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 XII - Spiritual Leadership and Life in the Community

From the earliest times the Buddha was undoubtedly accepted as the leader of all the disciples who took to the monastic life. The venerable Assaji, who was one of the first five disciples of the Buddha, revealed this position to Sāriputta Paribbājaka

(Atth ' āvuso mahāsamano sakyaputto sakyakulā pabbajito tam bhagavantam uddissa pabbajito.
So ca me bhagavā satthā tassa cā ' ham bhagavato dhammam rocemi ' ti

- Vin.II. 40.).

Even after the community of the Sanṇgha increased in number and spread over wider regions this basic position remained unaltered. In the Bhayabherava Sutta, the Brahmin Jānussoni expresses the same view regarding the leadership of the Buddha and the Buddha himself is seen confirming it

(Ye ' me bho gotama kulaputtā bhavantam gotamam uddissa saddhā agārasmā anagāriyam pabbajitā bhavam tesam gotamo pubbaṇgamo bhavam tesam gotamo bahukāro bhavam gotamo samādapetā bhoto ca pana gotamassa sā janatā diṭṭhānugatim āpajjati ' ti.

Evam ' etam brāhmana evam ' etam brāhmana. Ye te brāhmana..... āpajjati ' ti

- M.I.16.).

However, as we have pointed out elsewhere, it was never the Buddha's desire to exercise too much personal control over the Saṇgha, either by himself or through his nominees.[1]

The Buddha is, in fact, happy that at an early stage in the history of the Sāsana he was able to discipline his disciples with the minimum instructions:

Na me tesu bhikkhusu anusāsani karaniyā ahosi

- M.I. 124.

On the other hand, it is the wish of the disciples that the Buddha should instruct them:

... aññad ' atthu mamam yeva sāvakā anusāsanim paccāsimsanti

- M.II. 10.

The disciples derived great benefits from the Teacher who placed them on the correct path to spiritual perfection. The disciples in turn emulated their Master and modelled their lives after him. The Gopakamoggallāna Sutta goes on to say that the disciples, however, never equalled the Master. As the founder of the way, he was supremely above them. They come as followers to pursue the path which was indicated by him.[2]

As the leader whose concern was the spiritual well-being of his disciples the Buddha always thought it was his duty to keep them reminded of the Norm and to explain to them the way to the perfection of their religious life. Thus he would explain to them some point of doctrine as the occasion necessitated and conclude his discourse to them by requesting them to apply themselves to the realisation of the goal which is set out in this teaching.

At the end of the Dvedhāvitakka Sutta, the Buddha sums up his position as teacher in the following words:

'Whatever, O monks, has to be done by a kind and compassionate teacher for the good of his disciples, that I have done for you. Here, O monks, are the sylvan retreats and solitary abodes. Be earnestly engaged in the perfection of your religious life. Brook no delay lest you have cause for lament afterwards. This is my advice to you. '

(Yam bhikkhave satthārā karaniyam sāvakānam hitesinā anukampam upādāya katam vo tam mayā.

Etāni bhikkhave rukkhamulāni etāni suññāgārāni. Jhāyatha bhikkhave mā pamāda ' ttha mā pacchā vippaṭisārino ahuvattha.

Ayam vo amhākam anusāsani ' ti

- M.I. 118.).

In the Sallekha Sutta the Buddha addresses these same words to Cunda.[3]

In the Indriyabhāvanā Sutta he does so after explaining to ananda what was regarded in Buddhism as the true cultivation of the senses.[4]

Not only did the Buddha give counsel himself but he also expected the lives of his disciples to be regulated through the guidance and instruction of other senior members of the Order. The Samyutta Nikāya gives a number of instances where the Buddha requests the venerable Mahā Kassapa to admonish the Bhikkhus as much as he does

(Ovada kassapa bhikkhu karohi kassapa bhikkhunam dhammikatham.

Aham vā kassapa bhikkhu ovadeyyam tvam vā aham vā bhikkhunam dhammikatham kareyyam tvam vā ' ti

- S.II. 203, 205, 208.).

However, it is said that the venerable Mahā Kassapa declined this invitation saying that the Bhikkhus of the day were not amenable to instruction and were resentful of such advice. It is mentioned repeatedly that he stated that the monks of his day were temperamentally unsuited for such correction

(Dubbacā kho bhante etarahi bhikkhu dovacassakaranehi dhammehi samannāgatā akkhamā appadakkhinaggāhino anusāsanim

- S.II. 204, 206, 208.).

