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’ Confession (Pāṭidesaniya) 3

Bu-Pd.3.1.1 BD.3.110 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time there was in Sāvatthī a certain family which on both sides came to be pleased,[1] it grew in faith, it decreased in wealth; whatever solid food or soft food accrued to that family before a meal, having given it all away to monks, sometimes they went without food.[2] People … spread it about, saying:

“How can the recluses, sons of the Sakyans, not knowing moderation, accept? These (people), having given to these (monks), sometimes go without food.” Monks heard these people who … spread it about. Then these monks told this matter to the lord. Then the lord on this Vin.4.179 occasion, in this connection, having given reasoned talk, addressed the monks, saying:

“I allow you, monks, when a family is growing in faith, is decreasing in wealth, to give such a family an agreement as to learners[3] by a (formal) act at which the motion is followed by one proclamation.[4] And thus, monks, should it be given: The Order should be informed by an experienced, competent monk, saying: ‘Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. Such and such a family is growing in faith, is decreasing in wealth. If it seems right to the Order, let the Order give the agreement as to learners to such and such a family. This is the motion. Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. Such and such a family … in wealth. The Order BD.3.111 gives the agreement as to learners to such and such a family. If the giving of the agreement as to learners to such and such a family is pleasing to the venerable ones, let them be silent; if it is not pleasing, they should speak. The agreement as to learners is given by the Order to such and such a family, and it is right … So do I understand this.’ And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

Whatever are those families that are agreed upon as learners, whatever monk having accepted among such families as are agreed upon as learners solid food or soft food with his own hand, should eat it or partake of it, it should be confessed by that monk, saying: ‘I have fallen, your reverences, into a blameworthy matter, unbecoming, which ought to be confessed; I confess it.’”

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


Bu-Pd.3.2.1 Now at that time there came to be a festival at Sāvatthī. People, having invited monks, offered them food. The monks, being scrupulous, did not consent, thinking: “It is forbidden by the lord, having accepted among families that are agreed upon as learners solid food or soft food with one’s own hand, to eat it, to partake of it.” These looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “But how is it that because of our way of living, the masters do not accept from us?” 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 invited, having accepted among families agreed upon as learners solid food or soft food with your own hand, to eat it, to partake of it. And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

“Whatever are those families that are agreed upon as learners, whatever monk if he is not invited beforehand, Vin.4.180 having accepted among such families as are agreed upon as learners solid food or soft food with his BD.3.112 own hand, should eat it or partake of it, it should be confessed by that monk, saying: ‘I have fallen, your reverences, into a blameworthy matter, unbecoming, which ought to be confessed; I confess it.’”

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


Bu-Pd.3.3.1 Now at that time a certain monk came to frequent that family. Then that monk, having dressed in the morning, taking his bowl and robe, approached that family, and having approached he sat down on the appointed seat. At that time this monk came to be ill. Then these people spoke thus to this monk: “Eat, honoured sir.” Then that monk, thinking: “It is forbidden by the lord, not being invited, having accepted among families agreed upon as learners solid food or soft food with one’s own hand, to eat it, to partake of it,” and being scrupulous, he did not accept; he was not able to walk for alms, he became famished. Then that monk, having gone to the monastery, told this matter to the monks. The 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 monk is ill, having accepted among families agreed upon as learners solid food or soft food with his own hand, to eat it, to partake of it. And thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

Whatever are those families that are agreed upon as learners, whatever monk, if he is not invited beforehand (and) not ill, having accepted among such families as are agreed upon as learners solid food or soft food with his own hand, should eat it or partake of it, it should be confessed by that monk, saying: ‘Your reverences, I have fallen into a blameworthy matter, unbecoming, which ought to be confessed; I confess it.’


Bu-Pd.3.4.1 Whatever are those families that are agreed upon as learners means: a family agreed upon as learners is BD.3.113 called that family which is growing in faith, decreasing in wealth; for such a family an agreement as to learners comes to be given by a (formal) act at which the motion is followed by one proclamation.

Whatever means: … monk is to be understood in this case.

Among such families as are agreed, upon as learners means: among families like these agreed upon as learners.

Not invited means: not invited for today or tomorrow. If he invites him as he is entering the precincts of the house, this means not invited. Vin.4.181 Invited means: invited for today or tomorrow. If he invites him not as he is entering the precincts of the house, this means invited.

Not ill means: he is able to walk for alms. Ill means: he is not able to walk for alms.

Solid food means: setting aside the five (kinds of) meals, (food that may be eaten) during a watch of the night, during seven days, during life, the rest means solid food.[5]

Soft food means: the five kinds of meals: cooked rice, food made with flour, barley-meal, fish, meat.[6]

If he is not invited, not ill, (and) accepts, thinking: “I will eat, I will partake of,” there is an offence of wrong-doing. For every mouthful there is an offence which ought to be confessed.


Bu-Pd.3.4.2 If he thinks that they are agreed upon as learners when they are agreed upon as learners, (and) not invited, not ill, having accepted with his own hand solid food or soft food, eats it or partakes of it, there is an offence which ought to be confessed. If he is in doubt as to whether they are agreed upon as learners … If he thinks that they are not agreed upon as learners when they are agreed upon as learners … offence which ought to be confessed. If he accepts for the sake of nutriment (food that may be eaten) during a watch of the night, during seven days, during life, there is an BD.3.114 offence of wrong-doing.[7] For every mouthful there is an offence of wrong-doing.[8] If he thinks that they are agreed upon as learners when they are not agreed upon as learners, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he is in doubt as to whether they are not agreed upon as learners, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If he thinks that they are not agreed upon as learners when they are not agreed upon as learners, there is no offence.


Bu-Pd.3.4.3 There is no offence if he is invited; if he is ill; if he eats the remainder (of a meal) of one who was invited, or one who is ill; if there come to be alms there prepared for others; if having taken it out from the house, they give[9]; if he is a regular diner; if it is (food allowed) by ticket; if it is food (given on) a day of the waxing or waning of the moon, on an Observance day, on the day after an Observance day[10]; if, when there is a reason, he gives (food that may be eaten) during a watch of the night, during seven days, during life,[11] and he makes use of it;[12] if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.

The Third

Footnotes and references:

1.

ubhotapasanna—i.e., pleased with the Sakyan teaching, “converted” to it. Vin-a.887 says that the layman and the laywoman follower were both pleased, and both are said to have been stream-attainers.

2.

anasitā acchanti.

3.

sekhasammuti. Sekha is one who is under training, as opposed to asekha, the adept. An agreement, made by monks for lay-people, is as remarkable as it is unusual.

4.

ñattidutiya kamma.

5.

Cf. Vin.4.83.

6.

Cf. Vin.4.83.

9.

Vin-a.887 says “they give, taking to a refectory or dwelling-place.”