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Jambuka

l. Jambuka Thera.– He was born in Rājagaha of rich parents but from infancy he would eat nothing but excrement. When he grew older he was ordained with the Ājīvakā, who pulled out his hair with a palmyra comb. When the Ājīvakā discovered that he ate filth, they expelled him and he lived as a naked ascetic, practising all kinds of austerities and accepting no offerings save butter and honey placed on the tip of his tongue with the point of a blade of grass. His fame spread far. When he was fifty-five years old, the Buddha visited him and spent the night in a cave near his abode. During the night, Jambuka saw mighty gods come to pay homage to the Buddha and was so impressed that the next day he sought the Buddha’s counsel. The Buddha told him of his past evil deeds, which had condemned him to practise austerities for so long and counselled him to give up his evil ways. In the course of the discourse, Jambuka grew ashamed of his nakedness and the Buddha gave him a bath-robe. At the end of the discourse Jambuka became an Arahant, and when the inhabitants of Aṅga and Magadha came to him with their offerings, he performed a miracle before them and paid homage to the Buddha, acknowledging him as his teacher.

In the time of Kassapa Buddha, Jambuka was a monk and had a lay patron who looked after him. One day a pious monk came to his vihāra, and the layman, being pleased with him, showed him much attention. The resident monk, very jealous, reviled the visitor, saying, “It would be better for you to eat filth than food in this layman’s house, to tear your hair with a palmyra comb than let his barber cut it for you, to go naked than wear robes given by him, to lie on the ground than on a bed provided by him.” The elder, not wishing to be the cause of his sinning, left the monastery the next day. Because of this act, the meditations practised by Jambuka for twenty thousand years were of no avail, and he was born in Avīci, where he suffered torments during an interval between two Buddhas. In this last life, too, he was condemned to suffer in many ways, as related above (DhA.ii.52‑63; Thag.283‑6; ThagA.i.386 f).

In the time of Tissa Buddha he was a householder and made offerings at the Buddha’s Bodhi-tree, fanning the Buddha’s seat with a fan. He is probably identical with Sīhāsanavījanīya of the Apadāna (Ap.ii.403).

It is said (Mil.350; AA.i.57) that when the Buddha taught Jambuka, eighty-four thousand others realised the Truth.

2. Jambuka.– A parrot, an incarnation of the Bodhisatta, adopted as his son by Brahmadatta, king of Bārāṇasī. He taught the king on the fivefold power — of limbs, of wealth, of counsel, of caste and of wisdom — the last being the best. The king thereupon appointed him commander-in-chief. J.v.111, 120, 125.

3. Jambuka.– A dog, companion of the she-goat in the Pūtimamsa Jātaka. J.iii.535.

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