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) 12

[1] Bi-Ss.12.1.1 BD.3.207 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time nuns who were pupils of the nun Thullanandā lived in company,[2] they were of evil habits, of evil repute, of evil ways of living,[3] vexing[4] the Order of nuns, concealing one another’s sins.[5] Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can these nuns live in company … concealing one another’s sins?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that nuns live in company … concealing one another’s sins?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can nuns live in company … concealing one another’s sins?

It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … let the nuns set forth this rule of training:

In case nuns live in company, of evil habits, of evil repute, of evil ways of living, vexing the Order of nuns, concealing one another’s sins, those nuns should be spoken to thus by the nuns: ‘Sisters are living in company … BD.3.208 concealing one another’s sins. Let the ladies desist[6]; the Order praises this detachment in sisters.’ But if these nuns, being spoken to thus by the nuns, should persist as before, these nuns should be admonished by the nuns up to the third time for giving up that (course). If, being admonished up to the third time they should give it up, that is good. If they should not give it up, these nuns also have fallen into a matter that is an offence on the third (admonition), entailing a formal meeting of the Order involving being sent away.


Bi-Ss.12.2.1 In case nuns means: they are called ordained.

Are living in company means: in company means that they are living in company unbecomingly in regard to body and speech.

Of evil habits means: they are possessed of depraved habits.

Of evil report means: they are notorious[7] because of (their)[8] bad reputation.[9]

Of evil ways of living means: they lead life by means of an evil, wrong mode of livelihood.

Vexing the Order of nuns means: Vin.4.240 they protest when a (formal) act is being carried out against each other.

Concealing one another’s sins means: they reciprocally conceal a sin.

Those nuns means: those nuns who live in company.

By the nuns means: by other nuns who see, who hear; they should be told by these: “Sisters are living in company … detachment in sisters.” And a second time they should be told. And a third time they should be told … see Bi-Ss.10.2.1. Instead of Do not, ladies, angry, etc., read Sisters are living in company, etc.; instead of that nun … does not give up that course read those nuns … do not give up that course; instead of BD.3.209 this nun so and so read these nuns so and so and so and so are living in company … they do not give up that course … the nuns so and so and so and so should be admonished … are admonished for giving up that course … If they are committing an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order, the offence of wrong-doing according to the motion and the grave offences according to the two proclamations, subside.

Two or three should be admonished together. More than that should not be admonished together.

These nuns also means: they are so called in reference to the former.

Up to the third time means: they fall on the third admonition, not through transgression of a course.

Involving being sent away means: they are caused to be sent away[10] from the Order,

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


Bi-Ss.12.2.2 If they think that it is a legally valid act when it is a legally valid act (and) do not give up … see Bi-Ss.10.2.2 … If they think 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.12.2.3 There is no offence if they are not admonished; if they give it up; if they are mad, if they are the first wrong-doers.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Note by Sujato: Saṅghādisesa 9 in I.B. Horner’s edition.

2.

saṃsaṭṭhā viharati. Cf. Vin.4.293, saṃsaṭṭhā viharati gahapatināpi gahapatiputtena pi, with householders and householders’ sons; Vin.4.333, purisasaṃsaṭṭha kumārakasaṃsaṭṭha, in the company of men and youths; Vin.2.4, gihisaṃsaṭṭho, in the company of, or in association with, householders. Vin-a.915 says missībhūtā, become mixed up with (the world), and that in regard to the body they were pounding and cooking for householders, perfuming and adorning themselves, using garlands and chains, and in regard to their speech they were acting as go-betweens, carrying messages and replies. Saṃsaṭṭhā viharati occurs at AN.iii.109.

3.

pāpasiloka.

4.

vihesikā. Cf. vihesā, vexation, at BD.3.41 above; and vihesaka, vexing, at Vin.4.36 (= BD.2.231f.), where it means keeping silence.

5.

vajja. Cf. Vin.3.171 (= BD.1.297).

6.

viviccati, separate themselves, be alone. Cf. below, BD.3.210.

7.

abbhuggatā, literally spread abroad.

8.

Vin-a.915 says “the bad reputation of these, etāsaṃ, means ‘evil report.’

9.

pāpaka kittisadda.

10.

Oldenberg, Vin.4.366, says that the correct reading is nissāriyanti, as against text’s nissāriyati.