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 40

1. At that time the border provinces (of the kingdom) of the Magadha king Seniya Bimbisāra were agitated. Then the Magadha king Seniya Bimbisāra gave order to the officers who were at the head of the army: 'Well now, go and search through the border provinces[1]: The officers who were at the head of the army accepted the order of the Magadha king Seniya Bimbisāra (by saying), 'Yes, Your Majesty.'

2. Now many distinguished warriors thought: 'We who go (to war) and find our delight in fighting, do evil and produce great demerit. Now what shall we do that we may desist from evil-doing and may do good?'

Then these warriors thought: 'These Sakyaputtiya Samaṇas lead indeed a virtuous, tranquil, holy life; they speak the truth; they keep the precepts of morality, and are endowed with all virtues. If we could obtain pabbajjā with the Sakyaputtiya Samaṇas, we should desist from evil-doing and do good.'

Thus these warriors went to the Bhikkhus and asked them for the pabbajjā ordination; the Bhikkhus conferred on them: the pabbajjā and upasanipadā ordinations.

3. The officers at the head of the army asked the royal soldiers: 'Why, how is it that the warriors N. N. and N. N. are nowhere to be seen?'

“The warriors N. N. and N. N., Lords, have embraced religious life among the Bhikkhus.”

Then the officers at the head of the army were annoyed, murmured, and became angry: 'How can the Sakyaputtiya Samaṇas ordain persons in the royal service?'

The officers who were at the head of the army told the thing to the Magadha king Seniya Bimbisāra. And the Magadha king Seniya Bimbisāra asked the officers of justice: 'Tell me, my good Sirs, what punishment does he deserve who ordains a person in the royal service?'

“The upajjhāya, Your Majesty, should be beheaded; to him who recites (the kammavācā), the tongue should be torn out; to those who form the chapter, half of their ribs should be broken.”

4. Then the Magadha king Seniya Bimbisāra went to the place where the Blessed One was; having approached him and having respectfully saluted the Blessed One, he sat down near him. Sitting near him the Magadha king Seniya Bimbisāra said to the Blessed One: 'Lord, there are unbelieving kings who are disinclined (to the faith); these might harass the Bhikkhus even on trifling occasions. Pray, Lord, let their reverences not confer the pabbajjā ordination on persons in royal service.'

Then the Blessed One taught (&c., see chap. 39. 7, down to:), thus addressed the Bhikkhus: 'Let no one, O Bhikkhus, who is in the royal service, receive the pabbajjā ordination. He who confers the pabbajjā ordination (on such a person), is guilty of a dukkaṭa offence:

Footnotes and references:


On uccinatha, compare the use of ucchecchāmi at Mahāparinibbāna Sutta I, 1 (p. 1), which Buddhaghosa rightly explains by ucchindissāmi. But we think it better to adhere here to the reading uccinatha, in accordance with the MSS.

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