Mahaparinibbana Sutta
Discourse on the Great Event of the Passing away of the Buddha

Maha Vagga, Digha Nikaya, Suttanta Pitaka

SOURCE: "TEN SUTTAS FROM DIGHA NIKAYA"
BURMA PITAKA ASSOCIATION, 1984

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1. Seven Factors of Non-Decline of Kings and Princes

2. Seven Factors of Non-Decline of Bhikkhus

3. A Second Set of Seven Factors of Non-Decline

4. A Third Set of Seven Factors of Non-Decline

5. A Fourth Set of Seven Factors of Non-Decline

6. A Fifth Set of Seven Factors of Non-Decline

7. Six Factors of Non-Decline of Bhikkhus

8. The Venerable Sariputta's Brave Utterance

9. The Disadvantages to an Immoral Man

10. Advantages Accruing to a Man of Virtue

11. Founding of the (fortified) City of Pataliputta

12. The Four Noble Truths

13. Those who will reach the Higher Levels of Magga Insight

14. Exposition of the 'Mirror of Wisdom'

15. Ambapali, the Courtesan

16. Spending the Vassa at Veluva Village

17. Spoken Signs and Intimations

18. Mara's Request

19. Renunciation of the Life-Sustaining Mental Process

20. Eight Causes of Earthquakes

21. Eight Categories of Assemblies

22. Eight ways of Mastery

23. Eight Stages of Release

24. The Venerable Ananda's Appeal

25. Thirty-Seven Elements of the Perpetuation of the Teaching

26. Looking Back like a Noble Tusker

27. Discourse on Four Great Authorities

28. Account concerning Cunda, the Goldsmith's Son

29. Having Drinking Water Brought

30. Account concerning Pukkusa, the Malla Prince

31. The Twin Sal Trees

32. Upavana the Bhikkhu Elder

33. Four Places Arousing Apprehension of the Nature of Impermanence

34. The Venerable Ananda's Questions

35. Persons Worthy of a Stupa

36. The Venerable Ananda

37. Four Marvellous Qualities of Ananda

38. Former Grandeur of Kusinara

39. Homage by the Malla Princes

40. Subhadda the Wandering Ascetic

41. Last Words of the Tathagata

42. The Buddha's Parinibbana

43. Last Rites for the Remains of the Buddha

44. The Venerable Mahakassapa

45. Distribition of the Relics Raising the Relic-Stupas in Reverence

46. Raising the Relic Stupas in Reverence


Spending the Vassa at Veluva Village

      163. The Bhagava after staying at the orchard of Ambapali, the courtesan, as long as he wished, said to the Venerable Ananda, "Come, Ananda, let us go to the village called Veluva."

      The Venerable Ananda respectfully assented, saying, "Very well, Venerable Sir."

      Then the Bhagava went to Veluva village with a great many bhikkhus, and while there, said to the bhikkhus:

     "Come, bhikkhus, enter upon the residence period of the rains (vassa) in places where you have friends, acquaintances and intimates in the neighbourhood of Vesali.

      "As for me, I shall enter upon the residence period of the rains in this Veluva village itself."

      The bhikkhus assented respectfully, saying "Very well, Venerable Sir," and entered upon the residence period of the rains in places where they had friends, acquaintances and intimates in the neighbourhood of Vesali. The Bhagava himself entered upon the residence period of the rains in Veluva village itself.1

      164. Some time after the Bhagava had entered upon the residence period of the rains, there arose in him a severe illness and he suffered excessive pain, near unto death. The Bhagava endured, with mindfulness and clear comprehension, and without being perturbed.

      Then the Bhagava had this thought: "It would not be proper for me to pass away in the realization of Nibbana without letting the attendant bhikkhus know without taking leave of the community of bhikkhus. (Therefore) I should ward off this illness by effort (of Insight meditation, vipassana bhavana,) and abide in the life-maintaining phala samapatti (sustained absorption in Fruition attainment2)."

Then the Bhagava warded off his illness by effort (of vipassana bhavana) and abided in the life-maintaining phala samapatti. The Bhagava's illness subsided.

      Then the Bhagava, having recovered from his illness, came out from his monastery soon after his recovery, and sat in the shade of the monastery on the seat prepared for him.

      Then the Venerable Ananda approached the Bhagava, made obeisance, and having seated himself on one side, said thus to the Bhagava:

      "Venerable Sir, I see the Bhagava now at ease. I find the Bhagava now in good health. Though I now see the Bhagava thus, when the Bhagava. was ill my body felt heavy and stiff; my sight in all directions became dim I became bewildered, unable to grasp doctrines (such as on the methods of steadfast mindfulness). However, I took some small comfort from the thought that the Bhagava would not pass away into parinibbana so long as he had not left any instructions concerning the community of bhikkhus."

     165. Ananda, what does the community of bhikkhus still expect from me? Ananda, I have set forth the Teaching without any distinction of inner or outer doctrine. The Tathagatas, Ananda, in (the matter of) their Teaching do not hold anything secret in the closed fist of a teacher, (i.e., do not keep back anything).

     Ananda, if a person should desire that he alone should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community of bhikkhus should depend on him alone, then it is that person who should lay down instructions concerning the community of bhikkhus.

      But Ananda, the Tathagata has no such thought or desire that he alone should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community of bhikkhus should depend on him alone. Having no such thought or desire, why should the Tathagata leave any instructions concerning the community of bhikkhus?

      Ananda, I am now frail, old, aged, far gone in years, and in the last stage of life. I have reached the eightieth year. Just as, Ananda, a worn-out old cart is held together merely by bindings and repairs, so the body of the Tathagata is held together merely by (the force of) the phala-samapatti.

      Ananda, it is (only) when the Tathagata attains and is abiding in the animitta3 Concentration of Mind (in the Arahatta phala samapatti), through not paying attention to any phenomenal image4and through the cessation of some sensations (i.e., mundane sensations), that the Tathagata's body is at real ease and comfort (lit., at greater ease).

     Therefore, Ananda, let yourselves be5your own firm support6, and let yourselves, and not anyone or anything else, be your refuge; let the Dhamma, the Teaching, be your firm support, and let the Dhamma, and not anything else, be your refuge.

     Ananda, how is the bhikkhu to make himself his own firm support, and to make himself, and not anyone or anything else, his refuge; (how is he) to make the Dhamma his firm support, and to make the Dhamma, and not anything else, his refuge?

     Ananda, the bhikkhu (i.e., the disciple) following the practice of my Teaching keeps his mind steadfastly on the body (kaya), with diligence, comprehension and mindfulness, (and perceives its impermanent, insecure, soulless and unpleasant nature), thus keeping away covetousness and distress (which will appear if he is not mindful of the five khandhas). He keeps his mind steadfastly on sensation (Vedana) (and perceives its impermanent, insecure and soulless nature). He concentrates steadfastly on the mind (citta). He keeps his mind steadfastly on the dhamma with diligence, comprehension, and mindfulness, (and perceives their impermanent, insecure and soulless nature), thus keeping away covetousness and distress (which will appear if he is not mindful of the five khandhas).

