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Buddhist Suttas

Translated from Pāli by T. W. Rhys Davids

Oxford, the Clarendon Press
1881
Vol. XI of The Sacred Books of the East
translated by various Oriental scholars and edited by F. Max Müller

Public Domain
This work has been reformatted for presentation on BuddhaDust
Thanks to J.B. Hare's Internet Sacred Text Archives for originally posting this material
Digitized and formatted for Internet Sacred Text Archives by Cristopher M. Weimer

I
The Book of the Great Decease


[85]

Mahā Parinibbāna Sutta
The Book of the Great Decease

Chapter V


 

1. Now the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ānanda, and said: 'Come, Ānanda, let us go on to the Sāla Grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of Kusinārā, on the further side of the river Hiranyavatī.'

'Even so, Lord!' said the venerable Ānanda, in assent, to the Blessed One.

2. And the Blessed One proceeded with a great company of the brethren to the Sāla Grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of Kusinārā, on the further side of the river Hiranyavatī: and when he had come there he addressed the venerable Ānanda, and said:

"Spread over for me, I pray you, Ānanda, the couch with its head to the north, between the twin Sāla trees[1]. I am weary, Ānanda, and would lie down.'

'Even so, Lord!' said the venerable Ānanda, in assent, to the Blessed One. And he spread a [86]covering over the couch with its head to the north, between the twin Sāla trees. And the Blessed One laid himself down on his right side, with one leg resting on the other; and he was mindful and self-possessed.

4. Now at that time the twin Sāla trees were all one mass of bloom with flowers out of season[2]; and all over the body of the Tathāgata these dropped and sprinkled and scattered themselves, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And heavenly Mandārava flowers, too, and heavenly sandal-wood powder came falling from the sky, and all over the body of the Tathāgata they descended and sprinkled and scattered themselves, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And heavenly music was sounded in the sky, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And heavenly songs came wafted from the skies, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old!

5. Then the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ānanda, and said: 'The twin Sāla trees are all one mass of bloom with flowers out of season; all over the body of the Tathāgata these drop and sprinkle and scatter themselves, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And heavenly Mandārava flowers, too, and heavenly sandal-wood powder come falling from the sky, and all over the body of the Tathāgata they descend and sprinkle and scatter themselves, out of reverence [87]for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And heavenly music sounds in the sky, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And heavenly songs come wafted from the skies, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old!'

6. 'Now it is not thus, Ānanda, that the Tathāgata is rightly honoured, reverenced, venerated, held sacred or revered. But the brother or the sister, the devout man or the devout woman, who continually fulfils all the greater and the lesser duties, who is correct in life, walking according to the precepts — it is he who rightly honours, reverences, venerates, holds sacred, and reveres the Tathāgata with the worthiest homage. Therefore, O Ānanda, be ye constant in the fulfilment of the greater and of the lesser duties, and be ye correct in life, walking according to the precepts; and thus, Ānanda, should it be taught.'

 


 

7. Now at that time the venerable Upāvaṇa was standing in front of the Blessed One, fanning him. And the Blessed One was not pleased with Upāvaṇa, and he said to him: 'Stand aside, O brother, stand not in front of me!'

8. Then this thought sprung up in the mind of the venerable Ānanda: 'The venerable Upāvaṇa has long been in close personal attendance and service on the Blessed One. And now, at the last moment, the Blessed One is not pleased with Upāvaṇa, and has said to him, "Stand aside, O brother, stand not in front of me!" What may be the cause and what the reason that the Blessed One is not pleased with Upāvaṇa, and speaks thus with him?'

9. And the venerable Ānanda said to the Blessed One: 'The venerable Upāvaṇa has long [88] been in close personal attendance and service on the Blessed One. And now, at the last moment, the Blessed One is not pleased with Upāvaṇa, and has said to him, "Stand aside, O brother, stand not in front of me!" What may be the cause and what the reason that the Blessed One is not pleased with Upāvaṇa, and speaks thus with him?'

10. 'In great numbers, Ānanda, are the gods of the ten world-systems assembled together to behold the Tathāgata. For twelve leagues, Ānanda, around the Sāla Grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of Kusinārā, there is no spot in size even as the pricking of the point of the tip of a hair which is not pervaded by powerful spirits[3]. And the spirits, Ānanda, are murmuring, and say, "From afar have we come to behold the Tathāgata. Few and far between are the Tathāgatas, the Arahat Buddhas who appear in the world: and now to-day, in the last watch of the night, the death of a Tathāgata will take place; and this eminent brother stands in [89] front of the Tathāgata, concealing him, and in his last hour we are prevented from beholding the Tathāgata;" thus, Ānanda, do the spirits murmur.'

11. 'But of what kind of spirits is the Blessed One thinking?'

12. 'There are spirits, Ānanda, in the sky, but of worldly mind, who dishevel their hair and weep, who stretch forth their arms and weep, who fall prostrate on the ground, and roll to and fro in anguish at the thought: "Too soon will the Blessed One die! Too soon will the Happy One pass away! Full soon will the Light of the world vanish away[4]!"

13. 'There are spirits, too, Ānanda, on the earth, and of worldly mind, who tear their hair and weep, who stretch forth their arms and weep, who fall prostrate on the ground, and roll to and fro in anguish at the thought: "Too soon will the Blessed One die! Too soon will the Happy One pass away! Full soon will the Eye of the world disappear from sight!"

