The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[The Fifth Chapter for Recitation]

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[35: The Four Places that Produce Enthusiasm]

“Formerly, reverend Sir, the monks, having dwelt for the Rains Retreat used to come to see the Realised One, and we would receive those meditating monks for assembling and seeing (the Realised One). The Commentary mentions that it was customary for monks to come and see the Buddha before the Rains Retreat began to get a meditation subject (kammaṭṭhāna), and again after the Retreat had ended to announce their attainments.01 But after the Gracious One has passed way, reverend Sir, we will not receive those meditating monks for assembling and seeing (the Realised One).”

“There are these four places that can be seen, that produce enthusiasm, Ānanda, for a faithful man of good family.

Which four?

  1. (Thinking): ‘Here the Realised One was born’, At Lumbinī, just north-east of Kapilavatthu, now just inside Nepal.02 Ānanda, (that) is a place to be seen that produces enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

  2. (Thinking): ‘Here the Realised One awoke to the unsurpassed and Perfect Awakening’, At Uruvelā in Magadhā, south of Rājagaha, on the banks of the River Nerañjanā.03 Ānanda, (that) is a place to be seen that produces enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

  3. (Thinking): ‘Here the Realised One set rolling the Wheel of the Teaching’, At Isipatana, just north of Bārāṇasī (modern Varanasi).04 Ānanda, (that) is a place to be seen that produces enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

  4. (Thinking): ‘Here the Realised One was completely Emancipated in the Emancipation-element which has no basis for attachment remaining’, At Kusinārā, somewhat south of the Buddha's home town of Kapilavatthu.05 Ānanda, (that) is a place to be seen that produces enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

These are the four places, Ānanda, that are to be seen that produce enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

Faithful monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen will come, (thinking): ‘Here the Realised One was born’, ‘Here the Realised One awoke to the unsurpassed and Perfect Awakening’, ‘Here the Realised One set rolling the Wheel of the Teaching’, ‘Here the Realised One was Finally Emancipated in the Emancipation-element which has no basis for attachment remaining’, and whoever, Ānanda, will die while on pilgrimage to the Shrines with a confident mind they will all, at the break-up of the body, after death, re-arise in a fortunate destiny, in a heavenly world.” This is still a popular pilgrimage that every Buddhist tries to make at least once during his lifetime.06

 

* * *

“How, reverend Sir, are we to act in regard to women?”

“(As though they were) not seen, Ānanda.”

“(But) when seeing them, reverend Sir, how are we to act?”

“Without conversing, Ānanda.”

“(But) when conversing, reverend Sir, how are we to act?”

“You should attend to mindfulness, Ānanda.” cf. the Buddha's teaching the monks mindfulness just before they were going to see Ambapālī above.07

* * *

“How should we act, reverend Sir, in regard to the Realised One's body?”

“Do not worry, Ānanda, about how you are to worshipfully (dispose of) the Realised One's body. Come, Ānanda, live striving for the highest good, being devoted to the highest good, being heedful of the highest good, ardent, and resolute. There are, Ānanda, wise Nobles, wise brahmins, wise householders who have faith in the Realised One. They will worshipfully (dispose of) the Realised One's body.” This seems to record a different tradition to the one just below, which is presumably inserted here to give authority for the cremation procedure that follows later.08

* * *

“How should we act, reverend Sir, in regard to the Realised One's body?”

“As you act in regard to the Universal Monarch's body, so you should act in regard to the Realised One's body.”

“But how do they act, reverend Sir, in regard to the Universal Monarch's body?”

“They wrap the Universal Monarch's body, Ānanda, with clean cloth, and after wrapping with clean cloth, they wrap with carded cotton, and after wrapping with carded cotton, they wrap with clean cloth, by this means after wrapping the Universal Monarch's body with five-hundred pairs (of cloth and cotton), enclosing it in an oil tub made of iron, The Commentary defines iron as gold here: āyasāyā ti sovaṇṇāya, sovaṇṇañ-hi idha ayasan-ti adhippetaṁ; made of iron means made of gold, because here gold is meant when iron (is said). It may be, as Rhys-Davids believes (p. 155 n.4), that iron was not thought of as being a sufficiently valuable metal by the time the Commentaries were being written. I can find nowhere else where āyasa is defined as gold, and so let the translation as iron stand.09 and enclosing it in another iron tub, and putting it on a scented funeral pyre, they burn the Universal Monarch's body, and they build a Shrine for the Universal Monarch at the crossroads.

So they act in regard to a Universal Monarch's body, and as they act in regard to a Universal Monarch's body so should they act in regard to a Realised One's body, and a Shrine should be made for the Realised One at the crossroads. Whoever there prepares flowers, incense, or powder, or worships or establishes confidence in his mind, that will be for their benefit and happiness for a long time.

* * *

These four (persons), Ānanda, are worthy of a Shrine.

Which four?

  1. A Realised One, a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha is worthy of a Shrine,

  2. an Individual Sambuddha is worthy of a Shrine,

  3. a Realised One's disciple is worthy of a Shrine, From the Commentary on the next line where a puthujjana monk is mentioned it is clear that a disciple here means one who is a Noble Disciple (Ariyasāvaka).10

  4. a Universal Monarch is worthy of a Shrine.

And for what reason or cause is a Realised One, a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha worthy of a Shrine? (Thinking): ‘This is the Shrine of a Realised One, a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha’, Ānanda, many people purify their mind, and after purifying their mind, at the break-up of the body, after death, they arise in a fortunate destiny, in a Heavenly world. This is the reason or cause, Ānanda, why a Realised One, a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha is worthy of a Shrine.

And for what reason or cause is an Individual Sambuddha worthy of a Shrine? (Thinking): ‘This is the Shrine of a Gracious One, an Individual Sambuddha’, Ānanda, many people purify their mind, and after purifying their mind, at the break-up of the body, after death, they arise in a fortunate destiny, in a Heavenly world. This is the reason or cause, Ānanda, why an Individual Sambuddha is worthy of a Shrine.

And for what reason or cause is a Realised One's disciple worthy of a Shrine? (Thinking): ‘This is the Shrine of a disciple of a Gracious One, a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha’, Ānanda, many people purify their mind, and after purifying their mind, at the break-up of the body, after death, they arise in a fortunate destiny, in a Heavenly world. This is the reason or cause, Ānanda, why a Realised One's disciple is worthy of a Shrine.

And for what reason or cause is a Universal Monarch worthy of a Shrine? (Thinking): ‘This is the Shrine of Righteous Monarch, a Righteous King’, Ānanda, many people purify their mind, and after purifying their mind, at the break-up of the body, after death, they arise in a fortunate destiny, in a Heavenly world. This is the reason or cause, Ānanda, why a Universal Monarch is worthy of a Shrine. These, Ānanda, are the four (persons) worthy of a Shrine.”