Sacred Books of the East

Part 9 out of 9

exception, perish; there is not one that can for long endure; all the
Buddhas of the past ages, numerous as the sands of the Ganges, by their
wisdom enlightening the world, have all gone out as a lamp; all the
Buddhas yet to come will also perish in the same way; why then should I
alone be different? I too will pass into Nirvana; but as they prepared
others for salvation, so now should you press forward in the path;
Vaisali may be glad indeed, if you should find the way of rest! The
world, in truth, is void of help, the 'three worlds' not enough for
joy--stay then the course of sorrow, by engendering a heart without
desire. Give up for good the long and straggling way of life, press
onward on the northern track, step by step advance along the upward
road, as the sun skirts along the western mountains."

At this time the Likkhavis, with saddened hearts, went back along the
way; lifting their hands to heaven and sighing bitterly: "Alas! what
sorrow this! His body like the pure gold mountain, the marks upon his
person so majestic, ere long and like a towering crag he falls; not to
live, then why not, 'not to love'? The powers of birth and death,
weakened awhile, the lord Tathagata, himself the fount of wisdom
appeared, and now to give it up and disappear! without a saviour now,
what check to sorrow? The world long time endured in darkness, and men
were led by a false light along the way--when lo! the sun of wisdom
rose; and now, again, it fades and dies--no warning given. Behold the
whirling waves of ignorance engulfing all the world! Why is the bridge
or raft of wisdom in a moment cut away? The loving and the great
physician king came with remedies of wisdom, beyond all price, to heal
the hurts and pains of men--why suddenly goes he away? The excellent and
heavenly flag of love adorned with wisdom's blazonry, embroidered with
the diamond heart, the world not satisfied with gazing on it, the
glorious flag of heavenly worship! Why in a moment is it snapped? Why
such misfortune for the world, when from the tide of constant
revolutions a way of escape was opened--but now shut again! and there is
no escape from weary sorrow! Tathagata, possessed of fond and loving
heart, now steels himself and goes away; he holds his heart so patient
and so loving, and, like the Wai-ka-ni flower, with thoughts cast down,
irresolute and tardy, he goes depressed along the road. Or like a man
fresh from a loved one's grave, the funeral past and the last farewell
taken, comes back with anxious look."


When Buddha went towards the place of his Nirvana, the city of Vaisali
was as if deserted, as when upon a dark and cloudy night the moon and
stars withdraw their shining. The land that heretofore had peace, was
now afflicted and distressed; as when a loving father dies, the orphan
daughter yields to constant grief. Her personal grace unheeded, her
clever skill but lightly thought of, with stammering lips she finds
expression for her thoughts; how poor her brilliant wit and wisdom now!
Her spiritual powers ill regulated without attractiveness, her loving
heart faint and fickle, exalted high but without strength, and all her
native grace neglected; such was the case at Vaisali; all outward show
now fallen, like autumn verdure in the fields bereft of water, withered
up and dry; or like the smoke of a half-smouldering fire, or like those
who having food before them yet forget to eat, so these forgot their
common household duties, and nought prepared they for the day's
emergencies. Thinking thus on Buddha, lost in deep reflection, silent
they sat nor spoke a word. And now the lion Likkhavis manfully enduring
their great sorrow, with flowing tears and doleful sighs, signifying
thereby their love of kindred, destroyed forever all their books of
heresy, to show their firm adherence to the true law. Having put down
all heresy, they left it once for all; severed from the world and the
world's doctrines, convinced that non-continuance was the great disease.
Moreover thus they thought: "The lord of men now enters the great quiet
place (Nirvana), and we are left without support, and with no saviour;
the highest lord of 'means' is now about to extinguish all his glory in
the final place of death. Now we indeed have lost our steadfast will, as
fire deprived of fuel; greatly to be pitied is the world, now that the
lord gives up his world-protecting office, even as a man bereft of
spiritual power throughout the world is greatly pitied. Oppressed by
heat we seek the cooling lake, nipped by the cold we use the fire; but
in a moment all is lost, the world is left without resource; the
excellent law, indeed, is left, to frame the world anew, as a
metal-caster frames anew his work. The world has lost its master-guide,
and, men bereaved of him, the way is lost; old age, disease, and death,
self-sufficient, now that the road is missed, pervade the world without
a way. What is there now throughout the world equal to overcome the
springs of these great sorrows? The great cloud's rain alone can make
the raging and excessive fire, that burns the world, go out. So only he
can make the raging fire of covetous desire go out; and now he, the
skilful maker of comparisons, has firmly fixed his mind to leave the
world! And why, again, is the sword of wisdom, ever ready to be used for
an uninvited friend, only like the draught of wine given to him about to
undergo the torture and to die? Deluded by false knowledge the mass of
living things are only born to die again; as the sharp knife divides the
wood, so constant change divides the world. The gloom of ignorance like
the deep water, lust like the rolling billow, sorrow like the floating
bubbles, false views like the Makara fish, amidst all these the ship of
wisdom only can carry us across the mighty sea. The mass of ills are
like the flowers of the sorrow-tree, old age and all its griefs, the
tangled boughs; death the tree's tap-root, deeds done in life the buds,
the diamond sword of wisdom only strong enough to cut down the mundane
tree! Ignorance the burning-glass, covetous desire the scorching rays,
the objects of the five desires the dry grass, wisdom alone the water to
put out the fire. The perfect law, surpassing every law, having
destroyed the gloom of ignorance, we see the straight road leading to
quietness and rest, the end of every grief and sorrow. And now the
loving one, converting men, impartial in his thoughts to friend or foe,
the all-knowing, perfectly instructed, even he is going to leave the
world! He with his soft and finely modulated voice, his compact body and
broad shoulders, he, the great Rishi, ends his life! Who then can claim
exemption? Enlightened, now he quickly passes hence! let us therefore
seek with earnestness the truth, even as a man meets with the stream
beside the road, then drinks and passes on. Inconstancy, this is the
dreaded enemy--the universal destroyer--sparing neither rich nor poor;
rightly perceiving this and keeping it in mind, this man, though
sleeping, yet is the only ever-wakeful."

Thus the Likkhavi lions, ever mindful of the Buddha's wisdom, disquieted
with the pain of birth and death, sighed forth their fond remembrance of
the man-lion. Retaining in their minds no love of worldly things, aiming
to rise above the power of every lustful quality, subduing in their
hearts the thought of light or trivial matters, training their thoughts
to seek the quiet, peaceful place; diligently practising the rules of
unselfish, charitable conduct; putting away all listlessness, they found
their joy in quietness and seclusion, meditating only on religious
truth. And now the all-wise, turning his body round with a lion-turn,
once more gazed upon Vaisali, and uttered this farewell verse:--

"Now this, the last time this, I leave Vaisali--the land where heroes
live and flourish! Now am I going to die." Then gradually advancing,
stage by stage he came to Bhoga-nagara, and there he rested in the Sala
grove, where he instructed all his followers in the precepts:--