This possible intolerance of advice and correction from fellow members of the community seems to be evident even in the early days of the Sāsana. The history of the Saṇghādisesa 12 shows how the venerable Channa resented such advice from fellow monks.[5]

From an analysis of this incident and the legislation that followed it becomes clear that in the corporate organization of the Saṇgha every member was expected to contribute his share towards mutual correction of their religious life. Every member was also expected to allow himself to be corrected by others

(Mā ' yasamā attānam avacaniyam akāsi vacaniyam eva āyasmā attānam karotu. ayasmā ' pi bhikkhu vadetu sahadhammena bhikkhu ' pi āyasmantam vakkhanti sahadhammena.

Evam samvaddhā hi tassa bhagavato parisā yad ' idam aññamaññavacanena aññamaññavuṭṭhāpanenā ' ti

- Vin. III.178.).

The Saṇghādisesa rule referred to above makes legal provision to enforce the acceptance of such correction by fellow monks. For he who resists such advice stubbornly up to a third time would be guilty of a Saṇghādisesa offence which, it should be realised, is second only to a Pārājika in its gravity.

Besides this legalised aspect of the acceptance of instruction from fellow members of the community which we find in the Vinaya Piṭaka, we also find in the Sutta Piṭaka numerous references where the willingness to accept instruction is referred to as a great monastic virtue. It is spoken of as leading to unity and concord among the members of the Saṇgha

(Yam ' pi bhikkhave bhikkhu suvaco hoti saovacassakaranehi dhammehi samannāgato khamo padakkhinaggāhi anusāsanim ayam ' pi dhammo sārāniyo piyakarano garukarano samgahāya avivādāya sāmaggiyā ekibhāvāya samvattati

- A.V. 90.).

It is also said to contribute to the stability and continuity of the Sāsana for a long time

(Ayam ' pi bhikkhave dhammo saddhammassa ṭhitiyā asammosāya anantaradhānāya samvattati

- A.II.148 ; III.180 ; V. 338).

Thus we see that in the corporate life of the Saṇgha the offer and acceptance of such advice for mutual welfare became a reality

(.... padakkhinaggāhi anusāsanin ' ti therā ' pi nam bhikkhu vattabbam anusāsitabbam maññanti

- A.V.27.).

This practice, we further discover, had been extended to the Bhikkhuni Saṇgha as well and the Buddha himself is seen requesting the venerable Nandaka to give counsel to the Bhikkhunis. Both the Sutta and the Vinaya Piṭakas bear testimony to the fact that it became a regular feature for the Bhikkhuni Saṇgha to be advised by competent and qualified members of the Bhikkhu Saṇgha. It is also evident that the Bhikkhunis regularly looked forward to it

(Ekamantam ṭhitā kho mahāpajāpati gotami bhagavantam etadavoca ovadatu bhante bhagavā bhikkhuniyo anusāsatu bhante bhagavā bhikkhuniyo karotu bhante bhagavā bhikkhuninam dhammikathan ' ti.

Tena kho pana samayena therā bhikkhu bhikkhuniyo ovadanti pariyāyena

- M.III. 270.).

In fact. under the third garudhamma it is incumbent on the Bhikkhunis to go to the Bhikkhu Saṇgha regularly for ovāda.[6]

Notwithstandig the venerable Mahā Kassapa's reticence we find a great claim made for the usefulness of such counsel and correction for those who have chosen to lead a life of religious zest. According to the circumstances such anusāsani or counsel would vary in each context. But it was always calculated to guide and direct the disciple who still has to accomplish his avowed mission

(Ye kho te brāhmana bhikkhu sekhā appattamānasā anuttaram yogakkhemam patthayamānā viharanti tesu me ayam evarupi anusāsani hoti

- M.III. 4.).

Such was the spiritual leadership provided by the Buddha which was respected and recognised quite independent of the subsequent achievements of the disciples. The same Sutta as quoted above makes it clear by saying that even under the guidance of the Buddha himself some disciples may fail to attain Nibbāna.

That is how the Tathāgata plays the limited role of a guide

(Evam eva kho brāhmana tiṭṭhat ' eva nibbānam tiṭṭhati nibbānagāmi maggo tiṭṭhām ' aham samādapetā.

Atha ca pana mama sāvakā mayā evam ovadiyamānā evam anusāsiyamānā appekacce accantaniṭṭham nibbānam ārādhenti ekacce na ārādhenti.

