Here is today's podcast. It is the story of Ananda and Prakriti.  Ananda was the Buddha's assistant - his "close jissha", we would say - and after the Buddha had died it was Ananda who remembered all the the Buddha's teachings.  His recitation of them is the basis of the sutras.  Later Ananda became the most senior person in the order.  Ananda is also the person to whom Buddha transmits the Pureland teachings in the Larger Pureland Sutra. I have tried to find more information aboput Prakriti, but she is not numbered among the great women disciples nor in the Therigatha.  I imagine that she remained devoted to Ananda and followed his teachings.


The Buddha’s cousin, Ananda, was a handsome young man, very personable, and everybody loved him including, of course, the Buddha himself, though some of the other disciples were sometimes jealous. But that’s another story.

In this story Ananda was out walking on a hot day and he was thirsty and he went to the well and at the well there was a Chandala girl called Prakriti; and Prakriti had just winched up a bucket full of water from the well. Ananda asked her if he could have a drink and Prakriti said: “You know, I am a Chandala, I am low caste. You’re not allowed to even have anything to do with me, let alone drink water that I give you.” Ananda said: “I didn’t ask you about your caste or your origins. I just asked for water,” and the girl gave him a drink of water to drink and Ananda went on his way.

But the girl had immediately fallen in love with him. She went back to her mother and she said: “I must have this man. I can’t bear the thought of marrying anybody else.” It is said that her mother then made a magic spell.

The next time that Ananda was in the village collecting alms the mother and the daughter enticed him into their house. They could offer very nice food in the house and they could offer other things, too. Ananda realized he was in a bit of a spot and at this point he became very anxious.

He was rescued by the nembutsu. He prayed to the Buddha. He called the Buddha and through this he was able to regain some composure and get out of the house without being seduced by the pretty girl.

The girl, of course, was disappointed. After that, whenever Ananda came into the village, to collect alms, or for whatever purpose, Prakriti would follow him around. A little distance behind, there she would be. We can imagine her state of longing, her state of mind.

She asked her mother: “Why is it that your magic spell didn’t work?” And the mother said: “Well, the Buddha’s spells are more powerful than mine.”

And so, Prakriti went to see the Buddha, and she talked to the Buddha about how she felt and how devoted she was to Ananda; and in due course she listened to many discourses of the Buddha. She listened to the Dharma, and in due course she became a nun in the Buddhist order herself.

Now, at this point the local people were scandalized that the Buddha should have ordained a Chandala girl. “What are you doing, admitting into the order such a low-caste person?”
The king came to see the Buddha to remonstrate with him: “You mustn’t do this. It will upset the whole social system!”

The Buddha then told a story of how, in a previous life, Ananda had been the son of a Chandala chieftain. At that time in the past, the Chandala tribe had been very powerful and Prakriti, at that time in that previous life, had been a Brahmin girl; and the Brahmin girl had married the chieftain’s son. By this means the Buddha was able to explain the strong bond that existed between Ananda and Prakriti.

Of course, it also showed how there was a certain nonsense in the caste system and how moving from one birth to another people could change their caste, change their roles, but still the karmic affinity between them could continue.

Prakriti remained in the Sangha and was a good nun and Ananda was a good disciple of the Buddha and a good monk.


Namo Amida Bu
Thank you very much


You need to be a member of David Brazier at La Ville au Roi (Eleusis) to add comments!

Join David Brazier at La Ville au Roi (Eleusis)

Email me when people reply –