"Now having gone on high I shall enter on Nirvana: ye must rely upon the
law--this is your highest, strongest, vantage ground. What is not found
in Sutra, or what disagrees with rules of Vinaya, opposing the one true
system of my doctrine, this must not be held by you. What opposes
Dharma, what opposes Vinaya, or what is contrary to my words, this is
the result of ignorance: ye must not hold such doctrine, but with haste
reject it. Receiving that which has been said aright, this is not
subversive of true doctrine, this is what I have said, as the Dharma and
Vinaya say. Accepting that which I, the law, and the Vinaya declare,
this is to be believed. But words which neither I, the law, nor the
Vinaya declare, these are not to be believed. Not gathering the true and
hidden meaning, but closely holding to the letter, this is the way of
foolish teachers, but contrary to my doctrine and a false way of
teaching. Not separating the true from false, accepting in the dark
without discrimination, is like a shop where gold and its alloys are
sold together, justly condemned by all the world. The foolish masters,
practising the ways of superficial wisdom, grasp not the meaning of the
truth; but to receive the law as it explains itself, this is to accept
the highest mode of exposition. Ye ought, therefore, thus to investigate
true principles, to consider well the true law and the Vinaya, even as
the goldsmith does who melts and strikes and then selects the true. Not
to know the Sutras and the Sastras, this is to be devoid of wisdom; not
saying properly that which is proper, is like doing that which is not
fit to see. Let all be done in right and proper order, according as the
meaning of the sentence guides, for he who grasps a sword unskilfully,
does but inflict a wound upon his hand. Not skilfully to handle words
and sentences, the meaning then is hard to know; as in the night-time
travelling and seeking for a house, if all be dark within, how difficult
to find. Losing the meaning, then the law is disregarded, disregarding
the law the mind becomes confused; therefore every wise and prudent
master neglects not to discover the true and faithful meaning."

Having spoken these words respecting the precepts of religion, he
advanced to the town of Pava, where all the Mallas prepared for him
religious offerings of every kind. At this time a certain householder's
son whose name was Kunda, invited Buddha to his house, and there he gave
him, as an offering, his very last repast. Having partaken of it and
declared the law, he onward went to the town of Kusi, crossing the river
Tsae-kieuh and the Hiranyavati. Then in that Sala grove, a place of
quiet and seclusion, he took his seat: entering the golden river he
bathed his body, in appearance like a golden mountain. Then he spake his
bidding thus to Ananda: "Between those twin Sala trees, sweeping and
watering, make a clean space, and then arrange my sitting-mat. At
midnight coming, I shall die."

Ananda hearing the bidding of his master, his breath was choked with
heart-sadness; but going and weeping he obeyed the instruction, and
spreading out the mat he came forthwith back to his master and
acquainted him. Tathagata having lain down with his head towards the
north and on his right side, slept thus. Resting upon his hand as on a
pillow with his feet crossed, even as a lion-king; all grief is passed,
his last-born body from this one sleep shall never rise. His followers
round him, in a circle gathered, sigh dolefully: "The eye of the world
is now put out!" The wind is hushed, the forest streams are silent, no
voice is heard of bird or beast. The trees sweat out large flowing
drops, flowers and leaves out of season singly fall, whilst men and
Devas, not yet free from desire, are filled with overwhelming fear. Thus
were they like men wandering through the arid desert, the road full
dangerous, who fail to reach the longed-for hamlet; full of fear they go
on still, dreading they might not find it, their heart borne down with
fear they faint and droop. And now Tathagata, aroused from sleep,
addressed Ananda thus: "Go! tell the Mallas, the time of my decease is
come; they, if they see me not, will ever grieve and suffer deep
regret." Ananda listening to the bidding of his master, weeping went
along the road. And then he told those Mallas all--"The lord is near to
death." The Mallas hearing it, were filled with great, excessive grief.
The men and women hurrying forth, bewailing as they went, came to the
spot where Buddha was; with garments torn and hair dishevelled, covered
with dust and sweat they came. With piteous cries they reached the
grove, as when a Deva's day of merit comes to an end, so did they bow
weeping and adoring at the feet of Buddha, grieving to behold his
failing strength. Tathagata, composed and quiet, spake: "Grieve not! the
time is one for joy; no call for sorrow or for anguish here; that which
for ages I have aimed at, now am I just about to obtain; delivered now
from the narrow bounds of sense, I go to the place of never-ending rest
and peace. I leave these things, earth, water, fire, and air, to rest
secure where neither birth nor death can come. Eternally delivered there
from grief, oh! tell me! why should I be sorrowful? Of yore on Sirsha's
mount, I longed to rid me of this body, but to fulfil my destiny I have
remained till now with men in the world; I have kept this sickly,
crumbling body, as dwelling with a poisonous snake; but now I am come to
the great resting-place, all springs of sorrow now forever stopped. No
more shall I receive a body, all future sorrow now forever done away; it
is not meet for you, on my account, for evermore, to encourage any
anxious fear."

The Mallas hearing Buddha's words, that he was now about to die, their
minds confused, their eyes bedimmed, as if they saw before them nought
but blackness, with hands conjoined, spake thus to Buddha: "Buddha is
leaving now the pain of birth and death, and entering on the eternal joy
of rest; doubtless we ought to rejoice thereat. Even as when a house is
burnt a man rejoices if his friends are saved from out the flames; the
gods! perhaps they rejoice--then how much more should men! But--when
Tathagata has gone and living things no more may see him, eternally cut
off from safety and deliverance--in thought of this we grieve and
sorrow. Like as a band of merchants crossing with careful steps a
desert, with only a single guide, suddenly he dies! Those merchants now
without a protector, how can they but lament! The present age, coming to
know their true case, has found the omniscient, and looked to him, but
yet has not obtained the final conquest; how will the world deride! Even
as it would laugh at one who, walking o'er a mountain full of treasure,
yet ignorant thereof, hugs still the pain of poverty."

So spake the Mallas, and with tearful words excuse themselves to Buddha,
even as an only child pleads piteously before a loving father. Buddha
then, with speech most excellent, exhibited and declared the highest
principle of truth, and thus addressed the Mallas:--

"In truth, 'tis as you say; seeking the way, you must exert yourselves
and strive with diligence--it is not enough to have seen me! Walk, as I
have commanded you; get rid of all the tangled net of sorrow; walk in
the way with steadfast aim; 'tis not from seeing me this comes--even as
a sick man depending on the healing power of medicine, gets rid of all
his ailments easily without beholding the physician. He who does not do
what I command sees me in vain, this brings no profit; whilst 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. Keep your heart carefully--give not place to listlessness!
earnestly practise every good work. Man born in this world is pressed by
all the sorrows of the long career, ceaselessly troubled--without a
moment's rest, as any lamp blown by the wind!" The Mallas all, hearing
Buddha's loving instruction, inwardly composed, restrained their tears,
and, firmly self-possessed, returned.


At this time there was a Brahmakarin whose name was Su-po-to-lo; he was
well-known for his virtuous qualities, leading a pure life according to
the rules of morality, and protecting all living things. When young he
had adopted heretical views, and become a recluse among
unbelievers--this one, wishing to see the lord, spake to Ananda thus:--

"I hear that the system of Tathagata is of a singular character and very
profound, and that he has reached the highest wisdom in the world, the
first of all horse-tamers. I hear moreover that he is now about to die,
it will be difficult indeed to meet with him again, and difficult to see
those who have seen him with difficulty, even as it is to catch in a
mirror the reflection of the moon. I now desire respectfully to see him
the greatest and most virtuous guide of men, because I seek to escape
this mass of sorrow and reach the other shore of birth and death. The
sun of Buddha now about to quench its rays, O! let me for a moment gaze
upon him." The feelings of Ananda now were much affected, thinking that
this request was made with a view to controversy, or that he felt an
inward joy because the lord was on the eve of death. He was not willing
therefore to permit the interview with Buddha. Buddha, knowing the man's
earnest desire and that he was a vessel fit for true religion, therefore
addressed Ananda thus: "Permit that heretic to advance; I was born to
save mankind, make no hindrance therefore, or excuse!"