14. 'But the spirits who are free from passion bear it, calm and self-possessed, mindful of the saying which begins, "Impermanent indeed are all component things. How then is it possible [whereas anything whatever, when born, brought into being, and [90] organised, contains within itself the inherent necessity of dissolution — how then is it possible that such a being should not be dissolved? No such condition can exist!"][5]

15. 'In times past, Lord, the brethren, when they had spent the rainy season in different districts, used to come to see the Tathāgata, and we used to receive those very reverend brethren to audience, and to wait upon the Blessed One. But, Lord, after the end of the Blessed One, we shall not be able to receive those very reverend brethren to audience, and to wait upon the Blessed One.'

 


 

16. 'There are these four places, Ānanda, which the believing man should visit with feelings of reverence and awe. Which are the four?

17. 'The place, Ānanda, at which the believing man can say, "Here the Tathāgata was born!" is a spot to be visited with feelings of reverence and awe.

18. 'The place, Ānanda, at which the believing man can say, "Here the Tathāgata, attained to the supreme and perfect insight!" is a spot to be visited with feelings of reverence and awe.

19. 'The place, Ānanda, at which the believing man can say, "Here was the kingdom of righteousness set on foot by the Tathāgata!" is a spot to be visited with feelings of reverence and awe.

20. 'The place, Ānanda, at which the believing man can say, "Here the Tathāgata passed finally away in that utter passing away which leaves nothing whatever to remain behind!" is a spot to be visited with feelings of reverence and awe. [91]21. 'And there will come, Ānanda, to such spots, believers, brethren and sisters of the order. or devout men and devout women, and will say, "Here was the Tathāgata born!" or, "Here did the Tathāgata attain to the supreme and perfect insight!" or, "Here was the kingdom of righteousness set on foot by the Tathāgata!" or, "Here the Tathāgata passed away in that utter passing away which leaves nothing whatever to remain behind!"

22. 'And they, Ānanda, who shall die while they, with believing heart, are journeying on such pilgrimage, shall be reborn after death, when the body shall dissolve, in the happy realms of heaven.'

 


 

23. 'How are we to conduct ourselves, Lord, with regard to womankind?'[edfn5.1]

'Don't see them, Ānanda.'

'But if we should see them, what are we to do?'

'Abstain from speech, Ānanda.'

'But if they should speak to us, Lord, what are we to do?'

'Keep wide awake, Ānanda.'

 


 

24. 'What are we to do, Lord, with the remains of the Tathāgata?'

'Hinder not yourselves, Ānanda, by honouring the remains of the Tathāgata. Be zealous, I beseech you, Ānanda, in your own behalf! Devote yourselves to your own good! Be earnest, be zealous, be intent on your own good! There are wise men, Ānanda, among the nobles, among the Brāhmans, among the heads of houses, who are firm believers in the Tathāgata; and they will do due honour to the remains of the Tathāgata.'

[92] 25.[6] 'What should be done, Lord, with the remains of the Tathāgata?'

'As men treat the remains of a king of kings, so, Ānanda, should they treat the remains of a Tathāgata.'

'And how, Lord, do they treat the remains of a king of kings[7]?'

26. 'They wrap the body of a king of kings, Ānanda, in a new cloth. When that is done they wrap it in carded cotton wool[8]. When that is done they wrap it in a new cloth, — and so on till they have wrapped the body in five hundred successive layers of both kinds. Then they place the body in an oil vessel of iron[9], and cover that close up with another [93] oil vessel of iron. They then build a funeral pile of all kinds of perfumes, and burn the body of the king of kings. And then at the four cross roads they erect a dāgaba[10] to the king of kings. This, Ānanda, is the way in which they treat the remains of a king of kings.

'And as they treat the remains of a king of kings, so, Ānanda, should they treat the remains of the Tathāgata. At the four cross roads a dāgaba should be erected to the Tathāgata. And whosoever shall there place garlands or perfumes or paint, or make salutation there, or become in its presence calm in heart — that shall long be to them for a profit and a joy.'

 


 

27. 'These men, Ānanda, worthy of a dāgaba[11], are four in number. Which are the four?

'A Tathāgata, or Arahat-Buddha, is worthy of a dāgaba. A Pacceka-Buddha is worthy of a dāgaba[12]. [94]A true hearer of the Tathāgata is worthy of a dāgaba. A king of kings is worthy of a dāgaba.

28. 'And on account of what circumstance, Ānanda, is a Tathāgata, an Arahat-Buddha, worthy of a dāgaba?

'At the thought, Ānanda, "This is the dāgaba of that Blessed One, of that Arahat-Buddha," the hearts of many shall be made calm and happy; and since they there had calmed and satisfied their hearts they will be reborn after death, when the body has dissolved, in the happy realms of heaven. It is on account of this circumstance, Ānanda, that a Tathāgata, an Arahat-Buddha, is worthy of a dāgaba.

29. 'And on account of what circumstance, Ānanda, is a Pacceka-Buddha worthy of a dāgaba?

'At the thought, Ānanda, "This is the dāgaba of that Blessed One, of that Pacceka-Buddha," the hearts of many shall be made calm and happy; and since they there had calmed and satisfied their hearts they will be reborn after death, when the body has dissolved, in the happy realms of heaven. It is on account of this circumstance, Ānanda, that a Pacceka-Buddha is worthy of a dāgaba.

