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The Buddha's Final Entering Into Nirvana









Then the Mallas, with their young men and maidens and their
wives, being grieved, and sad, and afflicted at heart, went to
the Upavattana, the sala grove of the Mallas, and wanted to see
the Blessed One, in order to partake of the bliss that devolves
upon those who are in the presence of the Holy One.

And the Blessed One addressed them and said:

"Seeking the way, ye must exert yourselves and strive with
diligence. It is not enough to have seen me! Walk as I have
commanded you; free yourselves from the tangled net of sorrow.
Walk in the path with steadfast aim.

"A sick man may be cured by the healing power of medicine and
will be rid of all his ailments without beholding the physician.

"He who does not do what I command sees me in vain. This brings
no profit. Whilst he who lives far off from where I am and yet
walks righteously is ever near me.

"A man may dwell beside me, and yet, being disobedient, be far
away from me. Yet he who obeys the Dharma will always enjoy the
bliss of the Tathagata's presence."

Then the mendicant Subhadda went to the sala grove of the Mallas
and said to the venerable Ananda: "I have heard from fellow
mendicants of mine, who were deep stricken in years and teachers
of great experience: 'Sometimes and full seldom to Tathagatas
appear in the world, the holy Buddhas.' Now it is said that
to-day in the last watch of the night, the final passing away of
the samana Gotama will take place. My mind is full of
uncertainty, yet have I faith in the samana Gotama and trust he
will be able so to present the truth that I may become rid of my
doubts. O that I might be allowed to see the samana Gotama!"

When he had thus spoken the venerable Ananda said to the
mendicant Subhadda: "Enough! friend Subhadda. Trouble not the
Tathagata. The Blessed One is weary."

Now the Blessed One overheard this conversation of the venerable
Ananda with the mendicant Subhadda. And the Blessed One called
the venerable Ananda, and said: "Ananda! Do not keep out
Subhadda. Subhadda may be allowed to see the Tathagata. Whatever
Subhadda will ask of me, he will ask from a desire for knowledge,
and not to annoy me, and whatever I may say in answer to his
questions, that he will quickly understand."

Then the venerable Ananda said to Subhadda the mendicant: "Step
in, friend Subhadda; for the Blessed One gives thee leave."

When the Blessed One had instructed Subhadda, and aroused and
gladdened him with words of wisdom and comfort, Subhadda said to
the Blessed One:

"Glorious Lord, glorious Lord! Most excellent are the words of
thy mouth, most excellent! They set up that which has been
overturned, they reveal that which has been hidden. They point
out the right road to the wanderer who has gone astray. They
bring a lamp into the darkness so that those who have eyes to see
can see. Thus, Lord, the truth has been made known to me by the
Blessed One and I take my refuge in the Blessed One, in the
Truth, and in the Order. May the Blessed One accept me as a
disciple and true believer, from this day forth as long as life
endures."

And Subhadda, the mendicant, said to the venerable Ananda: "Great
is thy gain, friend Ananda, great is thy good fortune, that for
so many years thou hast been sprinkled with the sprinkling of
discipleship in this brotherhood at the hands of the Master
himself!"

Now the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: "It
may be, Ananda, that in some of you the thought may arise, 'The
word of the Master is ended, we have no teacher more!' But it is
not thus, Ananda, that you should regard it. It is true that no
more shall I receive a body, for all future sorrow has now
forever passed away. But though this body will be dissolved, the
Tathagata remains. The truth and the rules of the order which I
have set forth and laid down for you all, let them, after I am
gone, be a teacher unto you. When I am gone, Ananda, let the
order, if it should so wish, abolish all the lesser and minor
precepts."

Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said: "There
may be some doubt or misgiving in the mind of a brother as to the
Buddha, or the truth, or the path. Do not have to reproach
yourselves afterwards with the thought, 'We did not inquire of
the Blessed One when we were face to face with him.' Therefore
inquire now, O brethren, inquire freely."

And the brethren remained silent.

Then the venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: "Verily, I
believe that in this whole assembly of the brethren there is not
one brother who has any doubt or misgiving as to the Buddha, or
the truth, or the path!"

Said the Blessed One: "It is out of the fullness of faith that
thou hast spoken, Ananda! But, Ananda, the Tathagata knows for
certain that in this whole assembly of the brethren there is not
one brother who has any doubt or misgiving as to the Buddha, or
the truth, or the path! For even the most backward, Ananda, of
all these brethren has become converted, and is assured of final
salvation."

Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren and said: "If ye now
know the Dharma, the cause of all suffering, and the path of
salvation, O disciples, will ye then say: 'We respect the Master,
and out of reverence for the Master do we thus speak?'"

The brethren replied: "That we shall not, O Lord."

And the Holy One continued:

"Of those beings who live in ignorance, shut up and confined, as
it were, in an egg, I have first broken the eggshell of ignorance
and alone in the universe obtained the most exalted, universal
Buddhahood. Thus, O disciples, I am the eldest, the noblest of
beings.

"But what ye speak, O disciples, is it not even that which ye
have yourselves known, yourselves seen, yourselves realised?"

Ananda and the brethren said: "It is, O Lord."

Once more the Blessed One began to speak: "Behold now,
brethren," said he, "I exhort you, saying, 'Decay is inherent in
all component things, but the truth will remain forever!' Work
out your salvation with diligence!" This was the last word of the
Tathagata. Then the Tathagata fell into a deep meditation, and
having passed through the four jhanas, entered Nirvana.

When the Blessed One entered Nirvana there arose, at his passing
out of existence, a mighty earthquake, terrible and
awe-inspiring: and the thunders of heaven burst forth, and of
those of the brethren who were not yet free from passions some
stretched out their arms and wept, and some fell headlong on the
ground, in anguish at the thought: "Too soon has the Blessed One
died! Too soon has the Happy One passed away from existence! Too
soon has the Light of the world gone out!"

Then the venerable Anuruddha exhorted the brethren and said:
"Enough, my brethren! Weep not, neither lament! Has not the
Blessed One formerly declared this to us, that it is in the very
nature of all things near and dear unto us, that we must separate
from them and leave them, since everything that is born, brought
into being, and organized, contains within itself the inherent
necessity of dissolution? How then can it be possible that the
body of the Tathagata should not be dissolved? No such condition
can exist! Those who are free from passion will bear the loss,
calm and self-possessed, mindful of the truth he has taught us." 7

And the venerable Anuruddha and the venerable Ananda spent the
rest of the night in religious discourse.

Then the venerable Anuruddha said to the venerable Ananda: "Go
now, brother Ananda, and inform the Mallas of Kusinara saying,
'The Blessed One has passed away: do, then, whatsoever seemeth to
you fit!'"

And when the Mallas had heard this saying they were grieved, and
sad, and afflicted at heart.

Then the Mallas of Kusinara gave orders to their attendants,
saying, "Gather together perfumes and garlands, and all the music
in Kusinara!" And the Mallas of Kusinara took the perfumes and
garlands, and all the musical instruments, and five hundred
garments, and went to the sala grove where the body of the
Blessed One lay. There they passed the day in paying honor and
reverence to the remains of the Blessed One, with hymns, and
music, and with garlands and perfumes, and in making canopies of
their garments, and preparing decorative wreaths to hang thereon.
And they burned the remains of the Blessed One as they would do
to the body of a king of kings.

When the funeral pyre was lit, the sun and moon withdrew their
shining, the peaceful streams on every side were torrent-swollen,
the earth quaked, and the sturdy forests shook like aspen leaves,
whilst flowers and leaves fell untimely to the ground, like
scattered rain, so that all Kusinara became strewn knee-deep with
mandara flowers raining down from heaven.

When the burning ceremonies were over, Devaputta said to the
multitudes that were assembled round the pyre:

"Behold, O brethren, the earthly remains of the Blessed One have
been dissolved, but the truth which he has taught us lives in our
minds and cleanses us from all error.

"Let us, then, go out into the world, as compassionate and
merciful as our great master, and preach to all living beings the
four noble truths and the eightfold path of righteousness, so
that all mankind may attain to a final salvation, taking refuge
in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha."

And when the Blessed One had entered into Nirvana, and the Mallas
had burned the body with such ceremonies as would indicate that
he was the great king of kings, ambassadors came from all the
empires that at the time had embraced his doctrine, to claim a
share of the relics; and the relics were divided into eight parts
and eight dagobas were erected for their preservation. One dagoba
was erected by the Mallas and seven others by the seven kings of
those countries, whose people had taken refuge in the Buddha.





Next: The Three Personalities Of The Buddha

Previous: Metteyya



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Buddha's Gospels