by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Sariputta Mahathera’s attainment of Parinibbana contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as forty-one Arahat-Mahatheras and their Respective Etadagga titles. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
Having observed his last and forty-fifth vassa at the small village of Veḷuva, near the city of Vesālī, the Buddha emerged from that vassa and (as has been stated above) left the village by the same road which He had taken in reaching there. After setting forth for the last time, the Buddha arrived in Sāvatthi and entered the Jetavana monastery. The Captain of the Dhamma, Venerable Sāriputta, served the Buddha and went to his dwelling. When his pupils had fulfilled their duties to him at his dwelling and left, he would sweep the place and spread the leather mat; then he would wash his feet, sat down crossed-legged and engaged in arahatta-phala.
When the prescribed time for meditation was over, the Venerable rose from it and wondered whether the Buddha would attained Parinibbāna first or His Chief Disciples. He came to know that the Disciples usually did earlier. And when he examined his life process, he found out that it would go on only for seven more days. He further considered where his attainment of parinibbāna should take place.
“Venerable Rāhula attained parinibbāna in Tāvatiṃsa and Venerable Kondañña at the lake in Chaddanta. Where should I do so?” he pondered repeatedly and remembered his mother, the Brahmin lady Rūpasārī as follows:
“Oh, my mother has no faith in the Triple Gem, namely, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, despite her being the mother of seven arahats. Has that mother of mine possessed spiritual potentials for any of the Paths and Fruitions?”
He continued to reflect as by which approach would she realize the Four Truths, and it manifested to him thus:
“My mother’s realization of the four Truths and conversion will happen by me preaching to her and not by any other’s. If I were to be indifferent without caring to convert her, people may come out with words of reproach, saying: ‘Venerable Sāriputta is a dependable person to others. This is true. The day the Venerable One preached the Samacitta Sutta (Aṅguttara Nikāya I) a hundred thousand crores of devas and Brahmās attained arahatta-phala. Those who attained lower Fruitions are countless. Those who gained liberation by realizing the four Truths elsewhere have also been witnessed. Besides the celestial families, who have faith in the Venerable, are eighty thousand in number. That very Venerable Sāriputta is now helpless just to remove the wrong views of his own mother.’ Therefore, after eradicating my mother’s false notions, I shall attain parinibbāna in the very chamber in which I was born.”
Having decided thus, an idea to inform the Buddha, seek His permission and set out even on that day, appeared in him. So he ordered his young brother Cunda: “Dear Cunda, inform my five hundred monk-pupils to make themselves ready with their bowls and robes. The Captain of Dhamma, Venerable Sāriputta, is desirous of going to Nālaka, his native village.” Venerable Cunda did as he was told by his older brother.
The five hundred monks packed their beddings, took their bowls and robes and gathered round their master in unison. The Mahāthera himself packed his own bedding, swept his dwelling, stood at its doorway and viewed the place, thinking: “This is my last viewing. There will no longer be my coming again.” Together with the company of his five hundred pupils, he went to the Buddha, paid homage to him and said in supplication: “Exalted Buddha! May the Glorious One give me permission to leave. May the speaker of good words grant me permission. The time has come for me to attain parinibbāna. My lifeprocess has been given up.”
(Herein, the word ‘anujānātu’ of the sentence “anujānātu me bhante bhagavā...” of the text is translated “give me permission” and such is the required meaning. Its literal meaning, however, is “May you know of my proposed entry into parinibbāna”, that is to say, “I am aware of my coming attainment of parinibbāna. May you also be aware of the same.”)
When other disciples, who were also arahats, came and sought permission for their demise, and if the Buddha said: “Do so!” those with wrong views would blame Him: “The Buddha speaks in praise death!” If, on the other hand, He said: “No, dear son, do not do that yet!” they would blame Him all the same, saying: “He speaks in praise of suffering!” Hence there was neither way of replying on the part of the Buddha. That was why the Buddha asked the Venerable Sāriputta: “Dear Sāriputta, where will you attain parinibbāna?” The Venerable answered: “There is, Exalted Buddha, my birthplace in Nalaka village, in the country of Magadha. There will I do so.” “Now you are aware, dear son, of the time of your parinibbāna. It may be very difficult for your brethren, particularly, to see a man of your stature any longer. You had better give them sermons.”