30. 'And on account of what circumstance, Ānanda, is a true hearer of the Blessed One, the Arahat-Buddha, worthy of a dāgaba?

'At the thought, Ānanda, "This is the dāgaba of that true hearer of the Blessed Arahat-Buddha," the hearts of many shall be made calm and happy; and since they there had calmed and satisfied their hearts they will be reborn after death, when the body has dissolved, in the happy realms of heaven. It is on account of this circumstance, Ānanda, that a true [95] hearer of the Blessed One, the Arahat-Buddha, is worthy of a dāgaba.

31. 'And on account of what circumstance, Ānanda, is a king of kings worthy of a dāgaba?

'At the thought, Ānanda, "This is the dāgaba of that righteous king who ruled in righteousness," the hearts of many shall be made calm and happy; and since they there had calmed and satisfied their hearts they will be reborn after death, when the body has dissolved, in the happy realms of heaven. It is on account of this circumstance, Ānanda, that a king of kings is worthy of a dāgaba.

'These four, Ānanda, are the persons worthy of a dāgaba.'

 


 

32. 'Now the venerable Ānanda went into the Vihāra, and stood leaning against the lintel of the door[13], and weeping at the thought: "Alas! I remain still but a learner, one who has yet to work out his own perfection[14]. And the Master is about to pass away from me--he who is so kind!"'

33. Now the Blessed One called the brethren, and said: 'Where, then, brethren, is Ānanda?'

The venerable Ānanda, Lord, has gone into the [96] Vihāra, and stands leaning against the lintel of the door, and weeping at the thought: 'Alas! I remain still but a learner, one who has yet to work out his own perfection. And the Master is about to pass away from me — he who is so kind!'

34. And the Blessed One called a certain brother, and said: 'Go now, brother, and call Ānanda in my name, and say, "Brother Ānanda, the Master calls for thee."'

'Even so, Lord!' said that brother, in assent, to the Blessed One. And he went up to the place where the Blessed One was; and when he had come there, he said to the venerable Ānanda Brother Ānanda, the Master calls for thee.'

'Very well, brother,' said the venerable Ānanda, in assent, to that brother. And he went up to the place where the Blessed One was, and when he had come there, he bowed down before the Blessed One, and took his seat respectfully on one side.

35. Then the Blessed One said to the venerable Ānanda, as he sat there by his side: 'Enough, Ānanda! Do not let yourself be troubled; do not weep! Have I not already, on former occasions, told you that it is in the very nature of all things most near and dear unto us that we must divide ourselves from them, leave them, sever ourselves from them? How, then, Ānanda, can this be possible — whereas anything whatever born, brought into being, and organised, contains within itself the inherent necessity of dissolution — how, then, can this be possible, that such a being should not be dissolved? No such condition can exist! For a long time, Ānanda, have you been very near to me by acts of love, kind and good, that never varies, and is beyond all [97] measure. For a long time, Ānanda, have you been very near to me by words of love, kind and good, that never varies, and is beyond all measure. For a long time, Ānanda, have you been very near to me by thoughts of love, kind and good, that never varies[15], and is beyond all measure. You have done well, Ānanda! Be earnest in effort, and you too shall soon be free from the great evils-from sensuality, from individuality, from delusion, and from ignorance[16]!'

 


 

36.[17] Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said: 'Whosoever, brethren, have been Arahat-Buddhas through the long ages of the past, there were servitors just as devoted to those Blessed Ones as Ānanda has been to me. And whosoever, brethren, shall be Arahat-Buddhas in the long ages of the future, there shall be servitors just as devoted to those Blessed Ones as Ānanda has been to me.

37. 'He is a wise man, brethren, — is Ānanda. [98] He knows when it is the right time for him to come and visit the Tathāgata, and when it is the right time for the brethren and sisters of the order, for devout men and devout women, for a king, or for a king's ministers, for other teachers or their disciples, to come and visit the Tathāgata.

38. 'Brethren, there are these four wonderful and marvellous qualities in Ānanda. Which are the four?

'If, brethren, a number of the brethren of the order should come to visit Ānanda, they are filled with joy on beholding him; and if Ānanda should then preach the truth to them, they are filled with joy at the discourse; while the company of brethren is ill at ease, brethren, when Ānanda is silent.

'If, brethren, a number of the sisters of the order, or of devout men, or of devout women, should come to visit Ānanda, they are filled with joy on beholding him; and if Ānanda should then preach the truth to them, they are filled with joy at the discourse; while the company of sisters is ill at ease, brethren, when Ānanda is silent.

39. 'Brethren, there are these four wonderful and marvellous qualities in a king of kings. What are the four?

'If, brethren, a number of nobles, or Brāhman, or heads of houses, or Samanas should come to visit a king of kings, they are filled with joy on beholding him; and if the king of kings should then speak, they are filled with joy at what is said; while they are ill at case, brethren, when the king of kings is silent.

40. 'Just so, brethren, are the four wonderful and marvellous qualities in Ānanda.

'If, brethren, a number of the brethren of the [99] order, or of the sisters of the order, or of devout men, or of devout women, should come to visit Ānanda, they are filled with joy on beholding him; and if Ānanda should then preach the truth to them, they are filled with joy at the discourse; while the company of brethren is ill at case, brethren, when Ānanda is silent.

