by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The two forms of Patimokkha contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as the arrival of Upatissa and Kolita. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
Prologue: As stated above, our Buddha Gotama, the Self-Enlightened One had only one occasion when the disciples gathered together in an assembly characterised by four features. It was on this occasion that the Buddha gave instructions for the first time on the obligation of a bhikkhu, Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
Brief exhortations and code of discipline laid down by the Buddhas is called Pāṭimokkha because they keep away those, who observe and follow them, from the danger of falling into states of woe. The pāṭimokkha is of two forms (a) Ovāda Pāṭimokkha (b) Ana Pāṭimokkha.
Of those two forms, the pāṭimokkha for exhortation, Ovāda Pāṭimokkha is taught by Fully Self-Enlightened Buddhas exclusively. Ovāda Pāṭimokkha consists of three stanzas beginning with: “Khantī Paraman tapo titikkhā.” Every Buddha gave their exhortation only with these three stanzas; there has been no deviation among them. However, as regards the occasions and time intervals when they were delivered, there had been differences as explained below:
Buddha Vipassī taught Ovāda Pāṭimokkha once in every seven years; the exhortation held good for seven years. Buddhas Sikhī and Vessabhū taught it every six years, Buddhas Kakusana and Konaguna, every year and Buddha Kassapa every six months, as His exhortations lasted for six months.
All the Buddhas of the past taught Ovāda Pāṭimokkha only. (But the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha was then not taught once in every half month). To explain further: Buddha Vipassī taught Ovāda Pāṭimokkha once every six years and He recited it himself. The bhikkhu disciples did not recite the pāṭimokkha within the precincts of their own monastery. All the bhikkhus within the entire region of Jambudīpa gathered together to hold the uposatha service only in the precinct of the monastery where Buddha Vipassī resided. The monastery was situated in the garden of Khemā, a sanctuary for animals near the country of Bandhumati.
During the days of Buddha Vipassī, there used to be eighty-four thousand monasteries, and within each monastery there dwelt ten thousand to twenty thousand bhikkhus who were keeping themselves pure by staying away from individuals with whom they have nothing in common (visabhāga puggala). They also observe more austere practices. Devas, who had taken up the duty of announcing the Uposatha days, went round the monasteries where bhikkhus resided (once every year) to address them: “Your Reverence, who have a peaceful life, a year is past, two years, three years, four years, five years have past. This is the sixth year and the coming full-moon day is the day when you should all approach the Buddha to pay homage and to hold the Uposatha service. It is now time for you all to assemble in the presence of the Buddha.”
Bhikkhus, who possessed of supernormal powers, found their own way to the monastery in the Khemā Sanctuary where the Buddha Vipassī was residing. Bhikkhus who possessed no supernatural power went to that monastery with the assistance of the devas in this manner: The powerless bhikkhus were then living in monasteries situated near the shores of the east, west, north and south oceans. Before they proceeded to the assembly, they performed the bounden duties of setting beds and dwelling places in order, then taking the necessary bowls and robes, they willed, “Let us be off” and instantaneously they found themselves(with the aid of the devas) sitting in the presence of Buddha Vipassī in the Observance Hall, and paying respect to him.
When the full assembly of bhikkhus had congregated, Buddha Vipassī, recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha as follow:
Forbearing patience (Khantī: Adhivāsana Khantī) is the most excellent moral practice. Buddhas proclaim: “Nibbāna, which is freedom from craving, is supreme.” He who injures, kills others is not one who has gone forth. One who harms others is not a noble bhikkhu who has extinguished all defilements.
“Not to do anything evil (to refrain from evil), to cultivate faultless meritorious deeds pertaining to four realms, to purify ones mind by discarding the five-fold hindrances which defile it”——these are the instructions, exhortations, advices given by each and every Buddha. (One should endeavour to refrain from demeritorious deeds by observing moral precepts; to perform meritorious deeds pertaining to four realms through practice of Concentration and Insight meditations of both mundane and supramundane levels; and bring about complete purification of one’s mind through attainment of arahatta-phala. This is the expressed exhortation, instruction laid down by all the Buddhas.)
“Not to accuse others or cause others to accuse (meaning vocal restraint); not to ill-treat others or cause others to kill or ill treat others (bodily restraint), to observe the chief moral precepts and guard them from being stained or blemished (meaning observance of Pāṭimokkha-saṅvara-sīla and Indriya-saṅvara-sīla.)
Knowing the right measure in the matter of food (referring to Ājīvapārisuddhi-sīla and Paccaya-sannissita-sīla), dwelling in places of seclusion (sappāya senāsana), constant application to develop the eight attainments (samāpatti) which serve as the basis of Insight ñāṇa (Vipassanā-ñāṇa)”——this set of six precepts (dhamma) constitute the exhortation, instruction and advices of all the Buddhas (given by every Buddha).
In this manner only, Buddha Sikhī and all other Buddhas taught and recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha; there are no differences as special teaching or verse recited by them. As stated above, the Dhammapada commentary mentions only differences in time factor.
Only these three verses form the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha stanza which were recited by all the
Buddhas. Buddhas with longer life span recited them all throughout their life time; Buddhas of shorter life span recited them in the earlier portion of their lives (Paṭṭhama Bodhi), from the time they started laying down the training rules till they stopped teaching, reciting the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha. Only their disciples recited the Vinaya disciplinary rules, also called the Ānā Pāṭimokkha, once every fortnight. (Buddhas never recited the Ānā Pāṭimokkha).
Therefore, our own Buddha Gotama, the Enlightened One, taught the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha only in the first twenty years of His Buddhahood, known as the Paṭṭhama Bodhi. (Cf. Vinaya Commentary First book etc.)
Footnotes and references:
This is as mentioned in the Introduction to Ānnandattherapaññā vatthu of Dhammapada Commentary (Vol. II).
Adhivasana khantī–means exertion or putting forth energy to bear patiently the blames and accusations made by others, forbearance to withstand cold and heat without the slightest sign of discomfort.
Sīlas: read Anudipani. Chapter VI Pāramīta (Perfections).