     Ananda, thus the bhikkhu makes himself his own firm support and makes himself, and not anyone or anything else, his refuge; thus the bhikkhus makes the Dhamma, the Teaching, his firm support, and makes the Dhamma, and not anything else, his refuge.

     Ananda, those bhikkhus who, either now or after my passing away, make themselves their own firm support, and make themselves, and not anyone or any thing else, their refuge; who make the Dhamma their firm support and make the Dhamma, and not, any thing else, their refuge, all such bhikkhus, among all the bhikkhus who are desirous of (keeping to) right practice, shall reach the highest, noblest state.7


      1. According to the Commentary, the Buddha made this arrangement because he realized that he would pass away into parinibbana in ten months' time.

      2. Just before entering into the phala samapatti, the Buddha made the resolution that he would live for the next ten months free of severe illness which would result in death. (The Commentary). He thereby postponed for ten months the time of his final passing away (parinibbana).

      3. animitta: disregarding signs or attributes of phenomena.

      4. phenomenal image: all signs, i.e., objects or ideas pertaining to the five khandhas.

     5. let yourselves be: viharatha : lit., dwell (making yourselves your own firm base).

     6. firm support: attadipa be yourselves your island (support). An island in an ocean offers firm ground for standing on. (The Commentary)

      7. the highest, noblest state: tamatagge: According to the Commentary, tamatagge=tama agge,=aggatama, the highest, the most eminent State reached by practising the Satipatthana, the four Methods of Steadfast Mindfulness.

End of the Second Portion for Recitation


Spoken Signs and Intimations

      166. Then the Bhagava, rearranging his robes in the morning time, took alms-bowl and great robe and went into Vesali on his alms-round.

      After his alms-round and after his meal, leaving the place of eating, the Bhagava said to the Venerable Ananda,

     "Ananda, bring a leather rug (lit., thing to sit on); let us go to the Capala shrine to spend the day (there)."

      The Venerable Ananda respectfully assented, and taking a leather rug, followed closely behind the Bhagava.

      Then the Bhagava approached the Capala shrine and seated himself on the seat placed for him. The Venerable Ananda, making obeisance to the Bhagava, seated him self at a suitable place.

      167. To the Venerable Ananda, who was seated on one side, the Bhagava said thus:

      Ananda, pleasant is the country of Vesali. Pleasant are the shrines of Udena, Gotamaka, Sattamba, Bahuputta, Sarandada, Capala.

      Ananda, whosoever has cultivated, practised, used as a means (lit., a vehicle), based himself on, maintained, mastered (lit., studied well), and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power1, could, if he so desired, live the maximum life-span2 or even beyond the maximum life-span.

      Ananda, the Tathagata has cultivated, practised, used as a means (lit., a vehicle), based himself on, maintained, mastered (lit. studied well), and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power. Therefore, Ananda, the Tathagata could, if he so desired, live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.

      Although the Bhagava thus gave plain intimations and hints, the Venerable Ananda was unable to understand their significance, and failed to appeal to the Bhagava in this way: "Venerable Sir, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span! May the Sugata live the maximum life-span, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men!" It was as if his mind was possessed by Mara.

      For a second time, the Bhagava said thus: .................

      For a third time, the Bhagava said thus: Ananda, pleasant is the country of Vesali. Pleasant are the shrines of Udena, Gotamaka, Sattamba, Bahuputta, Sarandada, Capala.

      Ananda, whosoever has cultivated, practised, used as a means (lit., a vehicle), based himself on, maintained, mastered (lit., studied well), and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power, could, if he so desired, live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.

     Ananda, the Tathagata has cultivate, practised, used as a means (lit., a vehicle), based himself on, maintained, mastered (lit., studied well), and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power. Therefore, Ananda, the Tathagata could, if he so desired, live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.

      Although the Bhagava thus gave plain intimations and hints, the Venerable Ananda was unable to understand their significance, and failed to appeal to the Bhagava in this way: "Venerable Sir, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span! May the Sugata live the maximum life-span, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men!" It was as if his mind was possessed by Mara.

      Then the Bhagava said to the Venerable Ananda, "Go now. Ananda. Now you know the time to go."

      The Venerable Ananda respectfully assented, saying "Very well, Venerable Sir," arose from his seat, made obeisance to the Bhagava, and left respectfully. He went and sat at the foot of a certain tree not very far away.


      1. The four Bases of Psychic Power: catttaro (four) Iddhi (Psychic Power or Potency) pada (bases). These four are concentration, coupled with determination, on purpose, on will, on thoughts, and on investigative knowledge.

     2. The maximums life-span: (ayukappa): the Commentary's rendering of kappa, which in some other context means 'world cycle or 'aeon'.



Mara's Request

      168. Soon after the Venerable Ananda had left the Bhagava, the evil Mara approached the Bhagava, and standing at a certain place, thus said to the Bhagava:

      "Venerable Sir, let the Bhagava realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana! It is time now for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana.

      "Venerable Sir, (at one time) the Bhagava had in deed said (to me) these words: 'O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as my disciples, the bhikkhus, are not yet accomplished in learning, not yet well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), not yet confident, not yet endowed with wide knowledge and learning, not yet able to remember or memorize the Teaching (lit., to carry the Teaching), not yet able to practise fully according to the Teaching (by means of Vipassana, Insight Meditation leading to the attainment of Magga), not yet endowed with correctness in practice, not yet able to live (lit., walk) in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth1, not yet able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, not yet able to refute by means of correct or proper reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are not yet able to expound, to set forth the wonderful, sublime Teaching."

      "Venerable Sir, the Bhagava's disciples, the bhikkhus, are now accomplished in learning, are well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), are confident, are endowed with wide knowledge and learning, are able to memorize the Teaching, are able to practise fully according to the Teaching, are endowed with correctness in practice, are able to live in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, are able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest of evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, are able to refute by means of correct reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are able to expound the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "Venerable Sir, (therefore) let the Bhagava realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana! It is time now for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana.

      "Venerable Sir, (at one time, the Bhagava had in deed said (to me) these words: O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as my female disciples, the bhikkhunis, are not yet accomplished in learning, not yet well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), not yet confident, not yet endowed with wide know ledge and learning, not yet able to remember or memorize the Teaching (lit., to carry the Teaching), not yet able to practise fully according to the Teaching, not yet endowed with correctness in practice, not yet able to live (lit., walk) in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, not yet able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, not yet able to refute by means of correct or proper reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are not yet able to expound, to set forth the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "Venerable Sir, the Bhagava's female disciple, the bhikkhunis, are now accomplished in learning, are well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), are confident, are endowed with wide knowledge and learning, are able to memorize the Teaching, are able to practise fully according to the Teaching, are endowed with correctness in practice, are able to live in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, are able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, are able to refute by means of correct reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are able to expound the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "Venerable Sir, (therefore) let the Bhagava realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana! It is time now for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana.

