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) 27

Bi-Pc.27.1.1 BD.3.296 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time robe-material had accrued to an Order of nuns not at a right time.[1] Then that Order of nuns collected together wishing to distribute that robe-material. Now at that time the nuns who were pupils of the nun Thullanandā had gone out. The nun Thullanandā spoke thus to those nuns[2]: “Ladies, nuns are gone out; the robe-material should not be distributed yet,” (and) she held back the division of the robe-material. Nuns, saying: “The robe-material should not be distributed yet,” parted company. When the nuns who were pupils returned, the nun Thullanandā had that robe-material distributed. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying:

“How can the lady Thullanandā hold back a legally valid division of robe-material?” …

“Is it true, as is said, that the nun Thullanandā held back a legally valid division of robe-material?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā hold back a legally valid division of robe-material? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

Whatever nun should hold back a legally valid division of robe-material, there is an offence of expiation.”[3]


Bi-Pc.27.2.1 BD.3.297 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Legally valid division of robe-material means: a complete Order of nuns, having collected together, distributes it.[4] Vin.4.285

Should hold back means: if, saying: “How could one distribute this robe-material?”[5] she holds it back, there is an offence of expiation.


Bi-Pc.27.2.2 If she thinks that it is legally valid when it is legally valid (and) holds (the division) back, there is an offence of expiation. If she is in doubt as to whether it is legally valid … offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that it is not legally valid when it is legally valid … no offence. If she thinks that it is legally valid when it is not legally valid, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether it is not legally valid, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that it is not legally valid when it is not legally valid, there is no offence.


Bi-Pc.27.2.3 There is no offence if she holds it back having pointed out an advantage; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

See Nuns’ Bu-NP.2, where also Thullanandā takes a hand in robe-distribution, and where robe- (material given) not at a right time is defined. Cf. also Monks’ Bu-NP.3, where akālacīvara may be accepted by a monk. It is to be gathered from Vin-a.919 that the Monks’ Bu-NP.3 holds good for nuns as well as for monks.

2.

Presumably to those constituting the Order, for the pupils had not yet returned.

3.

Cf. below, Bi-Pc.30.

4.

“Pupils,” not being fully ordained, did not rank as nuns with administrative powers, although they were called antevāsibhikkhuniyo. Therefore their absence from a ceremony would not invalidate it, as would the absence of a fully ordained nun.“Complete” (samagga) interpreted at Vin-a.792 as meaning “all come”; see BD.2.267, and note 7.

5.

Oldenberg Vin.4.368, proposes to read idaṃ cīvaraṃ bhājiyeyya for text’s imaṃ cīvaraṃ bhājeyya. Sinhalese edition has idaṃ cīvaraṃ bhājeyya; Siamese edition same as text.