Nirvana: The Ultimate End According to Buddha’s Philosophy!
The ultimate end of Buddha’s philosophy is nirvana which literally means ‘extinguished’.
Some people interpret it according to the root of the word, to mean the end of life.
This idea, however, is wrong. Had it been so, the Buddha would not have attained nirvana before his death. It is equally incorrect to interpret the Buddha’s silence to mean that the person who achieves nirvana has no existence after death.
Nirvana means the extinction of the fires of passions. In it, the fires of avarice, jealousy, anger and doubt are extinguished and impurities of the mind like sexual, ignorant and affective tendencies are vanquished. It effects the end of the cycle of rebirth. In the Buddhist literature profuse mention is made of the lighting and extinguishing of this fire. Nirvana has been said to be a state of calm or equanimity in which passions and the sorrows following from them are completely be calmed. It is neither the destruction of existence nor inactivity.
Nirvana can be attained in this life. A rational and social life is not precluded from it. The Buddha’s own life exemplifies this. Nirvana does not imply abstention from action but from the attachment, repulsion and labour conjoined to action. It the state of nirvana, the body does not cease to exist but the craving is destroyed. It is similar to ‘liberation while living’, a conception of the Upanishads. But there is no rebirth after nirvana. The person attaining nirvana is out like a light. According to Rhys David’s, nirvana is the calm, sinless state of mind and it can best be expressed as purity or perfect peace.
Having attained spiritual consciousness permanently, there is no longer any necessity for persisting in a state of concentration and there is no longer any fear of limitations due to actions. Actually according to Buddha, attachment, repulsion, etc., when present, cause the action itself to become a limitation. In their absence, no impressions are created and no limitations like rebirth result. As in the case of seeds, the plants grow only when the seeds which is sown is fresh and not fried, so it is in the case of actions also. Actions performed without attachment do not cause any restrictions.
In nirvana, the individual’s ego is destroyed because its substratum, pain and longing, etc., has been completely eliminated. Nirvana in every conceivable aspect, is a state of unrestricted calm. A free person has perfect impassion, pure peace, perfect self-control, calm mind, calm world and calm actions.
State of Peace:
In Pali religious texts, nirvana has been described as a state of peace. In the Pitakas, nirvana has been described by adjectives such as eternal health, ultimate end, perfect safety and absence of fear. In the Dhammapada, it has been called a state of perfect bliss, perfect peace and freedom from pain and doubt.
The philosophy of nirvana is neither eternal ism nor nihilism. About it the Buddha said that, “It is unknown, unique, uncreated and uncultured. Had there not been an ‘eternal’ then there was no escape for those who are born.” According to – Oldenberg, the fact that there is some ‘eternal’ for the Buddha, only means that the person born can be free from the curse of birth. Nirvana has been characterized as
painlessness, purity, consummation of moral efforts, freedom, real bliss, escape from passions, perfect peace, perfect self-control and complete extinction of birth and sorrows. In this way, nirvana is indestructible. According to Dr. Dasgupta, Nirvana cannot be described in terms of physical or worldly experience As Dr. Keith expresses it, all practical words are inadequate for the description- of the indescribable nirvana. It can neither be said to be positive nor negative. It is deep and unfathomable like the ocean. Nagasena, the famous Buddhist preacher, while describing nirvana to king Milind with the help of similies, had said that those who have no experience of nirvana cannot feel it by means of these similies.
Forms of Nirvana:
Some of the oldest Pali texts look upon nirvana as a moral state achieved in this life. Some of the later Sanskrit texts treat unqualified, absolute nirvana as the death of the living being after which there is no life. Hinayana and Mahayana have brought some changes in the meaning of nirvana. Nirvana has been distinguished in two forms. Sopadlii sesa and Nirupadhi sesa. In the former, some impressions remain due to rebirth, while in the latter there is complete extinction of all impressions.
Result of Nirvana:
With nirvana the causes for birth come to an end and the probability of rebirth and pain after death is excluded. The persons who has achieved nirvana spends a life of perfect knowledge and calm till death. Actually, worldly pleasures and ordinary experiences are inadequate for describing nirvana. It can only be said that in nirvana man is delivered of all pain. Even before attaining perfect liberation, man sheds his pain as he progresses towards the state of nirvana.