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) 15

Bu-NP.15.1.1 BD.2.83 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then the lord addressed the monks, saying: “Monks, I want to go into solitary retreat for three months. I am not to be approached by anyone except the one who brings the alms-food.”[1]

“Very well, lord,” these monks answered the lord, and accordingly no one here went up to the lord except the one who brought the alms-food. Now at that time an agreement was made by the Order at Sāvatthī, saying: “Your reverences, the lord wishes to go into solitary retreat for three months. The lord should not be approached by anyone except the one who brings the alms-food. Whoever approaches the lord should be made to confess[2] an offence of expiation.”

Then the venerable Upasena, the son of Vaṅganta,[3] approached the lord together with his followers, and having approached and greeted the lord, he sat down at a respectful distance. Now it is the custom for enlightened ones, for lords, to exchange friendly greetings with in-coming monks. The lord said to the venerable Upasena, the son of Vaṅganta, as he was sitting at a respectful distance:

“Upasena, I hope things go well with you, I hope BD.2.84 you are keeping going, I hope you have come here with but little fatigue on the journey?”

“Lord, things go well with us, lord, we keep ourselves going, we have come here with but little fatigue on the journey, lord.”

Now at that time the monk who was the fellow- resident of the venerable Upasena, the son of Vaṅganta, was sitting not far from the lord. Then the lord said to this monk: “Monk, are rag-robes pleasing to you?”

“Rag-robes are not pleasing to me, lord,” he said.

“Then how is it, monk, that you are one who wears rag-robes?”

“Lord, my preceptor is one who wears rag-robes, therefore am I also one who wears rag-robes.” Then the lord said to the venerable Upasena, the son of Vaṅganta:

“And is this crowd[4] agreeable to you, Upasena? How is it that you lead[5] the crowd, Upasena?”

He said: “Lord, I say to whoever asks me for the upasampadā ordination: ‘Your reverence, I am a jungle-dweller, an almsman,[6] one who wears rag-robes.[7] If you also will become a jungle-dweller, an almsman, one who wears rag-robes, then will I confer the upasampadā ordination upon you.’ If he promises me, I confer the upasampadā ordination, but if he does not promise me I do not confer the upasampadā ordination. Vin.3.231 I say to whoever asks me for help[8]: ‘Your reverence, I am a jungle-dweller, an almsman, one who wears rag-robes. If you also will become a jungle-dweller, an almsman, one who wears rag-robes, then I will give you help.’ If he promises me, I give help; but if he does not promise me, I do not give help. Thus do I, lord, lead the crowd.”

BD.2.85 Bu-NP.15.1.2 “Good, Upasena, good; it is good, Upasena, that you lead the crowd. But do you know, Upasena, of the Order’s agreement at Sāvatthī?”

“Lord, I do not know the Order’s agreement at Sāvatthī.”

“At Sāvatthī, Upasena, an agreement was made by the Order: ‘Your reverences, the lord wishes to go into solitary retreat for three months. The lord should not be approached by anyone except the one who brings the alms-food. Whoever approaches the lord should be made to confess an offence of expiation.’”

“Lord, the Order at Sāvatthī will be well known for its own agreement; we will not lay down what is not (yet) laid down, nor will we abolish what has been laid down, but we will dwell in conformity with and according to the rules of training which have been laid down.”

“That is very good, Upasena; what is not (yet) laid down should not be laid down, nor should what is laid down be abolished, but one should dwell in conformity with and according to the rules of training which have been laid down. Upasena, I allow those monks who are jungle-dwellers, who are almsmen, who wear rag-robes to come up for the sake of seeing me, if they wish to.”

At that time several monks[9] who came to be standing outside the gateway,[10] said: “We will make the venerable Upasena, the son of Vaṅganta, confess to an offence of expiation.” Then the venerable Upasena, the son of Vaṅganta, rising up from his seat with his followers, greeting the lord, departed keeping his right side towards him. Then those monks said to the venerable Upasena, the son of Vaṅganta: “Do you, reverend Upasena, know of the Order’s agreement at Sāvatthī?”

“But, your reverences, the lord said to me: ‘But do you know of the Order’s agreement at Sāvatthī? … according to the rules of training which have been laid BD.2.86 down.’ Your reverences, it is allowed by the lord, who said: ‘Those monks who are jungle-dwellers, who are almsmen, who wear rag-robes may come up for the sake of seeing me, if they wish to.’”