      "Venerable Sir, (at one time) the Bhagava had indeed said (to me) these words: 'O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as my lay-disciples are not yet accomplished in learning, not yet well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), not yet confident, not yet endowed with wide knowledge and learning, not yet able to remember or memorize the Teaching (lit., to carry the Teaching), not yet able to practise fully according to the Teaching, not yet endowed with correctness in practice, not yet able to live (lit., walk) in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, not yet able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, not yet able to refute by means of correct or proper reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are not able to expound, to set forth the wonderful, sublime Teaching."

      "Venerable Sir, the Bhagava's lay-disciples are now accomplished in learning, are well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), are confident, are endowed with wide knowledge and learning, are able to memorize the Teaching, are able to practise fully according to the Teaching, are endowed with correctness in practice, are able to live in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, are able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, are able to refute by means of correct reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are able to expound the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "Venerable Sir, (therefore) let the Bhagava realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana It is time now for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana.

      "Venerable Sir, (at one time) the Bhagava had indeed said (to me) these words: 'O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as my female lay-disciples are not yet accomplished in learning, not yet well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), not yet confident, not yet endowed with knowledge and learning, not yet able to remember or memorize the Teaching (lit., to carry the Teaching), not yet able to practise fully according to the Teaching, not yet endowed with correctness in practice, not yet able to live (lit., walk) in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, not yet able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, not yet able to refute by means of correct or proper reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are not yet able to expound, to set forth the wonderful, sublime Teaching."

      "Venerable Sir, the Bhagava's female lay-disciples are now accomplished in learning, are well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), are confident, are endowed with wide knowledge and learning, are able to memorize the Teaching, are able to practise fully according to the Teaching, are endowed with correctness in practice, are able to live in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, are able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, are able to refute by means of correct reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are able to expound the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "Venerable Sir, (therefore) let the Bhagava realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana It is time now for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana.

      "Venerable Sir, (at one time) the Bhagava had in deed said (to me) these words: 'O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as this (Teaching of mine which should be termed the) Practice of Purity is not yet complete in effectiveness, not yet prosperous, renowned, prevalent among people, and widespread, to the extent that it can be thoroughly manifested, explained or made known by (wise) devas and men."

      "Venerable Sir, the Bhagava's Teaching, fit to be termed the Practice of Purity, is now complete in effectiveness, is now prosperous, renowned, prevalent among people, and widespread, to the extent that it can be thoroughly manifested, explained or made known by (wise) devas and men."

      "Venerable Sir, (therefore) let the Bhagava realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana! It is time now for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana."

      When this was said, the Bhagava said to Mara, the Evil One, "You, Evil One, do not be anxious. Before long the parinibbana of the Tathagata will take place. Three months from today, the Tathagata will realize parinibbana."


      1. to live in....truth: anudhammacarino; anudhamma=in conformity with the highest stage of vipassana meditation leading to magga; carino - the habit of practising.


Renunciation of the Life-Sustaining Mental Process

      169. Then the Bhagava, while at the Capala shrine, decided mindfully and deliberately to give up1 the life-sustaining mental process by not re-entering into phalasamapatti (after three months). When the Bhagava renounced the life-sustaining mental process, there occurred a great earthquake, terrible, hair-raising and gooseflesh-causing in its dreadfulness. Also, rolls of thunder burst forth continuously.

      Then the Bhagava, perceiving this occurrence, uttered at that instant these exultant verses:

      "The Buddha2', considering and weighing repeated existence against the incomparable and immeasurable Nibbana, has renounced the existence- producing kammic volitions3. With delight in Insight Meditation and with absolute calm of mind, he has destroyed the net work of kilesas. moral defilements, covering him like a coat of chain-mail."


      1. decided .... to give up: In the Pali Text 'gave up': ossaji, p.t. of ossajati: to let loose, give up, release; hence, by implication renounce.

      2. The Buddha: the term used here is Muni, one who has attained perfection in self-restraint and insight.

      3. existence-producing kammic volitions: bhava- sankhara: the volitional activities leading to new existence.


Eight Causes of Earthquakes

      170. Then, this thought occurred to the Venerable Ananda:

      "O Sirs, wonderful it is! O Sirs, unprecedentedly marvellous it is! This dreadful and hair-raising earthquake is indeed a great earthquake. It is stupendous. Also, rolls of thunder burst forth continuously. What is the cause of great earthquakes? What is the condition leading to great earthquakes ?"

      The Venerable Ananda then approached the Bhagava, and after paying obeisance to him, and seating himself on one side, said to the Bhagava thus:

      "Venerable Sir, wonderful it is! Venerable Sir, unprecedentedly marvellous it is! This dreadful and hair-raising earthquake is indeed a great earthquake. It is stupendous. Also, rolls of thunder burst forth continuously. What is the cause of great earthquakes? What is the condition leading to great earthquakes ?"

     171. Ananda, there are eight causes of, or conditions leading to, great earthquakes. What are the eight (causes)?

      Ananda, this great earth is supported by water, the water by air, the air by space. At times great winds blow strongly. When great winds blow strongly, the water is shaken. When the water is shaken, the earth is shaken. This is the first cause of, the first condition leading to, the occurrence of great earthquakes. (1)

      Again, Ananda, a samana (recluse, ascetic) or a brahmana1 (a man of religious pursuit), who has great (mental) power, and who is proficient in the supernormal powers of' the mind2, or a deva of great power and psychic potency, by developing intense concentration on the limited image of the earth-element3 and on the unlimited image of the water-element, causes this earth to quake, to sway violently, to rock up and down and to convulse. This is the second cause of, the second condition leading to, the occurrence of great earth quakes. (2)

      Again, Ananda, when a Future Buddha, mindfully and deliberately, passes away in the Tusita deva realm and is conceived in his mother's womb, this earth quakes, sways violently, rocks up and down, and is convulsed. This is the third cause of, the third condition leading to, the occurrence of great earthquakes. (3)

      Again, Ananda, when a Future Buddha, mindfully and deliberately, issues from the mother's womb, this earth quakes, sways violently rocks up and down, and is convulsed. This is the fourth cause of, the fourth condition leading to the occurrence of great earthquakes. (4)

      Again, Ananda, when a Tathagata attains the most supreme Perfect Enlightenment, this earth quakes, sways violently, rocks up and down, and is convulsed. This is the fifth cause of, the fifth condition leading to the occurrence of great earthquakes. (5)

      Again, Ananda, when a Tathagata sets the noblest Wheel of the Dhamma in motion (by expounding the first discourse, on the Four Noble Truths), this earthquakes, sways violently, rocks up and down, and is convulsed. This is the sixth cause of, the sixth condition leading to the occurrence of great earthquakes. (6)

     Again, Ananda, when a Tathagata, mindfully and deliberately, decides to give up the life-sustaining mental process, ayusankhara, this earth quakes, sways violently, rocks up and down, and is convulsed. This is the seventh cause of, the seventh condition leading to the occurrence of great earth-quakes. (7)

      Again, Ananda, when a Buddha passes away and enters upon parinibbana, by experiencing the ultimate peace , nibbanadhatu, with complete extinction of the five khandhas, anupadisesa, this earth quakes, sways violently, rocks up and down, and is convulsed. This is the eighth cause of, the eighth condition leading to, the occurrence of great earthquakes. (8)

      Ananda, these are the eight causes of, the eight conditions leading to, the occurrence of great earthquakes.


