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1. Nandaka Thera, Nanda Thera.– A householder of Sāvatthi. (The Apadāna (ii.499) says he belonged to a rich clan of merchants and that he entered the Order at the ceremony of dedication of Jetavana.)

Having entered the Order after hearing a discourse of the Buddha, he developed insight and soon attained Arahantship. Once, at the Buddha’s request, he taught a discourse to the nuns; on the first day they became Stream-winners, and, on the second, five hundred of them attained Arahantship. From that time the Buddha declared him foremost among exhorters of the nuns. [A.i.25. The discourse he taught is known as the Nandakovāda Sutta (q.v.) The Aṅguttara Commentary (i.173) says that the nuns were Sakyan maidens who had entered the Order with Mahāpajāpatī. At first Nandaka was reluctant to teach them, they having been his wives in a previous birth when he was king, and he feared the calumny of his colleagues who might suggest that he wished to see his former companions. He, therefore, sent another monk in his place; but the Buddha, knowing that only Nanda’s teaching would effect the nuns’ release, insisted on his going.]

The Theragāthā (vs.279‑82) contains several verses uttered by him to a woman to whom he was once married. She met him begging alms in Sāvatthi and smiled to him with sinful heart.

His aspiration after eminence was formed in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, when he heard a disciple of that Buddha declared foremost among exhorters of nuns. He offered the Buddha a very costly robe and illuminated his Bodhi tree. In the time of Kakusandha Buddha he was a karavīka bird and delighted the Buddha with his song. Later, he was a peacock, and sang three times daily at the door of a Pacceka Buddha’s cell. (ThagA. i.384 f. The Apadāna verses given in this context differ from those given in the Apadāna itself (ii 499 f ).

The Aṅguttaranikāya attributes two discourses to Nandaka. The first (A.i.193 f. See Sāḷha) was taught at the Migārāmatupāsāda and takes the form of a discussion with Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, and Rohaṇa, Sekhuniya’s (v.l. Pekhuṇiya) grandson — on greed, covetousness, malice, and delusion, and the benefits following their destruction. The second discourse is a discourse addressed to the monks at the waiting hall at Jetavana. It is said that the Buddha was attracted to the spot by the sound of Nandaka’s teaching, and, finding the door locked, stood fur a long time outside, listening (A.iv.358 ff; throughout the three watches of the night says the Commentary, AA.ii.794; also MA.i.348). When his back began to ache he knocked at the door, and, having entered, told Nandaka that he had been waiting until the end of his discourse to speak to him. Nandaka expressed. his regret that he should have kept the Buddha waiting and pleaded ignorance of his presence. The Buddha, conscious of Nandaka’s remorse, went on to praise his discourse, and said that the teaching of such discourses was the duty of all pious monks. When the Buddha left, Nandaka resumed his discourse, and told his audience of the five results of listening to the Dhamma in due season.

The Majjhimanikāya Commentary (ii.1019) states that Nandaka was once the leader of a guild of five hundred slaves of Bārāṇasī and that Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī was once his wife. One day, while fetching water, his wife noticed five hundred Pacceka Buddhas enter the city, and, on her return, she witnessed their departure. On enquiry, she learnt that they had applied to a merchant for lodgings for the rainy season, but that he had been unable to help. She undertook the care of them and, having enlisted the support of all her companions and their husbands, she and her husband ministered to the Pacceka Buddhas. As a result, they were born together as man and wife for many births, as were their helpers. In one birth Nandaka was king, and all the women became his wives. In this birth, the women were born as Mahāpajāpatī’s companions, and they left the world in her company. To them was the Nandakovāda Sutta taught.

2. Nandaka Thera.– A householder of Campā and younger brother of Bharata Thera. When these two heard that Soṇa-Koḷivisa had left the world — and he so delicate — they too renounced household life. Bharata soon acquired sixfold higher knowledge (abhiññā), and, wishing to help Nandaka, came to him and discoursed on insight. A caravan passed by, and an ox, unable to pull his cart through a boggy place, fell down. The caravan leader had him released and fed with grass and water. He was then able to pull the cart out. Bharata drew Nandaka’s attention to the incident, and the latter, making that his object of meditation, soon attained Arahantship. (Thag.173 f; ThagA.i.299 f )

In the time of Sikhī Buddha, Nandaka was a woodsman, and one day, while wandering about, he saw the Buddha’s cloistered walk. Pleased with its appearance, he scattered sand over it. (Ap.ii.418)

3. Nandaka.– A yakkha. One day, while travelling through the air with his friend, he saw Sāriputta sitting in concentration (samādhi), his head newly shaved. Ignoring his friend’s warning, Nandaka struck Sāriputta oh the head; the former immediately fell down, his body aflame, and swallowed up in hell. (MA.ii.814; Mil.100; the incident is related at Ud.iv.4, UdA.244 ff., and referred to in ThagA.ii.116, but the yakkha’s name is not given. The blow was hard enough to kill an elephant seven or eight cubits high or shatter a rock. Sāriputta was outside Kapotakandara, Mahā-Moggallāna being nearby).

4. Nandaka.– A minister of the Licchavī. See Nandaka Sutta (2).

5. Nandaka.– General of Piṅgala, king of Suraṭṭha, who reigned some two hundred years after the Buddha’s death. Nandaka was a Nihilist, and, after death, was born as a vemānika-peta in the Viñjha forest. His daughter, Uttarā, was a pious woman, and gave alms in his name to an Arahant monk. Thereupon Nandaka attained celestial happiness. Wishing to liberate Piṅgala from his Nihilist views, Nandaka waited for him on his return from a conference with Dhammāsoka, and, having led the king to his abode, ministered to him. Then, revealing his identity, Nandaka advised the king to follow the Buddha’s teaching. Pv.iv.3; PvA.244 ff.

1. Nandaka Sutta.– Records the incident of the Buddha listening to the teaching of Nandaka and the continuation of Nandaka’s discourse. See Nandaka (1). A.iv.358 ff.

2. Nandaka Sutta v.l. Licchavi Sutta.– Nandaka, minister of the Licchavī, visits the Buddha at the Kūṭāgārasālā in Vesāli. The Buddha tells him that the Noble Disciple, possessed of unwavering loyalty to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, and having Noble virtues, is assured of enlightenment and happiness. During the conversation, a man comes to tell Nandaka that his bath is ready. Nandaka sends him away, saying that the inner washing loyalty to the Buddha is far more important. S.v.389.