Buddhist Monastic Discipline

by Jotiya Dhirasekera | 1964 | 113,985 words

A study of Buddhist monastic code: its origin and development in relation to the Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas. The Vinaya forms a part of a Buddhist disciple’s training method, particularly within Theravada Buddhism. This English thesis was completed by Jotiya Dhirasekera (Now Bhikkhu Dhammavihari)...

Chapter XI - Additional Punitive Regulations

In the Kammakkhandhaka of the Cullavagga[1] we meet with another collection of disciplinary acts which are of a more general character in that, unlike the penalties of Parivāsa and Mānatta, they are not directly derived from the code of the Pātimokkha. The Kammakkhandhaka has five different kammas or acts of punishment of varying degrees of severity which are recommended for certain shortcominga and reprehensible features in the behaviour of members of the monastic community.

They are :

  1. Tajjaniya kamma : Act of Censure
  2. Nissaya kamma : Act of Subordination
  3. Pabbājaniya kamma : Act of Banishment
  4. Paṭisāraniya Kamma : Act of Reconciliation
  5. Ukkhepaniya Kamma : Act of Suspension

The following enumeration of monastic failings is given in the Cullavagga as applying to the Tajjaniya, Nissaya, Pabbājaniya and Ukkhepaniya kammas.[2]

  1. 1. When a Bhikkhu is a maker of strife, quarrelsome, a maker of disputes, given to idle talk, and raises legal questions in the Saṇgha.
    2. When he is ignorant, unaccomplished, full of offences and heedless of injunctions.
    3. If he lives in company with householders, in unbecoming association with householders.
  2. 1. If in regard to moral habit, he comes to have fallen away from moral habit.
    2. If in regard to good habits, he comes to have fallen away from good habits.
    3. If in regard to right views, he comes to have fallen away from right views.
  3. 1. If he speaks dispraise of the Buddha.
    2. If he speaks dispraise of the Dhamma.
    3. If he speaks dispraise of the Saṇgha.

If a Bhikkhu is marked by the qualities of any one of the above groups, the Sṇgha may subject him to any one of the five kammas mentioned earlier barring the Paṭisāraniya. The Pabbājaniya-kamma has besides these a few additions of its own which may be summed up as frivolity and misdemeanour through word and deed.[3]

The Paṭisāraniya-kamma or the Act of Reconciliation is in a class by itself, in that it concerns itself solely with the relations of the monk with the laymen so far as he tends to damage the interests of the laymen and abuses the Buddha, Dhamma and the Saṇgha in their presence. This punishment may be carried out on any monk who is guilty of any one of the offences mentioned in the two following groups:[4]

  1. 1. If he tries for non-receiving of gains by householders.
    2. If he tries for non-proflting by householders.
    3. If he tries for non-residence for householders.
    4. If he reviles and abuses householders.
    5. If he causes householder to break with householder.
  2. E. 1. If he speaks dispraise of the Buddha to householders.
    2. If he speaks dispraise of the Dhamma to householders.
    3. If he speaks dispraise of the Saṇgha to householders.
    4. If he jeers at a householder with a low thing, if he scoffs at him with a low thing.
    5. If he does not fulfil a promise made in accordance with the rules to the laymen.

Some of these vicious aspects of character for which these punishments are laid down are, however, not unknown to the Pātimokkha where they are recorded with a different emphasis in relation to its own regulations. These, when viewed in their entirety, are weaknesses which would possibly arise among the members of the Saṇgha and are harmful to their religious perfection as well as the solidarity and well-being of their communal life against which not only the Vinaya but also some of the Suttas are eloquent.

Of these, the first and the most outstanding is the group of faults consisting of making strife, quarrels and disputes, and raising legal questions in the Saṇgha. These are listed among the conditions which justify prosecution under four out of the five kamma. Monks who are makers of strife seem to have been a positive danger both to the religion and the monastic organization not only among the Buddhists but in other religious groups as well.

It is recorded in the Sāmagāma Sutta that soon after the death of Niganṭhanātaputta, his disciples were divided and they quarrelled and disputed and reviled each other on what they called differences of opinion with regard to the teachings of their master

(Tena kho pana samayena niganṭho nātaputto pāvāyam adhunā kālakato hoti.

Tassa kālakiriyāya bhinnā niganṭhā dvedhikajātā bhandanajātā kalahajātā vivādāpannā aññamaññam mukhasattihi vitudantā viharanti na tvam imam dhammavinayam ājānāsi aham dhammavinayam ājānāmi......niggahito ' si cara vādappamokkhāya nibbeṭhehi vā sace pahosi ' ti

- M.II.243.).

Thus they completely lost favour with their lay-followers.