Understanding that the Buddha wanted him to engage in preaching preceded by his performance of miracles, the noble Venerable paid homage to the Buddha, rose up into the air to the height of a toddy palm tree, came down and paid homage at the Buddha’s feet. Again he rose into the air to the height of two toddy palm trees, came down and paid homage at the feet of the Buddha once more. In this way he rose up to the height of three, four, five, six and seven toddy palm trees and displayed hundreds of miraculous feats. While so doing, he preached. How did he preach?
He preached while showing his person; he preached while hiding his person; he preached while showing and hiding the upper part of his person; he preached while showing and hiding the lower part of his person; sometimes he created and showed the shape of the moon; sometimes he created and showed that of the sun, sometimes he did the shape of a great mountain; sometimes he did that of a great ocean; sometimes he became a Universal Monarch: sometimes Vessavaṇa Deva-King; sometimes Sakka, King of Gods; sometimes Mahā Brahmā. In this way the Mahāthera preached while performing hundreds of miracles. The entire city of Sāvatthi assembled. Having preached in this way to his heart’s content, he came down and paid homage at the Buddha’s feet and stood firmly like a golden gate-post.
Then the Buddha asked: “Dear son Sāriputta, what is your kind of preaching called?” The Venerable replied: “Exalted Buddha, it is called Sīhavikīḷita, something like the sport of a lion.” The Buddha delightedly approved of the Venerable’s reply by saying: “Dear son Sāriputta, yours is indeed sīhavikīḷita preaching! Your is indeed sīhavikīḷita preaching.”
The Venerable’s Last Homage to The Buddha
Firmly holding the turtle-like feet of the Buddha by the ankles with his hands in dark red like the colour of the liquefied lac, the noble Venerable Sāriputta said in supplication:
“Exalted Buddha, I have fulfilled the pāramīs for an asaṅkhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons just to pay homage at these two feet of yours. The result of the fulfilment of my heart’s desire has now successfully reached its apex. There is no prospect of reunion with you somewhere in some existence through rebirth from now on. Familiarity or friendliness connected with this life has been totally cut off. Now shall I enter the city of Nibbāna, which is free from old age, death and dangers, which is blissful, calm, secure, which hundreds of thousands of Buddhas have entered. Should there be any wrong doings, physical and verbal, done by me to your displeasure, kindly forgive me. To me the final moment has come now, Exalted Buddha.”
“My son Sāriputta, I forgive you. There is nothing whatever wrong physically or verbally on your part. You may now go, my dear son, wherever you wish.” Thus, the Buddha gave His permission.
Immediately after the Buddha had given permission, the Venerable Sāriputta pressed and gripped the Buddha’s feet most vigorously. When he stood up, the great earth quaked instantly down to the water below, very strongly as though it were saying: “Though I am able to shoulder Mount Meru, the universe, the Himavanta and the seven surrounding mountains, I cannot today bear this aggregate of virtues.” A loud crash of thunder occurred, roaring tumultuously across the entire sky. Huge clouds arose in a second and let pokkharavassa rain fall heavily.
The Buddha thought: “Sāriputta has paid homage to my frame as I am sitting. Now I shall let him do so as I am standing.” So He rose from the Dhamma-throne, the Buddha-seat, from which He usually gave sermons, and walked towards the Fragrant Chamber and stood on the wooden board studded with gems. The Buddha, who was thus standing, the Venerable Sāriputta circumambulated, keeping Him on his right and made obeisance from the front, from the back, from the left and from the right of Buddha.
Then he made his last supplication:
“Exalted Buddha, I expressed my wish, prostrating at the feet of the Buddha Anomadassī an asaṅkhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons ago, just for seeing You. My wish has now been fulfilled, I have had a chance to view You. When I expressed my wish, I listened continuously to the prophetic word of Buddha Anomadasī, and I visualized You through my knowledge and that was my first sight of You. My seeing You now is my last. There is no more chance for me to see You again.”
Thereafter he raised his joined hands, which were graceful and bright with the ten nails, towards the Buddha and walked backward till the visibility of the Buddha ended. Having paid respect thus, he departed together with his five hundred pupils. Then again the earth failed to bear the Venerable’s excellence and quaked down to the water below.
