In an earlier discussion I mentioned that the commentaries had various opinions on the meaning of sūkaramaddava, the Buddha’s last meal. I also noted that they present the first interpretation as apparently preferred or authoritative, while recording diverse opinions. At the time I had overlooked the fact that the passage is commented on in more than one place, so the views are even more diverse than I thought. As well as the commentary for DN 16 Mahāparinibbana, the passage also appears in Ud 8.5 Cunda, where. Here’s what both commentaries say.
Sūkaramaddavanti nātitaruṇassa nātijiṇṇassa ekajeṭṭhakasūkarassa pavattamaṃsaṃ. Taṃ kira mudu ceva siniddhañca hoti, taṃ paṭiyādāpetvā sādhukaṃ pacāpetvāti attho
Skaramaddava: neither too young nor too old, the readily available meat of a mature pig. It is soft and tender because of being well cooked.
Eke bhaṇanti – ‘‘sūkaramaddavanti pana muduodanassa pañcagorasayūsapācanavidhānassa nāmetaṃ, yathā gavapānaṃ nāma pākanāma’’nti.
Some say: “Sūkaramaddava means soft rice cooked together with the five dairy products. It’s cooked the same way as kheer.”
Keci bhaṇanti – ‘‘sūkaramaddavaṃ nāma rasāyanavidhi, taṃ pana rasāyanasatthe āgacchati, taṃ cundena – ‘bhagavato parinibbānaṃ na bhaveyyā’ti rasāyanaṃ paṭiyatta’’nti.
Others say: “Sūkaramaddava is a kind of elixir. But the point of relying on that elixir is that Cunda prepared it in the hope that the Buddha would not pass away.
Rasāyana as “elixir” is mentioned in a very similar context in Mukunda-mālā-stotra, mantra 37.
Sūkaramaddavanti sūkarassa mudusiniddhaṃ pavattamaṃsa’’nti mahāaṭṭhakathāyaṃ vuttaṃ.
In the Great Commentary it is said that sūkaramaddava is the readily available meat of a pig, soft and tender.
Keci pana ‘‘sūkaramaddavanti na sūkaramaṃsaṃ, sūkarehi madditavaṃsakaḷīro’’ti vadanti.
But some say it’s not pig meat, but bamboo shoots trampled by pigs.
Aññe ‘‘sūkarehi madditappadese jātaṃ ahichattaka’’nti.
Others say it’s mushrooms growing in a place trampled by pigs.
Apare pana ‘‘sūkaramaddavaṃ nāma ekaṃ rasāyana’’nti bhaṇiṃsu . Tañhi cundo kammāraputto ‘‘ajja bhagavā parinibbāyissatī’’ti sutvā ‘‘appeva nāma naṃ paribhuñjitvā cirataraṃ tiṭṭheyyā’’ti satthu cirajīvitukamyatāya adāsīti vadanti.
Still others say its a certain elixir. For Cunda, thinking “today is the day of the Buddha’s passing”, gave it to the Teacher in the hope that eating it would prolong his life.
Obviously this doesn’t solve the problem in any clear way. Still, the fact that both the Pali commentaries and the Chinese translations offer “mushrooms” as an interpretation does suggest that this is a viable option.