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 King Pajjota

Kd.8.1.23 Now at that time King Pajjota[1] came to be suffering from jaundice.[2] Many very great, world-famed doctors, who had come had not been able to cure him; taking much gold, they went away. Then King Pajjota sent a messenger to King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, saying: “I have this kind of disease; it would be good if your majesty were to command Jīvaka, the doctor, so that he should attend me.” Then King Bimbisāra of Magadha commanded Jīvaka Komārabhacca, saying: “Go, good Jīvaka, having gone to Ujjenī, attend King Pajjota.”

BD.4.391 “Very well, sire,” and Jīvaka Komārabhaccahaving answered King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha in assent, having gone to Ujjenī, approached King Pajjota, and having approached, having observed his uneasiness, he spoke thus to King Pajjota:

Kd.8.1.24 “Sire, I will cook up some ghee, and your majesty will drink it.”

“No, good Jīvaka, do what you can to make (me) well without ghee; ghee is abhorrent to me, loathsome.” Then it occurred to Jīvaka Komārabhacca: Vin.1.277 “The king’s disease is of such a kind that it is not possible to make him well without ghee. Suppose I should cook up the ghee (so that it has) the colour of an astringent decoction, the smell of an astringent decoction, the taste of an astringent decoction[3]?”

Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca cooked up the ghee with various medicines (so that it had) the colour of an astringent decoction, the smell of an astringent decoction, the taste of an astringent decoction. Then it occurred to Jīvaka Komārabhacca: “When the king has drunk and digested the ghee, it will make him sick. This king is violent,[4] he might have me killed. Suppose I should ask (for permission to go away) beforehand?” Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca approached King Pajjota; having approached he spoke thus to King Pajjota:

Kd.8.1.25 “Sire, we doctors at such a moment[5] as this are pulling up roots, gathering medicines. It were good if your majesty were to command at the stables[6] and at the gateways, saying: ‘Let Jīvaka go out by means of whatever conveyance[7] he desires, let him go out by whatever gateway he desires, let BD.4.392 him go out at whatever time he desires, let him come in at whatever time he desires’.” Then King Pajjota commanded at the stables and at the gateways, saying: “Let Jīvaka go out by means of whatever conveyance he desires, let him go out by whatever gateway he desires, let him go out at whatever time he desires, let him come in at whatever time he desires.”


Now at that time King Pajjota had a she-elephant, called Bhaddavatikā, who could do fifty yojanas.[8] Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca offered the ghee to King Pajjota, saying: “Let your majesty drink an astringent decoction.” Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca having made King Pajjota drink the ghee, having gone to the elephant stable, hastened out of the city on the she-elephant, Bhaddavatikā.

Kd.8.1.26 Then King Pajjota, when he had drunk and digested the ghee, was sick. Then King Pajjota spoke thus to the people: “Good sirs, the wicked Jīvaka has made me drink ghee. Well now, good sirs, look for the doctor, Jīvaka.”

“Sire, he has hastened out of the city on the she-elephant, Bhaddavatikā.”


Now at that time King Pajjota came to have a slave called Kāka,[9] who could do sixty yojanas and who was born of a non-human being. Then King Pajjota commanded the slave, Kāka, saying: “Go, good Kāka, make Jīvaka, the doctor, return, saying, ‘The king, teacher, orders you to come back’.[10] Now, good Kāka, these doctors are full of cunning, so do not accept any thing from him.”

Kd.8.1.27 And the slave, Kāka, caught up Jīvaka Komārabhacca on the road to Kosambī as he was having breakfast. Then Kāka, the slave, spoke thus to Jīvaka Komārabhacca: Vin.1.278 “The king, teacher, orders you to come back.”

“Wait, good Kāka, until we have eaten; come, good Kāka, you eat.”

“No, teacher, I am commanded by the king, saying: ‘Now good Kāka, these doctors are full of cunning, so do not accept anything from him’.”


Now at that time Jīvaka Komārabhacca, having stripped BD.4.393 off[11] the medicinal (part) with his nail, was eating an emblic myrobalan[12] and drinking water. Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca spoke thus to Kāka, the slave: “Here, good Kāka, eat the emblic myrobalan and drink the water.”

Kd.8.1.28 Then Kāka, the slave, thinking: “This doctor is eating the emblic myrobalan and drinking the water, there should not be anything harmful,”[13] ate half the emblic myrobalan and drank the water. But he ejected that half emblic myrobalan that he was eating, on the spot. Then Kāka, the slave, spoke thus to Jīvaka Komārabhacca:

“Is there life for me, teacher?”

“Do not be afraid, good Kāka, for you will get well; but the king is violent, that king might have me killed, so I am not coming back,” and giving the she-elephant, Bhaddavatikā, into Kāka’s charge, he set out for Rājagaha; in due course he approached Rājagaha, and King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha; having approached he told this matter to King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha.

“You did well, good Jīvaka, in not going back, that king is violent, he might have you killed.”

Kd.8.1.29 Then King Pajjota, being well, sent a messenger to Jīvaka Komārabhacca, saying: “Let Jīvaka come, I will grant him a boon.”

“No, master, let his majesty remember my office.”

Footnotes and references:

1.

King of Avantī, capital Ujjenī; cf. Dhp-a.i.192.

2.

paṇḍurogābādha. Cf. Vin.1.206 where a monk had this disease. The cure “allowed” him was different from the one administered to Pajjota.

3.

kasāvavaṇṇaṃ kasāvagandhaṃ kasāvarasaṃ. Vinaya Texts ii.187 reads “so that it takes the colour, lie smell and the taste of an astringent decoction”. Pali-English Dictionary suggests “of reddish-yellow colour, having a pungent smell, having an astringent taste.” Four kinds of kasāva, astringent decoctions, to be used as medicine in flavouring food, are allowed at Vin.1.201, and kasāvodaka, a watery astringent decoction, at Vin.1.205. At Vin.2.151 the kasāva allowed was an astringent liquid to be applied to the colouring matter given to walls so as to make the colouring stick on.

4.

caṇḍa. Pajjota’s full name was Caṇḍapajjota.

5.

muhutta is a short period of time, its use here presumably implying that it was urgent for him to get away on his business.

6.

vāhanāgāra, the room for the conveyances, mounts, vehicles or beasts of burden, so stables, coach house.

7.

vāhana, mount.

8.

Vinaya Texts ii.188 adds “(in one day)”; this information is given at Dhp-a.i.196: ekadivasaṃ paññasa yojanāni gacchati. Above she is described as paññāsayojanikā.

9.

Mentioned at Dhp-a.i.196.

10.

nivattāpeti, “is having you sent back”.

11.

olumpetvā, with variant reading (see Vin.1.390) ulumpetvā, odametvā, oḷumpetvā. Vin-a.1117 explains by odahitvā pakkhipitvā, having put in, having inserted.

12.

āmalaka, phyllanthus emblica. The fruit allowed as a medicine at Vin.1.201.

13.

na arahati kiñci pāpakaṃ hotuṃ.