The Buddha asked the monks surrounding Him: “Dear sons, go and see your elder brother off!” All four classes of the assembly then left the Buddha alone at the Jetavana monastery and went out without anyone remaining there, to give the Venerable Sāriputta a send-off. The citizens of Savatthi too learnt that the Venerable was leaving Jetavana as he desired to attain parinibbāna after seeking permission from the Buddha. Wanting to get a glimpse of the noble Venerable, they came out from the city gate that was wholly crowded, with no room for exit or entry. Carrying perfumes and flowers and with their hair dishevelled, they wailed: “Venerable Sir, to which thera should we go now, enquiring: ‘Where is Venerable Sāriputta of great wisdom? Where is Venerable Sāriputta, the Captain of the Dhamma?’ Into whose hands do you entrust the Exalted Buddha and leave, noble Venerable?” Wailing in this way, they followed the Venerable step by step.
As the Venerable Sāriputta was of great wisdom, he exhorted the crowd briefly: “This path leading to death of every arising being is something which nobody is able to overcome.” He also asked the monks: “You too stay behind, monks, and do not neglect the Exalted One.” Thus he sent them back and headed for Nālaka village together with his own followers. To those people who went along with him lamenting: “Formerly the Noble One used to travel only to come back. But his journey now is of no return?” The Venerable gave an exhortative discourse, saying: “Dear donors, virtuous ones! Be persons of mindfulness. Conditioned things, whether physical or mental, happen like this. After arising, do they end in passing away!” By this advice concerning mindfulness, the Venerable persuaded them to go home.
After uplifting the people, on the way for seven days, spending just one night at each place, but without prolonging his stay, he travelled on and on till he reached Nālaka one evening. He stopped and rested at the foot of a banyan tree near the village gate.
Then the nephew of the Venerable, a boy by the name of Uparevata, came out of the village. Seeing the noble Venerable, he went near him and stood, paying respect. The Venerable asked the nephew: “Uparevata, is your grandmother at home?” When the boy answered that she was, the Venerable said: “Go and tell her of our arrival in the village. If she asks the reason for our coming here, say that we shall stay here the whole day and ask her in my name to clean the chamber where I was born and also to arrange lodgings for five hundred monks.”
Uparevata, went to his grandmother Rūpasārī and told her: “O grandmother, my uncle (Upatissa) has come.” “Where is he now?” asked the grandmother. The boy answered: “At the city gate.” “Is he alone or is there somebody else too?” “Yes, there are five hundred monks who have come along.” “Why did he come?” the grandmother asked him again and the boy related all as instructed by the Venerable. “Oh, why did he want me to clean and arrange lodgings for such a great number of monks?” wondered the lady. “After he becoming a monk in his youth, perhaps he desires to return to laity now that he has grown old.” With this thought, she cleaned the chamber which was the birthplace of the Venerable and prepared the accommodations for the five hundred monks. She also lighted the standing lamps and sent for the Venerable.
The noble Venerable, having ascended to the upper terrace together with the five hundred monks and having entered the chamber and sat down there, he dismissed them saying: “Go to your respective places.” As soon as the monks were out, a severe ailment occurred to the Venerable’s body. Deadly pains, from discharge of blood, developed incessantly. The treatment given to him involved exchange of a vessel in for a vessel out. Thinking: “I do not like the way my son is suffering,” the Brahmin lady Rūpasārī stood, leaning against the doorway of her chamber.
Then the Four Deva Kings surveyed the present whereabouts of the noble Venerable, the Captain of the Dhamma and they saw him lying on his deathbed in his chamber, his birthplace, in the village of Nālaka. And they decided to go there to pay their last respect and to give their last treatment. On arrival, they stood near him in respect-paying attitude. When the Venerable asked who they were, they answered that they were the four kingly deities. “Why did you come?” enquired the Venerable and they answered: “We come to look after you, Sir.” He sent them back, saying: “Enough! I have a monk as my nurse. You may return!” When they went back, Sakka came in the same way. When Sakka departed, Mahābrahmā came. Both Sakka and Mahābrahmā were sent back by the Venerable with the same words.
Having seen the coming and going of devas and Brahmā, the Brahmin lady Rūpasārī became desirous of knowing who those beings were that came and paid homage to her son. She went near the doorway of the chamber and asked (her younger son Cunda who was already there): “Dear son Cunda, What is the matter?” Cunda explained to his mother that the Venerable was sick, and he told Venerable Sāriputta of their mother’s presence. When the Venerable asked why she came untimely, the mother replied that she did so to see her ailing son, and asked: “Who are those persons, dear son, that visited you first?” “Those who came first to me, madam, are the Four Great Deva Kings.” “Are you superior to those Deva Kings, son?”
