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) 4

Bi-NP.4.1.1 BD.3.223 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the nun Thullanandā came to be ill. Then a certain lay-follower approached the nun Thullanandā, and having approached he spoke thus to the nun Thullanandā: “What, lady, is your discomfort? What may be brought (for you)?”

“Sir, I am in need of ghee.”

Then that lay-follower, having for a kahāpaṇa brought ghee from the house of a certain shopkeeper, gave it to the nun Thullanandā. The nun Thullanandā said: “I am not in need of ghee, sir, I am in need of oil.” Then that lay-follower approached that shopkeeper, and having approached he spoke thus to that shopkeeper:

“The lady says that she does not need ghee, master, she needs oil. You take[1] the ghee (and) give me the oil.”

“If we, master, take back again goods that were bought, when will our goods be sold? Ghee was taken owing to the purchase of ghee; give for[2] the purchase of oil (and) you shall take oil”

Then that lay-follower … spread it about, saying: “How can this lady Thullanandā, having had one thing asked for,[3] then have another thing asked for?” Nuns heard this lay-follower who … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about … Then these nuns told this matter to the monks. The monks … to the lord. He said:

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thulla BD.3.224 nandā, having had one thing asked for, had another thing asked for?”

“It is true, lord.”

The enlightened one, Vin.4.249 the lord, rebuked them, saying:

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

Whatever nun, having had one thing asked for, should have another thing asked for, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.”


Bi-NP.4.2.1 Nun means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Having had one thing asked for means: having had anything whatever asked for.

Should have another asked for means: excepting that (thing), if she has another asked for, in the request[4] there is an offence of wrong-doing. It is to be forfeited on acquisition. It should be forfeited to an Order or to a group or to one nun. And thus, monks, should it be forfeited: “Ladies, having had this thing asked for, the other thing asked for is to be forfeited by me. I forfeit it to the Order.” … “… the Order should give back … let the ladies give back … I will give back (this thing) to the lady.”


Bi-NP.4.2.2 If she thinks that one thing is another thing and has the other thing asked for, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If she is in doubt as to whether one thing … If she thinks that an identical thing[5] is another thing … offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If she thinks that another thing is an identical thing (and) has the identical thing asked for, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether it is an identical thing (and) has an identical thing asked for, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that it is an identical thing when it is an identical thing, there is no offence.


BD.3.225 Bi-NP.4.2.3 There is no offence if she has that thing asked for and also has another thing asked for[6]; if having pointed out the advantage, she has it asked for; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

handa, as above, BD.3.220.

2.

āhara = yācitvā, Vin-a.917, but I think the above translation better shows that the shopkeeper was, as he states, unwilling to change goods once bought.

3.

viññāpetvā.

4.

payoge, action, doing.

5.

anañña.

6.

According to Vin-a.917 this means that the little she first asked for does not suffice, so she asks for it again. If ghee was first asked for a watch of the night (i.e., to be used as a medicine) it may be boiled; but if the doctor prescribed oil and she says she needs this too, thus (it is said) she asks for another thing. The simultaneous asking for things is hence not an offence; it puts a shopkeeper to no embarrassment, and saves a lay-person from going to and fro. This “asking for” a thing when an offer has been made is different from the “asking for” in Bu-Pc.7 and in the Pāṭidesaniyas. For there, nuns appear to be asking for food and medicine on their own initiative.