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) 18

Bu-NP.18.1.1 BD.2.99 … at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove at the squirrels’ feeding-place. Now at that time Vin.3.237 the venerable Upananda,[1] the son of the Sakyans, was dependent as a regular diner on a certain family in Rājagaha. When solid food or soft food came to[2] that family, a portion from that was set aside for the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans. Now at that time meat came one evening to that family, a portion from that was set aside for the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans. A young boy belonging to that family, getting up in the night towards morning, cried: “Give me meat.” Then the man spoke thus to his wife:

“Give the boy the master’s portion, having got another (portion) in exchange, we will give that to the master.”

Then the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, dressing in the morning and taking his bowl and robe, approached the family, and having approached he sat down on the appointed seat. Then that man approached the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans; having approached, having greeted the venerable Upananda, the, son of the Sakyans, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting at a respectful distance, that man spoke thus to the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans:

“Yesterday evening, honoured sir, (some) meat came, a portion from that was set aside for the master. This young boy, honoured sir, got up in the night towards morning and cried: ‘Give me meat,’ and the master’s BD.2.100 portion was given to the boy. What could you get with a kahāpaṇa,[3] honoured sir?”

“(The use of) kahāpaṇas is given up by me, sir,” he said.

“Yes, honoured sir, it is given up.”

“Nevertheless give me a kahāpaṇa, sir,” he said. Then that man having given the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, a kahāpaṇa, looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying:

“As we accept gold and silver,[4] so do these recluses, sons of the Sakyans, accept gold and silver.”

BD.2.101 Monks heard that man who … spread it about. Those who were modest monks … spread it about, saying: “How can the venerable Upananda, the son of the Sakyans, accept gold and silver?” Then these monks told this matter to the lord. He said:

“Is it true, as is said, that you, Upananda, accepted gold and silver?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How can you, foolish man, accept gold and silver?

BD.2.102 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 take gold and silver,[5] or should get another to take it (for him), or should consent to its being kept in deposit[6] (for him), there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.” Vin.3.238


Bu-NP.18.2.1 Whatever means: … is monk to be understood in this case.

Gold[7] means: it is called the colour of the teacher.[8]

Silver[9] means: the kahāpaṇa,[10] the masaka[11] of copper,[12] the māsaka of wood,[13] the māsaka of lac,[14] used in business.[15]

BD.2.103 Should take means: if he himself takes, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.

Should get another to take it (for him) means: if he causes another to take it, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.

Should consent to its being kept in deposit means: if he says: ‘Let this come to be for the master,’ or consents to its being kept in deposit, it is to be forfeited. It should be forfeited in the midst of the Order. And thus, monks, should it 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 speak thus: ‘I, honoured sirs, accepted gold and silver,[16] this is to be forfeited by me. I forfeit it to the Order.’[17] Having forfeited it, the offence should be confessed. The offence should be acknowledged by an experienced, competent monk. If an attendant of a monastery or a lay-follower comes there, he should be told: ‘Sir, find out about this.’ If he says: ‘What could be got with this?’ he should not be told: ‘Bring this or that’; oil or ghee or honey or molasses may be mentioned as allowable. If he brings what is allowable, having got it in exchange for this, it may be made use of by all except the one who accepted the gold and silver. If he can undertake to do this in this way,[18] it is well. But if he cannot undertake to do it, he BD.2.104 should be told: ‘Sir, remove this.’[19] If he removes it, it is well. But if he does not remove it, a monk endowed with five qualities[20] should be agreed upon as silver-remover[21]: one who would not follow a wrong course through desire, one who would not follow a wrong course through hatred, one who would not follow a wrong course through stupidity, one who would not follow a wrong course through fear,[22] and one who would know what is removed and what is not removed. And thus, monks, should he be agreed upon: First, the monk is to be requested. Having been requested, the Order should be informed by an experienced, competent monk, saying: ‘Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. If it seems right to the Order, the Order should agree upon the monk so and so as silver-remover. This is the motion. Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. The Order agrees upon the monk so and so as silver-remover. If it is pleasing to the venerable ones to agree upon the monk so and so as silver-remover, let them be silent; if it is not pleasing, they should speak. The monk so and so is agreed upon by the Order as silver-remover, and it is right … Thus do I understand this.’ It is to be removed by the monk agreed upon making no sign.[23] If, making a sign, he lets it drop, there is an offence of wrong-doing. Vin.3.239

BD.2.105 If he thinks that it is gold and silver when it is gold and silver, (and) accepts gold and silver, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he is in doubt as to whether it is gold and silver, (and) accepts gold and silver, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that it is not gold and silver when it is gold and silver, (and) accepts gold and silver, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that it is gold and silver when it is not gold and silver, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he is in doubt as to whether it is not gold and silver, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that it is not gold and silver when it is not gold and silver, there is no offence.