(Ye pi niganṭhassa nātaputtassa sāvakā gihi odātavasanā te ' pi niganṭhesu nātaputtiyesu nibbinnarupā virattarupā paṭivānarupā yathā tam durakkhāte dhammavinaye.....

bhinnathupe appaṭisarane

- Ibid..244)

The arrogance and intolerance with which the fellow-religionists despised the views of one another seems to have been the cause of most of these contentions. The Bahuvedaniya Sutta gives a very realistic analysis of the cause of such disputes.[5]

There the Buddha says that as far as his teaching is concerned, one should respect and endorse another's views if they conform to the proper canons. In the absence of such mutual respect and tolerance, the inevitable result would be strife and disunity, and people would go about attacking one another with pungent words.

The Upakkilesa Sutta records one such instance where disturbances took place in alarming proportions during the life-time of the Buddha himself

(Ekam samayam bhagavā kosambiyam viharati ghositārāme.

Tena kho pana samayena kosambiyam bhikkhu bhandanajātā kalahajātā vivādāpannā aññamaññam mukhasattihi vitudantā viharanti

- M.III.152.).

The Buddha, being unable to settle the dispute, leaves Kosambi in despair and comes to Pācinavamsadāya where the three disciples Anuruddha, Nandiya and Kimbila are living in perfect concord

(Taggha mayam bhante samaggā sammodamānā avivadamānā khirodakibhutā aññamaññam piyacakkhuhi sampassantā viharāmā ' ti

- Ibid. 156.).

They tell the Buddha that the secret of their success is mutual respect and consideration, and their determination to eliminate the spirit of self assertion.

'We value the company of our fellow-celibates'

, each one of them says,

'and we bear nothing but love towards them in thought, word and deed at all times.
We willingly fall in line with their likes and dislikes, and thus though we are many in body are only one in mind'

(So kho aham bhante sakam cittam nikkhipitvā imesam yeva āyasmantānam cittassa vasena vattāmi.
Nānā hi kho no bhante kāyā ekañ ca pana maññe cittan ' ti

- Ibid.)

We also find this story recorded in the Vinaya Piṭaka.[6]

Speaking of the danger of disputes among the members of the Saṇgha, the Buddha says in the Sāmagāma Sutta that he considers the disputes over disciplinary matters (ajjhājive vā adhipātimokkhe vā) to be trifling when compared with possible disputes about the teaching or the religious

life (magge vā paṭipadāya vā) which would lead to the detriment and degeneration of great many beings.[7]

There is little doubt that the Buddha considered complete discipline in thought, word and deed as essential for all progress. But the above comments clearly show the relatively secondary importance which the Buddha attached to discipline in its mere outward form in contrast to the more fundamental teachings of the doctrine and their practice in the religious life.

The Sutta makes a plea, and no legislation, for the elimination of the causes of these disputes which it analyses as consisting of the following:[8]

  1. Anger and ill will : kodhano hoti upanāhi
  2. Hypocrisy and malice : Makkhi hoti palāsi
  3. Jealousy and envy : issuki hoti macchari
  4. Deceit and fraud : saṭho hoti māyāvi
  5. Evil intentions and false beliefs : pāpiccho hoti micchādiṭṭhi
  6. Obstinacy and dogmatism : sandiṭṭhaparāmasi hoti ādhānagāhi duppaṭinissaggi

The perpetuation of such vicious traits by those leading the monastic life, it is said, leads to their lack of respect and regard for the Buddha, Dhamma and the Saṇgha and also to the neglect of their own religious life. It is in such a state of affairs that disputes and quarrels would arise among the members of the Saṇgha

(Yo so ānanda bhikkhu kodhano hoti upanāhi......
so satthari ' pi agāravo viharati appatisso dhamme ' pi......
saṇghe ' pi....
sikkhāya ' pi na paripurakāri hoti...
so saṇghe vivādam janeti

- M.II.245 f.).

Thus we see that the Suttas approach the problem from a different angle. Leaving it to the Vinaya to legislate against such indiscipline the Suttas analyse the causes of these and attempt to remedy them by advocating personal inner development.

There are some items in the Pātimokkha which seem to be related in some ways to those monastic failings, viz. disputes etc., referred to above.[9]

Their inclusion in the Pātimokkha reveals the fact that they were not only prevalent in the early days of the Sāsana when the Pātimokkha was being evolved, but that they were also considered serious enough in their day to be legislated against. Thus a number of minor regulations which are calculated to arrest such indiscipline expressing itself in different ways have come to be laid down.

Although the violation of most of these regulations entail no serious punishments, they certainly reveal a stricter and sterner attitude to monastic indiscipline than the Suttas, which counted more on appeals and admonitions for ethical re-orientation. In addition to these disputes which are referred to both in the Vinaya and in the Suttas as bhandana, kalaha, and vivāda, we find litigiousness (saṇghe adhikaranakāraka) too, added to this group at times.[10]

The need for this addition evidently arose as a safeguard against the abuse of the machinery which is set up for the maintenance of monastic discipline. The history of Saṇghādisesa 8 clearly shows how jealous and embittered persons within the monastic community may, in a spirit of revenge, misuse the law.[11]

A close scrutiny of the details of these kamma show that they give to these Acts the widest scope and unrestricted authority for prosecution and punishment in the interests of the religion and the monastic organization. Development of character and cultivation of the religious life, fitting into the harmonious life of the community, maintaining proper relations with the laymen, all these come within the jurisdiction of these Kamma.

