Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Long Discourses

2. The Final Journey

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha was staying on Mount Gṛdhrakūṭa at Rājagṛha. He was accompanied by a group of 1,250 great monks.

Varṣākāra’s Visit

2. It was then that the king of Magadha, Ajātaśatru, wanted to attack Vṛji. The King thought to himself, “Although their people may be brave and fierce, it won’t be enough to stop me from seizing that country.”

3. King Ajātaśatru then summoned his priestly great minister Varṣākāra and told him, “Go to the Bhagavān on Mount Gṛdhrakūṭa and bow at the Bhagavān’s feet in my name. Ask about the Bhagavān’s health: ‘Are you getting around easily? Have your travels been difficult?’ Then also say to the Bhagavān, ‘The people of Vṛji are independent and brave, and the population is fierce. They won’t submit to me, so I want to attack them. What instruction might the Bhagavān have?’ If he has some instruction, then remember it well. Don’t forget any of it. Report to me the Tathāgata’s words just as you heard them, for they are never false.’”

4. The minister Varṣākāra accepted the King’s instructions and rode a precious chariot to Mount Gṛdhrakūṭa. Reaching a place to stop, he dismounted and proceeded on foot until he reached the Bhagavān. When they were done exchanging greetings, he sat to one side. He said to the Bhagavān, “The king of Magadha, Ajātaśatru, bows his head at the Buddha’s feet and respectfully and politely asks, ‘Are you getting around easily? Have your travels been difficult?’ He also says to the Bhagavān, ‘The people of Vṛji are independent and brave, and the population is fierce. They won’t submit to me, so I want to attack them. What instruction might the Bhagavān have?’”

5. At the time, Ānanda was standing behind the Bhagavān fanning him. The Buddha asked Ānanda, “Have you heard that the people of Vṛji frequently hold meetings and discussions on what’s proper?”

He replied, “I’ve heard that.”

6. The Buddha said to Ānanda, “If they do that, then the elders and the youth will be in accord, and that’ll make them flourish. Their country will be safe for a long time. They’ll be impossible to conquer.

7. “Ānanda, have you heard that the people of Vṛji are in accord with the nobility and ministers? Do those in high and low stations respect each other?”

He replied, “I’ve heard that.”

8. “Ānanda, if they do that, then the elders and the youth will be in accord, and that’ll make them flourish. Their country will be safe for a long time. They’ll be impossible to conquer.

9. “Ānanda, have you heard that the people of Vṛji are respectful of the law, clear about what to avoid, and don’t violate the rules of propriety?”

He replied, “I’ve heard that.”

10. “Ānanda, if they do that, then the elders and the youth will be in accord, and that’ll make them flourish. Their country will be safe for a long time. They’ll be impossible to conquer.

11. “Ānanda, have you heard that the people of Vṛji are dutiful to their parents and respectfully follow their teachers and elders?”

He replied, “I’ve heard that.”

12. “Ānanda, if they do that, then the elders and the youth will be in accord, and that’ll make them flourish. Their country will be safe for a long time. They’ll be impossible to conquer.

13. “Ānanda, have you heard that the people of Vṛji venerate their ancestral shrines and pay their respects to the spirits?”

He replied, “I’ve heard that.”

14. “Ānanda, if they do that, then the elders and the youth will be in accord, and that’ll make them flourish. Their country will be safe for a long time. They’ll be impossible to conquer.

15. “Ānanda, have you heard that the people of Vṛji are honest, pure, and undefiled inside their households, and their words are never perverse even when joking?”

He replied, “I’ve heard that.”

16. “Ānanda, if they do that, then the elders and the youth will be in accord, and that’ll make them flourish. Their country will be safe for a long time. They’ll be impossible to conquer.

17. “Ānanda, have you heard that the people of Vṛji traditionally serve ascetics, respect those who observe the precepts, look up to them, protect them, and support them so that they are never negligent?”

He replied, “I’ve heard that.”

18. “Ānanda, if they do that, then the elders and the youth will be in accord, and that’ll make them flourish. Their country will be safe for a long time. They’ll be impossible to conquer.”

19. Varṣākāra then said to the Buddha, “If the people of that country were to practice just one of those principles, they couldn’t be schemed against. How would it be if they have all seven? I’d like to take my leave now; I have many duties of state.”

The Buddha said, “It’s up to you to decide when to go.”

20. Varṣākāra then rose from his seat, circled the Buddha three times, saluted him, and departed.

How to Ensure the Teaching’s Growth

21. Not long after he left, the Buddha told Ānanda, “Go and tell all the monks here in Rājagṛha to assembly at the meeting hall.”

22. Ānanda replied, “Very well,” then he went to the city of Rājagṛha and called all the monks to assembly in the meeting hall. He then [returned and] said to the Bhagavān, “The monks have assembled. It’s up to the sage to decide when to go.”

23. The Bhagavān then rose from his seat and went to the Dharma meeting hall. He prepared a seat there and sat down. He then addressed the monks, “I will give a discourse on seven principles of not declining. Listen closely! Listen closely, and consider it well.”

The monks said to the Buddha, “Very well, Bhagavān! We’d be glad to hear it.”

24. The Buddha told the monks, “These are seven principles of not declining: First, if we frequently hold meetings and discuss the proper meaning, elders and juniors will be in accord, and the teaching will be indestructible.

25. “Second, if those in high and low positions are in harmony, respectful, and don’t contradict each other, elders and juniors will be in accord, and the teaching will be indestructible.

26. “Third, if we uphold the law, are clear about what to avoid, and don’t violate the rules, elders and juniors will be in accord, and the teaching will be indestructible.

27. “Fourth, if a monk has the ability to protect the community, has many associates, and pays his respects as he should, elders and juniors will be in accord, and the teaching will be indestructible.

28. “Fifth, if we are careful with our minds and dutiful to our leaders, elders and juniors will be in accord, and the teaching will be indestructible.

29. “Sixth, if we purely cultivate the religious life and avoid situations of desire, elders and juniors will be in accord, and the teaching will be indestructible.

30. “Seventh, if we put others first and ourselves after them and don’t covet fame or profit, elders and juniors will be in accord, and the teaching will be indestructible.”

31. The Buddha told the monks, “There’s another seven things that will make the teaching grow and not diminish. [What are the seven?] First, if we enjoy few duties and don’t like doing many things, the teaching will grow and not diminish. Second, if we enjoy silence and don’t like much talk … Third, if we’re seldom sleepy and don’t have any gloominess … Fourth, if we don’t keep company or talk about pointless things … Fifth, if we don’t praise ourselves for virtues we don’t have … Sixth, if we don’t associate with bad people or make them our companions … Seventh, if we’re happy living alone in quiet places in mountains and forests… Thus, monks, the teaching then will grow and not diminish.”

32. The Buddha told the monks, “There’s another seven principles that will make the teaching grow and not diminish. What are the seven? First, have faith in the Tathāgata, Arhat, and Perfectly Awakened One who’s been given the ten epithets. Second, be conscientious and ashamed of one’s failings. Third, be modest and embarrassed by bad behavior. Fourth, be well-versed in and remember what’s good in the beginning, middle, and end, that’s profound in content and expression, that’s pure and undefiled, and that perfects the religious life. Fifth, diligently practice asceticism, cease doing what’s bad, cultivate what’s good, and don’t abandon that effort. Sixth, remember and don’t forget what’s been learned in the past. Seventh, cultivate wisdom, recognize the law of birth and cessation, head for the noble goal, and end the source of suffering. Thus, the teaching will grow and not diminish with these seven principles.”

33. The Buddha told the monks, “There’s another seven principles that will make the teaching grow and not diminish. What are the seven? First, respect the Buddha. Second, respect the Dharma. Third, respect the Saṅgha. Fourth, respect the precepts. Fifth, respect samādhi. Sixth, be in respectful accord with your father and mother. Seventh, respect carefulness. Thus, the teaching will grow and not diminish with these seven principles.”

34. The Buddha told the monks, “There’s another seven principles that will make the teaching grow and not diminish. What are the seven? First, observe the impurities of the body. Second, observe the impurities of food. Third, don’t be happy with the world. Fourth, always be mindful of the idea of death. Fifth, [be mindful of] the idea that what arises is impermanent. Sixth, [be mindful of] the idea that impermanence is painful. Seventh, [be mindful of] the idea that what’s painful is not self. Thus, the teaching will grow and not diminish with these seven principles.”

35. The Buddha told the monks, “There’s another seven principles that will make the teaching grow and not diminish. What are the seven? First, cultivate the awakening factor of mindfulness in quietude, without desire, and escape to the unconditioned. Second, cultivate the awakening factor of [discriminating] the teaching … Third, cultivate the awakening factor of effort … Fourth, cultivate the awakening factor of joy … Fifth, cultivate the awakening factor of mildness … Sixth, cultivate the awakening factor of samādhi … Seventh, cultivate the awakening factor of equanimity. Thus, the teaching will grow and not diminish with these seven principles.

36. The Buddha told the monks, “There’s six principles of not declining that will make the teaching grow and not diminish. What are the six? First, always be kind with physical actions and don’t harm sentient beings. Second, be benevolent when expressing oneself and don’t use harsh words. Third, have mindful and kind thoughts and don’t harbor harmful ones. Fourth, get support in pure ways and share it with the community equitably. Fifth, observe the noble precepts without missing any of them and don’t have defilements, and one’s samādhi will sure be undisturbed. Sixth, see the noble path as the way to reach the end of suffering. Thus, the teaching will grow and not diminish with these six principles.”

37. The Buddha told the monks, “There’s another six principles of not declining that will make the teaching grow and not diminish. [What are the six?] First, remember the Buddha. Second, remember the Dharma. Third, remember the Saṅgha. Fourth, remember the precepts. Fifth, remember generosity. Sixth, remember the gods. Cultivating these six recollections, the teaching will grow and not diminish.”

At the Bamboo Park

38. After staying in Rājagṛha for as long as was fitting, the Bhagavān told Ānanda, “All of you, get ready. I’m going to visit the Bamboo Park.”

39. Ānanda replied, “Very well,” prepared his robe and bowl, and followed the Bhagavān with the large assembly. They took the road from Magadha and arrived at the Bamboo Park next.

40. He went up into the hall there and sat down with the monks, giving them a discourse on the precepts, samādhi, and wisdom: “Cultivating precepts and obtaining samādhi wins a great reward. Cultivating samādhi and obtaining wisdom wins a great reward. Cultivating wisdom and purifying the mind wins complete liberation. With the end of the three contaminants, which are the contaminants of desire, existence, and ignorance, the knowledge of liberation arises after one is liberated: ‘My births and deaths have been ended, the religious life has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I won’t be subject to a later existence.’”

At Pāṭaliputra

41. After staying at the Bamboo Park for as long as was fitting, the Bhagavān told Ānanda, “All of you, get ready. I’m going to visit Pāṭaliputra.”

42. Ānanda replied, “Very well,” prepared his robe and bowl, and followed the Bhagavān with the large assembly. They took the road from Magadha and arrived at the city Pāṭaliputra next. They sat down under the pāṭali trees there.

43. The faithful laymen there noticed the Buddha and the large assembly approach from afar and sit under the pāṭali trees when they arrived. The laymen came out of the city and spotted the Bhagavān there under the trees. He looked handsome and upright with peaceful and settled faculties. He was the most well-behaved [person they’d seen]. Like a great nāga in clear water without any dirt and was adorned with the thirty-two signs and eighty excellent features. They rejoiced upon seeing him and made their way to the Buddha. They bowed their heads at his feet and withdrew to sit to one side.

44. The Bhagavān then gradually taught them the Dharma, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting them. Those pure laymen who listened to the Buddha teach the Dharma said, “I would like to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and noble Saṅgha. Please let the Bhagavān have compassion and permit us to become upāsakas. From now on, we won’t kill, steal, engage in sex, lie, or drink alcohol. We’ll uphold the precepts and won’t forget them. We’d also like to provide support tomorrow. Please let the Bhagavān and his large assembly have compassion and allow us to take care of you.”

45. The Bhagavān then silently gave his consent. Seeing the Buddha remain silent, those laymen rose from their seats, circled the Buddha three times, bowed, and returned home. They quickly set up a large residence hall for the Tathāgata and arranged the dwelling places, sweeping, washing, burning incense, and preparing precious seats. Having arranged and provided this, they returned and said to the Bhagavān, “We’ve prepared everything. It’s up to the noble ones to decide when to go.”

46. The Bhagavān then rose from his seat, put on his robe, picked up his bowl, and went to that meeting hall with the large assembly. They washed their hands and feet, then they went into the building and sat down. The monks sat to the right, and the laymen sat to the left.

47. The Bhagavān then addressed the laymen, “Ordinary people who break the precepts will decline in five ways. What are the five? First, they won’t get the wealth that they want. Second, what they’ve managed to acquire will decline daily. Third, the community where they go to live won’t respect them. Fourth, a bad reputation and insults about them will be heard everywhere. Fifth, they’ll go to Hell when their bodies break up and their lives end.”

48. He also told the pure laymen, “Ordinary people who observe the precepts have five virtues. What are the five? First, they easily acquire the things they seek as they wish. Second, their property increases and doesn’t diminish. Third, people respect and like them wherever they go. Fourth, a good reputation and compliments about them are heard everywhere. Fifth, they’ll be born up in heaven when their bodies break up and their lives end.”

49. Halfway through the night, he told the laymen that it would a good time for them return home. The laymen accepted the Buddha’s instruction, circling him three times and bowing at his feet before leaving.

50. When the night ended and the first light of dawn appeared, the Bhagavān went to a quiet place. With his clear and penetrating heavenly eye, he saw great heavenly spirits taking up individual residences on earth, and he saw middling and lesser spirits were taking up their residences, too. The Bhagavān returned to the meeting hall, prepared a seat, and sat down. Though he knew the answer, he asked Ānanda, “Who is building this city, Pāṭaliputra?”

51. Ānanda said to the Buddha, “The minister Varṣākāra is building it as a defense against the Vṛji.”

52. The Buddha told Ānanda, “The builders of this city have correctly ascertained what the gods want. When the night ended and the first light of dawn appeared, I went to a quiet place. With the heavenly eye, I saw great heavenly spirits taking individual residences on earth, and I saw that middling spirits and lesser spirits were taking up their residences, too. Ānanda, you should know that the people who live where the great heavenly spirits take up residence on earth will be happy and prosperous. Middling people will live where the middling spirits take up residence, and lesser people will live where the lesser spirits take up residence. They each will live according to whether their virtues are many or few.

53. “Ānanda, noble people live here, and merchants gather here. The country’s laws are true, and there isn’t any fraud. This city is the greatest, while others in the region are in decline and can’t destroy it. If it were to be destroyed in the future, it would require three conditions: First is a great flood. Second is a great fire. Third, it would take both civilized and barbaric men to destroy this city.”

54. The laymen of Pāṭaliputra had prepared offerings during the night. They then went to the Buddha and said, “Meals are fully prepared. It’s up to the sage to decide when to go.” The laymen then served the meals with their own hands, and they cleaned up when the meals were finished. Afterward, they brought out small seats and sat in front of the Buddha.

55. The Bhagavān then instructed them. “Today, you have venerable sages living here. Many people observe precepts and purely cultivate the religious life. They delight good spirits who then chant prayers for them. They know to respect what’s respectable and serve who should be served. They’re liberal in generosity and affectionate to all. Their compassionate hearts are commended by the gods. They are always with good people and don’t associate with evil.”

56. After he gave this teaching, the Bhagavān rose from his seat and was seen off by the laymen. Surrounded by the large assembly, he returned to the grove. As the minister Varṣākāra followed behind the Buddha, he thought, “Now, the gate through which the ascetic Gautama leaves the city shall be named Gautama’s Gate. When we see where he crosses the river, it’ll also be named Gautama’s Ford.”

57. The Bhagavān then left the city of Pāṭaliputra and continued to the river’s bank. A large crowd of people was on the shore, and some were being ferried across. Some rode on boats and some on rafts to cross the river. In the time it takes a strong man to flex his arm, the Bhagavān and his large assembly instantly crossed to the other side.

58. After contemplating the meaning of this, the Bhagavān spoke in verse:

At Kuṭigrāmaka

59. The Bhagavān then toured Vṛji until he reached Kuṭigrāmaka. There, he addressed the monks while they were in a grove: “There are four profound principles: First is the noble precepts. Second is the noble samādhi. Third is the noble wisdom. Fourth is the noble liberation. These principles are sublime and difficult to understand. Because you and I didn’t comprehend them, we’ve been in birth and death for a long time, cycling around endlessly.”

60. After contemplating the meaning of this, the Bhagavān spoke in verse:

“Higher precepts, samādhi, wisdom, and liberation Were discernible only to the Buddha. Free of suffering, he teaches others To end the habits of birth and death.”

At Nādikā

61. After he had stayed in Kuṭigrāmaka for as long as was fitting, the Bhagavān told Ānanda, “Let’s visit Nādikā.” Ānanda accepted his instruction, put on his robe, took his bowl, and followed the Bhagavān with the large assembly. They took the road from Vṛji to Nādikā and stopped at Kuñjikāvasatha when they arrived.

