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The Founder

Jivaka Kumarabhacca

Mantra prayer to Jivaka Kumarabhacca

Om  Namo  Shivago  Silasa  Ahang  Karuniko  Sapasatanang  Osatha  Tipa-Mantang  Papaso  Suriya-Jantang.  Gomalapato  Paka-Sesi  Wantami  Bantito  Sumethasso  Arokha  Sumana-Homi.
(3 times)

Piyo-Tewa  Manussanang  Piyo-Proma  Namuttamo  Piyo  Nakha  Supananang  Pininsiang  Nama-Mihang  Namo Puttay  Navon-Navien  Nasatit-Nasatien  Ehi-Mama  Navien-Nawe  Napai-Tang-Vien  Navien-Mahaku  Ehi-Mama  Piyong-Mama  Namo-Puttaya.
(1 time)

Na-A  Na-Wa  Lokha  Payati  Vina-Shanti.
(3 times)

Translation of this Pali prayer:

"We invite the spirit of our Founder, the Father Doctor Shivago, who comes to us though his saintly life. Please bring to us the knowledge of all nature, that this prayer will show us the true medicine of the universe. In the name of this mantra, we respect your help and pray that through our bodies you will bring wholeness and health to the body of our client.

The Goddess of healing dwells in the heavens high, while mankind stays in the world below. In the name of the Founder, may the heavens be reflected in the earth below so that this healing medicine may encircle the world.

We pray for the one whom we touch, that he will be happy and that any illness will be released from him."

Life of Jivaka Kumarabhacca

From Buddhist documents in Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese.

At the time of the Buddha, among the lay physicians, the most renowned was Jivaka Komarabhacca, who is described as providing free medical care to the Buddha and other monks and donating his mango grove at Rajagaha for use as a monastic community, named Jivakarama. Jivaka's fame as a healer was widely known and tales about his life and medical feats can be found in almost all versions of Buddhist scriptures.

Birth and infancy

The Pali version began with Salavati, a courtesan of Rajagaha, giving birth to a son whom was then given to a slave woman, who placed him in a winnowing basket, which was thrown on a rubbish heap.

In the Sanskrit-Tibetan account, a promiscuous wife of a merchant from Rajagaha gave birth to a son of King Bimbisara, placed the infant in a chest, and ordered maidservants to set the chest at the gate of the king's palace.

In the Chinese narrative, a divine virgin named Arampali, who was raised by a Brahman, gave birth to a son of King Bimbisara. The boy was born with a bag of acupuncture needles in his hand and therefore was predestined to become a doctor and a royal physician. His mother wrapped him in white clothes and ordered a slave to take him to the king.

In all versions, the infant is taken and raised by the king's son Abhaya.

In the Pali account, the boy is given the name Jivaka because he was alive (from root jiv, to live), and because a prince cared for him he is called Kumarabhacca (nourished by a prince).

Medical education

Concerning his interest in medicine and his medical education, in the Pali account, Jivaka, as he approached the age at which he must seek his own livelihood, decided to learn the medical craft. Hearing about a world-famous physician in Taxila, he traveled to that city, famous for education, to apprentice with the eminent doctor. After seven years of medical study, he took a practical examination that tested his knowledge of medical herbs, passed with extraordinary success, and, with the blessings of mentor, went off to practice medicine.

Jivaka Kumarabhacca (right) Upali (center) Kasyapa (left)

Jivaka Kumarabhacca (right) Upali (center) Kasyapa (left).
Detail of the first Thangka of the Blue Berryll, a medical treatise of Sangye Gyamtso (1653-1705).
For a larger view of this detail. Jivaka
For a larger view of the Thangka and a detailed description. Palace

In the Sanskrit-Tibetan version, Jivaka desired to learn a craft. Seeing white-clad physicians, he decided to become a doctor and studied the art of healing. After acquiring the basics of medicine, he wished to increase his understanding by learning the art of opening skulls from Atreya Atreya, the king of physicians, who lived in the city of Taxila. So Jivaka went there, took the practical examination on medical herbs and performed other healings, and so deepened his knowledge of medicine that he could even advise his master on therapeutic procedures, thereby earning the latter's respect. Pleased with Jivaka depth of understanding, Atreya Atreya communicated to him the special technique of opening the skull. Jivaka eventually left the company of Atreya and journeyed to the city Bhadrankata in Vidarbha, where he studied the textbook called "The Sounds of All Beings" (most probably a textbook related with the practice of dharanis and mantras). During his travels, he purchased a load of wood from a thin and feeble man and discovered in the woodpile a gem called "the soothing remedy of all beings"(The Bodhisattvas of Healing). This gem, when placed before a patient, illuminated his inside as a lamp light up a house, revealing the nature of illness.

