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Last Words of the Buddha before the Maha Parinibbana

Kyipwayay Oo Thein

(First published in The Light of Dhamma, Vol III, No.2, 23-8-83)

The Buddha was born in 625 B.C. as Prince Siddhatta at Kapilavatthu on the Indian borders of modern Nepal. He was an extra ordinary man being the All-Enlightened One, and as a Buddha he passed away.

Being the son of a rich King Suddhodana, he received an education befitting a royal son. He married Princess Yasodhara and had a son. Blissfully ignorant of the vicissitudes of life outside the palace gates, he led a luxurious life at home. With the march of time truth gradually dawned upon him.

In his twenty-ninth year, realising the fleeting nature of life and the vanity of material pleasures, he resolved to leave his uncongenial palace in search of truth and peace, more from sympathy with the sufferings of others than from any personal sorrow which he had no occasion to experience.

His departure from home was not a case of desertion of his beloved wife and infant son, but an unprecedented case of historic renunciation. He left his worldly life not in old age but in the prime of man hood, not in poverty but in plenty.

Passing through a long and arduous course of training in self- sacrifice (dana), discipline (sila), renunciation (nekkhamma), wisdom (panna), service (viriya), endurance (khanti), truthfulness (sacca), iron-will (adhitthana), boundless loving- kindness (metta) and perfect equanimity (upekkha), he made superhuman struggle for six strenuous years. One glorious day seated on a grass pallanka under the famous Bodhi tree at Buddhagaya, he vowed to himself:— "In this very seat let my sinews and bones waste away, let all their flesh and blood in my body dry up, but never from this seat will stir until I have attained supreme Buddhahood."

On a happy Full Moon Day of Kason, six years after his renunciation, unaided and unguided by any supernatural power, but solely relying on his own efforts and wisdom, he eradicated all defilements, purified himself and comprehending the Dhamma, obtained perfect Enlightenment (Samma Sambodhi) in his thirty-fifth year. There after, he was known as Buddha Gotama, one of a long line of Buddhas, that already has appeared in the past and will appear in the future.

Being enlightened, he came forward to enlighten others. Being delivered, he plunged into the world to deliver others from samsara by expounding his unique Middle Path. Extending an open invitation to all seekers of Truth with the memorable words, "Open to them are the doors to Deathless. Let those who have ears repose confidence," he began his successful ministry.

With five pure enlightened Arahants (Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddhiya, Mahanama and Assaji)-- as the nucleus he established the Noble Order of the Sangha which today is the oldest democratically constituted historic body of celebrated members of the Sangha in the whole world. When the number of Arahants gradually increased to sixty, all drawn from the cream of society, the Buddha as the first Messenger of Truth despatched them with the exhortation:— "Go forth, O! Bhikkhus, for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, for the good, well-being and happiness of gods and men. Preach the sublime Dhamma, excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, excellent in the end. Proclaim the Holy Life, altogether perfect and pure"

"Hoist the Flag of the Sage. Preach the sublime Dhamma. Work for the welfare of others, you who have done your duties."

The Buddha was thus the first religious teacher to send his enlightened, ordained disciples to propagate the doctrine out of compassion for others. With no permanent abode, alone and penniless these first missionaries were expected to wander from place to place to teach the sublime Dhamma. The original role of Arahants who achieved their life's goal was to work for the moral advancement of the people both by example and by precept, making on distinction between the rich and poor.

Sending his disciples in various directions, the Buddha also wandered from place to place expounding his Dhamma for forty-five years dominated by no personal motive whatever. As the perfect embodiment of all the virtues he preached, endowed with deep wisdom commensurate with his boundless compassion, sleeping for only one hour at night, he incessantly worked for the good and happiness of mankind until his dying moment when he converted Subhadda the wandering ascetic.

Knowing well his maha parinibbana, the Buddha summoned his disciples and calmly addressed them thus:--"Ripe is my age, short is my life, leaving you I shall go. I have made myself my refuge. Be diligent, mindful and extremely virtuous. With thoughts collected guard your mind. In this doctrine and discipline by living strenuously, you will escape the cycle of rebirth and put an end to suffering."

"Think not that you have no teacher after my death.

Regard the Dhamma and Vinaya I have taught you as your teacher."

"He who practises my teaching best serves me most."

"He who sees the Dhamma sees me."

'Transient are all component things, strive on with diligence."

Having successfully completed this noble mission in his eightieth year, he retired to Kusinara, an insignificant hamlet, and lying on a couch between two saIa trees, passed away in a peaceful state of mind 2527 years ago.

He was born, as an extraordinary man he lived, and as a Buddha he passed away. Buddha was not a God nor a God's prophet.

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