The Perfection of Renunciation - Conduct of Sona Nanda I

If we want to eradicate defilements it is essential to consider the perfections in our daily life. We should reflect on the Buddha’s former lives, on his conduct leading to Buddhahood. We may think the stories about his former lives just very ordinary, but, in fact, these stories deal with the perfections the Bodhisatta developed during all those lives.
We read in the Commentary to the “Basket of Conduct”, the “Conduct of Sona Nanda” :

“At that time the Bodhisatta passed away from the Brahma world

and was born as the son of a Brahmin magnate

who had a possession worth eighty crores, in the city of Brahmavaddhana.

His parents called him young Sona.

When Sona could walk, another being passed away from the Brahma world

and he too was conceived by the Bodhisatta’s mother.

When he was born they called him young Nanda.

The venerable Ånanda was at that time Nanda.


When their parents observed how handsome the boys were

they let them be educated in all the liberal arts and they wanted them to marry.

However, the Bodhisatta did not wish to marry.

He wanted to look after his parents during their whole life,

and after their death retire from worldly life.

His parents tried to persuade him to marry,

but the Bodhisatta was firmly convinced that he should become an ascetic.

Thereupon his parents wanted to entrust their possessions to Nanda instead,

but Nanda said, ‘Since my older brother Sona did not accept your possessions,

I will not accept them either, and I shall also become an ascetic.’

The parents were much surprised that their two sons wanted in their young age

to give up their possessions and retire from worldly life.

When they noticed the firm determination of their sons,

and saw that they were able to become ascetics

although they were quite young,

they also wanted to retire from worldly life.

At that time they built a hermitage in the wood

and the two brothers looked after their parents.

The sage Nanda thought, ‘We shall just gather fruits as food for our parents.’

He would bring fruits that were left over from the previous day,

or that he had gathered on previous days,

and give them to his parents to eat early in the morning.

When they had eaten them they would rinse their mouths and observe a fast.

But the sage Sona went somewhat further away 

to gather sweet and ripe fruits with a delicious flavour and offered these to them.


His parents said to Sona, ‘We have already eaten and we are observing a fast,

and therefore we have no need of these fruits.’

However, the fruits that the sage Nanda had gathered before

in order to give to his parents early in the morning were sometimes spoiled.


Thereupon the Bodhisatta thought, ‘My parents are delicate,

they belong to a high caste,

and thus they should not eat fruits that are not good.

Sometimes they are spoilt or unripe.

Nanda brings all kinds of half-ripe or unripe fruits for them to eat

and therefore they will not live long.’

He wanted to stop Nanda from doing this,

and addressed him with the words:

‘From now on, when you have gathered fruits for our parents,

you have to wait until I have returned,

and then we shall both at the same time supply them with food.

They should not merely eat the fruits of Nanda.’


When the sage Sona had spoken thus,

the sage Nanda did not follow up what his brother said

because he hoped to gain merit for himself.

He hoped that his parents would eat only the fruits that he had brought himself.

When the Bodhisatta noticed that the sage Nanda paid no heed to his words

he told him to go somewhere else,

and that he himself would take care of his parents.


Topic 279