20th (Mūlasarvāstivāda) or 2nd (other traditions) year of the Buddha's ministry Nigrodhārāma or Anupiya, Malla by Daśabāla Kāśyapa or Belaṭṭhasīsa
Ānanda (5th–4th centuries BCE) was the primary attendant of the Buddha and one of his ten principal disciples. Among the Buddha's many disciples, Ānanda stood out for having the best memory. Most of the texts of the early Buddhist Sutta-Piṭaka (Pāli; Sanskrit: Sūtra-Piṭaka) are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings during the First Buddhist Council. For that reason, he is known as the Treasurer of the Dhamma, with Dhamma (Sanskrit: Dharma) referring to the Buddha's teaching. In Early Buddhist Texts, Ānanda is the first cousin of the Buddha. Although the early texts do not agree on many parts of Ananda's early life, they do agree that Ānanda is ordained as a monk and that Puṇṇa Mantāniputta (Sanskrit: Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra) becomes his teacher. Twenty years in the Buddha's ministry, Ānanda becomes the attendant of the Buddha, when the Buddha selects him for this task. Ānanda performs his duties with great devotion and care, and acts as an intermediary between the Buddha and the laypeople, as well as the saṅgha (Sanskrit: saṃgha, lit. 'monastic community'). He accompanies the Buddha for the rest of his life, acting not only as an assistant, but also a secretary and a mouthpiece.
Scholars are skeptical about the historicity of many events in Ānanda's life, especially the First Council, and consensus about this has yet to be established. A traditional account can be drawn from early texts, commentaries, and post-canonical chronicles. Ānanda has an important role in establishing the order of bhikkhunīs (Sanskrit: bhikṣuṇī, lit. 'nun'), when he requests the Buddha on behalf of the latter's foster-mother Mahāpajāpati Gotamī (Sanskrit: Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī) to allow her to be ordained. Ānanda also accompanies the Buddha in the last year of his life, and therefore is witness to many tenets and principles that the Buddha conveys before his death, including the well-known principle that the Buddhist community should take his teaching and discipline as their refuge, and that he will not appoint a new leader. The final period of the Buddha's life also shows that Ānanda is very much attached to the Buddha's person, and he sees the Buddha's passing with great sorrow.
Shortly after the Buddha's death, the First Council is convened, and Ānanda manages to attain enlightenment just before the council starts, which is a requirement. He has a historical role during the council as the living memory of the Buddha, reciting many of the Buddha's discourses and checking them for accuracy. During the same council, however, he is chastised by Mahākassapa (Sanskrit: Mahākāśyapa) and the rest of the saṅgha for allowing women to be ordained and failing to understand or respect the Buddha at several crucial moments. Ānanda continues to teach until the end of his life, passing on his spiritual heritage to his pupils Sāṇavāsī (Sanskrit: Śāṇakavāsī) and Majjhantika (Sanskrit: Madhyāntika), among others, who later assume a leading role in the Second and Third Councils. Ānanda dies 20 years after the Buddha, and stūpas (momuments) are erected at the river where he dies.
Ānanda is one of the most loved figures in Buddhism. Ānanda is known for his memory, erudition and compassion, and is often praised by the Buddha for these matters. He functions as a foil to the Buddha, however, in that he still has worldly attachments and is not yet enlightened, as opposed to the Buddha. In the Sanskrit textual traditions, Ānanda is considered the patriarch of the Dhamma, who stands in a spiritual lineage, receiving the teaching from Mahākassapa and passing them on to his own pupils. Ānanda has been honored by bhikkhunīs since early medieval times for his merits in establishing the nun's order. In recent times, the composer Richard Wagner and Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore were inspired by stories about Ānanda in their work.
The word ānanda means 'bliss, joy' in Pāli and in Sanskrit. Pāli Commentaries explain that when Ānanda is born, his relatives are joyous about this, and he therefore is named that way. Texts from the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition, however, state that since Ānanda is born on the day of the Buddha's enlightenment, there is great rejoicing in the city—hence the name.