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 1, Chapter 32

1. At that time some Bhikkhus whose upajjhāyas were gone away, or had returned to the world, or had died, or were gone over to a (schismatic) faction[1], as they had no ācariyas and received no exhortation and instruction, went on their rounds for alms wearing improper under and upper garments (&c., as in chap. 25. 1-6, down to:), he thus addressed the Bhikkhus: 'I prescribe, O Bhikkhus, (that young Bhikkhus choose) an ācariya[2].

'The ācariya, O Bhikkhus, ought to consider the antevāsika (i.e. disciple) as a son; the antevāsika ought to consider the ācariya as a father. Thus these two, united by mutual reverence, confidence, and communion of life, will progress, advance, and reach a high stage in this doctrine and discipline.

'I prescribe, O Bhikkhus, that you live (the first) ten years in dependence (on an ācariya); he who has completed his tenth year may give a nissaya[3] himself.

2. 'And let (the antevāsika), O Bhikkhus, choose his ācariya in this way: Let him adjust his upper robe so as to cover one shoulder, salute the feet (of the ācariya), sit down squatting, raise his joined hands, and say: "Venerable Sir, be my ācariya, I will live in dependence on you, Sir."' (This formula is repeated thrice.)

'(If the other answers): "Well" (&c., as in chap. 25. 7).

3. 'The antevāsika, O Bhikkhus, ought to observe a strict conduct towards his ācariya' (&c., as in chap. 25. 8-24).

End of the duties towards an ācariya.

Footnotes and references:


Buddhaghosa can scarcely be right in explaining pakkhasaṃkanta by titthiyapakkhasaṃkanta.


Ācariya as well as upajjhāya means 'teacher,' or 'preceptor.' It is very difficult or rather impossible to draw a sharp line of distinction between ācariyā and upajjhāya. The duties of an ācariya towards his antevāsika, and of an antevāsika towards his ācariya, as indicated in chaps. 32, 33 ( = Cullavagga VIII, 13, 14), are exactly the same as those of an upajjhāya towards his saddhivihārika and vice versa (chaps. 25, 26 = Cullavagga VIII, 11, 12). The position of an upajjhāya, however, was considered as the more important of the two; at the upasampadā service the upajjhāya had a more prominent part than the ācariya, as we may infer from chaps. 28, 29, and from the explanations on the 65th pācittiya rule which are given in the Sutta Vibhaṅga. There it is said that, if the upasampadā ordination had been conferred, against the rule, on a person that has not yet attained his twentieth year, the upajjhāya has made himself guilty of a pācittiya offence, the ācariya and the other present Bhikkhus only of a dukkaṭa offence. We may add that the succession of Vinaya teachers from Upāli down to Mahinda, which is given in the Dīpavaṃsa (Bhāṇavāras IV and V), is a succession of upajjhāyas and saddhivihārikas (see IV, 36, 42, 43, &c.), not of ācariyas and antevāsikas; the duty of instructing the young Bhikkhus in the holy doctrines and ordinances seems, therefore, to belong to the upajjhāya rather than to the ācariya; compare also Dīpavaṃsa VII, 26. So among the Brāhmaṇas, on the contrary, the ācārya is estimated higher than the upādhyāya; see Manu II, 145; Yāavalkya I, 35. Compare also chap. 36. 1 (end of the paragraph), and Buddhaghosa's explanation of that passage.


Nissaya (i.e. dependence) is the relation between ācariya and antevāsika. The antevāsika lives ' nissāya ' with regard to the ācariya, i.e. dependent on him; the ācariya gives his nissaya to the antevāsika. i.e. he receives him into his protection and care. At chap. 36. 1, 'nissaya ' is said also of the relation between upajjhāya and saddhivihārika.

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