Detail from the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka which is said to house the tooth of the Buddha.
The Buddha’s body was carried from its forest grove in through the north gate of Kuśinagara, and from there to a well known funerary monument.
The Buddha had left instructions for his disposal. His body was to be wrapped in linen and cotton, encased in an iron vessel and burnt on a pyre. The surviving pieces of burnt bone were divided between representatives from eight states. The bowl itself was given to Droṇa, who had divided the relics, and a group of latecomers were given the ashes from the pyre. Each group built a funerary monument over their relic, and these became the 10 places where the Buddha could be worshipped.
Tenth century Chinese painting on silk of Prince Siddhartha meeting a sick man.
Siddhartha’s father Śuddhodana wanted his son to become the political ruler predicted at his birth.
So he conspired to protect his son from any religious aspirations by giving him a life of pleasure and privilege, and by preventing him from seeing the harsher sides of reality. His plan eventually failed. Siddhartha managed to explore his society and was profoundly disturbed by finding out about old age, sickness and death. He was also fascinated by the sight of religious people seeking answers to life’s big questions.