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:


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.


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


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.


vijita, or kingdom, territory, conquered land.


asatthikā, more literally “weaponless.”


vinā satthena.


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


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