Ananda became the personal attendant monk of Shakyamuni Buddha when Buddha was in His mid fifties. Consequently, he was present in most of the Buddha’s sermon and therefore had heard many teachings directly from Buddha.
Ananda adored Buddha and served Him devotedly. He is liken to a dutiful secretary, accepting invitation for meals by devotees and acting as an intermediary to convey messages between Buddha and the lay communities. As Buddha’s attendant, his task included cleaning the Buddha’s quarters, fetching waters and other similar daily chores. Due to his attachment to Buddha and busy duties, he did not attain enlightenment during the Buddha’s lifetime.
I think that unenlightened status made Ananda endearing and relatable to many of us. As an unenlightened man, he displayed the various emotions that we have, while attending to Buddha.
He played an instrumental role in the establishment of the nun order by requesting the Buddha to accept woman as nun.
He jumped in front of Buddha to protect Him when a drunken elephant was charging towards Buddha. Ananda refused to step aside and Buddha had to use supernatural power to move him so that He can subdue the charging elephant. (I find this a bit comical) – An overly enthusiastic monk trying to protect his master and unwittingly getting in the way.
Buddha taught Ananda the Ratana Sutta so that Ananda could lead in the exorcising of evil that was haunting a city.
Ananda was very handsome and attractive. In the scriptural record, a nun became enamoured with him. In another story, a woman tried to bewitch him with love spell. Which resulted in the Buddha teaching the Surangama sutra.
Ananda had superb memory and was able to recall all that Buddha taught. He was initially denied the honor of participating in the 1st council because he was unenlightened. He managed to overcome his mental defilement and gained enlightenment, just in time to join the 1st council meeting.
His enlightenment occurred just when he decided to take a break from his meditation, while he was trying to lie down and sleep! Thus he also became famous for gaining enlightenment in an unusual posture.
He was tasked with recollecting all the teachings taught by Buddha during the 1st council. That is the reason why Buddhist sutra begin with the verse “Thus have I heard,” That also earned him the honorific title “Treasurer of Dharma”
Hope you enjoy reading about Ananda.
May all be well and happy.