on Kusinara, Beluva, Upavatta (Upavattana), Malla, Pava, Dona, Mahasudassana
Sutta and Mahaparinibbana Sutta from Dictionary of Pali Proper Names
• G.P. Malalasekera
The capital of the Mallas and the scene of the Buddha's
death. At that time it was a small city, "a branch-township
with wattle-and-daub houses in the midst of the jungle," and
Ananda was, at first, disappointed that the Buddha should have chosen
it for his Parinibbana. But the Buddha, by preaching the Maha-Sudassana
Sutta, pointed out to him that in ancient times it had been Kusavati,
the royal city of Maha-Sudassana . Between Kusinara and Pava, three
gavutas away - from where the Buddha came to Kusinara on his last
journey from Rajagaha, stopping at various places - lay the stream
of Kakuttha on the banks of which was the Ambavana; beyond that
was the Hiraññavati river, and near the city, in a
south-westerly direction, lay the Upavattana, the Sala-grove of
the Mallas, which the Buddha made his last resting-place .
After the Buddha's death his body was carried into
the city by the northern gate and out of the city by the eastern
gate; to the east of the city was Makutabandhana, the shrine of
the Mallas, and there the body was cremated. For seven days those
assembled at the ceremony held a festival in honour of the relics
It is said that the Buddha had three reasons for coming
to Kusinara to die:
(1) Because it was the proper venue for the preaching
of the Maha-Sudassana Sutta;
(2) because Subhadda would visit him there and, after listening
to his sermon, would develop meditation and become an arahant while
the Buddha was still alive; and
(3) because the brahman Doha would be there, after the Buddha's
death, to solve the problem of the distribution of his relics .
As the scene of his death, Kusinara became one of
the four holy places declared by the Buddha to be fit places of
pilgrimage for the pious, the other three being Kapilavatthu, Buddhagaya
and Isipatana. Mention is made of other visits paid to Kusinara
by the Buddha, prior to that when his death took place. Thus, once
he went there from apana and having spent some time at Kusinara,
proceeded to atuma. The Mallas of Kusinara were always great admirers
of the Buddha, even though not all of them were his followers, and
on the occasion of this visit they decided that any inhabitant of
Kusinara who failed to go and meet the Buddha and escort him to
the city, would be fined five hundred. It was on this occasion that
Roja the Mallan was converted and gave to the Buddha and the monks
a supply of green vegetables and pastries . During some of these
visits the Buddha stayed in a wood called Baliharana, and there
he preached two of the Kusinara Suttas and the "Kinti"
Sutta A third Kusinara Sutta he preached while staying at Upavattana.
; for another discourse to some noisy monks at Upavattana,.
Kusinara was the birthplace of Bandhula and his wife
Mallika . It was twenty-five yojanas from Rajagaha and lay on the
high road from Alaka to Rajagaha, the road taken by Bavari's disciples
This was evidently the road taken also by Maha Kassapa
from Pava, when he came to pay his last respects to the Buddha .
According to a late tradition, one-eighth of the Buddha's
relics were deposited in a cairn in Kusinara and honoured by the
In ancient times Kusinara was the capital of King
Talissara and twelve of his descendants . It was also the scene
of the death of Phussa Buddha at the Setarama .
In Hiouen Thsang's day there still existed towers
and Sarigharamas erected to mark the spots connected with the Buddha's
last days and obsequies at Kusinara. According to his account Kusinara
was nineteen yojanas from Vesali.
To the northern Buddhists the place was also known
as Kusigrama (Kusigramaka) and Kusinagari
Kusinara is identified with the village of Kasia at
the junction of the river Rapti and the smaller Gondak and in the
cast of the Gorakhpur district . A copper plate belonging to the
thupa erected at the site of the Buddha's death has recently been
The people of Kusinara are called Kosinaraka.
A village near Vesali, where the Buddha spent his
last vassa. This was ten months before his death . According to
the Commentaries the Buddha did not go straight from Beluva to Vesali,
but turned back to Savatthi. He fell grievously ill during this
period, but, by a great effort of will, overcame his sickness. During
this sickness Sakka ministered to the Buddha, waiting on him and
carrying on his head the Buddha's stools when he suffered from acute
It was at this time that the Buddha, in answer to
a question by Ananda, said that he had kept nothing back from his
disciples and had no special instructions for the Order to follow
after his death. Each disciple must work out his own salvation.
Ananda is also mentioned as having stayed at Beluva
after the Buddha's death. The householder Dasama of Atthakanagara
sought him there, amid their conversation is recorded in the Atthakanagara
Beluva was a small village, and when the Buddha was
there the monks stayed in Vesali. Beluva was just outside the gates
of Vesali and was to the south of this city
The Theragatha states that Anuruddha died at Veluvagama
in the Vajji country. This probably refers to Beluvagama, in which
case Veluva is a varia lectio.
