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) 28

Bu-NP.28.1.1 BD.2.151 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time a certain chief minister, going on a journey, sent a messenger to the monks, saying: “Let the revered sirs come, I will give a rains-residence (gift).”[1] The monks, thinking: “A rains-residence (gift) at the end of the rains is allowed by the lord,”[2] being scrupulous, did not go.[3] The chief minister … spread it about, saying:

“How can the revered ones not come[4] when a messenger was sent by me? Well, I am going with the army, life is uncertain, death is uncertain.”[5]

Monks heard that chief minister 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, having accepted a special robe,[6] to lay it aside.”


Bu-NP.28.1.2 BD.2.152 Now at that time monks said: “It is allowed by the lord, accepting a special robe, to lay it aside.” Vin.3.261 These accepting special robes, let the robe-season[7] pass. These robes tied up in bundles, remained on a bamboo for hanging up robes.[8] Then the venerable Ānanda, as he was engaged in touring the lodgings, saw these robes tied up in bundles, that remained on the bamboo for hanging up robes; seeing them he said to the monks:

“Your reverences, whose are these robes, tied up in bundles, that remain on the bamboo for hanging up robes?”

“Your reverence, they are our special robes,” they said.

“But for how long, your reverences, have these robes been laid aside?”

Then these monks told the venerable Ānanda when they had been laid aside. The venerable Ānanda … spread it about, saying:

“How can these monks, having accepted a special robe, let the robe-season pass?” Then the venerable Ānanda told this matter to the lord. He said:

BD.2.153 “Is it true, as is said, monks, that monks, having accepted a special robe, let the robe-season pass?”

“It is true, lord,” they said.

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

How, monks, can these foolish men, having accepted a special robe, let the robe-season pass? Monks, it is not for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

If a special robe should accrue[9] to a monk ten days before the full moon of the (first) Kattika, three months (of the rains having passed),[10] it may be accepted by that monk if he thinks of it (as something) special[11]; having accepted it, it should be laid aside until the robe-season. But if he should lay it aside for longer than that, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.


Bu-NP.28.2.1 Ten days before means: ten days before the ceremony held at the end of the rains.[12]

The full moon of Kattika, three months (of the rains having passed) means: the ceremony held at the end of the rains is called Kattika.

A special robe means: one is desirous of going with BD.2.154 the army, or one comes to be going on a journey, or one comes to be ill, or a woman becomes pregnant, or faith comes to be arisen in one who was without faith, or pleasing comes to be arisen for one who was not pleased.[13] If such a one should send a messenger to the monks saying: ‘Let the revered sirs come, I will give a rains-residence (gift),’ this means a special robe.

It may be accepted by that monk if he thinks of it (as something) special; having accepted it, it should be laid aside until the robe-season means: making a sign,[14] it must be laid aside; this is a special robe.

The robe-season means: if the kaṭhina cloth has not been (formally) made then the last month of the rains; if it has been (formally) made, it is five months.[15] Vin.3.262

If he should lay it aside for longer than that means: if the kaṭhina cloth has not been (formally) made, and he lets the last day of the rains pass, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If the kaṭhina cloth has been (formally) made and he lets the day for removing the kaṭhina (privileges)[16] pass, it is to be forfeited. It should be forfeited … to an individual. And thus, monks, should it be forfeited: ‘Honoured sirs, letting pass the robe-season, this special robe of mine 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 special robe to the venerable one.’

If he thinks that it is a special robe when it is a special robe, and lets the robe-season pass, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he is in doubt as to whether it is a special robe and lets the robe season pass, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that it is not a special robe when it is a BD.2.155 special robe and lets the robe-season pass, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one is allotted when it is not allotted,[17] there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If he thinks that one is assigned when it is not assigned … If he thinks that one is bestowed when it is not bestowed … If he thinks that one is lost when it is not lost … If he thinks that one is destroyed when it is not destroyed … If he thinks that one is burnt when it is not burnt … If he thinks that one is stolen when it is not stolen and lets the robe-season pass, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. Not forfeiting the robe which had to be forfeited, if he makes use of it, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that it is a special robe when it is not a special robe, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he is in doubt as to whether it is not a special robe, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that it is not a special robe when it is not a special robe, there is no offence.

