The last meal of the Lord Buddha was offered by a leading jeweller, Chundakarmara of Pava. He was a generous and kind-hearted man who looked after his employees well. Further, he helped the poor. He was a devout Buddhist who had attained Srotapanna (stream Enterer), the first of the four stages towards the realisation of liberation leading to Arahatship. After completing 45 years of great missionary activities, at the age of 80 years, the Buddha arrived at the beautiful Upavartana Park. The Buddha announced his passing away on the Vesak Full Moon Poya Day. He left the City of Vesali and covered a fair distance passing the city of Bhoga, arrived at the Upavartana Park, the day before His Passing Away. The garden-keeper of Upavartana, Usira informed about the arrival of the Buddha to Chundakarmara. He and his wife immediately prepared grapes and uguressa (Flacourtia – Inermis) and sent them through Usira who offered them to the Buddha. Further, Chundakarmara prepared alms for the Bhikkhus who accompanied the Buddha on his last mission.
The Blessed one was ill. He was ailing for nearly nine months with dysentery with evacuation of blood (lohita-pakkandika). But still he continued his journey to Kusinara. The Nigantas, the disciples of Mahavira or Nigantanathaputra, spread a rumour that the Lord Buddha fell ill, due to his partaking Sukara Maddava or pork. The story was transmitted to discredit the Buddha. However, this is a total misinterpretation. In Sumangalavilasini and Dighanikaya, we find references:
“Eke Bhanant, Sukara Maddavam Pana Mudu Odanassa Pannchagorasa Usapachanavidanassa Nama Metanti”.
The term Sukara Maddava means a kind of soft healthy kind of rice according to Dighanikaya. It was supposed to be a highly nutritious
type of rice. In Udana Atuwawa, Bhikkhu Dharmapala says that it’s a kind of mushroom grown in a muddy place where swines were reared.
There are a few kinds of mushrooms that people in Nepal and India eat. These mushrooms are commonly known even today as Sukara
Maddawa, Aja Maddawa, Gomaddawa and Beluwa Maddawa. The word Maddawa in Pali never refers to meat or flesh of an animal. In the Tripitaka, meat or flesh is mentioned as Maccha or Mansa. At present, the cities of Pava and Kusinara belong to the Gorakhpur district. Further, during the Buddha’s time, the Indian society abhorred eating the flesh of animals. According to the Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist literature Sukara Maddava was a highly nutritious type of mushrooms. These facts are endorsed by the erudite scholar Dr. Rockhill. The Buddha took his last meal at the Chundakarmara’s mansion.The Buddha attended the alms giving with more than 500 Bhikkhus. The great devotee who knew that the Buddha would pass away in the afternoon was deeply moved.Therefore, he invited his kinsmen and the business community for the almsgiving.
Two or three centuries after the passing away of the Buddha and after the Emperor Asoka’s era, the Brahamins dominated the social and religious lives of India. Buddhism started fading away from the very country where it flourished. Even the fabricated story that the Buddha partook pork would have tarnished His image and Buddhism to a certain extent. The Lord Buddha loved the environment and nature. He loved not only human beings, but also animals. He never encouraged anyone to take the life of any human being or animal. He was the fountain of compassion.
May all beings be happy & well and attain the fruits of Nibbana.