Ettha kvā ' ham brāhmana karomi maggakkhāyi brāhmana tathāgato ' ti

- M.III. 6.).

It is possible to state that there must have been besides the Buddha a number of senior members of the Saṇgha who were concerned with the progress of the religious life of their fellow members. The two chief disciples of the Buddha, Sāriputta and Moggallāna, no doubt, figure prominent among them. In the Anaṇgana Sutta the venerable Moggallāna himself gives pride of place to the venerable Sāriputta.[7]

The venerable Sāriputta gives here his fellow monks a long discourse on the defiling traits of the mind. At the end of it the venerable Moggallāna remarks that Sāriputta's clear analysis served to purge the minds of those disciples who were lacking in faith but had taken to the monastic life to eke out an existence and were corrupt, stupid and undisciplined

(Tesam āyasmā sāriputto iminā dhammapariyāyena hadayā hadayam maññe aññāya tacchati

- M.I. 32.).

The devoted and faithful disciples, Moggallāna further remarks, would relish and rejoice over these words of instruction

(Te āyasmato sāriputtassa imam dhammapariyāyam sutvā pipanti maññe vacasā c ' eva manasā ca

- M.I. 32.).

The sole purpose of such instruction is conceived to be the guidance of fellow monks so as to keep them out of evil and place them on the path of virtue

(Sādhu vata bho sabrahmacāri akusalā vuṭṭhāpetvā kusale patiṭṭhāpeti

- Ibid.).

However, as pointed out by the venerable Mahā Kassapa it has not always been an easy or pleasant task to criticise and correct the conduct of a fellow member, for many miscreants were ill-tempered and resentful of correction.

The history of Saṇghādisesa 12 lends further support to this view

(Bhikkhu pan ' eva dubbacajātiko hoti uddesapariyāpannesu sikkhāpadesu bhikkuhi sahadhammikam vuccamāno attānam avacaniyam karoti mā mam āyasmanto kiñci avacuttha kalyānam vā pāpakam vā aham ' p ' āyasmante na kiñci vakkhāmi kalyānam vā pāpakam vā. Viramathāyasmanto mama vacanāyā ' ti

- Vin.III. 178.).

The recurrence of such situations seems to have been long recognised as a reality in the Sāsana. The Anumāna Sutta which the venerable Moggallāna addressed to fellow members of the Order is evidently calculated to spotlight such situations and indicate ways and means of remedying them.

The Sutta enumerates sixteen evil qualities which make a monk unworthy of advice from fellow members. Those which are referred to as dovacassakaranadhammā include sinful thoughts, diverse expressions of violent temper, and abuse and counter attack of the critics. Besides these, they also embrace such weaknesses as jealousy, treason, fraud and deceit, and stubbornness in many ways.

The presence of such evil traits would make the members of the Order distrust a fellow celibate and consider it indiscreet to offer advice and criticism even at his bidding

(Pavāreti ce ' pi āvauso bhikkhu vadantu mam āyasmanto vacaniyo' mhi āyasmantehi ' ti so ca hoti dubbaco dovacassakaranehi dhammehi samannāgato akkhamo appadakkhinaggāhi anusāsanim.

Atha kho nam sabrahmacāri na c ' eva vattabbam maññanti na ca anusāsitabbam maññanti na ca tasmim puggale vissāsam āpajjitabbam maññanti

- M.I. 95.).

The venerable Moggallāna therefore makes a plea for the correction of these failings

(Sace āvuso bhikkhu paccavekkhamāno sabbe ' p ' ime pāpake akusale dhamme appahine attani samanupassati ten ' āvuso bhikkhunā sabbesam y ' eva imesam pāpakānam akusalānam dhammānam pahānāya vāyamitabbam

- Ibid.).

However, inspite of everything, the need for constant guidance and correction of the disciples became increasingly imperative. Thus while the Sutta Piṭaka praised the willingness of monks to accept such conusel from fellow members as a great monastic virtue and indicated how the monks should qualify themselves to be worthy of it, the Vinaya on the other hand made it almost incumbent on them to lead their monastic life under such guidance.

In the early days of the Sāsana when the Buddha had only a limited number of Bhikkhus under his wing, it was found possible to regulate their lives without any enforced injunctions.

