by Paul Carus
THE MUSTARD SEED
THERE was a rich man who found his gold suddenly transformed into
ashes; and he took to his bed and refused all food. A friend,
hearing of his sickness, visited the rich man and learned the cause of
his grief. And the friend said: "Thou didst not make good use of thy
wealth. When thou didst hoard it up it was not better than ashes.
Now heed my advice. Spread mats in the bazaar; pile up these ashes,
and pretend to trade with them." The rich man did as his friend had
told him, and when his neighbors asked him, "Why sellest thou
ashes?" he said: "I offer my goods for sale."
After some time a young girl, named Kisa Gotami, an orphan and
very poor, passed by, and seeing the rich man in the bazaar, said: "My
lord, why pilest thou thus up gold and silver for sale?" And the
rich man said: "Wilt thou please hand me that gold and silver?" And
Kisa Gotami took up a handful of ashes, and lo! they changed back into
gold. Considering that Kisa Gotami had the mental eye of spiritual
knowledge and saw the real worth of things, the rich man gave her in
marriage to his son, and he said: "With many, gold is no better than
ashes, but with Kisa Gotami ashes become pure gold."
And Kisa Gotami had an only son, and he died. In her grief she
carried the dead child to all her neighbors, asking them for medicine,
and the people said: "She has lost her senses. The boy is dead. At
length Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request: "I cannot
give thee medicine for thy child, but I know a physician who can." The
girl said: "Pray tell me, sir; who is it?" And the man replied: "Go to
Sakyamuni, the Buddha."
Kisa Gotami repaired to the Buddha and cried: "Lord and Master, give
me the medicine that will cure my boy." The Buddha answered: "I want a
handful of mustard-seed." And when the girl in her joy promised to
procure it, the Buddha added: "The mustard-seed must be taken from a
house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent, or friend." Poor
Kisa Gotami now went from house to house, and the people pitied her
and said: "Here is mustard-seed; take it!" But when she asked Did a
son or daughter, a father or mother, die in your family?" They
answered her: "Alas the living are few, but the dead are many. Do
not remind us of our deepest grief." And there was no house but some
beloved one had died in it.
Kisa Gotami became weary and hopeless, and sat down at the
wayside, watching the lights of the city, as they flickered up and
were extinguished again. At last the darkness of the night reigned
everywhere. And she considered the fate of men, that their lives
flicker up and are extinguished. And she thought to herself: "How
selfish am I in my grief! Death is common to all; yet in this valley
of desolation there is a path that leads him to immortality who has
surrendered all selfishness."
Putting away the selfishness of her affection for her child, Kisa
Gotami had the dead body buried in the forest. Returning to the
Buddha, she took refuge in him and found comfort in the Dharma,
which is a balm that will soothe all the pains of our troubled hearts.
The Buddha said: "The life of mortals in this world is troubled
and brief and combined with pain. For there is not any means by
which those that have been born can avoid dying; after reaching old
age there is death; of such a nature are living beings. As ripe fruits
are early in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in
danger of death. As all earthen vessels made by the potter end in
being broken, so is the life of mortals. Both young and adult, both
those who are fools and those who are wise, all fall into the power of
death; all are subject to death.
"Of those who, overcome by death, depart from life, a father
cannot save his son, nor kinsmen their relations. Mark I while
relatives are looking on and lamenting deeply, one by one mortals
are carried off, like an ox that is led to the slaughter. So the world
is afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do not grieve,
knowing the terms of the world. In whatever manner people think a
thing will come to pass, it is often different when it happens, and
great is the disappointment; see, such are the terms of the world.
"Not from weeping nor from grieving will any one obtain peace of
mind; on the contrary, his pain will be the greater and his body
will suffer. He will make himself sick and pale, yet the dead are
not saved by his lamentation. People pass away, and their fate after
death will be according to their deeds. If a man live a hundred years,
or even more, he will at last be separated from the company of his
relatives, and leave the life of this world. He who seeks peace should
draw out the arrow of lamentation, and complaint, and grief. He who
has drawn out the arrow and has become composed will obtain peace of
mind; he who has overcome all sorrow will become free from sorrow, and
WALKING ON WATER
SOUTH of Savatthi is a great river, on the banks of which lay
hamlet of five hundred houses. Thinking of the salvation of the
people, the World-honored One resolved to go to the village and preach
the doctrine. Having come to the riverside he sat down beneath a tree,
and the villagers seeing the glory of his appearance approached him
with reverence; but when he began to preach, they believed him not.
When the world-honored Buddha had left Savatthi Sariputta felt a
desire to see the Lord and to hear him preach. Coming to the river
where the water was deep and the current strong, he said to himself:
"This stream shall not prevent me. I shall go and see the Blessed One,
and he stepped upon the water which was as firm under his feet as a
slab of granite. When he arrived at a place in the middle of the
stream where the waves were high, Sariputta's heart gave way, and he
began to sink. But rousing his faith and renewing his mental effort,
he proceeded as before and reached the other bank.
The people of the village were astonished to see Sariputta, and they
asked how he could cross the stream where there was neither a bridge
nor a ferry. Sariputta replied: "I lived in ignorance until I heard
the voice of the Buddha. As I was anxious to hear the doctrine of
salvation, I crossed the river and I walked over its troubled waters
because I had faith. Faith. nothing else, enabled me to do so, and now
I am here in the bliss of the Master's presence."
The World-honored One added: "Sariputta, thou hast spoken well.
Faith like thine alone can save the world from the yawning gulf of
migration and enable men to walk dryshod to the other shore." And
the Blessed One urged to the villagers the necessity of ever advancing
in the conquest of sorrow and of casting off all shackles so as to
cross the river of worldliness and attain deliverance from death.
Hearing the words of the Tathagata, the villagers were filled with joy
and believing in the doctrines of the Blessed One embraced the five
rules and took refuge in his name.
