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) 22

Bu-NP.22.1.1 BD.2.118 … among the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu in the Banyan monastery.[1] Now at that time monks were invited by a certain potter who said: “If these masters need a bowl, I (can supply them) with a bowl.”[2] Now at that time monks, not knowing moderation, asked for many bowls. They asked for large bowls for those who had small bowls, they asked for small bowls for those who had large bowls. Then that potter, making many bowls for the monks, could not make other goods for sale,[3] and he could not keep himself going and his wife and children suffered. People … spread it about, saying: “How can these recluses, sons of the Sakyans, not knowing moderation, ask for many bowls? This (man), making many bowls for these (monks), Vin.3.245 is not able to make other goods for sale, and he cannot keep himself going and his wife and children suffer.”

Monks heard these people who … spread it about. Those who were modest monks … spread it about, saying: “How can these monks, not knowing moderation, ask for many bowls? Then these monks told this matter to the lord. He said:

“Monks, is it true, as is said, that monks, not knowing moderation, asked for many bowls?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can these foolish men, not knowing moderation, ask for many bowls? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased …” BD.2.119 And having rebuked them and given reasoned talk, he addressed the monks, saying:

“Monks, a bowl is not to be asked for. Whoever should ask (for one), there is an offence of wrong-doing.”[4]


Bu-NP.22.1.2 Now at that time a certain monk’s bowl became broken.[5] Then it occurred to that monk: “Asking for a bowl is forbidden by the lord,” and being scrupulous; he did not ask (for one); he went about for alms-food (to be put) into his hands.[6] People … spread it about, saying: “How can these recluses, sons of the Sakyans, go about for alms-food (to be put) into their hands, like followers of other sects?”[7] Monks heard these people who … 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: “I allow you, monks, when a bowl is destroyed or when a bowl is broken, to ask for a bowl.”


Bu-NP.22.1.3 Now at that time the group of six monks said: “It is allowed by the lord to ask for a bowl when a bowl is destroyed or when a bowl is broken”; and these, because (their bowls) were a little broken and a little BD.2.120 chipped[8] and a little scratched,[9] asked for many bowls. Then that potter, making many bowls, as before,[10] for the monks, was not able to make other goods for sale, and he did not keep himself going and his wife and children suffered. As before, people … spread it about, saying: “How can these recluses, sons of the Sakyans, not knowing moderation, ask for many bowls? This (man) making many bowls for these (monks), is not able to make other goods for sale, and he does not keep himself going and his wife and children suffer.” Monks heard these people who … spread it about. Those who were modest monks … spread it about, saying: “How can this group of six monks, when their bowls are a little broken and Vin.3.246 a little chipped and a little scratched, ask for many bowls?” Then these monks told this matter to the lord. He said:

“Is it true, as is said, that you, monks, when your bowls were a little broken … asked for many bowls?”

“It is true, lord,” they said.

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

“How can you, foolish men, when your bowls are a little broken … ask for many bowls? It is not, foolish men, for pleasing those who are not yet pleased … And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

Whatever monk should get another new bowl in exchange for a bowl mended[11] in less than five places, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. That bowl is to be forfeited by that monk to the company of monks, and whatever is the last bowl[12] belonging BD.2.121 to that company of monks, that should be given to this monk with the words: ‘Monk, this is a bowl for you; it should be kept until it breaks.’[13] That is the proper course in this case.”


Bu-NP.22.2.1 Whatever means: … is monk to be understood in this case.

A bowl mended in less than five places means: it is not mended, or it is mended in one (place), or it is mended in two (places), or it is mended in three (places), or it is mended in four (places). A bowl with no room for mends means: its rim is not two finger-lengths[14] (in breadth). A bowl with room for mends means: its rim is two finger-lengths (in breadth).