The Venerable answered: “Madam, those four Deva Kings are like the guardsmen of our residence. Armed with their swords they have protected our Master, the Exalted Buddha, since His conception.” The mother continued to ask: “Who are those that came immediately after the Deva Kings?” “He is Sakka.” “Are you superior to Sakka too?”
The Venerable answered: “That Sakka, madam, is like a young sāmaṇera who carries my bowl and other articles. When our Master, the Exalted Buddha, descended from the Tāvatiṃsa abode to the human world after His Teaching of the Abhidhamma there, Sakka came along carrying the Master’s bowl and robe.” The mother asked again: “Who is he that came shinning, immediately after Sakka’s visit?” “Madam,” answered the Venerable, “the one who came last is Mahābrahmā, your God and Master.” “Dear son, are you also superior to Mahābrahmā, our God?”
Mother’s Attainment of Spirituality
Then the mother reflected: “What I have seen now is my son’s magnificence. I wonder how the magnificence of my son’s Master, the Exalted Buddha, would like? It must indeed be inestimable!” While she was thus wondering, the five kinds of joy (pīti) occurred to her and pervaded her whole body. The Venerable perceived: “Now joy and happiness (pīti somanassa) has occurred to my mother. This is a very suitable occasion for me to give a Dhamma-talk to her.” So he asked: “Madam, what are you thinking about?” “I am wondering, son, that what I have seen now is my son’s magnificence and what is your Master’s would be like, for it must be inestimable.” Then the Venerable explained:
“Madam, when our Master, the Exalted One, was born, when He gave up the world, when He gained Enlightenment and when He delivered the First Sermon of Dhammacakka, the system of ten thousand worlds trembled roaringly. There is none in the world who equals our Master in such virtues as morality, mental concentration, wisdom, emancipation and insight through emancipation. For these reasons, He is the possessor of such attributes as Arahaṃ, and Sammāsambuddha.” With this introductory speech, Venerable Sāriputta gave a Dhamma-talk expounding elaborately the attributes of the Buddha.
At the end of the sermon by her beloved eldest son, the mother was established in sotāpatti-phala and said reprovingly: “My dear son Sāriputta, why did you fail to give me such wonderfully substantial happiness? Why did you have the heart to do like this?” Thinking: “I have paid my debt of gratitude to my mother for my birth. Sotāpatti-phala is good enough for her,” the Venerable sent her away, saying: “Go, madam!” Then he asked his brother Cunda about the time. When the reply was: “Almost daybreak,” the Venerable called a meeting of monks and when Cunda informed him that the monks had been assembled, he asked Cunda to help him sit up.
The Venerable apologetically addressed the assembly: “Friends, if there is any unpleasant deed or word on my part while you were wandering along with me for forty-four years, kindly forgive me.” The assembly of monks replied: “Venerable Sir, during our wandering with you, without deserting you for forty-four years, we saw no unpleasant deed or word of yours. In fact, it is you, Venerable Sir, who are to forgive us.” When they had said apologetic words, he gathered his robe and covered his face and lay on his right side. Like the Buddha, he entered upon the nine jhānas that were to be taken up serially; he was absorbed in them progressively and then regressively; again he proceeded in his absorption from the first jhāna up to the fourth jhāna Immediately after his emergence from the fourth jhāna, the Venerable attained Khandha-Parinibbāna, Complete Extinction of the physical and mental aggregates occurring through Anupādisesa element, the element of Nibbāna without any remnants of the aggregates, causing immediately the great earth to roar echoingly.
Being aware that her son did not say a word and wondering what had happened to her son, the mother Rūpasārī enquired by running her hands on the back of his sole and felt, and she came to know well that her son had attained parinibbāna. So making a loud noise, she touched the Venerable’s feet with her head and cried, uttering: “Dear son, we did not know of your virtues previously. Now we have no opportunity to invite hundreds of thousands of monks, with you at their head, to my house for feeding! There is no chance to offer you robes! No occasion to have hundreds of dwellings built!" Thus, she wailed till dawn. As soon as dawn came, the mother summoned goldsmiths, had the treasuries opened and gold bars weighed with a huge pair of scales and handed them over to the goldsmiths, ordering: “Brothers, make with this gold bullion five hundred spired halls and five hundred pavilions.”