The messageof the Buddha was more or less personally conveyed to them. The loyalties of the early disciples to the Master were so sincere that a gentle reminder was all that was needed to regulate a disciple's conduct, for he undoubtedly knew what was expected of him. This is what is implied in the remarks which the Buddha made regarding his disciples in the Kakacupama Sutta. The Master once addressed his disciples and said the following:

'There was a time when the Bhikkhus pleased me (by their conduct)......
It was not necessary that I should lay down instructions for them.
It was only a suggestion that they needed.' [8]

But with the spread of Buddhism over wider territories there was a corresponding increase in the number of admissions into the Order. We know from the evidence of the Vinaya Piṭaka that latterly the Buddha did not personally preside over such admissions.[9]

Further, with these increasing numbers, there entered into the Order men of varying degrees of maturity as well as sincerity. They were not all prompted by a genuine desire to seek spiritual perfection in the monastic life. In the Anaṇgana Sutta the venerable Mahāmoggallāna makes a complete survey of such cases.[10]

In the interests of the Sāsana and the spiritual betterment of the monks themselves, they needed constant exhortation and compulsory training in discipline. The words of the venerable Sāriputta in the above Sutta were praised by the venerable Moggallāna as serving this purpose. Besides such counsel given from time to time, we also notice the Khandhakas devoting much time to the regulation and correction of the conduct of the members of the Order.

As pointed out by the Buddha himself such bad conduct would not only have contradicted the lofty ideals and aspirations of the monastic life but also would have discredited the members of the Order in the eyes of the public on whose good-will they were entirely dependent for their sustenance. The Khandhakas refer to instances where owing to the lack of teachers and regular instruction the members of the monastic community conducted themselves without decorum and propriety

(Tena kho pana samayena bhikkhu anupajjhāyakā anovadiyamānā ananusāsiyamānā dunnivatthā duppārutā anākappasampannā pindāya caranti

- Vin.I. 44, 60.).

The Buddha rules out such bad conduct as being reprehensible. He repeatedly pointed out that such conduct would lead to loss of faour with the public and bar the new movement which was initiated by him from winning fresh converts and stabilising itself among the old

(Ananucchaviyam ananulomikam appaṭtirupam assāmanakam akappiyam akaraniyam.
N ' etam bhikkhave appasannānam vā pasādāya pasannānam vā bhiyyobhāvāya......
appasannānañ c ' eva appasādāya pasannānañ ca aññathattāyā ' ti

- Vin. I.45.).

The system of discipline which is set out in the Khandhakas attempts to remedy this situation by the appointment of two categories of teachers called Upajjhāya and acariya who would preside over the conduct of the members of the Saṇgha. Barring the central authority of the Buddha in his day as the founder of the organization, these two constituted the spiritual leadership of the monastic community.

Referring to these, the commentarial tradition of the Samantapāsādikā defines an Upajjhāya as a teacher who could judge correctly and point out to his pupils what is right and wrong

(Anupajjhāyakā ' ti vajjāvajjam upanijjhāyakena garunā virahitā

- VinA.V. 977.).

A very different role is assigned to the acariya in the same work. He is the teacher from whom the pupils acquire their refinement and culture

(Anujānāmi bhikkhave ācariyan ' ti ācārasamācārasikkhāpanakam ācariyam anujānāmi

- Ibid. 985.).

As we trace the role of the Upajjhāya and the acariya in the Khandhakas we see in places what approximates to a difference in their respective duties. When a pupil elects his acariya and invites him to fill that role, the formal invitation in terms of which he has to do it gives us some indication that the acariya appears to be his proximate teacher under whose immediate supervision he takes up residence. For he is made to say:

'Be thou my acariya. I shall live under thee.'

(Acariyo me bhante hohi āyasmato nissāya vacchāmi

- Vin. I. 60.).

But under the election of an Upajjhāya we do not discover any such specification of relationship.[11]

However, as the pupil reaches maturity in the Order and seniority of status (upasampadā) is conferred upon him he comes to owe his allegiance to the Upajjhāya. At the earliest stage in the history of the Sāsana, when the act of upasampadā assumed a formal character, it became necessary to announce in the assembly of the Saṇgha the name of the Upajjhāya under whose responsibility the Saṇgha confers seniority of status on the noviciate

(Sunātu me bhante saṇgho. Ayam itthannāmo itthannāmassa āyasmato upasampadāpekkho. Yadi saṇghassa pattakallam saṇgho itthannāmam upasampādeyya itthannāmena upajjhāyena. Esā ñatti

- Vin.1. 56.).

