THEN the Mallas, with their young men and maidens and their wives, being grieved, and sad, and afflicted at heart, went to the Upavattana, the sala grove of the Mallas, and wanted to see the Blessed One, in order to partake of the bliss that devolves upon those who are in the presence of the Holy One.
The Blessed One addressed them and said: "Seeking the way, ye must exert yourselves and strive with diligence. It is not enough to have seen me Walk as I have commanded you; free yourselves from the tangled net of sorrow. Walk in the path with steadfast aim. A sick man may be cured by the healing power of medicine and will be rid of all his ailments without beholding the physician. He who does not do what I command sees me in vain. This brings no profit; while he who lives far off from where I am and yet walks righteously is ever near me. A man may dwell beside me, and yet, being disobedient, be far away from me. Yet he who obeys the Dharma will always enjoy the bliss of the Tathagata's presence."
Then the mendicant Subhadda went to the sala grove of the Mallas and said to the venerable Ananda: "I have heard from fellow mendicants of mine, who were deep stricken in years and teachers of great experience: 'Sometimes and full seldom do Tathagatas appear in the world, the holy Buddhas.' Now it is said that today in the last watch of the night, the final passing away of the samana Gotama will take place. My mind is full of uncertainty, yet have I faith in the samana Gotama and trust he will be able so to present the truth that I may become rid of my doubts. O that I might be allowed to see the samana Gotama!"
When he had thus spoken the venerable Ananda said to the mendicant Subhadda: "Enough! friend Subhadda. Trouble not the Tathagata. The Blessed One is weary." Now the Blessed One overheard this conversation of the venerable Ananda with the mendicant Subhadda. And the Blessed One called the venerable Ananda, and said: "Ananda! Do not keep out Subhadda. Subhadda may be allowed to see the Tathagata. Whatever Subhadda will ask of me, he will ask from a desire for knowledge, and not to annoy me, and whatever I may say in answer to his questions, that he will quickly understand."
Then the venerable Ananda said: "Step in, friend Subhadda; for the Blessed One gives thee leave."
When the Blessed One had instructed Subhadda, and aroused and gladdened him with words of wisdom and comfort, Subhadda said to the Blessed One: "Glorious Lord, glorious Lord! Most excellent are the words of thy mouth, most excellent! They set up that which has been overturned, they reveal that which has been hidden. They point out the right road to the wanderer who has gone astray. They bring a lamp into the darkness so that those who have eyes to see can see. Thus, Lord, the truth has been made known to me by the Blessed One and I take my refuge in the Blessed One, in the Truth, and in the Order. May the Blessed One accept me as a disciple and true believer, from this day forth as long as life endures."
And Subhadda, the mendicant, said to the venerable Ananda: "Great is thy gain, friend Ananda, great is thy good fortune, that for so many years thou hast been sprinkled with the sprinkling of discipleship in this brotherhood at the hands of the Master himself!"
Now the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: "It may be, Ananda, that in some of you the thought may arise The word of the Master is ended, we have no teacher more!' But it is not thus, Ananda, that you should regard it. It is true that no more shall I receive a body, for all future sorrow has now forever passed away. But though this body will be dissolved, the Tathagata remains. The truth and the rules of the order which I have set forth and laid down for you all, let them, after I am gone, be a teacher unto you.When I am gone, Ananda, let the order, if it should so wish, abolish all the lesser and minor precepts."
Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said: "There may be some doubt or misgiving in the mind of a brother as to the Buddha, or the truth, or the path. Do not have to reproach yourselves afterwards with the thought, 'We did not inquire of the Blessed One when we were face to face with him.' Therefore inquire now, O brethren, inquire freely."
The brethren remained silent. Then the venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: "Verily, I believe that in this whole assembly of the brethren there is not one brother who has any doubt or misgiving as to the Buddha, or the truth, or the path!"
Said the Blessed One: "It is out of the fullness of faith that thou hast spoken, Ananda! But Ananda, the Tathagata knows for certain that in this whole assembly of the brethren there is not one brother who has any doubt or misgiving as to the Buddha, or the truth, or the path! For even the most backward, Ananda, of all these brethren has become converted, and is assured of final salvation."
Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren and said: "If ye now know the Dharma the cause of all suffering, and the path of salvation, O disciples, will ye then say: 'We respect the Master, and out of reverence for the Master do we thus speak?'" The brethren replied: "That we shall not, O Lord."
And the Holy One continued: "Of those beings who live in ignorance, shut up and confined, as it were, in an egg, I have first broken the egg-shell of ignorance and alone in the universe obtained the most exalted, universal Buddhahood. Thus, O disciples, I am the eldest, the noblest of beings.
"But what ye speak, O disciples, is it not even that which ye have yourselves known, yourselves seen, yourselves realized?" Ananda and the brethren said: "It is, O Lord."
Once more the Blessed One began to speak: "Behold now, brethren, said he, I exhort you, saying, 'Decay is inherent in all component things, but the truth will remain forever Work out your salvation with diligence!" This was the last word of the Tathagata. Then the Tathagata fell into a deep meditation, and having passed through the four jhanas, entered Nirvana.
When the Blessed One entered Nirvana there arose, at his passing out of existence, a mighty earthquake, terrible and awe-inspiring: and the thunders of heaven burst forth, and of those of the brethren who were not yet free from passions some stretched out their arms and wept, and some fell headlong on the ground, in anguish at the thought: "Too soon has the Blessed One died! Too soon has the Happy One passed away from existence! Too soon has the Light of the world gone out!"
Then the venerable Anuruddha exhorted the brethren and said: "Enough, my brethren! Weep not, neither lament! Has not the Blessed One formerly declared this to us, that it is in the very nature of all things near and dear unto us, that we must separate from them and leave them, since everything that is born, brought into being, and organized, contains within itself the inherent necessity of dissolution? How then can it be possible that the body of the Tathagata should not be dissolved? No such condition can exist! Those who are free from passion will bear the loss, calm and self-possessed, mindful of the truth he has taught us."
The venerable Anuruddha and the venerable Ananda spent the rest of the night in religious discourse. Then the venerable Anuruddha said to the venerable Ananda: "Go now, brother Ananda, and inform the Mallas of Kusinara saying, 'The Blessed One has passed away: do, then, whatsoever seemeth fit!'" And when the Mallas had heard this saying they were grieved, and sad, and afflicted at heart.
Then the Mallas of Kusinara gave orders to their attendants, saying, "Gather together perfumes and garlands, and all the music in Kusinara!" And the Mallas of Kusinara took the perfumes and garlands, and all the musical instruments, and five hundred garments, and went to the sala grove where the body of the Blessed One lay. There they passed the day in paying honor and reverence to the remains of the Blessed One, with hymns, and music, and with garlands and perfumes, and in making canopies of their garments, and preparing decorative wreaths to hang thereon. And they burned the remains of the Blessed One as they would do to the body of a king of kings.
When the funeral pyre was lit, the sun and moon withdrew their shining, the peaceful streams on every side were torrent-swollen, the earth quaked, and the sturdy forests shook like aspen leaves, whilst flowers and leaves fell untimely to the ground, like scattered rain, so that all Kusinara became strewn knee-deep with mandara flowers raining down from heaven.
When the burning ceremonies were over, Devaputta said to the multitudes that were assembled round the pyre: "Behold, O brethren, the earthly remains of the Blessed One have been dissolved, but the truth which he has taught us lives in our minds and cleanses us from all error. Let us, then, go out into the world, as compassionate and merciful as our great master, and preach to all living beings the four noble truths and the eightfold path of righteousness, so that all mankind may attain to a final salvation, taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha."
When the Blessed One had entered into Nirvana and the Mallas had burned the body with such ceremonies as would indicate that he was the great king of kings, ambassadors came from all the empires that at the time had embraced his doctrine, to claim a share of the relics; and the relics were divided into eight parts and eight dagobas were erected for their preservation. One dagoba was erected by the Mallas, and seven others by the seven kings of those countries whose people had taken refuge in the Buddha.