      1. brahmana: a man leading a pure, ascetic life, free from demeritorious acts. Here, a brahmin (of the brahmin religion or caste is not meant.

      2. proficient ...... mind: cetovasippata: lit., with mastery over one's mind. The Commentary explains this as "having cultivated and exercised the abhinna (super-normal mental power)".

      3. Intense concentration on the earth-element: pathavisanna is paraphrased as "developing earth-consciousness, that is, the kasina jhana (mental cultivation or mental absorption) with the earth element as the object (kasina) of the meditation."



Eight Categories of Assemblies

     172. Ananda, there are eight categories of assemblies. These are: assembly of nobles, assembly of brahmins, assembly of householders, assembly of recluses, assembly of the devas of the Catumaharajika 1deva realm, assembly of the devas of the Tavatimsa2 deva realm, assembly of the devas led by Mara3, and assembly of the Brahmas.

      Ananda, I remember having attended hundreds of assemblies of nobles. In these assemblies I sat together with them, conversed with them, and had discussions with them. My appearance was like their appearance, and my voice was like their voice4. By religious discourse I caused them to realize (the benefits of) the Teaching, to become established in (the observance of) the Teaching and to be filled with gladness and enthusiasm for (the practice of) the Teaching. While I was thus discoursing, they did not know me, wondering "Who is this discoursing? Is he deva or man?" After I had caused them to realize (the benefits of) the Teaching, to become established in (the observance of) the Teaching and to be filled with gladness and enthusiasm for (the practice of) the Teaching. I vanished from there. Also when I vanished thus, they did not know me, wondering "Who was he that vanished thus? Was he deva or man?"

      Ananda, I remember having attended hundreds of assemblies of brahmins. In those ..... (repeated as above). Ananda, I remember having attended hundreds of assemblies of householders ..... (repeated as above). Ananda, I remember having attended hundreds of assemblies of recluses ..... ; of the Catumaharajika devas ..... of the Tavatimsa devas ......; of the devas led by Mara .....; of the Brahmas .

      In these assemblies also, I sat together with them, conversed with them and had discussions with them. My appearance was like their appearance, and my voice was like their voice. By religious discourse I caused them to realize (the benefits of) the Teaching, to become established in (the observance of) the Teaching and to be filled with gladness and enthusiasm for (the practice of) the Teaching. While I was thus discoursing, they did not know me, wondering "Who is this discoursing? Is he deva or man?" After I had caused them to realize (the benefits of) the Teaching, to become established in (the observance of) the Teaching, and to be filled with gladness and enthusiasm for (the practice of) the Teaching, I vanished from there. Also when I vanished thus, they did not know me, wondering, "Who was he that vanished thus? Was he deva or man?"

Ananda, these are the eight categories of assemblies.


     1. Catumaharajika: the lowest of the six deva realms, ruled by four Great Deva Kings.

     2. Tavatimsa: the second deva realm, next to the above.

     3. There is only one Mara, a leader of the sixth and highest deva realm. He is symbolic of sensual pleasures.

     4. Because of the supernormal powers of the Buddha, his form and his voice appeared to the nobles, etc., as those of one of them.


Eight ways of Mastery

      173. Ananda, there are eight ways of overcoming the opposite phenomena and sense-objects, 1 abhibbaya tana jhana. What are these eight? These are (as follows):

      A person2 concentrates on colour on &arts of) his own body, (such as colour of hair, eye, skin), and on finite external forms (such as kasina 3 forms), unblemished or blemished (lit., with good or bad colour). He is thus aware that he knows and sees these (kasina) forms4with mastery5 over them. This is the first abhibhayatana jhana. (1)

      A person concentrates on colour on (parts of) his own body (such as colour of hair, eye, skin), and on infinite external forms, (such as kasina forms), unblemished or blemished. He is thus aware that he knows and sees these (kasina) forms with mastery over them. This is the second abhibhayatana jhana. (2)

      A person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on finite external forms (such as kasina forms), unblemished or blemished. He is thus aware that he knows and sees these (kasina) forms with mastery over them. This is the third abhibhayatana jhana. (3)

      A person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on infinite external forms (such as kasina forms), unblemished or blemished. He is thus aware that he knows and sees these (kasina) forms with mastery over them. This is the fourth abhibhayatana jhana. (4)

      A person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on external (kasina) forms that were dark-blue, with a dark-blue colour, dark-blue hue, and dark-blue lustre, like the ummapuppha6 flower which is dark-blue, and has a dark-blue colour, dark-blue hue, dark-blue lustre, or like fine cloth made in Baranasi, with a smooth finish on both sides, which is dark-blue, and has a dark-blue colour, dark-blue hue, dark-blue lustre. In this way, a person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on external (kasina) forms that are dark-blue, with a dark-blue colour, dark-blue hue, and dark-blue lustre. He is thus aware that he knows and sees these (kasina) forms with mastery over them. This is the fifth abhibhayatana jhana. (5)

      A person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on external (kasina) forms that are yellow, with a yellow colour, yellow hue, and yellow lustre, like the kanikarapuppha7 flower which is yellow and has a yellow colour, yellow hue, yellow lustre, or like fine cloth made in Baranasi, with a smooth finish on both sides, which is yellow, and has a yellow colour, yellow hue, yellow lustre. In this way, a person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on external (kasina) forms that are yellow, with a yellow colour, yellow hue, and yellow lustre. He is thus aware that he knows and sees these (kasina) forms with mastery over them. This is the sixth abhibhayatana jhana. (6)

      A person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on external (kasina) froms that are red, with a red colour, red hue, and red lustre, like the bandhujivakapuppha8 flower which is red, and has a red colour, red hue, red lustre, or like fine cloth made in Baranasi with a smooth finish on both sides, which is red, and has a red colour, red hue, red lustre. In this way, a person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on external (kasina) forms that are red, with a red colour, red hue, and red lustre. He is thus aware that he knows and sees these (kasina) forms with mastery over them. This is the seventh abhibhayatana jhana. (7)

      A person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on external (kasina) forms that are white, with a white colour, white hue, and white lustre, like the Morning Star which is white, and has a white colour, white hue, white lustre, or like fine cloth made in Baranasi, with a smooth finish on both sides, which is white, and his a white colour, white hue, white lustre. In this way, a person, without concentrating on colour on (parts of) his own body, concentrates on external (kasina) forms that are white, with a white colour, white hue, and white lustre. He is thus aware that he knows and sees these (kasina) forms with mastery over them. This is the eighth abhibhayatana jhana. (8)

      Ananda, these are the eight ways of overcoming the opposite phenomena and sense-objects, abhibhayatana jhana.9


      1. sense-objects: i.e., objects of kasina meditation, including object of consciousness; opposite phenomena: i.e., hindrances, nivaranas.

