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Prince Abhaya, the son of King Bimbisara, was riding through the city when he saw a
flock of crows circling and cawing loudly around a small bundle. Stopping his carriage,
he investigated the sound and found a newborn baby boy who had been left to die
amongst the garbage on the roadside. Upon inquiry he learned that a courtesan had
discarded her illegitimate son whom she felt was a burden, and had left him to die.
Prince Abhaya was transfused with compassion for the newborn babe that still clung to
life despite its ugly surroundings. He decided to adopt the baby as his own. The baby was
named Jivaka Komara Bhacca Jivaka, meaning life, because of his will to live, and
Komara Bhacca, which meant adopted by a prince.
Jivaka led a privileged life in the palace. His friends, however, often teased him as he had
no mother. Jivaka, who was embarrassed by the teasing, questioned his father about his
origin. When he heard about his origins and his will to live he decided that he would one
day grow up to be a preserver of life. He felt that he had no real heritage or family as he
was only the adopted son of the prince. Physicians, however, were treated with great
respect. Determined to earn the respect he felt he lacked due to his birth, Jivaka decided
to go to the University of Taxila to become a physician.
Jivaka approached Disapamok, a well-known scholar, for his training. At this time Sakka,
the King of the Heavens, was observing the world. He realized that it was time for Jivaka,
who had in past births aspired to be the physician of the Buddha, to begin his training.
Sakka, however, wanted to ensure that Jivaka had more than just the best training
available in India. This was the young man who would have the privilege to be the
physician of the Buddha. Sakka decided to take a hand in the training of young Jivaka so
that he would have celestial knowledge in the art of medicine. With this in view, He
entered the body of Disapamok. Jivaka excelled in his studies. Disapamok, however,
soon realized that the training that he was providing was being influenced by celestial
beings. The knowledge that was being imparted through him far excelled his knowledge
of medicine. Jivaka quickly learned medicines and cures of which Disapamok himself
had no knowledge. Jivaka completed in seven years the physicians training which usually
took eleven years.
Realizing that Jivakas education was complete, Disapamok asked him to go forth and
bring back a plant, herb or root that could not be used for medicinal purposes for the
preservation of life. After travelling far and wide Jivaka returned to his teacher to inform
him that no such plant, herb, or root existed. All of natures treasures were beneficial for
the preservation of life. The joyous teacher then praised his pupil by informing him that
his education was complete. Jivaka had surpassed his teacher in knowledge.
Jivaka decided to go back to Rajagaha to his adoptive father. On the way he stopped to
rest in a city named Saletha. He soon heard that the young daughter of the citys
wealthiest nobleman was sick. Despite the ministering of many well-known physicians,
she had suffered from severe headaches for seven years. Jivaka approached the

nobleman, as he was confident that he could cure the maiden. The maiden, however, was
not impressed by the very young man who claimed he could cure her when older, wellknown physicians had failed. Offering his services for free, Jivaka continued to declare
boldly that he could cure her.
Gathering herbs and roots, Jivaka prepared the medicine which he then administered to
her through her nostrils. Before long the maidens headaches disappeared. The grateful
nobleman showered Jivaka with gifts and gold and provided him with a golden chariot.
Jivaka approached Prince Abhayas palace in great style.
Handing over his newly earned wealth to his adoptive father, Jivaka thanked him for his
love, compassion, and caring. Prince Abhaya, however, returned all the wealth to Jivaka
and informed him that he owed him naught as he was his true son and heir. He then told
him that during his absence he had found out the full story of his origin. His mother,
Salawathi, was the sought-after courtesan of the kings and nobility. Wanting to retain her
freedom, she had discarded the baby whom she felt would be a burden to her. Prince
Abhaya had unknowingly adopted his own child as he had loved his son dearly even prior
to knowing that he was in fact his own child. Prince Abhaya built a palace to serve as
Jivakas residence and provided him with many servants.
Jivakas second patient was none other than his own grandfather, King Bimbisara. The
king had a huge growth in his stomach that bled from time to time on his royal robe. So
prominent was the growth that his consorts had started to tease the king by saying that he
was with child. The king had been treated by all the great physicians of the country to no
avail. Prince Abhaya informed Jivaka of his grandfathers plight.
Diagnosing the disease sight unseen, Jivaka immediately prepared the suitable medicine.
Then hiding it on his person, he visited the king. After examining the king he
administered the medicine that he had brought with him. Before long the kings growth
shrank and his wound healed. The grateful king called his entourage of five hundred
consorts who had teased him unmercifully by asking if his first-born was to be a boy or a
girl, and commanded them to give all their jewellery as a gift to Jivaka. Before long a
mound of precious jewellery higher than Jivaka himself was placed at his feet. However,
Jivaka refused this payment and requested permission from the king to return the
ornaments back to his consorts. Even more impressed by Jivakas deportment, the king
showered him with wealth, gifted him with the royal mango grove and made him the
royal physician.
Jivakas reputation as a great physician grew quickly. He was the physician of kings,
noblemen and the Buddha. The text mentions that he operated and successfully removed
two tumours from the brain of a rich merchant who was a good friend of King Bimbisara.
He also operated successfully to remove a blockage in the intestines of a nobleman. In
one instance when the Buddha was afflicted with stomach problems, Jivaka prepared the
medicine, and applying it on a blue lotus flower, offered it to the Buddha. Jivaka then
asked the Buddha to inhale the essence emanating from the flower. The medicine which