'Now these, brethren, are the four wonderful and marvellous qualities that are in Ānanda.'

 


 

41. When he had thus spoken[18], the venerable Ānanda said to the Blessed One:

'Let not the Blessed One die in this little wattel and daub town, in this town in the midst of the jungle, in this branch township[19]. For, Lord, there are other great cities, such as Campā, Rājagaha, Sāvatthi, Sāketa, Kosambi, and Benāres. Let the Blessed One die in one of them. There there are many wealthy nobles and Brāhmans and heads of houses, believers in the Tathāgata, who will pay due honour to the remains of the Tathāgata [20].'

[100] 42. 'Say not so, Ānanda! Say not so, Ānanda, that this is but a small wattel and daub town, a town in the midst of the jungle, a branch township. Long ago, Ānanda, there was a king, by name Mahā-Sudassana, a king of kings, a righteous man who ruled in righteousness, Lord of the four quarters of the earth, conqueror, the protector of his people, possessor of the seven royal treasures. This Kusinārā, Ānanda, was the royal city of king Mahā-Sudassana, under the name of Kusāvatī, and on the east and on the west it was twelve leagues in length, and on the north and on the south it was seven leagues in breadth.

43. 'That royal city Kusāvatī, Ānanda, was mighty, and prosperous, and full of people, crowded with men, and provided with all things for food[21]. Just, Ānanda, as the royal city of the gods, Ā'akamandā by name, is mighty, prosperous, and full of people, crowded with the gods, and provided with all kinds of food, so, Ānanda, was the royal city Kusāvatī mighty and prosperous, full of people, crowded with men, and provided with all kinds of food.

44. 'Both by day and by night, Ānanda, the royal city Kusāvatī resounded with the ten cries; that is to say, the noise of elephants, and the noise of horses, and the noise of chariots; the sounds of the [101] drum, of the tabor, and of the lute; the sound of singing, and the sounds of the cymbal and of the gong; and lastly, with the cry, "Eat, drink, and be merry[22]!"

 


 

45. 'Go now, Ānanda, and enter into Kusinārā, and inform the Mallas of Kusinārā, saying, "This day, O Vāseṭṭhas, in the last watch of the night, the final passing away of the Tathāgata will take place. Be favourable herein, O Vāseṭṭhas, be favourable. Give no occasion to reproach yourselves hereafter, saying, 'In our own village did the death of our Tathāgata take place, and we took not the opportunity of visiting the Tathāgata in his last hours.'"'

'Even so, Lord,' said the venerable Ānanda, in assent, to the Blessed One; and he robed himself, and taking his bowl[23], entered into Kusinārā attended by another member of the order.

[102] 46. Now at that time the Mallas of Kusinārā were assembled in the council hall on some public affair[24].

And the venerable Ānanda went to the council hall of the Mallas of Kusinārā; and when he had arrived there, he informed them, saying, 'This day, O Vāseṭṭhas, in the last watch of the night, the final passing away of the Tathāgata will take place. Be favourable herein, O Vāseṭṭhas, be favourable. Give no occasion to reproach yourselves hereafter, saying, "In our own village did the death of our Tathāgata take place, and we took not the opportunity of visiting the Tathāgata in his last hours."'

47. And when they had heard this saying of the venerable Ānanda, the Mallas with their young men and maidens and their wives were grieved, and sad, and afflicted at heart. And some of them wept, dishevelling their hair, and stretched forth their arms and wept, fell prostrate on the ground, and rolled to and fro in anguish at the thought: 'Too soon will the Blessed One die! Too soon will the Happy One pass away! Full soon will the Light of the world vanish away!'

 


 

48. Then the Mallas, with their young men and [103] maidens and their wives, being grieved and sad and afflicted at heart, went to the Sāla Grove of the Mallas, to the Upavattana, and to the place where the venerable Ānanda was.

49. Then the venerable Ānanda thought: 'If I allow the Mallas of Kusinārā, one by one, to pay their respects to the Blessed One, the whole of the Mallas of Kusinārā will not have been presented to the Blessed One until this night brightens up into the dawn. Let me, now, cause the Mallas of Kusinārā to stand in groups, each family in a group, and so present them to the Blessed One, saying, "Lord! a Malla of such and such a name, with his children, his wives, his retinue, and his friends, humbly bows down at the feet of the Blessed One."'

50. And the venerable Ānanda caused the Mallas of Kusinārā to stand in groups, each family in a group, and so presented them to the Blessed One, and said: 'Lord! a Malla of such and such a name, with his children, his wives, his retinue, and his friends, humbly bows down at the feet of the Blessed One.'

51. And after this manner the venerable Ānanda presented all the Mallas of Kusinārā to the Blessed One in the first watch of the night.

 


 

52. Now at that time a mendicant named Subhadda, who was not a believer, was dwelling at Kusinārā. And the mendicant Subhadda heard the news: 'This very day, they say, in the third watch of the night, will take place the final passing away of the Samaṇa Gotama.'

53. Then thought the mendicant Subhadda: 'This have I heard from fellow mendicants of mine, old and well stricken in years, teachers and [104] disciples, when they said: "Sometimes and full seldom do Tathāgatas appear in the world, the Arahat Buddhas." Yet this day, in the last watch of the night, the final passing away of the Samaṇa Gotama will take place. Now a certain feeling of uncertainty has sprung up in my mind; and this faith have I in the Samaṇa Gotama, that he, methinks, is able so to present the truth that I may get rid of this feeling of uncertainty.'

