Vinaya Pitaka (1): The Analysis of Monks’ Rules (Bhikkhu-vibhanga)

by I. B. Horner | 2014 | 345,334 words | ISBN-13: 9781921842160

The English translation of the Bhikkhu-vibhanga: the first part of the Suttavibhanga, which itself is the first book of the Pali Vinaya Pitaka, one of the three major ‘baskets’ of Therevada canonical literature. It is a collection of rules for Buddhist monks. The English translation of the Vinaya-pitaka (first part, bhikkhu-vibhanga) contains many...

The translation of the Pārājika rules

The single exception to the principle of preserving Horner’s translation lies in the Pārājika rules. Here we present a substantially revised translation by Ven. Brahmali. The reason for presenting this material here is, on my part, a little embarrassing: I lost the originals.

What happened was this. When preparing the text, in discussions with Ven. Brahmali, we agreed that this would be a wonderful chance to correct and improve the many long-standing problems with Horner’s translation. Yet we also wanted to honor her work by presenting it as is. So we decided to produce a faithful digital edition of her translation, and meanwhile, Ven. Brahmali undertook a substantive revision. Ven. Brahmali is a Pali scholar of 20 years, was a major assistant to Bhikkhu Bodhi in the translations of the Saṃyutta and Aṅguttara Nikāyas, and has been teaching and practising the Vinaya for many years in a Sangha community; I cannot think of anyone better qualified to do this work. Yet it is, of course, a difficult and long process, and he has many other duties calling his attention, so we agreed to release the Horner translation first, and allow the revision to proceed at its own pace.

However, after handing the HTML files of the four Pārājikas to Ven. Brahmali, I neglected to keep copies, while he, making the unwarranted assumption that I was competent, proceeded to overwrite the files I gave him. Of course, we still had the original Word document, but it would be a long and dreary process to begin the markup process from scratch. In addition, as it happens, the first Pārājika is the place where Horner’s translation is the most deficient, due to her Edwardian sense of propriety. So I decided to include Brahmali’s translation of the four Pārājikas.

This creates some issues. First is that of consistency: Brahmali uses some different renderings of Vinaya terms. Hopefully this will not prove too confusing, and will be made up for by his more accurate and articulate translation. More problematic, his translation dispenses with the complex notes and cross-references of Horner’s edition, since there is no need to duplicate this work. However, it would be a shame to omit the notes from these important rules. So I have made the choice, admittedly imperfect, to include Horner’s notes with Brahmali’s translation. This occasionally results in incongruity, repetition, or omission; I hope the reader can forgive such infelicities under the circumstances. It should be borne in mind that this will not be the final version of Ven. Brahmali’s translation. While it is complete and careful as far as it goes, when translating the remainder of the Vinaya it is to be expected that he will want to make some corrections and modifications to this section.