Vinaya Pitaka (1): Bhikkhu-vibhanga (the analysis of Monks’ rules)

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’ Forfeiture (Nissaggiya) 1

Bu-NP.1.1.1 Vin.3.195 BD.2.1 At one time the enlightened one, the lord, was staying at Vesālī in the Gotamaka shrine.[1] At that time three robes were allowed to monks by the lord.[2] The BD.2.2 group[3] of six monks, thinking: “Three robes are allowed by the lord,” entered a village in one set of robes, remained in the monastery[4] in another set of three robes, went down to bathe in another set of three robes. Those who were modest monks looked down upon,[5] criticised,[6] spread it about,[7] saying: “How can the group of six monks wear an extra robe?”[8] Then these monks told this matter to the lord.

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that you wear an extra robe?”

“It is true, lord,” they said.

The enlightened one, the lord, rebuked them, saying:

BD.2.3 “How can you, foolish men, wear an extra robe? It is not, foolish men, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased[9] … And thus, monks, this rule of training[10] should be set forth:

Whatever monk should wear an extra robe, there is an offence[11] of expiation[12] involving forfeiture.”[13]

BD.2.4 Thus this rule of training for monks came to be laid down[14] by the lord.

Bu-NP.1.2.1 At that time[15] an extra robe accrued to[16] the venerable Ānanda; and the venerable Ānanda was desirous of giving that robe to the venerable Sāriputta, but the venerable Sāriputta was staying at Sāketa. Then it occurred to the venerable Ānanda: “A rule of training laid down by the lord is that an extra robe should not be worn. And this extra robe has accrued to me, and I am desirous of giving this robe to the venerable Sāriputta, but the venerable Vin.3.196 Sāriputta is staying at Sāketa. Now what line of conduct should be followed by me?” Then the venerable Ānanda told this matter to the lord. He said:

“But, Ānanda, how long before Sāriputta will come (here)?”

“Lord, on the ninth or tenth day,” he said.

Then the lord on this occasion, in this connection, having given reasoned talk,[17] addressed the monks, saying:

“Monks, I allow you to wear an extra robe for at most ten days. And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

When the robe-material is settled,[18] when a monk’s[19] BD.2.5 kaṭhina[20] (privileges)[21] have been removed,[22] an extra robe may be worn for at most ten days. For him who exceeds that (period), there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.”

Bu-NP.1.3.1 BD.2.6 When the robe-material is settled means: the robe-material is made up[23] for a monk, or lost[24] or destroyed[25] or burnt, or an expectation of robe-material is disappointed.[26]

When the kaṭhina (privileges) have been removed means: they come to be removed because of a certain one of eight grounds,[27] or they come to be removed before the time by the Order.

For at most ten days means: it may be worn for ten days at the maximum.

BD.2.7 An extra robe means: one that is not allotted,[28] not assigned.[29]

Robe-material means: any one robe-material of the six (kinds of) robe-materials[30] (including) the least one fit for assignment.[31]

Bu-NP.1.3.2 For him who exceeds that period there is an offence involving forfeiture means: it is to be forfeited on the eleventh day at sunrise; it should be forfeited to the Order,[32] or to a group[33] or to an individual. And thus, monks, it should be forfeited: That monk, approaching the Order, arranging his upper robe over one shoulder, honouring the feet of the senior monks, sitting down on his haunches, saluting with joined palms, should BD.2.8 speak[34] thus: ‘Honoured sirs, this robe is to be forfeited by me, the ten days having elapsed. I forfeit it to the Order.’ Having forfeited it, the offence should be confessed.[35] The offence should be acknowledged by an experienced, competent monk; the robe forfeited[36] should be given back[37] (with the words): ‘Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. This robe of the monk so and so, which had to be forfeited, is forfeited (by him) to the Order. If it seems right[38] to the Order, the Order should give back this robe to the monk so and so.’

That monk, approaching two or three[39] monks, arranging his upper robe over one shoulder … joined palms, should speak thus: ‘Honoured sirs, this robe Vin.3.197 is to be forfeited by me, the ten days having elapsed. I forfeit it to the venerable ones.’ Having forfeited it, the offence should be confessed. The offence should be acknowledged by an experienced, competent monk; the robe forfeited should be given back (with the words): ‘Let the venerable ones listen to me. This robe of the monk so and so, which had to be forfeited, is forfeited (by him) to the venerable ones. If it seems right to the venerable ones, let the BD.2.9 venerable ones give back this robe to the monk so and so.’

