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) 6

Bu-NP.6.1.1 BD.2.42 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans,[1] came to be skilled[2] in giving dhamma-talk.[3] Now at that time a certain son of a (great) merchant[4] approached the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, and having approached and greeted the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, he sat down at a respectful distance.[5] As he was sitting at a respectful distance, the venerable Upananda, the BD.2.43 son of the Sakyans, gladdened … and delighted that son of a (great) merchant with dhamma-talk. And then the son of the (great) merchant, having been gladdened … and delighted by the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, with dhamma-talk, said to the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans:

“Honoured sir, do let me know what will be of use.[6] We are able to Vin.3.211 give to the master, that is to say of the requisites of robes, alms-food, lodgings and medicine for the sick.”[7]

“If you, sir, are desirous of giving something to me, give (me) one cloth from these,”[8] he said.

“Wait, honoured sir, until I go to the house; having gone to the house I will send either one cloth from these or something better than these.”

A second time the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, said to the son of the (great) merchant … A third time the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, said to the son of the (great) merchant: “If you, sir, are desirous of giving something to me, give (me) one cloth from these.”

“Now, honoured sir, for us who are sons of respectable families, it is awkward[9] to go out with (only) one piece of cloth. Wait, honoured sir, until I go to the house; having gone to the house I will send either one cloth from these or something better than these.”

BD.2.44 “What is the good, sir, of your offering without desire to give, because even after you have offered you do not give?”

Then that son of the (great) merchant, being pressed by the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, giving one cloth, went away.


Bu-NP.6.1.2 People, seeing the son of a (great) merchant, spoke thus:

“Why do you, master, come with (only) one cloth?” Then this son of a (great) merchant told this matter to these people. The people looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying:

“These recluses, sons of the Sakyans, have great desires, they are not contented; among them it is not easy to make reasonable requests.[10] How can they take a cloth when a reasonable request was made by the son of a (great) merchant?”

Monks heard these people who … spread it about. Those who were modest monks … spread it about, saying:

“How can the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, ask the son of a (great) merchant for a robe?” Then these monks told this matter to the lord. He said:

“Is it true, as is said, that you, Upananda, asked the son of the (great) merchant for a robe?”

“It is true, lord,” he said.

“Is he a relation of yours, Upananda, or not a relation?”

“He 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 or what is wrong for one who is not a relation.[11] Thus you, foolish man, will ask a son of a (great) merchant for a robe. It is not, foolish man, for pleasing BD.2.45 those who are not (yet) pleased … And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

“Whatever monk should ask a man or a woman householder who is not a relation (of his) for a robe, 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.6.2.1 Now at that time several monks[12] Vin.3.212 were going along the high-road from Sāketa to Sāvatthī. Midway on the road, thieves issuing forth, plundered these monks.[13] Then these monks said:

“It is forbidden by the lord to ask a man or woman householder who is not a relation for a robe.” And being scrupulous, they did not ask, (but) going naked as they were to Sāvatthī, they saluted the monks respectfully. The monks said:

“Your reverences, these Naked Ascetics[14] are very good because they respectfully salute these monks.”[15]

They said: “Your reverences, we are not Naked Ascetics, we are monks.”

The monks said to the venerable Upāli: “If so,[16] reverend Upāli, question these.”[17]

Then the venerable Upāli, having questioned these monks,[18] said to the monks: “These are monks, your reverences; give them robes.”

Those who were modest monks … spread it about, saying: “How can monks come naked? Should they not come covered up with grass or leaves?” Then these monks told this matter to the lord. Then the lord, on BD.2.46 that occasion, in that connection, having given reasoned talk, addressed the monks, saying:

“I allow, monks, one whose robe is stolen or one whose robe is destroyed, to ask a man or woman householder who is not a relation (of his) for a robe. If there is for the Order at the first residence[19] which he approaches either a robe in the dwelling-place[20] or a bed-cover[21] or a ground-covering[22] or a mattress- BD.2.47 cover,[23] (I allow) him to take it to put on, if he says, ‘Getting (a robe), I will replace[24] it.’ But if there is not for the Order either a robe in the dwelling-place or a bed-cover or a ground-covering or a mattress-cover, then he should come covered up with grass or leaves; but he should not come naked. Who should so come, there is an offence of wrong-doing.[25] And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

Whatever monk should ask a man or woman householder who is not a relation (of his) for a robe, except at the right time, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. This is the right time in this case: if a monk becomes one whose robe is stolen or whose robe is destroyed; in this case this is the right time.”


Bu-NP.6.3.1 Whatever means: he who …

Monk means: … is monk to be understood in this case.

Not a relation means: one who is not related on the mother’s side or on the father’s side back through seven generations.[26]

A householder means: he who lives in a house.[27]

A woman householder means: she who lives in a house.[28] Vin.3.213

BD.2.48 A robe means: any one robe of the six (kinds of) robes (including) the least one fit for assignment.[29]

Except at the right time means: setting the right time to one side.