In the Chinese version Jivaka relinquished all claims to the throne and studied medicine. He found that the education he acquired from local physicians was inadequate and showed their deficiencies in the knowledge presented in the textbooks on plants, medical recipes, acupuncture, and pulse lore, which he had successfully mastered. He therefore instructed them in the essential principles of medicine and gained their respect. Hearing of a famous physician, Atreya, who lived in Taxila, he traveled to the city to learn medicine from him. After studying medicine for seven years, he took the practical examination on medical herbs and passed it with great success. When Jivaka departed, his master told him that, although he himself was first among the Indian physicians, after his death, Jivaka would become his successor. On his travels, Jivaka encountered a young boy carrying firewood and found he was able to see the inside of the boy's body. Immediately realizing that the bundle of wood must contain a piece of the tree of the King of Healing, who, according to early Mahayana scriptures, is a Bodhisattva of healing, he bought the wood, discovered a twig of the auspicious tree, and used it to diagnose illnesses in the course of his famous medical practice.

Jivaka Kumarabhacca and Ancient Massage

Jivaka is regarded as the Father of Medicine, a source of knowledge about the healing powers of plant, mineral, massage and so forth. His teachings travel to Thailand at the same time as Buddhism. Definitively a central figure in the Buddhist medical system, he is legitimately regarded as the aspiration for all practitioners of Ancient Massage.


Jivaka And His Contribution To Medical Science

By Dr. Rastrapal Mahathero, Edited by Gyana Ratna

It was a fine morning and Abhaya Kumara, the prince-son of Srenika Bimbisara, the King of Magada, was surprised to see a lot of crows flocking around a dust bin. He asked his attendants, and it was reported that a new born baby had been left there. Having heard the child was alive, he was ordered to be picked up and was taken to the Harem of the Royal Family. This child was no other than 'Jivaka', the world famous Buddhist physician. Jivaka was so named for the fact that he was rescued alive (“jivati”) from a very deplorable condition. He was also known as 'Kumara Vacca', as he was adopted like a son of the prince, Abhaya Kumara.

Having been nurtured within the royal family environs, when he grew up Jivaka worried about not knowing his natural parents. This very thought used to infest him mentally to extremes. He then realized that if he had to maintain the good wishes of the royal family he must have to acquire efficiency in some sort of discipline. Jivaka was said to be extraordinarily meritorious. Understanding his own capability, he intended to go to Texila for study. Texila was at that time the greatest seat of learning and was the heart of the Gandhara civilization. There was an internationally acclaimed university there for various disciplines, including medicine, and scholars from India and other countries would come here for studies. For the fulfillment of his aspirations, Jivaka Kumara Vacca had sought permission from the prince Abhaya Kumara and having accorded the same, he went to Texila for study. He had an earnest desire to carry on with medical science, and he learned under the world-reputed physician Atreya. Jivaka was extremely bright and therefore he finished the entire syllabus of fourteen years within only seven years. At this point, he approached his teacher and expressed that he wasn’t sure if there was anything more for further study. On hearing this, the teacher asked Jivaka to go all around Texila for an area of two yojanas and to report whether any type of plant could be found which would be of no use as medicine. It was a test for Jivaka and he took up the event. After completion of the search over several weeks, he submitted a report to his teacher that he could not find anything which might not be regarded for medicinal treatment. Having heard such a reply, his teacher was very much satisfied and accorded that Jivaka had perfected his knowledge in the medical science. He was awarded the certificate of a physician and was allowed to return to Rajagriha.

While coming back to Rajagriha, he was told of the wife of a merchant from Saketa who had been suffering from a head-ache for the last seven years. She had spent huge sum of money for her treatment. But all the physicians had failed to cure her. Jivaka used a little fat and strong herbal medicines which were boiled together and filtered. A drop of the mixture was poured in the nasal cavity of the patient and her headache was fully cured. Jivaka was rewarded with abundance.

The Magadhan King Bimbishara was once suffering from fistula. By applying herbal ointments Jivaka cured the King’s disease. He was also very expert in surgery. He skillfully opened the skull of a merchant's son from Varanasi. After cleaning the area he set it back in order. After stitching the scalp together, he applied an herbal ointment and the patient was cured. Pradyot, the King of Ujjain was suffering from jaundice. But he had disdain for any sort of cheese. Jivaka most artfully changed the color and odor of the cheese the King liked to eat, and in this way the king, by eating cheese, was cured of his disease.

Jivaka not only became the Royal physician but was also the personal physician of the Buddha. Once the Buddha had been suffering from high biliary diseases, Jivaka arranged natural purgatives as required. The Buddha used the same and was cured of the disease. On another occasion, the Buddha had an incident of blood poisoning, and was cured by Jivaka. It was said that the Royal physician used to treat the members of the Bhikkhu Sangha whenever there was any necessity. By the application of natural herbal remedies, Jivaka could easily cure diseases like leprosy, jaundice, skin disease, etc. Jivaka became a great devotee of the Buddha, and he donated his mango grove to the Buddha for use by the members of the Sangha. Jivaka once requested that the Buddha allow monks to wear saffron-dyed new robes if he gifted them to the Sangha and also the use of blankets by the members of the Sangha whenever they were donated by devotees. It was also said that Jivaka attained the first stage of sanctification on hearing the discourse offered by the Buddha. This discourse is known now as the Jivaka Sutta.

Glory be to Jivaka, the greatest of the ancient Indian physicians.

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