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In Buddhism, the term parinirvana (Sanskrit: parinirvāṇa; Pali: 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 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.

Contents

1 Nirvana
Nirvana
after death 2 Parinirvana
Parinirvana
of Buddha
Buddha
Shakyamuni

2.1 Within the Mahaparinibbana Sutta
Mahaparinibbana Sutta
(Pali) 2.2 Within the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra 2.3 Location of Gautama Buddha's death and parinirvana

3 In Mahayana
Mahayana
literature 4 See also 5 Notes 6 Sources 7 External links

Nirvana
Nirvana
after death[edit] Main article: Nirvana (Buddhism)
Nirvana (Buddhism)
§  Nirvana
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:[1]

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
Parinirvana
of Buddha
Buddha
Shakyamuni[edit]

Buddha
Buddha
attaining Parinirvana
Parinirvana
– Depicted in cave 26 of Ajanta Caves
Ajanta Caves
- India

The lower half of this cloth panel depicts Buddha's Parinibbana.[2] 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
Sanskrit
parallels, the topic is treated in the Saṃyutta-nikāya (SN 6.15) and the several Sanskrit
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
Sanskrit
Buddhacarita
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.[3] He deems all other extended details to be later additions with little historical value. Within the Mahaparinibbana Sutta
Mahaparinibbana Sutta
(Pali)[edit] The parinirvana of the Buddha
Buddha
is described in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. Because of its attention to detail, this Theravada
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.[4] Within the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra[edit] 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.[5] The Nirvana Sutra
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 words] 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.[6] Location of Gautama Buddha's death and parinirvana[edit] It has been suggested by Waddell that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
was in the region of Rampurva: "I believe that Kusīnagara, where the Buddha
Buddha
died may be ultimately found to the North of Bettiah, and in the line of the Aśōka pillars which lead hither from Patna
Patna
(Pāțaliputra)"[7] in Bihar. Unfortunately, it still awaits proper archaeological excavation. In Mahayana
Mahayana
literature[edit]

Attendants to the Parinirvana, Gandhara, Victoria and Albert museum

Parinirvana
Parinirvana
Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

According to the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (also called the Nirvana
Nirvana
Sutra), the Buddha
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
Buddha
using the term "Self" in order to win over non-Buddhist ascetics.[8] However, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra is a long and highly composite Mahayana
Mahayana
scripture,[9] and the part of the sutra upon which Williams is basing his statement is a portion of the Nirvana Sutra
Nirvana Sutra
of secondary Central Asian provenance - other parts of the sutra were written in India.[10] Guang Xing speaks of how the Mahayanists of the Nirvana
Nirvana
Sutra understand the mahaparinirvana to be the liberated Self of the eternal Buddha:[11]

One of the main themes of the MMPS [ Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahaparinirvana Sutra] is that the Buddha
Buddha
is eternal ... The Mahayanists assert the eternity of the Buddha
Buddha
in two ways in the MMPS. They state that the Buddha
Buddha
is the dharmakaya, and hence eternal. Next, they reinterpret the liberation of the Buddha
Buddha
as mahaparinirvana possessing four attributes: eternity, happiness, self and purity.

Only in Mahaparinirvana is this True Self held to be fully discernible and accessible.[12] Kosho Yamamoto cites a passage in which the Buddha
Buddha
admonishes his monks not to dwell inordinately on the idea of the non-Self but to meditate on the Self. Yamamoto writes:[13]

Having dwelt upon the nature of nirvana, the Buddha
Buddha
now explains its positive aspect and says that nirvana has the four attributes of the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure ... the Buddha
Buddha
says: "O you bhiksus [monks]! Do not abide in the thought of the non-eternal, sorrow, non-Self, and the not-pure and have things as in the case of those people who take the stones, wooden pieces and gravel for the true gem [of the true Dharma] ... In every situation, constantly meditate upon the idea of the Self, the idea of the Eternal, Bliss, and the Pure ... Those who, desirous of attaining Reality meditatively cultivate these ideas, namely, the ideas of the Self [atman], the Eternal, Bliss, and the Pure, will skilfully bring forth the jewel, just like the wise person."

Michael Zimmermann, in his study of the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, reveals that not only the Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Sutra
but also the Tathagatagarbha Sutra
Sutra
and the Lankavatara Sutra
Sutra
speak affirmatively of the Self. Zimmermann observes:[14]

the existence of an eternal, imperishable self, that is, buddhahood, is definitely the basic point of the TGS [Tathagatagarbha Sutra] ... the Mahaparinirvanasutra and the Lankavatarasutra characterize the tathagatagarbha explicitly as atman [Self].

See also[edit]

Parinirvana
Parinirvana
Day Prabashvara Reclining Buddha Mahasamādhi

Notes[edit]

^ Gethin 1998, p. 76. ^ " Buddha
Buddha
attaining Parinirvana". The Walters Art Museum.  ^ 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 ^ Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Paul Williams, Published by Taylor & Francis, 2005. page 190 ^ The Mahaparinibbana Sutta
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 Doctrine of Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature
in the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahaparinirvana Sutra", by Ming-Wood Liu, in: Buddhism: Yogācāra, the epistemological tradition and Tathāgatagarbha. Paul Williams, Published by Taylor & Francis, 2005. page 190 ^ "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. ^ Paul Williams, Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations.Taylor & Francis, 1989, page 100. "... it refers to the Buddha
Buddha
using the term "Self" in order to win over non-Buddhist ascetics." ^ Paul Williams, Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations.Taylor & Francis, 1989, page 98, see also page 99. ^ 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, The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism
Buddhism
to the Trikaya, RoutledgeCurzon, Oxford, 2005, p. 89 ^ Kosho Yamamoto, Mahayanism: A Critical Exposition of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Karin Bunko, Tokyo, 1975, p.62 ^ Kosho Yamamoto, Mahayanism: A Critical Exposition of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Karinbunko, Tokyo, 1975, p. 75 ^ Zimmermann, Michael (2002), A Buddha
Buddha
Within: The Tathāgatagarbhasūtra, Biblotheca Philologica et Philosophica Buddhica VI, The International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology, Soka University, pp. 82 – 83

Sources[edit]

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

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