62. Ānanda then was in a quiet place and silently thought to himself, “Here in Nādikā, there are twelve laymen named Karkaṭaka, Kaḍaṅgara, Nikaṭa, Kātyarṣabha, Cāru, Upacāru, Bhadra, Subhadra, *Darśana, *Sudarśana, Yaśas, and Yaśottara. Where will these men be born now that their lives have ended? There’s another fifty people and another 500 people. Where will they be born now that their lives have ended?”

63. After thinking this, he emerged from his quiet place and went to the Buddha. Bowing his head at the Buddha’s feet, he sat to one side. He said, “Bhagavān, I was in a quiet place and silently thought to myself, ‘There are twelve laymen here in Nādikā, Karkaṭaka and others, whose lives have ended. There’s another fifty people whose lives have ended, and another 500 people whose lives have ended. Where were they be born?’ Please explain this.”

64. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Those twelve people, Karkaṭaka and the others, had cut the five lower bonds and were born in heaven when their lives ended. From there, they were completely extinguished and did not return to this world. Those fifty people whose lives have ended had eliminated the three bonds of lust, anger, and delusion. They became once-returners who’ll return to this world and then end the source of suffering. Those 500 people whose lives have ended had eliminated the three bonds and become stream-enterers. They didn’t fall to bad destinies and will surely achieve awakening. They’ll be reborn seven times and reach the end of suffering.

65. “Ānanda, that someone born has died is the normal course of life. What’s strange about it? If you come and ask me about each person who dies, wouldn’t it be troublesome?”

66. Ānanda replied, “I trust it would be, Bhagavān. It would really be troublesome.”

67. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Now, I’ll teach the Dharma mirror to you, which lets a noble disciple know about where they’ll be born. ‘The three bad destinies have ended, I’ve attained stream-entry, and I’ll surely reach the end of suffering in no more than seven births.’ They can tell other people about such matters.

68. “Ānanda, ‘Dharma mirror’ means a noble disciple attains unwavering faith. They rejoice and believe in the Buddha, Tathāgata, Arhat, and Completely Awakened One who’s been given the ten epithets.

69. “They rejoice and believe in the Dharma as genuine, sublime, freely taught at any time, showing the path to Nirvāṇa, and practiced by the wise.

70. “They rejoice and believe in the Saṅgha as good together, in harmony, having genuine practices, having no deceptions, accomplishing the path’s reward, whose low and high stations are in accord, and the perfection of the Dharma body. They head for stream-entry and become stream-enterers. They head for once-returning and become once-returners. They head for non-returning and become non-returners. They head for becoming an arhat and become arhats. These four pairs are the eight kinds of people called the Tathāgata’s noble Saṅgha. They are the most respectable fields of merit in the world.

71. “He also believes in the noble precepts as pure, undefiled, and without defect or contamination. They are practiced by intelligent people and obtain samādhi.

72. “Ānanda, this is the Dharma mirror. It lets noble disciples know about where they’ll be born: ‘The three bad destinies have ended, I’ve attained stream-entry, and I’ll surely reach the end of suffering in no more than seven births.’ They can tell other people about such matters.”

At Vaiśālī

73. After the Bhagavān had stayed for as long as was fitting, he told Ānanda, “Let’s visit Vaiśālī.” Ānanda accepted his instruction, put on his robe, took his bowl, and followed the Bhagavān with the large assembly. They took the road from Vṛji to Vaiśālī and sad down under a tree.

74. There was a prostitute named Āmrapālī. Hearing that the Buddha had led his disciples to Vaiśālī and was sitting under a tree, she prepared horses and a precious chariot to go honor and give offerings to him. Before arriving, she saw from afar the Bhagavān’s handsome appearance, distinguished faculties, signs, and excellencies. He looked like the moon among stars. She rejoiced when she saw him. Dismounting from her chariot, she made her way to the Buddha, bowed her head at his feet, and withdrew to sit to one side.

75. The Bhagavān then gradually taught her the Dharma, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting her. After listening to the Buddha’s teaching, she rejoiced and said, “From this day forward, I take refuge in the three worthy things. Please permit me to become a laywoman in the correct teaching. For the rest of my life, I won’t kill, steal, commit sexual misconduct, speak falsely, or drink alcohol.”

76. She also said to the Buddha, “Please let the Bhagavān and his disciples clearly accept my invitation to stop at my grove this evening.”

77. The Bhagavān silently accepted her request. Seeing that he had, she rose from her seat, bowed her head at his feet, circled the Buddha, and returned home.

78. Not long after she left, the Buddha told Ānanda, “Let’s all go visit her park.”

79. Ānanda replied, “Very well.” The Buddha then rose from his seat, gathered his robes and bowl, and went to her park with the assembly of 1,250 disciples.

80. There was a group of Licchavi men who heard that the Buddha was going to stay at Āmrapālī’s Park. They had five-colored precious chariots and horses. Some rode on blue chariots with blue horses, and their clothes, parasols, banners, and retainers were all blue. The same was true for the other four colors, too.

81. 500 of these Licchavis dressed in entirely in the same color decided to visit the Buddha. Āmrapālī was returning home after speaking with him and encountered those Licchavi chariots on the road. They were traveling very fast and collided with each other. Their banners and parasols were knocked down, but she didn’t move out of their path. The Licchavis yelled at her, “Who do you think you are, not making way for us? You’ve run into our chariots and knocked down our banners and parasols!”

82. She replied, “Gentlemen, I’ve invited the Buddha for a meal tomorrow, and now I’m going home to prepare it, so I was going fast. There wasn’t enough room to avoid you.”

83. The Licchavis said to her, “Perhaps you could set aside your invitation and let us go first? We’ll give you a 100,000 gold!”

84. She quickly replied, “My invitation has already been settled; I can’t give it to you.”

85. The Licchavis again said to her, “We’ll give you 16 times 100,000 gold. Surely, it can be arranged for us to go first?”

86. She still didn’t agree. “My invitation has already been settled. I can’t do that!”

87. The Licchavis again said to her, “We’ll give you the middle part of the country! Couldn’t you let us go first?”

88. She also replied, “Even if it were all the wealth in the country, I still wouldn’t give it to you. Why is that? The Buddha is staying in my park, and he’s already accepted my invitation. The matter is settled, and I’d never give it to someone else.”

89. The Licchavis each clapped their hands and sighed, “Now, my first bit of good fortune is lost because of this woman!” They went on ahead, then, to visit her park.

90. The Bhagavān saw those 500 Licchavi chariots from afar, their horses were so numerous, filling the road as they approached. He told the monks, “If you want to know how dignified-looking and decorated the Trāyastriṃśa gods are when they entertain themselves in their scenic parks, it’s no different than this.

91. “You monks, you should collect your thoughts and behave in a dignified manner. How does a monk collect his thoughts? Here, a monk observes body internally to be body. Diligent and unflagging, he’s mindful and doesn’t forget it, setting aside worldly greed and sorrow. He observes body externally to be body. Diligent and unflagging, he’s mindful and doesn’t forget it, setting aside worldly greed and sorrow. He observes body internally and externally to be body. Diligent and unflagging, he’s mindful and doesn’t forget it, setting aside worldly greed and sorrow. He also observes feelings, mind, and principles in the same way.

92. “How does a monk behave in a dignified manner? Here, a monk knows to walk when he should walk and to stop when he should stop. He looks left and right before bending and stretching, looking down and up, or gathering his robes and bowl. When he eats, drinks, and takes medicine, he doesn’t forget what’s appropriate. He skillfully prepares when relieving himself, taking away screens, while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, and while awake, asleep, speaking, and being quiet. He collects his thoughts and isn’t disturbed. This is a monk who behaves in a dignified manner.”

93. Those 500 Licchavis arrived at Āmrapālī’s Park to visit the Buddha and then dismounted and proceeded on foot. They bowed their heads at his feet and withdrew to sit to one side. The Tathāgata glowed with a singular light there on his seat, outshining the great assemblies like the autumn moon. He was also like the sun shining with a singular brilliance when the sky and earth are clear, bright, and pure, and there isn’t any dust to obscure it.

94. At that point, the Buddha glowed with a singular light in the middle of the assembly with the 500 Licchavis sitting around him.

95. There was an ascetic named Paiṅgika who rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, and knelt on his right knee. He saluted the Buddha with his palms together and praised him in verse:

96. After they heard these verses, the 500 Licchavis again told Paiṅgika, “You can say that again!”

97. Paiṅgika then repeated what he said three times. After listening to him repeat these verses, they each gave their precious clothing to Paiṅgika, and he then offered their clothing to the Tathāgata. The Buddha accepted it out of compassion for them.

98. The Bhagavān then told the Licchavis of Vaiśālī, “The world has five treasures that are hard to find. What are the five? First, the arising of a Tathāgata, a Realized One, in the world is hard to find. Second, a person who can be taught the correct teaching by a Tathāgata is hard to find. Third, a person who’ll believe the Tathāgata’s teaching is hard to find. Fourth, a person who can accomplish the Tathāgata’s teaching is hard to find. Fifth, a person who’s saved from disaster, recognizes the danger, and returns [the favor] is hard to find. These are five treasures that are hard to find.”

99. When they heard the Buddha teach, instruct, profit, and delight them, those 500 Licchavis said to the Buddha, “Please let the Bhagavān and his disciples accept our invitation!”

100. The Buddha told the Licchavis, “Now that you have invited me, I’ll let you give me your offerings after I’m finished with Āmrapālī’s prior invitation.”

101. When they heard that Āmrapālī had invited the Buddha first, those 500 Licchavis snapped their fingers and said, “We wanted to give offerings to the Tathāgata, but this woman beat us to it!” They rose from their seats, bowed their heads to the Buddha, circled him three times, and returned to their homes.

102. That night, Āmrapālī prepared a variety of offerings. When morning arrived, the Bhagavān went to the place of her invitation surrounded by 1,250 monks who had adjusted their robes and carried their bowls. They prepared seats and sat down.

103. Lady Āmrapālī then brought out fine dishes and offered them to the Buddha and the Saṅgha. When they were done with the meal, she took their bowls and cleared the table. She held a gold jar for them to wash up. When they were done, she went before the Buddha and said, “This city of Vaiśālī has scenic parks, but my park is the best of them. Now, I donate this park to the Tathāgata. Please let him accept this out of compassion for me.”

104. The Buddha told her, “You may donate this park to the Buddha and the Saṅgha of the four directions. Why is that? The Tathāgata possesses these six things: parks, groves, quarters, buildings, robe, and bowl. Even Māra, Śakra, Brahmā, and other gods of great miraculous power are incapable of accepting these offerings.”

105. She accepted his instruction and donated the park to the Buddha and the Saṅgha of the four directions. The Buddha accepted it out of compassion for her.

106. He then spoke in verse:

107. Āmrapālī fetched a small seat and sat in front of the Buddha. He gradually taught her the Dharma, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting her. He discussed generosity, precepts, how to be born in heaven, the great danger of desire that’s polluting and impure, and the obstacle of the higher contaminants. [He praised] escaping it as the [most subtle, pure, and] supreme thing.

108. The Bhagavān then knew that her mind was softened, joyous, shaded, light, and easily educated. As was the way of Buddhas, he then taught her the noble truth of suffering, suffering’s formation, suffering’s cessation, and the truth of suffering’s escape.

109. Āmrapālī’s belief was purified. Like a white cloth that readily accepts a dye, she became removed from dust and free of defilement right there on her seat, and the Dharma eye arose in her. She saw the Dharma, got the Dharma, and was certainly in the proper standpoint. She wouldn’t fall to unpleasant destinies and had achieved fearlessness. She said to the Buddha, “Now, I take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, and take refuge in the Saṅgha.” She repeated this three times.

110. “Please, Tathāgata, permit me to become a laywoman in the correct teaching. From now on, I won’t kill, steal, commit sexual misconduct, lie, or drink alcohol.”

111. She then received the five precepts from the Buddha, discarded her previous lifestyle, and eliminated her defilements. She rose from her seat, bowed to the Buddha, and departed.

At Veṇugrāmaka

112. The Bhagavān then stayed in Vaiśālī for as long as was appropriate. Then he told Ānanda, “All of you, get ready. I’m going to Veṇugrāmaka.”

113. Ānanda replied, “Very well,” prepared his robe and bowl, and followed the Bhagavān with the large assembly. They took the road from Vṛji to Veṇugrāmaka.

114. There was then a priest named Viśvadāya who heard that the Buddha and the great assembly was visiting Veṇugrāmaka. He thought to himself, “This ascetic Gautama’s reputation for virtue has gotten around. It’s heard in all directions that he’s been given the ten epithets. He’s self-realized among the gods such as Śakra and Brahmā, or Māra, spirits, ascetics, and priests. He teaches the Dharma to others that’s genuine in the beginning, middle, and end. It’s meaning and content is profound, and it perfects the religious life. It would be fitting to meet such a true man as this!”

115. That priest then left Veṇugrāmaka and visited the Bhagavān. After they exchanged greetings, he sat to one side. The Bhagavān gradually taught him Dharma, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting him. After listening to him, the priest rejoiced and invited the Bhagavān and the great assembly for a meal at his home the next day. The Buddha silently accepted his invitation. Recognizing that he had agreed, the priest rose from his seat, circled the Buddha, and returned home. That night, the priest prepared offerings of food and drink. It was up to noble one to decide when to go the next morning.

116. The Bhagavān put on his robe and took his bowl to the priest’s home while surrounded by the great assembly. There, they prepared their seats and sat down. The priest then provided a variety of sweet dishes as offerings to the Buddha and Saṅgha. When they were done eating, he took their bowls. When they were finished washing up, the priest got a small seat and sat in front of the Buddha.

117. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse for the priest:

118. The Bhagavān then taught the subtle Dharma for the priest. After he was taught, instructed, profited, and delighted by it, he rose from his seat and departed.

119. During that time that there was a crop failure and famine in the region, which made soliciting alms difficult. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Order all the monks present in this country to assemble in the meeting hall.”

120. Ānanda replied, “Very well.” Having received his instruction, he announced to those near and far to assemble at the meeting hall.

121. Once the great assembly in that country had gathered, Ānanda told the Buddha, “The great assembly has gathered. It’s up to the noble one to decide when to go.”

122. The Bhagavān then rose from his seat and went to the meeting hall. He prepared a seat and sat down. He then told the monks, “There’s a famine in this region that’s making it difficult to solicit alms. It would be best for all of you to split into groups and visit people you know in Vaiśālī and Vṛji where there’s no shortage of food. I will stay here in this safe abode with Ānanda. Why is that? It’s dangerous when there’s such shortages.” The monks accepted his instruction and did so. The Buddha and Ānanda stayed there by themselves.

123. After the summer retreat, the Buddha became sick, and his whole body ached. The Buddha thought to himself, “Now, I’ve become sick, and my whole body is in pain, but none of my disciples are present. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to obtain nirvāṇa. I must make effort to extend my life with my own power for now.”

124. The Bhagavān then emerged from his quiet abode and sat in an open place. When Ānanda saw him, he hurried over and said, “Now that I see the sage’s face, his sickness has made it worse!”

125. Ānanda also said, “When the Bhagavān was sick, I felt trepidation, and the bond of sorrow depressed me. I didn’t know which way I was going. But I’m still breathing. I think to myself, ‘The Tathāgata isn’t completely extinguished yet. the world’s eye hasn’t ceased yet. The great teaching hasn’t declined yet.’ Does he not have instructions for the assembled monks now?”

126. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Does the Saṅgha need something from me? If there were someone who said, ‘I maintain the Saṅgha’ or ‘I collect the Saṅgha,’ this person would have some instructions for the assembly. The Tathāgata doesn’t say, ‘I maintain the Saṅgha’ or ‘I collect the Saṅgha.’ Why must he have some instructions for the Saṅgha?

127. “Ānanda, the Dharma that I’ve taught is complete inside and out, but I’ve never claimed to have mastered its view. I’m elderly, fully eighty years old now. Like an old chariot that can still reach a destination with skill and maintenance, my body is likewise. With skill, I have the power to extend my life for a while longer, but it takes strength and effort to tolerate these pains. It’s when I’m not mindful of any conceptions and enter the samādhi without conception that my body is peaceful and without any distress.

128. “Therefore, Ānanda, you must light yourself and light the Dharma. Don’t light something else. You must be your own refuge and take refuge in the Dharma. Don’t take refuge in something else. How does one light themselves, light the Dharma, and not light something else? How does one take refuge in themselves, take refuge in the Dharma, and not take refuge in something else?

129. “Ānanda, a monk observes body internally [to be body.] Diligent and unflagging, he’s mindful and doesn’t forget it, setting aside worldly greed and sorrow. He observes body externally … observes body internally and externally … Diligent and unflagging, he’s mindful and doesn’t forget it, setting aside worldly greed and sorrow. He also observes feelings, mind, and principles in the same way. That’s how, Ānanda, one lights themselves, lights the Dharma, and doesn’t light something else. One must take refuge in themselves, take refuge in the Dharma, and not take refuge in something else.”