One whose robe is stolen means: a monk’s robe becomes stolen[30] by kings or by thieves or by rogues, or it becomes stolen by anyone whatsoever.

One whose robe is destroyed means: a monk’s robe becomes burnt by fire, or it becomes carried away by water,[31] or it becomes eaten by rats and white ants, or it becomes worn by use.


Bu-NP.6.3.2 If he asks, except at the right time, there is an offence of wrong-doing in the action; it is to 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: ‘This robe, honoured sirs, asked for by me from a householder who is not a relation, except at the right time, is to be forfeited. 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.6.3.3 If he thinks that a man (or woman) is not a relation when he is not a relation, (and) asks for a robe except at the right time, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he is in doubt as to whether a man is not a relation (and) asks for a robe except at the right time, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that a man is a relation when he is not a relation, (and) asks for a robe except at the right time, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that a man is not a relation when he is a relation, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he is in doubt as to whether a man is a relation, BD.2.49 there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that a man is a relation when he is a relation, there is no offence.


Bu-NP.6.3.4 There is no offence if it is at the right time; if they belong to relations; if they are invited[32]; if it is for another; if it is by means of his own property[33]; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

He had a novice, Kaṇḍaka, who behaved badly, Vin.1.79, Vin.1.85. At Vin.1.153, having promised Pasenadi to spend the rains with him, he went to another place; and at Vin.1.300, having spent the rains at one place, he accepted a share of robes at others. At Vin.2.165, coming late to a meal, he made a monk get up and give him his place. At Vin.2.168 he took two lodgings, and is also called a “maker of strife, quarrelsome.” He is mentioned in Bu-NP.8, Bu-NP.9, Bu-NP.10, Bu-NP.18, Bu-NP.20, Bu-NP.25, Bu-NP.27, and in various Pācittiyas.

2.

paṭṭho, probably for paddho. Vin-a.665 says, paṭṭho ti cheko samattho paṭibalo.

3.

dhammī kathā. Here, more a talk on religious or philosophical matters than the “reasoned talk” given by the lord before modifying one of the rules. See above, BD.2.4, BD.2.14.

4.

seṭṭhiputta. Seṭṭhi is a banker and a trader combined, hence a merchant, head of a guild. He is primarily a merchant, and a banker only because a merchant, and because there were no banks in those days. Seṭṭhi-putta indicates that the father was still alive, so that his son, the setthiputta, is not yet head of the firm, but will be on the death of his father. He would then become a seṭṭhi.

5.

ekamantaṃ nisīdi, literally sat down to one side, or end. In sitting down in the presence of an honoured person, care should be taken not to sit down in any of the six wrong ways, or nisajjadosa. These are atidūra, accādsanna, uparivāta, unnatappadesa, atisammukha, atipacchā, too far, too near, to windward, on a higher seat, too much in front, too much behind; see Vin-a.129 = MN-a.1.110; Ud-a.53 (abbreviated); SN-a.i.16 for similar six wrong ways of standing; and cf. SN-a.ii.86 for a different set of six nisajjadosa. To consider all these difficulties, and to sit down so as to cause no discomfort to the honoured person, is ekamantaṃ nisīdi.

6.

yena attho. Cf. BD.1.222 for same expression.

7.

Genitive or dative plural used here instead of accusative plural, which usually goes with dātuṃ, to give.

8.

ito. This refers to the two pieces of cloth that a man would ordinarily wear, as is done today in India, except in the Punjab: the dhoti and the chaddar, the one put on at the waist, and the other to cover the top part of the body. The son of the merchant, in this story, presumably had on no more than the customary two pieces of cloth, so that if he gave one away, he would have to go partially naked. So he said, “Wait.”

9.

kismiṃ viya = kiṃ viya, it is what? it is like what? There is no English expression to render this exactly, but in most Indian languages there is something of the sort. The origin of the expression is obscure. Cf. “it is awkward to go empty-handed,” kismiṃ viya rittahatthaṃ gantuṃ, below, BD.2.321, and n.4.

10.

dhammanimantana, a request such as could reasonably be made by a pious man to a good monk, a request made to religious people in a suitable way. Here the monk presumed on the request made him by the merchant’s son.

11.

Cf. above, BD.2.39.

12.

sambahulā, bhikkhū, or “two or three” or “many monks”; see above, BD.2.8, n.6.

13.

Vin-a.665, “they stole their bowls and robes.”

14.

ājīvakā.

15.

Or, “these Naked Ascetics who respectfully salute these monks are very good.”

16.

iṅgha.

17.

Vin-a.665, “ask them for the sake of knowing their status as monks.”

18.

