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He was born in the Kapila Vastu region, in the tribe of the Śākia and within the caste of the chatrics; his mother was Mriguí and his father, according to different versions, was Amitodana or Sukkhodana (in any case, both were brothers of Suddhodana, the father of Buddha).
He joined the sangha, along with his brother Anuruddha and other noble shakias, when he was 37 years old, during the second year of Buddha’s preaching, who later personally selected him from among his entourage to be his personal assistant .
Ananda agreed to serve his teacher, however, wanting to avoid envy in the other disciples and pride in him because of his position, he asked that certain conditions be met: he would not enjoy privileges such as gifts, food, clothing or special accommodation; he would not accompany Buddha to the personal invitations with which some people entertained him; On the other hand, thinking that his occupations did not separate him from the spiritual path, he asked Buddha to have the possibility of consulting him at any time about doubts of dharma (religious duty) that could arise as well as being able to listen again to the teachings that his teacher I would have imparted while he was absent; finally he asked to be the person who personally presented to his teacher the people from outside who came to see him.
Buddha accepted his conditions and that is how Ananda stayed with him until the time of his death, serving him with great dedication for twenty-five years, according to the Pali Canon. However, he was much more than a servant and his relationship with Buddha became that of close friendship.
Ananda was held in high regard by the rest of the monks, who often, after the Buddha had imparted a teaching, came to him in search of detailed expositions because of his reputation for being able to expose the Dharma clearly; He even replaced his teacher on certain occasions, receiving afterwards words of admiration and rejoicing from the Buddha himself.
According to Anguttara-nikaya (3.78), after an exposition of Ananda, after he had left the meeting, Buddha said to the monks: “Ananda is still on the path of training. However, it is difficult to find someone who equals him in wisdom. “
It is written that, thanks to the intervention of Ananda, the women were able to enter the Buddhist order; it is said that Mahaprajāpatī Gautami, aunt and adoptive mother of Buddha, having made the decision to leave the worldly life after the death of her husband and leading many other śākia wives, asked the teacher to allow them to be ordained, which he denied on three occasions.
In a show of iron will, the women followed the Buddha on foot from Kapilavastu to Vesāli, appearing again before him with his body covered in dust and his feet swollen reiterating his desire to belong to the Sangha; Ananda, moved, decided to intercede for them and raised the petition himself to Buddha, also receiving the teacher’s refusal; Undeterred, Ananda insisted by asking if women who decided to leave the worldly life and live according to the monastic precepts could reach spiritual attainments and, finally, the state of Arhat, to which he answered affirmatively; later, he highlighted the fact that Mahāprajāpatī had taken care of him when he was a child, after the death of his mother Mahamaya, argument that ended up convincing the Buddha that from that moment he accepted the conformation of a feminine order.
When Ananda saw that Buddha’s paranirvāṇa was near, he expressed his despondency for not having yet attained the state of Arhat despite having been so close to his master, before which he received the words of consolation from the latter, who He indicated that he had gained much wisdom and merit during the twenty-five years he had spent in his service, urging him to try harder because he would receive his reward in a short time.
Due to his extraordinary memory, recognized by the rest of the Buddhist community, Ananda would play a very important role in the First Buddhist Council, convened by Mahākāśyapa in Rājagṛha after the death of Buddha for the purpose of gathering and organizing his doctrine.
It is said that Anuruddha proposed that, although Ananda’s presence was indispensable, he would not be allowed to attend unless he attained liberation; that is how Ananda decided to enter into retirement and apply herself with all her strength to reach that goal; Early on the day of the Council, faced with the fact that he had not yet reached what he intended, he decided to go to sleep, reaching the state of Arhat at that time.
It was so that Ananda was presented to the Council and, thanks to his memories, the Sutra-pitaka (lit .: ‘basket of speeches’) was made, the second of the three parts that make up the so-called Tripiṭaka or Canon Pali , which are the official Buddhist scriptures.
In these scriptures, in the first four Nikayas, one can frequently read the phrase: “Thus I heard I say” before the words of Buddha; that “I” is supposed to be pronounced by Ananda who would become Buddha’s second successor, after Mahākāśyapa.
The Pali Canon does not mention the death of Ananda, however, the famous Chinese Buddhist monk Fa Hsien, collected on his pilgrimage to India an ancient tradition according to which, when Ananda was around 120 years, presaging his death, he named as his successor to Śānavāsika and decided to take a trip from Rājagṛha to Vesāli; Once arrived there, he decided to stay on an island in the middle of the Ganges.
As soon as the princes and inhabitants of Vesāli became aware of the presence of Ananda, they came to see him from one of the banks of the river; On the other bank, King Ajātashatru (king of Magadha) and his retinue, who had gone after Ananda from Rājagṛha, appeared.
They both asked Ananda to go to his side of the river to die and he, showing his kindness and compassion, to avoid any kind of dispute between the two sides because of him, used his psychic powers rising by the airs and making his body was consumed by fire to finally let his ashes were divided falling on both sides of the river.
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