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’ Forfeiture (Nissaggiya) 2

Bi-NP.2.1.1 BD.3.217 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time several nuns, having spent the rains in a village-residence, went to Sāvatthī keeping the customs,[1] dignified in deportment, badly dressed, wearing shabby robes. Lay-followers having seen these nuns, thinking, “These nuns are keeping the customs … wearing shabby robes, these nuns will have been robbed,” gave robe-material to the Order of nuns not at the right time.[2] The nun Thullanandā, saying, “Our kaṭhina-cloth is (formally) made,[3] it was robe-material given at the right time,” having allotted it, had it distributed.[4] The lay-followers having seen those nuns, spoke thus: “Was not the robe-material received by the ladies?”

“We did not receive robe-material, sirs. The lady Thullanandā, saying, ‘Our kaṭhina-cloth is (formally) made; it was robe-material given at the right time,’ having allotted it, had it distributed.”

BD.3.218 The lay-followers … spread it about, saying:

“How can the lady Thullanandā, thinking that robe-material (given) not at the right time was robe-material (given) at the right time, having allotted it, have it distributed?”

Nuns heard these lay-followers who … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can the lady Thullanandā thinking … have it distributed?”

Then these nuns told this matter to the monks. The monks … to the lord. Vin.4.246 He said:

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā … had it distributed?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā … have it distributed? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

Whatever nun, thinking that robe-material (given) not at the right time is robe-material (given) at the right time, having allotted it should have it distributed, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.”


Bi-NP.2.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Robe-material (given) not at the right time[5] means: some that has accrued during the eleven months when the kaṭhina cloth is not (formally) made; some that has accrued during the seven months when the kaṭhina cloth is (formally) made; a gift (of material) offered[6] even at the right time; this means robe-material (given) not at the right time.

If thinking, “It is robe-material (given) at the right BD.3.219 time,” having allotted it, she has it distributed, in the action there is an offence of wrong-doing; on acquisition it is to be forfeited. It should be forfeited to an Order or to a group or to one nun. And thus, monks, should it be forfeited: “Ladies, I, thinking that this robe-material (given) not at the right time was robe-material (given) at the right time, having allotted it, caused it to be distributed; it is to be forfeited by me. I forfeit it to the Order.”“… let the Order give back … they should give back … I will give back (this robe-material) to the lady.”


Bi-NP.2.2.2 If she thinks that it is robe-material (given) not at the right time when it is robe-material (given) not at the right, time, and saying, “It is robe-material (given) at the right time,” having allotted it she has it distributed, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If she is in doubt as to whether it is robe-material (given) not at the right time … there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that it is robe-material (given) at the right time when it is robe-material (given) not at the right time … there is no offence. If she thinks that it is robe-material (given) not at the right time when it is robe-material (given) at the right time, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether it is robe-material (given) at the right time, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that it is robe-material (given) at the right time when it is robe-material (given) at the right time, there is no offence.


Bi-NP.2.2.3 There is no offence if she thinks that it is robe-material (given) not at the right time when it is robe-material (given) not at the right time and has it distributed; if she thinks that it is robe-material (given) at the right time when it is robe-material (given) at the right time and has it distributed; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

vattasampannā. Groups of vattāni enumerated at Vb-a.297. Here probably these nuns had not yet their new robes, as it was not the custom to get these during the rains. The village perhaps could not supply enough material and so the nuns proposed to get it in Sāvatthī.

3.

atthata. See BD.2.5, n.1, BD.2.26, n.3. The kaṭhina-cloth had to be made up after the rains, Vin.1.254. Robe-material accruing not at the right time might be accepted by a monk, but then should be made up quickly, Vin.3.203 (BD.2.25f.). It looks as if Thullanandā and her nuns had had their kaṭhina robes made up before these other nuns arrived at Sāvatthī, and that she took possession of the material given by the laity, and in having it distributed, ignored these incoming nuns.

4.

This seems to imply that she did not distribute it herself. At Vin.1.285 monks are allowed to agree upon a monk possessed of five qualities as distributor of robe-material; the way in which it should be distributed is then set forth.

5.

Cf. Monks’ Bu-NP.3, Vin.3.204 (BD.2.26, where see note), and cf. BD.2.311, BD.2.366, “time of giving robes.”

6.

ādissa. Vin-a.546 explains by apadisitvā, pointed out, indicated, designated; Vin-a.658 by uddisitvā, pointed out, proposed; while Vin-a.916 says, “she saying, ‘having obtained (sampattā), let them distribute,’ and then she says, ‘I will give this to a group and this to you.’”