      2. A person: one who has an extremely sharp intellect, among those who can quickly attain the desired jhana.

      3. Kasina: objects of intense meditation. What is perceived in the mind's eye are the after-images arising through concentration.

      4. The awareness of these forms expressed by the words 'knows and sees', takes place before or after a jhana.

      5. with mastery: abhibuyya, (lit., overcoming); i.e., with great facility, enabling the yogi who practises this meditation to enter into a jhana immediately after achieving the unblemished mental image of a particular kasina object (patibhaga nimitta).

      6. Ummapuppha: flax blossom. Another interpretation is the flower of the butterfly pea.

      7. kanikarapuppha: the wild champak flower.

      8. bandhuJivakapuppha: flower of the tree Pentapetes phoenicea.

      9. This abhibhayatana jhana is not a separate jhana. It is one of the rupa jhanas. The distinctive feature of the abhibhayatana jhana is that it takes as its kasina objects only the four colours of dark-blue, yellow, red and white, from amongst the forty kinds of objects of meditation. In abhidhamma, the four primary elements, namely, pathavi, apo, tejo, vayo, are also considered to be objects of meditation for this abhibhjyatana jhana. This abhibhayatana jhana can be achieved only by those who can quickly attain the desired jhana, and even from amongst them only by those with the sharpest intellect.

      Abhibhayatana jhana is a special term employed when the attainment of jhana immediately follows the achievement of the unblemished mental image of a particular kasina object (patibhaga nimitta).

      Of these eight ways of abhibhayatana jhana, the first four exercise mastery over the finite or infinite objects of kasina meditation, both internal and external. The last four exercise mastery over the unblemished mental image derived from a particular kasina object. Their object of concentration is an external kasina form, and the unblemished mental image is derived also from an external kasina object. (See also Appendix B2)


Eight Stages of Release

      174. Ananda, there are eight stages of Release (Vimokkha)1. These are:

      Contemplating the kasina objects in one's own body, and having attained the rupa jhana,2 the mental absorption in form and matter, one contemplates (also external) forms and objects (such as kasina objects). This is the first Release. (1)

      Not paying attention to the kasina objects in one's own body, such as colour, form and corporeal features, one contemplates external (kasina) forms. This is the second Release. (2)

      One applies oneself to the brightness and clarity (subha) of the object of intense contemplation3. This is the third Release.( 3)

      By concentrating on the concept, 'Space is Infinite' one achieves and remains in Akasanancayatana jhana where all forms of consciousnes that turn on corporeality (rupasanna) have been completely transcended, all forms of consciousness arising out of contact between the senses and their objects (patighasana) have vanished, and other forms of consciousness, many and varied (nanattasanna), are not paid attention to. This is the fourth Release. (4)

      By concentration on the concept 'Consciousness is Infinite' one achieves and remains in the Vinnanancayatana jhana, having totally gone beyond the jhana of the Infinity of Space. This is the fifth Release. (5)

      By concentrating on the concept 'Nothing is there' one achieves and remains in the Akincannayatana jhana, having totally gone beyond the jhana of the Infinity of Consciousness. This is the sixth Release. (6)

      One achieves and remains in the Nevasannanasannayatana jhana, the jhana of neither sanna nor non-sanna having totally gone beyond the jhana of Nothingness. This is the seventh Release. (7)

      One achieves and remains in sustained attainment of Cessation, Nirodha-samapatti, in which all forms of Consciousness cease, having totally gone beyond the jhana of neither sannanor non-sanna. This is the eighth Release. (8)

      Ananda, these are the eight stages of Release.

      175. Ananda, at one time, soon after I attained Enlightenment, (in the eighth week after Enlightenment)4, I was staying at the foot of the goatherd's banyan tree near the bank of the Neranjara river, in Uruvela wood. While I was there the Evil Mara approached me, and standing at a certain place, said to me thus:

      "Venerable Sir, let the Bhagava realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana! It is time now for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana."

      Ananda, I replied thus to the Evil Mara:

      "O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as my disciples, the bhikkhus, are not yet accomplished in learning, not yet well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), not yet confident, not yet endowed with wide knowledge and learning, not yet able to remember or memorize the Teaching (lit., to carry the Teaching), not yet able to practise fully according to the Teaching, not yet endowed with correctness in practice, not yet able to live (lit., walk) in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth5, not yet able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, not yet able to refute by means of correct or proper reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are not yet able to expound, to set forth the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as my female disciples, the bhikkhunis, are not yet accomplished in learning, not yet well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), not yet confident, not yet endowed with wide knowledge and learning, not yet able to remember or memorize the Teaching (lit., to carry the Teaching), not yet able to practise fully according to the Teaching, not yet endowed with correct ness in practice, not yet able to live (lit., walk) in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, not yet able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, not yet able to refute by means of correct or proper reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are not yet able to ex pound, to set forth the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "O Evil One. I shall not pass away so long as my lay-disciples are not yet accomplished in learning, not yet well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), not yet confident, not yet endowed with wide knowledge and learning, not yet able to remember or memorize the Teaching (lit., to carry the Teaching), not yet able to practise fully according to the Teaching, not yet endowed with correctness in practice, not yet able to live (lit., walk) in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth, not yet able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, not yet able to refute by means of correct or proper reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are not yet able to expound, to set forth the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as my female lay-disciples are not yet accomplished in learning, not yet well-schooled (in control of deed, word and thought), not yet confident, not yet endowed with wide knowledge and learning, not yet able to remember or memorize the Teaching (lit., to carry the Teaching), not yet able to practise fully according to the Teaching, not yet endowed with correctness in practice, not yet able to live (lit., walk) in perfect conformity with righteousness and truth; not yet able to expound, to set forth, to make known, to establish, to make clear, to analyse or explain in detail, and to make manifest or evident their Teacher's doctrine or teaching, not yet able to refute by means of correct or proper reasons other doctrines, views or beliefs that may arise, and are not yet able to expound, to set forth the wonderful, sublime Teaching.

      "O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as this (Teaching of mine which should be termed the) Practice of Purity is not yet complete in effectiveness, not yet prosperous, renowned, prevalent among people, and widespread, to the extent that it can be thoroughly manifested, explained or made known by (wise) devas and men."

