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 7, Chapter 1

1. Now at that time the Blessed One was staying at Sāvatthi, in the Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍika's Grove. And at that time about thirty Pāṭheyyaka Bhikkhus[1], who were all dwellers in the forest, all living on alms, all dressed in rags from the dust heap, all having only three robes each, when they were on the way to Sāvatthi to visit the Blessed One, at the time when the period for entering upon Vassa was at hand, were unable to reach Sāvatthi in time to spend the Vassa there, and stayed at Sāketa on the way for the Vassa. And they spent the period of Vassa in discomfort, thinking, 'Our Blessed One is staying near us, six leagues from here, and we are not able to visit the Blessed One.'

And when, after three months, those Bhikkhus had completed their Vassa residence, and had held their Pavāraṇā, they went on to the place where the Blessed One was, at Sāvatthi, in the Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍika's Grove, while the rain was falling, and the waters were gathering[2], and the swamps were forming, and their robes were all drenched, and they were weary. And when they had arrived, they saluted the Blessed One, and took their seats on one side.

2. Now it is the custom of the blessed Buddhas to greet kindly Bhikkhus who have just arrived. And the Blessed One said to those Bhikkhus[3]:

Do things go well with you, O Bhikkhus? Do you get enough to support yourselves with? Have you kept Vassa well, in unity, and in concord, and without quarrel, and have you not suffered from want of food?'

'Things go well with us, Lord; we get enough to support ourselves with, Lord; we have kept Vassa, Lord, in unity, and in concord, and without quarrel, and have not suffered from want of food. When we were on our way, Lord, about thirty Pāṭheyyaka Bhikkhus, to Sāvatthi to visit the Blessed One, we were unable to reach Sāvatthi in time (&c., as in § 1, down to:). And when, after three months, Lord, we had completed our Vassa residence, and had held our Pavāraṇā, we have made our way, while the rain was falling, and the waters were gathering, and the swamps were forming; and our robes were all drenched; and we have become weary.'

3. Then the Blessed One in that connection, having delivered a religious discourse, addressed the Bhikkhus, and said[4]:

'I prescribe, O Bhikkhus, that the Kaṭhina ceremony shall be performed by Bhikkhus when they have completed their Vassa. And five things are allowable to you, O Bhikkhus, after the Kaṭhina ceremony has been held—going for alms to the houses of people who have not invited you[5], going for alms without wearing the usual set of three robes[6], going for alms in a body of four or more[7], possessing as many robes as are wanted[8], and whatever number of robes shall have come to hand, that shall belong to them (that is, to the Bhikkhus entitled, by residence and otherwise, to share in the distribution[9]).

'And thus, O Bhikkhus, is the Kaṭhina to be dedicated.

4. 'Let a learned, competent Bhikkhu proclaim the following ñatti before the Saṃgha: "This Kaṭhina-cloth has become the property of the Saṃgha. If the Saṃgha is ready, let the Saṃgha hand over the Kaṭhina-cloth to such and such a Bhikkhu to spread out the Kaṭhina. This is the ñatti. Let the Saṃgha, reverend Sirs, hear me. This Kaṭhina-cloth has become the property of the Saṃgha. The Saṃgha hands it over to such and such a Bhikkhu to spread out the Kaṭhina. If the Saṃgha approves of the handing over of the Kaṭhina to such and such a Bhikkhu for spreading it out, let it remain silent. The Saṃgha approves thereof. Therefore does it remain silent. Thus I understand[10]."

5. 'Now thus, O Bhikkhus, has the Kaṭhina ceremony been duly held; and thus has it not been duly held[11]. When, O Bhikkhus, has it not been duly held?'

The Kaṭhina ceremony has not been duly held when the stuff has only been marked (for the purposes of measurement)[12]: when it has only been washed: when it has only been calculated (to see how many robes it will make): when it has only been cut out: when it has only been pieced together[13]: when it has only been sewn in lengths[14]: when it has only been marked[15]:when it has only been made strong (in the seams)[16]: when it has only been strengthened by a braid[17] or by a binding[18] along the back, or by being doubled in parts[19]: when it has only been put into the dye[20]: when the decision (by the presiding Bhikkhu, as to which robes he will take for himself) has been made (but not been carried out[21]): when there has been talk (about the merit acquired by presenting the Saṃgha with cloth, and the donor has been induced thereby to show his liberality[22]): when the gift is only a temporary one[23]: when the ceremony has been postponed[24]:

when the ceremony has had to be abandoned (because it has lasted through the night)[25]: when the ceremony has fallen through (from other causes)[26]: when (in the formal choice by the presiding Bhikkhu) the upper robes have been left out, or the under robes, or the waist-cloths: when any one of the five parts of the robe have been omitted in the cutting out[27]: when the ceremony has been presided over by more than one Bhikkhu[28]. And even when the Kaṭhina ceremony has (otherwise) been normally performed, if (the Saṃgha) ratifying the distribution, be other than the (whole Saṃgha) dwelling within the boundary, then also the Kaṭhina ceremony has not been duly held[29].