Sakka too called Visukamma Deva and commanded him: “Friend Visukamma, the Captain of the Dhamma, Venerable Sāriputta, has attained parinibbāna. Create five hundred spired halls and five hundred pavilions of gold.” Visukamma created them all under Sakka’s command. In this way, there were five hundred spired structures and five hundred pavilions caused to be built by the mother and another five hundred spired halls and another five hundred pavilions created by Visukamma, totalling two thousand golden structures.
Thereafter, a large hall was built with a big golden pinnacle in the middle, at the centre of the Nālaka village and other pinnacles were made for lesser halls. Then the ceremony for funeral rites took place. In this ceremony, devas mingled with humans and humans with devas and thus they all paid homage to the remains of the Venerable, making the ceremony more crowded.
The Story of Revatī The Female Devotee
The Venerable’s female devotee, Revatī by name, came to the funeral with three golden vases made to honour her Master. At that moment, Sakka too came to the human world with the intention to do honour to the Venerable and with him were divine dancing girls as his companions, numbering two crores and five million. Learning of Sakka’s visit, people turned back and moved away. In the crowd was Revatī, who also tried to move back like others, but as she was heavy with child, she could not get to a safe place and fell down in the midst of the people. Not seeing her the people trod on her and went away. Revatī died on the spot and was reborn in a golden mansion in Tāvatiṃsa. Instantly she had a body about three gāvutas, resembling a huge gem stone. Her ornaments were about the load of sixty cans and her retinue of divine maids were a thousand in number.
Then the maids place a big mirror in front of her. When she saw her luxuries, she pondered: “This wealth is great indeed! What kind of good works have I done?” And this led her to know: “I paid homage to the Venerable Sāriputta with three golden vases. The people stepped on me and got away. I died on the spot and took instant rebirth in this Tāvatiṃsa. I shall tell the people clearly of the result of my wholesome deeds done to the Venerable. So she went down in her own flying mansion to the realm of human beings.
Seeing the golden mansion from a distance, the people were amazed wondering: “What is the matter? Are there two suns rising brightly?” While they were thus talking, the big mansion descended near them, and showed its shape. Then they said: “This is not a sun. It is a gigantic gold mansion!” While the people were saying among themselves, the golden mansion descended nearer in a moment and halted in the sky just above the funeral pyre of fragrant wood piled up to burn the remains of the Venerable. The Goddess Revatī left the mansion in the sky and went down to earth. “Who are you?” asked the people and Revatī replied: “Do you not know me? I am Revatī by name. After honouring the Venerable with three golden vases, I was trodden on by the people to death and was reborn in Tāvatiṃsa. Behold my fortune and splendour. You too now give alms. Do other acts of merit as well.” Thus she spoke in praise of the beneficial results of good works. She paid homage and circumambulated the funeral pyre by keeping it at her right, she then went back to her divine abode of Tāvatiṃsa.
(This is the story of Revatī.)
Conveyance of The Relics to Sāvatthi by Cunda
Having performed the funeral rites for seven days, the people made a heap of flagrant wood, its height measuring ninety-nine cubits. They put the Venerable’s remains on top of the fragrant wooden heap and lighted it with wisps of fragrant grass On the site where the cremation took place, a Dhamma-talk was given throughout the night. At day-break, the Venerable Anuruddha extinguished the fire of the funeral pyre with scented water. Then Venerable Sāriputta’s young brother, Cunda Thera put the relics in the water filter, and thinking: “I must not stay here now in this Nālaka village. I shall report the attainment of parinibbāna by my older brother, Venerable Sāriputta, the Captain of the Dhamma, to the Exalted One.” So he took the water-filter containing the relies and collected the Venerable’s requisites, such as bowl, robe, etc., and went to Sāvatthi. He spent only one night, not two nights, at each stage of his journey and eventually arrived at Savatthi.