Jivaka had prepared with devotion and presented so beautifully, cured the Buddhas
stomach ailment.
Jivaka had in one instance risked his life to attend a very cruel and vicious king named
Chanda Pradyotha. One of the King Pradyothas subjects had offered him a shawl that
had been dropped by a Deva in the forest. Admiring the very beautiful shawl, the king
had reflected that he should gift it to Jivaka who had risked his life to save him. Jivaka,
however, felt that there was only one person worthy of such a shawl. He in turn offered it
to the Buddha. The Buddha accepted the celestial shawl and, as requested by Jivaka,
dispensed a sermon on the giving of robes. After listening to the discourse, Jivaka
attained the first stage of enlightenment, Sotapanna. The Buddha felt that keeping such a
valuable shawl in the monastery would attract thieves, which would endanger His monks.
Addressing ananda, he requested that the shawl be cut into strips and resewn so that it
would be of little value to thieves. This custom of wearing patched garments still remains
among the Sangha. Even their new robes are made of strips of material that are sewn
together so that even the robe they wear would help them in the practice of nonattachment.
Jivaka built a monastery in his mango grove so that he could be close to the Buddha
when attending to His needs. It was Jivaka who attended to the Buddhasfoot when it was
cut by the sliver of rock that Devadatta rolled down the hill at Gijjhakuta. It was also
Jivaka who treated the Buddha in His last days, when He was overcome by stomach
The Buddha dispensed the Jivaka Sutta when Jivaka questioned him on the controversial
question of the kammic effects of eating meat. The Buddha explained that the eating of
meat was not in itself an unwholesome act if the following conditions were met:
Adittha: One has not seen the slaughtering of the animal.
Asuta: One has not heard that it was killed for his or her consumption.
Aparisamkita: There should be no doubt at all in the mind of the person consuming the
meat that the animal was not killed for the purpose of his or her consumption.
The Buddha said:
Taking life, beating, cutting, binding, stealing, lying, fraud, deceit, pretence at
knowledge, adultery; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
When men are rough and harsh, backbiting, treacherous, without compassion, haughty,
ungenerous and do not give anything to anybody; this is uncleanliness and not the eating
of flesh.
Anger, pride, obstinacy, antagonism, hypocrisy, envy, ostentation, pride of opinion,
interacting with the unrighteous; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.