Then these monks said: “What the venerable Upasena says is true; what has not yet been laid down should not be laid down, nor should what has been laid down be abolished, but one should dwell in conformity with and according to the rules of training that have been laid down.”


Bu-NP.15.1.3 Then monks heard: “They say it was allowed by the lord, saying: ‘Those monks who are jungle-dwellers, who are almsmen, who wear rag-robes may come up for the sake of seeing me, if they wish to.’” These, longing for a sight of the lord, discarding their rugs,[11] Vin.3.232 took upon themselves the practice of jungle-dwellers, the practice of those who are almsmen, the practice of those who wear rag-robes.[12] Then the lord as he was engaged in touring the lodgings together with several monks,[13] saw here and there discarded rugs, and seeing them, he addressed the monks, saying:

“How is it, monks, that there are these discarded rugs here and there?”

Then these monks told this matter to the lord. Then BD.2.87 the lord, on that occasion, in that connection, having given reasoned talk, addressed the monks, saying:

“On account of this, monks, I will lay down a rule of training for monks based on ten grounds: for the excellence of the Order, for the comfort of the Order …[14] … And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

When, (with the addition of part of) a rug, (a piece of) cloth to sit upon[15] is being made for a monk, (a piece) the breadth of the accepted span[16] must be taken from all round an old rug in order to disfigure[17] it. If a monk should have made (with the addition of part of) a rug, a new (piece of) cloth to sit upon without taking (a piece) the breadth of the accepted span from all round an old rug, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.”


Bu-NP.15.2.1 A (piece of) cloth to sit upon means: it is so called if it has a border.[18]

BD.2.88 A rug means: it is made “having spread,” not woven.[19]

Is being made means: making or causing to be made.

Old rug means: dressed in it once, put on once.[20] (A piece) the breadth of the accepted span must he taken from all round in order to disfigure it means: cutting a circle or square so that it may become firm,[21] it should be “spread” in one quarter or it should be “spread” having been unravelled.

If a monk … without taking (a piece) the breadth of the accepted span from all round an old rug means: if without having taken (a piece) the breadth of the accepted span from all round an old rug, he makes or has made, (with the addition of part of) a rug, a new (piece of) cloth to sit upon, there is an offence of wrong-doing in the action; it should be forfeited on acquisition. It should be forfeited to … an individual. And thus, monks, should it be forfeited: ‘Honoured sirs, this (piece of) cloth to sit upon having been made (with the addition of part of) a rug, (but) without having taken (a piece) the breadth of the accepted span from all round an old rug 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 to the venerable one.’

BD.2.89 If what was incompletely executed by himself he has finished by himself, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture … See Bu-NP.11.2.2 … if he makes it or causes it to be made for another, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

There is no offence if he makes it having taken (a piece) the breadth of the accepted span from all round an old rug; Vin.3.233 if, failing to get it, he makes it having taken a smaller (piece)[22]; if, failing to get it, he makes it not having taken (any portion)[23]; if acquiring what was made for another, he makes use of it; if he makes a canopy or a ground-covering or a screen-wall or a mattress or a squatting-mat[24]; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

At SN.v.325 the lord dwelt in solitude for three months; at Vin.3.68, SN.v.12, SN.v.320 for two weeks.

2.

desāpetabbo.

3.

Referred to at Vin.1.59, Ja.2.449 for ordaining his saddhi-vihārika only a year after his own ordination. At AN.i.24 he is called chief among those who are altogether charming (samanta-pāsādika, which is also the title of the Vinaya Commentary). Both these points are referred to at Psalms of the Bretheren 261f. He was younger brother to Sāriputta, and had three sisters, Cālā, Upacālā, Sīsupacālā, their mother being Rūpasārī, and his father Vaṅganta; cf. Dhp-a.2.84, where Sāriputta’s father is also said to be Vaṅganta; and Psalms of the Sisters, p.96, where the three sisters are said to be junior to Sāriputta. See also Thag.576, Tha-ap.62 for his verses; Ud.46, where he says that he is of great psychic power and majesty; and see Dictionary of Pali Proper Names.

4.

parisā.

5.

vinesi.

6.

piṇḍapdātika. This I think is a word that may be correctly rendered by “almsman,” “beggar for alms.” See BD.1, Introduction, p.xii, and Vism.66.

7.

These three aṅga (practices) are explained in detail at Vism.59ff.. Sometimes combined with tecīvara, a wearer of the three robes, as e.g. at Vin.1.253, MN.i.214.

