Hostility to Ananda

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Hostility to Ananda

Postby Bankei » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:43 pm

Ananda seems to get a hard time in some sections of the Pali canon. There sees to be some hostility to him even though he was the closest companion to the Buddha. The Buddha himself gives Ananda a hard time in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta and he nearly doesn't make it into the first council an then when he does he is criticised for various 'offences' an faults.

From a 'classical Theravada' point of view, why is this so?

Thoughts from other traditions also welcome.

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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:22 am

Hi Bankei,

I can't right now locate a good reference, but I'm sure I have read somewhere that there is evidence, in the evolution of the suttas, of a power struggle involving Maha Kassapa and Ananada.

These are the closest things I can locate, but they doesn't really have any details:
Maha Kassapa, Father of the Sangha, by Hellmuth Hecker
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 5.html#ch8
Ananda, The Guardian of the Dhamma, by Hellmuth Hecker
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh273-p.html# ... ftheBuddha

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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:27 am

Bankei wrote:Ananda seems to get a hard time in some sections of the Pali canon. There sees to be some hostility to him even though he was the closest companion to the Buddha. The Buddha himself gives Ananda a hard time in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta and he nearly doesn't make it into the first council an then when he does he is criticised for various 'offences' an faults.

From a 'classical Theravada' point of view, why is this so?

Thoughts from other traditions also welcome.

Bankei

can you give an example of each kind of occurrence and why you think it unfair?
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:36 am

The obvious example of negativity directed at Ananda is in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
"Then, Ananda, the fault is yours. Herein have you failed, inasmuch as you were unable to grasp the plain suggestion, the significant prompting given by the Tathagata, and you did not then entreat the Tathagata to remain. For if you had done so, Ananda, twice the Tathagata might have declined, but the third time he would have consented. Therefore, Ananda, the fault is yours; herein have you failed.

There is more on this in the Vinaya, but I don't have a personal copy...

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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Bankei » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:37 am

Hi

Well, just off the top of my head
1. Buddha gives a hint to Ananda that he will lenghten his life but Ananda fails to get the point and therefore fails to request him to do so.
2. Ananda cries when he realises the Buddha is going to die - possibly because he has not yet become an arahat and he wouldn't have a teacher to assist

And, later
1. there are 499 arahat getting ready for the first council, but Ananda is only reluctantly invited.
2. Ananda is criticsed at the council for
a. Allowing women to be admitted to the order
b. accdently exposed the Buddha's body to women when moving his corpse.
c. He forgot to ask the Buddha what he meant by lessor minor rules
d. He stepped on the Buddha's robe
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:19 am

1. Buddha gives a hint to Ananda that he will lenghten his life but Ananda fails to get the point and therefore fails to request him to do so.
2. Ananda cries when he realises the Buddha is going to die - possibly because he has not yet become an arahat and he wouldn't have a teacher to assist

how are these examples?

And, later
1. there are 499 arahat getting ready for the first council, but Ananda is only reluctantly invited. - he wasn't enlightened at the time of the invite, as everyone else was, not a personal thing, rather a matter of something else.

a. Allowing women to be admitted to the order - Ananda didn't allow this the, Buddha did! Ananda persuaded the Buddha and this was criticised, his reaction here is/should be an example.
b. accdently exposed the Buddha's body to women when moving his corpse. - he should of been more careful
c. He forgot to ask the Buddha what he meant by lessor minor rules - given the discussion that was around this quite an important thing to forget.
d. He stepped on the Buddha's robe - he should of been more careful, given the cultural association with the feet that can be seen in the canon, one can guess it is similar to the Thailand or Burma tradition, it was possibly seen as worse than just what it was.

Ananda also broke precepts in-order to serve the Buddha and this was criticised because it is more important to keep the rules properly than haphazardly.
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:39 am

Cittasanto wrote:
1. Buddha gives a hint to Ananda that he will lenghten his life but Ananda fails to get the point and therefore fails to request him to do so.
2. Ananda cries when he realises the Buddha is going to die - possibly because he has not yet become an arahat and he wouldn't have a teacher to assist

how are these examples?