THE SICK BHIKKHU
AN old bhikkhu of a surly disposition was afflicted with a loathsome
disease the sight and smell of which was so nauseating that no one
would come near him or help him in his distress. And it happened
that the World-honored One came to the vihara in which the unfortunate
man lay; hearing of the case he ordered warm water to be prepared
and went to the sick-room to administer unto the sores of the
patient with his own hand, saying to his disciples:
"The Tathagata has come into the world to befriend the poor, to
succor the unprotected, to nourish those in bodily affliction, both
the followers of the Dharma and unbelievers, to give sight to the
blind and enlighten the minds of the deluded, to stand up for the
rights of orphans as well as the aged, and in so doing to set an
example to others. This is the consummation of his work, and thus he
attains the great goal of life as the rivers that lose themselves in
The World-honored One administered unto the sick bhikkhu daily so
long as he stayed in that place. And the governor of the city came
to the Buddha to do him reverence and having heard of the service
which the Lord did in the vihara asked the Blessed One about the
previous existence of the sick monk, and the Buddha said:
"In days gone by there was a wicked king who used to extort from his
subjects all he could get; and he ordered one of his officers to lay
the lash on a man of eminence. The officer little thinking of the pain
he inflicted upon others, obeyed; but when the victim of the king's
wrath begged for mercy, he felt compassion and laid the whip lightly
upon him. Now the king was reborn as Devadatta, who was abandoned by
all his followers, because they were no longer willing to stand his
severity, and he died miserable and full of penitence. The officer
is the sick bhikkhu, who having often given offense to his brethren in
the vihara was left without assistance in his distress. The eminent
man, however, who was unjustly beaten and begged for mercy was the
Bodhisattva; he has been reborn as the Tathagata. It is now the lot of
the Tathagata to help the wretched officer as he had mercy on him."
And the World-honored One repeated these lines: "He who inflicts
pain on the gentle, or falsely accuses the innocent, will inherit
one of the ten great calamities. But he who has learned to suffer with
patience will be purified and will be the chosen instrument for the
alleviation of suffering."
The diseased bhikkhu on hearing these words turned to the Buddha,
confessed his ill-natured temper and repented, and with a heart
cleansed from error did reverence unto the Lord.
THE PATIENT ELEPHANT
WHILE the Blessed One was residing in the Jetavana, there was
householder living in Savatthi known to all his neighbors as patient
and kind, but his relatives were wicked and contrived a plot to rob
him. One day they came to the householder and by worrying him with all
kinds of threats took away a goodly portion of his property. He did
not go to court, nor did he complain, but tolerated with great
forbearance the wrongs he suffered. The neighbors wondered and began
to talk about it, and rumors of the affair reached the ears of the
brethren in Jetavana. While the brethren discussed the occurrence in
the assembly hall, the Blessed One entered and asked "What was the
topic of your conversation?" And they told him.
Said the Blessed One: "The time will come when the wicked
relatives will find their punishment. O brethren, this is not the
first time that this occurrence took place; it has happened before,"
and he told them a world-old tale: Once upon a time, when
Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisattva was born in the
Himalaya region as an elephant. He grew up strong and big, and
ranged the hills and mountains, the peaks and caves of the torturous
woods in the valleys. Once as he went he saw a pleasant tree, and took
his food, standing under it. Then some impertinent monkeys came down
out of the tree, and jumping on the elephant's back, insulted and
tormented him greatly; they took hold of his tusks, pulled his tail
and disported themselves, thereby causing him much annoyance. The
Bodhisattva, being full of patience, kindliness and mercy, took no
notice at all of their misconduct which the monkeys repeated again and
"One day the spirit that lived in the tree, standing upon the
tree-trunk, addressed the elephant saying, 'My lord elephant, why dost
thou put up with the impudence of these bad monkeys?' And he asked the
question in a couplet as follows:
"'Why do you patiently endure each freak
These mischievous and selfish monkeys wreak?'
"The Bodhisattva, on hearing this, replied, If, Tree sprite,
cannot endure these monkeys' ill treatment without abusing their
birth, lineage and persons, how can I walk in the eightfold noble
path? But these monkeys will do the same to others thinking them to be
like me. If they do it to any rogue elephant, he will punish them
indeed, and I shall be delivered both from their annoyance and the
guilt of having done harm to others.' Saying this he repeated
"If they will treat another one like me,
He will destroy them; and I shall be free.
"A few days after, the Bodhisattva went elsewhere, and another
elephant, a savage beast, came and stood in his place. The wicked
monkeys thinking him to be like the old one, climbed upon his back and
did as before. The rogue elephant seized the monkeys with his trunk,
threw them upon the ground, gored them with his tusk and trampled them
to mincemeat under his feet."
When the Master had ended this teaching, he declared the truths, and
identified the births, saying: "At that time the mischievous monkeys
were the wicked relatives of the good man, the rogue elephant was
the one who will punish them, but the virtuous noble elephant was
the Tathagata himself in a former incarnation."
After this discourse one of the brethren rose and asked leave to
propose a question and when the permission was granted he said: "I
have heard the doctrine that wrong should be met with wrong and the
evil doer should be checked by being made to suffer, for if this
were not done evil would increase and good would disappear. What shall
we do?" Said the Blessed One: "Nay, I will tell you You who have
left the world and have adopted this glorious faith of putting aside
selfishness, you shall not do evil for evil nor return hate for
hate. Neither think that you can destroy wrong by retaliating evil for
evil and thus increasing wrong. Leave the wicked to their fate and
their evil deeds will sooner or later in one way or another bring on
their own punishment." And the Tathagata repeated these stanzas:
"Who harms the man who does no harm,
Or strikes at him who strikes him not,
Shall soon some punishment incur
Which his own wickedness begot,-
"One of the gravest ills in life,
Either a loathsome dread disease,
Or sad old age, or loss of mind,
Or wretched pain without surcease,
"Or conflagration, loss of wealth;
Or of his nearest kin he shall
See some one die that's dear to him,
And then he'll be reborn in hell."
