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...

Monks’ Formal Meeting (Saṅghādisesa) 1

BD.1.192 Bu-Ss.1.1.1 At one time the enlightened one, the lord, was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s park. Now at that time the venerable Seyyasaka[1] led the Brahma-life, dissatisfied.[2] Because of this he was thin, wretched, his colour bad, yellowish, the veins showing all over his body.[3] The venerable Udāyin saw the venerable Seyyasaka thin, wretched, his colour bad, yellowish, his veins showing all over his body. Seeing him thus, he said to the venerable Seyyasaka: “Reverend Seyyasaka, why are you thin, wretched … the veins showing all over your body? Perhaps it is that you, reverend Seyyasaka, lead the Brahma-life, dissatisfied?”

“It is so, your reverence,” he said.

“Now then, you, reverend Seyyasaka, eat as much as you like, sleep as much as you like, bath[4] as much as you like: eating as much as you like, sleeping as much as you like, bathing as much as you like, if dissatisfaction arises in you and passion assails[5] your heart, then emit semen using your hand.”[6]

BD.1.193 “But, your reverence, are you sure that it is suitable to act like this?”

“Yes, your reverence, I do this.”

Then the venerable Seyyasaka ate as much as he liked, slept as much as he liked, bathed as much as he liked; but having eaten as much as he liked, slept as much as he liked, bathed as much as he liked, dissatisfaction arose, and passion assailed his heart, so he emitted semen using his hand. Then in a short time the venerable Seyyasaka was nice-looking with rounded features, of a bright complexion and a clear skin. So the monks who were the friends of the venerable Seyyasaka spoke thus to the venerable Seyyasaka:

“Formerly, reverend Seyyasaka, you were thin, wretched, of a bad colour, yellowish, with the veins showing all over your body. But now, at present, you are nice-looking with rounded features, Vin.3.111 of a bright complexion and a clear skin. Why now, do you take medicine,[7] reverend Seyyasaka?”

“I do not take medicine, your reverences, but I am eating as much as I like, I am sleeping as much as I like, I am bathing as much as I like; then eating as much as I like, sleeping as much as I like, bathing as much as I like, if dissatisfaction arises in me and passion assails the heart, I emit semen using my hand.”


Bu-Ss.1.1.2 “But do you, reverend Seyyasaka, eat the gifts of faith[8] with the very same hand as that which you use to emit semen?”

“Yes, your reverences,” he said.

Those who were modest monks became annoyed, vexed and angry, saying:

BD.1.194 “How can the venerable Seyyasaka emit semen in this way?”

Then these monks, having rebuked the venerable Seyyasaka in various ways, told this matter to the lord. Then the lord on this occasion, in this connection, having had the order of monks convened, asked the venerable Seyyasaka:

“Is it true, as is said, that you, Seyyasaka, using your hand, emit semen?”

“It is true, lord,” he said.

The enlightened one, the lord, rebuked him, saying: “It is not fit, foolish man, it is not becoming, it is not suitable, it is not worthy of a recluse, it is not right, it is not to be done. How can you, foolish man, emit semen using your hand? Foolish man, have I not uttered dhamma in many ways for the stilling of passion,[9] and not for the sake of passion, taught dhamma for the sake of being devoid of the fetters, and not for the sake of being bound, taught dhamma for the sake of being without grasping,[10] and not for the sake of grasping? How can you, foolish man, while dhamma is taught by me for the sake of passionlessness, strive after passion? How can you, while dhamma is taught for the sake of being devoid of the fetters, strive after being bound? How can you, while dhamma is taught for the sake of being without grasping, strive after grasping? Foolish man, have I not taught dhamma in various ways for the stilling of passion, taught dhamma for the subduing of conceit, for the restraint of thirst, for the elimination of attachment, for the cutting through the round of becomings, for the destruction of craving, for passionlessness, for stopping, for waning? Foolish man, have I not declared in various ways the destruction of the pleasures of the senses, declared the full understanding of ideas of the pleasures of the senses, declared the restraint BD.1.195 of the thirst for pleasures of the senses, declared the elimination of thoughts of pleasures of the senses, declared the allaying of the fever of pleasures of the senses? Foolish man, it is not for the benefit of unbelievers, nor for increase in the number of believers, but it is, foolish man, to the detriment of unbelievers as well as of believers, and it causes wavering in some.”

