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) 48

Bu-Pc.48.1.1 BD.2.374 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time King Pasenadi of Kosala came to march out against an army.[1] The group of six monks went to see the army fighting.[2] Then King Pasenadi of Kosala saw the group of six monks coming from afar; on seeing them, sending for them, he spoke thus:

“Why do you, honoured sirs, come here?”

“Sire, we want to see[3] your Majesty.”

“What, honoured sirs, is the good of seeing me since it is the battle you delight in?[4] Should not the lord be seen?”

People … spread it about, saying:

“How can these recluses, sons of the Sakyans, come to see an army fighting? For us it is not profitable and for us it is ill-gotten; such as we come with the army for the sake of livelihood, on account of child and wife.”

Monks heard these people who … spread it about. Those who were modest monks … spread it about, saying:

“How can this group of six monks go to see an army fighting?”

They told this matter to the lord…

“Is it true, as is said, that you, monks, went to see an army fighting?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How can you, foolish men, go to see an army fighting? It is not, foolish men, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

BD.2.375 Whatever monk should go to see an army fighting, there is an offence of expiation.”

And thus this rule of training for monks came to be laid down by the lord. Vin.4.105


Bu-Pc.48.2.1 Now at that time the uncle of a certain monk became ill in the army. He sent a messenger to that monk, saying: “I am indeed ill in the army, let the revered sir come. I want the revered sir to come.”

Then it occurred to that monk: “A rule of training laid down by the lord says: ‘There should be no going to see the army fighting,’ but my uncle is ill in the army. What line of conduct should be followed by me?” He 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, to go to an army when there is sufficient reason for it.[5] And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

Whatever monk should go to see an army fighting, unless there is sufficient reason for it, there is an offence of expiation.”


Bu-Pc.48.3.1 Whatever means: … is monk to be understood in this case.

Army fighting means: having gone out from the village, it comes to be camped or marched forth.[6] Army means elephants, horses, chariots, infantry.[7] An elephant (has) twelve men,[8] a horse (has) three men,[9] a chariot (has) four men,[10] the infantry (has) four men, hands on arrows.[11]

BD.2.376 If he goes to see, there is an offence of wrong-doing. Standing where he sees, there is an offence of expiation. If, having dismissed from sight,[12] he sees again, there is an offence of expiation.

Unless there is sufficient reason for it means: setting aside a sufficient reason for it.


Bu-Pc.48.3.2 If he thinks that there is fighting when there is fighting, (and) goes to see, unless there is sufficient reason for it, there is an offence of expiation. If he is in doubt as to whether there is fighting … If he thinks that there is not fighting when there is fighting … offence of expiation. If he goes to see one or other,[13] there is an offence of wrong-doing. Standing where he sees, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If having dismissed from sight, he sees again, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that there is fighting when there is not fighting,[14] there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he is in doubt as to whether there is not fighting, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that there is not fighting when there is not fighting, there is no offence.


Bu-Pc.48.3.3 There is no offence if, standing in the monastery, he sees; if it comes to a place where a monk is resting or to a place where he is sitting down or to a place where he is lying down[15]; if he, going along the opposite road, sees it; if there is a sufficient reason for it; if there are accidents; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.

The Eighth

Footnotes and references:

1.

senāya abbhuyyāto hoti. Vin-a.858, abbhuyyāto ti abhiuyyāto, parasenaṃ abhimukho gamissāmī ti nagarato niggato ti attho,” the meaning is gone out from the town, thinking, ‘I will go forth towards the opposing army.’” Abbhuyyāta occurs at Vin.1.342; MN.ii.124.

2.

uyyutta, striving.

3.

daṭṭhukāma. Cf. Snp.685.

4.

yuddhābhinandinā. Cf. Vin.1.73.

5.

tathārūpapaccayā. Cf. below, BD.2.399.

6.

payātā.

7.

Cf. Ja.4.494. These four divisions of an army are fairly frequently alluded to in the Jātakas; see Index, under “Army,” to Cambridge translation.

8.

Vin-a.838, four are mounted, two look after each foot.

9.

Vin-a.858, one is mounted, two look after the feet.

10.

Vin-a.858, one is the charioteer, one the warrior, two look after the linch-pins.

11.

sarahatthā, meaning presumably that each unit of infantry consists of archers.

12.

dassanūpacāraṃ vijahitvā. Cf. above, BD.2.352. Vin-a.858 says, “if at a distance or down in a hollow he does not see, thinking, ‘Standing here, it is impossible to see,’ going to another place, there is a pācittiya in every act of seeing.”

13.

ekamekaṃ. Vin-a.858, one or another of the four divisions of the army, elephants and so on.

14.

Vin-a.858 says that one man mounted on an elephant and a man at one foot of an elephant means “not fighting”; also a king going to a pleasaunce or to a river is “not fighting.”

15.

Cf. above, BD.2.158, BD.2.290.

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