THE LAST DAYS
WHEN the Blessed One was residing on the mounted called Vulture's
Peak, near Rajagaha, Ajatasattu king of Magadha, who reigned in the
place of Bimbisara, planned an attack on the Vajjis, and he said to
Vassakara, his prime mister: "I will root out the Vajjis, mighty
though they be. I will destroy the Vajjis; I will bring them to
utter ruin! Come now, O Brahman, and go to the Blessed One; inquire in
my name for his health, and tell him my purpose. Bear carefully in
mind what the Blessed One may say, and repeat it to me, for the
Buddhas speak nothing untrue."
When Vassakara, the prime minister, had greeted the Blessed One
and delivered his message, the venerable Ananda stood behind the
Blessed One and fanned him, and the Blessed One said to him: "Hast
thou heard, Ananda, that the Vajjis hold full and frequent public
assemblies?" He replied, "Lord, so I have heard."
"So long, Ananda," said the Blessed One, "as the Vajjis hold these
full and frequent public assemblies, they may be expected not to
decline, but to prosper. So long as they meet together in concord,
so long as they honor their elders, so long as they respect womanhood,
so long as they remain religious, performing all proper rites, so long
as they extend the rightful protection, defense and support to the
holy ones, the Vajjis may be expected not to decline, but to prosper."
Then the Blessed One addressed Vassakara and said: "When I stayed, O
Brahman, at Vesali, I taught the Vajjis these conditions of welfare,
that so long as they should remain well instructed, so long as they
will continue in the right path, so long as they live up to the
precepts of righteousness, we could expect them not to decline, but to
As soon as the king's messenger had gone, the Blessed One had the
brethren, that were in the neighborhood of Rajagaha, assembled in
the service-hall and addressed them, saying: "I will teach you, O
bhikkhus, the conditions of the welfare of a community. Listen well,
and I will speak.
"So long, O bhikkhus, as the brethren hold full and frequent
assemblies, meeting in concord, rising in concord, and attending in
concord to the affairs of the Sangha; so long as they, O bhikkhus,
do not abrogate that which experience has proved to be good, and
introduce nothing except such things as have been carefully tested; so
long as their elders practice justice; so long as the brethren esteem,
revere, and support their elders, and hearken unto their words; so
long as the brethren are not under the influence of craving, but
delight in the blessings of religion, so that good and holy men
shall come to them and dwell among them in quiet; so long as the
brethren shall not be addicted to sloth and idleness; so long as the
brethren shall exercise themselves in the sevenfold higher wisdom of
mental activity, search after truth, energy, joy, modesty,
self-control, earnest contemplation, and equanimity of mind, so long
the Sangha may be expected to prosper. Therefore, O bhikkhus, be
full of faith, modest in heart, afraid of sin, anxious to learn,
strong in energy, active in mind, and full of wisdom.
THE Blessed One proceeded with a great company of the brethren
Nalanda; and there he stayed in a mango grove. Now the venerable
Sariputta came to the place where the Blessed One was, and having
saluted him, took his seat respectfully at his side, and said:
"Lord! such faith have I in the Blessed One, that methinks there never
has been, nor will there be, nor is there now any other, who is
greater or wiser than the Blessed One, that is to say, as regards
the higher wisdom."
Replied the Blessed One: "Grand and bold are the words of thy mouth,
Sariputta: verily, thou hast burst forth into a song of ecstasy!
Surely then thou hast known all the Blessed Ones who in the long
ages of the past have been holy Buddhas?" "Not so, O Lord!" said
And the Lord continued: "Then thou hast perceived all the Blessed
Ones who in the long ages of the future shall be holy Buddhas?" "Not
so, O Lord!"
"But at least then, O Sariputta, thou knowest me as the holy
Buddha now alive, and hast penetrated my mind." "Not even that, O
"Thou seest then, Sariputta, that thou knowest not the hearts of the
holy Buddhas of the past nor the hearts of those of the future. Why,
therefore, are thy words so grand and bold? Why burstest thou forth
into such a song of ecstasy?"
"O Lord! I have not the knowledge of the hearts of all the Buddhas
that have been and are to come, and now are. I only know the lineage
of the faith. Just as a king, Lord, might have a border city, strong
in its foundations, strong in its ramparts and with one gate only; and
the king might have a watchman there, clever, expert, and wise, to
stop all strangers and admit only friends. And on going over the
approaches all about the city, he might not be able so to observe
all the joints and crevices in the ramparts of that city as to know
where such a small creature as a cat could get out. That might well
be. Yet all living beings of larger size that entered or left the
city, would have to pass through that gate. Thus only is it, Lord,
that I know the lineage of the faith. I know that the holy Buddhas
of the past, putting away all lust, ill-will, sloth, pride, and doubt,
knowing all those mental faults which make men weak, training their
minds in the four kinds of mental activity, thoroughly exercising
themselves in the sevenfold higher wisdom, received the full
fruition of Enlightenment. And I know that the holy Buddhas of the
times to come will do the same. And I know that the Blessed One, the
holy Buddha of today, has done so now."
"Great is thy faith, O Sariputta," replied the Blessed One, "but
take heed that it be well grounded."
THE VISIT TO PATALIPUTTA
WHEN the Blessed One had stayed as long as convenient at Nalanda,
went to Pataliputta, the frontier town of Magadha; and when the
disciples at Pataliputta heard of his arrival, they invited him to
their village rest-house. And the Blessed One robed himself, took
his bowl and went with the brethren to the rest-house. There he washed
his feet, entered the hall, and seated himself against the center
pillar, with his face towards the east. The brethren, also, having
washed their feet, entered the hall, and took their seats round the
Blessed One, against the western wall, facing the east. And the lay
devotees of Pataliputta, having also washed their feet, entered the
hall, and took their seats opposite the Blessed One against the
eastern wall, facing towards the west.
