Buddha Statue - Antique Thai Style Bronze Sukhothai Reclining Nirvana Buddha Statue - 97cm/39"

The Great Departure: Reflecting on the Death and Parinirvana of the Buddha


In the annals of spiritual history, few events carry as much weight and significance as the death and parinirvana of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. The Great Departure, as this profound moment is often called, marks the culmination of the Buddha's earthly journey and the transcendence into a state of ultimate liberation.

In this reflective blog post, we delve into the narrative of the Buddha's passing, exploring the spiritual depth, symbolism, and enduring teachings encapsulated in this pivotal event.

1. The Journey to Kushinagar

As the Buddha approached the twilight of his earthly sojourn, he embarked on a journey toward Kushinagar, a town in ancient India. Accompanied by a retinue of devoted disciples, the Buddha, in his 80th year, set forth on a path that would lead to the final moments of his human existence.

2. The Illness at Pava

On his way to Kushinagar, the Buddha fell seriously ill in the town of Pava. Despite the physical challenges, the Buddha continued his journey with steadfast determination, teaching and guiding his disciples even in the face of impending mortality.

3. Arrival in Kushinagar

Upon reaching Kushinagar, the Buddha found solace beneath the shade of two sala trees in a grove known as the Mallas' Sal Grove. It was in this serene setting that the Buddha would choose to relinquish the physical form and enter the state of parinirvana.

Bronze Reclining Buddha

4. The Final Teaching

Aware of his impending departure, the Buddha addressed his disciples for one last time, delivering a poignant discourse known as the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. In this final teaching, the Buddha emphasized the impermanence of all things and the importance of mindfulness on the path to liberation.

5. The Parinirvana

As the moment of parinirvana approached, the Buddha lay down on his right side, adopting the lion's posture. Surrounded by grieving disciples and a somber silence, the Buddha entered into a deep meditative state, transitioning from the cycle of birth and death into the ultimate state of nirvana.

6. Symbolism of the Sala Trees

The sala trees under which the Buddha attained parinirvana carry profound symbolism. These trees, often depicted in artistic representations of the event, symbolize resilience, strength, and the enduring nature of the Buddha's teachings. They stand as living witnesses to the moment when the enlightened one passed from the transient realm into the timeless expanse of nirvana.

7. The Cunda Incident

Before his final moments, the Buddha experienced the effects of a meal offered by Cunda, a well-intentioned blacksmith. The Buddha, in his compassion, absolved Cunda of any blame for the meal, highlighting the importance of intent rather than outcome in spiritual actions.

8. Lessons from the Parinirvana

The death and parinirvana of the Buddha carry profound lessons for practitioners on the path of Buddhism. The impermanence of life, the inevitability of death, and the transcendence into a state of ultimate liberation underscore the core tenets of Buddhist philosophy.

9. Continuing the Dharma

Before his departure, the Buddha reassured his disciples that the Dharma—the teachings and the path to enlightenment—would be their eternal guide. Encouraging them to be lamps unto themselves, the Buddha entrusted his followers with the responsibility of carrying the torch of wisdom forward.

10. The Impact and Legacy

The death and parinirvana of the Buddha were not the end but a profound transformation—a departure from the physical form and an entry into the boundless realm of nirvana. The impact of this event resonates through the ages, inspiring countless seekers to embark on the path of enlightenment and carry forward the Buddha's timeless teachings.


In the quiet grove of Kushinagar, beneath the sala trees, the Buddha's journey on this earthly plane reached its culmination. The death and parinirvana of the Buddha are not moments of sorrow but opportunities for profound reflection on the impermanence of life, the nature of suffering, and the promise of ultimate liberation.

As we contemplate this pivotal event, we are invited to delve into the timeless teachings of the Buddha, embracing the path of mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom that leads to the transcendent state of nirvana.

The Great Departure is not an end but a beginning—an invitation to awaken to the eternal truths that guide us on our own journey toward enlightenment.

Wood Reclining Buddha