      176. Ananda, the Evil Mara just now this day came to me at the Capala shrine, and standing at a certain place, again said to me:

      "Venerable Sir, let the Bhagava realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana! It is now time for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana."

      "Venerable Sir, (at one time) the Bhagava had said (to me) these words: 'O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as my disciples, the bhikkhus, .......... (repeated, as in Para 168); ..........; my female disciples, the bhikkhunis, .......... (repeated) .......... my lay-disciples .......... (repeated); .......... my female lay-disciples ........ the wonderful, sublime Teaching. O Evil One, I shall not pass away so long as this (Teaching of mine which should be termed the) Practice of Purity is not yet complete in effectiveness, not yet prosperous, renowned, prevalent among people, and wide spread, to the extent that it can be thoroughly manifested, explained or made known by (wise) devas and men."

      "Venerable Sir, the Bhagava's Teaching, fit to be termed the Practice of Purity, is now complete in effectiveness, is now prosperous, renowned, prevalent among people, and widespread, to the extent that it can be thoroughly manifested, explained or made known by (wise) devas and men. Venerable Sir, (therefore) let the Bhagava, realize parinibbana now by passing away! Let the Sugata realize parinibbana! It is time now for the Bhagava to pass away and realize parinibbana."

      177. Ananda, when this was said to me by the Evil Mara, I replied thus:

      "You, Evil One, do not be anxious. Before long the parinibbana of the Tathagata will take place. Three months from today, the Tathagata will realize parinibbana."

      Ananda, now the Tathagata, while at the Capala shrine today, has decided, mindfully and deliberately, to give up the life-sustaining mental process (three months from now).


      1. Release: vimokkha, release through being freed of moral hindrances and defilements but not completely rooting them out; freedom or release through jhana, mental absorption, not identical with the emancipation of an arahat as it is possible to fall from the jhana stage. (See also Appendix B3)

      2. jhana: Jhana is a kind of mental culture (usually translated Mental Absorption) in which the mind is concentrated on objects such as kasinas, and in which the hindrances (i.e., nivaranas) are kept away from the mind (i.e., the mind is 'distanced' from hindrances). The kasina-induced jhana is mundane or worldly jhana.

      There are four Rupavacara jhanas and four Arupavacara jhanas. The former can be practised to attain the sixteen Fine-material Realms of the Brahmas.

      3. The object of intense contemplation (in the first two stages) is a kasina, whether it is a physical object (internal to the body, i.e., subjectively, or external. i.e., objectively), or an after-image resulting from prolonged fixation of consciousness on the actual kasina object.

      4. as explained in the Commentary.

      5. to live in....truth: anudhammacarino; anudhamma=in conformity with the highest stage of vipassana meditation leading to magga; carino - the habit of practising.)


The Venerable Ananda's Appeal

      178. When the Bhagava said this, the Venerable Ananda appealed to the Bhagava thus:

      "Venerable Sir, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world and for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span! May the Sugata live the maximum life-span!"

      And the Bhagava answered: "Enough, Ananda. Do not implore the Tathagata (only) now. The time is past, Ananda, for such entreaty."

      For a second time and a third time, the Venerable Ananda repeated his entreaty, thus: "Venerable Sir, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, and for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span! May the Sugata live the maximum life-span!"

      "Ananda, do you have faith in the enlightenment-wisdom1 of the Tathagata?"

      "I do, Venerable Sir."

      "Then, in spite of your belief, Ananda, why do you harass the Tathagata (by insisting) up to three times?"

      "Venerable Sir, I have heard these words of the Bhagava from the Bhagava himself; I have listened to (lit., received) these words from the Bhagava himself:

      Ananda, whosoever has cultivated, practised, used as a means (lit., a vehicle), based himself on, maintained, mastered (lit,, studied well), and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power, could if he so desired live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span. Ananda, the Tathagata has cultivated, practised, used as a means, based himself on, maintained, mastered, and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power. Therefore, the Tathagata could if he so desired live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.' (Thus I have heard.)"

      "Do you believe this, Ananda?"

     "I believe it, Venerable Sir."

     "Ananda, though the Tathagata thus gave plain hints and intimations, you were unable to grasp their significance. You did not beseech the Tathagata (in such words as) 'Venerable Sir, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, and for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span, may the Sugata live the maximum life-span.

     Therefore, Ananda, this failure to entreat me (to continue to live) is your own fault, your own remissness.

     Ananda, if you had entreated me (thus) at that time, the Tathagata might have refused the entreaty twice but might have acceded to the entreaty on the third time. Therefore, Ananda, this (failure to entreat me) is your own fault, your own remissness.

     179. Ananda, at one time I was dwelling on the Gijjhakuta hill in Rajagaha. While there, too, Ananda, I had spoken these words to you: 'Pleasant, Ananda, is Rajagaha; pleasant, Ananda, is the Gijjhakuta hill. Ananda, whosoever has cultivated, practised, used as a means, based himself on, maintained, mastered and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power, could if he so desired live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span. Ananda, the Tathagata has cultivated, practised, used as a means, based himself on, maintained, mastered and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power. Therefore, the Tathagata could if he so desired live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.

     Ananda, though the Tathagata thus gave plain hints and intimations, you were unable to grasp their significance. You did not beseech the Tathagata (in such words as) 'Venerable Sir, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, and for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span, may the Sugata live the maximum life-span.'

     Ananda, if you had entreated me (thus) at that time, the Tathagata might have refused the entreaty twice but might have acceded to the entreaty on the third time. Therefore, Ananda, this (failure to entreat me) is your own fault, your own remissness.

      180. Ananda, at one time, I dwelt at (the foot of) the Gotama peepul tree in Rajagaha. In that same Rajagaha, I dwelt at the Corapapata cliff; at the Sattapanni cave in the side of the Vebhara mountain; at Kalasila at the side of the Isigili mountain; at the ebony grove in the Sappasondika mountain range; at the Tapoda Grove monastery; at the place where black squirrels are fed in Veluvana Grove; at the mango grove of Jivaka; and at the Migadaya Wood of the Maddakucchi locality.

      Ananda, while I was dwelling at these places, too, I had spoken these words to you:

      'Ananda, Rajagaha is pleasant. The Gijjhakuta hill is pleasant.2The Gotama peepul tree is pleasant. The Corapapata cliff is pleasant. The Sattapanni Cave in the side of the Vebhara mountain is pleasant. The Kalasila at the side of the Isigili mountain is pleasant. The ebony grove in the Sappasondika mountain range is pleasant. The Tapoda Grove monastery is pleasant. The black squirrels' feeding ground in the Veluvana Grove is pleasant. The mango grove of Jivaka is pleasant. The Migadaya Wood of the Maddakucchi locality is pleasant. Ananda whosoever has cultivated, practised, used as a means, based himself on, maintained, mastered and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power.

      Ananda, therefore, the Tathagata could if he so desired live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.