Then the Blessed One addressed the lay-disciples of Pataliputta, and
he said: "Fivefold O householders, is the loss of the wrong-doer
through his want of rectitude. In the first place, the wrong-doer,
devoid of rectitude, falls into great poverty through sloth; in the
next place, his evil repute gets noised abroad; thirdly, whatever
society he enters, whether of Brahmans, nobles, heads of houses, or
samanas, he enters shyly and confusedly; fourthly, he is full of
anxiety when he dies; and lastly, on the dissolution of the body after
death, his mind remains in an unhappy state. Wherever his karma
continues, there will be suffering and woe. This, O householders, is
fivefold loss of the evil-doer!
"Fivefold, O householders, is the gain of the well-doer through
his practice of rectitude. In the first place the well doer, strong in
rectitude, acquires property through his industry; in the next
place, good reports of him are spread abroad; thirdly, whatever
society he enters, whether of nobles, Brahmans, heads of houses, or
members of the order, he enters with confidence and self-possession;
fourthly, he dies without anxiety; and, lastly, on the dissolution
of the body after death, his mind remains in a happy state. Wherever
his karma continues, there will be heavenly bliss and peace. This, O
householders, is the fivefold gain of the well doer." When the Blessed
One had taught the disciples, and incited them, and roused them, and
gladdened them far into the night with religious edification, he
dismissed them, saying, "The night is far spent, O householders. It is
time for you to do what ye deem most fit."
"Be it so, Lord!" answered the disciples of Pataliputta, and
rising from their seats, they bowed to the Blessed One, and keeping
him on their right hand as they passed him, they departed thence.
While the Blessed One stayed at Pataliputta, the king of Magadha
sent a messenger to the governor of Pataliputta to raise
fortifications for the security of the town. The Blessed One seeing
the laborers at work predicted the future greatness of the place,
saying: "The men who build the fortress act as if they had consulted
higher powers. For this city of Pataliputta will be a dwelling-place
of busy men and a center for the exchange of all kinds of goods. But
three dangers hang over Pataliputta, that of fire, that of water, that
When the governor heard of the prophecy of Pataliputta's future,
he greatly rejoiced and named the city-gate through which the Buddha
had gone towards the river Ganges, "The Gotama Gate." Meanwhile the
people living on the banks of the Ganges arrived in great numbers to
pay reverence to the Lord of the world; and many persons asked him
to do them the honor to cross over in their boats. But the Blessed One
considering the number of the boats and their beauty did not want to
show any partiality, and by accepting the invitation of one to
offend all the others. He therefore crossed the river without any
boat, signifying thereby that the rafts of asceticism and the gaudy
gondolas of religious ceremonies were not staunch enough to weather
the storms of samsara, while the Tathagata can walk dry-shod over
the ocean of worldliness. And as the city gate was called after the
name of the Tathagata so the people called this passage of the river
THE MIRROR OF TRUTH
THE Blessed One proceeded to the village Nadika with a great company
of brethren and there he stayed at the Brick Hall. And the venerable
Ananda went to the Blessed One and mentioning to him the names of
the brethren and sisters that had died, anxiously inquired about their
fate after death, whether they had been reborn in animals or in
hell, or as ghosts, or in any place of woe.
The Blessed One replied to Ananda and said: "Those who have died
after the complete destruction of the three bonds of lust, of
covetousness and of the egotistical cleaving to existence, need not
fear the state after death. They will not be reborn in a state of
suffering; their minds will not continue as a karma of evil deeds or
sin, but are assured of final salvation.
"When they die, nothing will remain of them but their good thoughts,
their righteous acts, and the bliss that proceeds from truth and
righteousness. As rivers must at last reach the distant main, so their
minds will be reborn in higher states of existence and continue to
be pressing on to their ultimate goal which is the ocean of truth, the
eternal peace of Nirvana. Men are anxious about death and their fate
after death; but consider, it is not at all strange, Ananda, that a
human being should die. However, that thou shouldst inquire about
them, and having heard the truth still be anxious about the dead, this
is wearisome to the Blessed One. I will, therefore, teach thee the
mirror of truth and let the faithful disciple repeat it:
"'Hell is destroyed for me, and rebirth as an animal, or a ghost, or
in any place of woe. I am converted; I am no longer liable to be
reborn in a state of suffering, and am assured of final salvation.'
"What, then, Ananda, is this mirror of truth? It is the
consciousness that the elect disciple is in this world possessed of
faith in the Buddha, believing the Blessed One to be the Holy One, the
Fully-enlightened One, wise, upright, happy, world-knowing, supreme,
the Bridler of men's wayward hearts, the Teacher of gods and men,
the blessed Buddha. It is further the consciousness that the
disciple is possessed of faith in the truth believing the truth to
have been proclaimed by the Blessed One, for the benefit of the world,
passing not away, welcoming all, leading to salvation, to which
through truth the wise will attain, each one by his own efforts.
"And, finally, it is the consciousness that the disciple is
possessed of faith in the order, believing in the efficacy of a
union among those men and women who are anxious to walk in the noble
eightfold path; believing this church of the Buddha, of the righteous,
the upright, the just, the law abiding, to be worthy of honor, of
hospitality, of gifts, and of reverence; to be the supreme
sowing-ground of merit for the world; to be possessed of the virtues
beloved by the good, virtues unbroken, intact, unspotted, unblemished,
virtues which make men truly free, virtues which are praised by the
wise, are untarnished by the desire of selfish aims, either now or
in a future life, or by the belief in the efficacy of outward acts,
and are conducive to high and holy thought. This is the mirror of
truth which teaches the straightest way to enlightenment which is
the common goal of all living creatures. He who possesses the mirror
of truth is free from fear; he will find comfort in the tribulations
of life, and his life will be a blessing to all his fellow-creatures."
