Vinaya Pitaka (3): Khandhaka

by I. B. Horner | 2014 | 386,194 words | ISBN-13: 9781921842160

The English translation of the Khandhaka: the second book of the Pali Vinaya Pitaka, one of the three major ‘baskets’ of Therevada canonical literature. It is a collection of various narratives. The English translation of the Vinaya-pitaka (third part, khandhaka) contains many Pali original words, but transliterated using a system similar to the I...

The story of Jīvaka

Kd.8.1.1 BD.4.379 At one time the awakened one, the Lord was staying at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove at the squirrels’ feeling-place. Now at that time Vesālī was prosperous and flourishing, full of folk, thronged with people,[1] and it was well off for food; and there were seven thousand seven hundred and seven long houses,[2] and seven thousand seven hundred and seven gabled buildings, and seven thousand seven hundred and seven parks,[3] and seven thousand seven hundred and seven lotus-tanks. There was the courtesan Ambapālī,[4] beautiful, good to look upon, charming, she was possessed of the utmost beauty of complexion, was clever at dancing and singing and lute-playing, much visited by desirous people and she went for a night for fifty,[5] and through her Vesālī shone forth all the more.

Kd.8.1.2 Then the urban council[6] of Rājagaha went to Vesālī on some business. The urban council of Rājagaha saw that Vesālī was prosperous and flourishing, full of folk, thronged with people, and well off for food; and (they saw) the seven thousand seven hundred and seven long houses … seven thousand seven hundred and seven lotus-tanks, and Ambapālī, the courtesan, beautiful, good to look upon, charming … and (they saw) that through her Vesālī shone forth all the more. Then the urban council of Rājagaha, having transacted that business in Vesālī, came back again to Rājagaha; they approached King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha; having approached they spoke thus to King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha:

“Sire, Vesālī is prosperous and flourishing … and through her Vesālī shines forth all the more. It were good, sire, if we too might establish a courtesan.” BD.4.380 “Well now, good sirs,[7] do find such a girl as you might establish as a courtesan.”


Kd.8.1.3 Now at that time there was in Rājagaha a girl called Sālavatī, who was beautiful, good to look upon, charming, she was possessed of the utmost beauty of complexion. Then the urban council of Rājagaha established the girl, Sālavatī,[8] Vin.1.269 as courtesan. And the courtesan Sālavatī soon came to be clever at dancing and singing and lute-playing; she was much visited by desirous people, and she went for a night for the fee of a hundred.[9] Then the courtesan Sālavatī soon became pregnant. Then it occurred to the courtesan Sālavatī: “Men do not like a pregnant woman. If anyone should find out concerning me that ‘The courtesan Sālavatī is pregnant’, all respect for me would dwindle. What now if I should make it known that I am ill?”

Then the courtesan Sālavatī enjoined the door-keeper, saying: “Good door-keeper, do not let any man come in, and if anyone asks for me, make it known that I am ill.”

“Very well, lady,” that door-keeper answered the courtesan Sālavatī in assent.

Kd.8.1.4 Then the courtesan Sālavatī when (the child of) her womb was mature, gave birth to a son. Then the courtesan Sālavatī enjoined a slave-woman, saying: “Now then, come along, having put this boy into a winnowing-basket,[10] having taken him out, throw him away on a rubbish-heap.”[11]

“Very well, lady,” and that slave-woman having answered the courtesan Sālavatī in assent, having put that boy into a winnowing-basket, having taken him out, threw him away on a rubbish-heap.


Now at that time the king’s son, Abhaya[12] by name, going in the morning to the royal audience, saw that boy surrounded BD.4.381 by crows; seeing this, he asked the people: “Good sirs, what is this that is surrounded by crows?”

“It is a boy, sire.”

“Is he alive, good sirs?”

“He is alive, sire.”

“Well now, good sirs, having brought that boy to our women’s quarters, give him to foster-mothers to care for.”

“Very well, sire,” and these people having answered Abhaya, the king’s son, in assent, having brought that boy to the women’s quarters of Abhaya, the king’s son, gave him to foster-mothers saying, “Care for him”.

Because it was said of him, “He is alive”,[13] they gave him the name of Jīvaka; because the prince[14] caused him to be cared for, they gave him the name of Komārabhacca.[15]

Kd.8.1.5 And before long Jīvaka Komārabhacca attained to years of discretion. Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca approached Abhaya, the king’s son, and having approached he spoke thus to Abhaya, the king’s son:

“Who, sire, is my mother? Who my father?”

