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) 13

[1] Bi-Ss.13.1.1 BD.3.210 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the nun Thullanandā, admonished by the Order, spoke thus to the nuns: “Ladies, live you as though in company, do not you live otherwise. For there are in the Order other nuns of such habits, of such repute, of such ways of living, Vin.4.241 vexing the Order of nuns, concealing one another’s sins[2]; the Order does not say anything to these. It is to you yourselves that the Order, out of disrespect, out of contempt, out of impatience,[3] in gossiping, on poor evidence,[4] says this: ‘Sisters are living in company, of evil habits, of evil repute, of evil ways of living, vexing the Order of nuns, concealing one another’s sins. Let the ladies desist; the Order praises this detachment in sisters.’” Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying:

“How can the lady Thullanandā, admonished by the Order, speak thus to nuns: ‘Ladies, live you as though in company … detachment in sisters” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā, admonished by the Order, spoke thus to nuns: ‘Ladies, live you … detachment in sisters’?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā, admonished by the Order, speak thus to nuns:’ Ladies, live you … praises this detachment in sisters’? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

Whatever nun should speak thus: ‘Ladies, live you as BD.3.211 though in company, do not you live otherwise. For there are in the Order other nuns of such habits, of such repute, of such ways of living, vexing the Order of nuns, concealing one another’s sins; the Order does not say anything to these. It is to you yourselves that the Order, out of disrespect, out of contempt, out of impatience, in gossiping, on poor evidence, says this: “Sisters are living in company, of evil habits, of evil repute, of evil ways of living, vexing the Order of nuns, concealing one another’s sins. Let the ladies desist, the Order praises this detachment in sisters,”’—that nun should be spoken to thus by the nuns: ‘Do not, lady, speak thus: “Sisters are living in company … detachment in sisters.”’ And if that nun, being spoken to thus by the nuns, should persist as before, that nun should be admonished by the nuns up to a third time for giving up that (course). If, being admonished up to a third time, she should give it up, that is good. If she should not give it up, this nun also has 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.13.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Should speak thus means: ‘Ladies, live you as though in company … It is to you yourselves that the Order, out of disrespect means: out of disesteem.

Out of contempt[5] means: out of disdain.

Out of impatience means: out of ill-temper.[6]

In gossiping means: made into talk.[7]

On poor evidence Vin.4.242 means: not having partisans.[8]

Says this means: it says, ‘Sisters are living in company … detachment in sisters.’

By the nuns means: by other nuns who see, who hear; she should be told by these: “Do not, lady, speak thus: BD.3.212 ‘Ladies, live you as though in company … detachment in sisters.’” And a second time she should be told. And a third time she should be told … see Bi-Ss.10.2.1Bi-Ss.10.2.3. Instead of do not, lady, angry, etc. read do not, lady, speak thus, etc. Read: Ladies, let the Order listen to me. This nun so and so, admonished by the Order, speaks thus to the nuns: ‘Ladies, live you as though in company,’ etc. … if she is the first wrong-doer.


Bi-Ss.13.3.1 Recited, ladies, are the seventeen matters that are offences entailing a formal meeting of the Order—nine which are offences at once, eight[9] on the third (admonition). A nun having fallen into one or other of these shall spend a fortnight in mānatta discipline[10] before both Orders. If, when the nun has performed the mānatta discipline, the Order of nuns should number twenty, then that nun may be rehabilitated. But if the Order of nuns, numbering less than twenty even by one, should rehabilitate that nun, that nun is not rehabilitated, and those nuns are blameworthy; this is the proper course there. Concerning this, 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.

Told are the Seventeen Vin.4.243

Footnotes and references:

1.

Note by Sujato: Saṅghādisesa 10 in I.B. Horner’s edition.

2.

See Bi-Ss.12.

3.

Five disadvantages of being “impatient” given at AN.iii.254.

4.

dubbalyatā. See Journal of the Pali Text Society 1886, p.129.

5.

paribhavena … pāribhavyatā.

6.

kopena.

7.

vibhassikatā.

8.

Text reads appakkhatā; Sinhalese edition apakkhatā = a + pakkha + , being without a faction, a side, thus without partisans (as Critical Pali Dictionary).

9.

Buddhaghosa at Vin-a.915 brings the ten Saṅghādisesas here set out up to seventeen by saying that, besides these six that are offences at once, there are also three that are included in the Mahāvibhaṅga (Bu-Ss.5, Bu-Ss.8, Bu-Ss.9); and besides these four that are offences at the third admonition, there are also four that are included in the Mahāvibhaṅga (Bu-Ss.10, Bu-Ss.11, Bu-Ss.12, Bu-Ss.13). The nuns have four more Saṅghādisesas than the monks. See also BD.3, Introduction, p.xxxiii.

10.

pakkhamānatta. Buddhaghosa says that he will explain this phrase in detail in a Khandhaka. Pakkha here almost certainly has the meaning of one-half of the lunar month.

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