Subhadda Thera. He was a brahmin of high rank (of
the udicca-brahmana-maha-salakula), and, having become a Paribbajaka,
was living in Kusinara when the Buddha went there on his last journey.
Having heard that the Buddha would die in the third watch of the
night, Subhadda went to the sala grove, where the Buddha lay on
his death bed, and asked Ananda for permission to see him. But three
times Ananda refused the request, saying that the Buddha was weary.
The Buddha overheard the conversation and asked Subhadda to come
in. Subhadda asked the Buddha if there were any truth in the teachings
of other religious instructors. The Buddha said he had no time to
discuss that, but that any system devoid of the Noble Eightfold
Path was useless for salvation, and he taught Subhadda the Doctrine.
Subhadda asked to be allowed to join the Order, and the Buddha gave
Amanda special permission to admit him at once without waiting for
the usual probationary period. Subhadda dwelt in solitude and in
meditation and soon became an arahant. He was the last disciple
to be converted by the Buddha .
Buddhaghosa says that when the Buddha gave him permission
to ordain Subhadda, Ananda took him outside, poured water over his
head, made him repeat the formula of the impermanence of the body,
shaved off his hair and beard, clad him in yellow robes, made him
repeat the Three Refuges, and then led him back to the Buddha. The
Buddha himself admitted Subhadda to the higher ordination and gave
him a subject for meditation. Subhadda took this and, walking up
and down in a quiet part of the grove, attained arahantship and
came and sat down beside the Buddha.
In the past, Subhadda and Aññata Kondañña
had been brothers. They had a cornfield, and the elder (Aññata
Kondañña) gave the first fruits of the corn to the
monks in nine stages. The younger (Subhadda) found fault with him
for damaging the corn. They then divided the field, thus settling
the dispute . Subhadda rubbed the dead body of Padumuttara Buddha
with sandalwood and other fragrant essences and placed a banner
on his thupa. In the time of Kassapa Buddha, the Buddha's aggasavaka,
Tissa, was, Subhadda's son. Subhadda spoke disparagingly of him,
hence his tardiness in meeting the Buddha in his last life. Subhadda
died on the day of his ordination and arahantship .
The conversation between the Buddha and Subhadda forms
the topic of a dilemma in the Milinda-Pañha . Subhadda's
ordination was the Buddha's last "official" act.
The sala-grove of the Mallas of Kusinara, on the further
side of the Hiraññavati. This was the last resting-place
of the Buddha on his last tour, and here he passed away, lying on
a bed placed between two sala trees .
Here Subhadda visited the Buddha in the earlier part
of the last night of his life, was converted and gained admission
into the Order, afterwards winning arahantship. It was here, too,
that the Buddha asked the monks if they had any doubts they wished
to hear solved regarding the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha,
magga and patipada, or any questions they wished to ask, and here
he gave his last admonition to the monks . Ananda tried to persuade
him to die in a place of greater importance, and the Buddha, in
order to disabuse his mind, preached to him the Maha Sudassana Sutta.
Buddhaghosa saysthat the road to the sala-grove from
the Hiraññavati led from the further bank of the river,
like the road from the Kadambanadi to the Thuparama in Anuradhapura
which led through the Rajamatu-vihara. The row of sala-trees stretched
from south to east and then continued to the north ("like the
chief street in Anuradhapura"). Hence the name Upavattana.
The grove was to the southwest of Kusinara.
Preached between the twin Sala trees in Upavattana,
the grove of the Mallas. Ananda asks the Buddha not to die in the
"little wattle and daub" town of Kusinara, but in some
important city, such as Campa, Rajagaha or Savatthi. The Buddha
tells him that Kusinara was once Kusavati, the royal city of King
Mahasudassana, and was surrounded by seven ramparts, a city containing
all the characteristics of a great capital.
Mahasudassana possessed the seven treasures of a Cakkavatti:
the cakka ratana,
the hatthi ratana (named Uposatha),
the assa ratana (named Valahaka),
the mani ratana,
the itthi ratana (pearl among women),
the gahapati ratana, and
the parinayaka ratana.
He also possessed four iddhi powers: he was handsome,
long lived, free from disease, and beloved by all classes of people.
He had lotus ponds made all over his kingdom, food and clothing
being placed on their banks for any who might require them. With
the money brought to the king by the people, Vissakamma, under Sakka's
orders, built the Dhammapasada Palace, filled with all splendour
and luxury. The king possessed a gabled hall called Mahavyuha, where
he spent the hot part of the day. In front of the Dhammapasada was
Having realized that his power and glory were the
result of past good deeds, Mahasudassana practiced generosity, self
conquest and self-control, and developed the four jhanas, suffusing
all quarters with thoughts of love and pity and sympathy and equanimity.