54. Then the mendicant Subhadda went to the Sāla Grove of the Mallas, to the Upavattana of Kusinārā, to the place where the venerable Ānanda was.

55. And when he had come there he said to the venerable Ānanda: 'Thus have I heard from fellow mendicants of mine, old and well stricken in years, teachers and disciples, when they said: "Sometimes and full seldom do Tathāgatas appear in the world, the Arahat Buddhas." Yet this day, in the last watch of the night, the final passing away of the Samaṇa Gotama will take place. Now a certain feeling of uncertainty has sprung up in my mind; and this faith have I in the Samaṇa Gotama, that he, methinks, is able so to present the truth that I may get rid of this feeling of uncertainty. O that I, even I, Ānanda, might be allowed to see the Samaṇa Gotama!'

56. And when he had thus spoken the venerable Ānanda said to the mendicant Subhadda: 'Enough! friend Subhadda. Trouble not the Tathāgata. The Blessed One is weary.'

57. And again the mendicant Subhadda [made the same request in the same words, and received the same reply]; and the third time the mendicant Subhadda [made the same request in the same words, and received the same reply]

[105] 58. Now the Blessed One overheard this conversation of the venerable Ānanda with the mendicant Subhadda. And the Blessed One called the venerable Ānanda, and said: 'It is enough, Ānanda! Do not keep out Subhadda. Subhadda, Ānanda, may be allowed to see the Tathāgata. Whatever Subhadda may 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.'

59. Then the venerable Ānanda said to Subhadda, the mendicant: 'Enter in, friend Subhadda; for the Blessed One gives you leave.'

60. Then Subhadda, the mendicant, went in to the place where the Blessed One was, and saluted him courteously, and after exchanging with him the compliments of esteem and of civility, he took his seat on one side. And when he was thus seated, Subhadda, the mendicant, said to the Blessed One: 'The Brāhmans by saintliness of life[25], Gotama, who [106] are heads of companies of disciples and students, teachers of students, well known, renowned, founders of schools of doctrine, esteemed as good men by the multitude — to wit, Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali of the cattle-pen, Ajita of the garment of hair, Kaccāyana of the Pakudha tree, Sañgaya the son of the Belaṭṭhi slave-girl, and Nigantha of the Nātha clan — have they all, according to their own assertion, thoroughly understood things? or have they not? or are there some of them who have understood, and some who have not[26]?'

61. 'Enough, Subhadda! Let this matter rest whether they, according to their own assertion, have thoroughly understood things, or whether they have not, or whether some of them have understood and some have not! The truth, Subhadda, will I teach you. Listen well to that, and give ear attentively, and I will speak.'

'Even so, Lord!' said the mendicant Subhadda, in assent, to the Blessed One.

62. And the Blessed One spake: 'In whatsoever doctrine and discipline, Subhadda, the noble eightfold path is not found, neither in it is there found a man of true saintliness of the first or of the second or of the third or of the fourth degree[27]. [107] And in whatsoever doctrine and discipline, Subhadda, the noble eightfold path is found, is found the man of true saintliness of the first and the second and the third and the fourth degree. Now in this doctrine and discipline, Subhadda, is found the noble eightfold path, and in it alone, Subhadda, is the man of true saintliness. Void are the systems of other teachers — void of true saints. And in this one, Subhadda, may the brethren live the Life that's Right, so that the world be not bereft of Arahats[28].

[108]

'But twenty-nine was I when I renounced
The world, Subhadda, seeking after good.
For fifty years and one year more, Subhadda,
Since I went out, a pilgrim have I been
Through the wide realms of virtue and of truth,
And outside these no really "saint" can be[29]!"

Yea, not of the first, nor of the second, nor of the third, nor of the fourth degree. Void are the systems of other teachers — void of true saints. But in this one, Subhadda, may the brethren live the perfect life, that the world be not bereft of those who have reached the highest fruit.'

63. And when he had thus spoken, Subhadda, the mendicant, said to the Blessed One: 'Most excellent, Lord, are the words of thy mouth, most excellent! just as if a man were to set up that which is thrown down, or were to reveal that which is hidden away, or were to point out the right road to him who has gone astray, or were to bring a lamp into the darkness, so that those who have eyes can see external forms; — just even so, Lord, has the truth been made known to me, in many a figure, by the Blessed One. And I, even I, betake myself, Lord, to the Blessed One as my refuge, to the truth, and to the order. May the Blessed One accept me as a disciple, as a true believer, from this day forth, as long as life endures!'

[109] 64. 'Whosoever, Subhadda, that has formerly been a follower of another doctrine and then desires to be received into the higher or the lower grade in this doctrine and discipline, he remains on probation for the space of four months; and at the end of the four months, the brethren, exalted in spirit, receive him into the lower or into the higher grade of the order. Nevertheless in this case I acknowledge the difference in persons.'

65. 'If, Lord, whosoever that has formerly been a follower of another doctrine and then desires to be received into the higher or the lower grade in this doctrine and discipline, — if, in that case, such a person remains on probation for the space of four months; and at the end of the four months, the brethren, exalted in spirit, receive him into the lower or into the higher grade of the order — I too, then, will remain on probation for the space of four months; and at the end of the four months let the brethren, exalted in spirit, receive me into the lower or into the higher grade of the order!'

