One of the most influential Buddhist texts in East Asia, the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, or Nirvana Sutra, takes the occasion of Śākyamuni Buddha’s last sermon to present a thoroughly Mahāyāna message in which buddhas are mythically eternal yet a constant presence in our temporal world. This is the first of four volumes, with remaining volumes to be announced.
The Nirvana Sutra
The Nirvana Sutra deals with the teachings given by Śākyamuni shortly before his death (mahāparinirvāṇa). Nirvāṇa means “extinguishing the flames of passion and attaining the state of enlightenment.” Since Śākyamuni attained enlightenment at the age of 35, he did in fact already enter nirvāṇa at this time. But because it was considered impossible to completely extinguish the passions while retaining a physical body, Śākyamuni’s death came to be called mahāparinirvāṇa, i.e. "the state of great serenity in which the flames of passion have been completely extinguished." The sūtra gives the teachings expounded by Śākyamuni immediately before his death. As it contains episodes relating to events before and after his death, it also has value as historical source material.
Skt. Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, translated into the Chinese by Dharmakṣema as Da banniepan jing (大般涅槃經). 40 fascicles.
Table of Contents
A List of the Volumes of the BDK English Tripiṭaka (First Series) 425