They also watch over the loyalty to the religion and the Order to which the members belong. The Paṭisāraniyakamma makes special provision to safeguard the interests of the laymen in the hands of the monks. The monks are forbidden to do anything which damages the interests of the laymen or to bring about a cleavage between the religion and its lay patrons.

We give below the special situations in which these kamma as forms of punishment are said to have had their origin.

Punishment Offence Persons concerned
Tajjaniya: Act of Censure Being quarrelsome and litigant

Followers of Panduka and Lohitaka who instigate other monks to fight and revolt. Vin.II.1 f.

Nissaya: Act of Subordination which compels the offender to live under the tutelage of another Ignorance and indiscipline

Ven. Seyyasaka who was stupid and constantly committed offences and did not conduct himself properly with the laymen. Ibid. 7 f.

Pabbājaniya: Act of Puni shment which removes the offender from the area of his residence Bringing the families of the area into disrepute by their own bad behaviour

Followers of Assaji and Punabbasu who by their licentious behaviour corrupted the lay patrons of Kiṭāgiri. Ibid. 9 f.

Paṭisāraniya: Act of Reconciliation which requires the offender to apologise to the aggrived party Strained relations with the laymen

Ven. Sudhamma who abused the householder Citta who was his lay patron. Ibid.15 f.

Ukkhepaniya: Act of Suspension whereby the offender is temporarily barred from the company of monks in accepting or giving food, in religious discussions and in ceremonial acts of the Saṇgha. This act is further characterised by the proclamation which is to be issued to all monasteries giving the name of the monk on whom this boycott has been imposed. Refusal to admit or atone for one's offences or false views regarding the Dhamma.

Ven. Channa who refused to admit his offence and atone for it and Ven. Ariṭṭha who refused to give up his heresy. Ibid. 21 f, 25 f.


The most comprehensive chapter in Buddhist monastic legislation comes to us in the Khandhakas under the section known as the Samathakkhandhaka.[12] This deals with seven different ways (satta adhikaranasamatha) by means of which, it is claimed, that all forms of disciplinary action within the monastic community could be carried out. The seven Adhikaranasamathas are as follows.[13]

  1. Sammukhāvinaya: 'by a verdict in the presence of ' Vin.II. 73 f.
  2. Sativinaya: 'by a verdict of innocence' Ibid. 74-80.
  3. AmuÂhavinaya: 'by a verdict of past insanity' Ibid. 80-83.
  4. Paṭiññātakarana: 'the carrying out on the acknowledgement' Ibid. 83 f.
  5. Yebhuyyasikā: 'by the decision of the majority' Ibid. 84 f.
  6. Tassapāpiyyasikā: 'by an act of condemnation for specific depravity' Ibid.85 f.
  7. Tinavatthāraka: 'by the covering up with grass' Ibid. 86-88.

These lay down procedure for the correction of monastic indiscipline, for the settlement of disputes and strifes among the members of the Saṇgha, and for the valid execution of monastic Acts. There is very little doubt about the recognition and prestige which this section of the law enjoyed from the earliest times. For Adhikaranas seem to have been a matter of common occurrence even in the early days of the Sāsana. The word is used in the sense of going into litigation, of charging a fellow-member of the Saṇgha with an offence, maliciously or with valid reasons.

The text of Saṇghādisesa 8 bears testimony to this.

(Yo pana bhikkhu bhikkhum duṭṭho doso appatito amulakena pārājikena dhammena anuddhamseyya app ' eva nāma nam imamhā brahmacariyā cāveyyan ' ti.

Tato aparena samayena samanuggāhiyamāno vā asamanuggāhiyamāno vā amulakñ c ' eva tam adhikaranam hoti bhikkhu ca dosam patiṭṭhāti saṇghādiseso

- Vin. III. 163.).

In the Kakacupama Sutta, the monk Moliyaphagguna accuses, in a spirit of retaliation, his fellow brethren who criticise the conduct of the nuns with whom he closely associates

(Sace ko ci bhikkhu āyasmato moliyaphaggunassa sammukhā tāsam bhikkhuninam avannam bhāsati ten ' āyasmā moliyaphagguno kupito anattamano adhikaranam ' pi karoti

- M.I.122)

It is felt that this litigant character of individual monks is not a healthy sign and much is said in praise of those who refrain from such litigations and advocate the effective termination of such conditions wherever they appear

(Yam ' pi bhikkhave bhikkhu na adhikaraniko hoti adhikaranasamathassa vannavādi ayam ' pi dhammo piyattāya garuttāya bhāvanāya sāmaññāya ekibhāvāya samvattati

- A.V.167.).

