Vinaya Pitaka (2): The Analysis of Nun’ Rules (Bhikkhuni-vibhanga)

by I. B. Horner | 2014 | 66,469 words | ISBN-13: 9781921842160

The English translation of the Bhikkhuni-vibhanga: the second 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 acollection of rules for Buddhist nuns. The English translation of the Vinaya-pitaka (second part, bhikkhuni-vibhanga) contain...

Nuns’ Defeat (Pārājika) 5

Bi-Pj.5.1.1 BD.3.156 Vin.4.211 [1] At that time the enlightened one, the lord, was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then Sāḷha,[2] Migāra’s grandson,[3] became desirous of building a dwelling-house for the Order of nuns. Then Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, having approached the nuns, spoke thus:

“Ladies, I want to build a dwelling-place for the Order of nuns; give me a nun who is an overseer of repairs.”[4]

At that time four sisters had gone forth among the nuns: Nandā, Nandavatī, Sundarīnandā, Thullanandā.[5] Among these, the nun Sundarīnandā[6] had gone forth when she was young; she was beautiful, good to look upon, charming, she was clever, experienced, wise, she was skilled, energetic, she was possessed of consideration for those kinds of things,[7] she was able to build, able to make arrangements.[8] Then the nuns, having chosen the nun Sundarīnandā, gave (her) as overseer of repairs to Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson.

BD.3.157 Now at that time the nun Sundarīnandā constantly went to the dwelling of Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, saying: “Give a knife, give a hatchet, give an axe, give a spade, give a chisel.”[9] And Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, constantly went to the nunnery to learn what was built and what was not built. These,[10] through constantly seeing (one another), came to be in love. Then Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, through not getting an opportunity to seduce the nun Sundarīnandā, for this purpose gave a meal for the Order of nuns. Then Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, having appointed a seat in the refectory, thinking: “Some nuns are senior to the lady Sundarīnandā,” appointed a seat to one side, and thinking: “Some are junior,” appointed a seat to the other side.[11] He appointed a seat for the nun Sundarīnandā in a concealed place, in a corner, Vin.4.212 so that the nuns who were elders might conclude, “She is sitting with the junior nuns,” and the junior nuns might conclude, “She is sitting with the nuns who are elders.”

Then Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, had the time announced to the Order of nuns, saying: “It is time, ladies, the meal is ready.” The nun Sundarīnandā, having realised (what was happening), thinking: “Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, is not benevolent (although) he gave a meal for the Order of nuns; he wants to seduce me. If I go, there will be trouble for me,”[12] ordered her pupil, saying: “Go, bring back almsfood for me, and if anyone asks for me, let it be known that I am ill.”

“Very well, lady,” the nun answered the nun Sundariīnandā.

At that time Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, came to be standing outside the porch of the door, asking for the nun Sundarīnandā, saying: “Where, lady, is the lady Sundarīnandā; where, lady, is the lady Sundarīnandā?”

When he had spoken thus, the pupil of the nun Sundarīnandā spoke thus to Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson: BD.3.158 “She is ill, sir; I will take back her almsfood.” Then Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, thinking: “This meal which I gave for the sake of the nuns was on purpose for the lady Sundarīnandā,” and having commanded the people, having said: “Offer the meal for the Order of nuns,” he approached the nunnery.

At that time the nun Sundarīnandā came to be standing outside the porch of the monastery waiting for Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson. Then the nun Sundarīnandā saw Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, coming from afar; seeing him, having entered the dwelling,[13] having put on her upper robe including over her head,[14] she lay down on a couch. Then Sāḷha, Migāra’s grandson, approached the nun Sundarīnandā; having approached, lie spoke thus to the nun Sundarīnandā: “What is your discomfort, lady? Why are you lying down?”

“Surely it is this, sir: she who desires is not desired.”

“How can I, lady, not desire you? But I did not get an opportunity to seduce you,” and filled with desire he came into physical contact[15] with the nun Sundarīnandā, also filled with desire.

Now at that time a nun, weakened by age, her feet affected,[16] came to be sitting down not far from the nun Sundarīnandā. That nun saw Sāḷha, Migara’s grandson, filled with desire, coming into physical contact with the nun Sundarīnandā, (also) filled with desire; seeing them, she looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “How can the lady Sundarīnandā, filled with desire, consent to physical contact with a male person[17] who is filled with desire?” Vin.4.213 Then this nun told this matter to the nuns. Those who were modest nuns, contented, conscientious, scrupulous, desirous of training, these looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “How can the lady Sundarīnandā, filled with desire … with a male person who is filled with desire?” Then these nuns told this matter to the BD.3.159 monks. These monks looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “How can the nun Sundarīnandā, filled with desire … with a male person who is filled with desire?” Then these monks told this matter to the lord. Then the lord, on this occasion, in this connection, having had the Order of monks convened, questioned the monks, saying:

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Sundarīnandā, filled with desire … with a male person filled with desire?”