New bowl means: it is so called with reference to the asking for (it).[15]

Should get in exchange means: he asks for (it). There is an offence of wrong-doing in the action. It is to be forfeited on acquisition. It should be forfeited in the midst of the Order. All should come together taking each the bowl in his keeping.[16] An inferior bowl should not be in his keeping if he hopes, ‘I shall receive a costly bowl.’ If an inferior bowl is in his keeping, and he hopes, ‘I shall receive a costly bowl,’ there is an BD.2.122 offence of wrong-doing. 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 say: ‘Honoured sirs, this bowl, got in exchange by me for a bowl mended in less than five places, is to be forfeited. I forfeit it to the Order.’ Having forfeited it, the offence should be confessed. The offence should be acknowledged by an experienced, competent monk. A monk endowed with five qualities should be agreed upon as assigner of bowls[17]: 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,[18] and one who would know what is taken and what is not taken. Vin.3.247 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 assigner of bowls. This is the motion. Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. The Order agrees upon the monk so and so as assigner of bowls. If it is pleasing to the venerable ones to agree upon the monk so and so as assigner of bowls, let them be silent; if it is not pleasing, they should speak. The monk so and so is agreed upon by the Order as assigner of BD.2.123 bowls, and it is right … So do I understand.’ The monk agreed upon should make the bowl pass. He should say to an elder[19]: ‘Honoured sir, let the elder take the bowl.’[20] If the elder takes it, the elder’s bowl should be passed to a second.[21] He should not take it out of regard[22] for him.[23] For whoever should not take it, there is an offence of wrong-doing. It should not be made to pass to one who has what is not a bowl.[24] In this way the bowl should be made to pass down to the youngest member of the Order.[25]

Whatever is the last bowl belonging to that company of monks, that should be given to this monk[26] with the words[27] : ‘Monk, this is a bowl for you; it should be kept until it breaks’ means: This bowl should not be laid aside by that monk in what is not the right place[28]; it should not be used for improper purposes[29]; it should not be given BD.2.124 away[30] with the words: ‘How can this bowl be lost or destroyed or broken?’ If it is laid aside in the wrong place or used for improper purposes or given away, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

This is the proper course in this case means: this is the appropriate course in this case.


Bu-NP.22.2.2 If he gets an unmended bowl in exchange for an unmended bowl, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he gets a bowl that is mended in one place … in two places … in three places … in four places in exchange for an unmended bowl, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he gets an unmended bowl … a bowl that is mended in one place … in two places … in three places … in four places in exchange for a bowl that is mended in one place, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he gets an unmended bowl … a bowl that is mended in one place … in two places … in three places … in four places in exchange for a bowl that is mended in two places … in three places … in four places, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.

If he gets a bowl with no room for mends in exchange for an unmended bowl, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he gets a bowl that has room for one mend in exchange for an unmended bowl … If he gets a bowl that has room for four mends in exchange for a bowl that is mended in four places, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. Vin.3.248

If he gets an unmended bowl in exchange for a bowl that has no room for mends, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture … If he gets a bowl mended in four places in exchange for a bowl that has room for four mends, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.

If he gets a bowl with no room for mends in exchange for a bowl that has no room for mends … If he gets BD.2.125 a bowl that has room for four mends in exchange for a bowl that has room for four mends, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.

There is no offence if the bowl is destroyed, if the bowl is broken, if they belong to relations, if they are invited, if it is for another, if it is by means of his own property; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.[31]

Footnotes and references:

1.

See above, BD.2.94.

2.

yesaṃ ayyānaṃ pattena attho ahaṃ pattenā ti. For rest of this par. cf. Bu-Pc.86.

3.

vikkāyikaṃ, or “for giving away”—i.e., in exchange or barter; see above, BD.2.110. Cf. Ja.1.201.

4.

Note that Gotama is not here laying down a nissaggiya pācittiya, but a dukkaṭa, rule. Because of it a monk, following the injunction scrupulously, arouses the criticism of the laity, and an “allowance,” an anujānāmi, is given (in Bu-NP.22.1.2). Then the group of six monks transgress the allowance; this leads to the formulation of the nissaggiya pācittiya (in Bu-NP.22.1.3).

5.

Examples of ways in which bowls got broken given at Vin.2.113f.

6.

hatthesu piṇḍaya carati. See Vin.1.90, where this expression occurs again, and again people complain that those ordained as monks are like titthiyas. Cf. also Vin.2.114, tumbakaṭāhe piṇḍaya caranti, they went for alms-food (to be put) into a gourd; and Vin.2.115, ghaṭikaṭāhe, into a water-pot (or skull).

7.