THE COURTESAN AMBAPALI
THEN the Blessed One proceeded with a great number of brethren
Vesali, and he stayed at the grove of the courtesan Ambapali. And he
said to the brethren: "Let a brother, O bhikkhus, be mindful and
thoughtful. Let a brother, whilst in the world, overcome the grief
which arises from bodily craving, from the lust of sensations, and
from the errors of wrong reasoning. Whatever you do, act always in
full presence of mind. Be thoughtful in eating and drinking, in
walking or standing, in sleeping or waking, while talking or being
When the courtesan Ambapali heard that the Blessed One was staying
in her mango grove, she was exceedingly glad and went in a carriage as
far as the ground was passable for carriages. There she alighted and
thence proceeding to the place where the Blessed One was, she took her
seat respectfully at his feet on one side. As a prudent woman goes
forth to perform her religious duties, so she appeared in a simple
dress without any ornaments, yet beautiful to look upon. The Blessed
One thought to himself: "This woman moves in worldly circles and is
a favorite of kings and princes; yet is her heart calm and composed.
Young in years, rich, surrounded by pleasures, she is thoughtful and
steadfast. This, indeed, is rare in the world. Women, as a rule, are
scant in wisdom and deeply immersed in vanity; but she, although
living in luxury, has acquired the wisdom of a master, taking
delight in piety, and able to receive the truth in its completeness."
When she was seated, the Blessed One instructed, aroused, and
gladdened her with religious discourse. As she listened to the law,
her face brightened with delight. Then she rose and said to the
Blessed One: "Will the Blessed One do me the honor of taking his meal,
together with the brethren, at my house tomorrow?" And the Blessed One
gave, by silence, his consent.
Now, the Licchavi, a wealthy family of princely rank, hearing that
the Blessed One had arrived at Vesali and was staying at Ambapali's
grove, mounted their magnificent carriages, and proceeded with their
retinue to the place where the Blessed One was. The Licchavi were
gorgeously dressed in bright colors and decorated with costly
jewels. And Ambapali drove up against the young Licchavi, axle to
axle, wheel to wheel, and yoke to yoke, and the Licchavi said to
Ambapali, the courtesan: "How is it, Ambapali, that you drive up
against us thus?"
"My lords," said she, "I have just invited the Blessed One and his
brethren for their tomorrow's meal." And the princes replied:
"Ambapali! give up this meal to us for a hundred thousand."
"My lords, were you to offer all Vesali with its subject
territory, I would not give up so great an honor!"
Then the Licchavi went on to Ambapali's grove. When the Blessed
One saw the Licchavi approaching in the distance, he addressed the
brethren, and said: "O brethren, let those of the brethren who have
never seen the gods gaze upon this company of the Licchavi, for they
are dressed gorgeously, like immortals."
And when they had driven as far the ground was passable for
carriages, the Licchavi alighted and went on foot to the place where
the Blessed One was, taking their seats respectfully by his side.
And when they were thus seated, the Blessed One instructed, aroused,
and gladdened them with religious discourse. Then they addressed the
Blessed One and said: "Will the Blessed One do us the honor of
taking his meal, together with the brethren, at our palace tomorrow?"
"O Licchavi," said the Blessed One, I have promised to dine tomorrow
with Ambapali, the courtesan." Then the Licchavi, expressing their
approval of the words of the Blessed One, arose from their seats and
bowed down before the Blessed One, and, keeping him on their right
hand as they passed him, they departed thence; but when they came
home, they cast up their hands, saying: "A worldly woman has outdone
us; we have been left behind by a frivolous girl!"
At the end of the night Ambapali, the courtesan, made ready in her
mansion sweet rice and cakes, and on the next day announced through
a messenger the time to the Blessed One, saying, "The hour, Lord,
has come, and the meal is ready!" And the Blessed One robed himself
early in the morning, took his bowl, and went with the brethren to the
place where Ambapali's dwelling-house was; and when they had come
there they seated themselves on the seats prepared for them. Ambapali,
the courtesan, set the sweet rice and cakes before the order, with the
Buddha at their head, and waited upon them till they refused to take
When the Blessed One had finished his meal, the courtesan had a
low stool brought, and sat down at his side, and addressed the Blessed
One, and said: "Lord, I present this mansion to the order of bhikkhus,
of which the Buddha is the chief." And the Blessed One accepted the
gift; and after instructing, arousing, and gladdening her with
religious edification, he rose from his seat and departed thence.
THE BUDDHA'S FAREWELL
WHEN the Blessed One had remained as long as he wished at Ambapali's
grove, he went to Beluva, near Vesali. There the Blessed One addressed
the brethren, and said: "O mendicants, take up your abode for the
rainy season round about Vesali, each one according to the place where
his friends and near companions may live. I shall enter upon the rainy
season here at Beluva."
When the Blessed One had thus entered upon the rainy season there
fell upon him a dire sickness and sharp pains came upon him even
unto death. But the Blessed One, mindful and self-possessed, bore
his ailments without complaint. Then this thought occurred to the
Blessed. It would not be right for me to pass away from life without
addressing the disciples, without taking leave of the order. Let me
now, by a strong effort of the will, subdue this sickness, and keep my
hold on life till the allotted time have come." And the Blessed One by
a strong effort of the will subdued the sickness, and kept his hold on
life till the time he fixed upon should come. And the sickness abated.
Thus the Blessed One began to recover; and when he had quite got rid
of the sickness, he went out from the monastery, and sat down on a
seat spread out in the open air. And the venerable Ananda, accompanied
by many other disciples, approached where the Blessed One was, saluted
him, and taking a seat respectfully on one side, said: "'I have
beheld, Lord, how the Blessed One was in health, and I have beheld how
the Blessed One had to suffer. And though at the sight of the sickness
of the Blessed One my body became weak as a creeper, and the horizon
became dim to me, and my faculties were no longer clear, yet
notwithstanding I took some little comfort from the thought that the
Blessed One would not pass away from existence until at least he had
left instructions as touching the order."