“It is true, lord,” they said.

The enlightened one, the lord, rebuked them, saying:

“It is not fitting, monks, in the nun Sundarīnandā, it is not suitable, it is not becoming, it is unworthy of a recluse, it is not allowable, it is not to be done. How, monks, can the nun Sundarīnandā, filled with desire, consent to physical contact with a male person who is filled with desire? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased, nor for increasing (the number of) those who are pleased, but, monks, it is both for displeasing those who are not (yet) pleased and those who are pleased, and for causing wavering in some.”

Then the lord, having in many a figure rebuked the nun Sundarīnandā for her difficulty in supporting[18] herself, for her difficulty in maintaining herself, having spoken in dispraise of great desires, of discontent, of clinging (to the obstructions[19]), of sloth; having in many a figure spoken in praise of ease in supporting oneself, of ease in maintaining oneself, of desiring little, of contentment, of expunging (evil), of punctiliousness, of graciousness, of decreasing (the obstructions),[20] of putting forth energy[21]; having given reasoned talk to the monks on what is fitting, on what is suitable,[22] he addressed the monks, saying:

BD.3.160 “On account of this, monks, I will lay down a rule of training for nuns founded on ten reasons: for the excellence of the Order, for the comfort of the Order, for the restraint of evil-minded nuns, for the ease of well-behaved nuns, for the restraint of cankers belonging to the here and now, for the combating of cankers belonging to other worlds, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased, for increasing (the number of) those who are pleased, for establishing what is verily dhamma, for following the rules of restraint.[23] And thus, monks, let the nuns set forth this rule of training:

Whatever nun, filled with desire, should consent to rubbing,[24] or rubbing up against, or taking hold of or touching or pressing against a male person below the collar-bone, above the circle[25] of the knees, if he is filled with desire, she also becomes one who is defeated, she is not in communion, she is one who touches above the circle of the knees.”[26] Vin.4.214


Bi-Pj.5.2.1 Whatever[27] means: she who is an elder or a junior or one of middle standing, this one, on account of relations, on account of birth, on account of name, on account of clan, on account of virtue, on account of the way of living, on account of the field of activity, is called whatever.

Nun means: she is a nun because she is a beggar for alms, she is a nun because she submits to walking for alms, she is a nun because she is one who wears the patch-work robes, she is a nun by the designation (of others), a nun because of her acknowledgement, a nun (to whom it was) said, ‘Come, nun,’ a nun is one ordained by the three goings to a refuge, a nun is auspicious, a nun is the essential, a nun is a learner, a nun is an adept, a nun is ordained by both complete Orders by means of BD.3.161 a (formal) act at which the motion is put and followed by three proclamations, irreversible and fit to stand.[28] In this way is this nun one who is ordained by both complete Orders by means of a (formal) act at which the motion was put and followed by three proclamations, irreversible, fit to stand, and this is how nun is to be understood in this case.[29]

Filled with desire[30] means: infatuated, full of desire, physically in love with.

Filled with desire[31] means: infatuated, full of desire, physically in love with.[32]

A male person means: a human man, not a yakkha, not a departed one, not an animal; he is learned, competent[33] to come into physical contact.

Below the collar-bone means: below the collar-bone.[34]

Above the circle of the knees means: above the circle of the knees.[35]

Rubbing means: merely rubbed.[36]

Rubbing up against means: moving from here and there.[37]

Taking hold of means: merely taken hold of.[38]

Touching means: merely contact.[39]

Or should consent to pressing against means: having taken hold of a limb she consents to pressing against.

She also means: she is so called in reference to the preceding.[40]

Becomes one who is defeated means: as a man with his head cut off cannot become one to live by attaching it to his body, so a nun, filled with desire, consenting to BD.3.162 rubbing or to rubbing up against or to taking hold of or to touching or to pressing a man who is filled with desire below the collar-bone, above the circle of the knees, becomes one who is not a recluse, not a daughter of the Sakyans; therefore she is called, she becomes one who is defeated.[41]

Is not in communion means: communion is called one (formal) act, one recital, an equal training; this is called communion. If it is not together with her, she is therefore called not in communion.[42]


Bi-Pj.5.2.2 If both are filled with desire (and) she rubs the body[43] below the collar-bone, above the circle of the knees with the body, there is an offence involving defeat. If she rubs something attached to the body with the body, there is a grave offence. If she rubs the body with something attached to the body, there is a grave offence. If she rubs something attached to the body with something attached to the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs the body with something that may be cast, Vin.4.215 there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something attached to the body with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something that may be cast with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

