Buddhism , the term PARINIRVANA (
Sanskrit : parinirvāṇa;
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.
Nirvana after death
* 2.1 Within the
Mahaparinibbana Sutta (Pali)
* 2.2 Within the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra
* 2.3 Location of Gautama Buddha\'s death and parinirvana
* 3 In
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes
* 6 Sources
* 7 External links
NIRVANA AFTER DEATH
Nirvana (Buddhism) §
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: 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 ’
(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 OF BUDDHA SHAKYAMUNI
Parinirvana – Depicted in cave 26 of Ajanta
Caves - India The lower half of this cloth panel depicts
Buddha's Parinibbana. 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)
Sanskrit parallels, the topic is treated in the
Saṃyutta-nikāya (SN 6.15) and the several
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
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. He deems all
other extended details to be later additions with little historical
WITHIN THE MAHAPARINIBBANA SUTTA (PALI)
The parinirvana of the
Buddha is described in the Mahaparinibbana
Sutta . Because of its attention to detail, this
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.
WITHIN THE MAHāYāNA MAHāPARINIRVāṇA SūTRA
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. The
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 for the expression of standard
such as the tathagata-garbha / buddha-dhatu doctrine, the eternality
of the Buddha, and the soteriological fate of the icchantikas and so
LOCATION OF GAUTAMA BUDDHA\'S DEATH AND PARINIRVANA
It has been suggested by Waddell that the site of the death and
Gautama Buddha was in the region of
Rampurva : "I
believe that Kusīnagara, where the
Buddha died may be ultimately
found to the North of
Bettiah , and in the line of the Aśōka pillars
which lead hither from
Patna (Pāțaliputra)" in Bihar.
Unfortunately, it still awaits proper archaeological excavation.
IN MAHAYANA LITERATURE
Attendants to the Parinirvana, Gandhara, Victoria and Albert
Miyajima , Japan
According to the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (also called
Nirvana Sutra), the
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 using the term "Self" in order to
win over non-Buddhist ascetics. However, the Mahaparinirvana
a long and highly composite
Mahayana scripture, and the part of the
sutra upon which Williams is basing his statement is a portion of the
Nirvana Sutra of secondary Central Asian provenance - other parts of
the sutra were written in India.
Guang Xing speaks of how the Mahayanists of the
understand the mahaparinirvana to be the liberated Self of the eternal
One of the main themes of the MMPS is that the
Buddha is eternal ...
The Mahayanists assert the eternity of the
Buddha in two ways in the
MMPS. They state that the
Buddha is the dharmakaya, and hence eternal.
Next, they reinterpret the liberation of the
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.
Kosho Yamamoto cites a passage in which the
Buddha admonishes his
monks not to dwell inordinately on the idea of the non-Self but to
meditate on the Self. Yamamoto writes:
Having dwelt upon the nature of nirvana, the
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 says: "O you
bhiksus ! 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
... 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 , 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 but also the
Tathagatagarbha Sutra and the Lankavatara
Sutra speak affirmatively of
the Self. Zimmermann observes:
the existence of an eternal, imperishable self, that is, buddhahood,
is definitely the basic point of the TGS ... the Mahaparinirvanasutra
and the Lankavatarasutra characterize the tathagatagarbha explicitly
as atman .
* ^ Gethin 1998 , p. 76.
* ^ "
Buddha attaining Parinirvana".
The Walters Art Museum
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 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 in the
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
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 using the term "Self" in order to win over non-Buddhist
* ^ 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