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) 4

Bi-Ss.4.1.1 BD.3.191 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time[1] the nun Caṇḍakālī[2] was one who made strife, who made quarrels, who made contention, who made brawls, who made disputes in the Order.[3] The nun Thullanandā protested when a (formal) act was being carried out against her.[4] At that time the nun Thullanandā went to a village on some business. Then the Order of nuns, thinking: “The nun Thullanandā has gone away,” Vin.4.231 suspended[5] the nun Caṇḍakālī for not seeing an offence. The nun Thullanandā having concluded that business in the village, returned again to Sāvatthī. When the nun Thullanandā was coming, the nun Caṇḍakālī neither made ready a seat, nor put out[6] water for washing her feet, a foot-stool,[7] a foot-stand,[8] nor having gone out to meet her did she take her bowl and robe, nor did she offer her drinking-water. The nun Thullanandā spoke thus to the nun Caṇḍakālī:

“Why did you, lady, when I was coming, neither make ready a seat for me nor put out water for washing BD.3.192 the feet, a foot-stool, a foot-stand, nor having gone out to meet me, take my howl and robe, nor offer me drinking-water?”

“Surely it is this, lady, that I am without a mistress[9] in regard to this.”

“But why are you, lady, without a mistress?”

“Lady, these nuns, saying of me, ‘She is without a mistress, she is not esteemed, there is no one who can answer for[10] her,’ suspended me for not seeing an offence.”

The nun Thullanandā, saying, “These are ignorant, these are inexperienced, they do not (even) know a (formal) act or the defect of a (formal) act[11] or the failure of a (formal) act[12] or the success of a (formal) act[13]; but we know a (formal) act and the defect of a (formal) act and the failure of a (formal) act and the success of a (formal) act, and we may make them carry out a (formal) act that was not carried out or we may find fault with[14] a (formal) act that was carried out,” and having very quickly convened an Order of nuns, she restored[15] the nun Caṇḍakalī. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying:

“How can the lady Thullanandā, without having obtained permission from the Order which carried out the proceedings[16] in accordance with the rule, the discipline, the teacher’s instruction,[17] not having learnt the desire[18] of a group, restore a nun suspended by a complete Order?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā, without having obtained permission … restored a nun suspended by a complete Order?”

“It is true, lord.”

BD.3.193 The enlightened one, the lord, rebuked them, saying:

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā, without having obtained permission … restore a nun suspended by a complete Order? 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, without having obtained permission from the Order which carried out the proceedings in accordance with the rule, the discipline, the teacher’s instruction, not having learnt the group’s desire, should restore a nun suspended by a complete Order, that nun also has fallen into a matter that is an offence at once, entailing a formal meeting of the Order involving being sent away.”


Bi-Ss.4.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Complete Order means: belonging to the same communion, staying within the same boundary.[19] Vin.4.232

Suspended means: suspended for not seeing or for not making amends for or for not giving up an offence.[20]

In accordance with the rule, the discipline means: according to whatever is the rule, according to whatever is the discipline.[21]

(In accordance with) the teacher’s instruction means: in accordance with the conqueror’s instruction, the enlightened one’s instruction.[22]

Without having obtained permission from the Order which carried out the proceedings means: not having asked (the permission) of the Order which carried out the (formal) act.

Not having learnt[23] the desire means: not having known the desire of a group.

If she thinks, “I will restore (her),” (and) looks about for a group or determines a boundary, there is an offence of wrong-doing. As a result of the motion, there is an offence of wrong-doing. As a result of two proclamations, BD.3.194 there are grave offences. At the end of the proclamations, there is an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order.

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

Offence at once means: … therefore again it is called an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order.


Bi-Ss.4.2.2 If she thinks that it is a legally valid act when it is a legally valid act (and) restores her, there is an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order. If she is in doubt as to whether it is a legally valid act … If she thinks that it is not a legally valid act when it is a legally valid act (and) restores her, there is an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order. If she thinks that it is a legally valid act when it is not a legally valid act, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether it is not a legally valid act, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that it is not a legally valid act when it is not a legally valid act, there is an offence of wrong-doing.


Bi-Ss.4.2.3 There is no offence if, having obtained permission from, the Order which carried out the (formal) act, she restores (her); if she restores (her) having known that it is the desire of the group; if she restores one who is behaving so as to get rid of the fault[24]; if she restores (her), there being no Order which carried out the (formal) act; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Cf. Nuns’ Bi-Pc.53 below.

2.

An obstreperous nun, mentioned at Vin.4.276, Vin.4.277, Vin.4.293, Vin.4.309, Vin.4.331, Vin.4.333.

3.

Cf. Vin.4.12, Vin.4.150, Vin.4.309. At AN.iii.252 it is said that five disadvantages are to be expected for such a monk—also probably for such a nun.

4.

Cf. above, BD.3.58.

5.

ukkhipi. On ukkhitta, past participle of ukkhipati, see above, BD.3.28, n.4.

6.

upanikkhipati, to lay down near, to store.

7.

pādapīṭha. Vin-a.913 says a stool (ṭhapanaka) to put the washed feet on.

8.

pādakathalika. According to Vin-a.913, “a stool to put the unwashed feet on”—i.e., probably another kind of foot-stool. Buddhaghosa on Kd.12.1.1 says that pādakathalika alternatively means a towel to rub the feet with. This word and the two preceding occur also at Vin.1.9, Vin.1.312; Vin.2.22, Vin.2.31; see Vinaya Texts i.92, n., Vinaya Texts ii.373, n.5.

9.

anāthā, or helpless, deserted, without a protector.

10.

pativattar. Word occurs also at SN.i.222.

11.

kammadosa.

12.

kammavipatti.

13.

kammasampatti.

14.

kopeyyāma. Cf. above, BD.3.63, kopetukāma.

15.

osāreti. Cf. Vin.4.137 = above, BD.3.28, q.v. and note.

16.

kārakasaṅgha.

18.

chanda, desire or partiality, as in the four agatis; consent of an absentee, as in Monks’ Bu-Pc.79, Bu-Pc.80.

19.

Cf. above, BD.3.65, BD.3.170, and Vin.3.173.

20.

Cf. above, BD.3.170.

21.

Cf. above, BD.3.170.

22.

Cf. above, BD.3.170.

23.

anaññāya … ajānitvā.

24.

vatte vattantiṃ osāreti, one taking steps about, proceeding in regard to, what has been done.