The skill in arresting the rise of such disputes and disturbances is considered a qualification for election to responsible monastic positions such as membership in a committee of arbitration which is known as Ubbāhikā

(Dasah' aṇgehi samannāgato bhikkhu ubbuhikāya sammannitabbo.....
adhikaranasamuppāda-vupasamanakusalo hoti.....

Vin.II. 95; A.V.71).

It also leads to the personal well-being of the members of the monastic community

(Dasahi bhikkhave dhammehi samannāgato thero bhikkhu yassam yassam disāyam viharati phāsu yeva viharati.

Katamehi dasahi....
adhikaranasamuppādavupasamakusalo hoti

- A.V.201.).

These seven modes of Adhikaranasamatha are referred to both in the Suttas and in the Vinaya.

(Satta kho pan' ime ānanda akhikaranasamathā uppannuppannānam adhikaranānam samathāya vupasamāya.

Sammukhāvinayo dātabbo sativinayo dātabbo amuÂhavinayo dātabbo paṭiññāya kāretabbam yebhuyyasikā tassa pāpiyyasikā tinavatthārako

- M.II.247.
See also D.III. 254 ; A.IV.144 ; Vin.II. 73-104 ; IV.207.

We shall first examine them as they are presented to us in the Vinaya Piṭaka.[14]

The first of these, the Sammukhāvinaya, recognises the principle that no penalties or punishments should be imposed on an offender in his absence

(Na bhikkhave asammukhibhutānam bhikkhunam kammam kātabbam tajjaniyam vā nissayam vā pabbājaniyam vā paṭisāraniyam vā ukkhepaniyam vā. Yo kareyya āpatti dukkaṭassa

- Vin.II. 73.).

Paṭiññātakarana which appears as the fourth in the Vinaya text provides that such disciplinary action should also be taken with the acknowledgement of the guilty monk.

(Na bhikkhave apaṭiññāya bhikkhunam kammam kātabbam tajjaniyam vā .....
ukkhepaniyam vā. Yo kareyya āpatti dukkaṭassa

- Vin. II. 83.).

Both these conditions are regarded as essential to give validity to the dandakamma or acts of punishment which are outside the regulations of the Pātimokkha in their origin and character. Failure to comply with these requirements would render such an act invalid.[15]

In the fourfold division of the adhikaranas, this latter form of samatha, namely Paṭiññātakarana seems also to be made use of in the settlement of apattādhikarana which is almost entirely based on the Pātimokkha.[16]

Sammukhāvinaya. on the other hand, is a pre-requisite in the settlement of all the four forms of adhikarana.

Tassapāpiyyasikā which is listed as No. 6 under the Adhikaranasamatha seems to be very different from the rest in that it has a great deal more in common with the dandakamma as a means of maintaining order in the community. In fact, both Samanta-pāsādikā and Vimativinodani consider this to be on the same footing as the other dandakamma.

Speaking of the Tassapāpiyyasikā, the Samantapāsādikā says that the details concerning this are the same as in the Tajjaniya and other dandakamma

(Sesam ettha tajjaniyādisu vuttanayam eva

- VinA.VI.1193.)

The Vimativindodani elaborates further on this comment and says that this is intended to serve as an act of prosecution whereby it would be possible to punish an offender who refuses to accept the judgement of the Saṇgha.

(Sesam ettha tajjaniyādisu vuttanayam evā ' ti etena tajjaniyādisattakammāni viya idam pi tassapāpiyyasikākammam asucibhāvādidosayuttassa saṇghassa ca vinicchaye atiṭṭhamānassa kattabbam visum ekam niggahakamman ' ti dasseti

- Vmativinodani 452 f.).

It is virtually an act of condemnation carried out on a monk for corrupt, shameless and reprehensible behaviour. It is also carried out on one who deliberately lies and attempts to evade a charge laid upon him.[17]

The details of the offences for which it is imposed and the proper mode of conducting oneself under this penalty are identical, more or less, with those of the other dandakamma.[18]

It lays down no specific punishment but it was perhaps used more effectively as a general act of stigmatisation whereby a vociferous offender was prevented from evading prosecution with a garrulous defence. This stigmatisation would forthwith arrest such indiscipline, The Vimativinodani confirms this view

(Etasmim hi niggahakamme kate so puggalo aham suddho ' ti attano suddhiyā sādhanattham saṇghamajjham otaritum saṇgho c ' assa vinicchayam dātum na labhati tamkammakaranamatten ' eva ca tam adhikaranam vupasantam hoti

- Vimt. 453.).

Accordig to the Kaṇkhāvitarai it would result in the complete elimination from the monastic community of a Pārājika offender or the possible correction of a lesser offence committed by one of its members.

(Yadā pana pārājikena vā pārājikāsāmantena vā codiyamānassa aññen ' aññam paṭicarato pāp ' ussannattā pāpiyassa puggalassa sac ' āyam acchinnamulo bhavissati sammā vattitvā osaranam labhissati.

Sace chinnamulo ayam 'ev ' assa nāsanā bhavissati ' ti maññamāno saṇgho ñatticatutthena kammena tassapāpiyyasikam kammam karoti

- Kkvt.155.).

