Prince Nanda was the half-brother of the historical Buddha Gautama Siddhartha. They had a common father in King Suddhodana, but his mother was Mahá Padjapati Gótami, the sister of the Buddha's mother.
The Buddha returned to his native Kapilavastu in the seventh year after his enlightenment. On the third day after his return, while eating a meal, the Buddha quietly handed his eating utensil to Nanda, got up and walked away.
Nanda, thinking that the Buddha would need the pot, followed him to Nigrodha Park, where the Buddha stayed. But the Buddha's presentation of the bowl was a silent demonstration of the Dharma teaching. This scene is often depicted in Graeco-Buddhist art.
When they reached the park, the Buddha asked Nanda if he would like to become a monk. Despite the fact that Nanda had just married the beautiful Janapada Kalyani that day, he joined the monastic community as a disciple.
Nanda was not able to enjoy spiritual happiness after all. She kept thinking of her young wife and feeling sad. When the Buddha heard this, he took Nanda to the Tavatimsa heaven (also known as Trajastrimsa).
On the way, Nanda saw a girl monkey that had lost her ears, nose and tail in a fire and was hanging on a charred log. When they reached heaven Nanda saw beautiful sky nymphs and the Buddha asked him which he thought was more beautiful, the nymphs or his wife.
Nanda then compared his wife to the girl monkey. The Buddha encouraged Ananda not to be discouraged, for he promised her the company of the nymphs if she persevered in the holy life. Encouraged by this, Nanda practised diligently from then on.
Later, however, the other monks learned of Nanda's desire and mocked him for it. As a result, Nanda finally gave up all his desires and attained the Golden Age.
In the Theragatha collection of poems, there is a poem attributed to Nanda. In the poem, he thanks the Buddha for allowing him to attain the level of arhat.