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) 6

[1] Bi-Pj.6.1.1 BD.3.165 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the nun Sundarīnandā became pregnant by Saḷhā, Migāra’s grandson. Until the embryo quickened she concealed it; when the embryo was matured, having left the Order, she gave birth. Nuns spoke thus to the nun Thullanandā: “Lady, Sundarīnandā not long after leaving the Order gave birth. We wonder if she was pregnant when she was a nun?”

“Yes, ladies.”

“But how is it that you, lady, knowing that a nun had fallen into a matter involving defeat,[2] neither reproved her yourself, nor spoke to a group?”

“Whatever is blame for her, that is blame for me; whatever is disgrace for her, that is disgrace for me; whatever is dishonour for her, that is dishonour for me; whatever is loss for her, that is loss for me. How can I, ladies, speak to others of my own blame, my own disgrace, my own dishonour, my own loss?”

Those who were modest nuns looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “How can the lady Thullanandā, knowing that a nun had fallen into a matter involving defeat, neither reprove her herself, nor speak to a group?” Then these nuns told this matter to the monks. The monks told this matter to the lord. Then the lord, on this occasion, in this connection, having had the Order of monks convened, having given reasoned talk, questioned the monks, saying:

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā, knowing that a nun … neither reproved her herself, nor spoke to a group?”

BD.3.166 “It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā, knowing that a nun … neither reprove her herself, nor speak to a group? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … And thus, monks, let the nuns set forth this rule of training:

Whatever nun, knowing that a nun has fallen into a matter involving defeat, should neither herself reprove her, nor speak to a group, but when she may be remaining or deceased or expelled or withdrawn,[3] should afterwards speak thus: ‘Ladies, before I knew this nun, she was a sister like this and like that,’ Vin.4.217 and should neither herself reprove her nor should speak to a group, she also becomes one who is defeated, she is not in communion, she is one who conceals a fault.[4]


Bi-Pj.6.2.1 Whatever means: she who …

Nun means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

She knows means: either she knows by herself or others tell her or she[5] tells (her).

Has fallen into a matter involving defeat means: of the eight offences involving defeat[6] (she) has fallen into a certain offence involving defeat.

Should neither herself[7] reprove her means: should neither herself reprimand her.

Nor should speak to a group means: nor should speak to other nuns.

BD.3.167 But when she may be remaining or deceased means: Remaining means she is called remaining in her own characteristic.[8] Deceased means she is called one who has passed away. Expelled means she herself comes to be leaving the Order or she is expelled by others. Withdrawn means she is called one who has gone over to the fold of a sect.[9]

Should afterwards speak thus: ‘Ladies, before I knew this nun, she was a sister like this and like that,’ and should neither herself reprove her means: should neither herself reprimand her; nor speak to a group means: nor should speak to other nuns.

She also means: she is so called in reference to the former.

Becomes one who is defeated means: as a withered leaf freed from the stalk cannot become green again,[10] so a nun, knowing that a nun has fallen into a matter involving defeat (and) thinking, ‘I will neither myself reprove her, nor speak to a group,’ in throwing off the responsibility,[11] becomes one who is not a recluse, not a daughter of the Sakyans; therefore she is called, she becomes one who is defeated.

Is not in communion means: communion … is therefore called not in communion.


Bi-Pj.6.2.2 There is no offence if she does not speak, thinking ‘There will come to be quarrel or dispute or strife or contention for the Order’; if she does not speak, thinking ‘There will come to be a schism in the Order or dissension in the Order’[12]; if she does not speak, thinking BD.3.168 ‘This one, harsh, rough, will bring[13] danger to life or danger to the Brahma-life if she does not speak not seeing other suitable nuns; if she does not speak (though) not desiring to conceal; if she does not speak, thinking: ‘It will be evident from her own action’; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.[14]

Told is the Second Offence involving Defeat Vin.4.218

Footnotes and references:

1.

Note by Sujato: Pārājika 2 in I.B. Horner’s edition.

2.

As by Bi-Pj.5, having physical contact with a man.

3.

avasaṭā. See Old Commentary, below. Critical Pali Dictionary gives “having entered, having arrived”; Pali-English Dictionary “withdrawn, gone away, one who has left a community and, gone over to another sect.”

4.

vajjapaṭicchādikā, not explained in the Old Commentary. Vin-a.903 says it is merely the name of this Pārājika offence. Cf. Monks’ Bu-Pc.64.

5.

I.e., the nun who has committed the Pārājika offence, Vin-a.903. Cf. Vin.3.265 = BD.2.161.

6.

Vin-a.903 says, a certain one of the four in common with monks and of the four not in common with monks. The nuns had to observe the Pārājika of the Bhikkhu-Pātimokkha, as well as their own.

7.

attanā … sayaṃ.

8.

ṭhitā nāma saliṅge ṭhitā vuccati.

9.

titthāyatanaṃ saṃkantā. Cf. Vin.1.60, Vin.1.69, referring to one who formerly a member of another sect, titthiya, has gone back to it; Vin.2.279, where it is laid down that nuns who have joined the titthiyas, coming back to the Order of nuns, are not to be ordained again.Titthāyatana occurs at MN.i.483, AN.i.173, Ds.381, Ds.1003 See Buddhist Psychological Ethics, 2nd. edition p.93, n.9, and Ledi Sayadaw, Journal of the Pali Text Society 1913, p.117.

11.

Cf. BD.1.82.

13.

karissati, literally will do or make.

14.

Cf. Vin.4.128 = above, BD.3.9.

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