When men are of bad morals, refuse to pay their debts, are slanderers, deceitful in their
dealings, pretenders, when the vilest of men commit foul deeds; this is uncleanliness and
not the eating of flesh.
When men attack living beings either because of greed or hostility and are always bent
upon evil, they go to darkness after death and fall headlong into hell; this is
uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
Jivaka, I have declared that one should not make use of meat if it has been seen, heard or
suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. I allow the monks meat that is quite
pure in three respects: if it has not been seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on
purpose for a monk. (Amagandha Sutta)
The Buddhas teaching is known as the middle path. He did not go to extremes or
command anyone to do anything. While he gave permission for His monks to be
vegetarians if they so wished, He did not state this to be a discipline rule as he felt that
doing so would cause unnecessary hardship to His monks.
Buddhists should refrain from eating meat that has been seen, heard or suspected to have
been killed for them. Buddhists should also refrain from killing, instigating others to kill
or from a livelihood that involves the breeding of animals for killing. Monks have also
been instructed in the Vinaya Pitaka to refrain from eating certain types of meat such as
snake and elephant flesh, because wild animals are attracted to the smell of such flesh and
tend to attack those who have partaken of such meat.
The Buddha has declared that kamma is intention. As such one should not condemn a
person just because he is eating meat to sustain himself. This is not the same as a person
who is eating meat as a result of intense greed for meat and enjoyment in killing for the
palate. Neither should one discourage those who have chosen to refrain from eating meat.
A balanced diet can be achieved without meat. Many Buddhists have opted to become
vegetarians as it assists them in the practice of loving-kindness.
It was also at Jivakas request that the Buddha established that monks should sweep the
compound of the monastery and attend to other duties that would exercise their bodies.
Jivaka, seeing the benefit of exercise for a healthy life, requested this and other mild
duties to be performed by the monks to ensure their health. With foresight, love and
compassion the devoted Jivaka took care of the physical health of the Buddha and His

The Story of Jivaka Komarabhacca, the Buddha's Doctor

The following is my telling of the life story of Jivaka Komarabhacca.
Jivaka was an Ayurvedic physician who is revered in Thailand as the
founder of the Thai medical system, and also revered as a legendary
doctor in other Buddhist countries, particularly China and Tibet. The
following is based on stories in the Pali Canon, particularly from the
Mahavagga. It is interesting both for its humorous and sapiential content,
and for the distinction of containing the first mention of the "doshas" so
central to Indian Ayurvedic theory. Enjoy.

The Buddha Becomes Ill

One time the Bhagavan was dwelling in Rajagaha, which is present day Rajgir
in Bihar State. He was dwelling there because he and the sangha had been
invited to spend some time there by King Seniya Bimbisara, who had become a
student of the Buddha. King Seniya had seen the Buddha before he attained
Awakening, passing through town as an ascetic sadhu. The King was so
impressed with the Buddha-to-be that he had engaged him in conversation and
asked him to return and share what he learned with Seniya should he ever find
what he was looking for. Later the Buddha did return to teach Seniya and the
King became a disciple and invited the Buddha and his order of monastics to set
up camp in the area. From then on the Buddha regularly stayed in Rajagaha for
periods of time.
At the time of our story the Bhagavan had a disturbance in his doshas
(humours). He approached his attendant Ananda and told him that he wished to
see a doctor and take a purgative. Ananda approached the Kings doctor, whose
name was Jivaka Komarabhacca, and told him of the Bhagavans condition and
wishes. Jivaka consented happily to come treat the Buddha, who he had been
wanting to meet.
As Jivaka approached the Buddha to treat him the Bhagavan was aware of his
approach through his dibba-cakkhu, or divine eye which surpasses the human.
Using his extra-sensory awareness he surveyed Jivakas person and past, and
this is what he saw:
Jivakas life was intertwined with a nun who was living in the Vihara practicing
meditation, a former courtesan named Ambapali. It turned out that Ambapali
had , many years before, played a key role in Jivakas having been born.

