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) 51

Bi-Pc.51.1.1 BD.3.340 … at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time several monks, (each) wearing (only) one robe, were making robes in a village residence. Nuns, having entered the monastery without asking (for permission), approached those monks. The monks … spread it about, saying: “How can nuns enter a monastery without asking (for permission)?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that nuns … without asking (for permission)?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

“How, monks, can nuns enter a monastery without asking (for permission)? It is not, monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … this rule of training:

“Whatever nun should enter a monastery without asking (for permission), there is an offence of expiation.”

And thus this rule of training for nuns came to be laid down by the lord.


Bi-Pc.51.2.1 Then these monks went out from that residence. The nuns, saying, “The masters have gone out,” did not go back to the monastery. Then these monks came back again to that residence. The nuns, saying, “The masters have come back,” having entered the monastery asking (for permission), approached these monks, Vin.4.307 having approached, having greeted these monks, they stood at a respectful distance. As they were standing at a respectful distance, these monks spoke thus to these nuns: “Why do you, sisters, neither sweep the monastery nor provide drinking water and water for washing?”

“Masters, a rule of training came to be laid down by the lord that, without asking (for permission) a monastery should not be entered (by a nun), therefore BD.3.341 we did not come.” They told this matter to the lord. He said:

“I allow, monks, (a nun) to enter a monastery asking (for permission) if a monk be there. And thus, monks, let the nuns set forth this rule of training:

“Whatever nun should enter a monastery without asking (for permission) if a monk be there,[1] there is an offence of expiation.”

And thus this rule of training for nuns came to be laid down by the lord.


Bi-Pc.51.3.1 Then these monks, having gone out from that residence, came back again to that residence. The nuns, saying, “The masters have gone out,” entered the monastery without asking (for permission). These became remorseful and said: “A rule of training laid down by the lord for nuns says that a monastery should not be entered (by a nun) without asking (for permission) if a monk be there, and we, not asking (for permission) if a monk was there, entered the monastery. Is it now possible that we have fallen into an offence of expiation?” They told this matter to the lord. He said: “And thus, monks, let the nuns set forth this rule of training:

Whatever nun should knowingly enter a monastery with monks (in it) without asking (for permission), there is an offence of expiation.”


Bi-Pc.51.4.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

She knows means: either she knows of herself or others tell her or these tell (her).[2]

A monastery with monks (in it) means: even where monks stay at the foot of a tree.

Should enter a monastery without asking (for permission) means: without asking a monk or a novice or a monastery attendant (for permission),[3] in passing beyond the BD.3.342 enclosure of a monastery that is fenced in, there is an offence of expiation. In entering the precincts of a monastery that is not fenced in, there is an offence of expiation.[4]


Bi-Pc.51.4.2 If she thinks that there are monks (in it) when there are monks (in it) and enters a monastery without asking (for permission), there is an offence of expiation. If she is in doubt as to whether monks are (in it) … offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that monks are not (in it) when monks are (in it) … no offence. If she thinks that monks are (in it) when monks are not (in it), Vin.4.308 there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether monks are not (in it), there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that monks are not (in it) when monks are not (in it), there is no offence.


Bi-Pc.51.4.3 There is no offence if she enters asking (for permission) if a monk be there; if she enters not asking (for permission) if a monk be not there[5]; if she walks looking ahead[6]; if she goes where there are nuns gathered together; if (her) way is through a monastery; if she is ill; if there are accidents; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Cf. Vin.4.100 (BD.2.365 and see n.1).

2.

Cf. Vin.3.265 (BD.2.161), etc.

3.

Cf. Vin.4.40 (BD.2.241), and see Vin.2.211.

4.

Cf. Vin.4.166.

6.

Vin-a.937 says that there is no offence if she enters looking at the heads of the nuns who are entering first.