On the other hand, Sativinaya and AmuÂhavinaya provide against any possible miscarriage of justice in the monastic administration. The legal machinery it to be operated with humane considerations and it is not to be abused through malice, jealousy or prejudice. Sativinaya is intended for the exoneration of a guiltless monk who is falsely accused by malicious parties.[19]

This absolution from guilt is to be conferred, relying on the mental alertness of the person concerned

(Sativepullappattassa sativinayam dadeyya

- Vin.II. 80.).

According to the Samantapāsādikā, this is then applicable only to the Arahants and to none below that level of perfection and reliability

(Ayam pana sativinayo khināsavass ' eva dātabbo na aññassa antamaso anāgāmino ' pi

- VinA.VI.11-2.).

It is to be carried out by a competent body of monks at the request of the aggrieved person.[20]

The AmuÂhavinaya seeks exemption for offences committed in a state of unsound mind. The Bhikkhu who is guilty of such an offence, on regaining his mental equilibrium, confesses to the Saṇgha the circumstances under which the offence came to be committed and states that he does not remember it thereafter. Inspite of this consideration, it is added, he may be wrongfully prosecuted for the same.

The AmuÂhavinaya provides the exoneration of such a monk from the guilt of an offence committed in a state of unsound mind. But it is to be applied only in bona fide cases and the Vinaya legislates against offenders taking shelter under this, claiming falsely a lapse of memory or pretending to be of unsound mind.[21]

Under such circumstances the exercise of this power is declared to be illegal.[22]

The Yebhuyyasikā and the Tinavatthāraka as disciplinary measures are different from the rest of the Adhikaranasamathas in that they are not only interested in safeguarding the moral tone of the character of individuals but also are concerned with settling their disputes and adjudicating over breaches of discipline in such a way that the concord of the monastic community may not be impaired. This is the dominant note of the Tinavatthāraka. It does recognise the existence of contending parties in the Saṇgha and the possible break up of the monastic unity through their factional differences.

Under such circumstances, even in the face of offences committed,

(bahum assāmanakam ajjhācinnam hoti bhāsitaparikantam

- Vin.II. 86)

the members of one faction shall not

proceed to institute disciplinary action against members belonging to the other group for fear of breaking the unity of the Saṇgha (Sace mayam imāhi āpattihi aññamaññam kāreyyāma siyā ' pi tam adhikaranam kakkaÂattāya vālattāya bhedāya samvatteyya - Ibid.). But both parties are to meet in the full assembly of the Saṇgha, and with the consent of the Saṇgha agree to have the offences committed by their members dealt with by means of this collective disciplinary measure known as ' covering up with grass'

(Yadi saṇghassa pattakallam saṇgho imam adhikaranam tinavatthārakena sameyya ṭhapetvā thulavajjam ṭhapetvā gihipaṭisamyuttan ' ti

- Ibid. 87.).

The leaders of the two factions would obtain the sanction of their groups to declare before the Saṇgha, for this purpose, the offences committed by themselves as well as by the members of their respective groups

(Ekato pakkhikānam bhikkhunam vyattena bhikhunā paṭibalena sako pakkho ñāpetabbo...

yad ' āyasmantānam pattakallam aham yā c' eva āyasmantānam āpatti yā ca attano āpatti āyasmantānañ c ' eva atthāya attano ca atthāya sṇghamajjhe tinavatthārakena deseyyam

- Ibid.).

The offences which could be treated in this manner were invariably minor in character in that they excluded the major offences (thullavajja) which the Samantapāsādikā explains as Pārājika and Saṇghādisesa.[23]

It was also necessary that these breaches of discipline did not involve the laymen (gihipaṭisamyuttam). It is claimed that by this process of Tinavatthāraka all participants are absolved of their guilt of any transgression, barring those specified above. Absentees and dissentients do not benefit by this

(Evañ ca pana bhikkhave te bhikkhu tāhi āpattihi vuṭṭhitā honti ṭhapetvā thulavajjam ṭhapetvā diṭṭhāvikammam ṭhapetvā ye na tattha honti ' ti

- Vin.II. 88.).

The Yebhuyyasikā as described in the Khandhakas is perhaps the most complex of all the Adhikaranasamathas. It is worked out in a rather protracted manner and is resorted to only after the failure of other methods. When it has been found that it is not possible to settle a monastic dispute within the confines of the monastery where it occurred by the method of Sammukhāvinaya, the Khandhakas suggest that those Bhikkhus who are connected with it should take the matter to the members of another monastery who are greater in number, and by mutual agreement the monks who are the hosts would settle the dispute.[24]

However, it is added that such a large group might possibly become unweildy and that no useful purpose would be served by deliberations in such an assembly. In such a situation the monks are empowered to refer the matter to a select committee

(ubbāhikā) for a settlement (Sammato saṇghena itthannāmo ca itthannāmo ca bhikkhu ubbāhikāya imam adhikaranam vupasametum

- Vin.II. 96.).

