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) 49

Bi-Pc.49.1.1 BD.3.337 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the group of six nuns learnt worldly knowledge.[1] People … spread it about, saying: “How can these nuns learn worldly knowledge, like women householders who enjoy pleasures of the senses?” Nuns heard these people who … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can this group of six nuns learn worldly knowledge?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the group of six nuns learn worldly knowledge?”

“It is true, lord.”

The enlightened one, the lord, rebuked them saying:

“How, monks, can this group of six nuns learn worldly knowledge? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

Whatever nun should learn worldly knowledge, there is an offence of expiation.”

Bi-Pc.49.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Worldly knowledge means: whatever is secular,[2] not connected with the goal.

Should learn means: if she learns by line,[3] for every line there is an offence of expiation. If she learns by BD.3.338 syllable, for every syllable there is an offence of expiation.

Bi-Pc.49.2.2 There is no offence if she learns writing[4]; if she learns what is memorised[5]; if she learns a spell[6] for protection; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:


tiracchāna-vijjā, literally “animal wisdom.” B.C. Law, History of Pali Literature 1. p.75 has “art for her livelihood,” but Old Commentary, does not bear this out. At Vin.2.139 it is a dukkaṭa for a monk to learn this. Cf. tiracchānakathā at Monks’ Bu-Pc.85, “worldly talk”—i.e., talk on matters concerning life in the world. Vinaya Texts iii.152 renders by “the low arts”—those set out at DN.i.9DN.i.12.




padena; see BD.2.190, BD.2.191 and notes.


lekhaṃ pariyāpuṇāti. See Vinaya Texts i. p.xxxiiff. and BD.1.131, n.


dhāraṇā, a memorising; cf. Mil.79, and dhammadhāraṇā at MN.ii.175.


parittā. Cf. DN.iii.206, where monks are enjoined to learn and master the Āṭānāṭiya rakkhā or ward rune. This is called atthasaṃhitā, connected with the goal; cf. foregoing definition of “worldly knowledge,” which therefore looks as if it does not include protective spells. See Dialogues of the Buddha 3.185ff. for discussion of position and use of the various named parittās in early Buddhism. The proximity of writing (late?) and protective spells (early?) points to a patchwork compilation of this Pācittiya.