(Last Updated on : 23-04-2012)
Aniruddha was Buddha's other disciple. When Gautama Buddha
returned to his motherland at Kapilvastu
for the first time, six years after his enlightenment all the citizens celebrated his return. The people came out of their houses and lined up along the street where Buddha was about to pass by. The citizens of Kapilavastu wanted to see and pay respect to the well-known sage and saviour, who was once the beloved prince of the kingdom.
During his stay Buddha preached his father Suddhodana
and other members of the royal family as well as to the general public. Buddha noticed that his own brother Nanda was enamored with his concubine. When Buddha left the palace six years before, Nanda was chosen to be the heir of the throne. Buddha realized that it would not be good for the kingdom if Nanda took the responsibility. Another choice for the throne was his own son Rahula, but he was too young to bear the responsibility. Therefore Buddha decided to have both of them in his Sangha. The throne was transferred to someone who was more capable and thus his hometown was protected and had a bright future.
Rahula, Nanda and Ananada
became disciples of Buddha
. When these three young men joined Buddha's Sangha as monk, all their family members were shocked. Not only them, young men from each royal household also left to join the congregation of Buddha as they were attracted to Buddha's teachings.
The departure of all these young men from their family inspired Buddha's cousin Aniruddha
, too. He also decided to leave home; Aniruddha went to visit his elder brother Mahanama one day. Mahanama said to him that every Sakya family had one of their sons in the congregation of monks. But no one from their family had joined Buddha's Sangha. So Mahanama offered Aniruddha that either he stayed at home and looked after his family and Aniruddha joined the congregation or he took the shelter of the Sangha and his younger brother Aniruddha bore the responsibility of the family. Aniruddha replied to Mahanama that he was stronger and wiser than him and also elder to him, so it was better if he took the responsibility of their parents and the family. Aniruddha offered his elder brother to stay in his family and declared that he would leave home to join the Sangha of Buddha.
After seven days Aniruddha and several other princes left the palace, a servant named Upali
accompanied them. When the princes reached a forest, the princess ordered Upali to cut off their hair. They abandoned their clothes and adapted monk's robes. Their ornaments were given to Upali since they had no necessity of ornaments when they adapted the lives of monks. The princess gave their ornaments to Upali to show their appreciation of his services as a barber in the palace. The princes then reached at a palace, where they were asked to stay in a house for seven days by Buddha so that they could come out of their self-identities as princes. They could join the order after that.
When the princes came out of the house after seven days, they were formally consecrated as monks. The princes were very surprised when they found Upali among the Sangha, dressed up like a monk. Buddha explained them that Upali came to him and asked him to accept him. Buddha accepted his prayer and Upali joined the assembly. Since Upali was a senior monk to all of the princes Buddha asked them to prostrate before him to show him respect. Buddha made them remember that becoming a monk means they had come out of the slightest egoism. All the princess thereby prostrated before Upali.
One day, Aniruddha fall asleep during Buddha's lectures and Buddha reproved him for missing the opportunity of one of his precious sermons. Aniruddha was so embarrassed that he vowed in front of Buddha that he would not sleep again as long as he lived. Because of the lack of sleep Aniruddha gradually developed eye-ailment. Buddha listened that and went to see Aniruddha. Buddha told Aniruddha that one should eat to sustain life even during spiritual formation and convinced him that sleep is the food for his eyes. He also said that all creatures need food to stay alive and sleep is necessary to stay healthy. So one must sleep to protect the eyes. But Aniruddha replied to Buddha that he would observe his vow in any condition. So several days later Aniruddha became completely blind.
Once Aniruddha's robe was so torn that he needed a new one. He could not do it by himself as he lost his eyesight completely. So Aniruddha asked Ananda to weave a new robe for him. Ananda then asked all the other monks if they could help Aniruddha by weaving a new robe for him. When Buddha heard about the incident he asked Ananda that why did not he ask him too to weave the robe.
Ananada replied Buddha that he was very honorable man so he could not dare to ask him for such a small work. But Buddha replied that he was also the member of the congregation. He declared to help Aniruddha and asked Ananda not to ask anyone else for the task.
Ananda was moved to the core by Buddha's words. Buddha and Ananda went together to Aniruddha's residence. When they arrived, Buddha asked Aniruddha to give him his needles and thread and said him that he would weave a new robe for him.
Aniruddha was touched by Buddha's kind words. Tears came out from his eyes and he was so overwhelmed that he lost his words. Buddha's simple action touched everybody's heart. It also proved that Buddha treated all the members of the assembly equally. Then Buddha felt so compassionate for Aniruddha that he taught him the power of the divine eye, which was a special power that allowed one to see anything anywhere in the universe, hell and heaven, distant universe, future rebirth of all the animates. And thus Aniruddha was able to see again.
Once, Aniruddha was so delighted with his new power that he told Sariputra that his magical eyes allowed him to see anything in the universe, including heaven, hell, distant universe etc. He felt like he was flying in the sky without disturbing his tranquility.
warned him that he told he could see all the world with his eyes, which indicated his arrogance. He said that he could fly which meant that he had fantasy. And that he said that his tranquil mind was not infected, it indicated that he was full of ignorance. The person having these three things can never attain enlightenment. When Sariputra finished Aniruddha apologized to him for what he had said. After that Aniruddha never dared to talk to anybody about his enlightenment before other people.
One day Aniruddha asked Buddha about the ways of enlightenment and Buddha gave the sermon of eight ways to attain enlightenment. The first way was to observe the universe and this human world with an inner view that world is impermanent and full of sufferings, selfishness and impurity. The second way was to think the greed as the root of all sufferings. A person freed from greed can only be emancipated and attain enlightenment. The third way was to get rid of all cravings. One must have a simple life and seek wisdom. The fourth way was to seek blessings and wisdom to overcome all the obstacles. The fifth way was to learn all the knowledge and contribute the knowledge to the society. The sixth way is to help the poor and ignorant by providing them with material assistance and also aiding them with spiritual counseling, without disdaining them. The seventh way was to live a simple life without being enslaved by our five senses viz. sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. The eighth way was to take a vow to save all the lives including oneself from the sufferings of earth.
When Aniruddha heard all this, he constantly thought about what Buddha had said about the eight possible ways of enlightenment and nirvana, and finally found the path to enlightenment. When Buddha was about to pass away, he asked his disciples if they had any questions. Aniruddha folded his hands and said to Buddha that they all believed the truth what he had taught the universe about the life. He also said that the world will change but his teachings will never change. After hearing this words Buddha smiled and passed away.