As I explained above, there is an argument that those passages were inserted as a result of political machinations within the Sangha. I'm sure this is all spelled out in detail in some academic treatise or other...

However, if we are discussing it from a Classical Theravada point of view, rather than a historical-sutta-analysis point of view, perhaps the answer is simply that on the evidence of the suttas and vinaya Ananda was a bit dense.

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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Zom » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:15 am

Here is the link about 1st Council (Vinaya, Culavagga, 11)

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe20/sbe20119.htm


1) 'That was ill done by thee, friend Ânanda, in that thou didst not ask the Blessed One which were the lesser and minor precepts. Confess thy fault.'

'Through forgetfulness was it, Sirs, that I did not ask that of the Blessed One. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.'

2) 'This also, friend Ânanda, was ill done by thee, in that thou steppedst upon the Blessed One's rainy-season garment to sew it. Confess thy fault.'

'It was not, Sirs, through any want of respect to the Blessed One that I did so. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.'

3) 'This also, friend Ânanda, was ill done by thee, in that thou causedst the body of the Blessed One to be saluted by women first 2, so that by their weeping the body of the Blessed One was defiled by tears. Confess that fault.'

'I did so, Sirs, with the intention that they should not be kept beyond due time. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.'

4) 'This too, friend Ânanda, was ill done by thee, in that even when a suggestion so evident and a hint so clear were given thee by the Blessed One, thou didst not beseech him, saying, "Let the Blessed One remain on for a kalpa! Let the Happy One remain on for a kalpa for the good and happiness of the
great multitudes, out of pity for the world, for the good and the gain and the weal of gods and men 1!" Confess that fault.'

'I was possessed (by the Evil One) 2, friends, when I refrained from so beseeching him. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.'

5) This also, friend Ânanda, was ill done by thee, in that thou exertedst thyself to procure admission for women into the Dhamma and Vinaya proclaimed by the Tathâgata 3. Confess that fault.'

'That did I do, friends, thinking of Mahâ Pagâpatî the Gotamî, the sister of the Blessed One's mother; his nurse and comforter, who gave him milk; how she, when she who had borne him was dead, herself suckled him as with mother's milk. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.'
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:25 am

mikenz66 wrote:However, if we are discussing it from a Classical Theravada point of view, rather than a historical-sutta-analysis point of view, perhaps the answer is simply that on the evidence of the suttas and vinaya Ananda was a bit dense.

I could agree here to an extent, Ananda was 'admonished' on several occasions for his conduct, which in light of him being a monk he did fall fowl of the precepts and made faux pas on occasion, but I do not see any hostility towards him due to this, it was a concern for his welfare.
my questioning how the examples were showing hostility was because that is not to my understanding what the interpretation is of any tradition, or at any time (except for the complaint about the Bhikkhuni acceptance which has been for one reason or another), as inviting admonishment and accepting admonishment is a good thing and found in all traditions and goes back to the earliest days, Ananda shows great respect to this even though he does not see all the things as faults.
however for a truly classical understanding of these we would need to look at the commentary's and I don't know if a translation exists, to be able to check these occurances, and maybe the path of purification may shed light on admonishment which could inform here? but that is my sense of how it has been understood traditionally.
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:06 am

These stories appear to me to be characteristic of the way that lives become mythologised. This does not render them pointless. The process happens for a reason..usually to stand as examples , role models and cautions to others. But they generally need unpacking. A literal reading seems to be to smack of naivety.
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:21 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Bankei,

I can't right now locate a good reference, but I'm sure I have read somewhere that there is evidence, in the evolution of the suttas, of a power struggle involving Maha Kassapa and Ananada.

