Once the Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthi, in Anathapindika's park. At that time the Venerable Sariputta was at Nalaka village in the Magadha country, and was sick, suffering, gravely ill. The Novice Cunda was his attendant. And the Venerable Sariputta passed away finally through that very illness. Then the Novice Cunda took the almsbowl and robes of the Venerable Sariputta and went to Savatthi, to the Jeta Grove, Anathapindika's park. There he betook himself to the Venerable Ananda and, having saluted him, seated himself at one side.
Thus seated, he spoke to the Venerable Ananda saying:
"Venerable sir, the Venerable Sariputta has had his final passing away. These are his bowl and robes."
"On this matter, Cunda, we ought to see the Blessed One. Let us go, friend Cunda, and meet the Master. Having met him, we shall acquaint the Blessed One with that fact."
"Yes, Venerable sir,"
said the Novice Cunda.
They went to see the Blessed One, and having arrived there and saluted the Master, they seated themselves at one side.
Then the Venerable Ananda addressed the Blessed One:
"O Lord, the Novice Cunda has told me this: 'The Venerable Sariputta has had his final passing away. These are his bowl and robes.' Then, O Lord, my own body became weak as a creeper; everything around became dim and things were no longer clear to me, when I heard about the final passing away of the Venerable Sariputta."
"How is this, Ananda? When Sariputta had his final passing away, did he take from you your portion of virtue, or your portion of concentration, or your portion of the knowledge and vision of deliverance?"
"Not so, Lord. When the Venerable Sariputta had his final passing away he did not take my portion of virtue... concentration... wisdom... deliverance, or my portion of the knowledge and vision of deliverance. But O Lord, the Venerable Sariputta has been to me a mentor, teacher, and instructor, one who rouses, inspires and gladdens, untiring in preaching Dhamma, a helper of his fellow monks. And we remember how vitalizing, enjoyable and helpful his Dhamma instruction was."
"Have I not taught you aforetime, Ananda, that it is the nature of all things near and dear to us that we must suffer separation from them, and be severed from them? Of that which is born, come to being, put together, and so is subject to dissolution, how should it be said that is should not depart? That, indeed, is not possible. It is, Ananda, as though from a mighty hardwood tree a large branch should break off, so has Sariputta now had his final passing away from this great and sound community of bhikkhus. Indeed, Ananda, of that which is born, come to being, put together, and so is subject to dissolution, how should it be said that it should not depart? This, indeed, is not possible."
"Therefore, Ananda, be ye an island unto yourself, a refuge unto yourself, seeking no external refuge; with the Teaching as your island, the Teaching your refuge, seeking no other refuge."
The Commentary takes up the narrative thus:
The Master stretched forth his hand, and taking the filter with the relics, placed it on his palm, and said to the monks:
"These, O monks, are the shell-colored relics of the bhikkhu who, not long ago, asked for permission to have his final passing away. He who fulfilled the Perfections for an incalculable aeon and a hundred thousand kalpas -- this was that bhikkhu. He who obtained the seat next to me -- this was that bhikkhu. He who, apart from me, had none to equal him in wisdom throughout the whole ten-thousandfold universe -- this was that bhikkhu. Of great wisdom was this bhikkhu, of broad wisdom, bright wisdom, quick wisdom, of penetrative wisdom was this bhikkhu. Few wants had this bhikkhu; he was contented, bent on seclusion, not fond of company, full of energy, an exhorter of his fellow monks, censuring what is evil. He who went forth into homelessness, abandoning the great fortune obtained through his merits in five hundred existences -- this was that bhikkhu. He who, in my Dispensation, was patient like the earth -- this was that bhikkhu. Harmless like a bull whose horns had been cut -- this was that bhikkhu. Of humble mind like a Candala boy -- this was that bhikkhu."
"See here, O monks, the relics of him who was of great wisdom, of broad, bright, quick, keen and penetrative wisdom; who had few wants and was contented, bent on seclusion, not fond of company, energetic -- see here the relics of him who was an exhorter of his fellow monks, who censured evil!"
Then the Buddha spoke the following verses in praise of his Great Disciple:
"To him who in five times a hundred lives
Went forth to homelessness, casting away
Pleasures the heart holds dear, from passion free,
With faculties controlled -- now homage pay
To Sariputta who has passed away! To him who, strong in patience like the earth,
Over his own mind had absolute sway,
Who was compassionate, kind, serenely cool,
And firm as earth withal -- now homage pay
To Sariputta who has passed away! Who, like an outcaste boy of humble mind,
Enters the town and slowly wends his way
From door to door with begging bowls in hand,
Such was this Sariputta -- now homage pay
To Sariputta who has passed away! One who in town or jungle, hurting none,
Lived like a bull whose horns are cut away,
Such was this Sariputta, who had won
Mastery of himself -- now homage pay
To Sariputta who has passed away!"
When the Blessed One had thus lauded the virtues of the Venerable Sariputta, he asked for a stupa to be built for the relics.
After that, he indicated to the Elder Ananda his wish to go to Rajagaha. Ananda informed the monks, and the Blessed One, together with a large body of bhikkhus, journeyed to Rajagaha. At the time he arrived there, the Venerable Maha Moggallana had also had his final passing away. The Blessed One took his relics likewise, and had a stupa raised for them.
Then he departed from Rajagaha, and going by stages towards the Ganges, he reached Ukkacela. There he went to the bank of the Ganges, and seated with his following of monks he preached the Ukkacela Sutta, on the Parinibbana of Sariputta and Maha Moggallana.
Cunda Samanuddesa. Comy: "He was the Venerable Sariputta's younger brother. Before he received Higher Ordination the bhikkhus use to call him 'Novice Cunda,' and even when he was an elder he was still so addressed." (See. p. 54.)