That monk, approaching one monk, arranging his upper robe over one shoulder, sitting down on his haunches, saluting with joined palms, should speak thus to him: ‘Your reverence,[40] this robe is to be forfeited by me, the ten days having elapsed. I forfeit it to the venerable one.’ Having forfeited it, the offence should be confessed. The offence should be acknowledged by this monk; the robe forfeited should be given back (with the words): ‘I will give back this robe to the venerable one.’

Bu-NP.1.4.1 If he[41] thinks[42] that ten days have elapsed when they have done so, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he is in doubt as to whether ten days have elapsed, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he does not think that ten days have elapsed when they have done so, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one[43] is allotted[44] when it is not allotted, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one is assigned when it is not assigned, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one is bestowed when it is not bestowed, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one is lost when it is not lost, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one is destroyed when it is not destroyed, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one is burnt BD.2.10 when it is not burnt, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one is stolen when it is not stolen, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. Not forfeiting the robe which had to be forfeited, if he makes use of it, there is an offence of wrong-doing.[45] If he thinks that the ten days have elapsed when they have not elapsed, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he is in doubt as to whether the ten days have not elapsed, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that the ten days have not elapsed when they have not elapsed, there is no offence.

There is no offence if, within ten days, it is allotted,[46] assigned, bestowed, lost, destroyed, burnt,[47] if they tear it from him,[48] if they take it on trust[49]; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.[50]

Bu-NP.1.5.1 Then[51] the group of six monks did not give back a robe that had been forfeited. They told this matter to the lord. He said: “Monks, a robe that has been forfeited BD.2.11 is not not to be given back.[52] Whosoever should not give it back, there is an offence of wrong-doing.” Vin.3.198

Footnotes and references:


Gotamaka-cetiya, one of the cetiyas or shrines of Vesālī, to the south (DN.iii.9). Mentioned, with the other shrines of Vesālī, as being pleasant (DN.ii.102DN.ii.103, DN.ii.118; AN.iv.309, SN.v.159; Ud.62). AN-a.2.373 ascribes the Gotamaka-cetiya to a yakkha named Gotamaka. For further references to these shrines see Ud-a.322–323; Dialogues of the Buddha 1.220ff.; KS.v.230, KS.v.231; Mrs. Rhys Davids, Gotama the Man, 193; E.J. Thomas, Life of Buddha as Legend and History, 137; B.C. Law, Geography of Early Buddhism, p.46, and Appendix; and Dictionary of Pali Proper Names.


The three robes, ticīvara, consisted of the inner robe or cloth, antaravāsaka, the upper robe or cloth, uttarāsaṅga, the outer cloak, saṅghāṭi. Permission to wear a double, diguṇa, outer cloak, a single, ekacciya, upper robe, and a single inner robe is given at Vin.1.289, also at the Gotamaka shrine. At Vinaya Texts ii.212, n.2, the three robes are described in detail, although there the saṅghāṭi is wrongly called the “waist cloth”.
The antaravāsaka is put on at the waist, and hangs down to just above the ankles, being tied with the kāyabandhana, a strip of cloth made into a belt or girdle (allowed at Vin.2.136). The method of putting on the antaravāsaka is different from that adopted by laymen, Vin.2.137. Monks take the two ends together, fold them across together in front and then fold them back again; then the garment is held in position by the belt. The uttarāsaṅga is the upper robe worn when a monk is in a residence. It covers him from neck to ankle, leaving one shoulder bare; it should not be worn in the same way as laymen wear their upper cloth, Vin.2.137. The saṅghāṭi is put on over this when the monk goes out. It may be exactly the same size as the uttarāsaṅga, but it consists of double cloth, since to make it two robes are woven together. It is a good protection against cold, and monks may wrap themselves in it to sleep. All these three robes are made in the patchwork fashion. Only the bathing-cloth is plain.


To end of Bu-NP.1.1 below, cf. Vin.1.289, where the sixfold group is again recorded as offending in this way. There a reference to this Nissaggiya rule is implied, for it is said that monks should not wear an extra robe, and whoever does so should be dealt with yathādhammo, according to the rule.


