When Buddha sent Ananda to a prostitute

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Great Masters / Storytelling


Sadhguru narrates the story about Gautama the Buddha. Gautama had made a rule for monks - they can not stay at any host for more than 2 days. But during the monsoon season, due to severity of the they weather, could stay at one place for up to 2 months. During, one such stay, Anand Teertha, went to collect alms, and also looking for a place to stay, and a prostitute offered stay to him. Did Gautama allow Anand Teertha to stay with the prostitute? What happened after that...


Duration: 8 min


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5 min read

When Buddha sent Ananda to a prostitute

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Gautama, the Buddha, with a large group of his disciples, who was continuously travelling, made a rule that during the monsoon season, those two-and-a-half months, you can stay in the same place.

The rule for the sanyasis or the monks who were with him is, you should never stay in any place for more than two days. Normally, the monks were sheltered in many homes, so this rule he passed – more than two nights you don’t stay in one house, because it will be too much of a burden for the host. They are housing ten people. You don’t stay there for a month. Two days – it should have been one day, two because you have walked a long distance and come, bit of recovery time. But during the monsoon season, he said, up to two to two-and-half-months, you can stay in one place, because walking through the jungles of that region during the monsoon season would be treacherous and many would lose their lives. So this is a time like that. They stayed in a large town and they were spread across in many homes.

The monks went out to get their alms from the people. Ananda or Anandatheertha as he was known, who happened to be Gautama’s elder brother before his monkhood, went out and there was a courtesan or a prostitute in the town. She gave him alms, looked at him – a handsome young man, tall and straight. She said, “I hear that monks are looking for shelter in many homes. Why don’t you come and stay in my house?” Ananda said, “I have no issue, but I must ask the Buddha as to where I should stay.” Then she became really taunting. She said, “Oh, you’re going to ask your guru? Go and ask him, let’s see what he says.”

So Ananda brought what he had collected for the day. Gautama was sitting, he came and placed it at his feet. And everybody is supposed to find food and shelter wherever they go. Ananda asked, “Like this, this lady is inviting me. Can I stay there?” Gautama said, “If she’s inviting you with so much affection, you must go stay there.” The townspeople who were sitting here, they said, “What? A monk, he’s going to go and stay in a prostitute’s home? This is it. This spiritual process has become corrupt”. Gautama looked at them and said, “Why are you so worried? The lady is inviting him, let him stay. What is the problem?”

They all started getting up and started shouting. He said, “Wait! I am on this path because I see this is the most powerful way to live. Now you’re telling me her ways are more powerful than my ways. If that is the truth, I will also go and join her. I am here because I see this is the most precious and powerful way to exist. If you think her ways are better than mine, I should also go and join because if you are a true seeker that’s how it should be. If you found something much higher, you go for that.” Then people shouted and many of them of course leave.

Then Ananda went and stayed with her. Monsoon time, because of rains it gets cold, monk is wearing a thin habit, so she gave him a nice silk wrap. He covered himself. Then people saw, “See, he’s gone”! She made nice cooking and gave it to him, he ate. Then in the evening, she danced for him. He sat, watching very carefully, with utmost attention. Then when they heard the music,“This is it, finished”. Things went on. When the time was up, when the rains stopped, when it’s time to move, Ananda came to Gautama along with a female monk.

So, the power of being on the path of truth has been there but has been many times at its height, but never got mainstreamed. I see that today, because of our ability to communicate, because of the tools of technology, the natural longing, the innate longing in a human being to find truth – this is not a taught thing, this is not something that been taught to people, that you must seek truth, it is natural for human intelligence to seek what is highest.

If you’re given an option, any human being, given an option either to be here [low] or there [high], he will always say, “I wanna be there [high].” Right now, he may be caught up here [low] but aspiration is to go to whatever is the highest. It is just that we have to show him that there are better highs than getting drunk, there are better highs than drugs, there are better highs than being caught up in social drama, there are better highs than being better than someone else. We just have to show it to him, we have to make him understand, there is a better high.

Forever, many sages, saints, yogis, gurus have been doing this. But as I said, they were gentle people. They didn’t have a voice like me. They didn’t have a microphone. They didn’t have tools with which they could speak to somebody there [far away]. They could only speak to people here. In spite of that, they did tremendous things. For their times, many of them did tremendous things out of sheer grace and energy. Millions of people around them, they transformed. Millions of people around them, they put them on the path of truth, on the power of truth.

But a time has come, where our ability to communicate is such, we can make truth slip through every door, we can make truth knock on everybody’s minds and hearts. Never before this was possible. Technology has rendered us to this place. I feel this is the best age ever to make truth mainstream, to make: to be truthful, to aspire for truth, to seek truth -the main force on the planet, because we have tools that nobody ever had.

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