Vinaya (3): The Cullavagga

by T. W. Rhys Davids | 1881 | 137,074 words

The Cullavagga (part of the Vinaya collection) includes accounts of the First and Second Buddhist Councils as well as the establishment of the community of Buddhist nuns. The Cullavagga also elaborates on the etiquette and duties of Bhikkhus....

1. Now at that time Bhikkhus who were going on their rounds for alms did so with their under garments or their robes improperly put on, and not decently attired, and they entered dwellings without deliberation, and left them without deliberation, and they entered dwellings roughly, and left them roughly, and they stood at too great a distance or too near, and they stood too long or turned back too soon.

And a certain Bhikkhu, on his round for alms, entered a dwelling without noticing where he was going to, and taking (a doorway) for a house-door he passed into an inner chamber. A woman was lying asleep naked on her back in that chamber; and when the Bhikkhu saw her he went out again, perceiving that that was no house-door, but a chamber. Now the husband of that woman, seeing his wife in that position in the chamber, thought: 'My wife has been defiled by that Bhikkhu.' And he seized him, and beat him. But the woman, being woke up by the noise, said to the man, 'Why, Sir, are you beating this Bhikkhu?'

'You have been defiled by this Bhikkhu.'

'Not so, Sir. This Bhikkhu has done nothing' (said she), and had the Bhikkhu set free.

Then the Bhikkhu, on going to the Ārāma, told the matter to the Bhikkhus . . . murmured . . . . told the Blessed One . . . . he said to the Bhikkhus:

'Therefore, O Bhikkhus, do I establish a rule of conduct for Bhikkhus going their rounds for alms, which they are to observe therein.

2. 'A Bhikkhu, O Bhikkhus, who intends to go his round for alms, should put on his waistcloth (&c., as in chapter 4, § 3, sentences 1 and 3, down to the end).

'When he enters a dwelling, he should take notice (where he goes, saying to himself), "By this way will I go in, and by this way will I come out." He should not go in, nor come out, roughly. He should not stand too far off, nor too near, nor too long; and he should not turn back too easily.

'As he stands still he should notice where (the people in the house) seem willing or not willing to give (him food). If she lays aside her work, or rises from her seat, or wipes a spoon, or wipes or puts ready a dish, he should stand still, perceiving that she seems willing to give.

'When food is being given to him, he should lift up his robe (Saṃghāṭi) with his left hand so as to disclose his bowl[1], take the bowl in both his hands, and receive the food into it. And he should not look into the face of the woman who is giving the food.

'He should take notice whether she seems willing or not to give curry. If she wipes a spoon, or wipes or puts aside a dish, he should stand still, perceiving that she seems willing to give.

'After the food has been given, he should cover up the bowl with his robe, and turn back slowly and carefully. He should pass through the houses (on his way back) properly clad . . . . (&c., as in § 3, sentence 3, down to the end).

[2]3. 'He who comes back first from the village, from his round for alms, should make seats ready, and place the water and footstools and towels ready there for washing feet, and clean the waste-tub[3] and put it ready, and put ready water to drink and water for washing.

'He who comes back last from the village, from his round for alms, may eat if there be any food left (from the meal of the other Bhikkhus), if he desires to do so. If he does not desire to do so, he should throw away the leavings on the (ground at a place) which is free from grass, or pour. them away into water. in which there are no living things. He should put away the water, footstools, and towels used for washing feet, clean the waste-tub and put it away, put away the drinking-water and the water for washing, and sweep the room where the meal was eaten.

'Whosoever sees a pot for drinking-water or for washing-water, or a chamber utensil empty and void, should put it in its proper place. If he is not able to do so single-handed, he should call some one else, and they should put it away with their united effort, and silence should not be broken on that account[4].

'This, O Bhikkhus, is the rule of conduct which I establish for Bhikkhus going their rounds for alms, which they are to observe therein.

Footnotes and references:


The bowl is always carried by the left hand under the robe. On paṇāmeti, see the note at V, 9, 5.


The following section is, word for word, parallel to Mahāvagga IV, I, 2-4.


Avakkāra-pātī. We have had paṭiggaha used just above (VIII, 4, 4) in a very similar sense and connection. The present word occurs also at Mahāvagga IV, I, 2.


Vācaṃ bhindati. To break silence by speaking. See Mahāvagga IV, 1, 3, where it makes good sense.

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