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The death of the Buddha, or Mahaparinirvana, Gandhara 2-3rd century.
{{Buddhist term|title= Parinirvana |en= Nirvana after death,Nirvana without remainder, Nirvana without residue|pi= परिनिब्बान|pi-Latn=parinibbāna|sa= परिनिर्वाण|sa-Latn=parinirvāṇa|my= ပရိနိဗ္ဗာန်|my-Latn=parinibbaran
般涅槃)|zh-Latn=bōnièpán반열반)|ko-Latn=banyeolban般涅槃)|ja-Latn=hatsunehan|km= បរិនិព្វាន|km-Latn=Parek Nippeanපරිනිර්වාණය)|si-Latn=parinirvāṇaya|bo= མྱང་འདས།|bo-Latn=myang 'dasปรินิพพาน)|th-Latn=priniphphān}}In Buddhism, the term parinirvana (Sanskrit: {{IAST|parinirvāṇa}}; Pali: {{IAST|parinibbāna}}) is commonly used to refer to nirvana-after-death, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained nirvana during his or her lifetime. It implies a release from the {{IAST|Saṃsāra}}, karma and rebirth as well as the dissolution of the skandhas.In some Mahāyāna scriptures, notably the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, Parinirvāṇa is described as the realm of the eternal true Self of the Buddha.

Nirvana after death

In the Buddhist view, when an ordinary person dies and their physical body disintegrates, the person's unresolved karma passes on to a new birth; and thus the karmic inheritance is reborn in one of the six realms of samsara. However, when a person attains nirvana, they are liberated from karmic rebirth. When such a person dies, their physical body disintegrates and this is the end of the cycle of rebirth.Contemporary scholar Rupert Gethin explains:{{sfn|Gethin|1998|p=76}}
Eventually ‘the remainder of life’ will be exhausted and, like all beings, such a person must die. But unlike other beings, who have not experienced ‘nirvāṇa’, he or she will not be reborn into some new life, the physical and mental constituents of being will not come together in some new existence, there will be no new being or person. Instead of being reborn, the person ‘parinirvāṇa-s’, meaning in this context that the five aggregates of physical and mental phenomena that constitute a being cease to occur. This is the condition of ‘nirvāṇa without remainder [of life]’ (nir-upadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa/an-up ādisesa-nibbāna): nirvāṇa that comes from ending the occurrence of the aggregates (skandha/khandha) of physical and mental phenomena that constitute a being; or, for short, khandha-parinibbāna. Modern Buddhist usage tends to restrict ‘nirvāṇa’ to the awakening experience and reserve ‘parinirvāṇa’ for the death experience.

Parinirvana of Buddha Shakyamuni

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Buddha attaining Parinirvana – Depicted in cave 26 of Ajanta Caves - India
Image: Cambodian - The First Sermon and Buddha's Parinibbana - Walters 20101237.jpg|left|200px|thumb|The lower half of this cloth panel depicts Buddha's Parinibbana.WEB, The Walters Art Museum The Walters Art Museum Accounts of the purported events surrounding the Buddha's own parinirvāṇa are found in a wide range of Buddhist canonical literature. In addition to the Pāli Mahāparinibbāna sutta (DN 16) and its Sanskrit parallels, the topic is treated in the Saṃyutta-nikāya (SN 6.15) and the several Sanskrit parallels (T99 p253c-254c), the Sanskrit-based Ekottara-āgama (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 Sarvāstivādins and the Mahāsāṃghikas. The historical event of the Buddha's parinirvāṇa is also described in a number of later works, such as the Sanskrit Buddhacarita and the Avadāna-śataka, and the Pāli Mahāvaṃsa.According to Bareau, the oldest core components of all these accounts are just the account of the Buddha's parinirvāṇa itself at Kuśinagara and the funerary rites following his death.Bareau, Andrė: La composition et les étapes de la formation progressive du Mahaparinirvanasutra ancien, Bulletin de l'Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient 66, 45-103,1979 He deems all other extended details to be later additions with little historical value.

Within the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (Pali)

The parinirvana of the Buddha is described in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. Because of its attention to detail, this Theravada sutta, 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.Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Paul Williams, Published by Taylor & Francis, 2005. page 190

Within the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra

In contrast to these works which deal with the Buddha's parinirvāṇa as a biographical event, the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra, which bears a similar name, was written hundreds of years later.The Mahaparinibbana Sutta is pre-Ashokan; see Juliane Schober, Sacred biography in the Buddhist traditions of South and Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press, 1997, page 171, while the Mahayana text dates to the second century CE or later: see Shimoda, Masahiro: A Study of the Mahāparinivāṇasūtra ~ with a Focus on the Methodology of the Study of Mahāyāna Sūtras, Shunjū-sha (1997) pp446-48. The Nirvana Sutra does not give details of the historical event of the day of the parinirvāṇa 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{{Weasel inline|date=April 2011}} 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."The Doctrine of Buddha-nature in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra", by Ming-Wood Liu, in: Buddhism: Yogācāra, the epistemological tradition and Tathāgatagarbha. Paul Williams, Published by Taylor & Francis, 2005. page 190