Subhadra, hearing this, was overjoyed at heart, and his religious
feelings were much enlarged, as with increased reverence he advanced to
Buddha's presence. Then, as the occasion required, he spoke becoming
words and with politeness made his salutation, his features pleasing and
with hands conjoined he said:--

"Now I desire to ask somewhat from thee; the world has many teachers of
religion, those who know the law as I am myself; but I hear that Buddha
has attained a way which is the end of all complete emancipation. O that
you would, on my account, briefly explain your method, moisten my empty,
thirsty soul! not with a view to controversy or from a desire to gain
the mastery, but with sincerity I ask you so to do."

Then Buddha, for the Brahmakarin's sake, in brief recounted the eight
"right ways"--on hearing which, his empty soul accepted it, as one
deceived accepts direction in the right road. Perceiving now, he knew
that what he had before perceived was not the final way of salvation,
but now he felt he had attained what he had not before attained, and so
he gave up and forsook his books of heresy. Moreover, now he rejected
the gloomy hindrances of doubt, reflecting how by his former practices,
mixed up with anger, hate, and ignorance, he had long cherished no real
joy. For if, he argued, the ways of lust and hate and ignorance are able
to produce a virtuous karman, then "hearing much" and "persevering
wisdom," these, too, are born from lust, which cannot be. But if a man
is able to cut down hate and ignorance, then also he puts off all
consequences of works, and these being finally destroyed, this is
complete emancipation. Those thus freed from works are likewise freed
from subtle questionings, such as what the world says "that all things,
everywhere, possess a self-nature." But if this be the case and
therefore lust, hate, and ignorance, possess a self-implanted nature,
then this nature must inhere in them; what then means the word
"deliverance"? For even if we rightly cause the overthrow of hate and
ignorance, yet if lust remains, then there is a return of birth; even as
water, cold in its nature, may by fire be heated, but when the fire goes
out then it becomes cold again, because this is its constant nature; so
we may ever know that the nature which lust has is permanent, and
neither hearing wisdom nor perseverance can alter it. Neither capable of
increase or diminution, how can there be deliverance? I held aforetime
that birth and death resulted thus, from their own innate nature; but
now I see that such a belief excludes deliverance; for what is born by
nature must endure so, what end can such things have? Just as a burning
lamp cannot but give its light; the way of Buddha is the only true one,
that lust, as the root-cause, brings forth the things that live; destroy
this lust then there is Nirvana; the cause destroyed then the fruit is
not produced. I formerly maintained that "I" was a distinct entity, not
seeing that it has no maker. But now I hear the right doctrine preached
by Buddha, there is no "self" in all the world, for all things are
produced by cause, and therefore there is no creator. If then sorrow is
produced by cause, the cause may likewise be destroyed; for if the world
is cause-produced, then is the view correct, that by destruction of the
cause, there is an end. The cause destroyed, the world brought to an
end, there is no room for such a thought as permanence, and therefore
all my former views are "done away," and so he deeply "saw" the true
doctrine taught by Buddha.

Because of seeds well sown in former times, he was enabled thus to
understand the law on hearing it; thus he reached the good and perfect
state of quietness, the peaceful, never-ending place of rest. His heart
expanding to receive the truth, he gazed with earnest look on Buddha as
he slept, nor could he bear to see Tathagata depart and die; "ere yet,"
he said, "Buddha shall reach the term I will myself first leave the
world;" and then with hands close joined, retiring from the holy form,
he took his seat apart, and sat composed and firm. Then giving up his
life, he reached Nirvana, as when the rain puts out a little fire. Then
Buddha spake to all his followers: "This my very last disciple has now
attained Nirvana, cherish him properly."

Then Buddha, the first night watch passed, the moon bright shining and
all the stars clear in their lustre, the quiet grove without a sound,
moved by his great compassionate heart, declared to his disciples this
his bequeathed precepts: "After my Nirvana, ye ought to reverence and
obey the Pratimoksha, as your master, a shining lamp in the dark night,
or as a great jewel treasured by a poor man. These injunctions I have
ever given, these you ought to obey and follow carefully, and treat in
no way different from myself. Keep pure your body, words, and conduct,
put from you all concerns of daily life, lands, houses, cattle, storing
wealth or hoarding grain. All these should be avoided as we avoid a
fiery pit; sowing the land, cutting down shrubs, healing of wounds or
the practice of medicine, star-gazing and astrology, forecasting lucky
or unfortunate events by signs, prognosticating good or evil, all these
are things forbidden. Keeping the body temperate, eat at proper times;
receive no mission as a go-between; compound no philteries; abhor
dissimulation; follow right doctrine, and be kind to all that lives;
receive in moderation what is given; receive but hoard not up; these
are, in brief, my spoken precepts. These form the groundwork of my
rules, these also are the ground of full emancipation. Enabled thus to
live this is rightly to receive all other things. This is true wisdom
which embraces all, this is the way to attain the end; this code of
rules, therefore, ye should hold and keep, and never let it slip or be
destroyed. For when pure rules of conduct are observed then there is
true religion; without these, virtue languishes; found yourselves
therefore well on these my precepts; grounded thus in rules of purity,
the springs of feeling will be well controlled, even as the
well-instructed cow-herd guides well his cattle. Ill-governed feelings,
like the horse, run wild through all the six domains of sense, bringing
upon us in the present world unhappiness, and in the next, birth in an
evil way. So, like the horse ill-broken, these land us in the ditch;
therefore the wise and prudent man will not allow his senses license.
For these senses are, indeed, our greatest foes, causes of misery; for
men enamoured thus by sensuous things cause all their miseries to recur.
Destructive as a poisonous snake, or like a savage tiger, or like a
raging fire, the greatest evil in the world, he who is wise, is freed
from fear of these. But what he fears is only this--a light and trivial
heart, which drags a man to future misery--just for a little sip of
pleasure, not looking at the yawning gulf before us; like the wild
elephant freed from the iron curb, or like the ape that has regained the
forest trees, such is the light and trivial heart; the wise man should
restrain and hold it therefore. Letting the heart go loose without
restraint, that man shall not attain Nirvana; therefore we ought to hold
the heart in check, and go apart from men and seek a quiet
resting-place. Know when to eat and the right measure; and so with
reference to the rules of clothing and of medicine; take care you do not
by the food you take, encourage in yourselves a covetous or an angry
mind. Eat your food to satisfy your hunger and drink to satisfy your
thirst, as we repair an old or broken chariot, or like the butterfly
that sips the flower destroying not its fragrance or its texture. The
Bhikshu, in begging food, should beware of injuring the faithful mind of
another; if a man opens his heart in charity, think not about his
capabilities, for 'tis not well to calculate too closely the strength of
the ox, lest by loading him beyond his strength you cause him injury. At
morning, noon, and night, successively, store up good works. During the
first and after-watch at night be not overpowered by sleep, but in the
middle watch, with heart composed, take sleep and rest--be thoughtful
towards the dawn of day. Sleep not the whole night through, making the
body and the life relaxed and feeble; think! when the fire shall burn
the body always, what length of sleep will then be possible? For when
the hateful brood of sorrow rising through space, with all its attendant
horrors, meeting the mind o'erwhelmed by sleep and death, shall seize
its prey, who then shall waken it?

