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’ Forfeiture (Nissaggiya) 5

Bu-NP.5.1.1 BD.2.36 … at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove at the squirrels’ feeding-place. At that time the nun Uppalavaṇṇā[1] was staying at Sāvatthī. Then the nun Uppalavaṇṇā, dressing in the morning Vin.3.208 and taking her bowl and robe, entered Sāvatthī for alms-food. Having wandered about Sāvatthī for alms-food, returning from her alms-gathering after her meal,[2] she approached the Blind Men’s Grove[3] for the mid-day rest; having plunged into the Blind Men’s Grove she sat down at the foot of a tree for the mid-day rest. Now at that time some thieves, having done their deeds,[4] having killed a cow[5] and taken the flesh, entered the Blind Men’s Grove. Then the robber-chief saw the nun Uppalavaṇṇā as she was sitting at the foot of the tree for the mid-day rest, and seeing her, it occurred to him: BD.2.37 “If my sons and brothers see this nun they will trouble her,” and he went by a different way.[6]

Then that robber-chief, taking the best meats of the cooked meat, tying (them up) in a leaf-packet, and hanging it up on a tree near the nun Uppalavaṇṇā, said: “Whatever recluse or brahmin sees it, it is given (to him), let him take it,”[7] and having spoken thus, he departed. Then the nun Uppalavaṇṇā, arising from contemplation,[8] heard these words of that robber-chief as he was speaking.[9] Then the nun Uppalavaṇṇā, taking that meat, went to the nunnery. Then the nun Uppalavaṇṇā, having prepared[10] that meat at the end of that night, tying it up into a bundle with her upper robe,[11] rising in the air,[12] reappeared in the Bamboo Grove.


Bu-NP.5.1.2 Now at that time the lord was visiting the village for alms-food, and the venerable Udāyin came to be the one left behind as guardian of the dwelling. Then the nun Uppalavaṇṇā approached the venerable Udāyin, and having approached, she said to the venerable Udāyin:

“Where, honoured sir, is the lord?”

BD.2.38 He said, “Sister, the lord has entered the village for alms-food.”

“Give this meat to the lord, honoured sir,” she said.

“You, sister, have pleased the lord with this meat; if you were to give me your inner robe, likewise would I become pleased with the inner robe.”[13]

“But we women, honoured sir, get things with difficulty. This is my last, (my) fifth robe.[14] I shall not give it to you,” she said.

“It is as if, sister, a man giving an elephant should caparison[15] its girth,[16] yet even so do you, sister, (though) giving meat to the lord, not give[17] me your inner robe.”[18]

Then the nun Uppalavaṇṇā, being pressed by the venerable Udāyin, giving him her inner robe, went to the nunnery. The nuns, taking the nun Uppalavaṇṇā’s bowl and robe, said to the nun Uppalavaṇṇā:

“Lady, where is your inner robe?”

The nun Uppalavaṇṇā told this matter to the nuns. The nuns Vin.3.209 looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying:

“How can the venerable Udāyin accept a robe from a nun? Women come by things with difficulty.” And BD.2.39 then these nuns told this matter to the monks. Those who were modest monks … spread it about, saying:

“How can the venerable Udāyin accept a robe from a nun?” Then these monks told this matter to the lord. He said:

“Is it true, as is said, that you, Udāyin, accepted a robe from a nun?”

“It is true, lord.”

“Is she a relation of yours, Udāyin, or not a relation?”

“She is not a relation, lord,” he said.

“Foolish man, one who is not a relation does not know what is suitable or what is unsuitable, or what is right[19] or what is wrong for a woman who is not a relation.[20] Thus you, foolish man, will accept a robe from the hand of a nun who is not a relation. It is not, foolish man, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

“Whatever monk should accept a robe from the hand of a nun who is not a relation, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.”

And thus this rule of training for monks came to be laid down by the lord.


Bu-NP.5.2.1 Then scrupulous monks did not accept exchange of robes[21] with nuns. The nuns … spread it about, saying:

“How can the masters not accept exchange of robes with us?”

Monks heard these nuns who looked down upon, criticised, spread it about. Then these monks told this matter to the lord. Then the lord on this occasion, in this connection, having given reasoned talk, addressed the monks, saying:

“Monks, I allow you to accept exchange among these BD.2.40 five (classes of people)[22]: a monk, a nun, a female probationer, a male novice, a female novice. I allow you, monks, to accept exchange among these five (classes of people). And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

Whatever monk should accept a robe from the hand of a nun who is not a relation, except in exchange, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.”[23]


Bu-NP.5.3.1 Whatever means: See Bu-NP.4.2.1

Nun means: one ordained by both Orders.[24] Vin.3.210

A robe means: any one robe of the six (kinds of) robes (including) the least one fit for assignment.[25]

Except in exchange means: without an exchange.

He accepts: in the action there is an offence of wrong-doing; it should be forfeited on acquisition; it should be forfeited to the Order, or to a group, or to an individual. And thus, monks, should it be forfeited: ‘Honoured sirs, this robe, accepted from the hand of a nun who is not a relation, is to be forfeited by me. I forfeit it to the Order.’‘… the Order should give back … let the venerable ones give back … I will give back this robe to the venerable one.’