The Blessed One addressed Ananda in behalf of the order, saying:
"What, then, Ananda, does the order expect of me? I have preached
the truth without making any distinction between doctrine hidden or
revealed; for in respect of the truth, Ananda, the Tathagata has no
such thing as the closed fist of a teacher, who keeps some things
"Surely, Ananda, should there be any one who harbor the thought, "It
is I who will lead the brotherhood,' or, 'The order is dependent
upon me,' he should lay down instructions in any matter concerning the
order. Now the Tathagata, Ananda, thinks not that it is he who
should lead the brotherhood, or that the order is dependent upon
him. Why, then, should the Tathagata leave instructions in any
matter concerning the order?
"I am now grown old, O Ananda, and full of years; my journey is
drawing to its close, I have reached the sum of my days, I am
turning eighty years of age. Just as a wornout cart can not be made to
move along without much difficulty, so the body of the Tathagata can
only be kept going with much additional care. It is only when the
Tathagata, Ananda, ceasing to attend to any outward thing, becomes
plunged in that devout meditation of heart which is concerned with
no bodily object, it is only then that the body of the Tathagata is at
"Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on
yourselves, and do not rely on external help. Hold fast to the truth
as a lamp. Seek salvation alone in the truth. Look not for
assistance to any one besides yourselves.
"And how, Ananda, can a brother be a lamp unto himself, rely on
himself only and not on any external help, holding fast to the truth
as his lamp and seeking salvation in the truth alone, looking not
for assistance to any one besides himself? Herein, O Ananda, let a
brother, as he dwells in the body, so regard the body that he, being
strenuous, thoughtful, and mindful, may, whilst in the world, overcome
the grief which arises from the body's cravings. While subject to
sensations let him continue so to regard the sensations that he, being
strenuous, thoughtful, and mindful, may, whilst in the world, overcome
the grief which arises from the sensations. And so, also, when he
thinks or reasons, or feels, let him so regard his thoughts that being
strenuous, thoughtful and mindful he may, whilst in the world,
overcome the grief which arises from the craving due to ideas, or to
reasoning, or to feeling.
"Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall be lamps unto
themselves, relying upon themselves only and not relying upon any
external help, but holding fast to the truth as their lamp, and
seeking their salvation in the truth alone, and shall not look for
assistance to any one besides themselves, it is they, Ananda, among my
bhikkhus, who shall reach the very topmost height! But they must be
anxious to learn."
THE BUDDHA ANNOUNCES HIS DEATH
SAID the Tathagata to Ananda: "In former years, Ananda, Mara,
Evil One, approached the holy Buddha three times to tempt him. And
now, Ananda, Mara, the Evil One, came again today to the place where I
was, and, standing beside me, addressed me in the same words as he did
when I was resting under the shepherd's Nigrodha tree on the bank of
the Neranjara River: 'Be greeted, thou Holy One. Thou hast attained
the highest bliss and it is time for thee to enter into the final
Nirvana.'-And when Mara had thus spoken, Ananda, I answered him and
said: 'Make thyself happy, O wicked one; the final extinction of the
Tathagata shall take place before long."
The venerable Ananda addressed the Blessed One and said: "Vouchsafe,
Lord, to remain with us, O Blessed One I for the good and the
happiness of the great multitudes, out of pity for the world, for
the good and the gain of mankind!" Said the Blessed One: "Enough
now, Ananda, beseech not the Tathagata!"
And again, a second time, the venerable Ananda besought the
Blessed One in the same words. He received from the Blessed One the
same reply. And again, the third time, the venerable Ananda besought
the Blessed One to live longer; and the Blessed One said: "Hast thou
faith, Ananda?" Said Ananda: "I have, my Lord!"
The Blessed One, seeing the quivering eyelids of Ananda, read the
deep grief in the heart of his beloved disciple, and he asked again:
"Hast thou, indeed, faith, Ananda?" And Ananda said: "I have faith, my
Then the Blessed One continued: "If thou hast faith, Ananda in the
wisdom of the Tathagata, why, then, Ananda, dost thou trouble the
Tathagata even until the third time? Have I not formerly declared to
you that it is in the very nature of all compound things that they
must be dissolved again? We must separate ourselves from all things
near and dear to us, and must leave them. How then, Ananda, can it
be possible for me to remain, since everything that is born, or
brought into being, and organized, contains within itself the inherent
necessity of dissolution? How, then, can it be possible that this body
of mine should not be dissolved? No such condition can exist! And this
mortal existence, O Ananda, has been relinquished, cast away,
renounced, rejected, and abandoned by the Tathagata."
And the Blessed One said to Ananda: "Go now, Ananda, and assemble in
the Service Hall such of the brethren as reside in the neighborhood of
Then the Blessed One proceeded to the Service Hall, and sat down
there on the mat spread out for him. And when he was seated, the
Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said: "O brethren, ye to
whom the truth has been made known, having thoroughly made
yourselves masters of it, practice it, meditate upon it, and spread it
abroad, in order that pure religion may last long and be
perpetuated, in order that it may continue for the good and
happiness of the great multitudes, out of pity for the world, and to
the good and gain of all living beings! Star-gazing and astrology,
forecasting lucky or unfortunate events by signs, prognosticating good
or evil, all these are things forbidden. He who lets his heart go
loose without restraint shall not attain Nirvana; therefore, must we
hold the heart in check, and retire from worldly excitements and
seek tranquility of mind. Eat your food to satisfy your hunger, and
drink to satisfy your thirst. Satisfy the necessities of life like the
butterfly that sips the flower, without destroying its fragrance or
its texture. It is through not understanding and grasping the four
truths, O brethren, that we have gone astray so long and wandered in
this weary path of transmigrations, both you and I, until we have
found the truth. Practice the earnest meditations I have taught you.
Continue in the great struggle against sin. Walk steadily in the roads
of saintship. Be strong in moral powers. Let the organs of your
spiritual sense be quick. When the seven kinds of wisdom enlighten
your mind, you will find the noble, eightfold path that leads to
"Behold, O brethren, the final extinction of the Tathagata will take
place before long. I now exhort you, saying: All component things must
grow old and be dissolved again. Seek ye for that which is
permanent, and work out your salvation with diligence."
