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...

Definition of the word vinaya

The word vinaya has come to be paired, as it were (although since precisely when we do not know), with BD.1.vii the word dhamma. This is a word whose long history needs a detailed study, such as we have in W. Geiger’s Dhamma, 1920, while vinaya is considerably easier of definition. Whatever the exact meaning or meanings of dhamma may have been at one stage in the history of Early Buddhism or at another, or at one part of the Sayings or at another, it is a fair enough description to say that dhamma concerned the inner life of Gotama’s followers, their conscience, their mental training and outlook and, later, stood for the body of teaching that they were to believe and follow; and that vinaya was the discipline governing and regulating the outward life of the monks and nuns who had entered the monastic Orders, the foundation of which is attributed to Gotama. Dhamma may indeed be said to be all that vinaya is not.[1] Two Piṭakas are devoted to dhamma: the Sutta-Piṭaka and the (later) Abhidhamma-Piṭaka; one, the Vinaya-Piṭaka, as its name implies, to vinaya.[2]

I have called the present translation The Book of the Discipline, rather than The Basket (Piṭaka) of the Discipline, on the analogy of The Book (Nikāya) of the Kindred Sayings and The Book of the Gradual Sayings. What was originally an oral tradition of Sayings became, at some time, committed to palm-leaf manuscripts. Later still, these were “edited” to form the material of printed books. Today the early Sayings survive nowhere but in books.

Footnotes and references:


Oldenberg, Vinaya Texts i.xiii.


For chronology of the Pali Canon, see B.C. Law, History of Pali Literature, Chapter 1.