Jivakas Birth

At that time Vesali, also in Bihar, had becomes the most famous and esteemed
city of the region. Ambapali (Mango Leaves) lived there as the citys most prized
courtesan, and her fame extended even beyond the city. Through her the
reputation of Vesali grew even more, so great was her beauty and fame. She
was so esteemed that a night in her company cost $5,000!
Now the city council of Rajagaha visited Vesali and was very impressed with the
city. They toured all of its famous sights, and after dark they also toured its nightlife. When they were introduced to Ambapali, they were even more over-awed.
When they returned to Rajagaha they thought, let us find a beautiful girl and train
her to be a courtesan like Ambapali. They found a girl called Salavati and paid for
her to learn the arts of a courtesan. She came to surpass even Ambapali, and
her attentions went for $10,000 a night!
One day Salavati realized that she was pregnant. Calling in her maidservant she
said, If it becomes known that I am pregnant no one will want me. Let it be
known instead that I am ill. Desperate to maintain her status, when the baby was
born Salavati instructed her servant to abandon the baby on a rubbish heap.
Now at that time Prince Abhaya was passing by and saw the baby sitting there
surrounded by crows. He inquired of his servants, who told him that the child was
alive. He told them to take it in to the womens quarters and give it to a foster
mother to take care of.
Because he had survived amazingly, they called the baby jivaka (alive).
Because he had been raised by a prince they called him kaumarabhacca (fed
by a prince). Some say, though, that he was called that meaning expert in
kumarabhrtya, or the medical care of infants. His birth and childhood remind
one of another famous doctor- Asklepius, the father of Greek medicine, who was
born of Apollo and a mortal woman. When Apollo found that the woman had a
mortal lover he struck her with a lightning bolt, killing her despite her pregnancy.
Apollo rescued the baby from her charred corpse and gave the orphan to raised
by Chiron, a centaur, who taught him medicine. In both stories the doctor is an
orphan whose survival into adulthood is miraculous- perhaps the meaning here is
that both of these master doctors were themselves profoundly wounded people
who grew up with a keen sense of lifes fragility.

When Jivaka came to be a man he saught out a craft for himself. Not wanting to
be involved with raising animals at court, which can involve causing harm to
creatures, he decided instead to train with a doctor at Taxila. We see here again
Jivakas respect for life. As it says in the later Caraka Samhita, the early
Ayurvedic text, A doctor is a companion of life itself. As we recall the story of
Jivaka we will see that his personality was marked by two traits: a concern for life
and a sense that he had to survive by his wits. Both of these qualities can
perhaps be traced back to his origins.
After seven years of study Jivaka approached the doctor and said, Acariya,
after seven years of training in this craft I still see no end to what is to be learnt.
Tell me, is there an end to what is to be learnt?
His Master said to him, Take a journey in the surrounding countryside outside
Taxila for one hundred miles in every direction, and then return and show me
something you found that was not medicinal.
Jivaka travelled the countryside looking for something of no medicinal value but
everything he encountered cut be put to some use in healing. He returned to his
master who received his answer happily. You are now ready to go off on your
own., he said. Jivakas master gave him only paltry provisions, saying This is
enough for you. He did this on purpose so that Jivaka would be forced to begin
sustaining himself as a doctor.

The Ghee Recycling Housewife

When Jivaka ran out of provisions he entered the town of Saketa looking for
work. He heard that a merchants wife there was very ill. Although she had seen
many doctors who had taken her gold for expensive treatments she had not
recovered. Jivaka went to where she was and approached her butler with an
offer of his services. She at first refused, so Jivaka offered to accept treatment
only if she recovered. She consented.
Jivaka was summoned into her presence and after examining her said, A
handful of ghee is needed. When it was brought to him he cooked it with various
precious medicines and then administered it to her in her nose (called nasya
karma in Ayurvedic medicine). It came out of her mouth and she ordered a
servant to collect the extra ghee with some cotton. Jivaka was perturbed thinking,

If she is so stingy that she collects even this dirty ghee what kind of a fee will
she give me?
Noticing his uneasiness the woman asked him why he had becaome tense and
he honestly explained his observation of her stinginess and his fears for his fee.
The ghee can still be used to light lamps or to rub servants feet, she said. This
is just practical. Do not worry about your fee.
The merchants wife fully recovered as a result of Jivakas treatment. She gave
him $4,000 as did her mother and her daughter-in-law. Her husband added 4,000
and also gave Jivaka a male and a female servant and a horse drawn chariot.
Jivaka departed with all of these riches and went to go see Prince Abhaya, his
benefactor, in Rajagaha.
Approaching Abhaya he told him of the riches he had received and gave them to
him as a gift for having rescued him. Abhaya refused these things and asked
instead that Jivaka build a dwelling for himself on the palace grounds.
King Seniyas Fistula
Shortly after King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha became ill with fistula. He bled
and stained his clothing, and his maidservants cruelly teased him, Look the King
has his moon time! Soon he will give birth! and the King became very ashamed.
King Seniya confided to Abhaya about his illness and Abhaya sent Jivaka to him.
Jivaka examined the fistula and applied an ointment and it was healed. Seniya
called together his 500 maidservants and ordered them to remove their clothing.
Making a hige pile of their costly clothing and jewelry he offered all their costly
garments to Jivaka. Uh, thats alright sire, he said.
Please stay and treat my harem then, and my family, and the order of monks
with the Awakened One, the Buddha, at its head, the King then requested.
Jivaka accepted.