Location of Gautama Buddha's death and parinirvana

It has been suggested by Waddell that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva: "I believe that Kusīnagara, where the Buddha died may be ultimately found to the North of Bettiah, and in the line of the Aśōka pillars which lead hither from Patna (Pāțaliputra)""A Tibetan Guide-book to the Lost Sites of the Buddha's Birth and Death", L. A. Waddell. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1896, p. 279. in Bihar. It still awaits proper archaeological excavation.

In Mahayana literature

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- MahaparinirvanaAttendants.jpg -
Attendants to the Parinirvana, Gandhara, Victoria and Albert museum
File:Parinirvana Miyajima.jpg|thumb|Parinirvana Shrine, Miyajima, Japan ]]According to the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (also called the Nirvana Sutra), the Buddha taught that parinirvāṇa 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.Paul Williams, Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations.Taylor & Francis, 1989, page 100. "... it refers to the Buddha using the term "Self" in order to win over non-Buddhist ascetics." However, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra is a long and highly composite Mahayana scripture,Paul Williams, Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations.Taylor & Francis, 1989, page 98, see also page 99. 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.Williams quotes Ruegg "La Traitė du Tathāgatagarbha de Bu Ston Rin Chen Grub" pp113-144, where the reference for this passage is given as Taisho 0525a12-b02 of the Dharmakṣema translation. The entire Dharmakṣema translation is found at Taisho 0365c06-0603c26. The first 10 juan which scholars unanimously accept as Indic in origin occupies just Taisho 0365c06-0428b20, while the remaining portion from 428b24-0603c26 is deemed by all scholars to be of Central Asian origin. See Mahāyāna-Mahāparinirvāṇa Mahā-sūtra, subsection "Transmission & Authenticity" for details of scholarly opinions of textual structure with references.Guang Xing speaks of how the Mahayanists of the Nirvana Sutra understand the mahaparinirvana to be the liberated Self of the eternal Buddha:Guang Xing, The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya, RoutledgeCurzon, Oxford, 2005, p. 89Only in Mahaparinirvana is this True Self held to be fully discernible and accessible.Kosho Yamamoto, Mahayanism: A Critical Exposition of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Karin Bunko, Tokyo, 1975, p.62Kosho 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. Yamamoto writes:Kosho Yamamoto, Mahayanism: A Critical Exposition of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Karinbunko, Tokyo, 1975, p. 75Michael 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:Zimmermann, Michael (2002), weblink" title=""> A Buddha Within: The Tathāgatagarbhasūtra, Biblotheca Philologica et Philosophica Buddhica VI, The International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology, Soka University, pp. 82 – 83

See also




  • {{Citation| last =Gethin | first = Rupert | year =1998 | title =Foundations of Buddhism | publisher =Oxford University Press}}
  • {{Citation| last =Goldstein | first = Joseph | year =2011 | title =One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism | publisher =HarperCollins, Kindle Edition}}
  • {{Citation| last =Goleman | first = Daniel | year =2008 | title =Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama | publisher=Bantam, Kindle Edition}}
  • {{Citation| last =Harvey | first =Peter | year =1990 |title =Introduction to Buddhism | publisher =Cambridge University Press}}
  • {{Citation| last =Harvey | first = Peter | year =1995 |title =The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvāṇa in Early Buddhism | publisher =Routledge|isbn= 0-7007-0338-1}}
  • {{Citation| last =Keown | first =Damien | year=2000| title= Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction | publisher=Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition}}
  • {{Citation| last =Lama Surya Das | year =1997 | title =Awakening the Buddha Within | publisher =Broadway Books, Kindle Edition}}
  • {{Citation| last =Lopez | first =Donald S.| year =2001 | title =The Story of Buddhism | publisher =HarperCollins }}
  • {{Citation| last= Traleg Kyabgon| year =2001 | title =The Essence of Buddhism | publisher = Shambhala}}
  • {{Citation| last= Williams |first=Paul | year =2002 | title =Buddhist Thought | publisher = Taylor & Francis, Kindle Edition}}
  • {{Citation| last= Walpola Rahula | year =2007| title =What the Buddha Taught| publisher = Grove Press, Kindle Edition}}

External links

{{Commons category|Parinirvana}} {{Buddhism topics}}{{Gorakhpur division topics}}

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