“Not even I, good Jīvaka, know your mother, but I am your father, for I had you cared for.”

Then it occurred to Jīvaka Komārabhacca:

“Without a craft, it is not easy to depend upon these royal families. Suppose I were to learn a craft?[16]” Now at that time there lived a world-famed[17] doctor at Taxilā.

Kd.8.1.6 Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca, without having asked (permission) of Abhaya, the king’s son, set out for Taxilā; Vin.1.270 in course of time he arrived at Taxilā and that doctor; having approached, he spoke thus to that doctor:

BD.4.382 “I want, teacher,[18] to train in the craft.”

“Well then, good Jīvaka, train in it.”

Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca learnt much and learnt it quickly, and he reflected upon it well, and he did not forget what he had learnt. Then at the end of seven years, it occurred to Jīvaka Komārabhacca: “I am learning much and learning it quickly, and I am reflecting upon it well, and I do not forget what I have learnt, but after studying for seven years the end of this craft is not visible to me. When will the end of this craft be visible?”

Kd.8.1.7 Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca approached that doctor; having approached he spoke thus to that doctor:

“I, teacher, am learning much and learning it quickly, and I am reflecting upon it well, and I do not forget what I have learnt, but after studying for seven years the end of this craft is not visible to me. When will the end of this craft be visible?”

“Well now, good Jīvaka, taking a spade, touring a yojana all round Taxilā, bring whatever you should see that is not medicinal.”

“Very well, teacher,” and Jīvaka Komārabhacca having answered that doctor in assent, taking a spade, touring a yojana all round Taxilā, did not see anything that was not medicinal. Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca approached that doctor; having approached he spoke thus to that doctor:

“Teacher, while I was touring for a yojana all round Taxilā, I did not see any thing that was not medicinal.”

“You are trained, good Jīvaka, this much is enough for a livelihood for you,” and he gave him trifling provisions for the journey.

Kd.8.1.8 Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca, taking those trifling provisions for the journey, set out for Rājagaha. Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca’s trifling provisions for the journey became used up on the way, at Sāketa. Then it occurred to Jīvaka Komārabhacca:

“These wilderness roads have little water, little food; it is not easy to go along them without provisions for the journey.[19] Suppose I were to look about for provisions for the journey?”

Footnotes and references:

1.

Cf. DN.i.211, DN.ii.146, MN.i.377, AN.iii.215.

2.

pāsāda, cf. BD.2.16, n.5.

3.

ārāma, not “monasteries” here. See BD.2.2, n.2.

4.

Here called Ambapālikā. Mentioned above, BD.4.315.

5.

Vin-a.1114 says, “taking fifty kahāpaṇas she goes night by night.”

6.

negama. Vin-a.1114 calls this a kuṭumbikagaṇa, a group of leading men. Cf. negama at Vin.3.220.

7.

bhaṇe, a form of address sometimes used by kings to their subjects.

8.

Cf. Snp-a.i.244.

9.

paṭisatena. Vinaya Texts ii.172 takes this to mean that she asked for a hundred kahāpaṇas a night which undoubtedly balances Ambapālī’s price of fifty kahāpaṇas, see Vin-a.1114. The Commentary in its exegesis of paṭisatena does not mention coinage or currency. Paṭisatena however probably means “for a hundred in return”, “against a hundred”.

10.

Vin-a.1114 calls this jiṇṇasuppa an old winnowing-basket.

11.

Cf. Dhp-a.i.174.

12.

See Dictionary of Pali Proper Names.

13.

jīvati.

14.

kumāra.

15.

Meaning perhaps “the Prince-fed” (so GS.i.24). See note at Vinaya Texts ii.174, at end of which it is said, “We believe therefore, that this surname Komārabhacca really means ‘master of the kaumārabhṛya science’ ”, i.e. a part of the medical science which comprises the treatment of infants. Short account of his history given at AN-a.i.398f. At DN-a.133, where brief synopsis of his story also appears, he is called Komārabhaṇḍa, and at Divyāvadāna 506ff. Kumārabhūta. At AN.i.26 he is called chief of lay followers who are liked by people. MN.v. is addressed to him.

16.

Vin-a.1114 says that he thought of the doctor’s craft for this is on the side of amity towards men and their welfare, whereas elephant-lore and horsemanship are connected with the injury of others.

17.

disāpāmokkha. Word occurs at Ja.i.166.

18.

ācariya.