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Nanda (T. dga' bo དགའ་བོ་; C. Nantuo) was the half-brother of the Gautama Buddha and one of his main disciples. He was foremost among the disciples in the practice of self control.[1]

Nanda was the son of Śuddhodana of the Shakya clan, and Mahapajapati, who was the younger sister of Māyā, the Buddha's mother.

According to traditional accounts, after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha returned to his childhood home and taught the dharma to his family and friends, including Nanda. Nanda was engaged to be married to a beautiful woman, but on the day of his wedding, the Buddha requested Nanda to become a monk and join his sangha. Nanda reluctantly agreed to join the sangha, but after becoming a monk, he still yearned intensely for his former fiance.

Learning of this, the Buddha took Nanda on a journey to the Trāyastriṃśa heaven. On the way to this heavenly realm, Nanda saw a she-monkey that had lost her ears, nose and tail in a fire, clinging to a charred stump. The Buddha asked Nanda who was more beautiful, the scarred monkey or his former fiance. Nanda replied that his former fiance was more beautiful. When they reached the heavenly abode, the Buddha showed Nanda the beautiful celestial maidens that attended to the gods. The Buddha asked Nanda: "Who do you consider more beautiful? These maidens or your former fiance?"

Nanda replied that compared to these beautiful maidens, his former fiance looked like the scarred monkey.

The Buddha then told Nanda that if he practiced virtuously in this life, he could have one of these maidens as a consort in his next life. Upon hearing this, Nanda practiced diligently with the aim of having a beautiful consort in his next life. However, when the other monks learned of Nanda's desire, they ridiculed him for his base motivation. Eventually Nanda renounced all desire, and attained Arhatship.


  1. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Nanda.


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