17. The Meal at Cunda’s
THE Master and his disciples stopped at Pava, in the garden of Cunda, the blacksmith. Cunda came and paid homage to the Master, and said to him:
“My Lord, do me the honor of taking your meal at my home, to-morrow.”
The Master accepted. The next day, Cunda had pork and other delicacies prepared for his guests. They arrived and took their seats. When the Master saw the pork, he pointed to it and said:
“No one but me could eat that, Cunda; you must keep it for me. My disciples will partake of the other delicacies.”
When he had eaten, he said:
“Bury deep in the ground what I have left untouched; the Buddha alone can eat of such meat.”
Then he left. The disciples followed.
They had gone only a short distance from Pava when the Master began to feel weary and sick. Ananda grieved, and he cursed Cunda, the blacksmith, for having offered the Master this fatal meal.
“Ananda,” said the Master, “do not be angry with Cunda, the blacksmith. Great rewards are reserved to him for the food he gave me. Of all the meals I have ever had, two are most deserving of praise: the one that Sujata, and the other that Cunda, the blacksmith, served to me.”
He overcame his weariness and presently he reached the banks of the Kakutstha. The river was peaceful and pure. The Master bathed in the limpid waters. After the bath, he drank, then went to a mango grove. There, he said to the monk Cundaka:
“Fold my cloak in four, that I may lie down and rest.”
Cundaka cheerfully obeyed. He quickly folded the cloak in four and spread it on the ground. The Master lay down, and Cundaka sat beside him.
The Master rested a few hours. Then he set out again, and he finally arrived at Kusinagara. There, on the banks of the Hiranyavati, stood a pleasant, peaceful little wood.
The Master said:
“Go, Ananda, and prepare a couch for me between two twin trees. Have the head to the north. I am ill, Ananda.”
Ananda prepared the couch, and the Master went and reclined on it.