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’ Formal Meeting (Saṅghādisesa) 1

Bi-Ss.1.1.1 BD.3.177 These seventeen[1] things, venerable ones, entailing formal meetings of the Order, come for exposition.

At one time the enlightened one, the lord, was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time a certain lay-follower, having given a store-room[2] to an Order of nuns, passed away. He had two sons, one of no faith, not believing,[3] the other with faith, believing. Then he of no faith, not believing, spoke thus to him with faith, believing: “The store-room is ours, let us deal it out.”[4] When he had spoken thus, the one with faith, believing, spoke thus to him of no faith, not believing: “Do not, sir, speak thus; it was given to the Order of nuns by our father.” And a second time he of no faith, not believing, spoke thus to him with faith, believing: “The storeroom is ours, let us deal it out.” Then the one with faith, believing, spoke thus to him of no faith, not believing: “Do not, sir, speak thus; it was given to the Order of nuns by our father.” And a third time he of no faith … “… let us deal it out.” Then the one with faith, believing, thinking,” If it became mine, I also would give it to an Order of nuns,” spoke thus to the one of no faith, not believing: “Let us deal it out.” Then that store-room being dealt out by these, BD.3.178 fell to[5] him of no faith, not believing. Then the one of no faith, not believing, having approached the nuns, spoke thus: “You must depart, ladies, the store-room is ours.” When he had spoken thus, the nun Thullanandā spoke thus to that man:

“Do not, sir, speak thus; the store-room was given to the Order of nuns by your father.”

Saying: “Was it given[6] (or) not given?” they asked the chief ministers of justice. The chief ministers spoke thus:

“Who knows, ladies, if it was given to the Order of nuns?” When they had spoken thus, the nun Thullanandā spoke thus to these chief ministers: Vin.4.224

“But, masters, was not the gift seen or heard of by you as it was being given, eye-witnesses having been arranged?” Then the chief ministers, saying: “What the lady says is true,” made over the store-room to the Order of nuns. Then that man, defeated, looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying:

“These shaven-headed (women) are not (true) recluses, they are strumpets.[7] How can they have the store-room taken away from us?” The nun Thullanandā told this matter to the chief ministers. The chief ministers had that man punished.[8] Then that man, punished,[9] having had a sleeping-place made for Naked Ascetics not far from the nunnery, instigated the Naked Ascetics, saying: “Talk down[10] these nuns.” The nun Thullanandā told this matter to the chief ministers. The chief ministers had that man fettered. People looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “How can these nuns have a store-room taken away (from him) and secondly have him punished and BD.3.179 thirdly have him fettered? Now they will have him killed.”

Nuns heard these people as they … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can the lady Thullanandā be one who speaks in envy?”[11] Then these nuns told this matter to the monks …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā is one who speaks in envy?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā be one who speaks in envy? 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 should be one who speaks in envy concerning a householder or a householder’s sons (or brothers[12]) or a slave or a workman[13] and even concerning a wanderer who is a recluse,[14] that nun has fallen into a matter that is an offence at once,[15] entailing a formal meeting of the Order involving being sent away.”[16]


Bi-Ss.1.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

One who speaks in envy means: she is called a bringer of law-suits.[17]

Householder means: he who lives in a house.[18]

Householder’s sons (or brothers) means: whoever are sons and brothers.[19]

BD.3.180 Slave means: born within, bought for money, taken in a raid.[20]

Workman[21] means: a hireling, a worker.[22]

Wanderer who is a recluse means: setting aside monk and nun and probationer and novice and female novice, he who is endowed with (the status of) wanderer.[23] Vin.4.225

If she thinks, “I will bring a law-suit,” or looks about for a companion or goes herself,[24] there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she announces it to one (person), there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she announces it to a second, there is a grave offence. At the end of the law-suit, there is an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order.

An offence at once means: she falls through transgression of a course,[25] not after admonition.[26]

Involving being sent away means: she is caused to be sent away from the Order.[27]

Offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order means: the Order inflicts the mānatta discipline on account of her offence, it sends back to the beginning, it rehabilitates; it is not several (nuns), it is not one nun, therefore it is called an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order. A synonym for this class of offence is (formal) BD.3.181 act, therefore again it is called an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order.[28]


Bi-Ss.1.2.2 There is no offence if she goes being dragged along by people; if she asks for protection; if she explains without reference (to a particular person); if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Ten are given in this section; but seven are the same as those already given in the Saṅghādisesas for monks; see below, BD.3.212, n.1, and BD.3, Introduction, p.xxxiii.

2.

uddosita = bhaṇḍasālā (Vin-a.906). Uddosita is sometimes a stable; cf. Vin.3.200, and Vinaya Texts iii.363, n.2. At Vin.2.278 uddosita is “allowed,” a lay-follower again being recorded to give one to an Order of nuns.

3.

appasanna, or not pleased (with the master’s teaching).

4.

bhājāma; Sinhalese edition reads bhājema.

5.

pāpuṇāti, to reach, attain, arrive at, to obtain to.

6.

Square brackets in text, but Sinhalese edition reads dinno na dinno.

7.

Cf. below, BD.3.257, BD.3.275. The word translated as “strumpets” is bandhakiniyo; cf. Ja.5.425.

8.

daṇḍāpesum, perhaps beaten with a stick.

9.

daṇḍika.

10.

accāvadatha. Vin-a.906 says atikkamitvā vadatha, akkosatha, having surpassed them, talk, swear at them.

11.

ussayavādikā.

12.

See Old Commentary below.

13.

kammakāra, or servant.

14.

samaṇaparibbājaka.

15.

paṭhamāpattikaṃ, which in Bi-Ss.1Bi-Ss.6 is in opposition to yāvatatiyaka, that which is not an offence until a nun has been admonished up to the third time (see Bu-Ss.7Bu-Ss.10). Cf. Vin.3.186 (= BD.1.328).

16.

nissāraṇīyaṃ saṅghādisesaṃ; cf. the similar construction, nissaggiyaṃ pācittiyaṃ, and see BD.3, Introduction, p.xxxvi.

17.

aṭṭakārikā, a maker of law-suits, cases, causes.

19.

yo koci puttabhātaro.

20.

= MN-a.3.8. These three are explained at Vin-a.361; four “slaves” mentioned at Mnd.11; cf. DN-a.1.168, DN-a.1.300. The last two, dhanakkīta and karamarānīta (feminine) come into the description of the ten kinds of wife at Vin.3.140.

21.

Cf. MN-a.3.8, DN-a.300.

22.

āhataka, “one who is beaten,” so Pali-English Dictionary.

24.

Cf. Vin.3.47 (= BD.1.76). Above it means, according to Vin-a.907, if she looks about for a witness or friend; and if standing where there is a nunnery, or alms-road, she thinks, “I will bring a law-suit,” going from there to the magistrates, there is an offence of wrong-doing for every step that she takes.

25.

saha vatthujjhācārā.

26.

Cf. below, BD.3.203.

27.

saṅghamhā nissāriyati, explained by Vin-a.908 as saṅghato nissāreti. The -sār- causative, “she is made or caused to be sent away.” See BD.3, Introduction, p.xxxvi.