Scene 1(The Buddha and Ananda.)
BUDDHA: Ananda, I am now an old man. I am eighty years old. Ananda, for fifty years I have been teaching and preaching. The time has come for me to depart from this world. I am weak. I am an invalid. My whole body is shattered, Ananda. This body can be of no more use here on earth.
ANANDA (shedding tears): No, Master, no. You have to stay with us for quite a long time more. Your very presence is a great blessing to humanity. This sangha is not yet well established. This sangha needs your physical presence.
BUDDHA: Ananda, do you mean to say that the sangha expects something new from me? Do you mean to say that I have not spoken in clear terms what I have to say about this dharma? I have not kept anything hidden from you people. Never have I shown any sign of reticence, nor any indifference. Besides, I never thought that I would have to conduct and manage the sangha, and that it would always depend on me. So why should I stay? Why should I be involved any longer in the activities of the sangha? Ananda, from now on be self-sufficient. Have faith in yourself. Lead a spiritual life. You will realise the highest Truth. He who follows the dharma, he who takes refuge in the dharma, will alone enter into the world of Bliss, and nobody else.
ANANDA: O Lord Buddha, what you say is perfectly true, but our hearts cannot live without you. We need you. We shall eternally need you.
BUDDHA: Ananda, you need me. I need you. Again, the Truth Eternal needs us both. The Truth Eternal needs me in the world of the Beyond, and the same Truth needs you here on earth. My life has come to an end. All the experiences of the world I offer to the world. Yesterday I ate at Chunda’s house. Since then I have been feeling weaker, but I wish to assure you that this weakness is not due to his food. I am suffering, true, but it is not his fault at all. He gave me food with utmost love and devotion. Nobody should blame him when I die. I offer him my deepest blessings. Before I was illumined, before I became the Enlightened One, Sujata’s food helped me to live on earth. Her food made it possible for me to meditate. And now Chunda’s food is helping me to enter into the highest Nirvana. I see no difference between Sujata’s food and Chunda’s food. Each has served a special purpose of its own.
(Enter a few intimate disciples.)
ANANDA: Look! Look! Today the Buddha’s whole body is flooded with Light. This Light we have never seen around him. Such celestial Light!
THE DISCIPLES: Yes, Lord, today we see something totally new in you which we have never seen before. Your whole face is inundated with Light and Delight.
BUDDHA: Ananda, today reminds me of my days at the foot of the Bodhi tree. Just before I entered into Nirvana this body had the same Light, the same Delight. Today once again this body is flooded with Light and Delight. You are seeing it for the first time. But I am seeing it for the second time. The day ends, and my earthly sojourn ends along with it. Therefore, all of you are seeing this Light in me and around me.
(Ananda bursts into tears and is about to leave.)
BUDDHA: Ananda, stay here. Don’t go away. My life can now be measured in minutes. Ananda, do not cry for me. I tell all of you not to cry for me. Ananda, I have told you repeatedly that everything is transient on earth. There is nothing everlasting here. Anything that comes into life will have to give up life. You have served me, O Ananda, most devotedly, most soulfully, and for that I offer you my last blessings. Proceed on your inner strength, and you will receive liberation. You will have your liberation in due course. My spiritual journey began with renunciation and compassion, and today, at the end of my journey’s close, I offer to the world the same message: renunciation and compassion. O Ananda, do not grieve.
(The Buddha dies.)