Mahasudassana had eighty four thousand cities, the
chief of which was Kusavati; eighty four thousand palaces, the chief
being Dhammapasada; eighty four thousand gabled houses, the chief
being Mahavyuha; eighty four thousand state elephants, led by Uposatha;
and eighty four thousand horses, led by Valahaka. He had eighty
four thousand chariots led by Vejayanta, and eighty four thousand
wives, of whom Subbadda was the chief. One day, the king realized
that his death was approaching, and, when Subhadda visited him to
try and induce him to enjoy his pleasures, he stopped her, telling
her to speak to him of the impermanence of things and the need for
giving up all desire. While she talked to him of these things, he
died and was reborn in the Brahma world. For eighty four thousand
years be bad been a prince, a viceroy and a king respectively, and
later, for forty eight thousand years, a devout layman in the Dhammapasada.
Mahasudassana is identified with the Buddha
In the time of Kassapa Buddha, Sudassana had been
a forester. He met a monk in the forest and built a hut for him.
He also requested the monk to receive alms every day at his house
or, at least, to eat there. The monk agreed, and Sudassana made
his hut comfortable in every way, constructing walks, bathing places,
gardens, etc., outside. He also gave him innumerable gifts, of various
kinds and descriptions.
A city of the Mallas which the Buddha visited during
his last journey, going there from Bhogagama and stopping at Cunda's
Cunda lived in Pava and invited the Buddha to a meal,
which proved to be his last. It was on this occasion that the Cunda
Sutta (1) was preached . From Pava the Buddha journeyed on to Kusinara,
crossing the Kakkuttha on the way. the road from Pava to Kusinara
is mentioned several times in the books -
According to the Sangiti Sutta, at the time the Buddha
was staying at Pava, the Mallas had just completed their new Mote
hall, Ubbhataka, and, at their invitation, the Buddha consecrated
it by first occupying it and then preaching in it. After the Buddha
had finished speaking, Sariputta recited the Sahgiti Sutta to the
Pava was also a centre of the Niganthas and, at the
time mentioned above, Nigantha Nathaputta had just died at Pava
and his followers were divided by bitter wrangles . Cunda Samanuddesa
was spending his rainy season at Pava, and he reported to the Buddha,
who was at Samagama, news of the Niganthas' quarrels.
The distance from Pava to Kusinara was three gavutas.
It is said that on the way between these two places, the Buddha
had to stop at twenty five resting places, so faint and weary was
Mention is made in the Udana of the Buddha having
stayed at the Ajakapalaka cetiya in Pava. This may have been during
a previous visit.
After the Buddha's death, the Mallas of Pava claimed
a share in his relics. Dona satisfied their claim, and a Thupa was
erected in Pava over their share of the relics.
The inhabitants of Pava are called Paveyyaka.
Pava was the birthplace of Khandasumana.
The name of a people and their country.
The country is included in the sixteen Mahajanapadas
of the Buddha's time. The kingdom, at that time, was divided into
two parts, having their respective capitals in Pava and Kusinara.
The Mallas of Pava were called Paveyyaka Malla, those of Kusinara,
Kosinaraka. That these were separate kingdoms is shown by the fact
that after the Buddha's death at Kusinara, the Mallas of Pava sent
messengers to claim their share of the Buddha's relics Each had
their Mote Hall.
In the Sangiti Sutta we are told that the Buddha,
in the course of one of his journeys, came with five hundred followers
to Pava and stayed in the Ambavana of Cunda the smith. A new Mote
Hall, called Ubbhataka, had just been completed for the Mallas of
Pava, and the Buddha was invited to be the first to occupy it that
it might be consecrated thereby. The Buddha accepted the invitation,
and preached in the Hall far into the night. It was also at Pava
that the Buddha took his last meal, of Sukaramaddava, at the house
of Cunda . From there he went to Kusinara, and there, as he lay
dying, he sent Ananda to the Mallas of Kusinara, who were assembled
in their Mote Hall to announce his approaching death. The Mallas
thereupon came to the Upavattana Sala grove where the Buddha was,
in order to pay him their last respects. Ananda made them stand
in groups according to family, and then presented them to the Buddha,
announcing the name of each family. After the Buddha's death, they
met together once more in the Mote Hall, and made arrangements to
pay him all the honour due to a Cakkavatti. They cremated the Buddha's
body at the Makutabandhana cetiya, and then collected the relics,
which they deposited in their Mote Hall, surrounding them with a
lattice work of spears and a rampart of bows till they were distributed
among the various claimants by Dona . The Mallas, both of Pava and
Kusinara, erected thupas over their respective shares of the relics
and held feasts in their honour.