There is no offence if, within the season, it is allotted, assigned, bestowed, lost, destroyed, burnt, if they tear it (from him), if they take it on trust; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.[18]

Footnotes and references:

1.

vassāvāsika. Burlingame, Buddhist Legends, i.228, renders, “food of the season of the rains”; Burlingame, Buddhist Legends, ii.8, “lodging during the season of the rains,” but neither of these can be meant here, since the rule is concerned with robes. It means rather something connected with the rains-(vassa-)residence (āvāsa), which may be food, clothing or lodgings, as the story demands. Vassāvāsa occurs at Vin.1.153.

3.

It seems that the minister must have been offering his gift during the rains—i.e., at a time when the monks must travel as little as possible—and not at the end of the rains. Otherwise the scrupulous monks could have gone, and no complaints would have been raised.

4.

Cf. above, BD.2.64, where Upananda did not wait when bidden by a layman to do so.

5.

dujjanaṃ jīvitaṃ dujjanaṃ, maraṇam.

6.

acceka-cīvara, explained at Vin-a.729 as accāyika-cīvara. Cf. Vin.4.166, accāyike karaṇīye, “if there is something urgent (special) to be done” See Vinaya Texts i.29, n.3, where it is said “‘special robe’ is no doubt an inadequate rendering; but we have chosen it in reference to the special circumstances in which the donation is made, and in default of a better translation.” Critical Pali Dictionary says of accekacīvara that it is “a robe presented to a priest [sic] not at the usual time,” and of accāyika (Sanskrit ātyayika) that it is “not suffering delay, urgent, pressing.” An “exceptional” or “emergency” robe might be a suitable translation, if it is remembered that it is the donor who is in an emergency, who is pressed for time, and who because of some exceptional or unusual circumstances, wants to make his gift without delay, and so gain the “merit” for his act of giving. Here the chief minister wanted to make his gift before he went into the army and faced the uncertainties of life and death. See Old Commentary, below and Vin-a.729 which correlate accekacīvara with vassāvāsika, as though a robe given to meet some emergency implies a robe given at an unusual time—i.e., here during the rains. The robe therefore is “special,” both in regard to the reason for giving it, and in regard to the time at which it was given.

7.

cīvarakālasamaya, see Old Commentary, below. This robe-season is the usual time for accepting, distributing and settling robe-material. Cf. also Bu-NP.1 and Vinaya Texts i.18, n. The word occurs again at Vin.4.286.

8.

Cf. above, BD.2.25.

9.

uppajjeyya, literally should arise, should be produced for. See above, BD.2.4, BD.2.24, BD.2.90, BD.2.99, BD.2.114.

10.

kattikatemāsipuṇṇamā. Kattika (Sanskrit kārttika) is the month October–November, when the full moon (puṇṇamā) is near the Pleiades. This month is the last of the five months of the rains. The full moon of Assayuja is called kattikatemāsinī; the full moon of Kattika (the last month of the rains) is called kattikatemāsinī. Thus there were two full moons in Kattika. Kattikatemāsipuṇṇamā might be translated: “The full moon of Kattika, three months (of the rains having passed”; or even “three months of the year having passed,” if the year were reckoned to begin at the first month of the rains, Āsāḷha). Cf. Bu-NP.29 below, BD.2.157, for kattikacātumāsinī.

11.

accekaṃ maññamānena.

12.

pavāraṇā, held to inquire whether any fault can be laid to the charge of any monk or nun in respect of what has been seen, heard, or suspected. Cf. Vin.1.160, Vin.2.32; BD.1.283, BD.1.292; and Horner, Women under Primitive Buddhism, pp.133ff..

13.

appasannassa vā pasādo uppanno hoti. Cf. above, BD.2.3, n.1, on the recurring expression: n’ etaṃ bhikkhave appasannānaṃ vā pasādāya, “it is not for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased.”

14.

saññanaṃ katvā. Vin-a.729, kiñci nimittaṃ katvā, “making some mark,” presumably on the robe.

15.

= Vin.4.286f. Cf. BD.2.5, n.1, BD.2.26, n.3 above on atthata, formally made.

16.

kaṭhinuddhāradivasa, cf. above, p.5, n.3.

17.

This and the next six cases = Vin.3.197, Vin.3.251, see above.

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