66. But the Blessed One called the venerable Ānanda, and said: 'As it is, Ānanda, receive Subhadda into the order!'

'Even so, Lord!' said the venerable Ānanda, in assent, to the Blessed One.

67. And Subhadda, the mendicant, said to the venerable Ānanda: 'Great is your gain, friend Ānanda, great is your good fortune, friend Ānanda, that you all have been sprinkled with the sprinkling of discipleship in this brotherhood at the hands of the Master himself!'

68. So Subhadda, the mendicant, was received [110] into the higher grade of the order under the Blessed One; and from immediately after his ordination the venerable Subhadda remained alone and separate, earnest, zealous, and resolved. And e'er long he attained to that supreme goal of the higher life[30] for the sake of which men go out from all and every household gain and comfort to become houseless wanderers — yea, that supreme goal did he, by himself, and while yet in this visible world, bring himself to the knowledge of, and continue to realise, and to see face-to-face! And he became conscious that birth was at an end, that the higher life had been fulfilled, that all that should be done had been accomplished, and that after this present life there would be no beyond!

69. So the venerable Subbadda became yet another among the Arahats; and he was the last disciple whom the Blessed One himself converted[31].

 


 

END OF THE HIRAÑÑAVATIYA PORTION, BEING THE FIFTH PORTION FOR RECITATION

 


 

 


[1]According to the commentator 'tradition says that there was a row of Sāla trees at the head (sīsa) of that couch (mañka), and another at its foot, one young Sāla tree being close to its head, and another close to its foot. The twin Sāla trees were so called because the two trees were equally grown in respect of the roots, trunks, branches, and leaves. There was a couch there in the park for the special use of the (periodically elected) rāja of the Mallas, and it was this couch which the Blessed One asked Ānanda to make ready.' There is no further explanation of the term uttara-sīsakaṃ, which may have been the name for a slab of wood or stone reserved on great occasions for the use of the leaders of the neighbouring republic, but available at other times for passers by.

[2]Sabbaphāliphullā ti sabbe samantato pupphitā mūlato paṭṭhāya yāva aggā ekakkhannā ahesuṃ. (S.V. thlu.) Compare ekaphāliphullaṃ vanaṃ at Jātaka I, 52.

[3]Buddhaghosa explains that even twenty to sixty angels or gods (devatāyo) could stand āragga-koĀi-nittūdana- (MS. nittaddana-) matte pi, 'on a point pricked by the extreme point of a gimlet,' without inconveniencing one another (aññam aññam avyābādhenti). It is most curious to find this exact analogy to the notorious discussion as to how many angels could stand on the point of a needle in a commentary written at just that period of Buddhist history which corresponds to the Middle Ages of Christendom. The passage in the text does not really imply or suggest any such doctrine, though the whole episode is so absurd that the author of the text could not have hesitated to say so, had such an idea been the common belief of the early Buddhists. With these sections should be compared the similar sections in Chapter VI, of which these are perhaps merely an echo.
There is no comment on nittūdana, but there can be little doubt that Childers's conjectural reading is correct.

[4]Cakkuṃloke antaradhāyissati, on which there is no comment. It is literally, 'the Eye in the world will vanish away,' where Eye is of course used figuratively of that by the aid of which spiritual truths can be perceived, corresponding exactly to the similar use in Europe of the word Light. The Master is often called Cakkhumā, 'He with the Eye,' 'He of the spiritual Eye' (see, for instance, the last verses in this Sutta), and here by a bold figure of speech he is called the Eye itself, which was shortly about to vanish away from the world, the means of spiritual insight which was no longer to be available for the common use of all men. But this is, it will be noticed, only the lament of the foolish and ignorant.

[5]The words in brackets have been inserted from par. III, 63 above. See par. VI, 39 below.]

[6]This conversation occurs also below (VI, 33), and the older tradition probably had it only in that connection.

[7]King of kings is an inadequate rendering of Cakkavatti Rājā. It is a king whose power no other king can dispute, who is the acknowledged overlord in India. The idea can scarcely have existed before Candragupta, the first Cakravarti, had raised himself to power. This passage, therefore, is a guide to the date at which the Mahā-parinibbāna Sutta assumed its present form.

[8]'Vihatena kappāsenā ti suphoĀitena kappāsenā: Kāsika-vatthaṃ hi sukhumattā telaṃ na gaṇhati, tasmā vihatena kappāsenā ti āha. 'As Benāres cloth, by reason of its fineness of texture, does not take the oil, he therefore says, "with vihata cotton wool," that is, with cotton wool that has been well forced asunder.' That phoṭita is here the participle of the causal verb, and not of the simple verb, follows of necessity from its being used as an explanation of vihata, 'torn to pieces.' The technical use of the word, as applied to cotton wool, has only been found in this passage. It usually means 'torn with grief.'

[9]Ayasāya tela-doṇiyā, where one would expect āyasāya, but my MS. of the Dīgha Nikāya confirms twice over here, and twice again below, Ī VI, 33, 35, the reading given by Childers. Buddhaghosa says, Āyasan ti suvaññaṃ, suvaññamhi idha āyasan ti adhippeto, but here again we should expect the second time to find ayo or ayasaṃ. The meaning of the word is also not {footnote p. 93} quite clear. It no doubt was origin ally used for bronze, and only later for iron also, and at last exclusively of iron. As kaṃsa is already a common word for bronze in very early Buddhist Pāli texts, I think āyasa or ayasa must here mean 'of iron.' When Buddhaghosa says it is here a name for gold, we can only conclude that iron had become, in his time, a metal which he might fairly consider too base for the purpose proposed.

