Nirvana Day

Nirvana Day is the day for remembering the death of Shakyamuni Buddha.

The Buddha died at the age of eighty. While spending the monsoon season in the village of Beluva, he fell ill, but suppressed the trouble by will-power. When the monk Ananda, who had been his personal attendant for twenty-five years, remarked that he probably did not wish to depart before he had named his successor, the aged teacher replied:

What, Ananda, does the order expect of me? I have, Ananda, expounded the teaching without distinguishing an inside and an outside…Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, a refuge unto yourselves, take the teaching as island, as refuge, have no other refuge!

Accompanied by a group of monks, Shakyamuni wandered to Pava where he took rest in the mango grove of the blacksmith Cunda. After the meal, he fell ill with dysentery, but in spite of his weakened condition, continued his journey to Kusinara, where Ananda prepared a couch for him in the shadow of some Sala trees. When Ananda burst into tears because of the imminent death of his master, he consoled him thus:

Enough (of it), Ananda, do not grieve, nor lament. Have I not always told you that all things dear and pleasant are subject to change, loss, and instability? How (else) could it be here? That which was born, has come into being, has been effected by the deeds of previous births and is subject to decay – that this should not perish is impossible.

For the last time he admonished his monks:

Now, monks, I exhort you: the components of the personality are subject to decay; exert yourselves with diligence!

These were the Buddha’s last words. Shortly afterwards he fell into a coma—described by the Sutra as a meditational state—and proceeded from this into parinirvana, the state of liberation from suffering after the body is cast off. The year of Shakyamuni’s death is said to be 483 BCE.