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’ Expiation (Pācittiya) 11

Bu-Pc.11.1.1 BD.2.226 … at Āḷavī in the chief shrine at Āḷavī. Now at that time the monks of Āḷavī, making repairs, were cutting down trees and having them cut down; and a certain monk of Āḷavī cut down a tree, and the devatā living in that tree said to this monk:

“Do not, honoured sir, desiring to make an abode for yourself, cut down my abode.”

This monk, taking no notice, cut it down, and in doing so, struck the arm of that devatā’s son. Then it occurred to that devatā:

“What now if I, just here, should deprive this monk of life?” Then it occurred to that devatā:

“But this would not be suiting in me, that I were, just here, to deprive this monk of life. What now if I were to tell this matter to the lord?”

Then this devatā approached the lord, and having approached she told this matter to the lord.

“Very good, devatā, it is good that you, devatā, did not deprive this monk of life. If today you, devatā, had deprived this monk of life, you, devatā, would also have produced much demerit. You go, devatā; in a certain place there is a solitary tree, go you into it.”

People looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying:

“How can these recluses, sons of the Sakyans, cut down trees and have them cut down? These recluses, sons of the Sakyans, are harming life that is one-facultied.”[1] Monks heard these people who looked down upon, criticised, spread it about. Those who were modest monks looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying:

BD.2.227 “How can these monks of Āḷavī cut down trees and have them cut down?” …

“Is it true, as is said, that you, monks, cut down trees and had them cut down?”

“It is true, lord,” they said.

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

“How can you, foolish men, cut down trees and have them cut down? It is not, foolish men, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

For destruction of vegetable growth[2] there is an offence of expiation.”


Bu-Pc.11.2.1 Vegetable growth means: there are five kinds of propagation: (what is) propagated from roots, propagated from stems,[3] propagated from joints, propagated from cuttings,[4] and fifthly (what is) propagated from seeds.[5] Vin.4.35

Propagated from roots[6] means: turmeric, ginger, orris root, white orris root, garlic,[7] black hellebore, khus- BD.2.228 khus,[8] nut-grass,[9] or whatever others are born from a root, arise from a root; this means propagated from roots.

Propagated from stems means: the fig-tree,[10] the banyan-tree, (a kind of) fig-tree,[11] (another kind of) fig-tree,[12] the Indian cedar wood,[13] the wood-apple,[14] or whatever others are born from a stem, arise from a stem; this means propagated from stems.

Propagated from joints means: sugar-cane, bamboo, reeds or whatever others are born from a knot, arise from a knot[15]; this means propagated from joints.

Propagated from cuttings means: basil,[16] camel- BD.2.229 grass,[17] a kind of andropogon,[18] or whatever others are born from a cutting, arise from a cutting; this means propagated from cuttings.

Propagated from seeds means: grain, pulses,[19] or whatever others are born from a seed, arise from a seed; this means propagated from seeds.


Bu-Pc.11.2.2 If he thinks that it is a seed when it is a seed (and) cuts it or has it cut or breaks it or has it broken or cooks it or has it cooked, there is an offence of expiation. If he is in doubt as to whether it is a seed (and) cuts it … or has it cooked, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that it is not a seed when it is a seed (and) cuts it … or has it cooked, there is no offence. If he thinks that it is a seed when it is not a seed, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he is in doubt as to whether it is not a seed, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that it is not a seed when it is not a seed, there is no offence.


Bu-Pc.11.2.3 There is no offence if he speaks, saying: “Find this, give this, convey this, this is wanted, make this allowable”; if it was unintentional, if (he was) not thinking, if he did not know; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.[20]

The First

Footnotes and references:

1.

As in Bu-Pc.10.

2.

bhūtagāma; translation taken from Mrs. Rhys Davids, To Become or Not to Become, p.118. Vin-a.761 says gāmo ti rāsi, and that standing green grass and trees is a synonym for bhūtagāma. Dialogues of the Buddha 1.6 has “growing plants” for this word. This rule is referred to at Dhp-a.3.302; Snp-a.3. At Mil.266 the destruction of bhūtagāma is said to be no sin in the eyes of the world, but a sin in the teaching of the Jina (an epithet for both Gotama and the Jain, Mahāvīra). Cf. MN.i.180 = MN.iii.34.

3.

khandhabīja.