ārāma, a park, a place where one enjoys oneself, ā + ramati. Cf. definition of ārama at Vin.3.49 as pupphārāma phalārāma, flower-park, fruit-park (orchard). In Pali, however, the word has come to be used largely in connection with a residence for monks, hence a monastery.


ujjhāyanti Explained at Vin-a.296 as avajjhāyanti avajānantā taṃ jhāyanti olokenti, lāmakato vā cintentī ti attho, they censured, despising, they were angry, (and) looked down upon him, or the meaning is they thought (of him) as inferior. Cf. Vin-a.770 (ujjhāpeti) and SN-a.i.349. Ujjhāyati therefore seems to mean to think poorly of, to look down upon, to belittle someone, rather than to be irritated, angry, or to grumble. Cf. Bu-Pc.13, Vin.4.38.


khīyanti. Explained at Vin-a.296 as tassa avaṇṇaṃ, kathenti pakāsenti, they speak blame (dispraise) of him, they show him up. Cf. SN-a.i.349. Hence to speak badly of someone, to criticise. Cf. Bu-Pc.13, Vin.4.38, Bu-Pc.79, Vin.4.152, Bu-Pc.81, Vin.4.154.


vipācenti. Explained at Vin-a.296 as vitthārikaṃ karonti sabbattha pattharanti, they make wide-spread, they spread everywhere. Hence to speak disparagingly, to spread ill-fame. Cf. SN-a.i.349. These three words occur frequently in Vinaya, but only once I think otherwise in the Canon, at SN.i.232.




appasannānaṃ pasādāya. Pasāda, prasāda (Sanskrit) is “pleasing.” Cf. buddhe pasannā of SN.i.34, pleased with the Buddha, and therefore become his followers, i.e. converted. Thus “pleasing” has the sense of “converting.”


sikkhāpada. Pada is a sentence, rule, regulation, ordinance, which indicates a training. Here pada is rule; sikkhā is training, Hence a rule of, or for, training.


Although no word for “offence” occurs in these rules, the terms themselves—e.g. pācittiya, dukkaṭa—imply “offence.”


pācittiya. E.J. Thomas, History of Buddhist Thought, p.18, n.3, says that “this translation depends on the derivation of pācittiya from Sanskrit prāyaścittika, but this is not the term used in the Sanskrit versions of the Pātimokkha, which have pātayantika and pāyantika.” Vinaya Texts i.32 and Geiger, Pali Literatur und Sprache § 27, incline to etymology prāyaścittika. Geiger points out that Sylvain Lévi derives it from prāk-citta, which +ika is the derivation to which the Pali-English Dictionary inclines. Pācittiya as prāyaścittika means literally “in repentance, in compensation, in expiation.” Expiation is not, however, enjoined in these rules, but confession. Thus in reality pācittiya means a (minor) offence to be confessed. But since the term pācittiya has etymologically nothing to do with confession, I have kept to the more literal rendering, of “expiation.” B.C. Law, History of Pali Literature, i.46ff., speaks of Pācittiya offences as those “for which some expiation was laid down … requiring repentance … requiring confession and absolution.”
At Vin.1.254 five things are allowed to the monks after the ceremonial making of the kaṭhina cloth, one being to have as many robes as are wanted. This appears to be a relaxation of the above rule.


nissaggiya. The thing to be forfeited or given up was that in respect of which the offence had been committed.
The name of this class of offence, Nissaggiya Pācittiya, means that, besides confessing the offence, there is an object wrongfully acquired which has to be forfeited. In the next class of offence, Pācittiya, there is no such object which needs to be forfeited. To mark the distinction between these two classes of offence (Nissaggiya Pācittiya, and Pācittiya), as also their connection, in translating nissaggiya pācittiya I have put nissaggiya, “involving forfeiture,” in the secondary position, although in the Pali it stands before pācittiya.


paññatta. The primary sense, “made known,” is now lost. The word is now used in its secondary sense of established, given, passed, laid down.


= Vin.1.289. Also cf. below, Bu-NP.21, where the same story is told in the same words about an extra bowl.


uppannaṃ hoti, literally there came to be arisen to, produced for, or born to. Cf. below, BD.2.24, BD.2.90, BD.2.99, BD.2.114.


dhammī kathā. In this and similar contexts this does not mean talk on dhamma, on the doctrine as expounded in the Suttas, so much as any good, reasonable talk relevant to the matter in hand. Thus here the lord, it may be supposed, would have reasoned with the monks and have explained to them the causes and conditions leading him to modify the rule as originally laid down. Cf. Vin-a.637.


niṭṭhita, established, closed, settled, finished, ready to wear, or “done for.” For this last see Vinaya Texts i.19 in note. That niṭṭhita has the two meanings of “made” and “done for” is borne out by the Old Commentary. Huber, J.Bu-As, 1913, Nov–Dec, p.490, has “si un bhikṣu a les trois robes au complet,” and doubtless the meaning here is that the robes have been distributed and each monk has his set of three robes made up and ready to wear.


bhikkhunā, instrumental used for genitive.