130. The Buddha told Ānanda, “After my extinguishment, some will be capable of practicing this teaching. They will truly be my disciples and the best students.”

At Cāpāla Shrine

131. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Let’s us go to Cāpāla Shrine.”

“Very well.”

132. The Tathāgata then rose, put on his robe, took his bowl, and went to a tree there. He told Ānanda, “Prepare a seat. My back pain is troubling me. I want to stop here.”

“Very well.” Ānanda quickly prepared his seat.

133. After the Tathāgata was seated, Ānanda prepared a small seat and sat in front of the Buddha. The Buddha told Ānanda, “There’s the cultivation of four miraculous abilities. Someone who often cultivates and trains in them, who’s always mindful and doesn’t forget them, can live for an eon or more if they so desire. Ānanda, the Buddha has often cultivated these four miraculous abilities, being mindful and not forgetting them. The Tathāgata can remain for an eon or more if he so desires to eliminate the darkness of the world, for the gain of many, and to give peace to gods and humans.”

134. Ānanda was silent and didn’t reply. The Buddha repeated this three times, but Ānanda was silent. Under the influence of Māra, Ānanda had become drowsy and wasn’t alert. Three times the Buddha gave this clear hint, but he didn’t realize his request.

135. The Buddha told Ānanda, “I’ll let you to decide when to go.”

Understanding what the Buddha meant, Ānanda rose from his seat, bowed to the Buddha, and departed. He wasn’t far away when the Buddha quieted his mind and contemplated there under the tree.

136. It wasn’t long before Māra the Wicked One came to the Buddha and said, “The Buddha’s heart desires nothing. He can parinirvāṇa. Now would be a good time. He ought to be extinguished soon.”

137. The Buddha told the Wicked One, “Stop! Stop! I’ll decide when it’s time. For now, the Tathāgata hasn’t decided on nirvāṇa yet. My monks need to be assembled who can discipline themselves, overcome agitation without fear, and arrive at the place of safety. They need to obtain their own reward, be teachers for other people, disseminate the sutra teachings, and make their words and meanings plain. They need to defeat whatever other teachings there may be with the correct Dharma. They’ll need to realize these miracles for themselves. Such disciples haven’t assembled yet. There also need to be nuns, laymen, and laywomen who are all like this, and they haven’t been assembled yet, either. What’s essential now is to broadly lecture about the awakened heart in the religious life and let gods and humans all see these miracles.”

138. Māra the Wicked One again said to the Buddha, “Once, the Buddha was sitting under the goatherd’s nyagrodha tree on the bank of the Nairañjanā River in Uruvilvā when he first achieved the perfect awakening. I went to the Bhagavān then and asked the Tathāgata to parinirvāṇa. I said, ‘Now would be a good time! You ought to be extinguished soon!’

139. “The Tathāgata replied to me, ‘Stop, Wicked One! Stop! I’ll decide when it’s time. For now, the Tathāgata hasn’t decided on nirvāṇa because I need to gather my disciples … let gods and humans see these miracles. Then, I’ll choose extinguishment.’ Now, the Buddha has gathered his disciples … let gods and humans see these miracles. Now would be a good time. Why not extinguish yourself?”

140. The Buddha said, “Stop, Wicked One! Stop! The Buddha will decide when it’s time. He won’t remain for very long. In three months’ time, I will choose extinguishment in my homeland of Kuśinagara between a pair of trees in a sal grove.”

141. Māra then thought, “The Buddha doesn’t speak falsely. He surely will be extinguished now!” He rejoiced and celebrated, then he instantly disappeared.

142. Not long after Māra had departed, the Buddha entered a samādhi of settled mind at the Cāpāla Shrine in which he discarded his remaining life. There was a great earthquake at that moment, and there was no one in the whole country who wasn’t startled and frightened by it, who didn’t get goosebumps. The Buddha then emitted a great radiance. There was nowhere that it didn’t illuminate. Even the darkest places were made bright, and the beings there saw each other.

143. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:

144. It was difficult for the venerable Ānanda to think, he was so startled and had goosebumps. He hurried to the Buddha, bowed his head at his feet, and withdrew to stand to one side. He said to the Buddha, “How strange, Bhagavān! What was the reason for that earthquake?”

145. The Buddha told Ānanda, “An earthquake usually has eight causes. What are the eight? The earth rests on water. Where the water stops, there’s air. Where the air stops, there’s space. Sometimes a great gale rises by itself in that empty space, which create a large wave in the water. That large wave of water then makes the whole earth quake. That’s one cause.

146. “Furthermore, Ānanda, sometimes a monk, nun, great spirit, sage, or exalted god achieves awakening. They observe how much water there is and how little earth there is. Wanting to test their power, they make the whole earth quake. This is the second cause.

147. “Furthermore, Ānanda, when a bodhisattva’s spirit first descends from the Tuṣita Heaven to his mother’s womb while focused and undisturbed, there’s a great earthquake. This is the third cause.

148. “Furthermore, Ānanda, when a bodhisattva first emerges from his mother’s womb, he’s born from her side while focused and undisturbed, and the whole earth quakes. This is the fourth cause.

149. “Furthermore, Ānanda, at the moment a bodhisattva first achieves the unsurpassed and perfect awakening, there’s a great earthquake. This is the fifth cause.

150. “Furthermore, Ānanda, when a buddha first achieves awakening and turns the unsurpassed Dharma wheel, which can’t be turned by [gods such as Śakra, Brahmā,] or Māra, demons and spirits, ascetics and priests, or worldly people and gods, then the whole earth quakes. This is the sixth cause.

151. “Furthermore, Ānanda, when a Buddha’s teaching is nearing it’s end and he discards his life force while focused and undisturbed, the whole earth quakes. This is the seventh cause.

152. “Furthermore, Ānanda, when the Tathāgata parinirvāṇa-s in the realm of nirvāṇa without remainder, there’s a great earthquake. This is the eighth cause. These are the eight reasons that lead to an earthquake.”

153. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:

154. The Buddha told Ānanda, “The world has eight assemblies. What are the eight? First is the warrior assembly. Second is the priestly assembly. Third is the householder assembly. Fourth is the ascetic assembly. Fifth is the assembly of the four god kings. Sixth is the assembly of the Trāyastriṃśa gods. Seventh is the Māra assembly. Eighth is the assembly of Brahma gods.

155. “I remember this about myself: Once, I was reborn with an assembly of warriors, sitting, rising, and speaking with them. I can’t say how many times. With effort and the power of samādhi, I was able to appear among them. They had excellent forms, and my form was better than theirs. They had wonderful voices, and my voice was better than theirs. They would concede to me and withdraw, but I didn’t concede to them. What they could explain, I could explain, too. I could also explain what they couldn’t.

156. “Ānanda, I broadly taught the Dharma, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting them, and then I would disappear from that place. They didn’t know whether I was a god or a human. So it was up to the assembly of Brahma gods. I couldn’t count how many times I went there. I broadly taught them the Dharma, but they didn’t know what I was.”

157. Ānanda said to the Buddha, “That’s amazing, Bhagavān! It’s unprecedented to be able to achieve something like that.”

158. The Buddha said, “This is something that’s sublime and extraordinary, Ānanda! It’s amazing, incredible, and unprecedented. There’s only the Tathāgata who could achieve this.”

159. He also told Ānanda, “The Tathāgata is able to know the arising, duration, and cessation of feelings, the arising, duration, and cessation of conceptions, and the arising, duration, and cessation of contemplations. This is how the Tathāgata is something amazing, incredible, and unprecedented. You should remember this.”

At Fragrance Shrine

160. The Bhagavān told Ānanda, “Let’s go to Fragrance Shrine.”[2] … They prepared seats to sit under a tree there.

161. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Here at Fragrance Shrine, monks are present left and right. Order all of them to gather in the meeting hall.”

162. Ānanda accepted this instruction and made the announcement for everyone to gather. Ānanda then said to the Buddha, “The great assembly has gathered. It’s up to the noble one to decide when to go.”

163. The Bhagavān then went to the meeting hall, prepared a seat, and sat down. He told the monks, “All of you should know this teaching that I’ve realized for myself and which achieved the supreme and perfect awakening. It’s this: The four abodes of mindfulness, four mental disciplines, four miraculous abilities, four dhyānas, five faculties, five powers, seven factors of awakening, and the noble eightfold path.”

164. “All of you must to be in harmony and respectful in this teaching. Don’t create conflicts; accept the same teacher like water and milk in the same pot. You ought to diligently accept and train in my teaching. Light each other, and entertain each other.

165. “Monks, you should know this teaching that I’ve realized and widely demonstrate it to others. It’s the sūtras, songs, assurances, verses, inspirations, past events, past births, histories, extensive sūtras, unprecedented things, parables, and explanations. All of you must well remember them, weigh and discern them, and cultivate the practice as they dictate. Why is that? Not long from now, the Tathāgata will parinirvāṇa in three months’ time.”

166. When the monks heard him say this, they were all bewildered, cut short, perplexed, and agitated. They fell to the ground, all of them crying loudly. “How could it be so soon? The Buddha has chosen to be extinguished! How could it be so painful? The world will go blind! We’ll be left here in decline for a long time!” Some of the monks cried and beat their breasts, some twisted and turned as they wailed. They couldn’t control themselves. They were like a cut snake that twists, turns, and writhes urgently, not knowing where to go.

167. The Buddha told the monks, “All of you, stop! Don’t feel grief and sorrow. Among the people and things in heaven and earth, there’s nothing born that doesn’t die. The desire for this conditioned life to stop changing is impossible. I’ve taught you in the past that love and affection is impermanent, too. Things that come together also fall apart. Your body is not your own, and life doesn’t last long.”

168. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:

169. He also told the monks, “Why have I admonished you in this way? The god Māra the Wicked One made this request of me: ‘The Buddha’s heart desires nothing. He can parinirvāṇa. Now would be a good time. He ought to be extinguished soon.”

170. “I said, ‘Stop, Wicked one! Stop! The Buddha will decide when it’s time … My monks need to be assembled … let gods and men all see these miracles.’

171. “Māra the Wicked One again said, ‘Once, the Buddha was sitting under the goatherd’s nyagrodha tree on the bank of the Nairañjanā River in Uruvilvā when he first achieved the perfect awakening. I went to the Bhagavān then and asked the Tathāgata to parinirvāṇa. I said, “Now would be a good time! You ought to be extinguished soon!”

172. “‘The Tathāgata replied to me, “Stop, Wicked One! Stop! I’ll decide when it’s time. For now, the Tathāgata hasn’t decided on nirvāṇa because I need to gather my disciples … let gods and humans see these miracles. Then, I’ll choose extinguishment.” Now, the Buddha has gathered his disciples … let gods and humans see these miracles. Now would be a good time. Why not extinguish yourself?’

173. “I said, ‘Stop, Wicked One! Stop! The Buddha will decide when it’s time. He won’t remain for very long. In three months’ time, I will choose extinguishment …’

174. “Māra then thought, ‘The Buddha doesn’t speak falsely. He surely will be extinguished now!’ He rejoiced and celebrated, then he instantly disappeared.

175. “Not long after Māra had departed, I entered a samādhi of settled mind at the Cāpāla Shrine in which I discarded my remaining life. There was a great earthquake at that moment that startled and frightened both gods and humans, giving them goosebumps. The Buddha then emitted a great radiance. There was nowhere that it didn’t illuminate. Even the darkest places were made bright, and the beings there saw each other.

176. “I then spoke in verse:

177. The venerable Ānanda then rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, and saluted the Buddha with his palms together. He said, “Please, let the Bhagavān stay for an eon! Choose not to be extinguished out of compassion for sentient beings and the benefit of gods and humans!”

178. The Bhagavān remained silent and didn’t respond. Ānanda repeated this request three times, and then the Buddha told him, “Don’t you believe in the Tathāgata’s path of perfect awakening?”

He replied, “Indeed, I really do believe it!”

179. The Buddha said, “If you believe it, why have you harassed me three times? You personally heard and received this from the Buddha: ‘There’s the cultivation of four miraculous abilities. Often cultivating and training in them, always mindful and not forgetting them, one can live for an eon or more if they so desire. The Buddha has often cultivated these four miraculous abilities, and he was mindful and didn’t forget them. The Tathāgata can remain for an eon or more if he so desires to eliminate the darkness of the world, for the gain of many, and to give peace to gods and humans.’

180. “Why didn’t you make this solemn request for me not to be extinguished at that time? You didn’t just hear this once. You heard it three times, but you didn’t urge me to remain for an eon or more to eliminate the darkness of the world, for the gain of many, and give peace to gods and humans.

181. “It’s only now that you speak. Are you an idiot? I gave an obvious hint three times, and three times you were silent. Why didn’t you say at the time, ‘May the Tathāgata remain for an eon or more to eliminate the darkness of the world and benefit many!’?

182. “Just stop, Ānanda. I’ve discarded my life force. I’ve thrown it away and rejected it. It’s impossible for a Tathāgata to go back on his word. Suppose a wealthy nobleman spits food on the ground. Would he pick it up and put it back in his mouth?”

“No.”

183. “The Tathāgata is likewise. He has discarded and rejected his life force. How could he put his words back into his mouth?”

At Āmragrāmaka

184. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Let’s go to Āmragrāmaka.” Ānanda prepared his robe and bowl and followed the Bhagavān with the great assembly. They took the road from Vṛji to Āmragrāmaka and stayed in a mountain forest there.

185. The Bhagavān then taught the great assembly about precepts, samādhi, and wisdom. “Cultivating precepts and obtaining samādhi wins a great reward. Cultivating samādhi and obtaining wisdom wins a great reward. Cultivating wisdom and purifying the mind wins complete liberation. With the end of the three contaminants, which are the contaminants of desire, existence, and ignorance, the knowledge of liberation arises after one is liberated: ‘My births and deaths have been ended, the religious life has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I won’t be subject to a later existence.’”

At Bhoga

186. After he had stayed at the town of Āmragrāmaka for as long as was appropriate, the Buddha told Ānanda, “All of you, get ready. I will be going to Jambugrāmaka, Gaṇḍagrāmaka, Hastigrāmaka (?), and then to the city Bhoga.”

187. Ānanda replied, “Very well,” prepared his robe and bowl, and followed the Bhagavān with the great assembly. They took the road from Vṛji and made their way to that other city, stopping in the rosewood grove to the north of Bhoga.

188. The Buddha told the monks, “I will give you a discourse on the four great ways of teaching. Listen closely! Listen closely, and consider it well!”

The monks said, “Very well, Bhagavān. We’d be glad to hear it.”

189. “What are the four? Suppose a monk makes this statement: ‘Gentlemen, I personally heard and received this teaching from the Buddha in that town, city, or country.’ Those who hear his claim shouldn’t disbelieve or criticize it. They must judge from the sutras whether it’s true or false. Rely on the Vinaya and the Dharma to investigate whether it’s fundamental or superficial.

190. “If what he said isn’t in the sutras, the Vinaya, or the Dharma, they should say this to him: ‘The Buddha didn’t say this, so you must be mistaken. Why is that so? We rely on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma. What you said earlier contradicts the Dharma. Sir, you shouldn’t remember it or teach it to others. You should discard it.’

191. “If what he said is based on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma, they should say to him, ‘What you say is really what the Buddha taught. Why is that so? We rely on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma. What you said earlier matches the Dharma. Sir, you should remember it and teach it widely to others. Take care not to discard it.’ This is the first great way of teaching.

192. “Furthermore, suppose a monk makes this statement: ‘I personally heard and received this Dharma, Vinaya, and teaching from a unified Saṅgha or well-versed elder in that town, city, or country.’ Those who hear his claim shouldn’t disbelieve or criticize it. They must judge from the sutras whether it’s true or false. Rely on the Vinaya and the Dharma to investigate whether it’s fundamental or superficial.

193. “If what he said isn’t in the sutras, the Vinaya, or the Dharma, they should say this to him: ‘The Buddha didn’t say this, so that Saṅgha you’ve been listening to must be mistaken. Why is that so? We rely on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma. What you said earlier contradicts the Dharma. Sir, you shouldn’t remember it or teach it to others. You should discard it.’

194. “If what he said is based on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma, they should say to him, ‘What you say is really what the Buddha taught. Why is that so? We rely on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma. What you said earlier matches the Dharma. Sir, you should remember it and teach it widely to others. Take care not to discard it.’ This is the second great way of teaching.

195. “Furthermore, suppose a monk makes this statement: ‘I personally heard and received this Dharma, Vinaya, and teaching from a group of monks who maintain the Dharma, Vinaya, and observances in that town, city, or country.’ Those who hear his claim shouldn’t disbelieve or criticize it. They must judge from the sutras whether it’s true or false. Rely on the Vinaya and the Dharma to investigate whether it’s fundamental or superficial.

