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 Padabhājanīya (old commentary)

The Old Commentary, or Padabhājanīya, is now incorporated in the Suttavibhaṅga, and forms an integral part of it. Since it explains each Pātimokkha rule word by word, so that we get from it the meaning which the words possessed at all events at the time when the Old Commentary was compiled, this ancient exegesis, often of very great interest, is a most valuable critical apparatus. The purpose of the Old Commentary was evidently to make each rule absolutely clear, so that no misconception could arise through lack of lucid definition. BD.1.xxxiv Words not contained in the rule, but appearing in the stories, are not commented upon.

Rhys Davids and Oldenberg think that when the rules had been formulated and each word interpreted, some explanation was wanted as to how the rules originated. Thus, they hold, stories were invented to introduce each rule. Personally I do not think it necessary to take quite such a hard-and-fast view. For it seems to me possible that in some cases the story may be true, or may have had some historical foundation, so that the rule came to be made on account of the self-same events which, later, were recorded. In other cases, the story may quite possibly be an invention, the original reason for framing the rule and the name of the first wrong-doer involved having long been forgotten. It would now be very difficult to judge which stories may be more or less true and which may be purely fictitious.