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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

Buddha Prescribes Fermented Urine Medicine (Urine Therapy). By Dr. Chapman Chen

In various Buddhist sutras, Buddha upholds fermented urine medicine (Pali: pūti-mutta-bhesajja) or urine therapy as one of the four major supports/resources of a bhikkhu's life. For example, Buddha would prescribe fermented urine to bhikkhus bitten by a poisonous snake or suffering from jaundice. Buddha even advised that aged urine be drunk with yellow myrobalan (Terminalia Chebula/Haritaki).

1. What does pūti-mutta-bhesajja Mean?

According to The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary, pūti means "putrid, stinking, rotten, fetid". (Note 1)

According to the same dictionary as above, mutta means urine and bhesajia means "a remedy, medicament, medicine". (Note 2)

However, modern scholars in Buddhism, e.g., Khematto Bhikkhu, Bhikkhu Sujato, Buddha-Vacana Org., interpret pūti-mutta-bhesajja as fermented urine medicine, and Robert Thurman interprets it as aged urine medicine.

2. Fermented Urine Medicine as Support

Buddha often stated that fermented urine medicine is a major requisite of a Bhikkhu's life:

"Going-Forth has fermented urine medicine as its support. For the rest of your life you are to endeavor at that. The extra allowances are: ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, sugar." (Cattāro Nissayā [The Four Supports], mahākhandhako, The Mahāvagga, the fourth book of the Vinaya Piṭaka [The Basket of Discipline], trans. Khematto Bhikkhu) (Note 3)

" Fermented urine, bhikkhus, is a very little thing among medicines, easy to get and blameless" (AN 4.27,The Book of Fours, trans. Buddha-Vacana) (Note 4)

"He is told about his four resources, alms, rag- robes, dwelling at the foot of a tree (i.e., homelessness), and aged urine for medicine." (Robert Thurman, “The Vinaya Discipline of Buddhist Monasticism”, a talk given at Amherst College, 1982) (Note 5)

3. Fermented Urine for Treating Jaundice and Snake Bite

"Now on that occasion a certain monk had jaundice. They reported the matter to the Blessed One. 'I allow that urine and yellow myrobalan [Haritaki] be drunk.'” (160. pañcabhesajjakathā [Mv.VI.1.1], VI bhesajjakkhandhako, Mahāvagga, trans. Khematto Bhikkhu ) (Note 6)

Buddha: "Suppose there was some fermented urine mixed with different medicines. Then a man with jaundice would come along. They’d say to him: ‘Here, mister, this is fermented urine mixed with different medicines. Drink it if you like. If you drink it, the color, aroma, and flavor will be unappetizing, but after drinking it you will be happy.’ He wouldn’t reject it. After appraisal, he’d drink it. The color, aroma, and flavor would be unappetizing, but after drinking it he would be happy. This is comparable to the way of taking up practices that is painful now and results in future pleasure, I say."

(The Great Discourse on Taking Up Practices, Middle Discourses 46, Mahādhammasamādānasutta, trans. Bhikkhu Sujato) (Note 7)

"On one occasion a certain monk was bitten by a snake. 'I allow you to give him the four filthy edibles: feces, urine, ash, and clay.' [said Buddha]" (The chapter on medicines, The Long Division, Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law, Bhesajjakkhandhaka, trans. Bhikkhu Brahmali) (Note 8)

Disclaimer: This article provides educational information rather than medical advice. Consult a medical expert if you have health problems.

Pic: Himanshu Soni in the role of Buddha

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