'In these cases, O Bhikkhus, the Kaṭhina ceremony has not been duly held.

6. 'And when, O Bhikkhus, has the Kaṭhina ceremony been duly held?'

'When the robes have been made out of new cotton-cloth, or as good as new, or out of cloth[30], or out of (rags) taken from the dust-heap[31], or out of odd bits picked up in the bazaar[32]: when the decision (by the presiding Bhikkhu as to which robes he will take for himself) has not (merely) been made (but carried out): when there has been no talk about (the merit acquired by offering a Kaṭhina): when the gift is not merely a temporary one: when the ceremony has not been postponed: when it has not been necessary to abandon the ceremony: when the ceremony has not fallen through: when (in the choice made by the presiding Bhikkhu) the upper robes have not been left out, nor the under robes, nor the waist-cloths: when not one of the five parts of the robe have been omitted in the cutting out: when (the ceremony has been presided over) by one Bhikkhu. And also when, after the Kaṭhina ceremony has been (otherwise) normally performed, the ratification has been given by the (whole Saṃgha) dwelling within the boundary.

'In these cases, O Bhikkhus, the Kaṭhina ceremony has been duly held.'

Footnotes and references:


Buddhaghosa says, Pāṭheyya (the Berlin MS. reads Pāveyya) is the name of a kingdom situated to the west of the Kosala country. This passage refers to Bhikkhus who dwelt there. The Bhattavaggiya Theras (so the Berlin MS.; query Satta-vaggiya), who were brothers of the Kosala king, sons of the same father, are here alluded to.'


Udaka-saṃgahe ’ti udakena saṃgahite ghaṭite saṃsaṭṭhe thale ca ninne ca ekodakibhūte ’ti attho (B.).


Compare IV, I, 8, and foll.


As has been remarked in a previous note (to the first Nissaggiya Pācittiya Rule) some of the details of these Kaṭhina ordinances are at present difficult to understand. But the general meaning of them is already clear. Immediately after the Pavāraṇā, the ceremony by which the Vassa residence is closed, there follows a distribution of the robes belonging to the local Saṃgha, (that is, the portion of the Order dwelling within one boundary,) to the particular Bhikkhus composing the Saṃgha. This distribution commences with the kaṭhin-atthāra, atthāra, 'spreading out,' not being used here literally for spreading out on the ground or otherwise, but in a secondary, juristic sense. And the act performed receives the technical name atthāra by a process of putting a part for the whole, the spreading out in the sun (see our note, p. 18) for the whole ceremony. We translate the term according to the context, sometimes by 'spreading out,' sometimes by 'ceremony,' sometimes by 'dedication.'


This privilege is one of the exceptions allowed, in the Pātimokkha, to the 46th Pācittiya. Bhikkhus were allowed, as a general rule, to pass through a village, with their alms-bowls in their hands, in order to give any disciple who wished to do so the opportunity of giving them food. (To describe this procedure by our word 'begging,' as is so often done, is, to say the least, misleading.) The 46th Pācittiya lays down, in certain circumstances, a restriction on this general rule. The present section removes that restriction during the period of Kaṭhin-atthāra; in order, according to Buddhaghosa (see the note on Pāc. 46), to prevent the stock of robes falling short. That is, apparently, with the hope that a freer intercourse than usual between Bhikkhus and laity might lead to a gift of a Kaṭhina when it was urgently required.


This privilege is granted as a relaxation of the 2nd Nissaggiya. Buddhaghosa says, 'Asamādāna-cāro ’ti ti-civaraṃ asamādāya caraṇaṃ cīvara-vippavāso kappissatīti attho.' Compare Mahāvagga VIII, 23, 3. It will be seen that the wording of the Pātimokkha Rule is not inconsistent with the rule laid down here.


This is a relaxation of the 32nd Pācittiya, and is mentioned in that rule.


