The Buddha takes Nanda to admire the celestial nymphs; Nanda wants to take one for a wife, and the Buddha guarantees that if he practices the Dhamma he will attain his wish
After the Buddha had stayed at Kapilavatthu teaching his father and relatives for about one week, he journeyed back to Rajagaha in Magadha. Traveling with the Order of monks who followed the Buddha at that time were Bhikkhu Nanda, the Buddha's younger brother whom he had coerced into becoming a monk, and Rahula the novice.
Later, the Buddha together with a great company of monks journeyed to the town of Savatthi in the state of Kosala, which were of comparable size with the town of Rajagaha and the state of Magadha respectively. Nanda accompanied him there too.
However, ever since he had gone forth as a monk Nanda had never done the duties of a monk. His mind was filled only with thoughts of leaving the monk's life because he was constantly thinking of Princess Janapatakalyani, the fiancee he had left behind on their marriage day.
This matter became known to the Buddha. The Commentaries relate this with a puggaladhitthana (personified teaching), stating that as a result of this the Buddha took Nanda for a tour of the Tavatimsa heaven. On the way he pointed out a deformed female monkey sitting on a tree stump in a field at the edge of a certain forest. When they reached the Tavatimsa heaven, the Buddha showed Nanda the celestial nymphs, with their feet as red as doves feet and many times more beautiful than earthly women.
"Nanda! Between Princess Janapatakalyani, your fiancee, and the girls in heaven, who is more beautiful?" asked the Buddha.
Nanda answered, "Now Princess Janapatakalyani seems no more beautiful to me than that deformed monkey."
Interpreting this, we might say that the Buddha gave Nanda a teaching showing him clearly that love and beauty know no end, and that our ideas of what is adorable and beautiful are only because we have not yet seen anything even more adorable and beautiful.
Nanda, listening to the Buddha, became disillusioned and wearied of love and delight in beauty, and applied himself to practicing the Dhamma. In no long time he became an enlightened Arahat.
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