However, speaking of the various duties to be performed by those who preside over the discipline of the members of the Order, the Khandhakas seem to look upon both Upajjhāya and acariya as playing similar roles in the maintenance of monastic discipline. But there can be

little doubt that each one of them carried an emphasis of his own. Both are required to be competent to develop their pupils on the following lines:

  1. ...to guide them in the discipline for the acquisition of decorum and propriety.
  2. ...to guide them in the discipline leading to the attainment of the monastic ideal.
  3. ...to regulate their life in terms of the Dhamma.
  4. ...to regulate their life in terms of the Vinaya.
  5. ...to dispel any incorrect views they come to entertain by analysing them in terms of the Dhamma.

(Paṭibalo hoti antevāsim vā saddhivihārim vā abhisamācārikāya sikkhāya sikkhāpetum ādibrahmacariyikāya sikkhāya vinetum abhidhamme vinetum abhivinaye vinetum uppannam diṭṭhigatam dhammato vivecetum vivecāpetum

- Vin. I. 64f.).

The antevāsi and saddhivihāri referred to here are the pupils of the acariya and the Upajjhāya respectively, both of whom seem to exercise authority over the development of discipline on similar lines. The significance of abhisamācārikā sikkhā and ādibrahmacariyikā sikkhā in terms of which the acariya and the Upajjhāya have to train their pupils has already been discussed under sila and sikkhā.[12]

Suffice it here to say that as has been already pointed out these two forms of sikkhā are capable of exhausting between them the whole range of monastic discipline. The two terms abhidhamma and abhivinaya which are further referred to and in terms of which the pupils are to be trained by their teachers are equally comprehensive and may well echo an earlier phase of the Sāsana when the whole of the Buddha's teaching was reckoned in terms of Dhamma and Vinaya.

Thus abhidhamme vineti and abhivinaye vineti would therefore cover the disciple's personal spiritual development as well as his monastic discipline. However, Budddhaghosa is seen narrowing the scope of the term abhidhamma here when he defines it as abhidhamme ti nāmarupaparicchede vinetum na paṭibalo ti attho.[13]

This attempt of Buddhaghosa to define the term abhidhamma here as meaning a special branch of knowledge which is really in the field of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka is both unnecessary and unwarranted. This has already been pointed out by Oldenberg[14] and Miss Horner.[15]

But Buddhaghosa was evidently very strongly influenced by a tradition which attempted at all costs to claim for the Abhidhamma equal antiquity with the Sutta and the Vinaya. Finally, the teacher should safeguard his pupil against entertaining false views regarding the Dhamma and hasten to correct them whenever their presence is detected.

The importance of spiritual leadership in the rapidly expanding monastic community is further recognised in the Khandhakas as is evident from the discussions on nissaya.[16]

At one stage the Buddha seems to have thought it fit to lay down that a pupil should live ten years under the guidance of his teacher, acariya or Upajjhāya.[17]

Such a teacher must himself claim ten years standing in the Sāsana to be qualified to offer such guidance

(Anujānāmi bhikkhave dasavassāni nssāya vatthum dasavassena nissayam dātum

- Vin.I. 60.).

Subsequently it is added that the teacher who provides such guidance should not only possess his seniority of ten or more years but also be a competent and able one

(Anujānāmi bhikkhave vyattena bhikkhunā paṭibalena dasavassena vā atirekadasavassena vā nissayam dātum

- Op.cit. 62.).

In course of time, under changing circumstances, it was conceded that an able and efficient pupil need spend only five years under such tutelage. However, an incompetent one may be required to spend all his life under such conditions

(Anujānāmi bhikkhave vyattena bhikkhunā paṭbalena pañcavassāni nissāya vatthum avyattena yāvajivam

- Op.cit. 80.).

Nissayapaṭippassaddhi or the withdrawal of the condition of being under the guidance of the teacher is effected only under special circumstances. Five such conditions are mentioned in the Khandhakas in relation to the Upajjjhāya.[18]

The dependence of a pupil on his Upajjhāya may be terminated on the latter's departure, leaving the Order, death or joining another religious group. It may also happen at the express wish of the teacher

(Pañc ' imā bhikkhave nissaya-paṭippassaddhiyo upajjhāyamhā. Upajjhāyo pakkanto vā hoti vibbhamanto vā kālamkato vā pakkasamkanto vā ānatti yeva pañcami

- Vin.I. 62.).

In the case of the acariya these five considerations are repeated and a sixth condition is added, which reads to the effect that whenever the Upajjhāya as the higher authority comes to supersede the acariya the pupil's dependence on the acariya is terminated:

upajjhāyena vā samodhānam gato hoti

- Ibid.

