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’ Expiation (Pācittiya) 1

Bi-Pc.1.1.1 BD.3.243 These hundred and sixty-six matters, ladies, that are offences of expiation come up for recitation.

At that time the enlightened one, the lord, was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the Order of nuns was offered garlic by a certain lay-follower,[1] saying: “If these ladies need garlic, I (can supply them) with garlic.”[2] And the keeper of the field was instructed (with the words): “If the nuns come, give two or three bundles[3] to each nun.” Now at that time there was a festival in Sāvatthī; the garlic was used up as soon as it was brought in.[4] The nuns, having approached that lay-follower, spoke thus: “Sir, we have need of garlic.” He said: “There is none, ladies; the garlic is used up as soon as it is brought in; go to the field.” The nun Thullanandā, having gone to the field, not knowing moderation, had much garlic taken away. The keeper of the field looked BD.3.244 down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “How can these nuns, not knowing moderation, have much garlic taken away?” Nuns heard that keeper of the field who … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying:

“How can the lady Thullanandā, not knowing moderation, have much garlic taken away?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā, not knowing moderation, had much garlic taken away?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā, not knowing moderation, have much garlic taken away? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased …” and having given reasoned talk, he addressed the monks, saying:

“Formerly, monks, the nun Thullanandā was the wife of a certain brahmin Vin.4.259 and there were three daughters, Nandā, Nandavatī, Sundarīnandā.[5] Then, monks, that brahmin, having passed away, was born in the womb of a certain goose[6] and his feathers were made all of gold. He gave a feather one by one to these. Then, monks, the nun Thullanandā, saying: ‘This goose is giving us a feather one by one,’ having taken hold of that king of the geese, plucked him. His feathers, on growing again, turned out white. So at that time, monks, the nun Thullanandā lost the gold through too much greed; now she will lose the garlic.”

“One should be pleased with what is received,
for too much greed is bad.
By taking hold of the king of the geese,
one may lose the gold.”

Then the lord having in many a figure rebuked the nun Thullanandā for her difficulty in maintaining herself …” … And thus, monks, the nuns should set forth this rule of training:

BD.3.245Whatever nun should eat garlic, there is an offence of expiation.[7]


Bi-Pc.1.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Garlic means: it is called the Magadha (plant).[8]

If she says, ‘I will eat,’ and accepts, there is an offence of wrong-doing. For every mouthful there is an offence of expiation.


Bi-Pc.1.2.2 If she thinks that it is garlic when it is garlic (and) eats, there is an offence of expiation. If she is in doubt as to whether it is garlic … If she thinks that it is not garlic when it is garlic (and) eats, there is an offence of expiation. If she thinks that it is garlic when it is not garlic (and) eats, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether it is not garlic (and) eats, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that it is not garlic when it is not garlic (and) eats, there is no offence.


Bi-Pc.1.2.3 There is no offence if it is an onion, if it is a beetroot,[9] if it is yellow myrobalan,[10] if it is bow-garlic,[11] if it is BD.3.246 in a concoction of broth,[12] in a concoction of meat, in a concoction of oil; if it is in a salad[13]; if it is in a tit-bit[14]; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Ja.no.136 (Ja.1.474) is based on this story.

3.

bhaṇḍike, explained at Vin-a.919 that this is a synonym for poṭṭalike sampuṇṇamiñjānaṃ. As poṭṭalika (several variant readings) appears to mean a kind of grass, perhaps the phrase here stands for “two or three leaves from full bulbs.” At Ja.1.474 the reading is gaṇḍikā, a stalk or stick. At Vin-a.920 it is said “So too is this bhaṇḍikalasuṇa (garlic in the bundle), it is not one, two (or) three bulbs (miñjaka).” Miñjā, according to Geiger, Pali Literature und Sprache, § 9 = majjā (pith, sap); a-miñjaka, according to Critical Pali Dictionary is “without tuber.” But onions, garlic and leeks are bulbous plants. It seems that the nuns were to be given the garlic done up into bundles, rather than the bulbous parts themselves.

4.

See Pali-English Dictionary under yathābhataṃ. Ja.1.475 makes out that the nuns went to the lay-follower’s house where the garlic had been brought from the field. This would explain his injunction to them to go to the field.

5.

Cf. Vin.4.211 where these appear as the sisters of Thullanandā.

6.

haṃsa, or swan; “mallard” at Jātaka translation 1.293.

7.

Ja.1.476 points out that this prohibition, affecting all the nuns, is due to Thullanandā’s greed. At Vin.2.140 it is made a dukkaṭa offence for monks to eat garlic; nor should Jain monks accept it (Āyāraṃgasutta 2 1, 8.13).

8.

Vin-a.920 says that māgadhaka means that here it is a synonym for “garlic,” for it is the garlic grown in the kingdom of Magadha.

9.

bhañjanaka. This, as a vegetable, is not given in Pali-English Dictionary. “Beetroot” is guess-work, based on remark at Vin-a.920 that it is red in colour. This, however, may suggest radish. Vin-a.920 also says that it has two bulbs (miñja); in this Vin-a. resembles other early commentaries, which it cites.

10.

harītaka. According to Pali-English Dictionary this is Terminalia citrina or chebula. Vin-a.920 says that it is the colour of vegetables (or greens) and has three “bulbs,” or, according to another early commentary, one. Atthasālinī 320 uses harīṭaka in definition of kasāva, an astringent decoction made from plants. At Vin.1.201 the fruit is allowed as a medicine.

11.

cāpalasuṇa. Vin-a.920 says it has no bulb but only sprouts; cf. the bulbless onion, Allium fistulosum, grown for its leafy tops; and cf. another botanical name, cāpa-paṭa (Sanskrit), the tree Buchanania lalifolia.

12.

This and the two following occur at Vin.4.110. They could contain the Magadha garlic.

13.

sāḷave. Vin-a.920 says there is no offence if it is in a “hot” salad, or salad of jujube-fruits and so on, badarasāḷavādīsu, or if it is among astringent vegetables, ambilasākādīsu. Cf. BD.2.316, n.2; Vin-a.817; Atthasālinī 320.

14.

uttaribhaṅga, or dainties; cf. BD.1.275, n.5.