) since he began serving me, he has never come to me at the wrong hour;  4) since the time when he began serving me, he has had occasion to associate with all [kinds of] kings, Kshatriyas, nobles, and men of great clans, and he has met all [kinds] of females and naga females, and although he has defilements, he has never once yet given himself up to lustful thoughts;  5) since he began serving me, he has upheld the 12 types of sutra, and after having heard something once, he never asks me of it [i.e. to repeat it] a second time [i.e. he remembers whatever teachings the Buddha utters]. It is like shifting the water of [several] pots into one pot, except for one single question. O good man! Prince Vidudabha killed the people of the Sakya clan [i.e. the Buddha's own clan] and demolished the castle [citadel] of Kapilavastu. Ananda, at that time, was of sorrowful mind and wept. Coming to me, he said: "I was born together with you in this castle, and I am of the Sakya tribe. How is it that the Tathagata looks radiant as on ordinary days, and I feel so awearied?" I then replied: "O Ananda! I practise the samadhi of the Void. So I am not like you." Three years passed by, and he came to me and asked: "O World-Honoured One! In days gone by, I heard at the castle of Kapilavastu that the Tathagata practised the samadhi of the Void. Is this true or not?" I said: "O Ananda! It is thus, it is thus! It is just as you say";  6) since the day he began to serve me, he has not yet gained the ability to read others' minds, but he always knew the dhyanas I was  in;  7) since the day he began serving me, he has not as yet gained the knowledge [which would enable him] to know whatever he wishes to know, [yet] he well knew and would say: "Such and such people came to the Tathagata and such and such people have now gained the four fruitions of sramana and such and such have gained these later, such and such have gained human life, and such and such have gained a heavenly body";  8) since his [first] day of serving me, he has understood all the unspoken words of the Tathagata.

"O good man! Bhiksu Ananda possesses these eight wonders. That is why I call Ananda the storehouse of rich hearing.

"O good man! Bhiksu Ananda is perfect in eight things and thus upholds in perfect ways the 12 types of sutra.

"What are the eight? They are:  1) his faith is strong,  2) his mind is straight,  3) his body is without illness or pain,  4) he makes effort unremittingly,  5) [he is] perfect in the praying mind,  6) his mind has no arrogance,  7) [he is] perfect in the settled mind, and  8) through hearing [Dharma], knowledge comes about.

"O Manjusri! The disciple and attendant of Buddha Vipasyin was called Asoka. He was also perfect in these eight things. The disciple and attendant of Tathagata Sikhin was called Samakara, the disciple and attendant of Buddha Visvabuk was called Upasanta, the disciple and attendant of the great Buddha Krakucchanda was called Bhadrika, the disciple and attendant of Buddha Kanakamuni was called Sotei , and the disciple and attendant of Buddha Kasyapa was called Yobamitta. They all posssessed these virtues. That is why I say that Ananda is a storehouse of rich hearing.

"O good man! Just as you say, there are amongst those gathered here innumerable Bodhisattvas. But as these Bodhisattvas have heavy tasks to perform, such as the works of Great Loving-Kindness and Great Compassion, they inevitably have busy hours to work, to train the retinues and to adorn their own bodies. So, after my entering Nirvana, they will not be able to propound the 12 types of sutra. Or there may be Bodhisattvas who may propound them, but people will not believe what they say. O Manjusri! Bhiksu Ananda is my younger brother [Ananda is actually the Buddha's cousin, but is here called his brother to convey a sense of familiarity - K. Yamamoto]. Since the day when he began to serve me, 20 years have now passed. But he remembers what he has heard, like water stored in a pot. Because of this, I look back to [i.e. think of] Ananda and seek to know where he might be. And I desire to entrust this Nirvana Sutra to him.

"O good man! When I am gone, what Ananda did not hear will be propounded by "Bodhisattva Wide-Wide"; what Ananda did hear will be promulgated by Ananda himself.