CHUNDA, THE SMITH
THE Blessed One went to Pava. When Chunda, the worker in metals,
heard that the Blessed One had come to Pava and was staying in his
mango grove, he came to the Buddha and respectfully invited him and
the brethren to take their meal at his house. And Chunda prepared
rice-cakes and a dish of dried boar's meat.
When the Blessed One had eaten the food prepared by Chunda, the
worker in metals, there fell upon him a dire sickness, and sharp
pain came upon him even unto death. But the Blessed One, mindful and
self-possessed, bore it without complaint. And the Blessed One
addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: "Come, Ananda, let us go
on to Kusinara."
On his way the Blessed One grew tired, and he went aside from the
road to rest at the foot of a tree, and said: "Fold the robe, I pray
thee, Ananda, and spread it out for me. I am weary, Ananda, and must
rest awhile!" "Be it so, Lord!" said the venerable Ananda; and he
spread out the robe folded fourfold. The Blessed One seated himself,
and when he was seated he addressed the venerable Ananda, and said:
"Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda. I am thirsty, Ananda, and
When he had thus spoken, the venerable Ananda said to the Blessed
One: "But just now, Lord, five hundred carts have gone across the
brook and have stirred the water; but a river, O Lord, is not far off.
Its water is clear and pleasant, cool and transparent, and it is
easy to get down to it. the Blessed One may both drink water and
cool his limbs."
A second time the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda,
saying: "Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am thirsty,
Ananda, and would drink."
And a second time the venerable Ananda said: "Let us go to the
Then the third time the Blessed One addressed the venerable
Ananda, and said: "Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am
thirsty, Ananda and would drink." "Be it so, Lord!" said the venerable
Ananda in assent to the Blessed One; and, taking a bowl, he went
down to the streamlet. And lo! the streamlet, which, stirred up by
wheels, had become muddy, when the venerable Ananda came up to it,
flowed clear and bright and free from all turbidity. And he thought:
"How wonderful, how marvelous is the great might and power of the
Ananda brought the water in the bowl to the Lord, saying: "Let the
Blessed One take the bowl. Let the Happy One drink the water. Let
the Teacher of men and gods quench his thirst. Then the Blessed One
drank of the water.
Now, at that time a man of low caste, named Pukkusa, a young
Malla, a disciple of Alara Kalama, was passing along the high road
from Kusinara to Pava. Pukkusa, the young Malla, saw the Blessed One
seated at the foot of a tree. On seeing him he went up to the place
where the Blessed One was, and when he had come there, he saluted
the Blessed One and took his seat respectfully on one side. Then the
Blessed One instructed, edified, and gladdened Kukkusa, the young
Malla, with religious discourse.
Aroused and gladdened by the words of the Blessed One, Pukkusa,
the young Malla, addressed a certain man who happened to pass by,
and said: "Fetch me, I pray thee, my good man, two robes of cloth of
gold, burnished and ready for wear."
"Be it so, sir!" said that man in assent to Pukkusa, the young
Malla; and he brought two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and
ready for wear.
The Malla Pukkusa presented the two robes of cloth of gold,
burnished and ready for wear, to the Blessed One, saying: "Lord, these
two robes of burnished cloth of gold are ready for wear. May the
Blessed One show me favor and accept them at my hands!"
The Blessed One said: "Pukkusa, robe me in one, and Ananda in the
other one." And the Tathagata's body appeared shining like a flame,
and he was beautiful above all expression.
The venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: "How wonderful a thing
is it, Lord, and how marvelous, that the color of the skin of the
Blessed One should be so clear, so exceedingly bright! When I placed
this robe of burnished cloth of gold on the body of the Blessed One,
lo! it seemed as if it had lost its splendor!"
The Blessed One said: "There are two occasions on which a
Tathagata's appearance becomes clear and exceeding bright. In the
night, Ananda, in which a Tathagata attains to the supreme and perfect
insight, and in the night in which he passes finally away in that
utter passing away which leaves nothing whatever of his earthly
existence to remain.
And the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: "Now
it may happen, Ananda, that some one should stir up remorse in Chunda,
the smith, by saying: 'It is evil to thee, Chunda, and loss to thee,
that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from thy
provision.' Any such remorse, Ananda, in Chunda, the smith, should
be checked by saying: 'It is good to thee, Chunda, and gain to thee,
that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from thy
provision. From the very mouth of the Blessed One, O Chunda, have I
heard, from his own mouth have I received this saying, "These two
offerings of food are of equal fruit and of much greater profit than
any other: the offerings of food which a Tathagata accepts when he has
attained perfect enlightenment and when he passes away by the utter
passing away in which nothing whatever of his earthly existence
remains behind-these two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of
equal profit, and of much greater fruit and much greater profit than
any other. There has been laid up by Chunda, the smith, a karma
redounding to length of life, redounding to good birth, redounding
to good fortune, redounding to good fame, redounding to the
inheritance of heaven and of great power."' In this way, Ananda,
should be checked any remorse in Chunda, the smith."
Then the Blessed One, perceiving that death was near, uttered
these words: "He who gives away shall have real gain. He who subdues
himself shall be free, he shall cease to be a slave of passions. The
righteous man casts off evil; and by rooting out lust, bitterness, and
illusion, do we reach Nirvana."
THE Blessed One proceeded with a great company of the brethren
the sala grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of Kusinara on the
further side of the river Hirannavati, and when he had arrived he
addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: "Make ready for me, I pray
you, Ananda, the couch with its head to the north, between the twin
sala trees. I am weary, Ananda, and wish to lie down."
"Be it so, Lord!" said the venerable Ananda, and he spread a couch
with its head to the north, between the twin sala trees. And the
Blessed One laid himself down, and he was mindful and self-possessed.
Now, at that time the twin sala trees were full of bloom with
flowers out of season; and heavenly songs came wafted from the
skies, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And
Ananda was filled with wonder that the Blessed One was thus honored.