Then the lord having rebuked the venerable Seyyasaka Vin.3.112 in various ways on account of his difficulty in maintaining his state … said:

“… Thus, monks, this course of training should be set forth:

Intentional emission of semen is a matter entailing a formal meeting of the Order.”[11]

Thus this course of training for monks was made known to the lord.


Bu-Ss.1.2.1 Now at that time, monks, having eaten abundant food, went to sleep, thoughtless and careless. While they were sleeping, thoughtless and careless, one of them emitted semen as the result of a dream. These were remorseful and said[12]: “The course of training made BD.1.196 known by the lord says that intentional emission of semen is a matter requiring a formal meeting of the Order; and because of a dream one of us (did this). Now is this intention permitted? What now if we have fallen into an offence requiring a formal meeting of the Order?” They told this matter to the lord. He said:

“Monks, this was the intention, but it does not apply.[13] monks, this course of training should be set forth:

Intentional emission of semen except during a dream is an offence requiring a formal meeting of the Order.


Bu-Ss.1.2.2 Intentional means: a transgression committed knowingly, consciously, deliberately.[14]

Semen means: there are* ten kinds of semen …

Emission means: the removal from the place is called emission.

Except during a dream means: setting the dream aside.

Offence requiring a formal meeting of the Order means: the Order places him on probation[15] on account of the offence, it sends him back to the beginning,[16] it inflicts the mānatta discipline;[17] it rehabilitates[18]; it is not many BD.1.197 people, it is not one man; therefore it is called an offence which in the earlier as well as the later stages (requires) a formal meeting of the Order. A synonym for this class of offence is a work;[19] therefore, again, it is called (an offence which in the earlier as well as the later stages requires) a formal meeting of the Order.[20]


Bu-Ss.1.3 The whole of Bu-Ss.1.3, Vin.3.112Vin.3.115, because of the outspokenness and crudeness which it contains, and which seems to be inseperable from early literatures, appears unsuitable for incorporation in a translation designed principally for Western readers.

Vin.3.116He aims at it, makes the effort, it is emitted—an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order. He aims at it, makes the effort, it is not emitted—a grave offence. He aims at it, does not make the effort, it is emitted—not an offence. He aims at it, does not make the effort, it is not emitted—not an offence. He does not aim at it, he makes the effort, it is emitted—not an offence. He does not aim at it, does not make the effort, it is emitted—not an offence. He does not aim at it, does not make the effort, it is not emitted—not an offence.


There is no offence if he was dreaming, if there was no intentional emission, if he was mad, unhinged, in pain, a beginner.

Bu-Ss.1.4.1 A dream, excrement and urine, reflection, and about hot water,
Medicine, itching, the way, the bladder, a hot room for bathing-purposes, making an effort,
BD.1.198 And a novice, and asleep, the thigh, he pressed with the fists,
In the air, firmness, he meditated on, an aperture, he hit with a stick, /
In the stream, muddy water, running, a twist of flowers, a lotus,
Sand, mud, water, lying down, and with the thumbs.

At one time while a certain monk was dreaming he emitted semen. He was remorseful and said: “What now if I have fallen into an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order?” That monk told this matter to the lord. He said: “There is no offence for the monk because he was dreaming.”


Bu-Ss.1.5 The reasons for not including the remainder of BD.1.5 in this translation are the same as those for not including BD.1.3 above.

Told is the First Offence entailing a formal Meeting of the Order

Footnotes and references:

1.

At Vin.2.7ff. he is represented as being tiresome in various ways.

2.

anabhirato see above, BD.1.114, for discussion on this term. Vin-a.517 says on this term, vikkhittacitto kāmarāgapariḷāhena pariḍayhamāno na pana gīhibhāvam patthayamāno, upset in his mind, burning with a fever of passion and sense-desires, but not wanting the household state.