8.

nissaga.

9.

sambahulā bhikkhū, see above, BD.2.8, n.6.

10.

dvārakoṭṭhaka, or the (store-)room over or by the gate.

11.

See above, BD.2.71, n.4. It is on this passage that Vin-a.687 says “their santhata (rugs) counting as a fourth robe.” Reference to a fourth robe, catutthaka cīvara, is made at Vism.65, to be worn principally apparently for the purpose of washing and dyeing the three usual robes, and as either an inner or an outer robe.

12.

These three aṅgas appear as dhūtaguṇa (together with that of sapadānacārika, continuous alms-begging) at Vin.3.15 (= BD.1.26), and together with others at Vism.59ff.. Cf. also Vin.1.253, Vin.2.299 (with tecīvarika) and Vin.2.32. At AN.iii.391 the three ways of living given above occur with gāmantavihārī, one who dwells in village-outskirts, nemantanika, the guest, and gaha-paticīvaradhara, the wearer of robes given by a householder. If any one of these does not behave suitably he is ten’aṅgena gārayho, blameworthy as to that attribute (which he has taken on himself)—aṅga being a technical term covering these various modes of scrupulous living.

13.

See above, BD.2.8, n.6.

14.

= Vin.3.21 (BD.1.37f.); AN.i.98, AN.i.100; AN.v.70.

15.

“Rug” and “piece of cloth to sit upon” are nisīdana-santhata; translated at Vinaya Texts i.25 as “a rug to sit upon,” and at Vinaya Texts i.26 as “seat-rug,” as though only one article were meant, which was probably the case, although two were involved in the making. The Old Commentary defines nisīdana and santhata separately below; also santhata has occurred alone in Bu-NP.11Bu-NP.14. At Vin.4.123 nisīdana appears among other requisites, while at Vin.4.170–Vin.4.171 directions are given as to the size a nisīdana is to be made; at Vin.1.295 a nisīdana is allowed as a protection for body, robes and lodgings; at Vin.1.297 it is one of the things allowed to be allotted but not assigned. At Vin.2.123 the six monks were separated from their nisīdana for four months, which led to a prohibition. It thus seems to be the thing sat upon and not the occasion of sitting upon something. Huber, J.Bu-As. 1913, p.37 (= 497) translates nisīdanasaṃstara as “tapis,” while for santhata, alone, he has “couverture.” Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana, So-sor-thar-pa, p.21, has “piece of carpet made into a seat,” while for the Tibetan equivalent for santhata alone, he gives “mat.” On santhata, see BD.2, Introduction, p.xxii, and cf. nisīdaṇa-paccattharaṇa, above, BD.2.34, and Vin.1.295.

16.

sugatavidatthī, see BD.1.253.

17.

dubbaṇṇakaraṇāya, occurring also below, BD.2.407, in Bu-Pc.58.

18.

sadasaṃ vuccati. Cf. Vin iv.123, Vin iv.171. Sadasa = sa + dasā. At Vin.2.301–307 we get the opposite (adjective), adasaka, again qualifying nisīdana, and where an unbordered, adasaka, nisīdana is not allowed (even if it is of the right size). At Vin.4.170, Vin.4.171 the right size is prescribed for the nisīdana, a border is allowed, and it is said that this border should be a span; if these measurements are exceeded the nisīdana should be cut down (to the proper size) on acquisition. At the Council of Vesālī, Vin.2.294ff., it is said that a piece of cloth to sit upon that has no border is not allowable, because a monk who had one of this nature would incur the pācittiya offence involving cutting down (i.e., Bu-Pc.89), Vin.2.307. All the ten matters, vatthu, whose allowability is being questioned at the Council are explained, see Vin.2.300f., except this one and the one concerning gold and silver (Bu-NP.18).

19.

Cf. above, BD.2.72, BD.2.75, BD.2.77.

20.

= definition of soiled, or old, robe, above, BD.2.32. Thus the words used are those which usually refer to the putting on of the set of three robes: nivattha and pāruta. Buddhaghosa at Vin-a.687, in explaining their meaning in the above passage, defines them as nisinna and nipanna respectively, sat on and lain on. See BD.2, Introduction, p.xxiv.

21.

thirabhāvāya.

22.

alabhanto thokataraṃ ādiyitvā karoti. Buddhaghosa is silent.

23.

alabhanto anādiyitvā karoti.