Buddhist Studies Review, Vol 29, No 1 (2012)

Explicating the Buddha’s Final Illness in the Context of his Other Ailments: the Making and Unmaking of some Jātaka Tales

John S. Strong
Issued Date: 13 Jul 2012

Abstract


The Buddha’s final illness, brought on by his last meal prior to his death, was traditionally seen as one of a set of ailments suffered by him at various points during his lifetime. This paper looks at different Buddhist explications of the causes of these ailments and applies them to the episode of the Buddha’s final illness. In both instances, three explanatory strategies are detected: the first stresses the causative importance of the Buddha’s own negative karmic deeds in past lives; the second looks to the negative deeds and karma of others than the Buddha; the third offers non-karmic explanations. The first two engendered two rather different kinds of jātaka stories; the last did not involve any jātakas but highlighted various kinds of ‘natural’ explanations.

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DOI: 10.1558/bsrv.v29i1.17

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