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...

The two Aniyatas (undetermined matters)

The two Aniyatas, or undetermined matters, evince a remarkable amount of trust put in a woman lay-follower. Doubtless Visākhā was one of the most generous pātrons of the Order, a great supporter of the faith, to whom the Order had full reason to be grateful. Here she is shown expostulating with Udāyin for what seemed to her unsuitable behaviour in a monk. The interesting thing is that both the Aniyata rules, generalised as are all the Pātimokkha courses of training from BD.1.xxxiii a particular case, allow a monk “to be dealt with” according to what a trustworthy woman lay-follower should say. Thus Visākhā, herself eminently trustworthy and single-minded in her efforts to improve conditions in the Order, is instrumental in bringing to all reliable women lay-followers the responsibility of procuring investigation into a monk’s conduct, if she has seen him sitting secluded with a woman. These two Aniyata rules indicate the respect and deference that was, at that time, paid to women. They were not scornfully brushed aside as idle gossips and frivolous chatter-boxes, but their words were taken seriously.

It may be pointed out here that the Vinaya shows, that if monks went astray, this was not always due to the baneful influence of women. For now and again monks took the initiative, and begged and cajoled laywomen and even nuns. Sometimes they got what they wanted, at others the women stood firm. When they asked lewd questions, women are shown as being innocent of their meaning.[1] It is also apparent from the two Aniyatas that women of the world might do certain things with impunity, but that those same things, if done by Sakyan recluses, were blameworthy. Their life was to be organised on a different basis, as Pārājika 1 shows, from that of the laity, and a recognition of this, and attempts to preserve the difference, are visible in many parts of Vinaya III.

Footnotes and references:


BD.1.219 below.