Then Cunda Thera bathed in the lake near the Jetavana monastery, returned to the shore and put on his robes properly. He reflected: “Buddha are great personalities to be respected, like a stone umbrella. They are difficult to approach like a snake with its erected hood or like a lion, tiger or an elephant in heat. I dare not go straight to the Exalted One to inform Him. Whom should I approach first?” Reflecting thus, he remembered his preceptor: “My preceptor, the custodian of the Dhamma, the Venerable Ānanda, is a very close good friend of my brother. I shall go to him and relate the matter and then I shall take him with me and speak to the Exalted One.” So he went to Venerable Ānanda, paid respect to him and sat down at a proper place. And he said to Venerable Ānanda: “Venerable Sir, Venerable Sāriputta has attained parinibbāna. This is his bowl and this his robe, and this the water-filter containing his relics.” Thus he presented one article after another while speaking to Venerable Ānanda. (It should be noted that Cunda Thera did not go straight to the Buddha but to Venerable Ānanda first, because he had profound respect for the Buddha as well as for his preceptor.)
Then Venerable Ānanda said: “My friend Cunda, we have some verbal excuse to see the Exalted One. Come, friend Cunda, let us go. Let us approach the Exalted One and tell Him of the matter.” So saying Venerable Ānanda took Cunda Thera to the Buddha, paid respect to Him, took their proper seats.
Thereafter the Venerable Ānanda said to the Buddha:
“Exalted Buddha, this Cunda Thera who has been known as a novice (samaṇ'uddesa) has informed me that the Venerable Sāriputta has attained parinibbāna. This is the Venerable’s bowl, this his robe and this his water-filter with his relics.”
So saying, Venerable Ānanda handed over the water-filter to the Buddha.
The Buddha stretched out His hand to receive the water-filter and placed it on His palm and addressed the monks:
“Monks, my dear sons, fifteen days ago Sāriputta performed a number of miracles and sought my permission to enter parinibbāna. Now only his bodily relics remain which are as white as the newly polished conch shell.
“Monks, that monk Sāriputta was one who had fulfilled pāramīs for an asaṅkhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons. He was the individual who turned the Wheel of the Dhamma that had been turned by Me previously or one who had taught the Wheel of the Law that had been taught by Me. Marvellously did he occupy the place that was next to me.
“That monk Sāriputta caused the Sāvaka-sannipāta, the Assembly of Disciples, with his presence extremely well. (The Sāvaka-sannipāta emerged on the day he became an arahat.) Besides Me, he was peerless in possessing wisdom throughout the Jātikhetta, the system of ten thousand worlds.
“That monk Sāriputta was of great wisdom, of vast wisdom, of active wisdom, of quick wisdom, of sharp wisdom, and of wisdom destructive to kilesa (passion), of few wants, easily contented, free from nīvaranas (hindrances), unmixed with people and highly energetic. He admonishes others by pointing out their faults, condemns evil deeds and evil doers regardless of their social positions.
“Dear monks, (a) that monk Sāriputta embraced asceticism after renouncing his great wealth in five hundred existences; (b) that monk Sāriputta had forbearance that was as mighty as the great earth; (c) that monk Sāriputta was least conceited as a horn-broken bull; (d) that monk Sāriputta was as humble-minded as a beggar’s son.
“Dear monks, behold the relics of Sāriputta who was of great wisdom! Behold the relics of Sāriputta who was of vast wisdom, of active wisdom, of quick wisdom, of sharp wisdom, of wisdom penetrative to kilesa, of few wants, easily contented, free from nīvaraṇas, unmixed with people and highly energetic. He admonished others by pointing out their faults, condemned evil deeds and evil doers regardless of their social positions!”
(After uttering thus in prose, the Buddha went on to speak the following verses:)
O my dear sons, monks! That noble monk, named Sāriputta, unflinchingly and completely discarded sense pleasure that could delight the foolish mind. He adopted an ascetic life with great faith for five hundred existences. To that noble monk, named Sāriputta, who now has totally cut off craving and passion, whose sense-faculties were well restrained, who has attained parinibbāna and ceased suffering, bow your heads in homage with your faith respectful and conceit destroyed.
O my dear sons, monks! That noble monk, named Sāriputta, had great forbearance as his strength; resembling the great earth he showed no anger to others; never yielded to the whims of the unstable mind; he looked after many beings with loving-kindness; he was immensely compassionate;he quenched the heat of kilesa. To him, who has attained parinibbāna and ceased suffering, bow your heads in homage with your faith respectful and conceit destroyed.
O my dear sons, monks! Just as the son of a poor beggar who enters towns and villages looking for food with a worn out cup made of bamboo strips in his hand, wanders without conceit but humble-minded, even so this noble monk, named Sāriputta, wandered knowing no pride but in all humility. To him, who has attained parinibbāna and ceased suffering, bow your heads in homage with your faith respectful and conceit destroyed.
