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The Duration of the Sasana of Buddha Gotama
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahatto Sammasambuddhassa
During the period from the time of Buddha Gotama to the minimum life span, the Buddha's Dispensation (Buddha-sasana) will disappear. When the Buddha agreed to create the Bhikkhuni Sangha, he told Ven. Ananda that the Sasana would last only half as long because of this. Instead of lasting one thousand years, it would last five hundred years. The commentary on the Abhidhamma text, Dhammasangani, says that when the First Buddhist Council convened by Ven. Maha-Kassapa rehearsed the Pali Canon, this made it possible for the Sasana to endure for five thousand years.
The commentaries on the Vinaya Pitaka and the Anguttara-nikaya say that the eight important rules which the Buddha gave to the Bhikkhuni Sangha will make his Teachings last for five thousand years rather than five hundred. There will be one thousand years for Arahats who attain analytical insight, one thousand years for Arahats without those attainments, one thousand years for Non-returners, one thousand years for Once-returners, and one thousand years for Stream-winners. After these five thousand years of penetration of the true Doctrine (pativedha-sadhamma), the accomplishment in the texts (pariyatti-dhamma) will remain. After the accomplishment in the texts disappears, the signs (linga) will continue for a long time. ...
Other commentaries also speak in terms of five stages of disappearance (antaradhana) of the Sasana: (1) First, there will be the disappearance of attainment (adhigama), which would correspond to the age of deliverance. (2) The second disappearance is of the practice (patipatti), which corresponds to the ages of concentration and morality. (3) The disappearance of accomplishment in the texts (pariyatti) is third and corresponds to the age of learning. (4) The fourth disappearance is of the signs (linga). During this period, the only good action left is making gifts to those who wear a yellow strip of cloth around their necks, so this would correspond to the age of generosity. When this disappearance occurs, five thousand years will have passed. After this period there occurs (5) the disappearance of the relics (dhatu). When the relics no longer receive honour, they will assemble at the seat where the Buddha attained Awakening under the Great Bodhi tree. There, they will make an effigy of the Buddha and perform a marvel similar to the Twin Marvel and will teach the Doctrine. No human being will be present, only Devas from the ten thousand world systems will listen, and many of them will attain release. After that, the relics will be burned up without remainder.
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