[10]Buddhaghosa has no note on paṭikujjetvā; but from its use at Jātaka I, 50, 29: 69, 23, it must, I think, have this meaning. I am not certain to what root it ought to be referred. I should mention that pakkhipati seems to me never to mean in Pāli, 'to hurl forth into, to throw forth,' but always 'to place (slowly and carefully) into.'

[11]A solid mound or tumulus, in the midst of which the bones and ashes are to be placed. The dome of St. Paul's as seen from the Thames Embankment gives a very good idea of one of the later Buddhist dāgabas. The Pāli word here and below is Thūpa.

[12]A Pacceka-Buddha, who has attained to the supreme and perfect insight; but dies without proclaiming the truth to the world.

[13]Kapisīsaṃ. Buddhaghosa says, Kapisīsakan ti dvāra-bāha-koĀiyaṃ ṭhitam aggala-rukkhaṃ,' a piece of wood fixed as a bolt at the top of the door posts.' The Sanskrit lexicographers give kapi-sīrsha in the sense of 'coping of a wall.' Compare Pātimokkha, Pācittiya, No. 19.
The expression that Ānanda went 'into the Vihāra' at the end of a conversation represented as having taken place in the Sāla Grove, would seem to point to the fact that this episode originally stood in some other connection. Buddhaghosa attempts to explain away the discrepancy by saying that Vihāra here means Maṇṃala.

[14] Ānanda had entered the Noble Path, but had not yet reached the end of it. He had not attained to Nirvāṇa.

[15]Advayena, which Buddhaghosa explains as not being that kind of love which is now one thing and now another, or which varies in the presence or the absence of the object loved. When the Buddha is called in the Amara Kosha I, 1, 1, 9, advayavādin, that must mean in a similar way, 'One whose teaching does not vary.'

[16]Literally, thou shalt become an Anāsava, that is, one who is free from the four Āsavas, all which are explained above in Ī I, 12, from which I have taken the details suggested to a Buddhist by the word used. The state of mind to which an Anāsava has reached is precisely the same, though looked at from a different point of view, as the state of mind expressed by the better known word Nirvāṇa.

[17]What follows is repeated in the Satipatthāṇa Vagga of the Saṃyutta Nikāya; but in regard to Sāriputta (Upatissa) and Moggallāna, and reading sāvaka-yugaṃ for upāṭṭhāko.

[18]From here down to the end of section 44 is found also, nearly word for word, in the beginning of the Mahā-Sudassana Sutta, translated below; compare also Mahā-Sudassana Jātaka, No. 95.

[19]Kuḍḍa-nagarake ti paĀirūpake sambādhe khuddakanagare: Uggaŋgala-nagarake ti visama-nagarake. (S.V. fol. ṭhau.) Kuḍḍa, if this explanation be right, seems to be merely an old and unusual form for kshudra, and the Burmese correction into khudda to be unnecessary: but I venture to think it is more likely to be = kuḍya, and to mean a wall built of mud and sticks, or what is called in India, of wattel and daub. When Buddhaghosa explains ujjaŋgala as 'lawless,' he is expressing his view that a town in the jungle is likely to be a heathen, pagan sort of place.

[20]With reference to Childers's note in his Dictionary on mahāsālā, with which every one must entirely agree, Buddhaghosa's {footnote p. 100} explanation of the word will be interesting as a proof (if proof be needed) that the Ceylon scholars are not always trustworthy. He says, Khattiya-mahāsālā ti khattiya-mahāsārā sārapattā mahā-khattiyā. Eso nayo sabbattha.

[21]The first three of these adjectives are applied at Jātaka I, 29 (v. 212) to the religion of the Buddhas; and I think the right reading there must be phītaṃ, in accordance with the corrections in two MSS. as noted by Mr. Fausböll, and not pītaṃ as he has preferred to read. The whole set of epithets is often used of cities.

[22]This enumeration is found also at Jātaka, p. 3, only that the conch shell is added there — wrongly, for that makes the number of cries eleven. The Mahā-Sudassana Sutta has in the corresponding passage, like the Burmese MS. noted here by Childers, conch instead of cymbal. My MS. reads cymbal here.

[23]Nivāsetvā patta-cīvaraṃ ādāya atta-dutiyo. Buddhaghosa has, naturally enough, no comment on this oft-recurring phrase. It cannot be meant that he put on only his under-garments, and carried his upper robe with him; for then his shoulders would have been bare; and it is quite against the rules to go into a village without all the robes having been put carefully on (Pātimokkha, Sekhiya 1-3). I do not even understand how Ānanda, with due regard to the rules of the brotherhood (see Pātimokkha, Nisaggiya 21-29), could have had a spare robe then with him. And patta-cīvaram can scarcely mean simply 'bowl-robe,' referring to the length of cotton cloth in which the bowl was carried over the shoulder ('Buddhist Birth Stories,' p. 71). 'With both his under-garments on, he entered Kusinārā duly bowled and robed' may be impossible English, but it probably correctly catches the {footnote p. 102} idea involved, though of course one (at least) of the under-cloths had been put on long before. See p. 122. A Thera never goes about in public alone, he is always accompanied by a Sāmaṇera.]

