Last Days of the Buddha
Sister Vajira and Francis Story, translators (DN 16)
1. Thus have I heard....
56. Then the Buddha spoke to Ven. Ananda, saying: "It may come to pass, Ananda, that someone will cause remorse to Cunda the metalworker [who accidentally fed the Buddha poisonous mushrooms* and brought about his "final passing," parinirvana, after he had earlier relinquished the will to carry on after having accomplished all of his goals], saying:
"'It is no gain to you, friend Cunda, but a loss, that it was from you the Tathagata took his last alms meal, and then came to his end.' Then, Ananda, the remorse of Cunda should be dispelled after this manner:
"'It is a gain to you, friend Cunda, a blessing that the Tathagata took his last alms meal from you, and then came to his end. For, friend, face to face with the Blessed One I have heard and learned:
"There are two offerings of food which are of equal fruition, of equal outcome, exceeding in grandeur the fruition and result of any other offerings of food. Which two? The one partaken of by the Tathagata before becoming fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme enlightenment, and the one partaken of by the Tathagata before passing into the state of nirvana in which no element of clinging remains. By his deed the worthy Cunda has accumulated merit which makes for long life, beauty, well being, glory, heavenly rebirth, and sovereignty."'
Thus, Ananda, the remorse of Cunda the metalworker should be dispelled."
57. Then the Buddha, understanding that matter, breathed forth the solemn utterance:
Who is self-curbed, no hatred bears;
Whoso is skilled in virtue, harm shuns,
And by the rooting out of lust and hate
And all delusion, comes to be at peace.
*NOTE: Sukara-maddava: a controversial term which has therefore been left untranslated. Sukara = pig; maddava = soft, tender, delicate. Hence two alternative renderings of the compound are possible: (1) the tender parts of a pig or boar; (2) what is enjoyed by pigs and boars.
In the latter meaning, the term has been thought to refer to a mushroom or truffle, or a yam or tuber. K.E. Neumann, in the preface to his German translation of the Middle-Length Discourses (Majjhima Nikaya), quotes from an Indian compendium of medicinal plants, the Rajanigantu, several plants beginning with sukara.
The ancient commentary to this text gives three alternative explanations:
- the flesh from a single first-born (wild) pig, neither too young nor too old, which had come to hand naturally, that is, without being intentionally killed;
- a preparation of soft boiled rice cooked with the five dairy-products;
- a kind of alchemical elixir (rasayanavidhi). Dhammapala, in his commentary to Udana VIII.5, gives, in addition, young bamboo shoots trampled by pigs (sukarehi maddita-vamsakaliro). More