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The Buddha's last meal, no 1

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  • nina van gorkom
    Dear friends, On Dhamma Study Group list we had a long discussion about the Buddha s last meal, Mahaaparinibbaana sutta, Diighanikaaya. Some people believe
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 13, 2003
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      Dear friends,
      On Dhamma Study Group list we had a long discussion about the Buddha's last
      meal, Mahaaparinibbaana sutta, Diighanikaaya.
      Some people believe that the Buddha became sick because of the
      sukkaramaddava (tender pork) Cunda gave him. The Commentaries interprete: he
      became sick, not because of,
      but after the meal. Then we returned to the sutta text itself and studied
      the Pali with the grammar. Suan helped us with the grammar and quoted rules
      of the Saddaniitii. Since several of you are interested in the Saddaniiti, I
      will, with Suan's kind permission, reproduce our correspondence in different
      sections.
      First I shall give some quotes from the commentaries.
      It was discussed what the súkaramaddava consisted of.
      In the Commentary to the ³Mahåparinibbåna Sutta² (Ch 4, translated by
      Yang-Gyu An) it is said:

      ³Pork stew (súkaramaddava): the fresh meat (pavattama.msa) from a prize pig
      that is neither too young nor too old. That, people say, is both tender and
      succulent. The meaning is that he had it prepared and carefully cooked. But
      some teachers say that Œsúkaramaddava¹ is the name of a recipe for cooking
      soft-boiled rice with the five liquid products of the cow, just as cow¹s
      milk is the name of a beverage. Others say that Œsúkaramaddava¹ is the name
      for a kind of elixir.²
      .......
      ³ Cunda prepared the súkaramaddava with an elixir, thinking, ŒLet the
      Blessed One not attain parinibbåna¹. And the deities of the four great
      continents and their twothousand surrounding islands infused nutritive
      essence into it.²

      The same Commentary explains the words of the Sutta text: ³Bhuttassa ca
      súkara-maddavenå², and after he had eaten from the súkara-maddava, a dire
      sickness fell upon him...² We read:

      ³It happened to him when he had eaten, but not because he had eaten. If he
      had not eaten, the pains would have been too strong ; but because he had
      eaten the succulent food, his pain was slight, which is why he was able to
      walk on foot.²

      We read in ³The Questions of King Milinda² (175) that King Milinda discussed
      the last meal with the venerable Någasena. Milinda said: ³How could that
      alms, Någasena, be of great fruit when it turned to poison, gave rise to
      disease...²
      Nagasena answered:² ...For that alms is full of virtue, full of advantage.
      The gods, O king, shouted in joy and gladness at the thought: ŒThis is the
      last meal the Tathågata will take,¹ and communicated a divine power of
      nourishment to that tender pork. And that was itself in good condition,
      light, pleasant, full of flavour, and good for digestion. It was not because
      of it that any sickness fell upon the Blessed One, but it was because of the
      extreme weakness of his body, and because of the period of life he had to
      live been exhausted, that the disease arose, and grew worse and worse....So
      this was not, O king, the fault of the food that was presented, and you can
      not impute any harm to it."
      (to be continued)
      Nina.
    • ryhorikawa
      Hi Nina and folks - Just a minor footnote from the Chinese translation of the Mahaparinirvana-sutra (Dirghagama): For sukkaramaddava the Chinese text in Taisho
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 15, 2003
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        Hi Nina and folks - Just a minor footnote from the Chinese
        translation of the Mahaparinirvana-sutra (Dirghagama): For
        sukkaramaddava the Chinese text in Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo
        Vol1, pg 18b reads "mei t'an shu erh" ( a type of tree fungus?).

        The Pali commentary you provided is fascinating! Thank you!
        With great difficulty I am struggling to follow along with the Pali
        grammatical analysis. Much appreciated!