4) Usabho yathā chinnavisāṇako
ahethayanto carati purantare vane.
Tathā ayam vihārati Sāriputto
parinibbutaṃ vandatha Sāriputtam.
O my dear sons, monks! Just as the horn-broken bull wanders in towns, villages and forests, absolutely, harmless to other beings, even so the noble monk, named Sāriputta, wandered doing no harm to others and lived in harmony with four postures of lying, sitting, standing and walking. To him, who has attained parinibbāna and ceased suffering, bow your heads in homage with faith respectful and conceit destroyed.
Beginning thus the Buddha praised the virtues of the Venerable Sāriputta in five hundred verses.
The more the Buddha praised, in all manner, the Venerable’s virtues, the greater Venerable Ānanda’s helplessness. As a chicken, near a cat’s mouth, trembles, so does the Venerable Ānanda helplessly tremble.
Accordingly, he asked the Buddha:
“Exalted Buddha, having heard of the Venerable Sāriputta’s parinibbāna, I feel as though my body becomes stiff, the directions blur my eyes, the Dhamma does not manifest itself to me. (I am not inclined to learn any unlearnt Dhamma-texts nor am I interested to recite what I have learnt.)”
Then in order to cheer him up the Buddha said as follows:
“My dear Ānanda, does Sāriputta attain parinibbāna taking with him the aggregate of your sīla virtues or taking with him the aggregate of samādhi virtues, paññā virtues, vimutti virtues, vimuttiñana-dassana virtues?"
Thereupon Venerable Ānanda replied:
“Exalted Buddha, the Venerable Sāriputta does not attain parinibbāna, taking the aggregate of my sīla virtues, my samādhi virtues, paññā virtues, vimutti virtues, or vimuttiñāṇa-dassana virtues.
“In fact, Exalted Buddha, the Venerable Mahāthera exhorted me, made me plunge into the Dhamma, made me understand the Dhamma, and made me set up the Dhamma. He made me to become ardent and happy to practise the Dhamma. He was anxious to preach to me. He respected his co-residents. I always remember his Dhamma influence, his Dhamma instruments and his righteous support.”
The Buddha knowing that the Venerable Ānanda was really in great distress, said to him as follows, for he desired to abate his sorrowful feelings:
“My dear Ānanda, have I not talked to you long before about separation from one’s beloved while alive (nānābhāva), separation by death (vinābhāva) and separation being in different existences (aññathābhāva)? Dear Ānanda, herein how would it be possible to wish that something, having the nature of newly coming to life, clearly coming into existence and being subject to conditioning and destruction, should not pass away? Indeed there is no such possibility!
“My dear Ānanda, while a big substantial tree is standing, its largest branch might come to destruction; similarly, while the community of worthy monks is existing, Sāriputta ceases to live. Herein how would it be possible to wish that something, having the nature of newly coming to live, clearly coming into existence and being subject to conditioning and destruction, should not pass away? Indeed there is no such possibility.
“My dear Ānanda, live not by depending on others but by depending on yourself. Live not by relying on other doctrines but by relying on the supramundane ones!
“My dear Ānanda, how should a monk live not by depending on others but by depending on himself? How should one live not relying on other doctrines but by relying on supramundane ones?
“My dear Ānanda, in this dispensation, a monk lives, eradicating craving and grief that tend to appear in the world, by putting strong efforts, by reflecting, by being mindful, by repeatedly seeing the body as the body. By putting strong efforts, by reflecting, by being mindful, (one lives, eradicating craving and grief that tends to appear in the world), by repeatedly seeing feelings as the feelings, by repeatedly seeing the mind as the mind,... by repeatedly seeing phenomena as phenomena.
“My dear Ānanda, in this way a monk lives not by depending on others but by depending on himself. He lives not by relying on other doctrines but by relying on supramundane ones.
“My dear Ānanda, if monks, at present or after my demise, live by not depending on others but by depending on themselves, by not relying on other doctrines but by relying on supramundane ones, all of them will become noblest (Arahats), indeed among those, who take the three trainings favourable.”
Speaking to him in this way, the Buddha gave some relief to the Venerable Ānanda. Thereafter, He had the bone relics of the Venerable Sāriputta enshrined in a cetiya in the city of Savatthi.
This is an account of Sāriputta Mahāthera’s attainment of Parinibbāna.