      Ananda, though the Tathagata thus gave plain hints and intimations, you were unable to grasp their significance. You did not beseech the Tathagata (in such words as) 'Venerable Sir, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span, may the Sugata live the maximum life-span.'

      Ananda, if you had entreated me (thus) at that time, the Tathagata might have refused the entreaty twice but might have acceded to the entreaty on the third time. Therefore, Ananda, this (failure to entreat me) is your own fault, your own remissness.

      181. Ananda, at one time. I dwelt at the Udena shrine in this very city of Vesali. While I was there, too, I had said to you, 'Pleasant is Vesali. Pleasant is the Udena shrine. Ananda, whosoever has cultivated, practised, used as a means, based himself on, maintained, mastered and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power, could if he so desired live the maximum life-span, or even beyond the maximum life-span.' Ananda, the Tathagata has cultivated, practised, used as a means, based himself on, maintained, mastered and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power. Therefore, the Tathagata could if he so desired live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.'

      Ananda though the Tathagata thus gave plain hints and intimations, you were unable to grasp their significance. You did not beseech the Tathagata (in such words as) 'Venerable Sir, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span, may the Sugata live the maximum life-span,'

      Ananda, if you had entreated me (thus) at that time, the Tathagata might have refused the entreaty twice but might have acceded to the entreaty on the third time. Therefore, Ananda, this (failure to entreat me) is your own fault, your own remissness.

      182. Ananda, at one time, I dwelt at the Gotamaka shrine in this same Vesali City. ..................... In this same Vesali City I dwelt at the Sattamba shrine; at the Bahuputta shrine; at the Sarandada shrine.

      Ananda at the Capala shrine today, I had said to you, 'Ananda, pleasant is this Vesali. Pleasant are the shrines of Udena, Gotamaka, Sattamba, Bahuputta, Sarandada, Capala. Ananda, whosoever has cultivated, practised, used as a means, based himself on, maintained, mastered and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power, could if he so desired live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.'

      Ananda the Tathagata has cultivated, practised, used as a means, based himself on, maintained, mastered and perfectly developed the four Bases of Psychic Power. Therefore, the Tathagata could if he so desired live the maximum life-span or even beyond the maximum life-span.

      Ananda, though the Tathagata thus gave plain hints and intimations, you were unable to grasp their significance. You did not beseech the Tathagata (in such words as) 'Venerable Sir, for the welfare and happiness of mankind out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men, may the Bhagava live the maximum life-span; may the Sugata live the maximum life-span.'

      Ananda, if you had entreated me (thus) at that time, the Tathagata might have refused the entreaty twice but might have acceded to the entreaty on the third time. Therefore, Ananda, this (failure to entreat me) is your own fault, your own remissness.

      183. Ananda, have I not from former times proclaimed that there must be separation (while living), severance (through death) and sundering (through being in different stases of existence) from all that are dear and beloved. Ananda, in this matter, how can the wish be realized that anything which has the nature of arising, of appearing, of being compounded, and of decay and dissolution, should not disintegrate and disappear? There can be no such possibility.

      Ananda, the Tathagata has abandoned, thrown up, let go, relinquished, thrown away and renounced the life-sustaining mental process, ayusankhara. And the Tathagata has affirmed definitely that 'the parinibbana of the Tathagata will take place before long; three months from this day the Tathagata will realize parinibbana.' There is no possibility of the Tathagata going back on that affirmation, just to live longer.

      Ananda, come, let us go to the pinnacled hall at the Mahavana forest.

      The Venerable Ananda assented respectfully, saying "Very well, Venerable Sir." Then the Bhagava, with the Venerable Ananda, reached the pinnacled hall of the Mahavana forest, and said to the Venerable Ananda:

      "Ananda, go and summon all the bhikkhus living in Vesali to come and assemble in the assembly hall."

      The Venerable Ananda said "Very well, Venerable Sir," and caused all the bhikkhus living in Vesali to gather in the assembly hall. Then he went to the Bhagava and making obeisance to him stood in a certain place. Standing in a certain place, Ananda said to the Bhagava;, "Venerable Sir, the bhikkhus are assembled. Now the Bhagava may go to them when he wishes."


      1. enlightenment-wisdom: bodhi, the Magga Insight possessed by a Buddha, as explained here by the Commentary. The Sub-Commentary explains this as Sabbannuta Nana, Perfect Wisdom.

      2. This (mention of Gijjhakuta hill) seems to be redundant, as it has been mentioned in para 179.


Thirty-Seven Elements of the Perpetuation of the Teaching

      184. Then the Bagava went to the assembly hall and seating himself on the seat prepared for him, said to the bhikkhus:

      Bhikkhus, you should thoroughly learn, pursue, cultivate and continually practise the doctrines which I have perceived through Magga Insight and which I have expounded to you. If you thus learn, pursue, cultivate and continually practise these doctrines, (this Teaching which is) the Noble Practice of Purity 1, will endure long and will remain established for a long time, for the welfare and happiness of mankind, for the sake of the world, for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men.

      Bhikkhus, what are those doctrines which I have perceived through Magga Insight and which I have expounded to you, and which you should thoroughly learn, pursue, cultivate and continually practise? If you thus learn, pursue, cultivate and continually practise these doctrines (this Teaching which is) the Noble Practice of Pure will endure long and will remain established for a lung time for the welfare and happiness of man kind, for the sake of the world, for the benefit, well being and happiness of devas and men.

      These (doctrines) are the four Methods of Steadfast Mindfulness (Satipatthana2), the four Supreme Efforts (Sammappadhana)3, the four Bases of Psychic Potency (Iddhipada)4, the five Controlling Faculties (lndriya) 5, the five Powers (Balas)6, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment(Bojjhanga)7 and the Noble Path of Eight Constituents (Ariya Atthangika Magga)8.

     " Bhikkhus, you should thoroughly learn, pursue, cultivate and continually practise these doctrines which I have perceived through Magga Insight and which I have expounded to you. If you thus learn, pursue, cultivate and continually practise these doctrines, (this Teaching which is) the Noble Practice of Purity will endure long and will remain established for a long time for the welfare and happiness of mankind, for the sake of the world, for the benefit, well-being and happiness of devas and men."

      185. Then the Bhagava further addressed the bhikkhus thus: "O Bhikkhus, I now say this to you: All conditioned and compounded things, sankhara, have the nature of decay and disintegration. With mindfulness9endeavour diligently (to complete the task)10. The Parinibbana of the Tathagata will take place before long. Three months from this day the Tathagata will realize Parinibbana (i.e., will finally pass away)."

      Having said this, the Bhagava, the Sugata, the Teacher made this further utterance (in verse):

      "I am now quite ripe in age. Only a little of my life remains. I shall have to depart, forsaking you. I have made myself my own refuge."

      "Bhikkhus, vigilantly and with mindfulness, be of pure virtue.11 being composed and collected of mind, thinking right, watch over (i.e., control) your own mind.