Ten qualifications are insisted on for consideration for membership in such a committee. These cover not only good and virtuous conduct but also a thorough knowledge of the Dhamma and the Vinaya. Every member of such a committee had also to be a good judge and authority on the exercise of disciplinary powers.[25]

If it is discovered that the dispute cannot be settled in this manner, it must be referred back to the whole Saṇgha for settlement by the decision of the majority (yebhuyyasikā). In the description of the Adhikaranasamatha in the Khandhakas we fine that the Yebhuyyasikā assumes a more restricted connotation in contrast to its description in the Sutta version.[26]

It is claimed to be an act whereby the Saṇgha assures itself that, at the time of a division, the righteous monks would be in the majority.[27]

Thus it is not a decision arrived at by merely taking a vote. The Samantapāsādikā reiterates the same idea

(Yebhuyyasikāya vupasametun ' ti ettha yassa kiriyāya dhammavādino bahutarā esā yebhuyyasikā nāma

- VinA.VI.1192.).

By the method of direct and indirect canvassing the Saṇgha must assure itself of a majority for the righteous cause.

For this purpose three forms of voting are recommended. They are secret ballot (guÂhaka), whispering in the ear (sakannajappaka) and open ballot (vivaṭaka). A reliable monk who is not inclined to err on account of his partialities or prejudices (chandā dosā), confusion or fear (mohā bhayā) and who is capable of reckoning the votes as they are cast (gahitāgahitañ ca jāneyya) is appointed to distribute the ballot-sticks salākagāhāpaka).[28]

In the case of secret ballot, two distinct groups of ballot-sticks have to be used

(.... salākāyo vannāvannāyo katvā

- Vin.II. 99.).

The Commentary on the above statement takes vannāvannāyo to mean that the sticks of each group bear a special sign on them and look different

(Vannāvannāyo katvā ' ti dhammavādinañ ca adhammavādinañ ca salākāyo nimittasaññam āropetvā visabhāgā kāretabbā

- VinA. VI.1198.).

The Vimativinodani adds that these differences may be slight or great

(Vannāvannāyo katvā ' ti khuddakamahantehi saññānehi yuttāyo katvā ten ' āha nimittasaññam āropetvā ' ti

- Vimt.456.).

Going up to each monk in turn, the salākagāhāpaka, i. e. the one who distributes ballot sticks, should introduce the ballot- sticks and ask him to take the one of his choice. Once the voter has made a decision he is asked not to show his voting stick to any other. At this stage, if the salākagāhāpaka knows that the unrighteous monks are in the majority, he should then declare the voting null and void on grounds of incorrect procedure and set about taking a vote over again

(....duggahito ' ti paccukkaddhitabbam

- Vin.II. 99).

But if the righteous monks are in the majority, even by a single vote, then he should announce that the voting has been valid

(Ekasmim ' pi dhammavādismim atireke jāte suggahitā salākāyo ' ti sāvetabbam

- VinA. VI.1198.).

The Sakannajappakasalākagāha or the method of voting by whispering in the ear is different from the former only in so far as the announcement to ecach monk is made in a whisper and he is asked not to inform the others of his decision

(Gahite vattabbo mā kassa ci ārocehi ' ti

- Vin.II. 99).

The Vivaṭakasalākagāha or the method of voting by open ballot is adopted only where a majority of righteous monks is assured.

The Samantapāsādikā seems to know a great deal more about the art of securing a majority for what it calls the just cause. It allows a fresh vote to be taken up to a third time with the hope of securing a majority, dismissing the former on grounds of incorrect procedure. But if no majority is secured as desired even at the third voting, the assembly should then adjourn with the idea of meeting again the next day.

This would give time and opportunity to the righteous monks to canvass support for their cause before the next vote is taken and be able thereby to shatter the opposition

(Atha yāvatatiyam ' pi adhammavādino bahutarā ' va honti ajja akālo sve jānissāmā ' ti vuṭṭhahitvā alajjinam pakkham vibhedatthāya dhammavādipakkham pariyesitvā punadivase salākagāho kātabbo

- VinA.VI.1198.).

Under the Sakannajappaka form of voting too, the Samantapāsādikā has a very similar comment which reflects the same spirit of defending by all possible means what is chosen to be the righteous position. Gahite vattabbo of the text quoted above[29] which is applicable in general to all monks of the assembly during the Sakannajappakasalākagāha is commented on in the Samantapāsādikā as referring to a specal situation, viz. the vote of the Saṇghatthera or the president of the assembly.

It is said that if he chooses to vote on the side of the unrighteous monks, it should be pointed out to him that it is not in keeping with his age or seniority. Thereafter, if he decides to vote with the righteous monks, a voting-stick of the right kind should be provided. If he does not change his mind, on the other hand, he should be asked to keep his decision a secret.