"The poisonous snake dwelling within a house can be enticed away by
proper charms, so the black toad that dwells within his heart, the early
waker disenchants and banishes. He who sleeps on heedlessly without
plan, this man has no modesty; but modesty is like a beauteous robe, or
like the curb that guides the elephant. Modest behavior keeps the heart
composed, without it every virtuous root will die. Who has this modesty,
the world applauds; without it, he is but as any beast. If a man with a
sharp sword should cut the body bit by bit, let not an angry thought, or
of resentment, rise, and let the mouth speak no ill word. Your evil
thoughts and evil words but hurt yourself and not another; nothing so
full of victory as patience, though your body suffer the pain of
mutilation. For recollect that he who has this patience cannot be
overcome, his strength being so firm; therefore give not way to anger or
evil words towards men in power. Anger and hate destroy the true law;
and they destroy dignity and beauty of body; as when one dies we lose
our name for beauty, so the fire of anger itself burns up the heart.
Anger is foe to all religious merit, he who loves virtue let him not be
passionate; the layman who is angry when oppressed by many sorrows is
not wondered at. But he who has 'left his home' indulging anger, this is
indeed opposed to principle, as if in frozen water there were found the
heat of fire. If indolence arises in your heart, then with your own hand
smooth down your head, shave off your hair, and clad in sombre garments,
in your hand holding the begging-pot, go ask for food; on every side the
living perish, what room for indolence? the worldly man, relying on his
substance or his family, indulging in indolence, is wrong; how much more
the religious man, whose purpose is to seek the way of rescue, who
encourages within an indolent mind; this surely is impossible!

"Crookedness and straightness are in their nature opposite and cannot
dwell together more than frost and fire; for one who has become
religious, and practises the way of straight behavior, a false and
crooked way of speech is not becoming. False and flattering speech is
like the magician's art; but he who ponders on religion cannot speak
falsely. To 'covet much,' brings sorrow; desiring little, there is rest
and peace. To procure rest, there must be small desire--much more in
case of those who seek salvation. The niggard dreads the much-seeking
man lest he should filch away his property, but he who loves to give has
also fear, lest he should not possess enough to give; therefore we ought
to encourage small desire, that we may have to give to him who wants,
without such fear. From this desiring-little-mind we find the way of
true deliverance; desiring true deliverance we ought to practise
knowing-enough contentment.

"A contented mind is always joyful, but joy like this is but religion;
the rich and poor alike, having contentment, enjoy perpetual rest. The
ill-contented man, though he be born to heavenly joys, because he is not
contented would ever have a mind burned up by the fire of sorrow. The
rich, without contentment, endures the pain of poverty; though poor, if
yet he be contented, then he is rich indeed! That ill-contented man, the
bounds of the five desires extending further still, becomes insatiable
in his requirements, and so through the long night of life gathers
increasing sorrow. Without cessation thus he cherishes his careful
plans, whilst he who lives contented, freed from anxious thoughts about
relationships, his heart is ever peaceful and at rest. And so because he
rests and is at peace within, the gods and men revere and do him
service. Therefore we ought to put away all cares about relationship.

"For like a solitary desert tree in which the birds and monkeys gather,
so is it when we are cumbered much with family associations; through the
long night we gather many sorrows. Many dependents are like the many
bands that bind us, or like the old elephant that struggles in the mud.
By diligent perseverance a man may get much profit; therefore night and
day men ought with ceaseless effort to exert themselves; the tiny
streams that trickle down the mountain slopes by always flowing eat away
the rock. If we use not earnest diligence in drilling wood in wood for
fire, we shall not obtain the spark, so ought we to be diligent and
persevere, as the skilful master drills the wood for fire. A 'virtuous
friend' though he be gentle is not to be compared with right
reflection--right thought kept well in the mind, no evil thing can ever
enter there.

"Wherefore those who practise a religious life should always think about
'the body'; if thought upon one's self be absent, then all virtue dies.
For as the champion warrior relies for victory upon his armor's
strength, so 'right thought' is like a strong cuirass, able to withstand
the six sense-robbers. Right faith enwraps the enlightened heart, so
that a man perceives the world throughout is liable to birth and death;
therefore the religious man should practise faith.

"Having found peace in faith, we put an end to all the mass of sorrows,
wisdom then can enlighten us, and so we put away the rules by which we
acquire knowledge by the senses. By inward thought and right
consideration following with gladness the directions of the 'true law,'
this is the way in which both laymen of the world and men who have left
their homes should walk.

"Across the sea of birth and death, 'wisdom' is the handy bark; 'wisdom'
is the shining lamp that lightens up the dark and gloomy world. 'Wisdom'
is the grateful medicine for all the defiling ills of life; 'wisdom' is
the axe wherewith to level all the tangled forest trees of sorrow.
'Wisdom' is the bridge that spans the rushing stream of ignorance and
lust--therefore, in every way, by thought and right attention, a man
should diligently inure himself to engender wisdom. Having acquired the
threefold wisdom, then, though blind, the eye of wisdom sees throughout;
but without wisdom the mind is poor and insincere; such things cannot
suit the man who has left his home.

"Wherefore let the enlightened man lay well to heart that false and
fruitless things become him not, and let him strive with single mind for
that pure joy which can be found alone in perfect rest and quietude.

"Above all things be not careless, for carelessness is the chief foe of
virtue; if a man avoid this fault he may be born where Sakra-raga
dwells. He who gives way to carelessness of mind must have his lot where
the Asuras dwell. Thus have I done my task, my fitting task, in setting
forth the way of quietude, the proof of love. On your parts be diligent!
with virtuous purpose practise well these rules, in quiet solitude of
desert hermitage nourish and cherish a still and peaceful heart. Exert
yourselves to the utmost, give no place to remissness, for as in worldly
matters when the considerate physician prescribes fit medicine for the
disease he has detected, should the sick man neglect to use it, this
cannot be the physician's fault, so I have told you the truth, and set
before you this the one and level road. Hearing my words and not with
care obeying them, this is not the fault of him who speaks; if there be
anything not clearly understood in the principles of the 'four truths,'
you now may ask me, freely; let not your inward thoughts be longer hid."
The lord in mercy thus instructing them, the whole assembly remained

Then Anuruddha, observing that the great congregation continued silent
and expressed no doubt, with closed hands thus spake to Buddha:--

"The moon may be warm, the sun's rays be cool, the air be still, the
earth's nature mobile; these four things, though yet unheard of in the
world, may happen; but this assembly never can have doubt about the
principles of sorrow, accumulation, destruction, and the
incontrovertible truths, as declared by the lord. But because the lord
is going to die, we all have sorrow; and we cannot raise our thoughts to
the high theme of the lord's preaching. Perhaps some fresh disciple,
whose feelings are yet not entirely freed from other influences might
doubt; but we, who now have heard this tender, sorrowful discourse, have
altogether freed ourselves from doubt. Passed the sea of birth and
death, without desire, with nought to seek, we only know how much we
love, and, grieving, ask why Buddha dies so quickly?"

