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1. Jīvaka-Komārabhacca.– A celebrated physician. He was the son of Sālavatī, a courtesan of Rājagaha (at AA.i.216 it says that Abhayarāja­kumāra was his father). Directly after birth the child was placed in a basket and thrown on a dust-heap, from where he was rescued by Abhayarājakumāra. When questioned by Abhaya, people said “he was alive” (jīvati), and therefore the child was called Jīvaka; because he was brought up by the prince (kumārena posāpito), he was called Komārabhacca. It has been suggested, however, that Komārabhacca meant master of the Kaumārabhrtya science (the treatment of infants); VT.ii.174; in Dvy. (506‑18) he is called Kumārabhūta.

When grown up, he learnt of his antecedents, and going to Takkasilā without Abhaya’s knowledge, studied medicine for seven years. His teacher then gave him a little money and sent him away as being fit to practise medicine. His first patient was a millionaire’s wife at Sāketa, and for curing her he received sixteen thousand kahāpaṇas, a manservant, a maid-servant and a coach with horses. When he returned to Rājagaha, Abhaya established him in his own residence. There he cured Bimbisāra of a troublesome fistula and received as reward all the ornaments of Bimbisāra’s five hundred wives. He was appointed physician to the king and the king’s women and also to the fraternity of monks with the Buddha at its head. Other cures of Jīvaka’s included that of the treasurer of Rājagaha on whom he performed the operation of trepanning, and of the son of the treasurer of Bārāṇasī who had suffered from chronic intestinal trouble due to misplacement, and for this case Jīvaka received sixteen thousand kahāpaṇas.

When Caṇḍapajjota, king of Ujjeni, was ill, Bimbisāra lent Jīvaka to him. Caṇḍapajjota hated ghee, which was, however, the only remedy. Jīvaka prepared the medicine, prescribed it for the king, then rode away on the king’s elephant Bhaddavatikā before the king discovered the nature of the medicine. Pajjota, in a rage, ordered his capture and sent his slave Kāka after him. Kāka discovered Jīvaka breakfasting at Kosambī and allowed himself to be persuaded to eat half a myrobalan, which purged him violently. Jīvaka explained to Kāka that he wished to delay his return; he told him why he had fled from the court and, having returned the elephant, proceeded to Rājagaha. Pajjota was cured and, as a token of his favour, sent Jīvaka a suit of Sīveyyaka cloth, which Jīvaka presented to the Buddha (Vin.i.268‑81; AA.i.216). Jīvaka was greatly attracted by the Buddha. Once when the Buddha was ill, Jīvaka found it necessary to administer a purge, and he had fat rubbed into the Buddha’s body and gave him a handful of lotuses to smell. Jīvaka was away when the purgative acted, and suddenly remembered that he had omitted to ask the Buddha to bathe in warm water to complete the cure. The Buddha read his thoughts and bathed as required. Vin.i.279 f; DhA. (ii.164 f), relates a like occurrence in another connection. When the Buddha’s foot was injured by the splinter from the rock hurled by Devadatta, he had to be carried from Maddakucchi to Jīvaka’s Ambavana. There Jīvaka applied an astringent, and having bandaged the wound, left the city expecting to return in time to remove it. However, by the time he did return, the city gates were closed and he could not enter. He was greatly worried because he knew that if the bandage remained on all night the Buddha would suffer intense pain. However, the Buddha read his thoughts and removed the bandage. See also J.v.333.

After Jīvaka became a Stream-winner, he was anxious to visit the Buddha twice a day, and finding Veḷuvana too far away, he built a monastery with all its adjuncts in his own Ambavana in Rājagaha, which he gave to the Buddha and his monks (DA.i.133; MA.ii.590). When Bimbisāra died, Jīvaka continued to serve Ajātasattu, and was responsible for bringing him to the Buddha after his crime of parricide. (For details see the Sāmaññaphala Sutta; also J.i.508 f; v.262, etc.)

Jīvaka’s fame as a physician brought him more work than he could cope with, but he never neglected his duties to the Saṅgha. Many people, afflicted with disease and unable to pay for treatment by him, joined the Order in order that they might receive that treatment. On discovering that the Order was thus being made a convenience of, he asked the Buddha to lay down a rule that men afflicted with certain diseases should be refused entry into the Order (Vin.i.71 ff). Jīvaka was declared by the Buddha chief among his lay followers loved by the people (aggaṃ puggalappasannānaṃ) (A.i.26). He is included in a list of good men who have been assured of the realisation of deathlessness (A.iii.451; DhA.i.244, 247; J.i.116 f).

At a meal once given by Jīvaka, the Buddha refused to be served until Cūḷapanthaka, who had been left out of the invitation, had been sent for. (For details see Cūḷapanthaka). It may have been the teaching of the Jīvaka Sutta that effected Jīvaka’s conversion. One discussion he had with the Buddha regarding the qualities of a pious lay disciple is recorded in the Aṅguttaranikāya (A.iv.222 f). Sirimā was Jīvaka’s youngest sister (SNA.i.244; DhA.iii.106).

At Jīvaka’s request, the Buddha enjoined upon monks to take exercise; Jīvaka had gone to Vesāli on business and had noticed their pale, unhealthy took (Vin.ii.119).

2. Jīvaka.– Given as an example of a name. J.i.402.

3. Jīvaka.– A monk of the Mahāvihāra, at whose request Buddhaghosa wrote the Manorathapūraṇī. AA.i.874.