[24]Ke nacid eva karaṇīyena. Professor Pischel, in his edition of the Assalāyana Sutta (p. 1), prints this expression kenaci devakaraṇīyena, and translates it (p. 28), 'for some religious purposes.' It seems to me that he has been misled by the commentary, which really presupposes the more correct division adopted by Childers.]

[25]Samaṇa-brāhmaṇā, which compound may possibly mean Samanas and Brahmans as it has usually been rendered, but I think not necessarily. Not one of those here specified were Brāhmans by caste, as is apparent from the Sumangala Vilāsinī on the Sāmañña Phala Sutta, p. 114. Compare the use of Kshatriya-brāhmaṇo, 'a soldier priest,' a Kshatriya who offered sacrifice; and of Brāhmaṇo, absolutely, as an epithet of an Arahat. In the use of the word samaṇa there seems to me to be a hopeless confusion between, a complete mingling of the meanings of, the two roots sram and sam (which, in Pāli, would both become saŋ). It connotes both asceticism and inward peace, and might best be rendered 'devotee,' were it not for the intellectual inferiority implied by that word in our language. A Samaṇa Brāhman should therefore mean a man of any caste, who by his saintliness of life, by his renunciation of the world, and by his reputation as a religious thinker, had acquired the position of a quasi Brāhman, and {footnote p. 106} was looked up to by the people in the same way as that in which they looked up to a Brāhman by caste. Compare further my 'Buddhist Birth Stories,' vol. i. p. 260; and also Mr. Beal's remarks in the Indian Antiquary for May, 1880; and Professor Max Müller's note on Dhammapada, verse 265.

[26]Buddhaghosa has an exegetical note on abbhaññamsu, but passes over those celebrated Six Teachers in silence. The little that is thus far known of them will be discussed in another place.

[27]This refers to the four divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path. See above, chap. II, Ī 8, where their characters are described. The {footnote p. 107} word translated 'man of true saintliness,' or 'true saint,' is in the text Samaṇo, on which see the note on page 105 (above, note 25). I am at a loss how to render the word adequately here.

[28]Arahats are those who have reached Nirvāṇa, the 'supreme goal,' the 'highest fruit' of the Noble Eightfold Path. To live 'the Life that's Right' (sammā) is to live in the Noble Path, each of the eight divisions of which is to be sammā, round, right and perfect, normal and complete. To live right (sammā) is therefore to have — 1. Right views, free from superstition. 2. Right aims, high and worthy of the intelligent and earnest man. 3. Right speech, kindly, open, truthful. 4. Right conduct, in all concerns of life. 5. Right livelihood, bringing hurt or danger to no living thing. 6. Right perseverance, in all the other seven. 7. Right mindfulness, the watchful, active mind. 8. Right contemplation, earnest thought on the deep mysteries of life. In each of these the word right is sammā, and the whole paragraph being on the Noble Path, the allusion is certainly to this central doctrine of the Buddhist Dhamma.
Buddhaghosa says that that bhikkhu sammā viharati, who, having himself entered the Noble Path, leads his brother into it, and this is, no doubt, good Buddhism. But it is a practical application of the text, a theological exegesis, and not a philological explanation. Even so it seems to lay the stress too much on 'bereft,' and too little on 'Arahats.'
In the last words of the prose we seem to have a reminiscence of what were once verses, which may have run-
 
Suññā pavādā samaṇehi aññe; {footnote p. 108}
Ime ka sammā vihareyyu bhikkhū,
Asuñño loko 'rahatehi assa.

[29]I have followed, though with some doubt, Childers's punctuation. Buddhaghosa refers padesa-vattī to samaṇo; and ito, not to padesa, but to magga, understood; and it is quite possible that this is the correct explanation. On samādhikāni see the comment at Jātaka II, 383.]

[30]That is, Nirvāṇa. Compare Maŋgala Sutta V, 11, and the Dhammapada, verses 180, 354, and above Chap. I, Ī 7.

[31]Buddhaghosa says that the last five words in the text (the last twelve words in my translation) were added by the Theras who held the Council. On Subhadda's ordination he has the following interesting note: 'The Thero, (that is, Ānanda), they say, took him on one side, poured water over his head from a water vessel, made him repeat the formula of meditation on the impermanency of the body (Taca-pañkaka-kammaṭṭhanaṃ; see my "Buddhist Birth Stories," p. 161), shaved off his hair and beard, clad him in the yellow robes, made him repeat the "Three Refuges," and led him back to the Blessed One. The Blessed One himself admitted him then into the higher rank of the brotherhood, and pointed out to him a subject for meditation (kammaṭṭhanaṃ; see "Buddhist {footnote p. 111} Birth Stories," p. 147). He accepted this, and walking up and down in a quiet part of the grove, he thought and meditated upon it, till overcoming the Evil Spirit, he had acquired Arahatship, and with it the discriminating knowledge of all the Scriptures (Paṭisambhidā). Then, returning, he came and took his seat beside the Blessed One.'
According to this, no set ceremony for ordination (Saŋgha-kammaṃ), as laid down in the Vinaya, took place; and it is otherwise probable that no such ceremony was usual in the earliest days of Buddhism.]

 


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