Buddha regarding Anuruddha, perceiving how his words were full of
bitterness, again with loving heart, appeasing him, replied:--

"In the beginning things were fixed, in the end again they separate;
different combinations cause other substances, for there is no uniform
and constant principle in nature. But when all mutual purposes be
answered, what then shall chaos and creation do! the gods and men alike
that should be saved, shall all have been completely saved! Ye then! my
followers, who know so well the perfect law, remember! the end must
come; give not way again to sorrow!

"Use diligently the appointed means; aim to reach the home where
separation cannot come; I have lit the lamp of wisdom, its rays alone
can drive away the gloom that shrouds the world. The world is not
forever fixed! Ye should rejoice therefore! as when a friend, afflicted
grievously, his sickness healed, escapes from pain. For I have put away
this painful vessel, I have stemmed the flowing sea of birth and death,
free forever now, from pain! for this you should exult with joy! Now
guard yourselves aright, let there be no remissness! that which exists
will all return to nothingness! and now I die. From this time forth my
words are done, this is my very last instruction."

Then entering the Samadhi of the first Dhyana, he went successively
through all the nine in a direct order; then inversely he returned
throughout and entered on the first, and then from the first he raised
himself and entered on the fourth. Leaving the state of Samadhi, his
soul without a resting-place, forthwith he reached Nirvana. And then, as
Buddha died, the great earth quaked throughout. In space, on every hand,
was fire like rain, no fuel, self-consuming. And so from out the earth
great flames arose on every side.

Thus up to the heavenly mansions flames burst forth; the crash of
thunder shook the heavens and earth, rolling along the mountains and the
valleys, even as when the Devas and Asuras fight with sound of drums and
mutual conflict. A wind tempestuous from the four bounds of earth
arose--whilst from the crags and hills, dust and ashes fell like rain.
The sun and moon withdrew their shining; the peaceful streams on every
side were torrent-swollen; the sturdy forests shook like aspen leaves,
whilst flowers and leaves untimely fell around, like scattered rain. The
flying dragons, carried on pitchy clouds, wept down their tears; the
four kings and their associates, moved by pity, forgot their works of
charity. The pure Devas came to earth from heaven, halting mid-air they
looked upon the changeful scene, not sorrowing, not rejoicing. But yet
they sighed to think of the world, heedless of its sacred teacher,
hastening to destruction. The eightfold heavenly spirits, on every side
filled space: cast down at heart and grieving, they scattered flowers as
offerings. Only Mara-raga rejoiced, and struck up sounds of music in his
exultation. Whilst Gambudvipa shorn of its glory, seemed to grieve as
when the mountain tops fall down to earth, or like the great elephant
robbed of its tusks, or like the ox-king spoiled of his horns; or heaven
without the sun and moon, or as the lily beaten by the hail; thus was
the world bereaved when Buddha died!

Praising Nirvana

At this time there was a Devaputra, riding on his thousand white-swan
palace in the midst of space, who beheld the Parinirvana of Buddha. This
one, for the universal benefit of the Deva assembly, sounded forth at
large these verses on impermanence:--

"Impermanency is the nature of all things, quickly born, they quickly
die. With birth there comes the rush of sorrows, only in Nirvana is
there joy. The accumulated fuel heaped up by the power of karman, this
the fire of wisdom alone can consume. Though the fame of our deeds reach
up to heaven as smoke, yet in time the rains which descend will
extinguish all, as the fire that rages at the kalpa's end is put out by
the judgment of water."

Again there was a Brahma-Rishi-deva, like a most exalted Rishi, dwelling
in heaven, possessed of superior happiness, with no taint in his bliss,
who thus sighed forth his praises of Tathagata's Nirvana, with his mind
fixed in abstraction as he spoke:

"Looking through all the conditions of life, from first to last nought
is free from destruction. But the incomparable seer dwelling in the
world, thoroughly acquainted with the highest truth, whose wisdom grasps
that which is beyond the world's ken, he it is who can save the
worldly-dwellers. He it is who can provide lasting escape from the
destructive power of impermanence. But, alas! through the wide world,
all that lives is sunk in unbelief."

At this time Anuruddha, "not stopped" by the world, "not stopped" from
being delivered, the stream of birth and death forever "stopped," sighed
forth the praises of Tathagata's Nirvana:--

"All living things completely blind and dark! the mass of deeds all
perishing, even as the fleeting cloud-pile! Quickly arising and as
quickly perishing! the wise man holds not to such a refuge, for the
diamond mace of inconstancy can overturn the mountain of the Rishi
hermit. How despicable and how weak the world! doomed to destruction,
without strength! Impermanence, like the fierce lion, can even spoil the
Naga-elephant-great-Rishi. Only the diamond curtain of Tathagata can
overwhelm inconstancy! How much more should those not yet delivered from
desire, fear and dread its power? From the six seeds there grows one
sprout, one kind of water from the rain, the origin of the four points
is far removed: five kinds of fruit from the two 'Koo'--the three
periods, past, present, future, are but one in substance; the
Muni-great-elephant plucks up the great tree of sorrow, and yet he
cannot avoid the power of impermanence. For like the crested bird
delights within the pool to seize the poisonous snake, but when from
sudden drought he is left in the dry pool, he dies; or as the prancing
steed advances fearlessly to battle, but when the fight has passed goes
back subdued and quiet; or as the raging fire burns with the fuel, but
when the fuel is done, expires; so is it with Tathagata, his task
accomplished he returns to find his refuge in Nirvana: just as the
shining of the radiant moon sheds everywhere its light and drives away
the gloom, all creatures grateful for its light, it disappears concealed
by Sumeru; such is the case with Tathagata, the brightness of his wisdom
lit up the gloomy darkness, and for the good of all that lives drove it
away, when suddenly it disappears behind the mountain of Nirvana. The
splendor of his fame throughout the world diffused, had banished all
obscurity, but like the stream that ever flows, it rests not with us;
the illustrious charioteer with his seven prancing steeds flies through
the host and disappears.

"The bright-rayed Surya-deva, entering the Yen-tsz' cave, was, with the
moon, surrounded with fivefold barriers; 'all things that live,'
deprived of light, present their offerings to heaven; but from their
sacrifice nought but the blackened smoke ascends; thus it is with
Tathagata, his glory hidden, the world has lost its light. Rare was the
expectancy of grateful love that filled the heart of all that lives;
that love, reached its full limit, then was left to perish! The cords of
sorrow all removed, we found the true and only way; but now he leaves
the tangled mesh of life, and enters on the quiet place! His spirit
mounting through space, he leaves the sorrow-bearing vessel of his body!
the gloom of doubt and the great darkness all dispelled, by the bright
rays of wisdom! The earthy soil of sorrow's dust his wisdom's water
purifies! no more, no more, returns he here! forever gone to the place
of rest!

"The power of birth and death destroyed, the world instructed in the
highest doctrine! he bids the world rejoice in knowledge of his law, and
gives to all the benefit of wisdom! Giving complete rest to the world,
the virtuous streams flow forth! his fame known throughout the world,
shines still with increased splendor! How great his pity and his love to
those who opposed his claims, neither rejoicing in their defeat nor
exulting in his own success. Illustriously controlling his feelings, all
his senses completely enlightened, his heart impartially observing
events, unpolluted by the six objects of sense! Reaching to that
unreached before! obtaining that which man had not obtained! with the
water which he provided filling every thirsty soul! Bestowing that which
never yet was given, and providing a reward not hoped for! his peaceful,
well-marked person, perfectly knowing the thoughts of all.