      "Bhikkhus, in this Teaching, this Doctrine and Discipline, he who is heedfully vigilant will be able to escape from the round of repeated rebirths and make an end of dukkha."

End of third Portion for Recitation.


      1. The Noble Practice of Purity: (brahmacariya), i.e., the Teaching, Sasana.

      2. Satipatthana: Method of Steadfast Mindfulness, (the setting up of Mindfulness). This means the cultivation of mindfulness or awareness of (1) the body, kaya; (2) sensations and feelings, vedana; (3) mind or consciousness, citta, and (4) dhamma; this last involves various moral and intellectual subjects, such as the five Hindrances, the five Aggregates of Clinging, the twelve sense-bases, the seven Factors of Enlightenment and the Four Noble Truths.

      3. Sammappadhana: Samma=good, thorough, proper, right, perfect; and padhana-exertion, energetic effort, striving, concentration of mind. The four Supreme Efforts are:

      (i) The endeavour to prevent the arising of evil which has not yet arisen;

      (ii) The endeavour to put away evil that has arisen;

      (iii) The endeavour to bring about the arising of good which has not yet arisen; and

      (iv) The endeavour to further develop the good that has arisen.

      4. Iddhipada: The four Bases of Psychic Power: catttaro (four) Iddhi (Psychic Power or Potency) pada (bases). These four are concentration, coupled with determination, on purpose, on will, on thoughts, and on investigative knowledge.

      5. Indriya the five Controlling Faculties here meant are:

      (i) Saddhindriya, the faculty of Confidence based on Conviction;

      (ii) Viriyindriya, the faculty of Effort;

      (iii) Satindriya, the faculty of Mindfulness;

      (iv) Samadhindriya, the faculty of Concentration; and

      (v) Pannindriya, the faculty of Wisdom.

      6. Bala: the five Powers or Forces are Powers of Confidence based on Conviction, Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration and Wisdom.

      7. Bojjhanga: the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, satta bojjhanga; bodhi=Enlightenment, Insight into the Four Noble Truths,+ anga=factor or limb. (1) mindfulness; (2) investigative knowledge of phenomena; (3) effort; (4) delightful satisfaction; (5) serenity; (6) concentration, and (7) equanimity.

      8. Atthangika Magga: See later portion of Mahasatipatthana Sutta.

      9. Mindfulness in cultivating tranquillity and insight development meditation, samatha vipassana bhavana.

      10. To complete the task: i.e., to be liberated from the round of rebirths, samsara, by achieving Arahatta Magga and Phala.

      11. pure virtue: susila: endowed with pure conduct, character.


Looking Back like a Noble Tusker

      186. Then the Bhagava, rearranging his robes in the morning time, took alms-bowl and great robe and went into Vesali for alms-food.

      After the alms-round and after the meal, when he left (the place of the meal), the Bhagava (turned around bodily and) looked back towards Vesali like an elephant looking back1. He said to Venerable Ananda, "Ananda, this will be the last time the Tathagata looks on Vesali. Come, Ananda, let us go to Bhanda village."

      The Venerable Ananda, saying "Very well, Venerable Sir," respectfully assented. Then the Bhagava, with a large company of bhikkhus, (went to and) reached Bhanda village, and took up his residence there.

      While there, the Bhagava said to the bhikkhus:

      O Bhikkhus, it is through not having proper understanding and penetrating comprehension of four Principles that I as well as yourselves have had to go incessantly through this long stretch (of samsara, round of existences), that we have had to go through one life after another continuously.

      What are these four? (They are as follows:)

      O Bhikkhus, it is through not having proper understanding and penetrating comprehension of Noble Morality, Ariya Sila, that I as well as yourselves have had to go incessantly through this long stretch (of samsara, round of existence), that we have had to go through one life after another continuously.

      O Bhikkhus, it is through not having proper understanding and penetrating comprehension of Noble Concentration, Ariya samadhi, that I as well as yourselves have had to go incessantly through this long stretch (of samsara, round of existences), that we have had to go through one life after another continuously.

      O Bhikkhus, it is through not having proper understanding and penetrating comprehension of Noble Wisdom, Ariya panna, that I as well as yourselves have had to go incessantly through this long stretch (of samsara, round of existences), that we have had to go through one life after another continuously.

      O Bhikkhus, it is through not having proper understanding and penetrating comprehension of Noble Emancipation, Ariya vimutti, that I as well as yourselves have had to go incessantly through this long stretch (of samsara, round of existences), that we have had to go through one life after another continuously.

      O Bhikkhus, I have properly understood and penetratingly comprehended (i.e., thoroughly realized) that Noble Morality: I have properly understood and penetratingly comprehended that Noble Concentration; I have properly understood and penetratingly comprehended that Noble Wisdom; I have properly understood and penetratingly comprehended that Noble Emancipation. The craving for existence, bhavatanha, has been cut off without any vestige remaining. The bhavatanha, which is like a rope that drags one to renewed existence, is exhausted (i.e., destroyed). Now, there will be no more rebirth.

      Having said this, the Bhagava, the Sugata, the Teacher again made this further (lit., other) utterance (in verse):

      "Gotama Buddha, of glorious fame, has perfectly understood these Principles of highest Morality Concentration, Wisdom and Emancipation, Sila, Samadhi, Panna and Vimutti. Having perfectly understood them through Magga Insight, he has expounded them to the bhikkhus. The Possessor of the Eye of Wisdom2, the Teacher (of devas and men), having put out the fires of kilesa, moral defilements, and being serenely at peace, has made an end of dukkha."

      While the Bhagava was thus sojourning at that Bhanda village, there, too, he repeatedly expounded to the bhikkhus this very discourse:

      "Such is sila, morality; such is samadhi, concentration of mind; such is panna, wisdom. Samadhi, when based upon Sila, is rich in result and of great effect. Panna, when based upon samadhi, is rich in result and of great effect. The mind, when developed through panna, is thoroughly liberated from the asavas, taints, namely, kamasava, bhavasava, and avijjasava."

      1. The Commentary says that the Buddhas, when looking back, turn the whole body round, as an elephant does.

      2. Eye of Wisdom: Cakkhu: The Commentary explains that this is fivefold. The Sub-Commentary lists them as:

      (i) Buddha-cakkhu, the Buddha-Eye, complete intuition of another's inclinations, intentions, hopes, hankerings, will, disposition, proclivities, moral state;

      (ii) Samanta-cakkhu, the Eye of all-round knowledge, the Eye of a Being perfected in wisdom;

      (iii) Dhamma-cakkhu (or nana-cakkhu), the Eye of Truth, apperception of the attainment of the first three Maggas which leads to the fourth and final Magga, Arahatship;

      (iv) Dibba-cakkhu, the Eye of supernormal power, the deva-eye of super-sensuous perception, the "clear" sight of a seer, all pervading and seeing all that proceeds in hidden worlds; and

      (v) Pasada-cakkhu, (or mamsa-cakkhu), the physical eye.



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