A public executioner of Rájagaha. He had copper-coloured teeth and tawny skin, and his body was covered with scars. He wished to join a band of thieves, but, for some time, the ringleader refused to admit him on account of his inordinately cruel looks. In the end he was admitted; but when the thieves were captured and no one could be found willing to kill as many as five hundred of them, Tambadáthika agreed to do it for a reward, and slew all his colleagues. He was afterwards appointed public executioner and held the post for fifty-five years. When he became too old to behead a man with one blow, another was appointed in his place, and he was deprived of the four perquisites to which he had, for so many years, been entitled - old clothes, milk porridge made with fresh ghee, jasmine flowers, and perfumes.
On the day on which he was deposed from office, he gave orders for milk porridge to be cooked, and having bathed and decked himself out, he was about to eat, when Sáriputta, out of compassion for him, appeared at his door. Tambadáthika invited the Elder in and entertained him hospitably. When Sáriputta began the words of thanksgiving, his host could not concentrate his thoughts, being worried by memories of his past wickedness. Sáriputta consoled him by representing to him that he had merely carried out the king's orders. At the end of the sermon, Tambadáthika developed the qualities necessary for becoming a Sotápanna. When Sáriputta left, Tambadáthika accompanied him on his way, but on the way back he was gored to death by a cow.
The cow was a Yakkhiní who also killed:
The Buddha said he had been reborn in the Tusita world. DhA.ii.203ff.