Rediscovering the Buddha: Legends of the Buddha and Their Interpretation

By Hans H. Penner | Go to book overview

16
The Last Watch and the Funeral

Settled down in the grove near Kusinara, the Buddha asked Ananda to prepare a bed for him between two sal-trees with his head to the north. As he lay down on his right side once again, the sal trees burst forth in abundant untimely blossoms that fell, covering his body. Heavenly coral tree flowers also fell from the sky, together with sandalwood powder, sprinkling and covering his body in homage.

As they spoke to each other the venerable Upava stood in front of the Buddha, fanning him. The Buddha told him, “Move aside, monk, do not stand in front of me.” Ananda was rather shocked at this sharp command, since Upava had been an attendant of the Buddha for a long time, always keeping close at his beck and call. And now in his last hour the Lord told him to stand aside. “Why did he say that?” he thought. Ananda then asked him.

“Ananda, the gods from the various spheres of the cosmos have gathered to see the Perfect One. For a distance of about 150 miles around the sal-grove there is not a space you could touch with the point of a hair that is not filled with mighty gods, and they are complaining: “We have come a long way to see the Perfected One. It is rare for a fully enlightened Buddha to arise in the world, and tonight in the last watch the Enlightened One will attain final liberation, and this mighty monk is standing in front of the Buddha preventing us from getting a last glimpse of him.”

All the gods now viewed the cosmic event that was taking place, as heavenly music and song sounded throughout the skies.

-107-

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