Yasodhara newsletter on international buddhist woman's activities 
Vol.17 no.3(no.72) July-August,B.E. 2545 (2002)

      The Buddha chose to pass away between twin Sala trees in Kusinager. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta it was recorded that the petals of Sala flowers rained on him as the breathes his last. This scene from the life of the Buddha inspired artists to draw and paint this particular scene with Sala flowers raining on him like a curtain.

       We have a twin Sala trees in our temple compound. Someone brought the sapling from India and offered it to the Ven. Bhikkhuni Mahatheri some 30 years ago. At its trunk it is 12 inches in diameter and about 10 meters in height. It shed off its leaves on Dec. 31 and by January 1 new leaves started coming out right away. After one week the whole tree looks beautiful with its young green leaves. Interestingly, the flowers shoot out on its own lower branches straight from the lower part of the trunk, while the leaves are on separate branches higher up. As the flowers open their petals in the early morning, this is the best time to pluck them. Each flower is about 3 inches in diameter and yields beautiful perfume in the early morning. I make a daily offering at my small personal shrine in my office. My office would be property perfumed up to noontime.  

      Early in December last year a woman came looking to buy a Sala tree to have it transplanted in the grounds of the Vimanmek Palace. She offered us B10,000. We would not think of parting with our Sala tree. It is very much part of our temple life.
      In the text, when the Buddha passed away, the Sala trees provided flowers out of season. According to our experience, the Sala tree provides flowers throughout the year. Each day were could pick 5-7 flowers from the lower branches for our daily offering.
      In Anuradhoapura, where the oldest Bodhi tree stands, there is also a very old and tall Sala tree in the lower level.
      Because of its unique characteristic in the mural painting related to the Buddha's great passing away, there usually would be Sala flowers raining on to the reclining Buddha. I have seen his in both Sri Lanka and Cambodia but not in Thailand. This is because it is native of India and Sri Lanka and the Sala tree has made itself known to the Thai people only in the past two decades. The artists are not familiar with it yet. But I am sure we will soon see Sala in Thai mural paintings within the next decade.
      In Kusinagar, the place for the Great Passing Away of the Buddha, the Indian Government has kept many Sala trees in the area.
      I am Grateful that the Ven. Bhikkhuni Mahatheri
(Vormai Kabilsingh) was farsighted and had it planted some 30 years ago. The Sala experience is really unique.

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