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Why the Buddha Suffered
Dvādasamapañhe, atisāro ti lohitapakkhandikā virecanaṁ.
In the twelth enquiry, (called) dysentery, (we hear about him) purging bloody dysentery.
Atīte kira Bodhisatto gahapatikule nibbatto,
In the past, it seems, the Buddha-to-be was reborn in a householder's family,
vejjakammena jīvikaṁ kappesi. SHB, PTS: vejjakamme cheko; so (SHB omits) vejjakammena jīvikaṁ kappesi; was clever in medical treatment; and (he) earned his living through medical treatment.01
and earned his living through medical treatment.
So ekaṁ seṭṭhiputtaṁ rogena pīḷitaṁ tikicchanto
One day while treating a merchant's son who was oppressed by disease
bhesajjaṁ katvā tikicchitvā,
having given medicine and cured him,
tassa deyyadhammadāne pamādam-āgamma,
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.02
aparaṁ osadhaṁ datvā, vamanavirecanaṁ akāsi.
he gave him another medicine, and made him vomit.
Seṭṭhi bahudhanaṁ adāsi.
(Then) the merchant gave him a great deal of wealth.
So tena kammavipākena,
Through that deed and its result,
nibbattanibbattabhave lohitapakkhandikābādhena virecito ahosi.
he purged with the affliction of bloody dysentery in rebirth after rebirth.
Imasmim-pi pacchimattabhāve, Parinibbānasamaye,
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.03
Cundena Kammāraputtena pacitasūkaramaddavassa –
(through eating) tender pork that had been cooked by Cunda the Smith –
sakalacakkavāḷadevatāhi pakkhittadibbojena āhārena saha –
(even though) godly nutrients were dropped in by all the gods from the whole universe together with that food –
bhuttakkhaṇe lohitapakkhandikā virecanaṁ ahosi,
when he had eaten he purged with bloody dysentery,
koṭisatasahassānaṁ hatthīnaṁ balaṁ khayam-agamāsi.
and (he who had) the strength of a billion One hundred thousand times ten million.04 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.05
The Gracious One on the Full-Moon night of Vesākha (in May),
Kusinārāyaṁ Parinibbānatthāya SHB, PTS: Nibbānatthāya; however, he wasn't going for his Nibbāna, but for his Parinibbāna; complete Emancipation.06 gacchanto,
while going to Kusināra to attain Final Emancipation,
anekesu ṭhānesu nisīdanto pipāsito, pānīyaṁ pivitvā,
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.07 and after drinking water,
mahādukkhena Kusināraṁ patvā,
having (nearly) reached Kusināra with great suffering,
at the time of dawn attained Final Emancipation.
Kammapilotikaṁ evarūpaṁ Lokattayasāmim-pi na vijahati.
The Lord of the Three Worlds surely could not abandon the connection with that deed.
Therefore it is said:
Tikicchako ahaṁ āsiṁ SHB, PTS: pure āsi; when he was (a physician) before, but we would expect the Buddha to be speaking in the first person.08 seṭṭhiputtaṁ virecayiṁ;
At the time I was a physician I made a merchant's son purge;
Tena kammavipākena hoti pakkhandikaṁ mama. 
Through that deed and through its result I had amoebic dysentery.
Evaṁ Jino viyākāsi Bhikkhusaṅghassa aggato,
So the Victor explained at the head of the Community of monks,
Sabbābhiññābalappatto, Anotatte mahāsare. ti
The one with all knowledge and strength, at the great Lake Anotatta.
So he answered the enquiries,
mātikāṭhapanavasena akusalāpadānaṁ samattaṁ nāma hotī ti vuttaṁ.
and according to the arrangement of the tabulation, the unwholesome traditions are said to be complete.
'Itthaṁ sudan'-ti itthaṁ iminā pakārena heṭṭhā vuttanayena.
'In this way' means it is recorded by this method from the beginning. Heṭṭhā normally means from underneath, from below, but here it must mean from the beginning.09
'Sudan'-ti nipāto padapūraṇatthe āgato.
'Sudaṁ' simply has the meaning of an pleonestic particle.
* * *
Bhagavā bhāgyasampanno pūritapāramī Mahāsatto:
The Gracious One is endowed with good fortune, he is a Great Being who has fulfilled the perfections:
Bhāgyavā bhaggavā yutto, bhagehi ca vibhattavā,
Fortunate, devoted to good, having a share of the graces,
Bhattavā vantagamano bhavesu Bhagavā tato. ti
Graceful, gone to existences' end, thus he is the Gracious One.
Evam-ādiguṇayutto Devātidevo Sakkātisakko
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,
so Mahākāruṇiko Bhagavā, attano Buddhacariyaṁ Buddhakāraṇaṁ,
the Greatly Compassionate Gracious One, spoke about his own life as Buddha and deeds as Buddha,
sambhāvayamāno pākaṭaṁ kurumāno,
making him famous and honoured,
Buddhāpadāniyaṁ nāma Buddhakāraṇapakāsakaṁ nāma
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.10
Dhammapariyāyaṁ Dhammadesanaṁ suttaṁ abhāsittha kathesī. ti
he spoke this Doctrinal Instruction, this Doctrinal Teaching, this discourse.
Iti Visuddhajanavilāsiniyā Apadāna-Aṭṭhakathāya,
Thus the Spendour of the Pure Ones, This is the official title of the commentary to the Traditions.11 the Commentary on the Traditions,
The Explanation of the Traditions about the Buddha is Complete
The Connection with Past Deeds Home Page
last updated: February 2012