Vinaya (2): The Mahavagga

by T. W. Rhys Davids | 1881 | 156,382 words

The Mahavagga (part of the Vinaya collection) includes accounts of Gautama Buddha’s and the ten principal disciples’ awakenings, as well as rules for ordination, rules for reciting the Patimokkha during uposatha days, and various monastic procedures....

Mahavagga, Khandaka 6, Chapter 22

1. Now when the Blessed One had remained at Sāvatthi as long as he thought fit, he went forth on his journey to Rājagaha. And wandering straight on he arrived at Rājagaha: and there at Rājagaha he stayed at the Veluvana in the Kalandaka-nivāpa.

Now at that time a certain Bhikkhu was suffering from fistula[1]. And the physician (named) Ākāsa-gotta lanced it. And the Blessed One when he was going round through the sleeping-places came to the place where that Bhikkhu dwelt.

2. Ākāsa-gotta, the physician, saw the Blessed One coming from afar; and when he saw him he said to the Blessed One: 'Let the venerable Gotama come and look at this Bhikkhu's orifice; it is like the mouth of an iguana!' And the Blessed One thinking, 'This foolish fellow is making fun of me,' kept silence and turned away. And in that connection, and on account of that, he called a meeting of the Bhikkhu-saṃgha, and asked the Bhikkhus: Is there, O Bhikkhus, in that Vihāra a Bhikkhu who is sick?'

'There is, Lord.'

'What is the matter, O Bhikkhus, with that Bhikkhu?'

'That venerable one, Lord, has a fistula, and Ākāsa-gotta, the physician, has been lancing it.'

3. The Blessed Buddha rebuked (that Bhikkhu), saying, 'This is improper, O Bhikkhus, for that foolish one, unbecoming, indecent, unworthy of Samaṇas, not allowable, and ought not to be done. How can this foolish fellow, O Bhikkhus, allow a surgical operation to be performed in that part of his body[2]? The skin there, O Bhikkhus, is tender, the wound is difficult to treat, the knife is difficult to guide. This will not redound, O Bhikkhus, to the conversion of the unconverted.'

And having rebuked him, the Blessed One, after delivering a religious discourse, said to the Bhikkhus: You are not, O Bhikkhus, to allow a surgical operation to be performed upon you in that part of your bodies. Whosoever allows that, is guilty of a thullaccaya offence.'

4. Now at that time the Chabbaggiya Bhikkhus, since a surgical operation had been forbidden by the Blessed One, used a clyster[3].

They told this thing to the Blessed One.

'Is it true, as they say, O Bhikkhus, that the Chabbaggiya Bhikkhus use a clyster?'

'It is true, Lord.'

He rebuked them, and having delivered a religious discourse, said to the Bhikkhus: 'No surgical operation is to be performed within a distance of two inches round the anus, and a clyster is not to be used. Whosoever does so, is guilty of a thullaccaya offence[4].'

Footnotes and references:


Compare VIII, 1, 14.




Vatthikamma. See Wise, 'Hindu Medicine,' pp. 143 and following.


Surgical operations are allowed in 14. 5 and below.

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