The Malla capital of Kujsinara was, in the Buddha's
day, a place of small importance. Ananda contemptuously refers to
it as a "little wattle and daub town in the midst of a jungle,
a branch township," quite unworthy of being the scene of the
Buddha's Parinibbana. But the Buddha informs Ananda that it was
once Kusavati, the mighty capital of Kusa and Mahasudassana. This
shows that the Mallas had, at first, a monarchical constitution,
but in the sixth century B.C. they were regarded, together with
the Vajjis, as a typical example of a republic (sangha, gana). The
chief Mallas administered the state in turn. Those who were free
from such duties engaged in trade, sometimes undertaking long caravan
Both the Buddha and Nigantha Nataputta appear to have
had followers among the Mallas. Pava was the scene of Nataputta's
death, just as Kusinara was of the Buddha’s (see Pava). Several
followers of the Buddha among the Mallas are mentioned by name -
e.g., Dabba, Pukkusa, Khandasumana, Bhadragaka, Rasiya, Roja and
The Mallas seem to have lived at peace with their
neighbours, though there was apparently some trouble between them
and the Licchavis, as shown by the story of Bandhula Malla. Both
the Mallas and the Licchavis were khattiyas, belonging to the Vasittha
gotta, because in the books both tribes are repeatedly referred
to as Vasettha. Manu says that both Licchavis and Mallas had ksatriya
parents, but their fathers were Vratyas - i.e., had not gone through
the ceremony of Vedic initiation at the proper time.
There is reason to believe that the Malla republic
fell into the hands of Ajatasattu, as did that of the Licchavis
The Mallas are generally identified with the Malloi
mentioned in the Greek accounts of Alexander's invasion of India.
The Malloi were a warlike tribe who, for some time, successfully
resisted Alexander's attack. Their territory must have been situated
in or near the Panjab.
Other places in the Malla country, besides Pava and
Kusinara, are mentioned where the Buddha stayed - e.g., Bhoganagara,
Anupiya and Uruvelakappa, near which was the Mahavana, a wide tract
Bandhula went from Kusinara to Takkasila for purposes
of study. v.l. Mala and Malata , evidently both wrong readings.
The sixteenth sutta of the Digha Nikaya. It contains
a more or less detailed account of the last year of the Buddha's
life. It also contains, besides other matter,
a prophecy of the greatness of Pataliputta and
the contemplated attack on the Vajjians by Ajatasattu,
details of the seven conditions of welfare of the Order,
the lineage of faith (ariyavamsa),
eight causes of earthquake,
the last meal of the Buddha,
the four places of pilgrimage,
the four great authorities (mahapadesa),
the obsequies of a king,
the erection of cetiyas,
the previous history of Kusinara,
the Buddha's death and cremation,
the distribution of the Relics by Dona, and
the erection of the Thupas over the Relics.
.-A brahmin. He was at Kusinara at the time of the
Buddha's death, and it was his intervention which prevented a quarrel
among the kings who assembled there to claim the Buddha's relics.
He pointed out to them the impropriety of a quarrel over anything
connected with the Buddha, the teacher of Peace. The claimants thereupon
asked Dona to undertake the distribution of the relics. He divided
them into eight parts, one of which he gave to each king. He himself
kept the vessel used for collecting and dividing the relics, and
over it he built a thupa, celebrating a feast in its honour .
Dona first met the Buddha on the road between Ukkattha
and Setavya. He saw the Buddha's footprints and, following them,
he came upon the Buddha seated at the foot of a-tree. Dona asked
him various questions as to his identity and the Buddha explained
to him his Buddha-hood The Commentary states that Dona was a teacher
with a large following, and that the Buddha's journey to Setavya
was undertaken for the purpose of meeting him. At the end of the
Buddha's discourse, Dona became an anagami and composed a poem of
twelve thousand words in praise of the Buddha. This poem became
known as the Donagajjita. Dona was held in very high esteem as a
teacher, and it is said that, at some time or other practically
all the chiefs of Jambudipa had sat at his feet. Therefore he was
able to dissuade them from quarrelling over the Buddha's relics.
On that occasion he stood on a hill and recited the Donagajjita.
At first his voice could not be heard through the uproar, but, by
degrees, they recognised his voice and listened with wrapt attention.
At the distribution of the relics, Dona, watching
his opportunity, hid, in his turban, the right eye-tooth of the
Buddha, but Sakka saw this, and thinking that Dona was incapable
of rendering suitable honour to this relic, removed it and placed
it in the Culamani-cetiya .