Mahâ Parinibbâna Sutta, n57
the discourse on the passing away of the Blessed One, records
in moving detail all the events that occurred during the last
months and days of the Buddha’s life.
Blessed One had now reached the ripe age of eighty; his two
chief disciples, Sâriputta and Mahâ Moggallâna,
had passed away three months earlier. Pajâpati Gotami,
Yasodharâ, and Râhula were also no more. The Buddha
was now at Vesâli, and the rainy season having come, he
went together with a great company of monks to Beluva to spend
the rains there. There a severe sickness fell upon him, causing
him much pain and agony, but the Blessed One, mindful and self-possessed,
bore it patiently. He was on the verge of death; but he felt
he should not pass away without taking leave of the Order. So
with a great effort of will he suppressed that illness and kept
his hold on life. His sickness gradually abated, and when quite
recovered he called the Venerable Ânanda, his personal
attendant, and addressing him said:
I am now grown old and full of years, my journey is drawing
to a close. I have reached my sum of days, I am turning eighty
years of age; and just as a worn-out cart, Ânanda, can
only with much additional care be made to move along, so the
body of the Tathågata can only be kept going with much
infusion of will-power. It is only when the Tathâgata,
ceasing to attend to any outward thing and to experience any
worldly sensation, attains to the signless (animitta)
concentration of mind, and dwells in it,it is only then that
the body of the Tathâgata is at ease.
Ânanda, be islands unto yourselves. Be your own refuge.
Have recourse to none else for refuge. Hold fast to the Dhamma
as an island. Hold fast to the Dhamma as a refuge. Resort to
no other refuge. Whosoever, Ânanda, either now or after
I am gone, shall be islands unto themselves, refuges unto themselves,
shall seek no external refuge,it is they, Ânanda, among
my disciples who shall reach the very topmost height! But they
must be keen to progress."
Beluva the Buddha journeyed to the Mahâvana, and there
calling up an assembly of all the monks residing in the neighbourhood
of Vesâli, addressed them saying: "Disciples, the
Dhamma realized by me, I have made known to you. Make yourselves
masters of the Dhamma, practise it, meditate upon it, and spread
it abroad: out of pity for the world, for the good and the gain
and welfare of gods and men."
Buddha concluded his exhortation by saying:
age is now full ripe, my life draws to its close;
I leave you, I depart, relying on myself alone!
Be earnest then, O disciples, holy, full of thought!
Be steadfast in resolve! Keep watch o’er your own hearts!
Who wearies not but holds fast to this Truth and Law
Shall cross this sea of life, shall make an end of grief."
out with sickness, with feeble limbs, the Blessed One now journeyed
on with much difficulty, followed by the Venerable Ânanda
and a great company of monks. Even in this last, long, wearisome
journey of his, the Buddha never failed in his attention to
others. He instructed Cunda, the smith, who offered him his
last meal. Then on the way, he stopped for Pukkusa, a disciple
of Âlâra Kâlâma, replied to all his
questions, and so instructed him that Pukkusa offered himself
as a follower of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.
Blessed One now reached the Sâla Grove of the Mallas at
Kusinârâ,the journey’s end. Knowing that here would
be his last resting place, he told the Venerable Ânanda:
"I am weary, Ânanda,
and would lie down. Spread over for me the couch with its head
to the north between the twin såla trees."
then lay down on his right side, composed and mindful, with
one leg resting on the other. Speaking now to the Venerable
Ânanda, the Blessed One said:
who fulfil the greater and lesser duties, they who are correct
in life, walking according to the precepts,it is they who rightly
honour, reverence, and venerate the Tathâgata, the Perfect
One, with the worthiest homage. Therefore, Ânanda, be
steady in the fulfilment of the greater and the lesser duties,
and be correct in life, walking according to the precepts. Thus,
Ânanda, should you train yourselves."