196. “If what he said isn’t in the sutras, the Vinaya, or the Dharma, they should say this to him: ‘The Buddha didn’t say this, so that group of monks you’ve been listening to must be mistaken. Why is that so? We rely on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma. What you said earlier contradicts the Dharma. Sir, you shouldn’t remember it or teach it to others. You should discard it.’

197. “If what he said is based on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma, they should say to him, ‘What you say is really what the Buddha taught. Why is that so? We rely on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma. What you said earlier matches the Dharma. Sir, you should remember it and teach it widely to others. Take care not to discard it.’ This is the third great way of teaching.

198. “Furthermore, suppose a monk makes this statement: ‘I personally heard and received this Dharma, Vinaya, and teaching from a monk who maintains the Dharma, Vinaya, and observances in that town, city, or country.’ Those who hear his claim shouldn’t disbelieve or criticize it. They must judge from the sutras whether it’s true or false. Rely on the Vinaya and the Dharma to investigate whether it’s fundamental or superficial.

199. “If what he said isn’t in the sutras, the Vinaya, or the Dharma, they should say this to him: ‘The Buddha didn’t say this, so that monk you’ve been listening to must be mistaken. Why is that so? We rely on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma. What you said earlier contradicts the Dharma. Sir, you shouldn’t remember it or teach it to others. You should discard it.’

200. “If what he said is based on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma, they should say to him, ‘What you say is really what the Buddha taught. Why is that so? We rely on the sutras, the Vinaya, and the Dharma. What you said earlier matches the Dharma. Sir, you should remember it and teach it widely to others. Take care not to discard it.’ This is the fourth great way of teaching.”

At Pāpā

201. The Bhagavān stayed in Bhoga for as long as was appropriate, then he told Venerable Ānanda, “Let’s go to the city of Pāpā.”

202. Ānanda replied, “Very well,” prepared his robe and bowl, and followed the Bhagavān with the great assembly. They took the road from Malla to the city of Pāpā and stopped in Cunda’s Park.

203. There was a smith there named Cunda. Hearing that the Buddha had arrived in the city from Malla, he got dressed up and went to the Bhagavān. He bowed his head at the Buddha’s feet and sat to one side.

204. The Bhagavān gradually taught and properly edified Cunda, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting him. Hearing the Buddha teach Dharma, Cunda believed it and rejoiced. He then invited the Bhagavān to his home for a meal the next day.

205. When the Buddha silently accepted his invitation, Cunda knew that he had agreed. He rose from his seat, bowed to the Buddha, and returned home. He immediately prepared meals to offer them during the night. When the next morning came, it was up to the noble one to decide when to go.

206. The Bhagavān then put on his robes, took his bowl, and went to Cunda’s home while surrounded by the great assembly. Once there, they prepared seats and sat down. Cunda immediately offered them the meals that he had prepared to the Buddha and Saṅgha. He had specially cooked sandalwood tree ears, making them the most exquisite in the world, and offered the dish only to the Bhagavān.

207. The Buddha told Cunda, “Don’t serve these ears to the monks.” Cunda accept this instruction and didn’t dare serve any of it to them. There was then an elderly monk in the assembly who had left home during his sunset years. He took the remainder of that dish from where he sat.

208. Seeing that the assembly had finished eating, Cunda took their bowls and washed them. When this was done, he went before the Buddha and asked a question in verse:

209. The Bhagavān answered him in verse:

210. Cunda then got a small seat and sat in front of the Buddha, and the Buddha gradually taught him the Dharma. After teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting him, the Buddha returned to the park with the great assembly surrounding him.

211. The Buddha stopped under a tree on the road and told Ānanda, “Could you prepare a seat? My back is aching.”

212. Ānanda replied, “Very well,” and he prepared a seat right away so that the Bhagavān could take a break. Ānanda also prepared a small seat for himself and sat in front of the Buddha.

213. The Buddha asked Ānanda, “Did Cunda have any regrets or resentments about what happened? If he did, what was the reason for it?”

214. Ānanda said to the Buddha, “Cunda provided alms that didn’t bring any benefit. Why is that? The Buddha had the final meal before obtaining Nirvāṇa at his home.”

215. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Don’t say that. Don’t say that. Cunda will get a great reward in the present. He’ll have a long life both in appearance and strength, and he’ll get a good reputation from it. He’ll create many treasures, and he’ll be born in heaven when he dies. He’ll naturally get what he desires. Why is that? The two virtues of providing a meal to a Buddha when he’s just achieved awakening and when he’s about to be extinguished are perfectly and completely without difference. Now, you can go and tell Cunda, ‘I personally heard and received this from the Buddha: ‘The meal that Cunda provided will bring a great reward in the present. It will obtain a great result.’”

216. Ānanda got the point of Buddha’s instruction and went to Cunda. He told him, “I personally heard and received this from the Buddha: ‘The meal that Cunda provided will bring a great reward in the present. It will obtain a great result. Why is that? The two virtues of providing a meal to a Buddha when he’s just achieved awakening and when he’s about to be extinguished are perfectly and completely without difference.’”

217. The Bhagavān then rose from his seat, walked for a while on the road, and then went to a tree again. He said to Ānanda, “This backache is excruciating. Could you prepare a seat for me?”

218. Ānanda replied, “Very well,” and he immediately prepared a seat for the Tathāgata to rest. Ānanda then bowed at the Buddha’s feet and sat to one side.

219. There was an arhat disciple named Pukkaśa who was headed to Kuśinagara from Pāpā. He saw the Buddha under a tree on the road. He looked handsome and upright with peaceful and settled faculties. He was the most well-behaved [person he’d seen], and his tranquility was supreme. He was like a great nāga in clear water without any dirt [and adorned with the thirty-two signs and eighty excellent features.] He rejoiced upon seeing him, and a good thought arose in him.

220. When he reached the Buddha, he bowed his head at his feet and withdrew to sit to one side. He then said to the Buddha, “Bhagavān, it’s extraordinary for someone who’s left home to reside in a pure state and love being in a quiet place. Just now, there were 500 carts passing by, but you didn’t hear or see them. There was a time when my teacher was sitting quietly under a tree between Kuśinagara and Pāvā. When 500 carts and chariots passed by him, he didn’t hear the noise and ruckus that they made. Someone came and asked my teacher, ‘Didn’t you see that group of carts pass by?’

“He replied, ‘I didn’t.’

221. “They then asked, ‘Did you hear them?’

“He replied, ‘I didn’t.’

222. “They again asked, ‘Were you here or somewhere else?’

“He replied, ‘I was here.’

223. “They asked, ‘Were you awake?’

“He replied, ‘I was awake.’

224. “They asked, ‘Were you awake or asleep?’

“He replied, ‘I wasn’t asleep.’

225. “That person thought, ‘That’s amazing! This homeless man was so focused that he didn’t notice or hear the noise and ruckus those carts made!’

226. “Then that person said to my teacher, ‘The noise of those 500 carts and chariots shook the ground as they passed by on the road, yet you still didn’t hear them. How could you have heard any other sound?’ He then bowed to my teacher, rejoiced, and departed.”

227. The Buddha told Pukkaśa, “Now, I will ask you a question. Answer it how you think. Is it harder for someone to be awake when a group of carts shake the ground and not hear it or to be awake and not hear thunder shake heaven and earth?”

228. Pukkaśa said to the Buddha, “How could the noise a hundred thousand carts be equal to a thunderclap? It wouldn’t be as hard to not hear the noise of the carts, but it’d be a difficult thing to be awake when thunder shakes heaven and earth and not hear it!”

229. The Buddha told Pukkaśa, “I once traveled to the village Ādumā (?) and stayed in a thatched hut. There was an unusually intense downpour with lightning and thunder. Four oxen and two brothers tilling their field were killed. A crowd of people had gathered together when I came out of my grass hut to pace back and forth. Someone from the crowd came over to me, bowed their head at my feet, and followed along as I walked. Knowing the answer, I asked, ‘Why has this large crowd gathered?’

230. “That person then asked, ‘Where was the Buddha when it happened? Was he awake or asleep?’

231. “I answered, ‘I was here, and I wasn’t asleep at the time.’

232. “That person praised it as a rare thing to hear of a samādhi like the Buddha’s. The lightning and thunder was a loud noise in heaven and earth, but I was the only awake person who didn’t hear it in my peaceful samādhi.

233. “Then he said to the Buddha, ‘There was an unusually intense downpour with lightning and thunder. Four oxen and two brothers tilling their field were killed. That’s what they are doing here.’ Glad and joyful to obtain the Dharma, that person bowed to the Buddha and departed.”

234. That Pukkaśa was at the time wearing two sheets of yellow cloth worth a hundred thousand [coins]. He rose from his seat, saluted the Buddha with his palms together, and said to the Buddha, “Now, I offer these sheets of cloth to the Bhagavān. Please accept it.”

235. The Buddha told Pukkaśa, “Give one to me and one to Ānanda.”

Pukkaśa got the point of the Buddha’s instruction and offered one sheet to the Tathāgata and gave one to Ānanda. The Buddha accepted them out of compassion for him.

236. After bowing at the Buddha’s feet, Pukkaśa then sat down to one side. The Buddha then gradually taught him Dharma, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting him. He discussed generosity, precepts, how to be born in heaven, the great danger of desire that’s polluting and impure, and the obstacle of the higher contaminants. [He praised] escaping it as [the most subtle, pure, and] supreme thing.

237. The Buddha knew Pukkaśa’s mind was joyous and softened, didn’t have hindrances or entanglements, and easily educated. As buddhas always do, the Buddha then taught Pukkaśa the noble truth of suffering … suffering’s formation … suffering’s cessation, and the noble truth of suffering’s escape.

238. Pukkaśa’s belief was purified. Like a white cloth that readily accepts a dye, he became removed from dust and free of defilement right there on his seat, and the Dharma eye arose in him. He saw the Dharma, got the Dharma, and was certain of the proper abode. He wouldn’t fall to unpleasant destinies, and he achieved fearlessness. He said to the Buddha, “Now, I take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, and take refuge in the Saṅgha. Please, Tathāgata, permit me to become a layman in the correct teaching. From now on, I won’t kill, steal, commit sexual [misconduct], lie, or drink alcohol for the rest of my life. Please, Bhagavān, permit me to become a layman in the correct teaching!”

239. He also said to the Buddha, “Bhagavān, if you happen to visit Pāpā during your teaching tours, please consider visiting our poor district. Why is that? All the households there will have meals, sleeping arrangements, clothing, and medicines to offer the Bhagavān. After he accepts these offerings, those families will find peace.”

The Buddha said, “That sounds good!”

240. After the Bhagavān had taught Pukkaśa the Dharma, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting him, he rose from his seat, bowed his head at the Buddha’s feet, rejoiced, and departed.

241. Not long after he had left, Ānanda offered his sheet of yellow cloth to the Tathāgata, and the Tathāgata accepted it and put it on out of compassion for him.

242. The Bhagavān’s countenance was relaxed. His majestic glow was brilliant, his faculties were pure, and his face was happy. Seeing this, Ānanda thought to himself, “I’ve been his attendant for twenty-five years, but I’ve never seen the luster of the Buddha’s face be as bright as it is now!”

243. He rose from his seat, knelt on his right knee, saluted with his palms together, and said to the Buddha, “I’ve been his attendant for twenty-five years, but I’ve never seen the luster of the Buddha’s face as bright as it is now! It’s unclear to me why that is. I’d like to hear his thoughts.”

244. The Buddha told Ānanda, “There are two circumstances for the Tathāgata’s luster to be more exceptional than usual. First is when the Buddha first attains the path and achieves the unsurpassed and perfect awakening. Second is when a Buddha wants to be extinguished soon and discards his life force for parinirvāṇa. Ānanda, a Tathāgata’s luster is exceptional because of these two circumstances.”

245. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:

246. The Buddha ordered Ānanda, “I’m thirsty; I’d like something to drink. Go and fetch some water.”

Ānanda said, “500 carts recently forded the river upstream. The water is still muddy. We could bathe in it but not drink from it.”

247. The Buddha ordered him three times, “Ānanda, go and fetch some water.”

Ānanda said, “It’s not far to go to Kukustā River. It’s clear and cool to drink, and we could bathe in it.”

248. There was then a yakṣa spirit residing in the Himalayas that believed in the Buddha’s path. It filled a bowl with water of eight kinds of purity and offered it to the Bhagavān. The Buddha immediately accepted it out of compassion for it. He then spoke in verse:

At Kukustā River

249. The Bhagavān then went to Kukustā River. After drinking, he bathed and then departed with the assembly. They stopped to rest under a tree on the road, and he told Cunda, “Take an outer robe, fold it four times, and lay it out. My back is hurting, and I want to rest for a while.”

250. Cunda accepted this instruction. He laid out the robe, and the Buddha sat on it. Cunda then bowed to him and sat to one side. He said to the Buddha, “I want to parinirvāṇa! I want to parinirvāṇa!”

251. The Buddha told him, “It’s up to you to decide when it’s time.” Cunda thereupon parinirvāṇa-ed right there in front of the Buddha.

252. The Buddha then spoke in verse:

253. Ānanda then rose from his seat and went before the Buddha. He said, “After a buddha is extinguished, how is he interred?”

The Buddha told Ānanda, “You, be quiet and think about your actions. The faithful laymen would be happy to do it.”

254. Ānanda repeated his inquiry three times: “After a buddha is extinguished, how is he interred?”

The Buddha said, “Someone wanting to know the way to inter a buddha should do it the way they would a noble wheel-turning king.”

255. Ānanda then asked, “What’s the way a noble wheel-turning king is interred?”

256. The Buddha told Ānanda, “This is the way a noble king is interred. First, his body is bathed in fragrant water. He’s wrapped all around with fresh cotton. Next, he’s wrapped in 500 layers of cloth. His body is placed in a gold coffin and sesame oil is poured onto it. The gold coffin is lifted and placed in a second larger iron coffin. Sandalwood incense is next layered outside of that coffin. Firewood of many fragrances is piled on top of fine robes, and then he is cremated. When it’s done, his remains are placed in a shrine built at a crossroads. It’s exterior is hung with silks, and people from the country travel to see the Dharma king’s shrine. They think longingly about the correct teaching that benefited many people.

257. “Ānanda, when you inter me, first bathe my body in fragrant water and then wrap it all around with fresh cotton. Wrap it in 500 layers of cloth, place my body inside a gold coffin, and pour sesame oil on it. Lift the gold coffin and place it in a second larger iron coffin. Next, layer sandalwood incense on the outside of that coffin. Pile firewood of many fragrances on top of fine robes, and then cremate me. When it’s done, place my remains in a shrine built at a crossroads. Hang its exterior with silks, and have people from the country travel to see the Buddha’s shrine. They’ll think longingly about the Tathāgata, the Dharma king, and his awakened teaching. While they’re alive, they will get merits and rewards, and they’ll be born up in heaven when they die.”

258. Thereupon, the Bhagavān restated this by speaking in verse:

259. The Buddha told Ānanda, “There are four kinds of people in the world who should be memorialized by building a shrine and providing incense, flowers, silk canopies, and music there. Who are the four? First, a tathāgata should have a shrine build for him. Second is a pratyeka buddha. Third is a disciple [of a buddha]. Fourth is a [noble] wheel-turning king. Ānanda, these four kinds of people should be memorialized by building a shrine and providing incense, flowers, silk canopies, and music.”

260. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:

Between a Pair of Trees in Malla

261. The Bhagavān then told Ānanda, “Let’s go to Kuśinagara [and stop] between a pair of trees in Malla.”

262. Ānanda replied, “Very well.” The Buddha was surrounded by the great assembly as he walked on the road.

263. There was an ascetic from Kuśinagara headed to Pāvā who saw the Bhagavān on the road from afar. He looked handsome and upright with peaceful and settled faculties. The ascetic rejoiced upon seeing him, and a good thought arose in him. He went before the Buddha, exchanged greetings with him, and stood to one side. He said to the Buddha, “The village where I live is not far to go. Please stop there, Gautama. After having a meal in the morning, you could continue on to your destination.”

264. The Buddha told the ascetic, “Stop! Stop! You’ve already made an offering to me.”

The ascetic persisted in inviting him three times, and the Buddha’s answer was the same as the first time. He then told the ascetic, “Ānanda will be here later; you can tell him about your wishes then.”

265. After hearing the Buddha’s instruction, the ascetic went to Ānanda. After exchanging greetings, he stood to one side. He said, “The village where I live is not far to go. I’d like Gautama to consider stopping there. After having a meal in the morning, he could continue on to his destination.”

Ānanda replied, “Stop, stop! Ascetic, you’ve already given offerings to him.”

266. The ascetic still persisted with his invitation three times. Ānanda replied, “The weather is too hot right now, and your village is too far to go. The Bhagavān is exhausted and not strong enough.”