Here we are inclined to agree with S. Dutt in his interpretation of this point. He reads the above phrase to mean

'when the Upajjhāya and the acariya are together, nissaya towards the latter ceases.' [19]

The Samantapāsādikā explains it in a manner which makes it appear unnecessarily formal and mechanical.[20]

This last consideration apparently takes note of the possible overlapping of the services of the Upajjhāya and the acariya in the role of nissayadāyaka. Certain concessions are also given with regard to life under nissaya to monks who are proceeding on a journey, are incapacitated on account of illness and to those who have chosen residence in the forest in their own interest.[21]

With such a vital role to play in the monastic community the acariya and the Upajjhāya were placed in loco parentis to their pupils by the Buddha. The teacher, acariya or Upajjhāya, should look after his pupil with paternal concern

(acariyo bhikkhave antevāsikamhi puttacittam upaṭṭhapessati

- Vin.I. 45, 60.).

Similarly a pupil must look upon his teacher with filial regard

(Antevāsiko ācariyamhi pitucittam upaṭṭhapessati....

Evam te aññamaññam sagāravā sappatissā sabhāgavuttino viharantā imasmim dhammavinaye vuddhim viru?him vepullam āpajjissanti

- Ibid.).

The Theragāthā states that such mutual respect in the monastic community is an essential step in the ladder of spiritual progress

(Yassa sabrahmacārisu gāravo nupalabbhati parihāyati saddhammā maccho appodake yathā. etc.

Thag. 387 f.).

The teacher, thus placed in this honoured position, is expected to benefit his pupil in diverse ways of which his contribution to the pupil's spiritual progress ranks uppermost. The Khandhakas which define his proper service to the pupil go on to say that he should further the latter's progress by means of uddesa, paripucchā, ovāda and anusāsani.[22]

The Samanta-pāsādikā explains uddesa as pālivācanā and paripucchā as pāliyā atthavannanā, thus making it clear that it was necessary for the pupil to gain a knowledge of the teachings of the Master together with their explanation under his teacher.[23]

It was one of the duties of the teacher to see it perfected. He was also expected to regulate the pupil's day to day life by means of ovāda and anusāsani. Under ovāda the Samantapāsādikā indicates that the teacher should forewarn his pupil regarding impropriety of behaviour

(Ovādo ti anotinne vatthusmim idam karohi idam mā karitthā ' ti vacanam

- VinA.V. 982.).

If the pupil happens to slip into an error the teacher should then give him further advice

(Anusāsani ' ti otinne vatthusmim

- Ibid.).

The pupil who thus develops his religious life under the tutelage of his acariya or Uajjhāya has also a part to play in safeguarding the spiritual well-being of his teachers. In the closely knitted life of the monastic community every member, both young and old, was expected to contribute his share towards mutual correction of the irreligious life and also to let himself be corrected by others. This was observed earlier under the Saṇghādisesa12 where the following comments are made:

'May you, O sir, admonish the Bhikkhus.
The Bhikkhus too, will admonish you.
Thus the disciples of the Buddha are nurtured in this manner through mutual advice and correction.'

(ayasmā ' pi bhikkhu vadetu sahadhammena.
Bhikkhu ' pi āyasmantam vakkhanti sahadhammena.
Evam-samvaddhā hi tassa bhagavato parisā yadidam aññamaññavacanena aññamañña-vuṭṭhāpanenā ' ti

- Vin. III. 178.).

Thus a pupil was expected to help his teacher in the perfection of his religious life in the following ways:[24]

If the teacher shows lack of interest in the perfection of his religious life the pupil must make every effort to dispel it.
If the teacher comes to entertain any doubt or heresy the pupil must strive to eradicate it by having recourse to religious discussions.

The pupil is further empowered to urge the Saṇgha into action against his teacher if the latter is guilty of a more serious monastic offence (garudhamma). As the imposition of penalties and punishments is vital in the correction of monastic indiscipline the pupil has to see that the Saṇgha carries out without fail the necessary disciplinary action on his teacher. Assisting the Saṇgha in this manner for the proper enforcement on miscreants of remedial penalties which are part of the code of the Pātimokkha was considered a great serviceby the pupil both to his teacher and to the monastic community.

On the otherhand, if the Saṇgha wishes to carry out on his teacher a dandakamma or formal act, the pupil may then plead with the Saṇgha for the mitigation of sentence. He may go so far as to request the Saṇgha to waive it completely.