Creatures In The Head, Bed Rest, and $100,000

Shortly afterward a wealthy merchant in Rajagaha who had been ill for seven
years came to Jivakas attention and he asked leave to treat him. The merchant
had an illness of the head and had been given a very grave prognosis by some
doctors, some saying he would live for five days, some for seven. Jivaka
examined him and then asked him, If I cure you, what will be my fee?
All my property will be yours, said the merchant, and I will be your slave.
Jivaka then asked him if he could take seven months of bed rest. The man said
yes, so Jivaka strapped him to a couch and cut open his scalp, removing two
creatures, a large one and small one. He showed them to the people there and
said, Those who predicted five days saw the big creature, those who predicted

seven saw the small. He then closed up the mans head and applied an
After three weeks the merchant called Jivaka and said, Doctor, I cannot take
seven months bed rest. I will die.
Did you not promise me you could?, inquired Jivaka.
Yes, I did, but I cannot. I will die, replied the man.
I knew, merchant, that you would not be able to lie for seven months. In fact all
you needed was three weeks, but if I told you that was what you needed you
would not even have made it thus far. So I told you seven months were required.
Rise up, my friend, you are healed.
All my property and I myself are yours, the man said.
That is not neccessary, said Jivaka, Rather give $100,000 to the King and
$100,000 to me.
The wealthy merchant happily did so. This Jivaka secured a large fee happily
Shortly afterwards a man from Benares approached the King of Rajagaha with a
request that Jivaka help his son, whose bowels were twisted and could not digest
his food, and had consequently become very ill. Jivaka secluded the man, tied
him to a post, and cut open his stomache. He showed his twisted bowel to his
wife, then straightened it and replaced it inside, sowed him up and applied an
ointment. The man recovered and paid Jivaka $16,000.

Escaping a Violent King

Soon after King Pajjota of Ujjeni became ill and King Seniya requested that
Jivaka attend to him. Jivaka examined him and called for ghee. The King
objected, saying that ghee was loathesome to him. Jivaka cooked some ghee
with herbs so it appeared to be an astringent decoction. He then thought that
when the King ate it he would become ill and vomit, and might become violent
and have Jivaka killed. He thus said to the King: I will need to go to the
countryside to procure more herbs. It would be good if you would give the order
that I may come and go as I please and use any animal in the Kings stables.
The King gave the order. Jivaka gave the concoction to the King and then quickly
headed for the stables, where he asked to use the very speedy she-Elephant
Bhaddavatika. The King, having eaten the medicine, became ill. He angrily said
to his servants, That Jivaka has poisoned me with ghee. Send for him
immediately! Informed of Jivakas departure on the she-elephant he sent his
slave Kaaka, who was a very fast rider. Kaaka caught up with Jivaka while Jivaka
was having breakfast.
Stay while I finish eating, Kaaka, and you eat too:, sais Jivaka. Jivaka gave

Kaaka emblic myrobalan to eat and he vomited on the spot. Is there life for me,
teacher?, the ill slave asked desperately.
There is life for you, Kaaka, do not fear. King Pajjota is violent, however, and I
will not go back with you. So saying Jivaka gave Bhaddavatika to Kaakas
charge and headed to Rajagaha where he rejoined King Seniya.
Later King Pajjota became well and sent gifts of fine cloth to Jivaka. Jivaka
thought to himself that he wished to give them to Seniya as a token of his
friendship. Around that time, however, the Bhagavan became ill.
Venerable Ananda then approached Jivaka and told him of the Bhagavans
condition. Jivaka was very excited to get a chance to heal the Bhagavan, the
Buddha, the teacher of his patron King Seniya of Bimbisara. Along the way back
to the Vihara Jivaka questioned Ananda about his teacher, and Ananda happily
answered his questions by briefly recounting the life of his teacher, the Buddha.

The Buddha

The Bhagavan was born Siddatha Gotama, explained Ananda, in Lumbini.