This would seem to be a relaxation of the 1st Pācittiya. Though it is not referred to there in terms, it is implied in the clause by which the operation of the rule is postponed till after the Kaṭhina has been 'taken up,' i.e. till each Bhikkhu has actually received his share, or otherwise lost his claim to it. Till that has taken place, a Bhikkhu may use (temporarily, and without actually appropriating them) as many robes as he likes. B. says, 'Yāvadattha-cīvaran ti yāvatā civarena attho tāvatakaṃ anadhiṭṭhitaṃ avikappitaṃ (compare Sutta-vibhaṅga Niss. I, 3, 1) kappissatīti attho:


That is, according to Buddhaghosa, either those belonging to a Bhikkhu who has died, or those belonging to the Saṃgha in any way. This shows that at the division not only the robes made out of the gift of a Kaṭhina were to be included, but whatever robes had not been given as intended specially for some one Bhikkhu. As to the actual practice now in Ceylon, compare Spence Hardy, loc. cit. Buddhaghosa says here: 'Yo ca tattha cīvar-uppādo tattha kaṭhinatthata-sīmāya mataka-cīvaraṃ vā hotu saṃghaṃ uddissa dinnaṃ vā saṃghikena tatr’ uppādena ābhataṃ vā yena kenaci ākārena yam saṃghikaṃ cīvaraṃ uppajjati taṃ tesaṃ bhavissatīti attho.' The use of the pronoun nesaṃ at the end of the rule is awkward, following after vo; but the meaning as translated is not open to doubt.


This formula is one of those included in the collection entitled Kammavācaṃ. It appears from Minayeff (Prātimokṣa, pp. 75, 76) that the Bhikkhu so appointed superintends the processes of dyeing, sewing, &c. When the new robes are ready for wear, he lays aside one of his old robes which has been worn out (pac.uddharitvā), and chooses for himself one of the new ones (navaṃ adhiṭṭhahitvā), saying as he does so, 'imāya saṃghāṭiyā (or, as the case may be, uttarāsaṅgena, antaravāsakena) kaṭhinaṃ attharāmi.' This speech shows the technical application of the verb attharati in this connection. He then points out the remaining robes to the Bhikkhus there present, specifying which he thinks fit for the elder, and which for the younger members of the Order (Theras and Navakas); but not assigning further any particular robes to particular Bhikkhus. Finally he calls upon the Saṃgha for their formal approval of his procedure (compare the closing words of §§5, 6). But when they have given it, the distribution is not at an end. The time has only come when each of the Bhikkhus can transmute his claim to an undivided share into the actual possession of a divided share. Until he does so, the Kaṭhina privileges set out in § 3 are allowed to him.


The formal permission to each Bhikkhu to take his share is not completed by any one of the following acts having been performed. The technical terms of the tailor's craft are, as will be seen, by no means easy to follow.


Ullikhita-mattenā ’ti dīghato ca puthulato ca pamāṇa-gahaṇa-mattena. Pamāṇaṃ hi gaṇhanto tassa tassa padesassa sañjānanatthaṃ nakhādīhi vā paricchedaṃ dassento ullikhati, nalāṭādīsu vā ghaṃsati. Tasmā taṃ pamāṇa-gahaṇaṃ ullikhita-mattan ti vuccati (B.).


Bandhana-mattenā ’ti mogha-suttak-āropana-mattena (B.). Mogha-suttakāni, 'false threads,' are threads put in the cloth to show where it is to be cut or sewn. See Buddhaghosa on Cullavagga V, II, 3 (p. 317 of H. O.'s edition). Our clause therefore means temporarily pieced together as the commencement of the tailoring work.


Ovaṭṭiya (sic) -karaṇa-mattenā ’ti mogha-suttakānusārena dīgha-sibbita-mattena (B.). Sewn in lengths along the lines of the false threads mentioned in the last note. The word occurs also in Mahāvagga VIII, 14, 2; and in Cullavagga V, 1, 2 we are told that the Chabbaggiya Bhikkhus ovaṭṭikaṃ dhārenti. Buddhaghosa says there vijjhita-karaṇaṃ ovaṭṭikā.


By joining on a little piece of cloth. Kaṇḍusa-karaṇa-mattenā ’ti muddiya-paṭṭa-bandhana-mattena, says Buddhaghosa.


Daḷhi-karaṇa-mattenā ’ti dve cimilikāyo (MS. cilimikāyo) ekato katvā sibbita-mattena: athavā patḥama-cimilikā ghaṭṭetvā ṭhapitā hoti, kaṭhina-sāṭakaṃ tassā kucchi-cimilikaṃ katvā sappita-(read sibbita-) mattenā ’ti pi attho. Mahā-paccariyaṃ pakaticīvarassa upassaya-dānenā ’ti vuttaṃ. Kurundiyaṃ pakatipaṭṭa cīvaraṃ dupaṭṭaṃ kātum kucchi-cimilikaṃ alliyāpana-mattenā ’t vuttaṃ (B.). On cimilikā compare Minayeff's 'Prātimokṣa,' p. 87.