The interest in the Adhikaranasamathas as measures for the settlement of disciplinary matters in the Saṇgha is further enhanced when we compare and contrast the details regarding these in the Suttas and in the Vinaya. The lists of Adhikaranasamathas which are given in Pali literature, both Sutta and Vinaya, are identical in all cases. However, the descriptions of the Adhikaranasamathas given in the Sāmagāma Sutta[30] seem to be in marked contrast to the account in the Khandhakas.[31]

One is immediately impressed by the simplicity of these disciplinary measures as they are described in the Sutta account. The monastic irregularities which come under review and the manner of dealing with them here are far from the complexity which one associates with

these in the Khandhakas. Allusions to the imposition of dandakamma are conspicuous by their absence in the Sutta account. It does not seem to portray such a phase of the Saṇgha when the imposition of formal acts of punishment on its members had become a regular feature.

On the other hand, what appears to us from the Sutta account is the desire of the members to remedy and rectify any errors and irregularities that might appear in the Saṇgha and the frankness and willingness with which these are confessed and atoned for in the company of the fellow members. This difference in the enforcement of discipline comes out with marked emphasis on a study of the form of the Adhikaranasamatha known as Paṭiññātakarana. The primary interest of the Khandhakas in this form is for the proper imposition of dandakammas.

The Khandhakas insist that under the Paṭiññātakarana no punishment or penalty (i.e. the dandakamma mentioned earlier) is to be imposed without the offender admitting his fault. It is essentially a matter of procedure in monastic disciplinary action. On the other hand, the Sutta account takes it as a way in which the repetition of monastic offences may be averted. It seems to provide adequately against what is described as apattādhikarana or offences against the injunctions of the Pātimokkha.

A monk who has committed such an offence, whether urged by others or not, recognises it and confesses his guilt. He is then asked to address himself to a senior member of the Order, and owning and admitting his offence, undertake to guard himself in the future. Thus the occurrence and perpetuation of monastic offences would be eliminated.

It is also with the same purpose in mind, as in the case of the Paṭiññātakarana, that the Khandhakas take up the Sammukhāvinaya. Here too, it is the proper execution of the dandakamma that seems to engage the attention of the Khandhakas. But the Sutta account, once again, has no reference whatwoever here to the dandamma. It looks upon the Sammukhāvinaya as a disciplinary measure related directly to Vivādādhikarana or disturbances in the monastic community arising out of disputes concerning the doctrine or monastic discipline.

Under the Sammukhāvinaya, the Sutta recommends that in such a situation all monks should meet together and settle such disputes correctly in a way that would accord with the Dhamma, perhaps here in the broader sense which includes the Vinaya as well. The Sutta suggests that monks should, at such a meeting, apply the criteria of the Dhamma (dhammanetti) and straighten out the differences in conformity to it

(Tehi ānanda bhikkhuhi sabbeh ' eva samaggehi sannipatitabbam sannipatitvā dhammanetti samanumajjitabbā dhammanettim samanumajjitvā yathā tattha sameti tathā tam adhikaranam vupasametabbam.

Evam kho ānanda sammukhāvinayo hoti

- M.II. 247.).

The commentary on the above passage also takes this allusion to mean a careful and sensible scrutiny to the situation with the criteria of the dhamma

(Dhammanetti samanumajjitabbā ' ti dhammarajju anumajjitabbā ñānena ghamsitabbā upaparikkhitabbā .....


The Suta account recommends that this same method be adopted for the Yebhuyyasikā too. If the monks in a particular monastic residence are unable to settle a monastic dispute among themselves, then they are asked to seek the assistance of monks in another monastery where they are greater in number. However, the method of deciding such issues by voting as in the Khandhakas is not envisaged here. The limitations of such a routine method were perhaps too obvious. It is not the mere mechanism of procedure that is vital here.

The monastic ideals are to be safeguarded at all costs. Once the method of voting is adopted, and this is the stage the Yebhuyyasikā has reached in the Khandhakas, one could not hazard any miscarriage of justice by relying solely on the externals of procedure. This naturally necessitated the practice of canvassing for the righteous cause, for the spirit of democracy in the Saṇgha, in ay case, had to be channelled for the achievement of its worthy ideals.

In the Sutta account both AmuÂhavinaya and Tassapāpiyyasikā bring before us miscreants who try to defend themselves by denying the charges brought against them. The Tassapāpiyyasikā in particular is calculated to tighten the ring round such evasive characters

(Tam enam nibbeṭhentam ativeṭheti

- M.II. 248.).

Persuation and pressure are continuously applied until the offender stands condemned on his own admission. Here it gives no indication of a dandakamma whatsoever. Under the AmuÂhavinaya a guilty monk may, under cross examination, adduce a stage of mental derangement

as a mitigating factor. He may thereby be completely absolved. The Tinavatthāraka and the Sativinaya remain more or less the same in both the Sutta and the Vinaya accounts.