The kaṭhina cloth is the cotton cloth supplied annually, after the rains, by the laity to the monks for making robes. Kaṭhina refers to a specially ceremonial cloth, for it is made with special ceremony at the end of the rains. The kaṭhina cloth should be brought at dawn, offered to the Order, cut by the monks, sewn and dyed. All this must be done on the same day. Then it is taken to a sīmā, boundary, and with formulae is offered by the Order to one monk. Ways in which kaṭhina comes to be made, atthata, and not made, anatthata, are given at Vin.1.254f. The kaṭhina cloth brings certain privileges, which, however, last only four months. It loses its quality automatically at the end of the season, as well as in other ways. A monk can wear kaṭhina cloth for any length of days as long as the kaṭhina quality is there. If it is not kaṭhina cloth, he can wear an extra robe for only ten days. On atthata cf. also below, BD.2.26, n.3.


Five things were allowable to monks when the kaṭhina cloth had been (formally) made, atthata, Vin.1.254.


ubbhatasmiṃ kaṭhine; sometimes ubbhāra- or uddhāra-. On these phrases see Vinaya Texts i.18, note, for a most interesting—though tentative—account of the usages connected with the robes. Also Vinaya Texts ii.148, n.157, Huber, J.Bu-As., 1913, Nov, renders “et qu’il ait pris le kaṭhina”; Gogerly, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1862, p.431, “and the kaṭhina (or cloth for the purpose) has been consecrated”; Dickson, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1876, p.105, “when the kaṭhina period has expired”; Rhys Davids, Vinaya Texts i.18, “when the kaṭhina has been taken up by the bhikkhu”; Vinaya Texts ii.157, “suspension of the kaṭhina privileges” (for kaṭhinubbhāra); B.C. Law, History of Pali Literature 1.52, “after the performance of the kaṭhina ceremony.”
For the eight grounds for removing the five kaṭhina “privileges”—i.e., the five things that are allowable after the kaṭhina cloth is made—see Vin.1.255ff. According to Old Commentary, see below, they may also be removed before the time by the Order. The ceremony of making and distributing the kaṭhina cloth (see above, BD.2.5, n.1) took place after the rains, Vin.1.254, and it was seen to that each monk had three robes. These, though worn by him, were the property of the Order. He might not need three new ones every season. However, it might happen that, through dampness or other causes, his three robes were not ready to wear, or he might be going to another residence (see the palibodha and apalibodha at Vin.1.265), and then he might take (temporarily) an extra robe. Thus for this period the rule as to the three robes was relaxed, and an extra robe might be worn, but not for more than ten days. When the kaṭhina privileges had been removed for one or other of the eight grounds for removing them, then the monk must assign his extra robe. At Vin.1.289 monks are “allowed” to assign, vikappeti, an extra robe. Cf. Vin.1.254 for the allowance to have as many robes as desired when the kaṭhina cloth has been made, and before the privileges, of which this is one, are removed.


kata; cf. katacīvara at Vin.1.256, a robe that is made up, finished, ready to wear, opposed to cīvara, robe-material, probably meaning not ready to wear, and vippakatacīvara, a robe or robe-material that is imperfectly executed, thus not ready to wear. Vin-a.638 says that kata means that it is finished by means of a needle.


Vin-a.638, “carried off by thieves.” On removal of kaṭhina privileges owing to loss of the robe-material, see Vin.1.255ff.


Vin-a.638, “destroyed by white ants.”


cīvarāsā upacchinnā. On a monk going away with the expectation of a robe and the removal of his kaṭhina privileges on various grounds, see Vin.1.259ff. Vin-a.638 says that “longing for a robe arises and is cut off. These are impediments to getting robes settled.” The last four cases mean that a monk’s responsibility for a robe is gone.


Given at Vin.1.255, also at Vin-a.638. See above, BD.2.5, n.3, and Vinaya Texts ii.157 for a discussion of the validity of these grounds or reasons, mātikā, for removal. They are as follows: the ground depending on (the monk) having gone away, on (his robe being) settled, on his having resolved (not to have it finished), on (his robe) being lost, on his having heard (that the privileges are removed in a certain residence), on the lapse of an expectation (that a special gift of a robe would be made to him), on his having gone beyond the boundary (of the community to which the kaṭhina cloth was given), on the general removal (of the kaṭhina privileges of the whole Order). Removal means that the quality of kaṭhina will disappear (see above, BD.2.5, n.1).


anadhiṭṭhita. This means a robe used by a certain monk himself, rather than one not yet designated for a particular monk, and thus still at the disposal of the Order, not disposed of, not allotted. See Vin-a.642ff.. Cf. niṭṭhita in connection with robes, translated above as “settled.” Also see note on adhiṭṭhāna, BD.1.128. Critical Pali Dictionary gives adhiṭṭhita as “determined” for a similar Vinaya passage.


avikappita, possibly meaning kept and given to another monk. At Vin.1.289 monks are allowed to assign an extra robe; then presumably it ceases to be “extra.” On the allowance to allot, not to assign (adhiṭṭhātum na vikappetuṃ) various articles, see Vin.1.296f.