267. After contemplating the meaning of this, the Bhagavān spoke in verse:

268. The Bhagavān arrived in his homeland on the way to Kuśinagara and was between a pair of trees in Malla. He told Ānanda, “Prepare a bed here between this pair of trees. Arrange it so my head is to the north and I’m facing the west. Why is that? My Dharma will spread and remain for a long time in the north.”

269. Ānanda replied, “Very well!” He prepared the bed so the Buddha’s head was to the north.

270. The Bhagavān folded his outer robe four times and laid down on his right side like a lion king, placing one foot on the other.

271. A yakṣa spirit was present between those two trees who believed in the Buddha. It scattered out-of-season flowers on the ground. The Bhagavān told Ānanda, “The spirit of these two trees has offered these out-of-season flowers to me. These are not offerings to the Tathāgata.”

272. Ānanda said, “What would be called an offering to the Tathāgata?”

The Buddha said to Ānanda, “When someone can accept the teaching and practice the teaching, I call that an offering to the Tathāgata.”

273. After contemplating this meaning, the Buddha spoke in verse:

274. Upamāna was in front of the Buddha fanning him at the time. The Buddha said, “You can retire; don’t stand in front of me.”

275. Ānanda then thought to himself, “This Upamāna has always served the Buddha right and left, providing what he needs. He would venerate the Tathāgata and gaze at him without tire. Now, he’s looking after his needs for the final time, but he’s ordered to retire. What was the cause of this?”

276. Ānanda then adjusted his robe and went before the Buddha. He said, “This Upamāna has always served the Buddha right and left, providing what he needs. He would venerate the Tathāgata and gaze on him without tire. Now, he’s looking after the Buddha’s needs for the final time, but he was ordered to retire. What was the cause of this?”

277. The Buddha told Ānanda, “For as far as twelve yojanas outside Kuśinagara, there are great spirits and gods that live here; there’s no space empty of them. Those great spirits were criticizing this monk who was standing in front of the Buddha. ‘Now, finally the Buddha is about to be extinguished, and we spirits have come to present offerings, but this monk is outshining us with his great majesty and glowing light. He’s preventing us from approaching, venerating, and making offerings to the Buddha!’ Ānanda, this is the reason I ordered him to retire.”

278. Ānanda said to the Buddha, “This venerable monk has accumulated what virtue and cultivated when actions that he has such majesty today?”

279. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Long ago, ninety-one eons in the past, there was a Buddha named Vipaśyin. At the time, this monk carried a grass torch with a joyous heart to illuminate his shrine. He has this glowing majesty today that penetrates the twenty-eight heavens above because of this history. The glow of these gods and spirits doesn’t compare to his.”

The Story of Mahāsudarśana

280. Ānanda then rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, and saluted with his palms together. He said to the Buddha, “Don’t be extinguished in this inferior, little city, in this barbaric land. Why is that? There are other great countries such as Campā, Vaiśālī, Rājagṛha, Vṛji, Śrāvastī, Kapilavastu, and Bārāṇasī. There are many people among their populations who confidently believe the Buddha’s teaching. After the Buddha’s extinguishment, they surely will pay respects and give offerings to his remains.”

281. The Buddha said, “Stop! Stop! Don’t make such observations. No one takes this land to be barbaric. Why is that? In the past, this country had a king named Mahāsudarśana.

282. “At that time, the city here was called Kuśavātī. That great king’s capital city was 480 yojanas long and 280 yojanas wide. Grain was bountiful there, and its people were prosperous. The city had seven walls, and it was surrounded by seven balustrades that were carved, engraved, and hung with precious bells here and there. The city’s foundation was twenty-four feet deep, and it was 160 feet tall. Its lookout towers rose 160 feet above the city, and there were pillars that were twenty-four feet around. Where the city wall was gold, the gates were silver. The silver city walls had gold gates, the beryl city walls had crystal gates, and the crystal city walls had beryl gates.

283. “The perimeter of the city was also decorated with the four treasures. The balustrades alternated between the four treasures, too. There were gold towers with silver bells and silver towers with gold bells. It had a sevenfold treasure moat with lotus flowers growing in it, such as utpala flowers, padma flowers, kumuda flowers, and puṇḍarīka flowers. Its bottom was strewn with gold sand. Tāla trees grew on both sides of the road. Some had golden trunks with silver leaves, flowers, and fruit. Others had silver trunks with gold leaves, flowers, and fruit, crystal trunks with beryl leaves, flowers, and fruit, and beryl trunks with crystal leaves, flowers, and fruit.

284. “There were many bathing pools between the tāla trees that were clear, flowing, deep, clean, and unpolluted. They had stairs along their sides with bricks made of the four treasures. The gold stairs had silver steps, the silver stairs had gold steps, the beryl stairs had crystal steps, and the crystal stairs had beryl steps. Balustrades also encircled them in connected circles a distance away [from the pools].

285. “Tāla trees grew everywhere in the city. Those with gold trunks had silver leaves, flowers, and fruit. Those with silver trunks had gold leaves, flowers, and fruit. Those with crystal trunks and beryl leaves, flowers, and fruit. Those with beryl trunks had crystal leaves, flowers, and fruit. There were also pools made of the four treasures between the trees where the four kinds of flowers grew. The streets were orderly, arranged in grids of five [buildings to a side]. The breeze blew the myriad flowers and scattered them along the roadsides. Light winds blew in all directions through the treasure trees, making gentle sounds like heavenly music. The people of that country, male and female, adults and children, walked among the trees to entertain themselves.

286. “Ten kinds of sound were constantly heard in that country: Conch sounds, drum sounds, small drum sounds, sounds of singing, sounds of dancing, sounds of flutes, sounds of elephants, sounds of horses, sounds of carts, and the sounds of eating, drinking, and making merry.

287. “King Mahāsudarśana had possession of the seven treasures then. The King had four virtues and ruled the four continents. What were the seven treasures? First is the golden wheel treasure. Second is the white elephant treasure. Third is the dark blue horse treasure. Fourth is the magic jewel treasure. Fifth is the beautiful woman treasure. Sixth is the householder treasure. Seventh is the army general treasure.

288. “How did that great king Mahāsudarśana achieve the golden wheel treasure? Every fifteenth-day full moon, the King bathed in fragrant water, went up into the high hall, and surrounded himself with maidens. The wheel then spontaneously appeared before him. It had a thousand spokes and possessed a glow. It was something made by a heavenly artisan, not something made in this world. It was made of pure gold, and it was about fourteen feet in diameter.

289. “King Mahāsudarśana thought to himself, ‘In the past, I’ve heard senior elders say this: “A warrior king from a water anointed tribe bathes in fragrant water on the fifteenth-day full moon, go up into the high hall, and surround themselves with maidens. The golden wheel then spontaneously appears before them. It has a thousand spokes and possesses a glow. It’s something made by a heavenly artisan, not something of this world. It’s made of pure gold, and it’s fourteen feet in diameter. He’s then called a noble wheel-turning king.” Now, this wheel has appeared! But is it that one? I had better test this wheel treasure.”’

290. “King Mahāsudarśana then summoned his four armies and faced the golden wheel treasure with his right shoulder bared. He knelt on his right knee, touched the golden wheel with his right hand, and said: ‘Head east. Turn according to the Dharma, and don’t go contrary to the eternal law.’ The wheel then turned east.

291. “The king then followed it, leading his four armies, and four spirits were ahead of the golden wheel, guiding it. The king stopped his horses where the wheel stopped to dwell. When the lesser kings in the east saw the great king arrive, they came to him with gold bowls holding silver grain and silver bowls holding gold grain. They presented them to their chief, saying, ‘Welcome, Great King! The lands in this eastern region are plentiful now, and the people are prosperous. Their culture is gentle, loving, and loyal. Please, Noble King, rule them properly! We’ll serve you, right and left, and accept what’s appropriate.’

292. “King Mahāsudarśana told the lesser kings, ‘Stop, gentlemen! Stop! You’ve given offerings to me, but I will simply rule with the correct Dharma. Don’t go out of your way to serve me, and let no one in the country act contrary to the Dharma. This is what I call my way of ruling.’

293. “When the lesser kings heard these instructions, they followed the Great King as he toured their countries. He went east until the ocean was in sight, and next traveled south, west, and north, going wherever the wheel went. The kings in those regions each presented their countries in the same way as the lesser kings in the east did.

294. “King Mahāsudarśana followed the golden wheel as it traveled around the four oceans, revealing the way and making the populace peaceful as he went. He then returned to Kuśavātī in his home country. When the golden wheel treasure hovered in the air while he was in his palace, King Mahāsudarśana celebrated. ‘This golden wheel treasure is a true sign to me that I really am a noble wheel-turning king.’ This was his accomplishment of the golden wheel treasure.

295. “How did the Great King Mahāsudarśana accomplish the white elephant treasure? The Great King Mahāsudarśana was sitting up in his proper Dharma hall in the morning, and the elephant treasure suddenly appeared before him. Its hair was all white, it stood flush in seven places, and it had the ability to fly. Its head was mottled, and its six tusks were delicate and filled with pure gold.

296. “When he saw this, the King thought, ‘This elephant treasure is excellent! If it’s well trained, I could ride it.’ He then tested its training, and it was capable of doing everything it should. The Great King Mahāsudarśana wanted to further test the elephant, so he mounted it and rode it out of the city in the morning. He traveled around the four oceans and returned after it was time to eat.

297. “King Mahāsudarśana celebrated. ‘This white elephant treasure is a true sign to me that I really am a noble wheel-turning king now!’ This was his accomplishment of the elephant treasure.

298. “How did the Great King Mahāsudarśana accomplish the horse treasure? King Mahāsudarśana was sitting up in his correct Dharma hall in the morning, and the horse treasure suddenly appeared before him. It was dark blue with a vermilion mane and tail. It’s head and neck were like an elephant’s, and it had the ability to fly.

299. “When he saw this, the King thought, ‘This horse is excellent! If it’s well trained, I could ride it.’ He then tested its training, and it was capable of doing everything it should. King Mahāsudarśana wanted to test this horse treasure himself, so he mounted it and rode it out of the city in the morning. He traveled around the four oceans and returned after it was time to eat.

300. “King Mahāsudarśana celebrated. ‘This dark blue horse treasure is a true sign to me that I really am a noble wheel-turning king now!’ This was his accomplishment of the blue horse treasure.

301. “How did the Great King Mahāsudarśana accomplish the magic jewel treasure? King Mahāsudarśana was sitting up in his correct Dharma hall in the morning, and the magic jewel treasure suddenly appeared before him. Its substance and color were transparent and without any flaw or defilement.

302. “When he saw this, the king thought, ‘This jewel is marvelous! If it glows, it could light the inside of the palace!’ King Mahāsudarśana then tested it by summoning his four armies and placing the jewel treasure atop a tall banner. He carried this banner out of the city during a dark night, and the jewel’s light illuminated the troops as though it was daytime. The troops marched in a circuit outside the city, and it’s illumination had range of a yojana. Inside the city, people could go about their business like they did during the day.

303. “King Mahāsudarśana celebrated. ‘This magic jewel is a true sign to me that I really am a noble wheel-turning king now!’ This was his accomplishment of the magic jewel treasure.

304. “How did that great king Mahāsudarśana accomplish the beautiful woman treasure? The beautiful woman treasure suddenly appeared before him. Her countenance was agreeable, and her appearance was handsome. She wasn’t too tall or short, too crude or fine, too white or black, or too sharp or gentle. In winter, her body was warm, and she was cool during summer. The hair pores of her whole body exuded the scent of sandalwood, and her breath had a fragrance like an utpala flower. Her words were gentle, stimulating, and calm. She was the first to rise and the last to sit. She didn’t do anything inappropriate. King Mahāsudarśana was pure and detached, so he didn’t think about her for a moment, much less be intimate with her.

305. “King Mahāsudarśana celebrated. ‘This beautiful woman treasure is a true sign to me that I really am a noble wheel-turning king now!’ This was his accomplishment of the beautiful woman treasure.

306. “How did that great king Mahāsudarśana accomplish the householder treasure? A householder man suddenly appeared with a natural storehouse of treasures and measureless wealth. The householder had an eye from past merit that clearly saw hidden treasures in the earth and whether they had owners or not. He saw and knew all this. When the treasure had an owner, he would protect it for them. When a treasure didn’t have an owner, he would collect it and provide it for the King’s use. The householder treasure went to the King and said, ‘Great King, you don’t need to worry about giving me a salary. I can take care of it myself.’

307. “King Mahāsudarśana wanted to test the householder treasure. He ordered a boat prepared to go sailing on a river, then he told the householder, ‘I need a treasure of gold. Quick, provide it to me.’

“The householder replied, ‘Wait just a moment, Great King, while I’ll go onto shore.’

308. “The King pressed him, ‘I need it immediately. Get it right now.’

“The householder treasure accepted the King’s command and knelt down on the boat. He put his right hand into the water, and a precious jar came out of the water after his hand. Like a caterpillar climbing a tree, that householder treasure was likewise. Putting his hand in the water, a treasure would climb his hand as he brought it out. Filling the boat up [with treasures] and then told the king, ‘How much treasure does the king need?’

309. “King Mahāsudarśana said to the householder, ‘Stop, stop! I didn’t need any treasure; it was just a way to test you. You’ve already given offerings to me.’

“Hearing what the king had said, that householder immediately threw the treasures back into the water.

310. “King Mahāsudarśana celebrated. ‘This householder treasure is a true sign to me that I really am a noble wheel-turning king now.’ This was his accomplishment of the householder treasure.

311. “How did Great King Mahāsudarśana accomplish the army general treasure? The army general treasure suddenly appeared. He was shrewd, courageous, and good at planning. He went to the King and said, ‘Great King, if there’s anyone to be made to submit, don’t worry about it. I can handle it for you.’

312. “Great King Mahāsudarśana wanted to test the army general treasure. He assembled the four armies and told the general, ‘Now, take charge of the army. Assemble those who haven’t yet assembled and disperse those who have assembled. Equip those who haven’t yet been equipped, and dismiss those who’ve been equipped. Let go those who haven’t yet been on leave, and have those who’ve been on leave remain.’

313. “Hearing what the King said, the army general treasure led the army. He assembled those who hadn’t yet assembled and dispersed those who had assembled. He equipped those who hadn’t yet been equipped, and dismissed those who’d been equipped. He let go those who hadn’t yet been on leave, and made those who had been on leave remain.

314. “King Mahāsudarśana celebrated. ‘This army general treasure is a true sign to me that I really am a noble wheel-turning king now.’ Ānanda, this was how the Noble Wheel-Turning King Mahāsudarśana accomplished the seven treasures.

315. “What were his four miraculous virtues? First was a long life that was incomparable and didn’t end early. Second was physical vigor that was incomparable and tireless. Third was a handsome appearance that was incomparable. Fourth was a treasury that was incomparable and overflowing. These were the seven treasures and four virtues accomplished by that noble wheel-turning king.

316. “Ānanda, after a long time, King Mahāsudarśana ordered his horses readied and went for a ride to visit a park. He told the driver, ‘Be a good driver, and go at leisurely pace. Why is that? I want to closely observe the country and see that people are happy and untroubled.’

317. “Once he had observed the country’s people from the side of the road, he then told his driver, ‘Continue at a leisurely pace. I want [them] to closely observe the Noble King’s majestic countenance.’

318. “Ānanda, King Mahāsudarśana kindly nurtured the people and cared for their needs like a father loving his children. The people were fond of the King like children looking up to their father. They all paid tribute to the King with precious things, hoping that he would accept their gifts.

“The king responded, ‘Stop, people! I have my own treasures. You can use these for yourselves.’

319. “At another time, the king had the thought, ‘Now, I’d better oversee the building of a palace.’

320. “When he made this decision, people came to King Mahāsudarśana, and they each said, ‘I would like to build a palace hall for the King!’

“The king replied, ‘Now, I’ve received your offerings, but I have treasure and materials enough to build it myself.’

321. “The people would then repeat their request, ‘I would like to contribute to building a palace hall for the King!’

“The king told the people, ‘You may do as you wish.’

322. “Accepting the King’s instruction, those people brought 84,000 carts laden with gold. They went to Kuśavātī and built a Dharma hall there. At the time, the wondrous craftsman god of the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven thought to himself, ‘I’m the only one capable of building a correct Dharma hall for King Mahāsudarśana.’

323. “Ānanda, that craftsman god built a Dharma hall that was sixty yojanas long and thirty yojanas wide. It was decorated with the four treasures and had a level foundation beneath it. Bricks made of the seven treasures were used to build its stairsteps. That Dharma hall had 84,000 pillars. The gold pillars had silver capitals. The silver pillars had golden capitals. There were also beryl and crystal pillars [with crystal and beryl] capitals. Four balustrades made of the four treasures encircled the hall. Four sets of stairs were also made of the four treasures.

324. “That Dharma hall had a tower above it made of 84,000 jewels. Where the tower was gold, it had silver doors and windows. Where it was silver, it had gold doors and windows. Where it was beryl or crystal, it had [crystal or beryl] doors and windows. The gold part of the tower had silver couches, and the silver part of the tower had gold couches. Fine and soft cloth made of gold spun into thread was spread over the seats. The beryl and crystal parts of the tower had [crystal and beryl] couches, too. The radiance of that hall dazzled people’s eyes. It was like the full radiance of the sun; no one could look at it.

325. “King Mahāsudarśana then thought, ‘Now, I could build many parks and ponds in the area to the left and right of this hall.’ He then built those parks and ponds in a radius of one yojana.

326. “He also had this thought, ‘I’ll build a Dharma lake in front of the Dharma hall.’ He immediately set aside land for it a yojana in length and width. That body of water was clear, pure, and unpolluted. It had stairs going down into it that were built with bricks made of the four treasures. A balustrade circled the lake on four sides that was made of the four treasures of gold, silver, crystal, and beryl. A variety of water-born flowers grew in the lake, such as utpala flowers, padma flowers, kumuda flowers, and puṇḍarīka flowers. They emitted a sublime fragrance that wafted in all four directions.

327. “That lake also had land-born flowers on its four shores, such as atimuktaka flowers, campaka flowers, pātala flowers, sumanā flowers, vārṣika flowers, and dhanuṣkarī flowers. Workers maintained the lake, and passersby swam and bathed in it. They would roam around in it, refreshing themselves as they liked. Those needing a drink were given drinks. Those needing food were given meals. Clothing, carts, horses, fragrant flowers, and treasures weren’t denied to the people who wanted them.

328. “Ānanda, King Mahāsudarśana had 84,000 elephants that were decorated with gold and silver and wore jewels, but the king of the elephants was the best. The King had 84,000 horses that were decorated with gold and silver and wore jewels, but the king of the horses was the best. The King had 84,000 chariots covered with lion skins and adorned with the four treasures. The chariot with golden wheels was the best. The King had 84,000 jewels, but the magical jewel was the best. The King had 84,000 beautiful women, but the beautiful woman treasure was the best. The King had 84,000 householders, but the householder treasure was the best. The King had 84,000 warriors, but the army general treasure was the best. The King had 84,000 cities, but the city of Kuśavātī was the best. The King had 84,000 halls, but the correct Dharma hall was the best. The King had 84,000 towers, but the great, correct tower was the best. The King had 84,000 couches made of gold, silver, and many treasures with fine and soft cushions and blankets spread over them. The King had 84,000 million clothes, and the kṣauma cloth, Kāśi cloth, and karpāsa cloth were the best. The King had 84,000 kinds of food that were prepared every day, and each meal tasted unique.

329. “Ānanda, King Mahāsudarśana rode the best elephant of his 84,000 elephants, leaving Kuśavātī at sunrise to travel the world and go around the four oceans. In an instant, he returned to the city to eat. Of his 84,000 horses, he rode his strong horse treasure, leaving [Kuśavātī] at sunrise to travel the world and go around the four oceans. In an instant, he returned to the city to eat. He rode the golden-wheeled chariot of his 84,000 chariots and harnessed the strong horse treasure to it. He left [Kuśavātī] at sunrise to travel the world and go around the four oceans. In an instant, he returned to the city to eat. Of his 84,000 jewels, he used his magical jewel treasure to illuminate the inside of his palace, making it as bright as day at night. Of his 84,000 beautiful women, the beautiful woman treasure well and nobly served him left and right. Of his 84,000 householders, the householder treasure was capable of providing his income. Of his 84,000 warriors, the army general treasure was capable of making enemies submit. Of his 84,000 cities, Kuśavātī was always his capitol. Of his 84,000 halls, the King always stayed in the correct Dharma hall. Of his 84,000 towers, the King always stayed in the great, correct tower. Of his 84,000 seats, the king always sat on a crystal seat in calm meditation. Of his 84,000 million clothes, he wore whatever fine treasure ornaments he wished with modesty and conscientiousness. Of his 84,000 kinds of food, the King always satisfied eating naturally cooked rice.

330. “When his 84,000 elephants came to the King, they trampled and crashed into untold numbers of sentient beings, injuring them. The king then thought, ‘These elephants frequently come and injure many people. From now on, I will permit one elephant to appear every hundred years.’ Thus, each elephant took turns appearing in subsequent centuries, and they started over when they had all appeared.”

331. The Buddha then told Ānanda, “The king then thought, ‘What virtues did I accumulate and what roots of goodness did I cultivate in the past to obtain these such glorious rewards in the present?’

332. “He then thought to himself, ‘There were three causes and conditions that brought about these fortunate rewards. What are the three? First was generosity, second was observing precepts, and third was meditation. It was because of these causes and conditions that I’ve obtained these great rewards in the present.’

333. “The king also thought, ‘Now that I’ve received these fortunate rewards among humans, I should go further by cultivating the deeds of heavenly fortune. It would be good to restrain myself, leave this hubbub, and live in a secluded place in order to revere the path.’

334. “The king then summoned his good and noble woman treasure and told her, ‘Now that I’ve received these fortunate rewards among humans, I should go further by cultivating the deeds of heavenly fortune. It would be good to restrain myself, leave this hubbub, and live in a secluded place in order to revere the path.’

335. “She replied, ‘Very good! I’ll do as the great king instructs.’ So, he ordered her to stop attending to him in public and private.

336. “The king then went up into the Dharma hall, entered his golden tower lookout, and sat on a silver bench. He contemplated greed and lust as being bad and not good. With perception and examination, this seclusion gave rise to joy and happiness, and he attained the first dhyāna.

337. “Perception and examination ceased, and he was joyous with an inner confidence. He gathered his mind and unified it. Without perception or examination, this samādhi gave rise to joy and happiness, and he attained the second dhyāna.

338. “He discarded joy and guarded against it. Focusing his mindfulness, he was undisturbed. He knew for himself the happiness that was sought by noble people. Guarded, mindful, and happily practicing, he attained the third dhyāna.

339. “To abandon pain and pleasure, he first eliminated sorrow and joy. Neither discomforted nor pleasured, his guarded mindfulness was purified, and he attained the fourth dhyāna.

340. “King Mahāsudarśana then rose from his silver bench, emerged from his golden lookout tower, and went to his great, correct tower. He sat on an beryl seat there and cultivated kindness. He pervaded one direction with it and then the other directions as well. Everywhere, throughout, peerless, and measureless, he eliminated various resentments. His heart having no ill will, he was quiescent, kind, and gentle and enjoyed himself. He did likewise with compassion, joy, and equanimity.

341. “His beautiful woman treasure thought to herself, ‘It’s been a long time since I saw his face, and I’ve been thinking of going to look after him. I’d better present myself to the Great King now.’

342. “The woman treasure nobly addressed his 84,000 maidens, ‘It would be good if each of you bathed in fragrant water and dress up in fine clothes. Why is that? It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the King’s face, so we ought to present ourselves to him.’ Hearing this, the women dressed up and put on ornaments after they bathed and were clean.

343. “The woman treasure also nobly told the army general treasure to assemble the four kinds of troops. ‘It’s been a long time since we’ve seen his face. We ought to present ourselves to the King.’

344. “The army general treasure then assembled the four armies and said to the woman treasure, ‘The four armies have assembled. Let us know when it’s time.’

345. “The woman treasure led the 84,000 maidens. With the four armies in the front and rear, they went to a golden tāla tree park. That great assembly shook the ground, and the sound reached the King. He was sitting next to a window and looked out when he heard them. The woman treasure came forward and stood at the door.

346. “Upon seeing her, the king immediately told her, ‘Stop, don’t go any further. I’ll come out to see you.’ King Mahāsudarśana rose from his crystal seat, emerged from his great, correct tower, came down from the correct Dharma hall, and accompanied the beautiful woman treasure to the tāla tree park. Once there, they prepared seats and sat down.

347. “King Mahāsudarśana’s countenance was more radiant than usual. His noble woman treasure thought, ‘Now, the great king’s appearance is better than usual. What does this portend?’

348. She then said to the Great King, ‘Your countenance is [better than] usual now. Is this a sign of some change? Are you going to discard your life? Now, the white elephant treasure is the best of the 84,000 elephants that are decorated with gold and silver and wear jewels. They are the King’s own possessions. Please stop and consider this for a moment. Enjoy being with them; don’t be so ready to discard your life and forsake the people.

349. “There’s also the powerful horse king who is the best of 84,000 horses … the wheel treasure that’s the best of 84,000 chariots …. the magic jewel treasure that’s the best of 84,000 jewels … the beautiful woman treasure who’s the best of 84,000 women … the householder treasure who’s the best of 84,000 householders … the army general treasure who’s the best of 84,000 warriors … Kuśavātī is the best of 84,000 cities … the correct Dharma hall is the best of 84,000 halls … the great, correct tower is the best of 84,000 towers … the treasure ornamented [seat] is the best of 84,000 seats … the softest [clothing] is the best of 84,000 garments … You have 84,000 kinds of food that have unique flavors. All these many treasures are the King’s possessions. Please stop and consider this for a moment. Enjoy being with them; don’t be so ready to discard your life and forsake the people.’

350. “King Mahāsudarśana answered the woman treasure, ‘Your service to me up until now has been kind and dutiful. Your words were never crude. Why is it now that you say this?’

“The woman treasure said to the King, ‘I don’t understand. Did I say something disagreeable?’

351. “The king told the woman treasure, ‘You speak of such things as elephants, horses, jewels, chariots, golden wheels, halls, towers, names of garments, and delicious food. These things are impermanent. They don’t last that long, but you exhort me to stay. How’s that agreeable?’

“The woman treasure said to the king, “I don’t understand. What words would be kind and agreeable?’

352. “The king told her, ‘Suppose you were to say: “Elephants, horses, jewels, chariots, golden wheels, halls, towers, names of garments, and delicious foods are all impermanent and not long-lasting. Please don’t be attached to them. It’s tiresome to the spirit. Why is that? There isn’t much left of the King’s life before he goes to the next life. What’s born has its death, and those who come together have their separation. How can something that’s born have an eternal life? It’s best to cut off affections and live wishing for awakening.” These words I would called agreeable.’

353. “Ānanda, when she heard the King’s instruction, the beautiful woman treasure cried and wept. Wiping her tears, she said, ‘Elephants, horses, jewels, chariots, golden wheels, halls, towers, names of garments, and delicious foods are all impermanent and not long-lasting. Please don’t be attached to them. It’s tiresome to the spirit. Why is that? There isn’t much left of the King’s life before he goes to the next life. What’s born has its death, and those who come together have their separation. How can something that’s born have an eternal life? It’s best to cut off affections and live wishing for awakening.’

354. “Ānanda, that beautiful woman treasure was touched by these words for a moment before King Mahāsudarśana suddenly died. Like a young man taking a bite of a delicious meal, [he passed away] without any pain or hardship. His spirit was born up in the seventh Brahma Heaven. Seven days after King Mahāsudarśana died, the wheel treasure and jewel treasure spontaneously disappeared, and the lives of the elephant treasure, horse treasure, beautiful woman treasure, householder treasure, and army general treasure ended on the same day. The city, lakes, Dharma hall, lookout tower, precious decorations, and tāla tree parks all became [ordinary] land and trees.”

355. The Buddha told Ānanda, “This conditioned state is impermanent and liable to change. It’s certain to erode away, but greed and desire are tireless. A man’s life is squandered on his attachments and affections, without any satisfaction. Satisfaction comes only by attaining noble wisdom and truly seeing this path.

356. “Ānanda, I recall myself being in this situation in the past. I became a noble wheel-turning king six times, and their bones were interred here when they died. Now, I’ve achieved the unsurpassed, perfect awakening. Once again, I’ve discarded my life, and my body will be interred here. But from this time on, my births and deaths are forever ended. There won’t be another place where my body will be interred. This one being the very last, I won’t be subject to another existence.”

The Buddha Announces His Parinirvāṇa

357. The Bhagavān remained in his homeland of Kuśinagara between a pair of trees in the sal forest. When his nirvāṇa was imminent, he told Ānanda, “Go to Kuśinagara and tell the Mallas, ‘Gentlemen, you should know that the Tathāgata will parinirvāṇa between a pair of trees in the sal forest in the middle of the night. You may go and ask question about what doubts you have and receive personal instruction from him. This is a good time to do it. Those who don’t go may regret it later.’

358. Accepting the Buddha’s instructions, Ānanda rose from his seat, bowed to the Buddha, and departed. Accompanied by another monk, they walked with tears streaming down their faces. When they entered Kuśinagara, they saw 500 Mallas who had gathered in one place for some minor reason.

359. Seeing Ānanda approach, the Mallas rose, bowed to him, and stood to one side. They said to Ānanda, “We don’t understand why venerables would come into the city at night. What are you doing here?”

360. With tears streaming, Ānanda said, “I wanted to benefit all of you, so I’ve come to tell you this, ‘You should know that the Tathāgata will parinirvāṇa in the middle of the night. You can go and ask about what doubts you have and receive personal instruction from him. This is a good time to do it. Those who don’t go may regret it later.’”

361. When the Mallas heard what he said, they lamented loudly. They twisted, turned, and fell to the ground. Some fainted and revived again, like a large tree with its root pulled up and limbs chopped off. They all shouted, “The Buddha has decided to be extinguished! How can it happen so soon? The Buddha has decided to be extinguished! How can it happen so fast? The multitude of beings will be in decline for a long time! The world will go blind!”

362. Ānanda then consoled the Mallas, “Stop, stop! Don’t lament! There’s nothing born in heaven and earth and that doesn’t die. The desire for this conditioned life to last forever is impossible. Doesn’t the Buddha say, ‘What comes together also falls apart, and what’s born surely comes to an end?’”

363. The Mallas said to each other, “Let’s go back home and bring our households and 500 bolts of white cloth to that pair of trees!”

364. After they had each returned home, they led their households carrying the white cloth to Kuśinagara. Arriving at that place between a pair of trees, they went to Ānanda. Ānanda saw them from afar and thought to himself, “That’s a lot of people. If they meet the Buddha individually, I’m afraid they wouldn’t all get a hearing before the Buddha’s extinguishment. Now, I’d better send them all at once to meet the Buddha early in the evening.”

365. He then led the 500 Mallas and their households to the Bhagavān. They bowed their heads at his feet and stood to one side. Ānanda then stood in front and introduced them to the Buddha: “So-and-so the Malla and his family has come to greet the Bhagavān and ask whether he’s doing well or not.”

366. The Buddha replied, “It’s good that all of you came. It will bring you long life without illness or pain.” Ānanda then brought the Mallas and their households forward to meet the Bhagavān.

367. The Mallas bowed their heads at his feet and sat to one side. The Bhagavān then taught them about impermanence, teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting them. The Mallas listened to the Dharma and rejoiced. They then offered their 500 bolts of white cloth to the Bhagavān, and the Buddha accept them. The Mallas then rose from their seats, bowed to the Buddha, and departed.

The Liberation of Subhadra

368. There was a wanderer in Kuśinagara at the time named Subhadra. He was an 120-year-old elder with much wisdom. He heard that the ascetic Gautama was between a pair of trees that night and had decided to be extinguished. Subhadra thought, “I have some doubts about the Dharma that only Gautama could explain for me. Now would be the time to muster my strength and walk there.”

369. That evening, he left Kuśinagara and arrived at that place between a pair of trees and went over to Ānanda. After exchanging greetings, he stood to one side and said to Ānanda, “I heard that the ascetic Gautama has decided to be extinguished tonight, so I’ve come here to seek a meeting with him. I have some doubts about the Dharma that I hope a meeting with Gautama will resolve for me. Would he some time to see me?”

Ānanda replied, “Stop, Subhadra! Stop! The Buddha is physically ill and can’t be troubled.”

370. Subhadra repeated his request three times, “I’ve heard that a Tathāgata appears in the world only as often as an udumbara flower does. I have some doubts about the Dharma that I hope [meeting Gautama] will resolve for me. Would he have some time to see me?”

Ānanda answered him as he did the first time: “The Buddha is physically ill and can’t troubled.”

371. The Buddha then said to Ānanda, “Don’t stop him. Allow him to approach. His desire to settle his doubts is no trouble to me. If he listens to my teaching, he’ll surely comprehend it.”

Ānanda told Subhadra, “If you want to meet the Buddha, it’s up to you when to go.”

372. Subhadra then approached. After exchanging greetings, he sat to one side of the Buddha and said, “I have some doubts about the Dharma. Would you have some time to settle a problem for me?”

The Buddha said, “You may ask your question.”

373. Subhadra asked, “How is it, Gautama, that there are these different groups who declare their teachers to be Pūraṇa Kāśyapa, Maskalī Gośālīputra, Ajita Keśakambala, Kakuda Kātyāyana, Saṃjayin Vairūṭīputra, and Nirgrantha Jñātiputra. These teachers each have different teachings. Does the ascetic Gautama know them all or not all of them?”

The Buddha said, “Stop, stop! What’s the use of just discussing whether I know them all? I will teach you the profound and sublime Dharma now. Listen closely! Listen closely and consider it well!”

