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) 37

Bi-Pc.37.1.1 BD.3.317 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time nuns walked without a weapon[1] on almstour within (their own) region[2] (when this was) agreed upon as dangerous, frightening.[3] Bad men assaulted them. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can these nuns … dangerous, frightening?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that nuns … dangerous, frightening?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can nuns … dangerous, frightening? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

Whatever nun should walk without a weapon on alms-tour within (her own) region (when this is) agreed upon as dangerous, frightening, there is an offence of expiation.”


Bi-Pc.37.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Within (her own) region means: in a region of that country[4] in which she lives.

BD.3.318 Dangerous means: if on this road a place where thieves are halting is seen, a place where they are eating is seen, a place where they are resting is seen, a place where they are sitting down is seen, a place where they are lying down is seen.[5]

Frightening means: if on this road people injured by thieves are seen, (people) plundered are seen, (people) beaten down are seen.[6]

Without a weapon[7] means: without a weapon.[8]

Should walk on almstour means: in a village close enough for a cock (to walk), among every (such) village, there is an offence of expiation. For every half yojana in what is not a village, in a jungle, there is an offence of expiation.[9]


Bi-Pc.37.2.2 There is no offence if she goes with a weapon; if she goes in a place of security[10] that is not frightening; if there are accidents; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer. Vin.4.296

Footnotes and references:

1.

asatthikā. As in Monks’ Bu-Pc.27, translators differ as to whether this means “without a weapon” or not (having joined) a caravan. See BD.2.289, n.3. I here follow B.C. Law, History of Pali Literature 1.75 (No.21), and not Waldschmidt, Bruchstücke des Bhikṣunī-Prātimokṣa der Sarvāstivādins, p.127, “ohne sich einer Karawane angeschlossen zu haben.

2.

antoraṭṭhe. Not given in Pali-English Dictionary or Critical Pali Dictionary, but cf. tiroraṭṭha in next Pācittiya.

3.

Cf. Monks’ Bu-Pc.27, where the only legal occasion where a monk might go along the same highroad with a nun was if the road was dangerous and frightening.

4.

vijita, or kingdom, territory, conquered land.

7.

asatthikā, more literally “weaponless.”

8.

vinā satthena.

9.

Cf. BD.2.290 in definition of “even among villages”; BD.2.294; and above, BD.3.16.

10.

khema; a word which at some time became important as being applied particularly to spiritual peace, nibbana.