32.1   Another Great Bodhimanda - Jetavanna Grove

    When the Buddha returned to Rajagaha, a wealthy merchant of Savatthi called Anathapindika came to see him. Being converted, he bought the land from Prince Jeta with as much gold as would cover the ground and built houses for the Buddha and his order. The place was well-known to be Jetavanna Grove.

    The Bamboo Grove in Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha and the Jetavanna Grove in Savatthi, the capital of Kosala were the two important Bodhimandala, where Shakyamuni Buddha spoke of many sutras. Both places were large and located at the two new cultural centres along the Ganges in India. Thereafter, Shakyamuni preached actively around 600 km between the two Bodhimandalas.

    During his 45 years of preaching, except the 4-month raining season in each year, Shakyamuni used to travel from cities to cities, countries to countries to disseminate the Buddhist Dharma with his disciples.

    32.2   Peaceful and harmonized development of Buddhism

    For 45 years the Buddha moved from place to place in north-eastern part of India. As the Order expanded and the preaching continued, none was refused.

    In our history nearly all the founders of most religions had been inevitably suppressed by others especially the ruling power. Buddhism is perhaps the only exception. Shakyamuni Buddha never came across the suppression in his life. It was because the Indian people loved peace and the Buddha's teaching was no extremes - the Middle Way. Apart from the debate in doctrines, Buddhism had no bloody struggles and violent disputes with other religions. Shakyamuni never looked down upon other religions. He asked his disciples who used to be the worshippers of other religions, to respect their original religions too. It has always been the traditional spirit in Buddhism.

    However, it was recorded in history that the Buddha were calumniated by other religious groups twice. Both of them accused the Buddha of having sexual misconduct. The fraud was easily seen through by the Buddha, causing insignificant adverse effect in the development of Buddhism. On the contrary, the threat came from the internal split of the Sangha Order, started by one of Buddha's disciples, Devadatta.

    32.3   The Split of Sangha Order

    As the Buddhist teaching stressed on democracy and freedom, it can be easily manipulated and misinterpreted by others to create crisis and confusion. The rapid growth of the Buddhist order was another reason to give rise to the split of the Sangha Order.

    Devadatta, the cousin of the Buddha, became disciple of Shakyamuni when Shakyamuni once returned to his mother country. However, for years, Devadatta was not well-respected and unable to one of Sangha leaders or chief disciples.

    With the support of Ajatasattu, the son of King Bimblisara, Devadatta managed to cause a split in the Sangha, and requested the Buddha to transfer the power to him. The Buddha told him that the disciples followed his teaching, not followed his own person. Having failed to acquire the power, Devadatta plotted to kill the Buddha. He failed again.

    He then persuaded a number of Bhikhus to leave. The Buddha sent Moggallana and Sariputta to preach to them, and they returned to the Order. Later Devadatta repented and was received into the Order again.

    32.4   Woman admitted to the Order

    Although the Buddha said that women would understand his highest teaching, he did not want to create an Order of Bhiksuni, because he knew it would materially shorten the "dwelling" life of the Buddhist religion. But later on, he agreed to admit the women to the Order. After King Suddodana (Shakyamuni's father) died, Mahapajapati (Shakyamuni's step mother) cut off her hair, and came to see Shakyamuni Buddha in the yellow robes of the Order. Again, the Buddha refused. Through the insistence of Ananda, Mahaprajapati eventually gained admission and became the first Bhiksuni in the Order. As the Buddha said, the Order of Bhiksuni had not continued in the same way as the Sangha, thus it was established under more strict rules.

    32.5   The death of Shakyamuni

    In the last retreat, the Buddha was ill. Ananda was alarmed and expressed his hope that the Buddha would not die until he had established the system of the Order. However, the Buddha reiterated that one should take refuge to oneself, not to any external one, and take refuge to the Dharma too.

    The Buddha recovered from his illness. However he told Ananda that within three months he would pass away.

    Thereafter, the Buddha went to Pava Village in Mallas and stayed at the Mango Grove of Cunda, who prepared a special meal for the Buddha.

    It is sometimes said that the Buddha died because of the indigestion of eating, Sukara-maddava (literally means pig's flesh). Having eaten the meal, the Buddha urged Ananda to go to Sala Grove in a village called Kusinara. The Buddha lay down peacefully on his right side with two legs one on the top of the other. The Buddha comforted Ananda and said, Nothing in the world is permanent. Work out your own salvation with diligence.

    During the last moments of the Buddha's life, Subhadra, a Brahman of age 120, came and requested the Buddha to break up his doubt. He was the last disciple to be converted by the Buddha. That evening, the Buddha entered Nirvana.

    32.6   The Cremation and Relics

    The Buddha passed away at the age of eighty. There was to be no more birth or death for him. The physical body of Shakyamuni Buddha was cremated with all the pomp and ceremony due to royalty. His relics were divided, it was said, into ten parts, and given to the places where the Buddha had lived and died. Stupas were erected over them for people to respect and worship.

    Relics lead to pilgrimages in which people follow the footsteps of Shakyamuni Buddha to liberate from sufferings and attain eternal happiness.