These are the closest things I can locate, but they doesn't really have any details:
Maha Kassapa, Father of the Sangha, by Hellmuth Hecker
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 5.html#ch8
Ananda, The Guardian of the Dhamma, by Hellmuth Hecker
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh273-p.html# ... ftheBuddha

:anjali:
Mike


Perhaps an indication of contention could be this section of the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (DN.16.13), where Ānanda expresses a wish for ‘some pronouncement about the Bhikkhu-saṅghā.’

    na tāva bhagavā parinibbāyissati, na yāva bhagavā bhikkhusaṅghaṃ ārabbha kiñcideva udāharatī’”ti."

    “May the Sublime One not enter parinibbāna, not until the Sublime One has made some pronouncement about the Bhikkhu-saṅgha.”

To which the Buddha replied with inference that this question was with reference to a successor:

    kimpanānanda bhikkhusaṅgho mayi paccāsiṃsati: desito ānanda, mayā dhammo anantaraṃ abāhiraṃ karitvā natthānanda tathāgatassa dhammesu ācariyamuṭṭhi. Yassa nūna ānanda evamassa: 'ahaṃ bhikkhusaṅghaṃ pariharissāmī'ti vā, mamuddesiko bhikkhusaṅgho'ti vā, so nūna ānanda, bhikkhusaṅghaṃ ārabbha kiñcideva udāhareyya. Tathāgatassa kho ānanda na evaṃ hoti: 'ahaṃ bhikkhusaṅghaṃ pariharissāmī'ti vā mamuddesiko bhikkhusaṅgho'ti vā. Sa kiṃ ānanda tathāgato bhikkhusaṅghaṃ ārabbha kiñcideva udāharissati?”

    “But, Ānanda, what expectation has the community of monks from me? I have taught the Dhamma, Ānanda, making neither an esoteric nor an exoteric (anantaraṃ abāhiraṃ lit. ‘an inside or an outside’). Ānanda, the Tathāgata has not held the ‘closed hand of a teacher’ (ācariyamuṭṭhi) with regard to the Dhamma. Indeed, Ānanda, if there is anyone who thinks, “I shall attend to the community of monks”, or “the community of monks shall be led by me”, Ānanda surly he could make some statement regarding the community of monks. Indeed Ānanda, as far as the Tathāgata is concerned, such does not exist – (na evaṃ hoti) “I shall attend to the community of monks”, or “the community of monks shall be led by me”; so why should the Tathāgata make such a statement regarding the community of monks?”

The Buddha then gives the following admonition in the famous lines:

    "Evaṃ kho ānanda, bhikkhu attadīpo viharati attasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo, dhammadīpo dhammasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo. ..."

    “Therefore, Ānanda, abide as an island unto yourselves, as a refuge unto yourselves, with no other refuge - with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge. ...”
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby daverupa » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:30 pm

Somewhat related:

Kassapa and Ananda – after the parinibbana, by Bhante Sujato.

We’re familiar with image of Mahakassapa as a grizzly monk with a dour perspective on women, and his consequent antagonism with Ananda. I’ve just been reviewing a few of the texts that have helped create this image, and as usual a close look reveals a more nuanced perspective. There are two Suttas from the Kassapa Samyutta, SN 16.10 and 16.11, each of which has two Chinese versions as well. You can find English translations here; scroll down to 15.1.10 and 15.1.11. Here’s a little comparative study I’ve been working on.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:42 pm

Thanks for finding that, Dave.

Note that this thread is now in "Early Buddhism", which is a better place to discuss historical analysis.

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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Bankei » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:23 pm

Thank you for all the replies. Please keep em coming!

I just found it rather strange that Ananda seems to be singled out. No other monk seems to have received the same or similar treatment and this is odd given Ananda's role in the religion. Also by the time of the council Ananda is an arahat yet is still criticised for his past actions.

For those interested I have come across a very interesting Ph.D. Thesis. It is 524 pages long and I am only up to p 24, but looks very interesting so far. It is freely downloadable too:

Freedman, Michael
1977 The Characterization of Ananda in the PAli canon of the TheravAda: A Hagiographic Study.
Ph.D. dissertation, McMaster University
http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/opend ... ions/3131/
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Bankei » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:28 pm

daverupa wrote:Somewhat related:

Kassapa and Ananda – after the parinibbana, by Bhante Sujato.

