The last three months of Shakyamuni’s life are discussed in detail in the Pali text called the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (“Discourse on the [Buddha Shakyamuni’s] Great Parinirvana”). According to the historical account, Shakyamuni had his last meal at the home of a lay follower named Chunda, and it seems that he became sick afterwards. He traveled to Kushinagara (with his attendant and cousin, Ananda) and calmly lay down between twin sala trees. He expounded his last teaching to his disciples, asked them if there were any remaining questions, guided them as to how they should continue, and then passed into what is called parinirvana – final or complete nirvana – a term indicating that Shakyamuni had transcended the physical body as well as the cycle of transmigration (death and rebirth). In essence, he had gone into a form of nirvana unencumbered by the human body.


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