Bu-NP.5.3.2 If he thinks that a woman is not a relation when she is not a relation, (and) accepts a robe, except in exchange, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he is in doubt as to whether the woman is not a relation, (and) accepts a robe, except in exchange, there is an offence of expiation invoking forfeiture. If he thinks that a woman is a relation when she is not a relation, (and) accepts a robe, except BD.2.41 in exchange, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he accepts a robe, except in exchange, from the hand of a woman ordained by one (Order only),[26] there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that a woman is not a relation when she is a relation, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he is in doubt as to whether a woman is a relation, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that a woman is a relation when she is a relation, there is no offence.


Bu-NP.5.3.3 There is no offence if she is a relation; if there is an exchange; if there is a large thing for a small thing, or a small thing for a large thing[27]; if a monk takes it on trust[28]; if he takes it for the time being; if he takes another requisite, except the robe; if she is a female probationer, a female novice; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Vin.3.35 tells the story of the rape of Uppalavaṇṇā by a brahmin youth; see BD.1.53, n.5.

2.

pacchābhatta; bhatta usually means cooked rice. As this is the main thing put into the bowl, it has come to mean the whole meal.

3.

Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names 1.111, says, “‘Blind,’ usually, but wrongly, translated ‘Dark’.” He gives the story accounting for the name of this Grove, an episode that must have taken place before the rape of Uppalavaṇṇā, as it is said (Dhp-a.2.49, Dhp-a.2.52) that after that time nuns were not to stay in this Grove. Vin-a.662 also says that Uppalavaṇṇā entered the Blind Men’s Grove, because the rule of training had not then been laid down. Those who translate andhavana as “Dark Grove” think of it, rightly or wrongly, as a Grove where, because it is so dark, it is impossible to see anything.

4.

kata-kammā—i.e., committed thefts. Said of māṇava (Commentary: cora, thief) at AN.iii.102, and of cora at Vism.180, Ja.3.34.

5.

The cow was probably not so sacred then as now, and the cattle-thief common in those days.

6.

Vin-a.662, “It is said that formerly the robber-chief knew the therī, therefore seeing her as he went in front of the robbers, he said: ‘Do not go there, all come here,’ and taking them he went by another way.”

7.

By these words the meat was made kappiya, allowable, and became a gift that might be taken.

8.

On samādhi as a term in Hindu philosophy, see Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religions and Western Thought, 49–52. It is there rendered as “unification,” “identification,” “ecstatic consciousness.” It is possible that the “sense of immediate contact with ultimate reality, of the unification of the different sides of our nature,” was not absent from the Early Buddhist conception of samādhi.

9.

Vin-a.663, “It is said that the therī arose from contemplation at the appointed time: he spoke (the words reported above) at that very moment, and she heard and thought, ‘There is no other samaṇa or brahmin here but me.”

10.

sampādetvā, possibly “roasted.”

12.

On vehāṃsa as “above the ground” see BD.1.79, n.6.

13.

Vin-a.663, Udāyin is filled with lust and greed.

14.

Vin-a.663, she did not speak from greed, for “in those who have destroyed the cankers there is no greed”; but there was no robe left over of the five that were to be worn by nuns. These five, as pañca cīvārani, are referred to at Vin.4.281f. At Vin.2.272 it is said that the three usual robes, the vest, saṃkacchika, and the bathing-cloth, should be pointed out to women who wish to receive the upasampadā ordination. Nuns were also allowed indoors robes or cloths, āvasathacīvara (Vin.2.217), but apparently such things were handed from nun to nun as need arose (Vin.4.303).

15.

sajjeyya. Sajjeti is to send out, to prepare, equip, fit up, decorate, deck out, and came to mean to give.

16.

kaccha, here accusative plural. It is the girth or middle of an animal. If a present of an elephant is being made, a decorated cloth to be tied round his middle should also be given.

17.

sajjeyya. Sajjeti is to send out, to prepare, equip, fit up, decorate, deck out, and came to mean to give.

18.

Here there is a parallelism between kaccha, an accessory of the elephant, and antaravāsaka, the inner robe, which Udāyin thought might accompany the gift of meat. The meat had been wrapped up in the nun’s upper robe, and it is to be presumed that she was in consequence going about in her inner robe; see BD.2.xviii.

19.

santa, meaning “right” or “existent.”

20.

Cf. below, BD.2.44, and Vin.4.59. Also above, BD.2.31, where, however, we get pāsādika and apāsādika, pleasant and unpleasant, instead of santa and asanta, right and wrong.

21.

pārivattakacīvara. Cf. parivatteti barter, BD.2.55, below.

22.

Vin-a.663, “among these five (kinds of) co-religionists having the same faith, the same morality, the same views.”

23.

At Vin.4.60 it is a pācittiya to give (dātuṃ) a robe to a nun who is not related, except in exchange.

24.

= above, BD.2.32, below, BD.2.96, and Vin.4.52, Vin.4.55, Vin.4.57, Vin.4.60, passim.

25.

= above, BD.2.7, and see there n.4; see also below, BD.2.48, BD.2.140.

26.

Vin-a.664, “taking from the hand of a woman ordained in the presence of nuns (only), is an offence of wrong-doing; but from one ordained in the presence of monks (only), is an offence of expiation.”

27.

Vin-a.664, “if bartering a precious sandal, a robe, shoulder-strap, waist-band, for a robe of little value, he accepts that robe, there is no offence.”

28.

At Vin.4.60 it is the nun who may take on trust, the monk giving.