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Short Biography of Jivaka Komarabhacca

Submitted by Andrus Kahn (Student ID 5501405030) Subject: Tipitaka Studies (Course Code 615101) Phra Suthivorayan Lecturer:

The International Master of Arts Degree Program (IMAP) 13/2555 Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University Wangnoi, Ayuthaya, Thailand 2555 15th July

Short Biography of Jivaka Komarabhacca

Jivaka Komarabhacca (Kaumara-Bhrtya) was a famous physician in India, during the Buddhas time. His biography is represented in the earliest Buddhist texts, the pali canon the Vinaya Pitaka1, and in Buddhist documents in Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan. In Mahavagga section of the Tipitaka is written, that Jivaka was founded, adopted and raised by Prince Abhaya. He studied medicine and became a famous physician, who also helped the Buddha in many ways. Jivaka Sutta is well-know, because the Buddha explains there the ethics of meat-eating.

Jivaka the Buddhas Doctor.

Jivaka Kaumara-Bhrtya was discovered from the rubbish dump by the Printce Abhaya, a son of King Bimbisara. He adopt the baby and he was named Jivaka Kumara-Bhrtya2. When Jivaka grew up, he studied medicine in the University of Taxila. Jivaka completed in 7 years the physicians training which usually took 11 years and he become a successful physician and a surgeon. His reputation as a great physician grow quickly, he was the physician of kings (He treated his grandfather, King Bimbisara), noblemen and the Buddha himself.


monastic basket meaning life (because of his will to live), Kaumara-Bhrtya meaning adopted by a prince

Short Biography of Jivaka Komarabhacca

Jivaka build a monastery in his mango grove, so he could be close to the Buddha, when he needs. He offered alms and donated the monastery to the Buddha and the Sangha. After the blessing ceremony, Jivaka attained the first stage of sainthood (Sotpanna) He treated the Buddha, when He was afflicted with stomach problems, offered to The Buddha a medicine, applying it on a blue lotus flower.The Buddha inhale the essence emanating from the lotus and was cured. As well, Jivaka attended to the Buddhas Foot when it was cut by the sliver of rock and he treated the Buddha in His last days as well. Jivaka took good care of the physical health of the Buddha and the Sangha. At the Jivaka recommendation the Buddha introduced a number of measures to regulate the day-to-day activities of the monks. Those included the following3:

When Jvaka went to Vesali (The capital of Licchavis) on business, he noticed the monks there had gone pale and were unhealthy looking.4 At Jvaka's request, the Buddha instructed the monks to exercise regularly. As an extension of this routine the Buddha instructed the monks to sweep the compound of the monastery and attend to other duties to exercise their bodies, to ensure good health and to keep the premises clean. Those monks who were ill were advised to use medicines and whenever needed to apply ointment to their sore feet. The Buddha advised these monks, who were in the habit of walking bare foot and many of them sustained injuries and suffered from sore f to wear foot coverings. The Buddha advised the monks to use modest clothing and not wander about naked. He also asked them not to indulge in excessive austerities. A discipline was introduced which required the monks to take care of each other. The famous advice of the Buddha to the monks, in this context, was,"Ye, O Bhikkhus,

have no mother and father to wait upon you. If you wait not one upon the other, who is there, indeed, who will wait upon you? Whosoever, O Bhikkhus, would wait upon me, he should wait upon the sick."

3 4Vin.ii.119

Short Biography of Jivaka Komarabhacca

In the Jivaka Sutta Jivaka ask from Buddha of the kammic effects of eating meat. The Buddha replied:

Meat should not be eaten under three circumstances: when it is seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); these, Jivaka, are the three circumstances in which meat should not be eaten, Jivaka! I declare there are three circumstances in which meat can be eaten: when it is not seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); Jivaka, I say these are the three circumstances in which meat can be eaten.5

Taking life, beating, cutting, binding, stealing, lying, fraud, deceit, pretence at knowledge, adultery; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of meat. 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 meat. Anger, pride, obstinacy, antagonism, hypocrisy, envy, ostentation, pride of opinion, interacting with the unrighteous; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of meat. 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 meat. When men attack living beings because of either 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 meat. Abstaining from fish and meat, nakedness, shaving of the head, matted hair, smearing ashes, wearing rough deerskins, attending the sacrificial fire; none of the various penances in the world performed for unhealthy ends, neither incantations, oblations, sacrifices nor seasonal observances, purify a person who has not overcome his doubts. He who lives with his senses guarded, conquered, and is established in the Dhamma delights in uprightness and gentleness; who has gone beyond attachments and has overcome all sorrows; that wise man does not cling to what is seen and heard.6



Sutta - M.i.368f. Sutta (, edited by Bob Haddad)


Short Biography of Jivaka Komarabhacca

Buddha permitted His monks to be vegetarians if they so wished; He did not prescribe that as a rule (to avoid hardship to His monks). The Buddha declared that kamma is intention. None should discourage those who opt not to eat meat. A balanced diet could be achieved without meat, if one so desires. Many Buddhists have opted to become vegetarians because it helps them to practice loving-kindness.


Jivaka becoms to be knwn as the Father of medicine (Father Doctor) in southern part of India and in the Thailand. He was crowned in public as King of Doctors and Trice Crowned Physician and who referred as aggam puggalappasannnam7. Jivaka helped in various ways as the historical Buddha, as his one of the foremost lay disciple. He played an important role in improving the monks living standard. The Buddha was declared Jivaka to be chief among His lay followers just because of his immense contribution for the sangha. He gave even the neuro-surgery for brain symptoms to the millionaire of Rajagha City and the abdominal operation for Varanasi millionaires son, which was extraordinary at that time. He requested the Buddha to give an allowance of the monks clothes, which monks could directly received the clothes provided by the house-holder.

Jivaka asked for suggestion from the Buddha on how to do about meat-eating. Buddha's view of eating meat: A monk/nun should accept, without any discrimination, whatever food is offered in alms, offered with good will; this could include meat. However, the Buddha declared the meat trade as wrong livelihood8. Meat should not be eaten under three circumstances: when it is seen or heard or suspectedto havebeen killedon purposefor a monk. (When a living being is purposely slaughtered for the eater).


by the people Sutta, AN 5:177


Short Biography of Jivaka Komarabhacca

Meat can be eaten in three circumstances: when it is not seen, heard, or suspected (when a living being is not purposely slaughtered for the eater)9. Monks allowed to eat the meat, sold in the marked, but not to eat the meat prepared specifically for the monks.


Sutta , MN 55

Short Biography of Jivaka Komarabhacca