Guide to Tipitaka

Canonical Pâli Buddhist Literature of the Theravâda School

by U Ko Lay | 48,543 words

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Book 1 - Parajika Pali

Parajika Pali which is Book I of the Vinaya Pitaka gives an elaborate explanation of the important rules of discipline concerning Parajika and Sarhghadisesa, as well as Aniyata and Nissaggiya which are minor offences.

(a) Parajika offences and penalties

Parajika discipline consists of four sets of rules laid down to prevent four grave offences. Any transgressor of these rules is defeated in his purpose in becoming a bhikkhu. In the parlance of Vinaya, the Parajika Apatti falls upon him; he automatically loses the status of a bhikkhu; he is no longer recognized as a member of the community of bhikkhus and is not permitted to become a bhikkhu again. He has either to go back to the household life as a layman or revert back to the status of a samanera, a novice.

ne who has lost the status of a bhikkhu for transgression of any of these rules is likened to (i) a person whose head has been cut off from his body; he cannot become alive even if the head is fixed back on the body; (ii) leaves which have fallen off the branches of the tree; they will not become green again even if they are attached back to the leaf-stalks; (iii) a flat rock which has been split; it cannot be made whole again, (iv) a palm tree which has been cut off from its stem; it will never grow again.

our Parajika offences which lead to loss of status as a bhikkhu

  1. The first Parajika: Whatever bhikkhu should indulge in sexual intercourse loses his bhikkhuhood.
  2. The second Parajika: Whatever bhikkhu should take with intention to steal what is not given loses his bhikkhuhood.
  3. Hie third Parajika: Whatever bhikkhu should intentionally deprive a human being of life loses his bhikkhuhood.
  4. The fourth Parajika: Whatever bhikkhu claims to attainments he does not really possess, namely, attainments to jhana or Magga and Phala Insight, loses his bhikkhuhood.

The Parajika offender is guilty of a very grave transgression. He ceases to be a bhikkhu. His offence, Apatti, is irremediable.

(b) Thirteen Samghaidisesa offences and penalties

Samghadisesa discipline consists of a set of thirteen rules which require formal participation, of the Samgha from beginning to end in the process of making him free from the guilt of transgression.

  1. A bhikkhu having transgressed these rules, and wishing to be free from his offence must first approach the Sarhgha and confess having committed the offence. The Samgha determines his offence and orders him to observe the parivasa penance, a penalty requiring him to live under suspension from association with the rest of the Saihgha, for as many days as he has knowingly concealed his offence,
  2. At the end of the parivasa observance, he undergoes a further period of penance, manatta, for six days to gain approbation of the Sariigha.
  3. Having carried out the manatta penance, the bhikkhu requests the Sariigha to reinstate him to full association with the rest of the Samgha.

Being now convinced of the purity of his conduct as before, the Samgha lifts theApatti at a special congregation attended by at least twenty bhikkhus, where natti, the motion for his reinstatement, is recited followed by three recitals ofkammavdca, procedural text for formal acts of the Samgha.

Some examples of the Samghadisesa offences.

(i) Kayasarfisagga offence:

If any bhikkhu with lustful, perverted thoughts engages in bodily contact with a woman, such as holding of hands, caressing the tresses of hair or touching any part of her body, he commits the Kayasa msagga Samghadisesa offence.

(ii) Sancaritta offence:

If any bhikkhu acts as a go-between between a man and a woman for their lawful living together as husband and wife or for temporary arrangement as man and mistress or woman and lover, he is guilty of Sancaritta Samghddtsesa offence.

(c) Two Aniyata offences and penalties

Aniyata means indefinite, uncertain. There are two Aniyata offences, the nature of which is uncertain and indefinite as to whether it is a Parajika offence, a Samghadisesa offence or a Pacittiya offence. It is to be determined according to provisions in the following rules

(i) If a bhikkhu sits down privately alone with a woman in a place which is secluded and hidden from view, and convenient for an immoral purpose and if a trustworthy lay woman (i.e. an Ariya), seeing him, accuses him of any one of the three offences:

  1. A Parajika offence,
  2. A Samghadisesa offence,
  3. A Pacittiya offence, and the bhikkhu himself admits that he was so sitting, he should be found guilty of one of these three offences as accused by the trustworthy lay woman.

(ii) If a bhikkhu sits down privately alone with a woman in a place which is not hidden from view and not convenient for an immoral purpose but convenient for talking lewd words to her, and if a trustworthy lay woman (i.e., An Ariya), seeing him, accuses him of any one of the two offences

  1. a Samghadisesa offence,
  2. a Pacittiya offence, and the bhikkhu himself admits that he was so sitting, he should be found guilty of one of these two offences as accused by the trustworthy lay woman.

(d) Thirty Nissaggiya Pacittiya offences and penalties

There are thirty rules under the Nissaggiya category of offences and penalties which are laid down to curb inordinate greed in bhikkhus for possession of material things such as robes, bowls etc. To give an example, an offence is done under these rules when objects not permitted are acquired, or when objects are acquired in more than the permitted quantity The penalty consists firstly of giving up the objects in respect of which the offence has been committed. Then it is followed by confession of the breach of the rule, together with an undertaking not to repeat the same offence, to the Sarhgha as a whole, or to a group of bhikkhus, or to an individual bhikkhu to whom the wrongfully acquired objects have been surrendered.

Some examples of the Nissaggiya Pacittiya offences.

(i) First Nissaggiya Sikkhapada:

If any bhikkhu keeps more than the permissible number of robes, namely, the lower robe, the upper robe and the great robe, he commits an offence for which he has to surrender the extra robes and confess his offence.

(ii) Civara Acchindana Sikkhapada:

If any bhikkhu gives away his own robe to another bhikkhu and afterwards, being angry or displeased, takes it back forcibly or causes it to be taken away by someone else, he commits a Nissaggiya Pacittiya offence.

Nissaggiya offences are light offences compared with the grave offences of Parajika Apatti or Sariighadisesa Apatti.

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