This wish to differentiate between Sakyaputtiyas and titthiyas shows the interest taken by lay people in the former, according to the texts, and a certain desire that their behaviour should be suitable. Monks were not to ape householders on the one hand—e.g., above, BD.2.74, BD.2.106; now and at Vin.1.90, Vin.2.114, Vin.2.115, they are not to look like titthiyas.

8.

appamattakena khaṇḍena.

9.

vilikhitamattena.

10.

tath’ eva, “in that very way,” thus “as before.”

11.

bandhanena, from bandhati, to tie together, to unite; and not from bhindati, to break, as appears to have been thought at Vinaya Texts i.27. Critical Pali Dictionary says, “without bands, esp.not riveted (said of alms-bowls).”

12.

pattapariyanta. Vin-a.708 says, “the bowl that remains at the end (pariyante) after this handing over.”

13.

bhedanāya, √bhid. Cf. phrase kāyassa bhedā, on the breaking up of the body.

14.

dvaṅgulā, as at Vin.2.294, Thig.60. Vin-a.708, commenting upon dvaṅgulā rājī na hoti, says that there is not a rim measuring two finger-lengths below the upper circumference. Cf. Vb-a.343, sattadhaññamāsappamāṇaṃ ekaṃ angulaṃ.

15.

Cf. above, BD.2.77, for definition of “new santhata.”

16.

adhiṭṭhita-patta. Adhiṭṭhita, from adhitiṭṭhati (or adhiṭṭhahati or adhiṭṭheti). This variety of spelling is paralleled by variety of meaning. Critical Pali Dictionary, referring to the above passage, says that adhiṭṭhitapatta is “the obligatory alms-bowl.” Adhiṭṭhita, besides meaning “allotted,” as hitherto rendered, also means “taken in use, taken in possession.” “Allotted bowl” would not be right here, since the “assigner of bowls” is yet to be agreed upon or appointed, which occurs just below. And he is appointed precisely to remedy any tendency of monks to carry an inferior bowl to the meeting of the Order, as though it were his usual one, hoping to get a costly one in its place.

17.

pattagāhāpaka, agent noun from causative gāhāpeti = to make to take, but here “to invite to take,” to say: “be so good as to receive,” “to make the bowl pass from one monk to another.” Cf. Vin.2.177, where it is said that there was no pattagāhāpaka at that time; and AN.iii.275, where many of the officials of the Order are mentioned, and are recommended not to be appointed if they follow the four agatis, and cannot make a proper discrimination in their province.

18.

On the agatis see BD.1.323, n.7, and cf. above, BD.2.104. Also cf. Vin.1.283 for “receiver of robes” and Vin.2.167 for “assigner of lodgings,” and above, BD.2.104, for “silver-remover.”

19.

Vin-a.708, “pointing out what is commendable in the bowl, he should say, ‘This bowl is of the right measure, it is nice and it is suitable for an elder. Take it.’”

20.

I.e., the new bowl just put at the disposal of the Order.

21.

To a second elder, according to age.

22.

anuddayatāya, explained as anukampāya (pity, compassion) at Vin-a.708. But for whoever is contented and says, ‘What good is another bowl to me?’ and does not take it, there is no offence.

23.

I.e., the elder.

24.

apattaka. See Bu-NP.21.3, above, BD.2.115, on apatta. At Vin.1.90 it is said that one who is apattako is not to be ordained. Apattaka means either one who uses what is not a bowl—e.g., gourds and water-pots—or one who has not a bowl—e.g., a titthiya who uses his hands to receive alms-food (Vin.2.114, Vin.2.115). Cf. acīvaraka at Vin.1.90, which seems to mean one who has not a robe and who therefore went naked. At Vin.1.93 monks are to be asked at the ordination ceremony whether they are complete as to bowl and robes.

25.

Everyone receives another bowl, so that the former bowl of the youngest member of the community remains free.

26.

I.e., the one who had to forfeit his bowl.

27.

Doubtless spoken by the “assigner of bowls.”

28.

adese, on a bench or couch or peg to hang a sunshade on. It is to be laid aside on a stand or stool, Vin-a.709. Dukkaṭa offences for putting bowls away in various wrong ways and places are given at Vin.2.113f.

29.

I.e., for cooking, colouring or boiling rice-gruel.

30.

na vissajjetabbu ti aññassa na dātabbo, Vin-a.709.

31.

Cf. above, BD.2.49, BD.2.52, BD.2.57.

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