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Story of Parinibban
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
|086 - Story of Parinibbana|
From the Gijjhakuta
hill of Rajgir the Buddha started his last journey with a large concourse
of monks. Marching through Ambalatthika and Nalanda he reached the village
Pataligama (modern Patna; later called Pataliputta). Those days Patali,
which was to become the capital of the Mauryans was a village. There the
Buddha made a prophecy on the future greatness of the city. From Patali he
crossed the river Ganga (British: “Ganges”) and then travelling via
Kotigama and Vaishali he broke his journey in the park of Ambapali (Sanskritised:
Amrapali). On the following day, he accepted the meals from the courtesan
Ambapali by turning down the invitations from the Licchavi nobles.
Further, he accepted the park donated by Ambapali for the use of the
monks. Then, leaving the monks in Vaishali he proceeded to Beluva to spend
the rainy season (Vassavasa). At Beluva he suffered from a terrible
illness. Then he told Ananda of his impending death. Later, upon his
return to Vaishali after the stay-during-the-rainy-season (Vassavasa) he
made the announcement of his death once again before all the monks, who
had assembled there.
through Hatthigama, Ambagama, Jambugama and Bhoganagara he reached Pava.
There, staying in the mango-grove of Chunda, a smith, he ate some food,
which made him ill again. (Chunda, the smith is often misidentified with a
pork-butcher Chunda Sukarika of Veluvana of Gaya; and the food “sukara-maddava”
served to the Buddha is sometimes interpreted as the “pig’s meat”.
But such inference is silly because sukara-sali
means “wild rice”; and maddava
(Skt. Maardava), which is derived from mridu
means “sweet”)]. Further, the Pali-English
Dictionary (T.W.Rhys Davids & William Stede pp.721; 518-19)
interprets maddava as
“soft”; and “withered” [or parched]. So, it is quite likely that
the food, which the Buddha had consumed, was the parched rice (rice-bhoonja,
a popular food-item of north Bihar and Eastern Uttara Pradesh).
Furthermore, the Buddha had categorically condemned the profession of the
pork-butcher Chunda Sukarika, who had died grunting like a pig for seven
days before his death because of his cruel profession; and was tormented
in the fire of the hell. [See Dhammapada
Atthakatha i.105 ff]. Last but not least, the rules for the acceptance
of the food in the Buddhist order were very severe. For example, Sariputta
was allowed to take the garlic only for the medical reason).
sickness the Buddha then proceeded to Kusinara, now called Kushinagara and
rested on the foot of a tree. There he drank the water of Kakkuttha river
brought by Ananda. There Pakkusa, a Mallana visited him and offered him a
gold-coloured robe. Putting on the robes the Buddha told Ananda that the
Buddhas used the gold hue just on the night before Enlightenment; and the
night before the death. He then added that he would die in Kusinara.
The sick Buddha before his parinibbana
The Buddha and Anand on the bank of the Kakuttha river
The Buddha then took bath in the Kakuttha river; and then after taking some rest proceeded further and reached Upavattana Sal Grove. There, Ananda prepared a bed for him with the head at north. It is said the the trees blossomed and showered flowers on his body. The divine mandavara flowers and sandal wood powder rained from the sky. The wind played the divine music and sound. The Sal Grove stood stooped fanning him with all the branches of the trees, which was later asked by the celestial beings to move back from obstructing the view of the dying Buddha. It was then that the Buddha gave instructions to Ananda with regard to the funeral rites. Aggrieved Ananda then tried to persuade the Buddha not to die in Kusinara as it was a muddy and wattled village. But the Buddha praised the place because once it was the capital of Mahasudassana.
When the news of the
Buddha’s impending death was spread, the Mallas of Kusinara and many
others assembled. The Buddha then ordained Subhaddha who Ananda had
prevented to come near the ailing Buddha. The Master then asked his monks
to put any query or doubt for clarification. But no monk asked any
question. He then exhorted the monks:
is inherent in all composite things;
out your Deliverance with perseverance.
These were his last words. Then passing through several stages of samadhi (trance) he attained Parinibbana (Great Demise) on the full-moon night of Vishakha month in his eightieth year. The Mallas ignited the pyre. When the pyre was completely burnt, they fenced the spot with spears and observed the commemorative occasion for seven days.
The Buddha’s parinibbana
The Parinibbana Mudra
the Thai version
After the parinibbana of the Buddha several claimants of the relics appeared; and there was a possibility of the war. Finally, the dispute was resolved; and the relics were divided into eight equal parts among Ajatasattu, the king of Magadha; the Sakiyans of Kapilavatthu; the Koliyas of Ramagama; the Licchavis of Vesali; Bulls of Allakappa; a brahmin of Vellapattha; the delegates of Pava; and the Mallas of Kusinara. Dona, who had played an important role in the distribution of the relics was allowed to keep only the measuring vessel. The Moriyas of Pipphalivana could carry only the ashes owing to their late arrival.
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