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The death of the Buddha, or Mahaparinirvana, Gandhara 2-3rd century.
The death of the Buddha, or Mahaparinirvana, Gandhara 2-3rd century.
In Buddhism, parinirvana (Sanskrit: ; Pali: ; Chinese: , b ni p n) is the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening (bodhi). It implies a release from the bhavachakra, , karma and rebirth as well as the dissolution of the skandhas.

The parinibbana of the Buddha is described in the Mah parinibb na sutta. Because of its attention to detail, the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (of the Theravada tradition), though first committed to writing hundreds of years after his death, has been resorted to as the principal source of reference in most standard studies of the Buddha's life.[1]

In some Mahayana scriptures (notably the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra), Parinirvana is explicated as the realm of the eternal true Self of the Buddha.



Buddha attaining Parinirvana - Depicted in cave 26 of 'Ajanta Caves' - India
Buddha attaining Parinirvana - Depicted in cave 26 of 'Ajanta Caves' - India
Accounts of the purported events surrounding the Buddha's own parinirv a are found in a wide range of Buddhist canonical literature. In addition to the P li Mah parinibb na sutta (DN 16) and its Sanskrit parallels, the topic is treated in the Sa yutta-nik ya (SN 6.15) and the several Sanskrit parallels (T99 p253c-254c), the Sanskrit-based Ekottara- gama (T125 p750c), and other early sutras preserved in Chinese, as well as in most of the Vinayas preserved in Chinese of the early Buddhist schools such as the Sarv stiv dins and the Mah s ghikas. The historical event of the Buddha's parinirv a is also described in a number of later works, such as the Sanskrit Buddha-carita and the Avad na- ataka, and the P li Mah va sa.

According to Bareau, the oldest core components of all these accounts are just the account of the Buddha's parinirv a itself at Ku inagara and the funerary rites following his death.[2] He deems all other extended details to be later additions with little historical value.

In contrast to these works which deal with the Buddha's parinirv a as a biographical event, the Mah y na Mah parinirv a Mah -s tra, which bears a similar name, was written hundreds of years later.[3] The Nirvana Sutra does not give details of the historical event of the day of the parinirv a itself, except the Buddha's illness and Cunda's meal offering, nor any of the other preceding or subsequent incidents, instead using the event as merely a convenient springboard for the expression of standard Mahayana ideals such as the tathagata-garbha / buddha-dhatu doctrine, the eternality of the Buddha, and the soteriological fate of the icchantikas and so forth.[4]

In Mahayana literature

Attendants to the Parinirvana, Gandhara, Victoria and Albert museum
Attendants to the Parinirvana, Gandhara, Victoria and Albert museum
According to the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Mah -s tra (also called the Nirvana Sutra), the Buddha taught that parinirvana is the realm of the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure. Dr. Paul Williams states that it depicts the Buddha using the term "Self" in order to win over non-Buddhist ascetics.[5] However, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra is a long and highly composite Mahayana scripture,[6] and the part of the sutra upon which Williams is basing his statement is a portion of the Nirvana Sutra of secondary Central Asian provenance - other parts of the sutra were written in India.[7]

Guang Xing speaks of how the Mahayanists of the Nirvana Sutra understand the mahaparinirvana to be the liberated Self of the eternal Buddha:[8]

Only in Mahaparinirvana is this True Self held to be fully discernible and accessible.[9]

Kosho Yamamoto cites a passage in which the Buddha admonishes his monks not to dwell inordinately on the idea of the non-Self but to meditate on the Self. Dr. Yamamoto writes:[10]

Michael Zimmermann, in his study of the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, reveals that not only the Mahaparinirvana Sutra but also the Tathagatagarbha Sutra and the Lankavatara Sutra speak affirmatively of the Self. Zimmermann observes:[11]

See also


External links

cs:Parinirv na de:Nirwana es:Paranirv a fr:Parinirv na it:Parinirv a nl:Parinibbana pl:Parinirwana pt:Paranirvana ru: sk:Parinirv na sr: sv:Parinirvana th: uk: vi:B t-ni t-b n

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