There is no offence if, taking[24] it or causing (another, to take it within a monastery or within a house,[25] he lays it aside, thinking, ‘It will be for him who will take it’[26]; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

See above, BD.2.42, below, BD.2.109.

2.

uppajjati, cf. above, BD.2.4, BD.2.24, BD.2.90, below, BD.2.153.

3.

The monetary unit in Pali literature. It is one of the items in the Old Commentary’s definition of rajata, silver, below, and of rūpiya, perhaps gold and silver, or perhaps another word for silver, in the next Nissaggiya. Since the word rūpiya is used in this story, presumably the kahāpaṇa of rūpiya is meant above. See next notes. Vin-a.689 says that the kahāpaṇa is suvaṇṇamayo vā rūpiyamayo vā pākatiko vā, made of gold or made of silver (or gold and silver), or the ordinary one. This last was probably usually made of copper. Vin-a.297 says that in Rājagaha a kahāpaṇa was (worth) twenty māsakas (beans), therefore a pāda was worth five māsakas, and in all districts a pāda was a quarter of a kahāpaṇa. This passage opposes the old black kahāpaṇa (porāṇa nīlakāhapaṇa) to others, presumably more modern ones, such as those of Rudradamaka, which, according to the Ṭīkā, were worth a third of the nīlakahāpaṇa. In one of the Commentaries Buddhaghosa calls the kahāpaṇa four-sided, thus not circular.
On kahāpaṇa see Rhys Davids, Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon, p.3, p.13; Buddhist India, p.100; BD.1.29, BD.1.71, n.2; and on pāda, māsaka, see BD.1.71, n.2; BD.1.72, n.1. The late Professor E.J. Rapson kindly told me that coins were certainly known at the time of the Commentaries, but it is doubtful whether they were known at the date of the text. Cf. A.A. Macdonell, India’s Past, p.262f.; Rapson, Ancient India, pp.13–14, pp.151–152, p.173; Cambridge History of India i.61, i.217. Here we have to bear in mind a distinction between the text (sikkhāpada), the Old Commentary (Padabhājaniya), and the Commentary (Buddhaghosa). The two former may have sustained several redactions.

4.

rūpiya, silver, or gold and silver. In the “rule” rūpiya disappears and is supplanted by the compound, jātarūparajata. It is not unusual for a “rule” to be more precise in its reference than the story that led up to it, so that here, had only “silver” been intended in the story, it would not have been surprising to find the rule improving on the story, and alluding to “gold and silver.” But both the Old Commentary, and the Commentary appear to equate rūpiya with jātarūparajata, as though at all events at their date the two meant the same thing.
Jātarūpa is a word for gold, perhaps meaning literally a form, rūpa, (stamped) on what is good and sound. The Old Commentary below defines it as satthuvaṇṇa, the colour of the teacher (cf. DN.ii.17, DN.iii.143); Vin-a.689 as suvaṇṇassa nāma, and says that it is like the colour of the tathāgata (cf. DN-a.1.78, suvaṇṇa). Thus jātarūpa seems to be called suvaṇṇa on account of its lovely colour.
Rajata is defined in the Old Commentary, below (also at DN-a.78) as “kahāpaṇa, the māsaka of copper, of wood, of lac, used in business”; at Vin-a.689 as “mother-of-pearl, precious stone, coral, silver (rajata), gold (jātārupa).
Rūpiya is defined in the Old Commentary, on the next Nissaggiya as “the colour of the teacher, the kahāpaṇa, the māsaka of copper, of wood, of lac, used in business.” This definition therefore combines those of jātarūpa and of rajata under the one heading, as though rūpiya were a generic term for these two precious metals. Cf. Vin-a.696, where jātarūparajata seems identified with rūpiya, and where also Buddhaghosa defines rūpiyasaṃvohāraṃ as jātarūparajataparivattanaṃ, the rūpiya used in business in exchange of gold and silver.
I have, in view of these definitions, translated both rūpiya and jātarūparajata (of the “rule”) as “gold and silver.” Whether all or any of these were simply pieces of metal, or coins as we know them, stamped and engraved with a figure or form, rūpa, as in Buddhaghosa’s days, seems at least to have been the case with some of the māsakas (see below, BD.2.102, notes 9 and 10), we cannot, for the time to which the text and Old Commentary, purport to refer, determine with any certainty. Rūpiya certainly signifies a medium of exchange, but yet it would be a mistake to translate it by “money.” See Rhys Davids, Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon, p.7, where he seems to reject the idea that rūpiya means money. The bowls that were rūpiyamaya, used by the group of six monks, could not have been “made of money.” On the other hand, they also had bowls that were sovaṇṇamaya, made of gold, gold of the kind that is suvaṇṇa. It therefore looks as if in this passage rūpiya does not stand for silver as well as for gold, nor for “silver” as a medium of exchange. Again, taking AN.i.253 to show how far from fixed were the meanings attached to these names for precious metals, jātārupa clearly represents unworked, sterling gold that a goldsmith can work into ornaments.

