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) 8

[1] Bi-Pj.8.1.1 BD.3.173 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the group of six nuns, filled with desire, for the sake of following what was verily not the rule,[2] consented to taking hold of the hand of a male person who was filled with desire, and they consented to taking hold of the edge of (his) outer robe, and they stood and they talked and they went to a rendezvous and they consented to a man’s approaching (them) and they entered into a covered place and they disposed the body for such a purpose.[3] Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying:

“How can the group of six nuns, filled with desire, for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, consent to … and stand and talk and go to a rendezvous … and enter … and dispose …?” “It is true, lord.”

The enlightened one, the lord, rebuked them, saying: “How, monks, can the group of six nuns … consent to … dispose the body for such a purpose? 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, filled with desire, for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, should consent to taking hold of the hand of a male person who is filled with desire or should consent to taking hold of the edge of (his) outer cloak or should stand or should talk or should go to a rendezvous Vin.4.221 or should consent to a man’s approaching (her) or should enter into a covered place or should dispose the body for such a purpose, she BD.3.174 also becomes one who is defeated, she is not in communion, she is a doer of eight things.”[4]


Bi-Pj.8.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Filled with desire means: infatuated, full of desire, physically in love with.[5]

Filled with desire means: infatuated, full of desire, physically in love with.[6]

A male person means: a human man, not a yakkha, not a departed one, not an animal; he is learned, competent to come into physical contact.[7]

Should consent to taking hold of the hand means: hand means, going up from the tip of the nail as far as the elbow.[8] If for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, she consents to taking hold below the collarbone, above the circles of the knees, there is a grave offence.

Or should consent to taking hold of the edge of (his) outer cloak means: if for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, she consents to take hold of what he is clothed in[9] or of what he has put on,[10] there is a grave offence.

Or should stand means: if for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, she stands within the reach of a man’s hand, there is a grave offence.

Or should talk means: if for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, she talks standing within the reach of a man’s hand, there is a grave offence.

Or should go to a rendezvous means: if for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, she, being told by a man, ‘Come to such and such a place,’ goes (there), for every step there is an offence of wrong-doing. In merely approaching the reach of a man’s hand, there is a grave offence.

Or should consent to a man’s approaching means: if BD.3.175 for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, she consents to a man’s approaching, there is an offence of wrong-doing. In merely approaching a reach of his hand, there is a grave offence.

Or should enter into a covered place means: if for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, in merely entering any concealed place whatever, there is a grave offence.

Or should dispose the body for such a purpose means: if for the sake of following what is verily not the rule, standing within the reach of a man’s hand, she disposes the body, there is a grave offence.

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

She becomes one who is defeated means: as a palmyra tree cut off at the crown cannot become one for new growth,[11] so a nun, Vin.4.222 completing[12] the eight courses,[13] becomes one who is not a (true) recluse, not a daughter of the Sakyans; therefore she is called she becomes one who is defeated.

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


Bi-Pj.8.2.2 There is no offence if it is not intentional; if she is not thinking; if she does not know; if she does not consent: if she is mad, her mind unhinged, afflicted with pain, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Told is the Fourth Offence involving Defeat


Recited, ladies, are the eight offences[14] involving defeat; a nun having fallen into one or other of these does not receive communion together with the nuns; BD.3.176 as before, so after, she becomes one who is defeated, she is not in communion. Concerning them, I ask the ladies: I hope that you are quite pure in this matter? And a second time I ask: I hope that you are quite pure in this matter? And a third time I ask: I hope that you are quite pure in this matter? The ladies are quite pure in this matter, therefore they are silent; thus do I understand this.[15]

Told is the Portion on Defeat Vin.4.223

Footnotes and references:

1.

Note by Sujato: Pārājika 4 in I.B. Horner’s edition.

2.

asaddhamma—i.e., Bu-Pj.1. Vin-a.904 calls asaddhamma “physical contact, not sexual intercourse.” Not explained in Old Commentary.

3.

kāyam pi tadatthāya upasaṃharanti.

4.

aṭṭhavattukā, not explained in the Old Commentary, but it means the eight actions here referred to.

5.

= above, BD.3.161.

6.

= above, BD.3.161.

7.

= above, BD.3.161.

9.

nivattha, referring to his inner robe.

10.

pāruta, referring to his upper robe and outer cloak.

12.

paripūrentī, accomplishing.

13.

vatthu, mode or course—i.e., the eight above specified.

14.

According to Vin-a.906, four laid down for monks which are also to be followed by nuns, and these (above) four for nuns only; thus eight Pārājika rules are recited for the ladies at the joint recital the Pātimokkha. See BD.3, Introduction, p.xxxii.