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) 26

Bi-Pc.26.1.1 BD.3.294 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the family who supported the nun Thullanandā spoke thus to the nun Thullanandā: “Lady, we will give robes for the Order of nuns.” The nun Thullanandā saying: “You are very busy, there is much to be done,” put an obstacle in the way.[1] Then that family’s house was burnt down. They … spread it about, saying: “How could the lady Thullanandā put an obstacle in the way of our gift of faith? We are down and out; all round,[2] both as to property and as to merit.” Nuns heard these people who … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying:

“How can the lady Thullanandā put an obstacle in the way of a group’s receiving robes?”[3]

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā put an obstacle in the way of a group’s receiving robes?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā put an obstacle in the way of a group’s receiving robes? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

Whatever nun should put an obstacle in the way of a group’s receiving robes there is an offence of expiation.


Bi-Pc.26.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

BD.3.295 A group means: it is called an Order of nuns.[4]

Robe means: any one robe of the six (kinds of) robes (including) the least one fit for assignment.[5] Vin.4.284

Should put an obstacle in the way means: if, saying: “How can this robe be given?” she puts an obstacle in the way, there is an offence of expiation. If she puts an obstacle in the way of another requisite, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she puts an obstacle in the way of a robe or of another requisite for several nuns[6] or for one nun or for a woman who is not ordained, there is an offence of wrong-doing.


Bi-Pc.26.2.2 There is no offence if she hinders having pointed out an advantage[7]; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

antarāyaṃ akāsi, as we might, say, “made an objection.”

2.

paribāhirā; the word also occurs at SN.i.126. Vin.2.140.

3.

Note how the interest is shifted from the laypeople to the nuns.

4.

= below, BD.3.346. In the Vinaya, gaṇa is almost always a group of from one to four monks or nuns, while saṅgha is an Order—i.e., five or more monks or nuns. It is curious to find gaṇa and saṅgha identified, as above, but the wording of the introductory story appears to be responsible.

6.

sambahula. With Old Commentary’s identification, above, of saṅgha and gaṇa, gaṇa a group, has moved from its normal second to the first place of that triad which is usually found as saṅgha gaṇa ekabhikkhunī (Order, group, one nun). The second place has therefore to be filled by another word: sambahula is the obvious choice, for in Vinaya it is often virtually a synonym for gaṇa. “One nun” follows next in its usual order and form. Cf. below, BD.3.347.

7.

Cf. below, BD.3.301.