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’ Deciding of Legal Questions (Adhikaraṇasamatha)

BD.3.153 These seven rules, venerable ones, for the deciding of legal questions[1] come up for recitation. For the deciding, for the settlement of legal questions arising from time to time:

  1. Bu-As.1 A verdict in the presence of[2] may be given;
  2. Bu-As.2 A verdict of innocence[3] may be given;
  3. Bu-As.3 A verdict of past insanity[4] may be given;
  4. Bu-As.4 It may be carried out on (his) acknowledgement[5];
  5. Bu-As.5 (There is) the decision of the majority[6] BD.3.154 ;
  6. Bu-As.6 The decision for specific depravity[7];
  7. Bu-As.7 The covering up (as) with grass.[8]

Recited, venerable ones, are the seven rules for the deciding of legal questions. Concerning them, I ask the venerable ones: I hope that you are quite pure in this matter? And a second time I ask: I hope that you are quite pure in this matter? And a third time I ask: I hope that you are quite pure in this matter? The venerable ones are quite pure in this matter, therefore they are silent. Thus do I understand this.

Footnotes and references:


adhikaraṇa. This passage = Vin.4.351, and cf. DN.iii.254, AN.iv.144. The four kinds of adhikaraṇa are explained at Vin.2.88ff., and the ways of settling them at Vin.2.99ff. The four are stated merely, in definition of adhikaraṇa, at Vin.3.164 (= BD.1.282), Vin.4.126 (= above, BD.3.6), Vin.4.238 (= below, BD.3.206). See also Vin.3.168, Vin.3.173. At AN.i.99 (= GS.1.85) a list of monastic duties is given, ending with these seven ways of settling legal questions. For a full exposition of their working and significance, see S. Dutt, Early Buddhist Monachism, 156ff.


sammukhāvinaya. Vin.2.93 says there must be the presence of the Order, of dhamma, of discipline, and of the persons (disputing). Each of these is then defined. See also Vin.2.96, Vin.2.97; MN.ii.247.


sativinaya. See Vin.1.325, Vin.2.99; MN.ii.247. Vinaya Texts i.68, Vinaya Texts iii.58 translate by “consciously innocent.” Such persons have been “mindful” (sati) in their behaviour, they do not remember (sarati) having fallen into any offence, therefore they are innocent of the charges brought against them. See also GS.1.85, n.7.


amūḷhavinaya. See Vin.2.82, where this decision was made specially for the mad monk Gagga, and cf. Vin.1.123. Afterwards (Vin.2.100) it was formed into a “general rule for every similar case” (Vinaya Texts iii.18, n.2). See also MN.ii.248.


paṭiññāya kāretabbaṃ. See Vin.1.325, where it is said that to carry out this form of settling legal questions without the accused monk’s acknowledgement of his offence is not a legally valid act; and Vin.2.83, where various official acts, if carried out against a monk without his acknowledgement, are said to give rise to a dukkaṭa offence. See MN.ii.248, for the way in which a monk should confess (paṭideseti) the offence into which he had fallen (āpattiṃ āpanno).


yebhuyyasikā, or “of a greater number.” It is explained at considerable length at Vin.2.93ff., and in less detail at MN.ii.247, that if monks dwelling in one āvāsa are unable to settle legal questions themselves, they may take them to the monks dwelling in another āvāsa. At Vin.2.84, however, this method is apparently not contemplated, for here it is said that if monks are unable to settle a legal question, they are allowed to agree upon an assigner of (voting) tickets, salākagāhāpaka (cf. pattagāhāpaka at Vin.3.246 = BD.2.122, n.5. n.1), and then to vote; but nothing is here said about consulting monks living in another āvāsa. At Vin.2.85 ten ways are given for an invalid, and ten for a valid taking of votes, while at Vin.2.98f., three methods of taking votes are described.


tassapāpiyyasikā, or the “obstinately wrong” (Vinaya Texts iii.28 q.v., n.3). This method of settling a legal question is to be employed when a monk “having denied (an offence) acknowledged it, having acknowledged it denied it, shelved the question by asking others, told a conscious lie,” Vin.2.85, and cf. Vin.4.1, where Hatthaka is said to have behaved in this way. The right way of carrying out this method of settling a legal question is given at Vin.2.85, Vin.2.86, and, rather differently, at MN.ii.249. AN.iv.347 states the proper practice in regard to a monk against whom these proceedings have been taken.


tiṇavatthāraka. The kinds of disputes to be settled by this method and the right procedure for carrying it out, are given at Vin.2.86f., and cf. MN.ii.250.

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