On the full moon of the third month of the Buddha's 45th rains retreat, Mara approaches the Buddha and invites him to pass away; the Buddha accepts the invitation

The Buddha traveled spreading his teaching around various countries and towns for 45 years, counting from the day of his enlightenment. The 45th rains retreat was thus the Buddha's last rains retreat, and at that time the Buddha was 80 years old.

During the last rains retreat the Buddha stayed at Velugama in the state of the town of Vesali. During that rains the Buddha was seriously ill and almost passed away. All the monks who were still unenlightened, even Ananda, the Buddha's personal attendant, felt very ill at ease seeing the Buddha so ill. The Buddha told Ananda that now his body was very old, like an old worn out carriage held together with bamboo.

The Buddha recovered from that illness and after the rains retreat went with Ananda to stay under a tree at the Pavala cetiya in the area of Vesali. During the day the Buddha gave an obhasa nimitta to Ananda that one who had fully developed the four pathways to success (iddhipada) could extend his life for a considerable time.

An obhasa nimitta is in general terms "sign language". The Buddha's life was going to end that very year, so the Buddha was intimating to Ananda that he could invite him to extend his life for a further time, but Ananda did not invite him, even though the Buddha made his statement about the iddhipada three times.

The Pathamasambodhi states that since Ananda didn't catch on, the Buddha sent him off to sit at another tree nearby. It was then that Mara approached the Buddha and invited him to pass away (nibbana). The Buddha accepted his invitation and mentally renounced his life.

To say he "renounced his life" means that he appointed the day of his death. That day was the full moon of the third lunar month. The Buddha said that three months from that day (in the middle of the sixth month) he would pass away at the town of Kusinara.
 

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