5.

jātarūparajata. Cf. next note above. At Vin.1.245 the lord is recorded to say, “I do not say, monks, that in any way may gold and silver be consented to, may be looked about for.” The Cūḷavagga, in the account of the Council of Vesālī, Vin.2.294ff., includes the acceptance of gold and silver (jātarūparajata) by monks as the last of the ten matters questioned, but ruled not to be permissible. At DN.i.5 an ordinary man might say of Gotama that he is one who refrains from accepting jātarūparajata.

6.

upanikkhittaṃ vā sādiyeyya. See Rhys Davids, Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon, p.7, and Vinaya Texts i.26, n.4.

7.

jātarūpa.

8.

satthuvaṇṇa.

9.

rajata.

12.

lohamāsaka. Vin-a.689 says that it is a māsaka (bean) made up of copper and bronze (tamba), etc.

13.

dārumāsaka. Vin-a.689 says that this is a māsaka made up of strong, durable wood, or of a piece of bamboo, or even of palm leaves, cutting a figure or engraving into it (rūpaṃ chinditvā).

14.

jatumāsaka. Vin-a.690 says that this is a māsaka made with lac or with resin, on to which a figure has been embossed or introduced (literally caused to be raised up samuṭṭhāpetvā).
It is interesting to note the present-day usage in force in some parts of Tibet: J. Hanbury-Tracy, Black River of Tibet, p.73, “a collection of shells, short lengths of polished wood with curious markings, bean-pods and round discs. These were the tallies used in tax-collecting.” And BD.2.74, “in some parts of Tibet lumps of silver, in the shape of ponies’ hooves, are used for money.”

15.

ye vohāraṃ gacchanti. Vin-a.690 says that in all districts where there is business every kind is included, even if made of bone, of hide, of fruit, of seeds of trees, or whether a figure has been raised up on it or not. This passage goes on to say that the things which involve forfeiture are silver, gold, a gold māsaka, a silver māsaka; the things that involve an offence of wrong-doing are pearls and other gems, the seven sorts of grain, slaves, fields, flower-parks and orchards; the things that are allowable include thread, a plough-share, cloth, cotton, cooked pulses, and oil, ghee, butter, honey, molasses as medicine.

16.

rūpiya.

17.

Vin-a.691 points out that as rupiya is not legally allowed (akappiya), neither a group nor an individual may possess it, but only the Order. Therefore it can only be forfeited to the Order.

18.

evaṃ ce taṃ labhetha—i.e., to procure what is allowable. This comprises the four medicines (oil, ghee, etc.) mentioned above. Note that the fifth medicine, butter, is absent here.

19.

imaṃ chaḍḍehi. If he cannot go and exchange the rūpiya for something allowable, the rūpiya should be removed, since it is not allowable.

20.

Pañcah’ aṅgehi samannāgato. Here the qualities are as follows in the text. Another group of qualities are detailed at AN.i.162 = SN.i.99; these are the constituents of morality, of concentration, of wisdom, of freedom, of freedom by knowledge and insight that are possessed by the adept (asekha)—i.e., the arahan. Cf. below, BD.2.122.

21.

rūpiya-chaḍḍaka. I think that to translate this term as “bullion-remover,” as at Vinaya Texts i.26, n.4, gives a false notion of the extent of any largesse that a monk might have received. Cf. Thag.620 pupphacchaddaka, a scavenger of flowers, and Vin.4.6, where this is given as one of the low types of work.

22.

These are the four agatis, see BD.1.323, n.7.

23.

The silver-remover must avoid drawing attention to the place where he throws down the rūpiya.

24.

uggahetvā.

25.

ajjha-āvasatha. At Vin.4.69ff. āvasatha is a “public rest-house.” But cf. ajjhāvasati, to inhabit, to dwell in a house, above, BD.2.47, n.5.

26.

yassa bhavissati so harissati. Probably a monk, whether accepting rūpiya from a lay-person visiting a monastery, or from a lay person whose house he is visiting, should lay it aside at once, so that either the owner may take it again, or someone else may pick it up. Cf. Vin.4.162ff. in reference to a jewel—not given to a monk but picked up by a monk. At all events, in laying it aside, the monk’s responsibility ceases, and he cannot be accused of committing an offence. To be allowed to accept rūpiya at all must be attributed to the courtesy that the monks must display towards the laity: by accepting gifts they confer a boon upon the donors. In view of the anāpatti (no offence) clause, the sikkhāpada (rule) clause even more strongly suggests not that a monk must not take or cause rūpiya to be taken at all, but that he must not take it or cause it to be taken for him with a view to keeping and using it or putting it by in deposit.