While a young man he left his family and went wondering among the jungle
ascetics and philosophers in search of an answer to the problems of life and
death. Although his family was wealthy the young Siddhatha was struck by the
inevitability of suffering, sickness, aging and death in life and was moved to seek
a happiness which was not itself subject to suffering and impermanence- an
unshakeable freedom.
Siddhatha sought out masters of meditation and learned to enter extremely deep
states of concentration which blocked out all sensation. These were exceedingly
peaceful and offered some measure of release from suffering, but were not the
final solution. Siddhatha then attempted radical asceticism similar to the practices
of the Jains who follow Nigantha Nataputta, also known as Mahavira. He fasted
until near death but still did not find relief. He then remembered a balanced,
pleasurable and peaceful state of full absorption in the body and breath where
the mind was peaceful and clear but still functioning, a state he had experienced
as a child. He took some food from a village girl, at which his fellow ascetics
abandoned him. He then sat down and focused on the breath and body,
stabilizing and clarifying intellect and awareness so as to have insight into the
mind and reality.
On the basis of this type of samadhi Siddhatha Gotama, the Buddha, attained the
tevijja- the three knowledges which constituted his awakening. First he recalled

many of his previous lives and was also able to see the birth and death and
rebirth of other beings. Second he saw how the rebirth of beings and their life
experience was determined by kamma-vipaka, the law of action and result. Third
he saw that suffering was caused by craving, and that by abandoning craving
present kamma stopped and with it the normal experience of space and time,
which opened up to a transcendent experience of nibbana- unbinding, the
extinction of greed, hatred, and confusion in the mind.
Siddhatha meditated by the Bodhi tree for seven days and then started out to
preach the Dhamma, or the teaching of the nature of kamma-vipaka (action and
result) and freedom from kamma-vipaka. Within a short time he had followers
who were renunciant contemplatives like him and also lay followers who took
him, his Dhamma, and his Sangha, as their spiritual teachers.
Within a few years the Buddha, as he came to be known, had a large following of
male renunciants and male and female householders. Although he taught the
revolutionary idea that women could become arahants, enlightened beings, just
as well as men, he at first resisted ordaining them as forest monastics. After his
monastic sangha was well established and many women wanted to join he
conceded and ordained women as well.
"The Buddha does not answer metaphysical questions and resolutely teaches a
path of moral discipline, meditation and wise seeing into the mind", said Ananda
to Jivaka, "The Bhagavan teaches the causal laws of things and what lies beyond
causality.To householders he teaches generosity, moral discipline and basic
meditation, although some householders excell in meditation and became
awakened as well. The Buddha criticises the caste system and does not
recognize its distinctions. He suggests to Kings that they create a social welfare
system for the poor and encourages laypeople to give up gambling, drinking and
meaningless pleasure-seeking. He also tells his lay followers not to sell weapons,
slaves, alcohol, drugs, or meat."

Treating the Buddha

The Buddha saw all of this with his divine eye, and prepared himself for Jivaka
and Anandas arrival.
After examining the Buddha, Jivaka told Ananda to prepare the Bhagavan for
three days with oil massages. Jivaka then approached the Bhagavan and had
him smell lotus flowers which he had mixed with medicines as a very gentle
purgative. The Bhagavan purged thirty times as a result of smelling the lotuses.
After Jivaka left he remembered that he had forgotten to tell the Bhagavan to

take a hot bath to complete the cure and rushed back. When he arrived he found
that The Bhagavan had read his mind and bathed. Jivaka told the Bhagavan only
to take juices for some days until his body was normal, which the Bhagavan did.
Jivaka then approached the Bhagavan and, paying respects and sitting to one
side, he asked the Bhagavan for one boon.
Jivaka, Tathagatas are beyond granting boons.
This one is blameless, Bhagavan.
Speak, Jivaka.
Jivaka asked the Bhagavan to accept the gift of the cloths he had received from
King Pajjota for himself and the order of monks, in addition to the cast-off rag
robes they normally wore, and the Bhagavan accepted. He then gladdened
Jivakas heart with a dhamma-talk.
Jivaka asked the Buddha what makes a lay follower. The Buddha replied that it is
taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Jivaka asked what makes a
virtuous lay follower and the Buddha says that it is abstaining from killing,
stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and intoxicants. Jivaka asked to what extent a
lay follower benefits others and the Buddha replied that it is in encouraging
others not to kill, steal, lie, engage in wrongful sex, or take intoxicants, that one
benfits others. Impressed with this answer Jivaka became a lay follower of the
Buddha (see Jivaka Sutta).
People in Rajagaha rejoiced to hear of the Bhagavans acceptance of the robes
and rushed to the vihara to donate robes to the monks.