We’re familiar with image of Mahakassapa as a grizzly monk with a dour perspective on women, and his consequent antagonism with Ananda. I’ve just been reviewing a few of the texts that have helped create this image, and as usual a close look reveals a more nuanced perspective. There are two Suttas from the Kassapa Samyutta, SN 16.10 and 16.11, each of which has two Chinese versions as well. You can find English translations here; scroll down to 15.1.10 and 15.1.11. Here’s a little comparative study I’ve been working on.


Thanks Dave. I had not read this. Interesting comments there too.

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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:24 pm

Bankei wrote:I just found it rather strange that Ananda seems to be singled out. No other monk seems to have received the same or similar treatment and this is odd given Ananda's role in the religion. Also by the time of the council Ananda is an arahat yet is still criticised for his past actions.

How is he singled out? have you read the Suttavibhangha of the vinaya? what about the group of six? or better yet Angulimala, or devadata, both of whom attaine Arahantship?
Enlightenment doesn't nullify the past, nor stop criticism.

but another way to look at it is it serves as a lesson to others, both in the example that everyone is subject to the Vinaya, and as an example of how to deal with this sort of situation.
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Virgo » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:35 am

Cittasanto wrote:
Bankei wrote:I just found it rather strange that Ananda seems to be singled out. No other monk seems to have received the same or similar treatment and this is odd given Ananda's role in the religion. Also by the time of the council Ananda is an arahat yet is still criticised for his past actions.

or devadata

Devadata has not yet become an Arahant (though he will when he escapes hell).

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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:34 am

Virgo wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
Bankei wrote:I just found it rather strange that Ananda seems to be singled out. No other monk seems to have received the same or similar treatment and this is odd given Ananda's role in the religion. Also by the time of the council Ananda is an arahat yet is still criticised for his past actions.

or devadata

Devadata has not yet become an Arahant (though he will when he escapes hell).

Kevin

Thanks,
Should of checked that one first, I remember being told he became enlightened and is venerated as an example (similare to Angulimala) in some Mahayana depictions of Arahans in the different directions.
but obviously should of checked
:anjali:
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Bakmoon » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:21 am

Bankei wrote:
]I just found it rather strange that Ananda seems to be singled out. No other monk seems to have received the same or similar treatment and this is odd given Ananda's role in the religion. Also by the time of the council Ananda is an arahat yet is still criticised for his past actions.



I have always wondered the same thing about why the Ven. Ananda is always portrayed as such. I just thought of a possible reason why, however: It was the Ven. Ananda who spent the most time with the Buddha as an attendant, and it is likely that in the early Buddhist sangha he played a central role in passing on the oral tradition because of this. I would think that out of humility and politness, he would have went into more detail in his own faults than he would going into the faults his fellow monks, so it would largely be his faults that would be remembered.

It's just a possibility, and factionalism may have definately played a role, but that's all I have to contribute.
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Re: Hostility to Ananda

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:53 am

Well there is probably a part of myth in those accounts of Ananda's difficulties. I hardly imagine an arahant talking to him so harshly as Kassapa is reported to have in the Kassapa Samyutta, and Analayo has demonstrated enough how these conversations reflect more the imagination and likings of the reciters over the centuries than what really happened.

However, looking at the traditional accounts of the stories, it looks like being the Buddha's attendant was both a rewarding and a difficult task, and it seems that his predecessors had left the post because they could not handle all the criticism they were certainly under the fire of [not sure this was a correct English sentence, but you got the meaning]. When we see the conditions he had to become his attendant, they clearly aimed at warding off as much criticism as possible; and they probably had been reasons for the failure of his predecessors:

1. Buddha's clothing, whether new or old, he refuses to wear.
2. When devotees invite the Buddha to receive offerings, he will not go along.
3. When it is not time to see the Buddha, he will not see him. Other than these, he is willing to serve Lord Buddha.
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