Anuruddha was the cousin of Buddha and was the brother of Ananda and Mahanama. It is said that initially Anuruddha was used to his life of luxury and ease but later finding that Ananda and Mahanama were keen on the spiritual path and seeing the serenity on the countenance of Buddha and the infinite cycles of birth and death that he would have to cross in millions of births, he decided to approach the Buddha and search for truth. He came to be known as the Master of the Divine Eye.

Birth and Early Life

Anuruddha was born in the Sakyan kingdom of Kapilavastu and soon after Buddha attained Nirvana he along with Ananda and a few others went to seek refuge in him. He soon developed the Divine Eye which was the ability to see beyond the range of the physical eye. He could see one thousand world systems (which could be compared to modern day galaxies). Each world system was said to contain 31 planes of existence in which there were 31 different life forms. The Buddha it is said could see ten thousand such world systems. Anuruddha also had the ability to see the past births of others and the place of their rebirth after death.

Anuruddha’s Road to Enlightenment

After having acquired the faculty of the Divine Eye, Anuruddha began to further his progress to attaining sainthood. He lived in the Eastern Bamboo Park together with two other monks, living together in peace and harmony but each one seriously pursuing their own spiritual practices. Although Anuruddha perceived an inner light and radiance he could not sustain it for a long period. Buddha understood his difficulties and showed him ways to get rid of his imperfections. At last with his Master’s grace and his ceaseless striving, Anuruddha attained Arahantship.

Past Lives

The Jataka Tales give several accounts of Anuruddha’s past lives with the Buddha as Boddhisattva and his loyalty, strength of character and compassion to others are illustrated over and over again in these stories. His great acts of merits culminated in his being born at the present time with Gautama Buddha and attainment of sainthood.

After the Buddha

When the Buddha passed away at Kusinara Anuruddha was present at that time. He comforted the grieving monks to practice the discourses that the Master had given them on impermanence of nature and thus subdue their grief. The First Council was convened to preserve the teachings of the Buddha and Anuruddha was entrusted with the preservation of the Anguttara Nikaya which consisted of thousands of discourses between the Buddha and his disciples. He encouraged and helped Ananda to attain Arahantship before the meeting of the First Council. He passed away at Veluvagama in the Vajji Country at a ripe old age.


It is said that Anuruddha had been so used to a life of luxury in the palace that when he first came to Buddha once during his discourse he dozed. He was so ashamed when Buddha questioned him that he decided to give up sleep altogether and pursue his spiritual disciplines steadfastly with the result that he became blind. But he was undeterred and achieved Arahantship such was his determination and perseverance to the goal. He was an embodiment of forbearance and patience and was considered one of the closest disciples of the Buddha.