However, if the punishment is meted out to the teacher the pupil must request him to conduct himself through it in a commendable manner.

This reciprocity of relations between the teacher and the pupil seems to extend to many spheres of monastic life besides the furtherance of spiritual well-being. The Khandhakas describe in great detail the services which a pupil should render to his teacher.[25]

In the day to day life of the monastic community a pupil is expected to attend to the physical needs of his teacher. He shall commence his duties at daybreak by providing water and other requisites for the teacher to wash his face. He shall then prepare a seat for him and shall attend on him while he is at his meals. He shall also take good care of the teacher's possessions such as the bowl and the robe. He shall keep the teacher's place of residence in perfect order, taking good care of its belongings. In cases of illness, he shall attend on him all his life looking forward to his recovery.

The teacher, in turn, has many duties which he shall fulfil towards his pupil.[26] He shall see that his pupil comes to possess such necessaries like the bowl and the robe. Further to this, if the pupil happens to be indisposed, there devolves also on the teacher the additional duty of attending to all his physical needs such as were described in relation to the duties of a pupil towards his teacher.

The relationship of teacher and pupil is thus seen to be established on a basis of mutual respect and consideration. From the very inception of monastic community life such safeguards were provided in order that the machinery for its administration may not get out of control or breakdown under the strain of abuse or corruption. The first signs of the necessity to restrict the number of pupils under a single teacher appears with the incident of the two noviciate pupils of the venerable Upanada who abused each other.[27]

In those early days of the Sāsana when the monastic community was evolving itself into shape as a respected institution we are not surprised that the first prompt action taken against the possibility of such an incident was the ban that was imposed that no teacher should keep more than one pupil

(Na bhikkhave ekena dve sāmanerā upaṭṭhāpetabbā. Yo upaṭṭhāpeyya āpatti dukkatassa

- Vin.I. 79.).

The disciplinary machinery of the Vinaya was used to enforce this condition as is clear from the imposition of a Dukkaṭa offence on one who fails to respect it. However, the spirit underlying this was the consideration that a teacher should have proper control over his pupils and should be able to direct their lives so as not to allow them to drift away from the path of

the holy life. Consequently we find the first restriction modified soon afterwards and a teacher is allowed to have as many pupils as he could guide and instruct

(...yāvatake vā pana ussahati ovaditum anusāsitum tāvatake upaṭṭhāpetum

- Vin. I. 83).

In executing the proper responsibility towards the pupils a teacher is empowered to make use of certain disciplinary measures whenever the need arises. Having specified as to what should be the proper mode of conduct of a pupil towards his teacher, the Vinaya proceeds to ensure that this order is not violated except under the pain of punishment. A teacher is given the right to turn away a pupil who does not conform to this pattern of conduct.[28]

But it is also left possible for the pupil to tender an apology to his teacher and be pardoned by him for any of his transgressions. Likewise young noviciate monks who show no respect or courtesy to the senior members of the community are also liable to be subject to punishment.[29]

The freedom of movement of such miscreants may be curtailed and certain restrictions may be imposed on them. At the same time it is interesting to note the extra safeguards the Vinaya provides against possible abuse of power by those who are placed in positions of trust to regulate the lives of the juniors. Several interesting examples may be cited. No teacher shall refuse to forgive his pupil whom he has turned away if he comes back to him with a sincere apology.

The law shall also not be abused to turn away a really good pupil. At the same time it is also made incumbent on the teacher to turn away without discrimination every pupil who violates the accepted pattern of conduct


Any teacher who disregards these considerations shall be himself guilty of a Dukkaṭa offence.[30]

Despite all these attempts to maintain law and order in the monastic community, we discover on the evidence of the Vinaya Piṭka itself rebellious and disruptive forces at work within the Sāsana. These miscreants are generally associated with the 'band of six' or Chabbaggiya Bhikkhus. These Chabbaggiya Bhikkhus and their followers attempt to wreck the machinery which is set up fot the maintenance of monastic discipline. In the introduction to Pācittiya 63 we discover them challenging the validity of ecclesiastical acts which have been correctly performed by the Saṇgha.[31]

At Pācittiya 76 they make false accusations against innocent Bhikkhus.[32]

The most reprehensible example of such behaviour is the conduct of Mettiyabhummajaka Bhikkhus who falsely accuse the venerable Dabbamallaputta of a Pārājika offence.[33]

These miscreant monks are seen over and over again attempting to bring chaos and bitterness into the life in the monastic community.[34]