But the Blessed One said: "Not by such events, Ananda, is the
Tathagata rightly honored, held sacred, or revered. But the devout
man, who continually fulfills the greater and lesser duties, walking
according to the precepts, it is who rightly honors, holds sacred, and
reveres the Tathagata with the worthiest homage. Therefore, O
Ananda, be ye constant in the fulfillment of the greater and of the
lesser duties, and walk according to the precepts; thus, Ananda,
will ye honor the Master."
Then the venerable Ananda went into the vihara, and stood leaning
against the doorpost, 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-who is so kind!"
Now, the Blessed One called the brethren, and said: "Where, O
brethren, is Ananda?" One of the brethren went and called Ananda.
And Ananda came and said to the Blessed One: "Deep darkness reigned
for want of wisdom; the world of sentient creatures was groping for
want of light; then the Tathagata lit up the lamp of wisdom, and now
it will be extinguished again, ere he has brought it out."
The Blessed One said to the venerable Ananda, as he sat there by his
side: "Enough, Ananda Let not thy self 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
separate from them and leave them? The foolish man conceives the
idea of 'self,' the wise man sees there is no ground on which to build
the idea of 'self,' thus he has a right conception of the world and
well concludes that all compounds amassed by sorrow will be
dissolved again, but the truth will remain. Why should I preserve this
body of flesh, when the body of the excellent law will endure? I am
resolved; having accomplished my purpose and attended to the work
set me, I look for rest I For a long time, Ananda, thou hast been very
near to me by thoughts and acts of such love as is beyond all measure.
Thou hast done well, Ananda I Be earnest in effort and thou too
shalt soon be free from evils, from sensuality, from selfishness, from
delusion, and from ignorance!"
Ananda, suppressing his tears, said to the Blessed One: "Who shall
teach us when thou art gone?"
And the Blessed One replied: "I am not the first Buddha who came
upon earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will
arise in the world, a Holy One, a supremely enlightened One, endowed
with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe, an
incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and mortals. He will
reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will
preach his religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax,
and glorious at the goal, in the spirit and in the letter. He will
proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure; such as I now
Ananda said: "How shall we know him?" The Blessed One said: "He will
be known as Metteyya, which means 'he whose name is kindness.'"
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.
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; while 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
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 do Tathagatas appear in the
world, the holy Buddhas.' Now it is said that today 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
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: "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."
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 egg-shell 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 realized?" 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
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."
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 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
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."
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.
WHEN the Blessed One had passed away into Nirvana, the disciples
came together and consulted what to do in order to keep the Dharma
pure and uncorrupted by heresies.
Upali rose, saying: "Our great Master used to say to the brethren:
'O bhikkhus! after my final entrance into Nirvana you must reverence
and obey the law. Regard the law as your master. The law is like
unto a light that shines in the darkness, pointing out the way; it
is also like unto a precious jewel to gain which you must shun no
trouble, and be ready to bring any sacrifice; even, should it be
needed, your own lives. Obey the Dharma which I have revealed to
you; follow it carefully and if as in no way different from myself.'
Such were the words of the Blessed One. The law, accordingly, which
the Buddha has left us as a precious inheritance has now become the
visible body of the Tathagata. Let us, therefore, revere it and keep
it sacred. For what is the use of erecting dagobas for relics, if we
neglect the spirit of the Master's teachings?"
Then Anuruddha arose and said: "Let us bear in mind, O brethren,
that Gotama Siddhattha has revealed the truth to us. He was the Holy
One and the Perfect One and the Blessed One, because the eternal truth
had taken abode in him. The Tathagata taught us that the truth existed
before he was born into this world, and will exist after he has
entered into Nirvana. The Tathagata said: 'The truth is omnipresent
and eternal, endowed with excellencies innumerable, above all human
nature, and ineffable in its holiness.'
"Now let us bear in mind that not this or that law which is revealed
to us in the Dhanna is the Buddha, but the entire truth, the truth
which is eternal, omnipresent, immutable, and most excellent. Many
regulations of the Sangha are temporary; they were prescribed
because they suited the occasion and were needed for some transient
emergency. The truth, however, is not temporary. The truth is not
arbitrary nor a matter of opinion, but can be investigated, and he who
earnestly searches for the truth will find it. The truth is hidden
to the blind, but he who has the mental eye sees the truth. The
truth is Buddha's essence, and the truth will remain the ultimate
standard. Let us, then, revere the truth; let us inquire into the
truth and state it, and let us obey the truth. For the truth is Buddha
our Master, our Teacher."
And Kassapa rose and said: "Truly thou hast spoken well, O brother
Anuruddha. Neither is there any conflict of opinion on the meaning
of our religion. For the Blessed One possesses three personalities and
each of them is of equal importance to us. There is the Dharma Kaya.
There is the Nirmana Kaya. There is the Sambhoga Kaya. Buddha is the
all-excellent truth, eternal, omnipresent, and immutable: this is
the Sambhoga Kaya which is in a state of perfect bliss. Buddha is
the all-loving teacher assuming the shape of the beings whom he
teaches: this is the Nirmana Kaya, his apparitional body. Buddha is
the all-blessed dispensation of religion; he is the spirit of the
Sangha and the meaning of the commands left us in his sacred word, the
Dharma: this is the Dharma Kaya, the body of the most excellent law.
"If Buddha had not appeared to us as Gotama Sakyamuni, how could
we have the sacred traditions of his doctrine? And if the
generations to come did not have the sacred traditions preserved in
the Sangha, how could they know anything of the great Sakyamuni? And
neither we nor others would know anything about the most excellent
truth which is eternal, omnipresent, and immutable. Let us then keep
sacred and revere the traditions; let us keep sacred the memory of
Gotama Sakyamuni, so that people may find the truth."
Then the brethren decided to convene a synod to lay down the
doctrines of the Blessed One, to collate the sacred writings, and to
establish a canon which should serve as a source of instruction for