At Vin.1.281 six kinds of robes were permitted to the monks: made of linen, cotton, silk, wool, coarse hemp, canvas. At Vin.1.58, Vin.1.96 these six are called benefits extra to rag-robes. Cf. below, BD.2.40, BD.2.48, and Vin.4.60.


vikappanupagapacchima. Pali-English Dictionary explains vikappanupaga as “according to option,” under upaga. But vikappana is a technical term meaning the assignment of robes. The meaning of pacchima, according to the Commentary, is “the least”—i.e., the smallest in measurement according to the assignment or apportioning of the robes. For Vin-a.639 says, “having pointed out the kinds of robes, i.e., the six kinds, as in note above), now, in order to point out the measure, he says vikap° pacchimaṃ. Its measure is two spans in length, one span in width. Thus the text says, ‘Monks, the least robe that I allow you to assign is one that is eight finger-breadths in length and four finger-breadths wide according to the finger-breadth of the accepted standard’” (sugataṅgula, cf. Vin.4.168). The ‘text’ quoted by Buddhaghosa is Vin.1.297. Cf. below, BD.2.40, BD.2.48, BD.2.140.


saṅgha, five or more monks; see Vin.1.319.


gaṇa; two to four monks.


passive construction, literally “the Order should be spoken to.”


āpatti desetabbā. Vin-a.640, having greeted the Order (as above) the monk says, ‘I, reverend sirs, having fallen into such and such an offence, that I confess.’ If there is one robe it constitutes one offence of expiation involving forfeiture; if there are two (robes) there are two (such offences); if there are many (robes) there is a multiplicity (of such offences). He should forfeit his robe or robes saying, ‘Here is a robe (are robes) to be forfeited for transgressing the ten days. I forfeit it (them) to the Order.’ The same procedure is required if forfeiting them to a group or to one monk. The offending monk then says that he sees his offence, and is exhorted to restrain himself in the future.


nissaṭṭha-cīvara, nissaṭṭha being past participle of nissajjati.




pattakalla = pattakāla, having attained the (right) time.


sambahulā bhikkhū in Vinaya almost always means a gaṇa—i.e., two to four monks. In the Suttapiṭaka the expression means “many monks.” Yet at Vin.2.15 sambahulā therā bhikkhū apparently include eleven theras, and at Vin.1.300 sambahulā therā include five elders; thus in these two passages sambahulā should be translated by “several, a number of.”


āvuso; in preceding cases bhante.


i.e. a monk.


saññī, or “is aware.” It has been suggested to me that the first two cases (excluding that of “is in doubt”) are more definite in meaning than the later ones, and that therefore these first two might be translated by “is aware” and “is not aware,” and the others by “thinks” and “does not think.” But the Pali word is the same throughout.


i.e. an extra robe.


This and the next six cases = below, Vin.3.251 (without the “assigned” clause), Vin.3.262.


dukkaṭa, also to be confessed.


adhiṭṭheti, according to Critical Pali Dictionary to employ, adopt, keep for oneself.


These clauses indicate that the monk has lost responsibility for the robe.


acchinditvā gaṇhanti. This phrase appears to be a substitute for vilumpati, to steal, which as avilutte viluttasaññī occurs immediately after “burnt” in the preceding paragraph.


vissāsaṃ gaṇhanti. At Vin.1.296 things are allowed to be taken on trust from a monk endowed with five qualities: he must be an acquaintance and a friend, alive, he must have spoken about the thing taken, and must know that he will be pleased with the monk for taking it. Cf. also Vin.1.308 for various cases where a robe taken on trust is said to be rightly taken or wrongly taken.


Cf. Bu-NP.2, Bu-NP.3, Bu-NP.28; and cf. Bu-NP.1, where for “burnt” we get “broken” (of a bowl).


tena kho pana samayena, very likely equivalent here to atha, then, for in this and similar contexts it does not mean so much “at one time,” as at the more definite “then”—i.e., at a time (shortly) after the rule had been laid down, but marking a continuation of the story which led up to and included the formulation of the rule.


na nisaṭṭhacīvaraṃ na dātabbaṃ; cf. below, BD.2.117, and Vin.4.245, where the same thing (using the double negative) is said of a bowl.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: