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) 17

Bi-Pc.17.1.1 BD.3.275 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time several nuns, going to Sāvatthī through the Kosalan districts, having arrived at a certain village in the evening, having approached a certain brahmin family, asked for accommodation.[1] Then that brahmin woman spoke thus to these nuns: “Wait, ladies, until the brahmin comes.” The nuns, saying: “Until the brahmin comes!”, having spread a sleeping-place, some sat down, others lay down. Then that brahmin having come during the night, spoke thus to that brahmin woman: “Who are these?”

“They are nuns, master.”

Saying: “Throw out these shaven-headed strumpets,”[2] he threw them out from the house. Then these nuns, having arrived in Sāvatthī, told this matter to the nuns. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can these nuns, having approached families at the wrong time, having spread a sleeping-place without asking the owner (for permission), sit down on it[3] and lie down on it?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that nuns … lay down on it?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can nuns, having approached families … lie down on it? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

Whatever nun, having approached families at the wrong time, having spread or having caused a sleeping- BD.3.276 place to be spread without asking the owner (for permission), should sit down on it or should lie down on it, there is an offence of expiation.”


Bi-Pc.17.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Wrong time means: from sunset until sunrise.[4]

Family means: … Having approached means: … Without asking the owner (for permission) means: … see Bi-Pc.16.2.2

Sleeping-place means: even a spreading of leaves.[5]

Having spread means: oneself having spread. Vin.4.275

Having caused to be spread means: having caused another to spread.

Should sit down on means: Should lie down on means: …


Bi-Pc.17.2.2 If she thinks that she has not asked (for permission) when she has not asked (for permission) and having spread or having caused a sleeping-place to be spread, she sits down on it or lies down on it, there is an offence of expiation. If she is in doubt as to whether she has not asked (for permission) … If she thinks that she lias asked (for permission) when she has not asked (for permission) … offence of expiation. If she thinks that she has not asked (for permission) when she has asked (for permission), there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether she has asked (for permission), there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that she has asked (for permission) when she has asked (for permission), there is no offence.


Bi-Pc.17.2.3 There is no offence if asking (for permission), having spread or having caused a sleeping-place to be spread, she sits down on it or lies down on it; if she is ill; if there are accidents; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

okāsaṃ yāciṃsu.

2.

Cf. BD.3.178, BD.3.257, above.

3.

Here and below abhinisīdati, abhinipajjati; above merely nisīdati, nipajjati. The stress of abhi- may mean, as in previous Pācittiya, to “loll” and “sprawl.”

4.

Cf. other definitions of “wrong time” at BD.2.336 and above, BD.3.86.

5.

Other definitions of “sleeping-place” at BD.2.196 = BD.2.201, BD.2.244.