It was very difficult now – how to collect his words? The only man who had lived continuously with Buddha for forty-two years was Ananda; he was his personal attendant, his caretaker. He had listened to him, almost every word that he had uttered was heard by Ananda. Even if he was talking to somebody privately, Ananda was present. Ananda was almost always present, like a shadow. He had heard everything – whatsoever had fallen from his lips. And he must have said many things to Ananda when there was nobody there. They must have talked just on going to bed in the night. Ananda used to sleep in the same room just to take care of him – he may need something in the night. He may feel cold, he may feel hot, he may like the window to be opened or closed, or he may feel thirsty and may need some water or something, or – he was getting old – he may feel sick. So Ananda was there continuously.
They all said, “We should ask Ananda.” But then there was a very great problem: Ananda was not yet enlightened. He had heard everything that Buddha uttered publicly, uttered privately. They must have gossiped together; there was nobody else who could have said, “I am friendly with Buddha,” except Ananda. And Ananda was also his cousin-brother, and not only a cousin-brother but two years older than Buddha. So when he had come to be initiated he asked for a few things before his initiation, because in India the elder brother has to be respected just like your father. Even the elder cousin-brother has to be respected just like your father.
So Ananda said to Buddha, “Before I take initiation… Once I become your bhikkhu, your sannyasin, I will have to follow your orders, your commandments. Then whatsoever you say I will have to do. But before that I order you, as your elder brother, to grant me three things. Remember these three things. First: I will always be with you. You cannot say to me, ‘Ananda, go somewhere else, do something else.’ You cannot send me to some other village to preach, to convert people, to give your message. This is my first order to you. Second: I will be always present. Even if you are talking to somebody privately I want to hear everything. Whatsoever you are going to say in your life I want to be an audience to it. So you will not be able to tell me, ‘This is a private talk, you go out.’ I will not go, remember it! And thirdly: I am not much interested in being enlightened, I am much more interested in just being with you. So if enlightenment means separating from you I don’t care a bit about it. Only if I can remain with you even after enlightenment, am I willing to be enlightened, otherwise forget about it.”
And Buddha nodded his yes to all these three orders – he had to, he was younger than Ananda – and he followed those three things his whole life.
The conference of the arhats and the bodhisattvas decided that only Ananda could relate Buddha’s words. And he had a beautiful memory; he had listened to everything very attentively. “But the problem is he is not yet enlightened; we cannot rely upon him. His mind may play tricks, his mind may change things unconsciously. He may not do it deliberately, he may not do it consciously, but he still has a great unconscious in him. He may think he has heard that Buddha said this and he may never have said it. He may delete a few words, he may add a few words. Who knows? And we don’t have any criterion because many things that he has heard only he has heard; there is no other witness.”