"Not greatly moved either by loving or disliking! overcoming all enemies
by the force of his love! the welcome physician for all diseases, the
one destroyer of impermanency! All living things rejoicing in religion,
fully satisfied! obtaining all they need, their every wish fulfilled!
The great master of holy wisdom once gone returns no more! even as the
fire gone out for want of fuel! Declaring the eight rules without taint;
overcoming the five senses, difficult to compose! with the three powers
of sight seeing the three precious ones; removing the three robbers
(i.e. lust, anger, ignorance); perfecting the three grades of a holy
life, concealing the one (himself) and obtaining the one
saintship--leaping over the seven 'bodhyangas' and obtaining the long
sleep; the end of all, the quiet, peaceful way; the highest prize of
sages and of saints!

"Having himself severed the barriers of sorrow, now he is able to save
his followers, and to provide the draught of immortality for all who are
parched with thirst! Armed with the heavy cuirass of patience, he has
overcome all enemies! by the subtle principles of his excellent law to
satisfy every heart. Planting a sacred seed in the hearts of those
practising virtue; impartially directing and not casting off those who
are right or not right in their views! Turning the wheel of the
superlative law! received with gladness through the world by those who
have in former conditions implanted in themselves a love for religion,
these all saved by his preaching! Going forth among men converting those
not yet converted; those who had not seen the truth, causing them to see
the truth! All those practising a false method of religion, delivering
to them deep principles of his religion! preaching the doctrines of
birth and death and impermanency; declaring that without a master
teacher there can be no happiness! Erecting the standard of his great
renown, overcoming and destroying the armies of Mara! advancing to the
point of indifference to pleasure or pain, caring not for life, desiring
only rest! Causing those not yet converted to obtain conversion! those
not yet saved to be saved! those not yet at rest to find rest! those not
yet enlightened to be enlightened!

"Thus the Muni taught the way of rest for the direction of all living
things! alas! that any transgressing the way of holiness should practise
impure works. Even as at the end of the great kalpa, those holding the
law who die, when the rolling sound of the mysterious thunder-cloud
severs the forests, upon these there shall fall the rain of immortality.
The little elephant breaks down the prickly forest, and by cherishing it
we know that it can profit men; but the cloud that removes the sorrow of
the elephant old-age, this none can bear. He by destroying systems of
religion has perfected his system, in saving the world and yet saving!
he has destroyed the teaching of heresy, in order to reach his
independent mode of doctrine.

"And now he enters the great quiet place! no longer has the world a
protector or saviour! the great army host of Mara-raga, rousing their
warrior, shaking the great earth, desired to injure the honored Muni:
but they could not move him, whom in a moment now the Mara 'inconstancy'
destroys. The heavenly occupants everywhere assemble as a cloud! they
fill the space of heaven, fearing the endless birth and death! their
hearts are full of grief and dread! His Deva eyes clearly behold,
without the limitations of near or distant, the fruits of works
discerned throughout, as an image perceived in a mirror! His Deva ears
perfect and discriminating throughout, hear all, though far away,
mounting through space he teaches all the Devas, surpassing his method
of converting men! He divides his body still one in substance, crosses
the water as if it were not weak (to bear)! remembers all his former
births, through countless kalpas none forgotten! His senses wandering
through the fields of sense, all these distinctly remembered; knowing
the wisdom learned in every state of mind, all this perfectly
understood! By spiritual discernment and pure mysterious wisdom equally
surveying all things! every vestige of imperfection removed! thus he has
accomplished all he had to do. By wisdom rejecting other spheres of
life, his wisdom now completely perfected, lo! he dies! let the world,
hard and unyielding, still, beholding it, relent!

"All living things though blunt in sense, beholding him, receive the
enlightenment of wisdom! their endless evil deeds long past, as they
behold, are cancelled and completely cleansed! In a moment gone! who
shall again exhibit qualities like his? no saviour now in all the
world--our hope cut off, our very breath is stopped and gone! Who now
shall give us life again with the cool water of his doctrine? his own
great work accomplished, his great compassion now has ceased to work for
long: has long ceased or stopped! The world ensnared in the toils of
folly, who shall destroy the net? who shall, by his teaching, cause the
stream of birth and death to turn again? Who shall declare the way of
rest to instruct the heart of all that lives, deceived by ignorance? Who
will point out the quiet place, or who make known the one true doctrine?

"All flesh suffering great sorrow, who shall deliver, like a loving
father? Like the horse changing his master loses all gracefulness, as he
forgets his many words of guidance! as a king without a kingdom, such is
the world without a Buddha! as a disciple with no power of dialectic
left, or like a physician without wisdom, as men whose king has lost the
marks of royalty, so, Buddha dead, the world has lost its glory! the
gentle horses left without a charioteer, the boat without a pilot left!
The three divisions of an army left without a general! the merchantman
without a guide! the suffering and diseased without a physician! a holy
king without his seven insignia. The stars without the moon! the loving
years without the power of life! such is the world now that Buddha, the
great teacher, dies!"

Thus spake the Arhat, all done that should be done, all imperfections
quite removed, knowing the meed of gratitude, he was grateful therefore.
Thus thinking of his master's love he spake! setting forth the world's
great sorrow; whilst those, not yet freed from the power of passion,
wept with many tears, unable to control themselves. Yet even those who
had put away all faults, sighed as they thought of the pain of birth and
death. And now the Malla host hearing that Buddha had attained Nirvana,
with cries confused, wept piteously, greatly moved, as when a flight of
herons meet a hawk. In a body now they reach the twin trees, and as they
gaze upon Tathagata dead, entered on his long sleep, those features
never again to awake to consciousness, they smote their breasts and
sighed to heaven; as when a lion seizing on a calf, the whole herd
rushes on with mingled sounds.

In the midst there was one Malla, his mind enamoured of the righteous
law, who gazed with steadfastness upon the holy law-king, now entered on
the mighty calm, and said: "The world was everywhere asleep, when Buddha
setting forth his law caused it to awake; but now he has entered on the
mighty calm, and all is finished in an unending sleep. For man's sake he
had raised the standard of his law, and now, in a moment, it has fallen;
the sun of Tathagata's wisdom spreading abroad the lustre of its 'great
awakening,' increasing ever more and more in glory, spreading abroad the
thousand rays of highest knowledge, scattering and destroying all the
gloom of earth, why has the darkness great come back again? His
unequalled wisdom lightening the three worlds, giving eyes that all the
world might see, now suddenly the world is blind again, bewildered,
ignorant of the way; in a moment fallen the bridge of truth that spanned
the rolling stream of birth and death, the swelling flood of lust and
rage and doubt, and all flesh overwhelmed therein, forever lost."

