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....

1. Now when the Blessed One was alone and had retired into solitude, the following consideration presented itself to his mind: 'What if I were to prescribe that the Bhikkhus recite as the Pātimokkha[1] the precepts which I have promulgated to them; this will be their Uposatha service (service of the fast-day).'

2. And the Blessed One, having left the solitude in the evening, in consequence of that and on this occasion, after having delivered a religious discourse, thus addressed the Bhikkhus: 'When I was alone, O Bhikkhus, and had retired into solitude, the following consideration, &c., this will be their Uposatha service. I prescribe you, O Bhikkhus, to recite the Pātimokkha.

3. 'And you ought, O Bhikkhus, to recite it in this way: Let a learned, competent Bhikkhu proclaim the foilowing ñatti before the Saṃgha: "Let the Saṃgha, reverend Sirs, hear me. To-day it is Uposatha, the fifteenth (of the half month). If the Saṃgha is ready, let the Saṃgha hold the Uposatha service and recite the Pātimokkha. What ought to be first done by the Saṃgha? Proclaim the pārisuddhi[2], Sirs. I will recite the Pātimokkha."

'"We hear it well and fix well the mind on it all of us[3]."

“"He who has committed an offence, may confess it; if there is no offence, you should remain silent; from your being silent I shall understand that the reverend brethen are pure (from offences). As a single person that has been asked a question, answers it, the same is the matter if before an assembly like this a question has been solemnly proclaimed three times: if a Bhikkhu, after a threefold proclamation, does not confess an existing offence which he remembers, he commits an intentional falsehood. Now, reverend brethren, an intentional falsehood has been declared an impediment[4] by the Blessed One. Therefore, by a Bhikkhu who has committed (an offence), and remembers it, and desires to become pure, an existing offence should be confessed; for if it has been confessed, it is treated duly."”

4.[5] 'Pātimokkhaṃ:' it is the beginning, it is the face (mukhaṃ), it is the principal (pamukhaṃ) of good qualities; therefore it is called 'pātimokkham[6].'

'Āyasmanto:' this word 'āyasmanto ' is an expression of friendliness, an expression of respect, an appellation that infers respectfulness and reverence.

'Uddisissāmi:' I will pronounce, I will show, I will proclaim, I will establish, I will unveil, I will distinguish, I will make evident, I will declare.

'Taṃ' (it): this refers to the Pātimokkha.

'Sabbe va santā' (all of us): as many as are present in that assembly, aged, young, and middle-aged (Bhikkhus), are denoted by , sabbe va santā[7].'

'Sādhukaṃ suṇoma' (we hear it well): admitting its authority, fixing our minds on it, we repeat the whole of it in our thoughts.

'Manasikaroma' (we fix our minds on it): we listen to it with concentrated, not perplexed, not confused thoughts.

5. 'Yassa siyā āpatti' (he who has committed an offence): he who, whether an aged or young or middle-aged Bhikkhu, has committed some offence belonging to the five classes of ofiences or to the seven classes of offences[8].

'So āvikareyya:' he may show it, unveil it, make it evident, declare it before the Saṃgha (the full chapter of Bhikkhus), or before a small number, or before one person.

'Asanti āpatti' (a non-existing offence): an offence which has not been committed, or which has been committed and atoned for.

'Tuṇhi bhavitabbaṃ' (he ought to remain silent): he ought to accept (the recitation of the Pātimokkha without any answer), he ought not to utter anything.

'Parisuddhā 'ti vedissāmi' (I shall understand that they are pure): I shall infer, I shall know.

6. 'Yathā kho pana paccekapuṭṭhassa veyyākaraṇaṃ hoti' (as a single person that has been asked a question answers it): as a single person that has been asked a question by another one, would answer it, thus (those who are present) in that assembly ought to understand: 'He asks me.' 'Evarūpā parisā' (an assembly like this): this refers to the assembly of Bhikkhus.

'Yāvatatiyaṃ anussāvitaṃ hoti' (it has been solemnly proclaimed three times): it has been solemnly proclaimed once, and the second time, and the third time.

'Saramāno' (remembering it): knowing it, being conscious of it.

'Santī āpatti' (an existing offence): an offence which has been committed, or which has been committed and not been atoned for.

'Nāvikareyya:' he does not show it, he does not unveil it, he does not make it evident, he does not declare it before the Saṃgha, or before a small chapter, or before one person.

7. 'Sampajānamusāvād' assa hoti' (he commits an intentional falsehood): what is intentional falsehood? It is a sin[9].

'Antarāyiko dhammo vutto bhagavatā' (it has been declared an impediment by the Blessed One): an impediment to what? An impediment to the attainment of the first Jhāna, an impediment to the attainment of tbe second . . . third . . . fourth Jhāna, an impediment to the attainment of the Jhānas, Vimokkhas[10], Samādhis (states of self-concentration), Samāpattis (the eight attainments of the four Jhānas and four of the eight Vimokkhas), the states of renunciation, of escape (from the world), of seclusion, of (all) good qualities.

'Tasmā:' for that reason.

'Saramānena' (by him who remembers it): by him who knows it and is conscious of it.

'Visuddhāpekkhena' (by him who desires to become pure): by him who wishes to atone for it and to make himself pure of it.

8. 'Santī āpatti' . . . (see § 6).

'Āvikātabbā' (it is to be confessed): it is to be confessed before the Saṃgha, or before a small chapter, or before one person.'

'Āvikatā hi 'ssa phāsu hoti' (for if it has been confessed, it is treated duly): duly for what purpose? In the due way for the attainment of the first Jhāna (and so on, as in § 7, clown to:) of (all) good qualities.

Footnotes and references:


On the origin and the meaning of the title 'Pātimokkha,' see our Introduction, p. xxvii.


See chap. 22. If a Bhikkhu is prevented by distase from assisting to the Pātimokkha ceremony, he is to charge another Bhikkhu with his pārisuddhi, i.e. with the solemn declaration that he is pure from the offences specified in the Pātimokkha.


These words are evidently the answer of the Bhikkhus then present to the proclamation of the pātimokkhuddesaka.


See § 7.


§§ 4-8 contain an explanation, word by word, of the formula given in § 3. This explanation is a portion of the ancient commentarf on the Pātimokkha which at the time of the redaction of the Vinaya Piṭaka has been admitted into it in its full extent (see the Introduction, p. xv seq.).


See p. 241, note 1.


See p. 1, note 5.


The five classes of offences are, the pārājika, saṃghādisesa, pācittiya, pāṭidesaniya, dukkaṭa offences; the seven classes, the pārājika, saṃghādisesa, thullaccaya, pācittiya, pāṭidesaniya, dukkaṭa, dubbhāsita off en ces. See, for instance, Cullavagga IX, 3, 3.


The Pāli text has ' dukkaṭa.' We cannot interpret here dukkaṭa in the technical sense of a dukkaṭa offence (see the Introduction, p. xxiv), for intentional falsehood belongs to the class of the pācittiya offences, among which it occupies the first place.


See the note on I, 78, 5.

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