Prompted by his personal animosity against the Buddha, Devadatta too, appears to have taken a leading part in such activity. The circumstances which led to the promulgation of Saṇghādisesa 10 clearly illustrate the subtle move by Devadatta to break up the unity of the Buddhist Saṇgha.[35]

This tendency assumed dangerous proportions when such a move was either led by a body of people which was large enough to canvass opinion in its favour or was pioneered by one who by his power or popularity was able to influence a considerable section of the community and the public. When Devadatta stood condemned for his attempts to disrupt the unity of the Saṇgha, Kokālika attempted to convert a group in support of Devadatta.[36]

This schismatic tendency is seen to have been widely prevalent even in the earliest days of the Sāsana. Under the history of the Tajjaniya-kamma it is recorded that the followers of Pandukalohitaka Bhikkhus went around inciting groups of monks to fight others.[37]

Similar behaviour on the part of Chabbaggiya Bhikkhus isseen in Pācittiya 3 where they are seen indulging

in tale-bearing with a view to creatig dissensions in the Saṇgha.[38]

On the otherhand, Assajipunabbasuka Bhikkhus of Kiṭāgiri who became very popular among the people of the neighbourhood were able to mislead them completely as to what constituted the proper form of monastic behaviour. The unwarranted friendship and familiarity of these Bhikkhus had won for them such confidence with the lay people that they refused to regard as acceptable even the more restrained and dignified behaviour of any other monk.[39]

Thus these groups of miscreant monks were fast establishing themselves as the true representatives of the Buddhist Saṇgha. The danger of this was soon realised and the Buddha hastens to enlist the support of the leading disciples like Sāriputta and Moggallāna to eradicate such vicious elements. It is already evident that they had become considerably powerful and were even capable of physical violence. Sāriputta and Moggalāna make mention of this to the Buddha who then suggests that they should go reinforced with large numbers to deal with these miscreant monks.[40]

In carrying out disciplinary action against them, the Buddha tells Sāriputta and Moggallāna that they are only exercising their authority as leaders in the Sāsana

(Gacchatha tumhe sāriputtā kiṭāgirim gantvā assajipunabbasukānam bhikkhunam kiṭāgirismā pabbājaniyakammam karotha. Tumhākam ete saddhivihārino ' ti

- Vin.II. 14 ; III.182.).

For ever afterwards these two dynamic characters, Sāriputta and Moggallāna, served as the model of good monastic living. The Buddha himself endorsed this view and held that every good disciple should emulate them

(Saddho bhikkhave bhikkhu evam sammā āyācamāno āyāceyya tādiso homi yādisā sāriputtamoggallānā ' ti.

Esā bhikkhave tulā etam pamānam mama sāvakānam bhikkhunam yadidam sāriputta-moggallānā ' ti

- A.II. 164.)

Footnotes and references:


D.II.100,154 ; Vin.II.188.


M.III. 8.


M.I. 46.


M.III. 302.


Vin. III.177.


Vin. II. 255.


M.I. 32.


Ibid. 124.


Vin.I. 22.


M.I. 32.


Vin.1. 45.


See Chapter IV.


VinA.V. 990.


Vin. I. Intr. p.xii. n. 2.


The Book of the Discipline, IV. 84. n.1. See also Miss Horner's art. Abhidhamma Abhivinaya, IHQ. Vol. XVII. 291 ff.


Vin. I. 60, 62, 80. Nissaya: In this context it means the dependence of the pupil on his teacher for guidance and instruction. The Vinaya prescribes a compulsory period of such tutelage for young pupil monks.


Vin.1. 60, 62.


Vin.1. 62.


S.Dutt, Early Buddhist Monachism, 149 f.


VinA.V. 988.


Vin.1. 92.


Ibid. 50. These terms are translated as recitation, interrogation, exhortation and instruction respectively at BD. IV. 67 f.


Vin.A.V. 982.


Vin.I. 49.


Ibid. 1. 44 f.


Ibid. 50 f.


Ibid. 1.79.


Vin. 1.54.


Ibid. 84.


Ibid. 54 f.


Vin.IV. 126.


Ibid. 147.


See Saṇgh. 9 : Vin. III. 166 f.


See Pāc. 79, 80 : Vin. IV. 151 f.


Vin. III. 171 f.


Ibid. 175.


Vin. II. 1 f.


Vin. IV.12.


Vin. III. 181.


Vin. II.14 ; III.182.

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