        -Rodney



        --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, nina van gorkom <nilo@e...>
        wrote:
        > Dear friends,
        > On Dhamma Study Group list we had a long discussion about
        the Buddha's last
        > meal, Mahaaparinibbaana sutta, Diighanikaaya.
        > Some people believe that the Buddha became sick because of
        the
        > sukkaramaddava (tender pork) Cunda gave him. The
        Commentaries interprete: he
        > became sick, not because of,
        > but after the meal. Then we returned to the sutta text itself and
        studied
        > the Pali with the grammar. Suan helped us with the grammar
        and quoted rules
        > of the Saddaniitii. Since several of you are interested in the
        Saddaniiti, I
        > will, with Suan's kind permission, reproduce our
        correspondence in different
        > sections.
        > First I shall give some quotes from the commentaries.
        > It was discussed what the súkaramaddava consisted of.
        > In the Commentary to the 3Mahåparinibbåna Sutta2 (Ch 4,
        translated by
        > Yang-Gyu An) it is said:
        >
        > 3Pork stew (súkaramaddava): the fresh meat (pavattama.msa)
        from a prize pig
        > that is neither too young nor too old. That, people say, is both
        tender and
        > succulent. The meaning is that he had it prepared and carefully
        cooked. But
        > some teachers say that Œsúkaramaddava1 is the name of a
        recipe for cooking
        > soft-boiled rice with the five liquid products of the cow, just as
        cow1s
        > milk is the name of a beverage. Others say that
        Œsúkaramaddava1 is the name
        > for a kind of elixir.2
        > .......
        > 3 Cunda prepared the súkaramaddava with an elixir, thinking,
        ŒLet the
        > Blessed One not attain parinibbåna1. And the deities of the
        four great
        > continents and their twothousand surrounding islands infused
        nutritive
        > essence into it.2
        >
        > The same Commentary explains the words of the Sutta text:
        3Bhuttassa ca
        > súkara-maddavenå2, and after he had eaten from the súkara-
        maddava, a dire
        > sickness fell upon him...2 We read:
        >
        > 3It happened to him when he had eaten, but not because he
        had eaten. If he
        > had not eaten, the pains would have been too strong ; but
        because he had
        > eaten the succulent food, his pain was slight, which is why he
        was able to
        > walk on foot.2
        >
        > We read in 3The Questions of King Milinda2 (175) that King
        Milinda discussed
        > the last meal with the venerable Någasena. Milinda said:
        3How could that
        > alms, Någasena, be of great fruit when it turned to poison,
        gave rise to
        > disease...2
        > Nagasena answered:2 ...For that alms is full of virtue, full of
        advantage.
        > The gods, O king, shouted in joy and gladness at the thought:
        ŒThis is the
        > last meal the Tathågata will take,1 and communicated a divine
        power of
        > nourishment to that tender pork. And that was itself in good
        condition,
        > light, pleasant, full of flavour, and good for digestion. It was not
        because
        > of it that any sickness fell upon the Blessed One, but it was
        because of the
        > extreme weakness of his body, and because of the period of
        life he had to
        > live been exhausted, that the disease arose, and grew worse
        and worse....So
        > this was not, O king, the fault of the food that was presented,
        and you can
        > not impute any harm to it."
        > (to be continued)
        > Nina.
      • nina van gorkom
        Dear Rodney, I am glad you appreciate commentaries. See below. op 15-10-2003 22:36 schreef ryhorikawa op ryhorikawa@facstaff.wisc.edu: Just a minor footnote
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 16, 2003
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          Dear Rodney,
          I am glad you appreciate commentaries. See below.
          op 15-10-2003 22:36 schreef ryhorikawa op ryhorikawa@...:

          Just a minor footnote from the Chinese
          > translation of the Mahaparinirvana-sutra (Dirghagama): For
          > sukkaramaddava the Chinese text in Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo
          > Vol1, pg 18b reads "mei t'an shu erh" ( a type of tree fungus?).

          N: I had read that Chinese sources interprete sukkaramaddava as fungus. This
          subject has been much discussed. The Theravada Co. interprete it as tender
          pork. Here is another text:
          The ³Clarifier of the Sweet Meaning², the Commentary to the ³Chronicle of
          Buddhas², in the Exposition of ³The Differences between the Buddhas²,
          relates what is the regulation for all Buddhas. Among the thirty
          regulations, we read about the twentyninth:
          ³Partaking of the flavour of meat on the day of the final nibbana.²
          This clearly states that the ³súkaramaddava² the Buddha consumed on the day
          of his final passing away was meat.
          This is one issue. The other issue is: did the Buddha become ill because
          of, or after the meal? On account of the second issue, Suan helps us to look
          at the grammar, because this is of assistance to interprete suttas.
          Therefore I found Suan's posts helpful for this list. These can exhort us to
          study grammar, not to neglect it. It also demonstrates that the commentators
          were most careful.
          We learn now that the genitive case can also used as insrtumental (kaaraka).
          Now, see Warder, lesson 10. Warder is very short, but still, it indicates
          this. Very interesting.
          Ms. Horner, in her intro to The ³Clarifier of the Sweet Meaning², has one
          section on grammar and explains that changes of cases occur. The accusative
          case (second one) can also have the
          sense of the instrumental (the third, kara.na). The instrumental can have
          the meaning of locative (the seventh). There can be changes of tenses
          (kaalavipariyaaya), change of gender, li"ngavipariyaasa.
          Ms Horner states: <Though case changes appear to be considered to merit
          commentarial mention it is never said that the case used was an error,
          merely that it was to be understood in the sense of another case.>
          Nina.
          P.S. I would greatly appreciate additional remarks from experts like Suan
          and Dimitri!
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