When the Buddha Became Sick

The Buddha was long-lived by the standards of the time which is remarkable given that after he became a monk his life was a hard one – eating scraps, often sleeping in the open and spending much of the year walking the Middle Land’s dusty roads and tracks including in the summer heat. Although he must have had a robust constitution he did sometimes fall ill and the Tipitaka mentions several incidents of where he was sick enough to require medical attention. Once he is said to have suffered from wind (vatehi abadhiko) and asked his attendant to get him hot water to drink. The attendant got the water and a bag of molasses, recommended him take a hot bath, which he did, and then gave him the hot water mixed with the molasses to drink and the Buddha’s discomfort abated (S.I,174-5). More than once the Buddha had “a wind problem in the stomach” (udaravatabhdo), probably not the wind (vata) of Ayurvedic theory mentioned above but intestinal gas of the type which can cause bloating, pain and flatulence. Each time this happened he himself prepared a thin porridge of either sesame, rice or green gram mixed with what was called “the three pungent ingredients”, drunk it and was cured (Vin.I,210).



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