Thus all that Malla host wept piteously and lamented; whilst some
concealed their grief nor spoke a word; others sank prostrate on the
earth; others stood silent, lost in meditation; others, with sorrowful
heart, groaned deeply. Then on a gold and silver gem-decked couch richly
adorned with flowers and scents, they placed the body of Tathagata; a
jewelled canopy they raised above, and round it flags and streamers and
embroidered banners; then using every kind of dance and music, the lords
and ladies of the Mallas followed along the road presenting offerings,
whilst all the Devas scattered scents and flowers, and raised the sound
of drums and music in the heavens. Thus men and Devas shared one common
sorrow, their cries united as they grieved together. Entering the city,
there the men and women, old and young, completed their religious
offerings. Leaving the city, then, and passing through the Lung-tsiang
gate, and crossing over the Hiranyavati river, they repaired to where
the former Buddhas, having died, had Kaityas raised to them. There
collecting ox-head sandal-wood and every famous scented wood, they
placed the whole above the Buddha's body, pouring various scented oils
upon the pyre; then placing fire beneath to kindle it, three times they
walked around; but yet it burned not. At this time the great Kasyapa had
taken his abode at Ragagriha, and knowing Buddha was about to die was
coming thence with all his followers; his pure mind, deeply moved,
desired to see the body of the lord; and so, because of that his sincere
wish, the fire went out and would not kindle. Then Kasyapa and his
followers coming, with piteous sighs looked on the sight and reverenced
at the master's feet; and then, forthwith, the fire burst out. Quenched
the fire of grief within; without, the fire has little power to burn. Or
though it burn the outside skin and flesh, the diamond true-bone still
remains. The scented oil consumed, the fire declines, the bones they
place within a golden pitcher; for as the mystic world is not destroyed,
neither can these, the bones of Buddha, perish; the consequence of
diamond wisdom, difficult to move as Sumeru. The relics which the mighty
golden-pinioned bird cannot remove or change, they place within the
precious vase, to remain until the world shall pass away; and wonderful!
the power of men can thus fulfil Nirvana's laws, the illustrious name of
one far spread, is sounded thus throughout the universe; and as the ages
roll, the long Nirvana, by these, the sacred relics, sheds through the
world its glorious light, and brightens up the abodes of life. He
perished in a moment! but these relics, placed within the vase, the
imperishable signs of wisdom, can overturn the mount of sorrow; the body
of accumulated griefs this imperishable mind can cause to rest, and
banish once forever all the miseries of life. Thus the diamond substance
was dealt with at the place of burning. And now those valiant Mallas,
unrivalled in the world for strength, subduing all private animosities,
sought escape from sorrow in the true refuge. Finding sweet comfort in
united love, they resolved to banish every complaining thought.
Beholding thus the death of Tathagata, they controlled their grieving
hearts, and with full strength of manly virtue dismissing every listless
thought, they submitted to the course of nature. Oppressed by thoughts
of grievous sorrow, they entered the city as a deserted wild: holding
the relics thus they entered, whilst from every street were offered
gifts. They placed the relics then upon a tower for men and Devas to

Division of the Sariras

Thus those Mallas offered religious reverence to the relics, and used
the most costly flowers and scents for their supreme act of worship.
Then the kings of the seven countries, having heard that Buddha was
dead, sent messengers to the Mallas asking to share the sacred relics of
Buddha. Then the Mallas reverencing the body of Tathagata, trusting to
their martial renown, conceived a haughty mind: "They would rather part
with life itself," they said, "than with the relics of the Buddha"--so
those messengers returned from the futile embassage. Then the seven
kings, highly indignant, with an army numerous as the rain-clouds,
advanced on Kusinagara; the people who went from the city filled with
terror soon returned and told the Mallas all: that the soldiers and the
cavalry of the neighboring countries were coming, with elephants and
chariots, to surround the Kusinagara city. The gardens, lying without
the town, the fountains, lakes, flower and fruit-trees were now
destroyed by the advancing host, and all the pleasant resting-places lay
in ruins.

The Mallas, mounting on the city towers, beheld the great supports of
life destroyed; they then prepared their warlike engines to crush the
foe without: balistas and catapults and "flying torches," to hurl
against the advancing host. Then the seven kings entrenched themselves
around the city, each army host filled with increasing courage; their
wings of battle shining in array as the sun's seven beams of glory
shine; the heavy drums rolling as the thunder, the warlike breath rising
as the full cloud mist. The Mallas, greatly incensed, opening the gates
command the fray to begin; the aged men and women whose hearts had trust
in Buddha's law, with deep concern breathed forth their vow, "Oh! may
the victory be a bloodless one!" Those who had friends used mutual
exhortations not to encourage in themselves a desire for strife.

And now the warriors, clad in armor, grasping their spears and
brandishing their swords 'midst the confused noise and heavy drums
advanced. But ere the contest had begun, there was a certain Brahman
whose name was Drona, celebrated for penetration, honored for modesty
and lowliness, whose loving heart took pleasure in religion. This one
addressed those kings and said: "Regarding the unequalled strength of
yonder city, one man alone would be enough for its defence; how much
less when with determined heart they are united, can you subdue it! In
the beginning mutual strife produced destruction, how now can it result
in glory or renown? The clash of swords and bloody onset done, 'tis
certain one must perish! and therefore whilst you aim to vanquish those,
both sides will suffer in the fray. Then there are many chances, too, of
battle: 'tis hard to measure strength by appearances; the strong,
indeed, may overcome the weak, the weak may also overcome the strong;
the powerful champion may despise the snake, but how will he escape a
wounded body? there are men whose natures bland and soft, seem suited
for the company of women or of children, but when enlisted in the ranks,
make perfect soldiers. As fire when it is fed with oil, though reckoned
weak, is not extinguished easily, so when you say that they are weak,
beware of leaning overmuch on strength of body; nought can compare with
strength of right religion. There was in ancient times a Gina king,
whose name was Karandhama, his graceful upright presence caused such
love in others that he could overcome all animosity; but though he ruled
the world and was high renowned, and rich and prosperous, yet in the end
he went back and all was lost! So when the ox has drunk enough, he too
returns. Use then the principles of righteousness, use the expedients of
good will and love. Conquer your foe by force, you increase his enmity;
conquer by love, and you will reap no after-sorrow. The present strife
is but a thirst for blood, this thing cannot be endured! If you desire
to honor Buddha, follow the example of his patience and long-suffering!"
Thus this Brahman with confidence declared the truth; imbued with
highest principles of peace, he spake with boldness and unflinchingly.

And now the kings addressed the Brahman thus: "You have chosen a fitting
time for giving increase to the seed of wisdom: the essence of true
friendship is the utterance of truth. The greatest force of reason lies
in righteous judgment. But now in turn hear what we say: The rules of
kings are framed to avoid the use of force when hatred has arisen from
low desires, or else to avoid the sudden use of violence in trifling
questions where some trifling matter is at stake. But we for the sake of
law are about to fight. What wonder is it! Swollen pride is a principle
to be opposed, for it leads to the overthrow of society; no wonder then
that Buddha preached against it, teaching men to practise lowliness and
humility. Then why should we be forbidden to pay our reverence to his
body-relics? In ancient days a lord of the great earth, Pih-shih-tsung
and Nanda, for the sake of a beautiful woman fought and destroyed each
other; how much more now, for the sake of religious reverence to our
master, freed from passion, gone to Nirvana, without regard to self, or
careful of our lives, should we contend and assert our rights! A former
king, Kaurava, fought with a Pandava king, and the more they increased
in strength the more they struggled, all for some temporary gain; how
much more for our not-coveting master should we contend, coveting to get
his living relics? The son of Rama, too, the Rishi, angry with King
Dasa-ratha, destroyed his country, slew the people, because of the rage
he felt; how much less for our master, freed from anger, should we be
niggard of our lives! Rama, for Sita's sake, killed all the
demon-spirits; how much more for our lord, heaven-received, should we
not sacrifice our lives! The two demons A-lai and Po-ku were ever drawn
into contention; in the first place, because of their folly and
ignorance, causing wide ruin among men; how much less for our all-wise
master should we begrudge our lives! Wherefore if from these examples we
find others ready to die for no real principle, how shall we for our
teacher of gods (Devas) and men, reverenced by the universe, spare our
bodies or begrudge our lives, and not be earnest in desire to make our
offerings! Now then, if you desire to stay the strife, go and for us
demand within the city that they open wide the relics, and so cause our
prayer to be fulfilled. But because your words are right ones, we hold
our anger for a while; even as the great, angry snake, by the power of
charms is quieted."