3.

Stock-phrase.

4.

Vin-a.517, anointing the body with clay, rubbing on chunam.

5.

A stock-phrase, rāgo cittaṃ anuddhaṃseti, as at MN.i.26; SN.i.186; AN.ii.126. Vin-a.518 says, kāmarāgo cittaṃ dhaṃseti padhaṃseti vikkhipati c’eva milāpeti ca. MN-a.1.142 explains anuddhaṃsessati by hiṃsissati adhibhavissati.

6.

Vin-a.518, “Thus will your mind become one-pointed. The teacher is said to have taught this.” At Vin-a.517 it is said that Seyyasaka’s teacher is Lāludāyin, “an unsteady monk.” This thera Lāludāyin is mentioned at Dhp-a.2.123 as having the reputation of saying the wrong thing; at Ja.1.123 as coming into conflict with Dabba the Mallian over food-tickets; and at Ja.2.164 as being extremely nervous and unable to talk.

7.

bhesajjaṃ karosi.

8.

saddhā-deyya, Vin-a. is silent, but Dhp-a.1.81 explains as kammañ ca phalañ ca idhalokañ ca paralokañ ca saddahitvā dinnāni.

9.

= above, BD.1.35, except that in this second passage the lord is represented as speaking. Cf. AN.ii.34.

10.

Anupādāna, sa-upādāna.

11.

Saṅghādisesa. Cf. AN.ii.242. Vin-a.522 says, saṅgho ādimhi c’ eva sese ca icchitabbo assā ti saṅghādiseso. This explanation was noted by Childers: an offence to be dealt with by a saṅghakamma in the beginning, ādi and in the remaining cases, sesa. See below, Old Commentary’s explanation which makes clear the first stage, the placing on probation; the second stage of sending back to the beginning of the probation; the third stage, the mānatta discipline; and the last stage, the rehabilitation. This type of offence is next in gravity after the Pārājikas. Because it cannot be settled by many people or by one man (Old Commentary) it therefore has to be settled by the Order, which presumably has to be convened for the purpose, as the above incident shows. Editor at Vinaya Texts i.7, n.1, notes that, “these thirteen offences give rise to the various saṅghakammas … which are explained in detail in the third Khandhaka of the Cūḷavagga.”

12.

These first sentences recur at Vin.1.294. Cf. Kv.164 where the matter of this story formed the controverted point of one of the early debates on arahans.

13.

= above, BD.1.159, and see n.1.

14.

= above, BD.1.126, and see n.3.

15.

parivāsaṃ deti. Cf. Vin.2.7. Rules for monks placed on probation are given at Vin.2.31ff. At Vin.2.40 Udāyin was placed on probation for one day, since he had concealed this first Saṅghādisesa for one day. See Vinaya Texts ii.384, n.1, for the four principal kinds of probation, and for Seyyasaka’s conduct. At Vin.1.69 it is said that a person who was formerly an adherent of another sect and who asks for ordination should be put on probation for four months, and the measures to be taken for the proper carrying out of this step are stated. Valid and invalid proceedings are given at Vin.1.320ff.

16.

I.e., of his probationary term. Cf. Vin.2.7. At Vin.2.34 rules for those thrown back to the beginning are given: they are the same as for those placed on probation.

17.

This appears to be much like being placed on probation, cf. Vin.2.35. At Vin.2.45 Udāyin underwent mānatta for six days. For the correct carrying out of this discipline see below, BD.1.328.

18.

The way in which a monk should ask for rehabilitation is given at Vin.2.39 and cf. below, BD.1.328.

19.

kamma, possibly meaning saṅghakamma: an act or ceremony, for the infliction of the penalty, to be performed by an assembly of monks met together in solemn conclave. Probably kamma has here an ancient technical meaning.

20.

Cf. Vin.4.225, the first Bhikkhunī-saṅghādisesa. Here “inflicts mānatta” is apparently substituted for “places on probation,” which is not mentioned.

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