The Adhikaranasamathas, as part of the machinery for the maintenance of monastic discipline, concern themselves with all the four forms of adhikarana including apattādhikarana. Thus they embrace a wider field of activity than the Pātimokkha. Hence it is little wonder that the Pātimokkha, both as text and as ritual, appended to itself in course of time the Adhikaranasamathas, although as we have pointed earlier one cannot reckon these items of Adhikaranasamathas as sikkhāpada. Explaining the recital of the Adhikaranasamathas at the ritual of the Pātimokkha

(Ime kho pana āyasmanto satta adhikaranasamathadhammā uddesam āgacchanti

- Vin. IV. 207),

Buddhaghosa says that they have to be recited in order to ascertain the purity of the Saṇgha both with regard to the transgressions listed under apattādhikarana as well as those transgressions which bring about the other three adhikaranas

(Uddesam āgacchanti ' ti āpattādikaranasaṇkhātāsu avasesādhikaranattayapaccayāsu ca āpattisu parisuddhabhāvapucchanattham uddisitabbam āgacchanti

- Kkvt. 153.).

As a result of this very close associaton of the Adhikaranasamathas with the ritual of the Pātimokkha they evidently came to be identified, perhaps in some circles, as a part of the text of the Pātimokkha. Buddhaghosa's analysis of the contents of the two Vibhaṇgas in the Samantapāsādikā makes no discrimination against them.[32]

However, in the Sumangalavilasini Buddhaghosa does not add the seven Adhikaranasamathas in totalling up the sikkhāpada of the Vibhaṇgas.[33]

Whatever might have been the original intention of reading out the list of Adhikaranasamathas at the Pātimokkha ritual the point of interest here is the manner in which this new addition is integrated to form a whole with the body of sikkhāpada which formed the contents of the early recital. At the ritual of the Pātimokkha, after the recital of the Adhikaranasamathas too, the question regarding the purity of the members of the assembly which had been asked with regard to each category of offences in the Pātimokkha is addressed to the Saṇgha once again:

Uddiṭṭhā kho āyasmanto satta adhikaranasamathā dhammā. Tattha āyasmante pucchāmi kacci ' ttha parisuddhā

- Vin.IV. 207.

These Adhikaranasamathas are clearly not offences but are only ways by means of which the collective organization of the Saṇgha may arrive at a settlement of monastic disputes and disturbances including the commission of offences (āpattādhikarana). Hence we would normally expect the purpose of the above question to be to ascertain whether there has been any irregularity of procedure in the settlement of monastic disputes among the members of the Saṇgha.

If that were so we would regard this extension of the process of questioning as an attempt to safeguard the machinery set up for the maintenance of monastic discipline. In this case it would be the Saṇgha as a whole and not individual monks who would be held responsible. On the other hand, it could also be a mere mechanical extension of the method of questioning which was applied to the earlier groups of sikkhāpada.

The Mahāsaṇghikas show a further extension of this process of questioning. They go beyond the Adhikaranasamathas to apply the question of purity in terms of a new group of their own which they call dharma and anudharma.[34]

However, in the absence of any conclusive evidence regarding the inclusion of Adhikaranasamathas in the recital of the Pātimokkha we have to fall back on the tradition of the commentators who preserve for us at least their view of contemporary trends. Buddhaghosa attempts to explain this final questioning at the end of the Pātimokkha recital as being calculated to cover all offences coming under the four adhikarana

(Tatthāyasmante pucchāmi kacci ' ttha parisuddhā ' ti tesu sattasu adhikaranasamathesu kacci ' ttha parisuddhā. Natthi vo kiñci samathehi vupasametabban ' ti pucchāmi etena sabbāpattihi parisuddhabhāvo pucchito hoti

- Kkvt.155f.).

At the end of the process of detailed and specific questioning regarding the apattādhikarana which takes place through the recital of each category of sikkhāpada in the Pātimokkha, Buddhaghosa regards this scrutiny under the Adhikaranasamatha as being the grand finale of the ritual of the Pātimokkha.

Footnotes and references:


Vin .II. 1-28.


Ibid. 4. See Book of the Discipline, V. p.6.


Ibid. 13 f.


Ibid. 18 f. See Book of the Discipline, V. p.26 f.


M.I. 398.


Vin.I. 351 f.


M.II. 245.


Ibid. 245-46.


See Saṇgh. 8-12 ; Pāc. 2, 3,17, 63, 71, 76, 78.


A.III. 252 ; Vin.II. 4.




Vin. II. 73-104.


See Book of the Discipline, V. pp. 96-140.


Vin. II. 73 ff.


Ibid. 3.


Ibid. 102 and 88.


Vin.II. 85.


Ibid. 4-5 ; also 86.


Ibid. 78 ff.


ibid. 80.


Ibid. 82.






Vin.II. 94.


Ibid. 95.


Infra p.126.


Vin.II. 92.


Vin.II. 84.


Ibid. 99.


M.II. 247.


Vin.II. 73 ff.


VinA.I.14 f.




Journal of the Ganganath Jha Research Institute, vol.X. Appendix.

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