The Life of Buddha, by A. Ferdinand Herold, tr. by Paul C Blum , at sacred-texts.com
WHEN Siddhartha had retired from the world, King Suddhodana had chosen Nanda, another one of his sons, to succeed him to the throne. Nanda was happy to think that one day he would be king, and he was also happy at the thought of his coming marriage to Princess Sundarika, to beautiful Sundarika whom he loved dearly.
The Master feared for his brother; he was afraid he would stray into the path of evil. One day, he he went to him and said:
"I have come to you, Nanda, because I know you are very happy, and I want to hear from your own lips the reason for this happiness. So speak, Nanda; bare your heart to me."
"Brother," replied Nanda, "I doubt if you would understand, for you once spurned sovereign power I and you deserted loving Gopa!"
"You expect to be king some day, and that is why you are happy, Nanda!"
"Yes. And I am also happy because I love Sundarika, and because Sundarika will soon be my bride."
"Poor man!" cried the Master. "How can you
be happy, you who live in darkness? Would you see the light? Then first rid yourself of happiness: fear is born of happiness, fear and suffering. He neither fears nor suffers who no longer knows happiness. Rid yourself of love: fear is born of love, fear and suffering. He neither fears nor suffers who no longer knows love. If you seek happiness in the world, your efforts will come to nothing, your pleasure will turn to pain; death is always present, ready to swoop down on the unfortunate and still their laughter and their song. The world is but flame and smoke, and everything in the world suffers from birth, from old age and from death. Since you first began pitifully to wander from existence to existence, you have shed more tears than there is water in the rivers or in the seas. You have grieved and you have wept at being thwarted in your desires, and you have wept and you have grieved when that happened which you dreaded. A mother's death, a father's death, a brother's death, a sister's death, the death of a son, the death of a daughter, oh, how many times, down through the ages, have these not caused you heartache? And how many times have you not lost your fortune? And each time you had cause for grief, you wept and you wept and you wept, and you have shed more tears than there is water in the rivers or in the seas!"
Nanda, at first, paid little heed to what the Buddha was saying, but as he began to listen the words moved him deeply. The Master continued:
"Look upon the world as a bubble of foam; let it be but a dream, and sovereign death will pass you by."
He was silent.
"Master, Master," cried Nanda, "I will be your disciple! Take me with you."
The Master took Nanda by the hand and left the palace. But Nanda was pensive; he was afraid he had been hasty. Perhaps he would bitterly regret what he had done. For whatever might be said of it, it was pleasant and noble to exercise sovereign power. And Sundarika? "How beautiful she is," he thought; "shall I ever see her again?" And he uttered a deep sigh.
But he still followed the Master. He was afraid, to speak to him. He feared his rebuke as he feared his scorn.
Suddenly, as they turned the corner of a street, he saw a young girl approaching. She was smiling. He recognized Sundarika, and he lowered his eyes.
"Where are you going?" she asked him.
He did not answer. She turned to the Master. "Are you taking him with you?"
"Yes," replied the Master.
"But he will come back soon?"
Nanda wanted to cry, "Yes, I shall come back soon, Sundarika!" But he was afraid, and without a word, his eyes still downcast, he went off with the Master.
Then Sundarika knew that Nanda was lost to her, and she wept.