Secondly, he was an outrageous person, very ferocious. If you have seen his picture…you can use it for making your children afraid. But that is not his true picture; he was a prince, the son of a great South Indian king, Suha Verma – it was a great empire of the Pallavas. He must have been a beautiful man. But those pictures don’t represent his actual photographs. They depict his strange personality, his outrageousness.
So a few things he can say which you need not agree with. I will make it clear where he is saying wrong things just because he belongs to Mahayana, a particular party, a particular ideology. I have immense respect for both arhatas and bodhisattvas, the same way as Gautam Buddha had.
The first sutra:
Among Shakyamuni’s ten greatest disciples…
Shakyamuni is one of the names of Gautam Buddha, because he belongs to the clan of the Shakyas; his empire was an ancient empire belonging to the clan of the Shakyas. It was a warrior race, dwelling just on the boundary line of Nepal and India. Because of the Shakya clan, he is called Shakyamuni. Muni means one who has attained to ultimate silence.
Among Shakyamuni’s ten greatest disciples, Ananda was foremost in learning.
Now, Ananda is a special case, and something has to be understood about him. Ananda was a cousin-brother to Gautam Buddha, and a few years elder to him. And it is part of the Eastern culture that the elder brother is almost like a father, even though he may be a elder cousin-brother.
When Ananda came to Gautam Buddha to be initiated as a disciple, he said, “Listen, Siddhartha” – Siddhartha was Gautam Buddha’s name given by his parents. He did not address him as Gautam Buddha, he addressed him, “Listen, Siddhartha” – he was just his younger brother. “I am going to be initiated by you into sannyas, on the path. Once I am your disciple I will no longer be your elder brother. Once I am your disciple, you will be in a position to order me and I will have to obey. Right now I am in a position to order you and you will have to obey. Before the situation changes, I want a few conditions to be remembered.”
Gautam Buddha said, “What are the conditions?”
Ananda said, “They are not very great, but to me they mean much. One, promise me while I am still your elder brother that after I become your disciple, you will not tell me to go away from you to preach the message to the masses. No, I am going to be with you day and night, your whole life. I want to take care of your body, your comfort, your health. You cannot prevent me. This promise you have to give right now, before I am no longer in a position to say anything.”
Buddha said, “Granted.”
Because as a younger brother, there is no other way in the East. You have to accept, respectfully, those who are elder.