Jīvaka ［耆婆］ (, Pali; Giba): A skilled physician of the state of Magadha in India in Shakyamuni’s time. As a court physician, Jīvaka served Bimbisāra, the king of Magadha, and his son, Ajātashatru. He was also a devout Buddhist and patron of the Buddhist Order. As a physician he treated Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, in addition to ordinary patients. According to one account, his father was Bimbisāra, and his mother, Ambapālī, who lived in Vaishālī. According to The Fourfold Rules of Discipline, his father was Prince Abhaya, who was a son of Bimbisāra, and his mother was a courtesan in Rājagriha, the capital of Magadha. The courtesan gave birth to the son of Prince Abhaya and, wishing for someone to adopt him, left him on the roadside. Abhaya happened to find the baby and took him into his palace to raise him. Abhaya named him Jīvaka and cherished him dearly. When Jīvaka grew up, he decided to study the medical arts. Knowing that a skilled physician named Pingala lived in Takshashilā (present-day Taxila in Pakistan), Jīvaka went there to receive instruction from him. After several years of study, having mastered the practice of medicine, he returned to Rājagriha.
It is said that Jīvaka cured various kinds of illnesses, some serious and chronic, thus earning renown, and that he performed a number of different surgical treatments. Ajātashatru, whom Jīvaka served as minister, then killed his father, King Bimbisāra. When Ajātashatru was about to kill his mother, Vaidehī, Jīvaka dissuaded him. Later, when King Ajātashatru broke out in malignant sores that covered his body, Jīvaka persuaded him to repent his evil conduct and seek out the Buddha’s teaching. Ajātashatru did so, overcame his illness, and became a devout follower of the Buddha.