ANANDA, one of the principal disciples of the Buddha. He has been called the beloved disciple of the Buddhist story. He was the first cousin of the Buddha, and was devotedly attached to him. Ananda entered the Order in the second year of the Buddha’s ministry, and became one of his personal attendants, accompanying him on most of his wanderings and being the interlocutor in many of the recorded dialogues. He is the subject of a special panegyric delivered by the Buddha just before his death (Book of the Great Decease, v. 38); but it is the panegyric of an unselfish man, kindly, thoughtful for others and popular; not of the intellectual man, versed in the theory and practice of the Buddhist system of self-culture. So in the long list of the disciples given in the Anguttara (i. xiv.) where each of them is declared to be the chief in some gift, Ananda is mentioned five times (which is more often than any other), but it is as chief in conduct and in service to others and in power of memory, not in any of the intellectual powers so highly prized in the community. This explains why he had not attained to arahatship; and in the earliest account of the convocation said to have been held by five hundred of the principal disciples immediately after the Buddha’s death, he was the only one who was not an arahat (Cullavagga, book xi.). In later accounts this incident is explained away. Thirty-three verses ascribed to Ananda are preserved in a collection of lyrics by the principal male and female members of the order (Thera Gatha, 1017-1050). They show a gentle and reverent but simple spirit.
Source: 1911 encyclopedia.
Copyright © World Spirituality · All Rights Reserved