Question: What are the causes and conditions for the Venerable Ananda receiving such a name? Was it as a result of causes and conditions from former lives? Was it a name given to him by his father and mother? Or was it as a result of [present life] causes and conditions that he was given this name?
Response:It was as a result of causes and conditions from former lives. It was also a name given to him by his father and mother. And it was also a name stemming from [present life] causes and conditions.
Question: What were the causes and conditions from former lives?
Response:In a former life, Śākyamuni Buddha was a potter named "Great Brilliance" (Prabhasa). At that time there was another Buddha also known as Śākyamuni who also had disciples named Sariputra, Maudgalyayana, and Ananda. The Buddha stopped with his disciples and spent a night at the abode of the potter.
At that time, the potter made gifts of three things: grass sitting mats, lamps for light and rock honey chutney. He presented them as offerings to the Buddha and the Bhikshu Sangha and then made a vow, saying, "In the future, may I become a Buddha in a world afflicted with aging, sickness, death, and the five evils. May I too have the name Śākyamuni and may my disciples' names also be the same as these." Because of this vow of the Buddha, Ananda is now so-named.
Additionally, in life after life Ananda made a vow, "May I be foremost in learning among the learned disciples of Śākyamuni Buddha and may my name be Ananda."
Furthermore, in life after life, Ananda cultivated patience and ridding himself of enmity. For this reason he was particularly handsome from birth. Because those who saw him were delighted on account of his handsomeness, his father and mother named him Ananda ["Rejoicing"]. These are the past life reasons for his name.
To be continued