374. Subhadra accepted his teaching. The Buddha told him, “If the noble eightfold path is absent from a teaching, then the first fruit of the ascetic won’t exist, nor the second … third … fourth fruit of the ascetic. Subhadra, when the noble eightfold path is present in a teaching, the first fruit of the ascetic will exist, as will the second … third … fourth fruit of the ascetic. Subhadra, the noble eightfold path is present in my teaching, and it has the first fruit of the ascetic and the second … third … fourth fruit of the ascetic. These other religious groups don’t have these fruits of the ascetic.”

375. The Bhagavān then spoke to Subhadra in verse:

376. The Buddha told Subhadra, “If the monks keep themselves collected, then this world won’t be empty of arhats.”

377. Subhadra said to Ānanda, “Those who have practiced the religious life under the ascetic Gautama, who are practicing it, and who will practice it obtain a great benefit from it. Ānanda, you’ve practiced the religious life under the ascetic Gautama and obtained great benefit from it. Having gotten a personal meeting with the Tathāgata to ask about my doubts, I’ve also obtained great benefit from it. Now, the Tathāgata has given his assurance about his disciples in discerning this for me!”

378. He then said to the Buddha, “I’d better leave home now and accept the full precepts in the Tathāgata’s Dharma.”

379. The Buddha told Subhadra, “If a wanderer from another training [wishes to] cultivate the religious life in my Dharma, they are tested for four months to observe their conduct and scrutinize their temperament. Someone whose observances are complete without omission is then given the full precepts in my Dharma. Subhadra, it’s simply to know how a person acts.”

380. Subhadra again said, “Those from other religions and trainings will be tested for four months in the Buddha’s Dharma to observe their conduct and scrutinize their temperament. Those whose observances are complete without omission are given the full precepts. I would wait for four years in the Buddha’s Dharma with my observances complete and without any omissions to receive the full precepts.”

The Buddha told Subhadra, “As I said before, it’s simply to know how a person acts.”

381. That night, Subhadra left home, accepted the precepts, and purely cultivated the religious life. In the present life, he personally realized: “Birth and death have ended, the religious life has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I’ve obtained true knowledge that I’ll not be subject to another existence.” It wasn’t long after that night that he became an arhat. He was the last of the Tathāgata’s disciples to be extinguished before the Buddha was.

The Consolation of Ānanda

382. Ānanda was leaning against his seat behind the Buddha and crying uncontrollably. Weeping, he said, “How quick the Tathāgata’s extinguishment is! How swift the Bhagavān’s extinguishment is! How fast the great Dharma falls into obscurity! The multitude of beings will decline for a long time! The world will go blind! Why is that? I’ve benefited from the Buddha’s favor and obtained this ground of training, but I have yet to accomplish the task, and the Buddha is going to be extinguished!”

383. The Bhagavān knew this, so he asked, “Where is the monk Ānanda?”

The monks told the Tathāgata, “The monk Ānanda is leaning against his seat behind the Buddha and crying uncontrollably. Weeping, he says, ‘How quick the Tathāgata’s extinguishment is! How swift the Bhagavān’s extinguishment is! How fast the great Dharma falls into obscurity! The multitude of beings will decline for a long time! The world will go blind! Why is that? I’ve benefited from the Buddha’s favor and obtained this ground of training, but I have yet to accomplish the task, and the Buddha is going to be extinguished!’”

384. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Stop, stop! Don’t be sad! Don’t cry! Since you’ve been serving me, your physical conduct has been kind, peerless, and measureless. Your verbal conduct has been kind … Your mental conduct has been kind, peerless, and measureless. Ānanda, you’ve given these offering to me, the merits of which are enormous. The offerings given to gods like Māra and Brahmā or to ascetics and priests aren’t comparable to yours. If you simply make an effort, it won’t be long before you achieve awakening.”

385. The Bhagavān told the monks, “Buddhas of the past were served by disciples like Ānanda, and Buddhas in the future will be served by disciples like Ānanda. But the disciples who served Buddhas in the past understood them only after they were told. Now, my Ānanda understands when I raise my gaze: ‘The Tathāgata needs this. the Bhagavān needs that.’ This is Ānanda’s unprecedented quality. All of you, remember that.

386. “A noble wheel-turning king has four exceptional and unprecedented qualities. What are the four? [1] When the noble king travels, he uplifts the multitude of people, who look up to him. They rejoice when they see him, and they’re glad to hear his instruction. They look up at his majestic countenance without tiring of seeing it. When the noble wheel-turning king [2] stands … [3] sits … [4] lies down, the country’s ministers and people all come to the King. They rejoice when they see him, they’re glad to hear his instruction. They look at his majestic countenance without tiring of seeing it. These are four exceptional qualities of a noble wheel-turning king.

387. “Now, my Ānanda also has these four exceptional qualities. What are the four? [1] Ānanda quietly enters a group of monks, and that assembly rejoices. He teaches Dharma for that assembly, and they rejoice when they hear it. They observe his composure and listen to his Dharma teaching without tiring of him. Furthermore, Ānanda quietly goes to [2] an assembly of nuns … [3] assembly of laymen … [4] assembly of laywomen, and they rejoice when they see him. If he gives them a Dharma teaching, they rejoice when they hear it. They observe his composure and listen to his Dharma teaching without tiring of him. These are Ānanda’s four unprecedented and exceptional qualities.”

Ānanda’s Questions

388. Ānanda then bared his right shoulder and knelt on his right knee. He said to the Buddha, “Bhagavān, there are presently ascetic elders with much knowledge and who clearly understand the discourses and discipline. When those of pure virtue and exceptional conduct come to meet with the Bhagavān, I receive their reverence and personally meet and exchange greetings with them. After the Buddha’s extinguishment, they won’t come anymore, and I won’t have any meetings with his counterparts. How will it be the same?”

389. The Buddha told Ānanda, “Don’t be sad! Our kinsmen will always have four things they’ll remember. What are the four? First, they’ll remember the Buddha’s birthplace. Rejoicing and wanting to see it, remembering and not forgetting it, they’ll think of it fondly. Second, they’ll remember where the Buddha first awakened. Rejoicing and wanting to see it, remembering and not forgetting it, they’ll think of it fondly. Third, they’ll remember where the Buddha turned the Dharma wheel. Rejoicing and wanting to see it, remembering and not forgetting it, they’ll think of it fondly. Fourth, they’ll remember where the Buddha parinirvāṇa-ed. Rejoicing and wanting to see it, remembering and not forgetting it, they’ll think of it fondly.

390. “Ānanda, after I parinirvāṇa, those kinsmen and kinswomen will remember, ‘The Buddha’s virtue was thus when he was born.’ ‘His miraculous abilities were thus when the Buddha attained awakening.’ ‘The people he liberated were thus when the Buddha turned the Dharma wheel.’ ‘His bestowal of the Dharma was thus when the Buddha was about to be extinguished.’ After visiting each of those places and traveling to pay homage at those shrines, they’ll all be born in heaven when they die, aside from those who attain awakening.”

391. The Buddha told Ānanda, “After I parinirvāṇa, those of the Śākya tribe who come seeking awakening should be permitted to leave home. Confer onto them the full precepts. Don’t refuse them. When wanderers from different trainings come seeking awakening, permit them to leave home, too. Confer onto them the full precepts, and don’t test them for four months. Why is that? They have different theories. If they are delayed a while, they’re old views will arise again.”

392. Ānanda then knelt with his palms together in front of the Buddha. He said, “The monk Chanda is rude and obstinate. How shall we handle it after the Buddha’s extinguishment?”

The Buddha told Ānanda, “After I parinirvāṇa, if that Chanda’s behavior isn’t agreeable and he doesn’t accept admonishment, then you all should give him the silent treatment. Order the monks not to speak with him, visit him, teach him, or do chores with him.”

393. Ānanda again asked the Buddha, “After the Buddha parinirvāṇa-s, how should we handle women who come to receive instruction?”

The Buddha told Ānanda, “Don’t give them a [personal] meeting.”

394. Ānanda again asked, “Supposing we do meet with them, how should it be handled?”

The Buddha said, “Don’t talk with them [more than necessary].”

395. Ānanda again asked, “Supposing we do have a conversation with them, how should it be handled?”

The Buddha said, “You should restrain yourself. Ānanda, are you saying that after the Buddha parinirvāṇa-s you won’t be guarded anymore? That you’ll lose what you rely on? Don’t form this view. I became a Buddha to teach the discourses and precepts. They will be your guardian and what you rely on.

396. “Ānanda, starting today, I permit the monks to dispense with the minor rules. When the senior and junior monks call each other, they should follow the rules of propriety. This way, those who’ve left home will be dutiful.”

The Buddha Parinirvāṇa-s

397. The Buddha told the monks, “If you have any doubts about the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha or doubts about the path, you should be quick to ask about them. Now is the time to do it. Those who don’t may regret it later. While I’m still here, I will explain these things for you.”

The monks remained silent and didn’t say anything.

398. The Buddha again told them, “If you have any doubts about the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha or doubts about the path, you should be quick to ask about them. Now is the time to do it. Those who don’t may regret it later. While I’m still here, I will explain these things for you.”

The monks again remained quiet.

399. The Buddha again said, “If you don’t dare ask questions because you’re embarrassed, you should have someone you know quickly come and ask for you. Now is the time to do it. Those who don’t may regret it later.”

Again, the monks remained quiet.

400. Ānanda said to the Buddha, “I believe this is an assembly of pure faith. Not one of these monks doubts the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha or the path.”

401. The Buddha told Ānanda, “I know it myself, too, that the most junior of monks in this assembly sees the path. They aren’t headed for an unpleasant destiny, and they’re sure to reach the end of suffering in no more than seven rebirths.” It was then that the Bhagavān gave his assurance to 1,200 disciples that they would attain the fruit of the path.

402. The Bhagavān then pulled down his upper garment to expose one of his golden arms. He then told the monks, “You should observe that a tathāgata arises in the world only as often as the udumbara flower does!”

403. The Bhagavān then restated his meaning in verse:

404. “Therefore, monks, don’t be careless! Because I wasn’t careless, I brought about perfect awakening and measureless virtues myself. It was also from carefulness that I realized the impermanent existence of all things. This is the Tathāgata’s final teaching.”

405. The Bhagavān then entered the first dhyāna. Emerging from the first dhyāna, he entered the second dhyāna. Emerging from the second dhyāna, he entered the third dhyāna. Emerging from the third dhyāna, he entered the fourth dhyāna. Emerging from the fourth dhyāna, he entered the abode of space samādhi. Emerging from the abode of space samādhi, he entered the abode of consciousness samādhi. Emerging from the abode of consciousness samādhi, he entered the abode of nothingness samādhi. Emerging from the abode of nothingness samādhi, he entered the abode with and without conception samādhi. Emerging from the abode with and without conception samādhi, he entered the cessation of conception samādhi.

406. Ānanda then asked Aniruddha, “Has the Bhagavān parinirvāṇa-ed?”

Aniruddha said, “Not yet, Ānanda. The Bhagavān is now in the samādhi of the cessation of conception. I once heard it personally from the Buddha that one parinirvāṇa-s when emerging from the fourth dhyāna.”

407. The Bhagavān then emerged from the samādhi of the cessation of conception and entered the samādhi of the abode with and without conception. Emerging from the samādhi of the abode with and without conception, he entered the samādhi of the abode of nothingness. Emerging from the samādhi of the abode of nothingness, he entered the samādhi of the abode of consciousness. Emerging from the samādhi of the abode of consciousness, he entered the samādhi of the abode of space. Emerging from the samādhi of the abode of space, he entered the fourth dhyāna. Emerging from the fourth dhyāna, he entered the third dhyāna. Emerging from the third dhyāna, he entered the second dhyāna. Emerging from the second dhyāna, he entered the first dhyāna. Emerging from the first dhyāna, he entered the second dhyāna. Emerging from the second dhyāna, he entered the third dhyāna. Emerging from the third dhyāna, he entered the fourth dhyāna. Emerging from the fourth dhyāna, the Buddha parinirvāṇa-ed.

408. At that moment, there was a great earthquake that terrified the gods and the world’s people. A radiance brighter than sun or moon’s light lit up even places of complete darkness. The beings there each saw each other in that great radiance. They said, “Other people live here! Other people live here!” That light was everywhere and greater than the light of the gods.

409. The Tuṣita gods in the sky scattered mandara flowers and udumbara, padma, kumuda, and puṇḍarīka flowers on the Tathāgata and then on the assembly. The gods also scattered sandalwood powder on the Buddha and on the great assembly.

Eulogies to the Buddha

410. After the Buddha parinirvāṇa-ed, the King of the Brahmā Heaven spoke in verse from up in the sky:

411. Śakra the Lord of Gods also composed a verse:

412. King Vaiśravaṇa also composed a verse:

413. Aniruddha also composed a verse:

414. The monk Upamāna also composed a verse:

415. The monk Ānanda also composed a verse:

416. The spirit Kumbhīra also composed a verse:

417. Vajrapāṇi also composed a verse:

418. The Buddha’s mother Māyā also composed a verse:

419. The spirit between that pair of trees also composed a verse:

420. The spirit of the sal forest also composed a verse:

421. The four god kings also composed a verse:

422. The King of the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven also composed a verse:

423. The King of the Yama Heaven also composed a verse:

424. The King of the Tuṣita Heaven also composed a verse:

425. The King of the Nirmāṇarati Heaven also composed a verse:

426. The King of the Paranirmitavaśavartin also composed a verse:

427. A certain monk also composed verses:

Paying Last Respects

428. The Buddha had parinirvāṇa-ed. The monks lamented his death. They threw themselves to the ground, twisting and crying loudly. They couldn’t control themselves. Sobbing, they said, “How quick the Tathāgata’s extinguishment was! How swift the Bhagavān’s extinguishment was! How fast the great Dharma falls into obscurity! The multitude of beings will decline for a long time! The world will go blind!”

429. They were like a large tree pulled up by the roots with its branches chopped off. They were like a cut snake that twists, turns, and writhes in a frenzy, not knowing where to go. The monks were likewise as they lamented his death. They threw themselves to the ground, twisting and crying loudly. They couldn’t control themselves. Sobbing, they said, “How quick the Tathāgata’s extinguishment was! How swift the Bhagavān’s extinguishment was! How fast the great Dharma falls into obscurity! The multitude of beings will decline for a long time! The world will go blind!”

430. The elder Aniruddha then told the monks, “Stop, stop! Don’t cry! There are gods above us. They might consider it strange and fault you for it!”

The monks asked Aniruddha, “How many gods are there above us?”

431. Aniruddha said, “They fill the sky. Who could count them all? They are roaming around the sky, distraught, crying, and beating their breasts. With tears streaming, they say, ‘How quick the Tathāgata’s extinguishment was! How swift the Bhagavān’s extinguishment was! How fast the great Dharma falls into obscurity! The multitude of beings will decline for a long time! The world will go blind!’

432. “They’re like a large tree pulled up by the roots with its branches chopped off. They’re like a cut snake that twists, turns, and writhes in a frenzy, not knowing where to go. The gods are likewise. They’re roaming around the sky, distraught, crying, and beating their breasts. With tears streaming, they say, ‘How quick the Tathāgata’s extinguishment was! How swift the Bhagavān’s extinguishment was! How fast the great Dharma falls into obscurity! The multitude of beings will decline for a long time! The world will go blind!’”

433. The monks discussed the teaching throughout the night until daybreak. Aniruddha told Ānanda, “Perhaps you should go to the city and tell the Mallas, ‘The Buddha has been extinguished. If you’d like to give offerings, now would be a good time to do it.’”

434. Ānanda got up, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and then led another monk to the city, crying as they went. They saw a group of 500 Mallas gathered in one place for some minor reason. The Mallas saw Ānanda coming and they got up to watch him approached. After bowing at his feet and standing aside, they said to Ānanda, “Why have you come this morning?”

Ānanda replied, “Now, I’ve come here to benefit all of you. You should know that the Tathāgata was extinguished last night. If you’d like to give offerings, now is a good time to do it.”

435. After hearing him say this, all the Mallas lamented loudly. Wiping their tears, they said, “The Buddha parinirvāṇa-ed so fast! The world went blind so swiftly!”

Ānanda responded, “Stop, stop! Gentlemen, don’t cry! The desire for this conditioned life to not change is impossible. As the Buddha said before, ‘What’s born has its death, and what comes together also falls apart. All that we love is impermanent.’”

436. The Mallas then said to each other, “We each should return home, pick out fragrant flowers and musical instruments, and then go quickly to that pair of trees to give offerings to the Buddha’s remains! After a day, we’ll put his remains on a bed. Young Malla men will carry the bed at each corner. We’ll carry banners and parasols, burn incense, scatter flowers, and play music as offerings. We’ll enter the city’s east gate and pass through neighborhood after neighborhood so that people can give offerings. Afterward, we’ll exit through the west gate, take the bed to an elevated place, and cremate him there.”