Vin-a.665, “he asked them about the pabbajjā and the upasampadā ordinations, and about bowls and robes.”

19.

āvāsa. Cf. BD.1.314, n.3. Āvāsa appears to be largely a monastic term, nivesana being a layman’s dwelling. I think that the arrangement was as follows: ārāma was a whole monastery, consisting of the grounds and the buildings; āvāsa was the “colony” or place in which the monks lived. In general, the larger āvāsa may be said to have contained, besides such “rooms” as the uposatha hall, the refectory, the warming-room and so on, a number of vihāras. These were the separate rooms or dwelling-places, each given over to one monk, or if he had a saddhivihārin to two, to live in and use as his quarters, while staying at that particular ārāma.
The so-called “temples,” the ārāmas, of Ceylon today contain five buildings on the “temple” or monastery site: the thūpa, the shrine-room, the hall of residence for monks (containing separate rooms for each monk), the teaching-hall (school) and the preaching hall. Several cells or rooms, pariveṇa or vihāra, suitable for not more than one monk to sleep in, lead off some of the large caves at Ellora and Ajanta.

20.

vihāracīvara. As far as I know the word occurs only here. Vin-a.666 says, “people having had a residence erected, thinking, ‘Let the four requisites belonging to us be of use (to the monks),’ making ready sets of three robes and depositing them in the residence that they have erected—this is what is called a vihāracīvara.” It thus seems to be a robe put by in case of need in a residence, and more specifically in the vihāra, or dwelling-place portion of it—i.e., not in the refectory or any of the other rooms used together by the community.

21.

uttarattharaṇa. This is a cover for a bed or chair, used out of respect for the person who uses the bed or chair, so as to prevent his clothes from being soiled. Vin-a.666 says that it is called a sheet for spreading on or over a couch, uttarattharaṇan ti mañcakassa upari attharaṇakaṃ paccattharaṇaṃ vuccati. At Vin-a.776 uttarattharaṇa is called a sheet that may be spread over couches and chairs, uttarattharaṇan ti nāma mañcapīṭhānam upari attharitabbakaṃ paccattharaṇaṃ. On paccattharaṇa see above, BD.2.34, n.1.

22.

bhummattharaṇa. Vin-a.666, “when the earth is prepared, they cover it for the sake of preserving its texture with carpets; spreading out a straw mat above this they walk up and down” At Vin-a.776 bhummattharaṇa is called a mat for sitting or lying on, kaṭusāraka, that may be spread on the ground. Cf. below, BD.2.73.

23.

bhisicchavi. Vin-a.666, “the outer skin (chavi) of a mattress for a couch or a mattress for a chair.” Bhisi, a mattress, may mean a door-rug, something thick for wiping the feet, or a cushion. In fact, anything like a mattress afterwards came to be called bhisi. At Vin.4.40 (= below, BD.2.240) five materials are given of which a bhisi might lawfully be made. See also Vinaya Texts ii.210, n.

24.

odahissāmi. Vin-a.667 explains by puna ṭhapessāmi, “I will deposit again.”

25.

Cf. Vin.1.305: whatever monk adopts nakedness, the adoption of members of other sects, there is a grave offence; Visākhā’s strictures on nakedness for monks and nuns, Vin.1.292, Vin.1.293; and Bu-NP.24 below. At the root of the desire that monks should be clothed was the need, lay and monastic, to differentiate between bhikkhus and titthiyas, or those of them who were Naked Ascetics.

26.

Cf. above, BD.2.31; below, BD.2.55.

27.

Cf. below, BD.2.55. Ajjhāvasati is, according to Critical Pali Dictionary, “to dwell in (as an owner).”

28.

Cf. below, BD.2.55. Ajjhāvasati is, according to Critical Pali Dictionary, “to dwell in (as an owner).”

29.

Cf. above, BD.2.7 and n.4; BD.2.40, and below, BD.2.140.

30.

Here presumably with the sense of “taken forcibly.”

31.

udakena vuḷhaṃ; cf. Vin.1.32. Sinhalese edition has vūḷhaṃ, which I understand to be the correct form.

32.

Vin-a.667 seems to take ñātakānaṃ pavāritānaṃ together—i.e., without the comma of the text. Commentary says “if they are for relations who are invited”; and later pavāritānaṃ is taken up again, “whoever having invited, but who owing to foolishness or forgetfulness, does not give, should be asked … If he says, ‘I invite you to my house,’ going to his house you should sit down for as long as desirable, or lie down, but take nothing. If he says, ‘I invite you to whatever is in my house,’ you should ask for what is allowable there.” Cf. below, BD.1.52, BD.1.57.

33.

Vin-a.667, “if he asks for a robe by means of utensils allowable to monks (kappiyabhaṇḍa), if it is by an allowable procedure (kappiyavohārena).” Cf. above, BD.2.27, n.3.