If she rubs the body above the collar-bone, below the circle of the knees with the body, there is a grave offence. If she rubs something attached to the body with the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs the body with something attached to the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something attached to the body with something attached to the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs the body with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something attached to the body with something that may be cast, there is an BD.3.163 offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something that may be cast with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

If one is filled with desire, and she rubs the body below the collar-bone, above the circle of the knees with the body, there is a grave offence. If she rubs the body with something attached to the body … If she rubs something that may be cast with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

If she rubs the body above the collar-bone, below the circle of the knees with the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something attached to the body with the body … If she rubs something that may be cast with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

If both are filled with desire, and she rubs the body of a yakkha or of a departed one or of a eunuch or of an animal in human form, below the collar-bone, above the circle of the knees with the body, there is a grave offence. If she rubs something attached to the body with the body … If she rubs something that may be cast with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

If she rubs the body above the collar-bone, below the circle of the knees, with the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something attached to the body with the body … If she rubs something that may be cast with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

If one is filled with desire, and she rubs the body below the collar-bone, above the circle of the knees with the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something attached to the body with the body … If she rubs something that may be cast with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

If she rubs the body above the collar-bone, below the circle of the knees with the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she rubs something attached to the body with the body … If she rubs something that BD.3.164 may be cast with something that may be cast, there is an offence of wrong-doing.


Bi-Pj.5.2.3 There is no offence if it is unintentional; if she is not thinking; if she does not know; if she does not consent; if she is mad, if her mind is unhinged, if she is in pain, if she is the first wrong-doer.[44]

Told is the First Offence involving Defeat in the Nuns’ Analysis Vin.4.216

Footnotes and references:

1.

Note by Sujato: Pārājika 1 in I.B. Horner’s edition.

2.

Mentioned also at AN.i.193f.

3.

Vin-a.900 says that he was the “grandson of Migāra’s mother”—i.e., of Visākhā.

4.

navakammikā, a superintendent. Cf. Vin.2.15 (masculine). Method of entrusting repairs to an overseer, and the qualities he should possess, are given at Vin.2.160. Cf. also Vin.2.172f.

5.

Cf. Vin.4.259.

7.

tatrupāyāya vīmaṃsāya samannāgatā. Cf. Vin.1.70. Vin-a.900 makes out that she was connected with the investigation or examination of the building or repairs that should be undertaken.

8.

Cf. Vin.1.70.

9.

Cf. Vin.3.144.

10.

I.e., Sundarīnandā and Sāḷha.

11.

See rights of seniority in a refectory, given at Vin.2.274.

12.

Cf. Vin.4.229 = below, BD.3.188; Vin.4.339 = below, BD.3.404.

13.

Upassaya, doubtless meaning bhikkhuni-upassaya, nuns’ quarters.

16.

caraṇagilānā.

17.

purisapuggala, see Introduction, p.25ff.

18.

dubbharatāya, translated at GS.4.187, “luxury.”

19.

saṃgaṃika = kilesasaṃgaṃika at Vin-a.222; but at AN.iv.280, as gregariousness, sociability, it is contrasted with aloofness.

20.

apacaya, translated at GS.4.187 “dispersion” (of rebirth).

21.

Cf. Vin.3.21, Vin.3.171, and Vin.4.142. See BD.1.37, notes.

22.

Cf. Vin.4.120.

23.

Cf. Vin.3.21.

24.

On āmasati see BD.1.203, n.6.

25.

maṇḍala, see above, BD.3.121.

26.

ubbhajānumaṇḍalikā. Not explained in the Old Commentary. Vin-a.901 says, “it is only the name of this one who is defeated, therefore it is not considered in the Padabhājaniya.”

27.

Cf. Vin.3.23 (= BD.1.42).

28.

akuppa ṭhānāraha; probably meaning that the formal act should not be re-opened for discussion.

29.

Cf. Vin.3.24 (= BD.1.42).

30.

Feminine.

31.

Masculine.

32.

= Vin.3.121, Vin.3.128 in definition of otiṇṇa, affected by desire.

33.

Cf. definition of “woman” at Vin.3.128, MN.iii.192.

34.

adhakkhakan ti heṭṭhakkhakaṃ.

35.

ubbhajānumaṇḍalan ti uparijānumanṇḍalaṃ.

40.

Vin-a.901 says, in reference to the group of the four Pārājika (set forth in the Monks’ Vibhaṅga, but to be observed by nuns also see Introduction BD.3.32).

42.

Cf. Vin.3.28.

44.

Cf. Vin.3.126.

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