437. Once they had had this discussion, the Mallas each returned to their homes and picked out fragrant flowers and musical instruments for their offerings. They then went to that place between a pair of trees to give offerings to the Buddha’s remains. After a day, his remains were placed on a bed, but when the Mallas [attempted to] lift the bed, none of them could manage it.

438. Aniruddha then said to the Mallas, “Stop, all of you! Don’t exhaust yourselves needlessly. The gods are going to lift the bed.”

The Mallas asked, “What do the gods have in mind? They’re going to lift this bed?”

439. Aniruddha said, “You were going to give offerings of fragrant flowers and music to the Buddha’s remains. After a day, you would place the remains on a bed and have young Malla men carry it at each corner. You would carry banners and parasols, burn incense, scatter flowers, and play music as offerings. You then would enter the city’s east gate and pass through neighborhood after neighborhood so that people can make offerings. Afterward, you would exit through the west gate, take the bed to an elevated place, and cremate him there.

440. “But the gods wish to leave his remains here for seven days to give offerings of incense, flowers, and music and to pay our respects. Afterward, the Buddha’s remains will be placed on a bed. Young Malla men will carry the bed at each corner. You’ll carry banners and parasols, scatter flowers, burn incense, and play music as offerings to his remains. You’ll enter the city’s east gate and go through neighborhood after neighborhood so that people can give offerings. Afterward, you’ll exit through the north gate, ford the Nairañjanā River, and go to the Heavenly Crown Temple. He’ll be cremated there. This is what gods above want, so they are not allowing the bed to be moved.”

The Mallas said, “Oh, that sounds good! We’ll follow the wishes of the gods.”

441. The Mallas then said to each other, “We should go to the city first and put the streets in the neighborhoods in order. We’ll sweep them and burn incense. Then, we can come back here to give offerings to his remains for seven days.”

442. The Mallas then went together to the city and put the streets in order, going from neighborhood to neighborhood. They swept up refuse and burned incense. When they were finished, they left the city and returned to the place between a pair of trees. They gave offerings of incense, flowers, and music to the Buddha’s remains. When the sun set after seven days had passed, they placed the Buddha’s remains on a bed. Young Malla men carried it at each corner. A crowd of Mallas carried banners and parasols, burned incense, scattered flowers, and played music. They followed the bed bearers in front and back, walking peacefully as they went.

443. The Trāyastriṃśa gods scattered mandara flowers, utpala flowers, padma flowers, kumuda flowers, puṇḍarīka flowers, and heavenly sandalwood powder onto the Buddha’s remains, such that it filled up the roadway. The gods played music, and yakṣa spirits sang songs.

444. The Mallas said to each other, “Let’s set aside our human music in favor of the music the gods are playing as offerings to the Buddha’s remains.”

445. The Mallas carrying the bed made their way to the city and entered the east gate. They stopped at intersections, where they burned incense, scattered flowers, and played music as offerings. There was then the Malla woman *Royī who was a believer in the Buddha’s path. She carried a gold flower in her hand as large as a cartwheel, which she gave as an offering to his remains.

446. There was an elderly grandmother who raised her voice in praise, “These Mallas will get a great reward! For the whole nation delights in giving the final offerings to the Tathāgata after his extinguishment!”

Interment of the Buddha

447. After the Mallas had given their offerings, they left through the north gate, forded the Nairañjanā River, and went to Heavenly Crown Temple. They placed the bed on the ground and told Ānanda, “What else should we give as an offering?”

Ānanda responded, “I personally heard this from the Buddha, personally received this instruction from the Buddha: When we inter his remains, it should be as a noble wheel-turning king is interred.”

448. Again, they asked Ānanda, “How is a noble wheel-turning king interred?”

449. He replied, “‘This is the way of interring a noble [wheel-turning] king: First, his body is bathed in fragrant water. He’s wrapped all around with fresh cotton. Next, he’s wrapped in 500 layers of cloth. His body is placed in a gold coffin and sesame oil is poured onto it. The gold coffin is lifted and placed in a second larger iron coffin. Sandalwood incense is next layered outside of that coffin. Firewood of many fragrances is piled on top of fine robes, and then he is cremated. When it’s done, his remains are placed in a shrine built at a crossroads. It’s exterior is hung with silks, and people from the country travel to see the Dharma king’s shrine. They think longingly about the correct teaching that benefited many people.

450. “‘Ānanda, when you inter me, first bathe my body in fragrant water and then wrap it all around with fresh cotton. Wrap it in 500 layers of cloth, place my body inside a gold coffin and pour sesame oil on it. Lift the gold coffin and place it in a second larger iron coffin. Next, layer sandalwood incense on the outside of that coffin. Pile firewood of many fragrances on top of fine robes, and then cremate me. When it’s done, place my remains in a shrine built at a crossroads. Hang its exterior with silks, and have people from the country travel to see the Buddha’s shrine. They’ll think longingly about the Tathāgata, the Dharma king, and his awakened teaching. While they’re alive, they will get merits and rewards, and they’ll be born up in heaven when they die, aside from those who attain awakening.’”

451. The Mallas then said to each other, “Let’s go back to the city and fetch the supplies for his interment, such as incense, flowers, cotton, coffins, fragrant oil, and white cloth.”

452. The Mallas then went to the city together, arranged the supplies for the interment, and returned to Heavenly Crown Temple. They bathed the Buddha’s body in fragrant water and then wrapped it all around with fresh cotton. They wrapped it in 500 layers of cloth, placed his body inside a gold coffin, and poured fragrant oil on it. They lifted the gold coffin and placed it in a second larger iron coffin. Next, they layered sandalwood on the outside of that coffin. They piled firewood of many fragrances on top of it.

Cremation of the Buddha

453. The great minister of the Mallas named *Royī carried a large torch and tried to light the Buddha’s firewood, but the fire wouldn’t start. Other prominent Mallas came forward to light the wood, but again the fire wouldn’t start.

454. Aniruddha then said to the Mallas, “Stop, stop! Gentlemen, you won’t be able to light it. The fire goes out and doesn’t burn because that’s what the gods want.”

455. The Mallas asked, “Why are the gods preventing the fire from lighting?”

Aniruddha said, “The gods would like Mahākāśyapa to bring 500 disciples from Pāvā. At the moment, they are halfway here on the road. Don’t cremate him yet. They want to look at the Buddha’s body. The gods know his wish, so they are preventing the fire from lighting.”

456. The Mallas again said, “Please let them get what they want.”

457. Mahākāśyapa then was leading those 500 disciples from Pāvā. As they walked on the road, they encountered a Nirgrantha carrying a mandara flower in his hand. When he saw the Nirgrantha, Mahākāśyapa stopped him and asked, “Where are you coming from?”

He replied, “I’m coming from Kuśinagara.”

458. Kāśyapa again asked, “Do you know about our teacher?”

“I do.”

459. “Do you know where he is?”

“It’s been seven days since his extinguishment. I am going there to give this heavenly flower.”

460. When Kāśyapa heard this, he became depressed and unhappy. When the other 500 monks heard the Buddha was extinguished, they cried loudly, twisting, turning, and wailing. They couldn’t control themselves. Wiping their tears, they said, “How quick the Tathāgata’s extinguishment was! How swift the Bhagavān’s extinguishment was! How fast the great Dharma falls into obscurity! The multitude of beings will decline for a long time! The world will go blind!” They were like a large tree pull up by the roots with its branches chopped off. They were like a cut snake that twists, turns, and writhes in a frenzy, not knowing where to go.

461. There was a Śākya man in his assembly named Upananda. He stopped the monks by saying, “Don’t be sad! The Bhagavān is extinguished. We’re free now! He was always saying, ‘You must do this; you mustn’t do that.’ From now on, we can do as we like.”

462. When Kāśyapa heard that, he was depressed and unhappy. He told the monks, “Quickly, get your robes and bowls. We’ll need to get to that pair of trees before he is cremated if we are to see the Buddha.”

463. When they heard what he said, the monks rose from their seats and followed Kāśyapa as he went to Kuśinagara. They forded the Nairañjanā River, arrived at Heavenly Crown Temple, and went to Ānanda. After exchanging greetings, they stood to one side. Kāśyapa said to Ānanda, “We would like to see the remains before he is cremated. Would it be possible to see him?”

464. Ānanda answered, “Although he hasn’t been cremated yet, it’ll be difficult to see him. Why is that? The Buddha’s body was bathed in fragrant water and then wrapped all around with fresh cotton. They wrapped it in 500 layers of cloth and placed his body inside a gold coffin, which was placed in an iron coffin. They layered sandalwood on the outside of that coffin. It’ll be difficult to view the Buddha’s body because of that.”

465. Kāśyapa made his request three times, and Ānanda answered as he did the first time: “… It will be difficult to view the Buddha’s body because of that.”

466. Mahākāśyapa went over to the fragrant firewood. He uncovered the Buddha’s feet inside the double casket, and they had changed color. Seeing that, Kāśyapa was shocked. He asked Ānanda, “The Buddha’s body is golden. Why have his feet changed?”

Ānanda replied, “There was an elderly mother earlier who was lamenting and touched the Buddha’s feet with her hand, and her tears were on them. That’s the only reason they changed color.”

467. Hearing this, Kāśyapa was even more unhappy. He went to the fragrant firewood and bowed to the Buddha’s remains. The fourfold assembly and the gods above also bowed together at the same time. Thereupon, the Buddha’s feet suddenly disappeared.

468. Mahākāśyapa circled the firewood three times and composed these verses:

469. Mahākāśyapa possessed great majesty and had perfected the four kinds of eloquence. After saying these verses, the Buddha’s firewood spontaneously ignited. The Mallas said to each other, “Now, the fire is burning fiercely! The fire grows so much, it’ll be difficult to stop; it’ll cremate his remains until they disappear! Perhaps we should douse it with water?”

470. Then, the spirit of the sal trees was in the firewood, and it believed in the Buddha’s path. It immediately used it’s miraculous power to douse the fire burning the Buddha’s firewood.

471. The Mallas again said to each other, “There are fragrant flowers for twenty yojanas left and right of Kuśinagara. We should collect all of them and offer them to the Buddha’s remains!” They immediately went to the city and picked those fragrant flowers to use as offerings.

Division of the Buddha’s Remains

472. The Malla people of Pāvā heard that the Buddha had parinirvāṇa-ed between a pair of trees. They thought to themselves, “Now, we ought to go and get a portion of his remains. Ours was his homeland, after all! We’ll build a shrine and give offerings to it.”

473. Those Mallas of Pāvā raised from their vassals a fourfold army consisting of elephant troops, horse troops, chariot troops, and foot troops. They went to Kuśinagara and sent an envoy. They said, “We’ve heard that the Buddha, the Bhagavān, stopped and has been extinguished. He was our teacher, too, and dear to our hearts. We are coming to request a portion of his bones. We will build a shrine in his homeland and give offerings to it.”

474. The King of Kuśinagara replied, “Yes, yes! Indeed, it’s as you say. However, it was in this land that the Bhagavān fell ill, and it was here that he parinirvāṇa-ed. The country’s officials and people gave their own offerings. You gentlemen have come from far away, but you cannot have a portion of his remains.”

475. Then, an assembly of Bula people from Calakalpa, an assembly of Kraudya people from Rāmagrāma, an assembly of Brāhmaṇa people from Viṣṇudvīpa, an assembly of Śākya people from Kapilavastu, an assembly of Licchavi people from Vaiśālī, and King Ajātaśatru from Magadha heard that the Tathāgata had chosen to parinirvāṇa between a pair of trees near Kuśinagara. They thought to themselves, “Now, we ought to go and seek a portion of his remains.”

476. The kings of these countries like Ajātaśatru then raised from their vassals fourfold armies consisting of elephant troops, horse troops, chariot troops, and foot troops, and they advanced to cross the Gaṅgā River. They ordered the priest Dhūmragotra, “Go to Kuśinagara in my name and put this question to the Mallas: ‘Has life been easy? Have your travels been difficult? We extend every respect to you gentlemen. We’re friendly neighbors who’re never in conflict. We’ve heard that the Tathāgata chose to parinirvāṇa in your country, sir. Only the unsurpassed sage was our true deity, so we’ve traveled from far away to request a portion of his bones. We’ll take them back to our homelands and build shrines for giving offerings to them. If you were to give this to us, it would enrich the whole country, and we’d share that with you, sir.’”

477. Accepting the king’s instruction, the priest Dhūmragotra went to that city and said to the Mallas, “The great king of Magadha asks immeasurably: ‘Has life been easy? Have your travels been difficult? We extend every respect to you gentlemen. We’re friendly neighbors who’re never in conflict. We’ve heard that the Tathāgata chose to parinirvāṇa in your country, sir. Only the unsurpassed sage was our true deity, so we’ve traveled from far away to request a portion of his bones. We’ll take them back to our homelands and build shrines for giving offerings to them. If you were to give this to us, it would enrich the whole country, and we’d share that with you, sir.’”

478. The Mallas replied to Dhūmragotra, “Yes, yes! Indeed, it’s as you say, sir. However, it was in this land that the Bhagavān fell ill, and it was here that he parinirvāṇa-ed. The country’s officials and people gave their own offerings. You gentlemen have come from far away, but you cannot have a portion of his remains.”

479. The kings of those countries then assembled their ministers, and held a discussion. They composed these verses:

480. The ministers of Kuśinagara assembled and held a discussion on the matter. They composed these verses in answer:

481. The priest Dhūmragotra announced to the assembly, “Gentlemen, we’ve accepted the Buddha’s instruction for so long. We’ve recited the Dharma’s words and our hearts follow his humane education. All sentient beings are constantly mindful of him and desire peace. Would they rather us fight over the Buddha’s remains and hurt each other? They would want the Tathāgata’s remains to be of broad benefit. We should simply divide his remains now.”

482. The assembly all hailed this as good, and they immediately discussed this: “Who is qualified to divide them up?”

483. They said, “The priest Dhūmragotra is a humane sage and balanced. We could have him divide them up.”

484. The kings then commanded Dhūmragotra, “You will divide up the Buddha’s remains equally into eight portions.”

485. Dhūmragotra heard the kings say this and went to the remains. He bowed his head to them deeply, and then picked up the Buddha’s upper teeth. He divided them and put them aside. He sent someone to deliver the Buddha’s upper teeth to King Ajātaśatru.

486. He told the courier, “Using my name, go up to the great king and say, ‘Has life been easy? Have your travels been difficult? Is the wait for the Buddha’s remains taking forever? Now, I’ve dispatched his courier to deliver the Tathāgata’s upper teeth. They are worthy of offerings. I hope that the dividing of the remains will be completed by the time the morning star rises. I will present them myself.’”

487. The messenger accepted Dhūmragotra’s statement and went to king Ajātaśatru. He said, “The priest Dhūmragotra has sent me to ask immeasurably, ‘Has life been easy? Have your travels been difficult? Is the wait for the Buddha’s remains taking forever? Now, I’ve been dispatched to deliver the Tathāgata’s upper teeth. They are worthy of offerings. I hope that the dividing of the remains will be completed by the time the morning star rises. I will present them myself.’”

488. Dhūmragotra then received one stone [weight of remains] and divided them with a jar. Once the eight portions were equal, he told the assembled people, “Using this vase, please see that the remains are being given out fairly. You can build your own shrines to house them and give offerings to them.”

489. They said, “That’s wise! When the time comes, we’ll permit the distribution together.”

490. Someone from the village of Pippala said to the assembled people, “I beg to have the charcoal from the ground. We’ll build a shrine and give offerings to it!”

“We’ll give it to you.”

The Eleven Shrines to the Buddha

491. The people of Kuśinagara received their share of the remains. They then built a shrine in their land and gave offerings to it.

492. The people of Pāvā, Calakalpa, Rāmagrāma, Viṣṇudvīpa, Kapilavastu, Vaiśālī, and King Ajātaśatru of Magadha received their shares of the remains. They each returned to their country, built a shrine, and gave offerings to it. The priest Dhūmragotra brought the vase for building a shrine. The person from Pippala took their portion to their land. They built a shrine to the charcoal of the cremation.

493. At the time, eight shrines were built for the Tathāgata’s remains, a ninth shrine for the vase, a tenth shrine for the charcoal, and an eleventh shrine for hair from the Buddha’s birth.

Final Eulogy

494. On what day was the Buddha born? On what day did he achieved awakening? On what day did he parinirvāṇa? He was born when the star Puṣya rose. He left home when the star Puṣya rose. He achieved awakening when the star Puṣya rose. He parinirvāṇa-ed when the star Puṣya rose.

Notes

  1. The direct parallels for this sutra are DN 16, T5-7, and an extant S. manuscript. There are also numerous parallels to portions of this sutra that appear elsewhere in the Buddhist canon. [back]
  2. Fragrance Shrine. Ch. 香塔. The Indic original is unclear, but it must have meant something like “fragrance” or “incense.” In Pali, the place where the Buddha announced he would enter nirvāṇa in three months was a gabled hall in the Great Forest (P. mahāvanaṁ kūṭāgārasālā) near P. Vesālī. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 19 June 2022