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Sivi Jātaka (No.499)

The Bodhisatta was once born as Sivi, king of Ariṭṭhapura, his father bearing the same name as himself. He ruled well, and daily gave alms to the amount of six hundred thousand. One day the desire came to him to give part of his body to any who might ask for it. Sakka read his thoughts, and, appearing before him as a blind brahmin, asked for his eyes. The king agreed to give them, and sent for his surgeon Sivaka. Amid the protests and lamentations of his family and his subjects, Sivi had his eyes removed and given to the brahmin. It is said that the surgeon did his work in several stages, giving Sivi chances of withdrawing his offer. When the sockets healed Sivi wished to become an ascetic, and went into the park with one attendant. Sakka’s throne grew hot, and appearing before Sivi, he offered him a boon. The king wished to die, but Sakka insisted on his choosing something else. He then asked that his sight might be restored. Sakka suggested an Act of Truth (saccakiriyā), as not even Sakka could restore lost sight. The eyes reappeared, but they were neither natural eyes nor divine, but eyes called “Truth, Absolute and Perfect.” Sivi collected all his subjects, and, resting on a throne in a pavilion, taught them the value of gifts.

The story was related in reference to the incomparable almsgiving (asadisa-dāna) given by King Pasenadi. On the seventh day of the almsgiving the king gave all kinds of requisites and asked the Buddha to teach a thanksgiving discourse, but the Buddha left without doing so. The next day, on being questioned by the king, he explained his reasons for this (For details see Asadisa-dāna). The king, greatly pleased with the Buddha’s explanation, gave him an outer robe of Sīveyyaka cloth worth one thousand. When the monks started commenting on how tireless the king was in giving, the Buddha related to them the old story, in which Ānanda is identified with Sivaka, the physician, and Anuruddha with Sakka (J.iv.401‑12; of. CypA.52 f).

The Sivirājacariyā is included in the Cariyāpiṭaka (Cyp.i.8; the story is also given with variant details in the Avadānaśataka i.183‑6). It forms the topic of one of the dilemmas of the Milindapañha. Mil.p.119 f.

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