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Why the Buddha Suffered
In the twelth enquiry, called dysentery, we hear about him purging bloody dysentery.
In the past, it seems, the Buddha-to-be was reborn in a householder's family, and earned his living through medical treatment. One day while treating a merchant's son who was oppressed by disease he gave medicine and cured him, but because the patient was heedless in giving a gift to him, It seems doctors in those times didn't have a fixed price, but accepted donations; in the Ayurveda tradition in Sri Lanka to this day the same practice prevails.01 he gave him another medicine, and made him vomit. Then the merchant gave him a great deal of wealth.
Through that deed and its result, he purged with bloody dysentery in rebirth after rebirth. Also in this his last state of existence, near the time he attained Final Emancipation, See the Discourse about the Great Emancipation (DN 16), especially the opening of the fourth section for the canonical story.02 through eating tender pork that had been cooked by Cunda the Smith – even though godly nutrients were dropped in by all the gods from the whole universe together with that food – when he had eaten he purged with bloody dysentery, and he who had the strength of a billion One hundred thousand times ten million.03 elephants came to destruction. The commentary on DN 16 denies that the illness was connected to the food given by Cunda: bhuttassa udapādi, na pana bhuttapaccayā; it occurred when he had eaten, but not because he had eaten.04
The Gracious One on the Full-Moon night of Vesākha in May, while going to Kusināra to attain Final Emancipation, at many places sat down because of thirst, The commentary to this discourse records that he had to sit down and rest twenty-five times on this his last walk.05 and after drinking water, having with great suffering nearly reached Kusināra, at the time of dawn attained Final Emancipation. The Lord of the Three Worlds surely could not abandon the connection with that deed.
Therefore it is said:
At the time I was a physician I made a merchant's son purge;
Through that deed and through its result I had amoebic dysentery.
So the Victor explained at the head of the Community of monks,
The one with all knowledge and strength, at the great Lake Anotatta.
So he answered the enquiries, and according to the arrangement of the tabulation, the unwholesome traditions are said to be complete.
* * *
The Gracious One is endowed with good fortune, he is a Great Being who has fulfilled the perfections:
Fortunate, devoted to good, having a share of the graces,
Graceful, gone to existences' end, thus he is the Gracious One.
Thus the one virtuous from the beginning, the one who is God of all Gods, Most Able of the Able, Supreme of those Supreme, Buddha amongst those who are Buddhas, the Greatly Compassionate Gracious One, spoke about his own life as Buddha and his deeds as Buddha, making him famous and honoured, in what is known as the Traditions about the Buddha, the Publication of the Deeds of the Buddha, This seems to be offered as an alternative title.06 he spoke this Doctrinal Instruction, this Doctrinal Teaching, this discourse.
Thus the Spendour of the Pure Ones, This is the official title of the commentary to the Traditions.07 the Commentary on the Traditions,
The Explanation of the Traditions about the Buddha is Complete
Why the Buddha Suffered Home Page
last updated: February 2012