And now the Brahman, having received the kings' instruction, entering
the city, went to the Mallas, and saluting them, spoke these true words:
"Without the city those who are kings among men grasp with their hands
their martial weapons, and with their bodies clad in weighty armor wait
eagerly to fight; glorious as the sun's rays, bristling with rage as the
roused lion. These united are, to overthrow this city. But whilst they
wage this religious war, they fear lest they may act irreligiously, and
so they have sent me here to say what they require: 'We have come, not
for the sake of territory, much less for money's sake, nor on account of
any insolent feeling, nor yet from any thought of hatred; but because we
venerate the great Rishi, we have come on this account. You, noble sirs!
know well our mind! Why should there be such sorrowful contention! You
honor what we honor, both alike, then we are brothers as concerns
religion. We both with equal heart revere the bequeathed spiritual
relics of the lord. To be miserly in hoarding wealth, this is an
unreasonable fault; how much more to grudge religion, of which there is
so little knowledge in the world! The exclusive and the selfishly
inclined, should practise laws of hospitality; but if ye have not rules
of honor such as these, then shut your gates and guard yourselves.' This
is the tenor of the words, be they good or bad, spoken by them. But now
for myself and my own feelings, let me add these true and sincere
words:--Let there be no contention either way; reason ought to minister
for peace, the lord when dwelling in the world ever employed the force
of patience. Not to obey his holy teaching, and yet to offer gifts to
him, is contradiction. Men of the world, for some indulgence, some
wealth or land, contend and fight, but those who believe the righteous
law should obediently conform their lives to it; to believe and yet to
harbor enmity, this is to oppose 'religious principle' to 'conduct.'
Buddha himself at rest, and full of love, desired to bestow the rest he
enjoyed on all. To adore with worship the great merciful, and yet to
gender wide destruction, how is this possible? Divide the relics, then,
that all may worship them alike; obeying thus the law, the fame thereof
widespread, then righteous principles will be diffused; but if others
walk not righteously, we ought by righteous dealing to appease them, in
this way showing the advantage of religion, we cause religion everywhere
to take deep hold and abide. Buddha has told us that of all charity
'religious charity' is the highest; men easily bestow their wealth in
charity, but hard is the charity that works for righteousness."

The Mallas hearing the Brahman's words with inward shame gazed at one
another; and answered the Brahmakarin thus: "We thank you much for
purposing to come to us, and for your friendly and religious
counsel--speaking so well, and reasonably. Yours are words which a
Brahman ought to use, in keeping with his holy character; words full of
reconciliation, pointing out the proper road; like one recovering a
wandering horse brings him back by the path which he had lost. We then
ought to adopt the plan of reconciliation such as you have shown us; to
hear the truth and not obey it brings afterwards regretful sorrow."

Then they opened out the master's relics and in eight parts equally
divided them. Themselves paid reverence to one part, the other seven
they handed to the Brahman; the seven kings having accepted these,
rejoiced and placed them on their heads; and thus with them returned to
their own country, and erected Dagobas for worship over them. The
Brahmakarin then besought the Mallas to bestow on him the relic-pitcher
as his portion, and from the seven kings he requested a fragment of
their relics, as an eighth share. Taking this, he returned and raised a
Kaitya, which still is named "the Golden Pitcher Dagoba." Then the men
of Kusinagara collecting all the ashes of the burning, raised over them
a Kaitya, and called it "the Ashes Dagoba." The eight Stupas of the
eight kings, "the Golden Pitcher" and "the Ashes Stupa."

Thus throughout Gambudvipa there first were raised ten Dagobas. Then all
the lords and ladies of the country holding gem-embroidered canopies,
paid their offerings at the various shrines, adorning them as any golden
mountain. And so with music and with dancing through the day and night
they made merry, and sang. And now the Arhats numbering five hundred,
having forever lost their master's presence, reflecting there was now no
ground of certainty, returned to Gridhrakuta mount; assembling in King
Sakra's cavern, they collected there the Sutra Pitaka; all the assembly
agreeing that the venerable Ananda should say, for the sake of the
congregation, the sermons of Tathagata from first to last: "Great and
small, whatever you have heard from the mouth of the deceased Muni."

Then Ananda in the great assembly ascending the lion throne, declared in
order what the lord had preached, uttering the words "Thus have I

The whole assembly, bathed in tears, were deeply moved as he pronounced
the words "I heard"; and so he announced the law as to the time, as to
the place, as to the person; as he spoke, so was it written down from
first to last, the complete Sutra Pitaka. By diligent attention in the
use of means, practising wisdom, all these Arhats obtained Nirvana;
those now able so to do, or hereafter able, shall attain Nirvana in the
same way. King Asoka born in the world when strong, caused much sorrow;
when feeble, then he banished sorrow; as the Asoka-flower tree, ruling
over Gambudvipa, his heart forever put an end to sorrow, when brought to
entire faith in the true law; therefore he was called "the King who
frees from sorrow." A descendant of the Mayura family, receiving from
heaven a righteous disposition, he ruled equally over the world; he
raised everywhere towers and shrines, his private name the "violent
Asoka," now called the "righteous Asoka."

Opening the Dagobas raised by those seven kings to take the Sariras
thence, he spread them everywhere, and raised in one day eighty-four
thousand towers; only with regard to the eighth pagoda in Ramagrama,
which the Naga spirit protected, the king was unable to obtain those
relics; but though he obtained them not, knowing they were spiritually
bequeathed relics of Buddha which the Naga worshipped and adored, his
faith was increased and his reverent disposition. Although the king was
ruler of the world, yet was he able to obtain the first holy fruit; and
thus induced the entire empire to honor and revere the shrines of

In the past and present, thus there has been deliverance for all.
Tathagata, when in the world; and now his relics--after his Nirvana;
those who worship and revere these, gain equal merit; so also those who
raise themselves by wisdom, and reverence the virtues of the Tathagata,
cherishing religion, fostering a spirit of almsgiving, they gain great
merit also. The noble and superlative law of Buddha ought to receive the
adoration of the world. Gone to that undying place, those who believe
his law shall follow him there; therefore let all the Devas and men,
without exception, worship and adore the one great loving and
compassionate, who mastered thoroughly the highest truth, in order to
deliver all that lives. Who that hears of him, but yearns with love! The
pains of birth, old age, disease and death, the endless sorrows of the
world, the countless miseries of "hereafter," dreaded by all the Devas,
he has removed all these accumulated sorrows; say, who would not revere
him? to escape the joys of after life, this is the world's chief joy! To
add the pain of other births, this is the world's worst sorrow! Buddha,
escaped from pain of birth, shall have no joy of the "hereafter"!

And having shown the way to all the world, who would not reverence and
adore him? To sing the praises of the lordly monk, and declare his acts
from first to last, without self-seeking or self-honor, without desire
for personal renown, but following what the scriptures say, to benefit
the world, has been my aim.


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