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) 11

Bi-NP.11.1.1 BD.3.238 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the nun Thullanandā was very learned, she was a repeater, she was wise, she was skilled in giving dhamma-talk.[1] Then King Pasenadi of Kosala having, in the cold weather, put on a costly woollen garment, approached the nun Thullanandā; having approached, having greeted the nun Thullanandā, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, the nun Thullanandā roused … gladdened King Pasenadi of Kosala with dhamma-talk. Then King Pasenadi of Kosala, having been roused … gladdened with dhamma-talk by the nun Thullanandā, spoke thus to the nun Thullanandā: “Do let me know, lady, what would be of use (to you).”[2]

“If, Sire, you are desirous of giving (something) to me, give me this woollen garment.”

Then King Pasenadi of Kosala, having given the woollen garment to the nun Thullanandā, having risen from his seat, having greeted the nun Thullanandā, departed keeping his right side towards her. People looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying:

“These nuns have great desires, they are not contented. How can they ask the king for a woollen garment?” Nuns heard these people who … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can the lady Thullanandā ask the king for a woollen garment?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā asked the king for a woollen garment?”

“It is true, lord.”

BD.3.239 The enlightened one, the lord rebuked them, saying:

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā ask the king for a woollen garment? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

If a nun is bargaining for[3] a heavy cloth,[4] she may bargain for one (worth) at most four “bronzes.”[5] If she should bargain for one (worth) more than that, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture.


Bi-NP.11.2.1 A heavy cloth means: whatever is a cloth for the cold weather.

Is bargaining for means: is asking for. Vin.4.256

She may bargain for one (worth) at most four “bronzes” means: she may bargain for one worth sixteen kahāpaṇas.

If she should bargain for one (worth) more than that means: if she asks for one (worth) more than that, in the request 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, this heavy cloth (worth) BD.3.240 at most more than four “bronzes,” bargained for by me, is to be forfeited. I forfeit it to the Order’“… the Order should give back … let them give back … I will give back this (heavy cloth) to the lady.”


Bi-NP.11.2.2 If she thinks that it is (worth) more when it is (worth) more than four “bronzes” (and) bargains for it, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If she is in doubt as to whether it is (worth) more than four “bronzes” … If she thinks that it is (worth) less when it is (worth) more than four “bronzes” (and) bargains for it, there is an offence of expiation involving forfeiture. If she thinks that it is (worth) more when it is (worth) less than four “bronzes,” there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether it is (worth) less than four “bronzes,” there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that it is (worth) less when it is (worth) less than four “bronzes,” there is no offence.


Bi-NP.11.2.3 There is no offence if she bargains for one (worth) at most four “bronzes”; if she bargains for one (worth) at most less than four “bronzes”; if they belong to relations; if they are offered; if it is for another; if it is by means of her own property; if she bargains for something of small value while (the other person) desires to bargain for something costly[6]; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

As in Bu-NP.10, Bu-Pc.33. Cf. Pasenadi’s interview with the nun Khemā at SN.iv.374.

2.

Cf. BD.1.222 = BD.2.43 for same expression.

3.

cetāpentiyā, explained in Old Commentary, as viññāpentiyā, asking for, as at Vin.3.246 (BD.2.121). Cetāpeti is usually “to get in exchange,” see BD.2.54f., BD.2.120, and above Bu-NP.7Bu-NP.10. Here Thullanandā certainly gets the cloth in exchange for her teaching. But, since for us, “to get in exchange “usually means the changing hands of tangible objects, I have thought it best, in order to avoid this implication, to use “to bargain.” Moreover, cetāpeti is not really synonymous with viññāpeti, although it may be said to contain, as does “to bargain,” this meaning.

4.

garupāvuraṇa.

5.

kaṃsa. As Rhys Davids states, Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon, p.7, this “as a measure of value is only found in this passage.” Here, according to the Old Commentary, four “bronzes” are worth sixteen kahāpaṇas; and so, as Buddhaghosa says, Vin-a.919, “here a kaṃsa is (worth) four kahāpaṇas”; and cf. Kankhāvitaraṇī (Simon Hewavitarne Bequest), p.172, and Moggallāna, Abhidhānappadīpikā 905. The value being so small, Rhys Davids is against the notion that the kaṃsa was a bronze or brass cup, plate or vessel. It may possibly have been a bronze weight such as those used until recently in Burma. There is no commentarial support for Childers’ view that kaṃsa is “a coin,” or for Böhtlingroth’s that it is an equivalent of āḍhaka (Pali, āḷhaka).

6.

Cf. Vin.3.217 (BD.2.57) and where cetāpeti is in sense of “to get in exchange” rather than “to bargain.”