Excerpted from “Buddha the Gospel ” by Paul Carus.
THE Blessed One went to Pava. When Chunda, the worker in metals, heard that the Blessed One had come to Pava and was staying in his mango grove, he came to the Buddha and respectfully invited him and the brethren to take their meal at his house. And Chunda prepared rice-cakes and a dish of dried boar’s meat.
When the Blessed One had eaten the food prepared by Chunda, the worker in metals, there fell upon him a dire sickness, and sharp pain came upon him even unto death. But the Blessed One, mindful and self-possessed, bore it without complaint. And the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Come, Ananda, let us go on to Kusinara.”
On his way the Blessed One grew tired, and he went aside from the road to rest at the foot of a tree, and said: “Fold the robe, I pray thee, Ananda, and spread it out for me. I am weary, Ananda, and must rest awhile!” “Be it so, Lord!” said the venerable Ananda; and he spread out the robe folded fourfold. The Blessed One seated himself, and when he was seated he addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda. I am thirsty, Ananda, and would drink.”
When he had thus spoken, the venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: “But just now, Lord, five hundred carts have gone across the brook and have stirred the water; but a river, O Lord, is not far off. Its water is clear and pleasant, cool and transparent, and it is easy to get down to it. the Blessed One may both drink water and cool his limbs.”
A second time the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, saying: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am thirsty, Ananda, and would drink.”
And a second time the venerable Ananda said: “Let us go to the river.”
Then the third time the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am thirsty, Ananda and would drink.” “Be it so, Lord!” said the venerable Ananda in assent to the Blessed One; and, taking a bowl, he went down to the streamlet. And lo! the streamlet, which, stirred up by wheels, had become muddy, when the venerable Ananda came up to it, flowed clear and bright and free from all turbidity. And he thought: “How wonderful, how marvelous is the great might and power of the Tathagata!”
Ananda brought the water in the bowl to the Lord, saying: “Let the Blessed One take the bowl. Let the Happy One drink the water. Let the Teacher of men and gods quench his thirst. Then the Blessed One drank of the water.
Now, at that time a man of low caste, named Pukkusa, a young Malla, a disciple of Alara Kalama, was passing along the high road from Kusinara to Pava. Pukkusa, the young Malla, saw the Blessed One seated at the foot of a tree. On seeing him he went up to the place where the Blessed One was, and when he had come there, he saluted the Blessed One and took his seat respectfully on one side. Then the Blessed One instructed, edified, and gladdened Kukkusa, the young Malla, with religious discourse.
Aroused and gladdened by the words of the Blessed One, Pukkusa, the young Malla, addressed a certain man who happened to pass by, and said: “Fetch me, I pray thee, my good man, two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear.”
“Be it so, sir!” said that man in assent to Pukkusa, the young Malla; and he brought two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear.
The Malla Pukkusa presented the two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear, to the Blessed One, saying: “Lord, these two robes of burnished cloth of gold are ready for wear. May the Blessed One show me favor and accept them at my hands!”
The Blessed One said: “Pukkusa, robe me in one, and Ananda in the other one.” And the Tathagata’s body appeared shining like a flame, and he was beautiful above all expression.
The venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: “How wonderful a thing is it, Lord, and how marvelous, that the color of the skin of the Blessed One should be so clear, so exceedingly bright! When I placed this robe of burnished cloth of gold on the body of the Blessed One, lo! it seemed as if it had lost its splendor!”
The Blessed One said: “There are two occasions on which a Tathagata’s appearance becomes clear and exceeding bright. In the night, Ananda, in which a Tathagata attains to the supreme and perfect insight, and in the night in which he passes finally away in that utter passing away which leaves nothing whatever of his earthly existence to remain.
And the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Now it may happen, Ananda, that some one should stir up remorse in Chunda, the smith, by saying: ‘It is evil to thee, Chunda, and loss to thee, that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from thy provision.’ Any such remorse, Ananda, in Chunda, the smith, should be checked by saying: ‘It is good to thee, Chunda, and gain to thee, that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from thy provision. From the very mouth of the Blessed One, O Chunda, have I heard, from his own mouth have I received this saying, “These two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of much greater profit than any other: the offerings of food which a Tathagata accepts when he has attained perfect enlightenment and when he passes away by the utter passing away in which nothing whatever of his earthly existence remains behind-these two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of equal profit, and of much greater fruit and much greater profit than any other. There has been laid up by Chunda, the smith, a karma redounding to length of life, redounding to good birth, redounding to good fortune, redounding to good fame, redounding to the inheritance of heaven and of great power.”‘ In this way, Ananda, should be checked any remorse in Chunda, the smith.”
Then the Blessed One, perceiving that death was near, uttered these words: “He who gives away shall have real gain. He who subdues himself shall be free, he shall cease to be a slave of passions. The righteous man casts off evil; and by rooting out lust, bitterness, and illusion, do we reach Nirvana.”