Nanda sutras part 2: Nanda the peacock monk

Continued from this thread: Ekottara Āgama's parallel to the Nanda Sutta (Ud 3:2)

This is a translation of EA 18.6. The sutra told the story of Venerable Nanda when he had just entered the Sangha, It has a parallel in SN 21.8. But again this sutra is longer and fuller, and I think somehow the Pali compilers had deprived the original sutra of all its humorous, but not so with the Āgama. But don’t laugh so hard alright :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:, for Venerable Nanda was an important monk, and should be deeply revered, as it will become more clear in my future posts.

Thus have I heard. Once when the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove at Śrāvastī.

At the time, Venerable Nanda was wearing an extremely gorgeous robe, with colour impairing people’s eyes, put on shoes with golden stripes, and furthermore painted his two eyes, with his hands holding the alms-bowl, desired to enter the city of Śrāvastī.

At that time, the Bhikṣus saw from afar that Venerable Nanda was wearing an extremely gorgeous robe, entering the city of Śrāvastī for alms. The Bhikṣus went to the Lord, paid homage at his feet, sat to one side, then sat back and said to the Lord:

“Just now, Bhikṣu Nanda was wearing an extremely gorgeous robe, entering the city of Śrāvastī for alms.”

Then the Lord told one Bhikṣu: “You quickly come to Bhikṣu Nanda and tell that the Tathāgata calls for him.”

He replied, “As you say, Lord.”

Having received the Lord’s words, the Bhikṣu rose from his seat, paid homage at the Lord’s feet and went to the Bhikṣu Nanda, on arrival he told Nanda thus: “The Lord calls for you.”

Then Nanda after hearing from that Bhikṣu, went to the Lord. On arrival, he paid homage at his feet, sat to one side. Then the Lord said to Nanda:

“For what reason that you today wore this extremely gorgeous robe, and even put on shoes with golden stripes, entered the city of Śrāvastī for alms?”

Venerable Nanda was then silent, did not utter a word.

The Lord said further:
“Is it Nanda? Are you not for the firm faith has left home to learn the Dharma?”

Nanda replied: “It is so, Lord!”

The Lord said:

"Now you are the son of the good family but do not conform with the training rules so as to practice. You have because of the firm faith left home to learn the Dharma, why would you wear this extremely gorgeous robe, dolling yourself up to enter the city of Śrāvastī for alms? What’s the difference between you and those white-robed lay people?

Then the Lord spoke this verse:

When will I see Nanda,
Keeping to his practice of Arañña*,
His heart longs for the Śramaṇa’s Dharma,
The perfection of Dhutanga.

“Now Nanda, do not act like that again!”

Then Venerable Nanda and the fourfold assembly, after hearing what the Buddha taught, delighted and approved.

*Note: Arañña is a practice of staying out in the forest or on the cemetery ground.


I love that his robe is so vivid and brightly-colored that it hurts their eyes.


Another funny detail in the northern commentary, they said that due to his almost identical physical and facial resemblance to the Buddha (Nanda was the Buddha’s half-brother). Thus, when he wore his golden robes, many times Buddhists and monks mistakenly assumed he was the Buddha; therefore, the Buddha had him wear a black robe so everyone could distinguish him and the Buddha.