Doctor of the Sangha

Of all the distinguished people Jivaka attended to, his greatest pleasure was to
attend to the Buddha, which he did three times a day. Jivaka is said to have
attained sotapanna (stream-entry).
Jivaka would have treated the Nuns as well, and perhaps even Ambapali, his
unknown mothers former role-model, although whether he ever came to know of
her indirect role in his birth is unknown.
Jivaka served the Sangha in many ways. At one time Devadatta, the Buddhas
cousin, wished to take over the Sangha. He went around arguing that the
Buddha was not competent to lead any more, that he had become old and soft.

He went to the Buddha and presented a list of requests that the Buddha make
several ascetic practices mandatory for all of the monks, including vegetarianism,
rag-robes, sleeping only outside, and eating only once a day. The Buddha
refused, saying that these practices could be taken on voluntarily but were not
appropriate for all monks at all times. This played right into Devadattas hands.
He then went around saying, You see! The Buddha is soft- he does not want the
rules around here to be tougher! The old man has sold out! Eating meat and
sitting around nice cushy robes in nice custom built huts! Hearing this 500
monks left the Sangha to become exclusive followers of Devadatta. Later on
Sariputta and Mogallana, two elder disciples of the Buddha, went to live amongst
Devadattas sangha for awhile and gently lead the 500 to recognize their error
and return to practice with the Buddha.
Devadatta, embittered, plotted the Buddhas death. He began hanging around in
the shady parts of town dropping hints about certain benefits that might accrue to
certain persons if they were in a certain place at a certain time and happened to
let loose a boulder to role down on to the path below.
The boulder did not, however, kill the Buddha. It crashed into a boulder near the
Buddha, shattering. A rock splinter injured the Buddha's foot and it was Jivaka
who healed him.
Realising the advantages of having a monastery close to his house, Jivaka built
one in his mango garden. He invited the Buddha and his disciples to the
monastery, offered alms and donated the monastery to the Buddha and the
monks. He largely withdrew from treating people for money and donated his
medical knowledge to keeping the Buddha and his monks healthy free of charge.
Noticing one day that the monks were pale and sickly Jivaka asked the Buddha
to encourage them to get more physical exercise, which he did. Jivaka came to
be known as the lay follower most beloved to the other lay followers, by reason of
his kindness, wisdom, and medical knowledge, no doubt. Many people sought
out his treatment, and since he focused his efforts on the Sangha some
chronically ill people even ordained as monks to get free treatment. This led to a
ban on people with certain illnesses joining the Sangha (the Sangha subsisted on
the donations of lay people and is a spiritual, not social, institution, and so this
was improper).
King Seniyas son, Ajatasattu, later killed his father and usurped the throne.
When King Ajatasattu asked him where he could go for religious discussions, the
master healer Jivaka brought him to see the Buddha. Although the king had killed
his father Seniya King Ajatasattu became a distinguished lay follower of the
When the Buddha was 80 years old he accepted an invitation to eat a meal at the
house of Cunda the blacksmith. After eating the meal he became sick with
dysentery and informed his disciples that he would soon pass away. He travelled

to Kusinara, where he gave final instructions to his disciples. These included

instructions to console Cunda that he should not feel bad but rather rejoice that
he had fed the Buddha his last meal.
After the Buddhas death his teachings were organized and memorized in a
series of Buddhist councils. Two centuries later Indias first Buddhist King,
Ashoka, sent emissaries to other countries to spread Buddhism. Among these
was Sohn Uttar Sthavira who was sent in 228 BCE to Thailand. Buddhism

was not established there until 800 years later however, in the 6th century
AD. It was made the official religion in the 13th century. Today around 95%
of Thais are Theravadin Buddhists, following their own version of the
traditions preserved in Sri Lanka. It is believed that Buddhist monks
brought in medical knowledge received from Jivaka and thus Jivaka is
revered as the father of Thai medicine.