4.

aggabīja. Dialogues of the Buddha 1.6: “propagated from buddings,” with note that “it may mean ‘graftings’ if the art of grafting was then known in the Ganges valley.” But the plants mentioned could not be propagated by buddings, which, moreover, does not seem to be a recognised botanical term. These plants are propagated by cuttings.

5.

For this list, cf. DN.i.5, DN.iii.44, DN.iii.47 (= Dialogues of the Buddha 3.40, Dialogues of the Buddha 3.42, “things grown from tubers, or shoots, or berries, or joints, or fifthly from seeds”), SN.iii.54 (= KS.iii.46, “root-seed, trunk-seed, seed from shoots, seed from joints, grain-seed, making five in all”); cf. DN-a.77, SN-a.ii.272.

6.

Cf. DN-a.81 to end of Bu-Pc.11.1.1 below.

7.

ativisā, or dried ginger; an antidote to poison.

8.

usīra, probably Andropogon muricatum. Cf. below, BD.2.240, where one of the four kinds of stools or settees (koccha) is made of usīra. At Vin.2.130 one of the three kinds of fans allowed is made of usīra. In some parts of the East the roots are woven into sweet-smelling mats and baskets and are used in making perfume.

9.

bhaddamuttaka, probably Cyperus rotundus. Has underground edible tubers. See Vin.1.201, where these roots (or tubers) are allowed medicinally for flavouring foods which otherwise would be too unpalatable, for ill monks to take. Decoction of these roots used today in Ceylon as medicine for fever and stomach complaints.

10.

This list is the same as that at SN.v.96.

11.

pilakkha, probably Ficus infectoria. “Wave-leafed,” as at KS.v.80, is not a sufficient differentiation and is not the botanical name of any of the vast family of figs.

12.

udumbara, probably Ficus glomerata; of bunchy habit.

13.

Or Toon tree, kacchaka. Cedar suggested at KS.v.80. Pali-English Dictionary gives Cedrela Toona; Path of Purity ii.210 (= Vism.183), “black fig.”

14.

kapiṭhana. Variant readings are kapiṭṭhaka, kapitthana, kapittana. Pali-English Dictionary says that it is the tree Thespesia populneoides, as does Childers under kapītano. KS.v.80 and Path of Purity ii.210, both reading kapiṭṭhaka, render by “wood-apple.” The Dictionaries, placing “wood-apple” under kapiṭṭha, kapittha, call it Feronia elephantum. There is, however, no family connection between Thespesia populneoides and Feronia elephantum. The former has a hard, dry, inedible fruit; the latter an edible fruit with a hard woody shell filled with a soft pulp, also used for medicinal purposes. Neither is a fig-tree (as tentatively suggested at KS.v.80), but Feronia is more like a fig, and would be meant if we were certain that the context was suggesting a tree with an edible fruit.

15.

pabba, joint, knot or section. Word hitherto translated as “joint” is phaḷu.

16.

ajjuka. Pali-English Dictionary and Critical Pali Dictionary give Ocimum gratissimum. Probably the ordinary basil, Ocimum basilicum, is meant, as O. gratissimum is sometimes used as a synonym for this.

17.

phanijjaka= bhūtanaka, Ja.6.536. Childers calls it the plant samīraṇa, which, according to Monier-Williams, is the plant maruvaka. (I cannot discover what is meant by this.) Pali-English Dictionary calls bhūtanaka, Andropogon schoenanthus. Camel-grass yields aromatic oil, mostly used for medicinal purposes.

18.

hirivela, occurring also at Ja.6.537. Pali-English Dictionary suggests as above. Monier-Williams gives hrīvela, a kind of perfume = hrīvera, a kind of drug and perfume (= bāla, bālaka). Under bāla he gives “a kind of perfume or fragrant grass, Andropogon schoenanthus.” Childers also gives hiriveraṃ, a perfume, Andropogon schoenanthus.

20.

Cf. above, end of Bu-Pc.10; also below, BD.2.262, and Vin.4.125. Vin-a.766 says that the clauses “Find this,” etc., refer to medicines made from roots, to roots and leaves, to trees or creepers, to flowers and fruits, and to trees or creepers or fruits respectively. Vin-a.767 refers to an anujānāmi at Vin.2.109, in which monks are allowed to eat fruit that has become allowable to recluses in five ways.

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