Anuvāta-karaṇa-mattenā ’ti piṭṭhi-anuvāta-āropana-mattena (B.). Compare VIII, 2 1, I.


Paribhaṇḍa-karaṇa-mattenā ’ti kucchi-anuvāta-āropana-mattena (B.). Compare VIII, 21, I.


Ovaṭṭheyya (sic) -karaṇa-mattenā ’ti āgantuka-paṭṭ’-āropana-mattena: kaṭhina-cīvarato vā paṭṭam gahetvā aññasmiṃ akaṭhina-cīvare paṭṭ’-āropana-mattena (B.).


Kambala-maddana-mattenā ’ti ekavāraṃ yeva rajane pakkhittena danta-vaṇṇena panḍu-palāsa-vanṇena vā: sace pana sakiṃ vā dvikkhattuṃ vā rattaṃ (MS. raṭṭhuṃ) pi saruppaṃ hoti vaṭṭati (B.).


Or perhaps, according to some commentators, when it has been decided to accept the gift as a Kaṭhina, that is, when it has been decided that the cloth is of a suitable kind to make robes out of. Buddhaghosa says: Nimitta-katenā ’ti iminā dussena kaṭhinaṃ attharissāmīti evaṃ nimittakatena. Ettakam eva Parivāre vuttaṃ. Aṭṭhakathāsu pana ayaṃ sāṭako sundaro, sakkā iminā kaṭhinaṃ attharitun ti evaṃ nimittakataṃ katvā laddhenā ’ti attho. Compare below, § 6, for this and the two following words, the meaning of which is very doubtful.


Buddhaghosa: Parikathā-katenā ’ti kaṭhinaṃ nāma dātum vaṭṭati, kaṭhina-dāyako bahu-puññaṃ pasavatīti evaṃ parikathāya uppāditena. Kaṭhinaṃ nāma ati-ukkaṭṭhaṃ vaṭṭati: mātaram pi na viñṇāpetuṃ vaṭṭati: ākāsato otiṇṇa-sadisam eva vaṭṭati.


Buddhaghosa simply says: kukku-katenā ’ti tāvakālikena. The last word means 'only for a time, temporary, on loan;' see Jātaka I, 121, 393, and Cullavagga X, 16, 1; but the explanation is not clear. According to the Abhidhāna-ppadīpikā kukku is a measure of length.


Sannidhi-katenā ’ti ettha duvidho sannidhi; karaṇa-sannidhi ca nicaya-sannidhi ha. Tattha tadah’ eva akatvā ṭhapetvā karanaṃ karana-sannidhi; saṃgho ajja kaṭhina-dussaṃ labhitvā puna-divase deti ayaṃ nicaya-sannidhi (B.).


Nissaggiyenā ’ti ratti-nissaggiyena. Parivāre pi vuttaṃ nissaggiyaṃ nāma kayiramāne arunaṃ udriyatīti (B.).


Akappa-katenā ’ti anādinna-kappa-bindhunā (B.), which we do not understand. Perhaps we should read bindunā.


Aññatra pañcakena vā atireka-pañcakena vā ’ti pañca vā atirekāni vā khaṇḍāni katvā mahā-maṇḍala-aḍḍha-maṇḍalāni dassetvā katen’ eva vaṭṭati. Evaṃ hi samaṇḍali-kataṃ hoti. Taṃ ṭhapetvā aññena acchinnakena vā dvi-tti-catu-khaṇḍena vā na vaṭṭati (B.). On these five parts of the robe compare below, Mahāvagga VIII, 12,2.


Aññatra puggalassa atthārā ’ti puggalassa atthāraṃ ṭhapetvā na aññena saṃghassa vā gaṇassa vā atthārena atthataṃ hoti (B.). The official 'distributor' (atthāraka) must be a single person, not a gaṇa, or the Saṃgha.


See the note on § 4, and below, VIII, 23.


Piloṭikāyā ’ti hata-vatthaka-sāṭakena(B.).


Paṃsukulenā ’ti te-vīsatiyā khettesu uppanna-paṃsukulena.


Pāpaṇikenā ’'ti āpana-dvāre patita-piloṭikaṃ gahetvā kaṭhinatthāya deti, tenāpi vaṭṭatīti attho (B.). Compare VIII, 14, 2.

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