On the Buddha’s ‘Kammic Fluff’: The Last Meal Revisited

Peter Masefield and Nicolas Revire


This paper reconsiders the last meal of the Buddha from the little studied perspective of ‘kammic fluff’ (kammapilotika). Although marginal in the Nikāyas, this idea is more prominent in the commentarial accounts of the Buddha’s death, and suggests that the Buddha’s final meal aided the Buddha, rather than directly caused his death. Additionally, we examine other evidence from some Theravāda traditions of mainland South East Asia: modern mural paintings from Cambodia and Thailand which indicate that the Buddha’s death possibly resulted from a complication of a chronic peptic ulcer involving the vomiting of blood, and a little known Pali text of ‘Indo-Chinese’ origin, which supports this interpretation, and assumes that the Buddha’s final illness was caused by the remnants ofhis former kamma.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Peter and Nicolas Masefield and Revire