The Buddha's Parinirvana
As extensively described in The Compilation 1```1 of the Dharma Sutra, when the Buddha entered Nirvana, the earth pitched about in six different ways, the rivers flowed backwards, a fierce tempest struck violently, black clouds boiled up in the four directions, fearsome [volleys of] thunder [boomed], lightning bolts crashed, and suddenly [a storm of] hail and [torrents of] rain came [pounding] down. Everywhere meteors [shot out of the sky]. Ferocious beasts bellowed and roared, yowled and shrieked. The deities and worldlings howled loudly. The gods all cried out, "Oh, why has the Buddha chosen nirvana so swiftly! The eyes of the World have perished!"
Then, all at the same time, the grasses and woods, herbs and trees, flowers and leaves, all split apart and burst open. The Sumerus, kings among mountains, tilted askew as they shook. The waters of the oceans roiled and heaved up billows. The earth shuddered and jolted mightily. The mountains and crags shattered and collapsed. The trees all splintered and split. From the four quarters smoke surged up [into the sky]. [These cataclysmic occurrences] were enormously horrifying. The [waters of the] marshes and ponds, rivers and streams all began to churn and turned turbid. Comets appeared in the daytime.
The people wailed and wept. The gods were overcome with sorrow. The heavenly maidens were all [immersed in] grief, choking and sobbing, with intertwining streams of tears flowing down. Those still at the stage of study were all silent and unhappy. Those at the stage beyond study remained mindful that all composite dharmas are impermanent. And so, in this manner, the gods, men, yakshas, rakshasas, gandharvas, kinnaras, mahoragas and dragons were all overcome with great grief.
The Arhats had been delivered from the sea of senescence, disease and death and thought to themselves:
We've already crossed the river of the common man's affection and passion.
The coil of aging, sickness and death has been split apart and broken.
We've seen the four great serpents within the bodily basket,
And now we shall enter Nirvana, the remainderless decease.
In the mountains, forests, and valleys, among flowing springs and streams, all of the great Arhats, each according to his will, shed his body and entered Parinirvana. Additionally there were Arhats who flew straight up into the air and in leaving, like the great king of the geese, displayed all manner of spiritual powers, influenced the masses of people to develop purity of faith, and then finally entered Parinirvana.
English translation © 1996 Dharmamitra. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of Kalavinka (http://www.teleport.com/~dh-mitra/)