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’ Confession (Pāṭidesaniya) 1

Bi-Pd.1.1.1 BD.3.419 At that time the enlightened one, the lord, was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the group of six nuns, having had ghee[1] asked for, partook of it. People … spread it about, saying: “How can these nuns, having had ghee asked for, partake of it? Who does not like well cooked things? Who does not like sweet things?”[2] Nuns heard these people who … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can this group of six nuns, having had ghee asked for, partake of it?” …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the group of six nuns, having had ghee asked for, partook of it?”

“It is true, lord.”

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

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

“Whatever nun, having had ghee asked for, should partake of it, it should be confessed by that nun, saying: ‘I have fallen, ladies, into a blameworthy matter, un-becoming, which ought to be confessed; I confess it.’”

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


Bi-Pd.1.1.2 Now at that time nuns came to be ill.[3] Nuns enquiring after the ill ones, spoke thus to the ill nuns: “We BD.3.420 hope, ladies, that you are better, we hope that you are keeping going.”

“Formerly, ladies, we, having had ghee asked for, partook of it, thus there came to be comfort for us. But now it is forbidden by the lord and, being scrupulous, we do not have it asked for, thus there does not come to be comfort for us.” They told this matter to the lord. He said:

“I allow, monks, an ill nun, having had ghee asked for, Vin.4.347 to partake of it. And thus, monks, let the nuns set forth this rule of training:

Whatever nun who is not ill, having had ghee asked for, should partake of it, it should be confessed by that nun, saying: ‘I have fallen, ladies, into a blameworthy matter, unbecoming, which ought to be confessed; I confess it.’”


Bi-Pd.1.2.1 Whatever means: … nun is to be understood in this case.

Not ill means: for whom there comes to be comfort without ghee.

Ill means: for whom there does not come to be comfort without ghee.

Ghee means: ghee from cows or ghee from she-goats or ghee from buffaloes, ghee from those whose meat is allowable.[4]

If she is not ill (and) has it asked for for herself, in the request there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she accepts, thinking: “I will partake of it on acquisition,” there is an offence of wrong-doing. For every mouthful there is an offence which ought to be confessed.[5]


Bi-Pd.1.2.2 If she thinks that she is not ill when she is not ill (and) having had ghee asked for partakes of it, there is an offence which ought to be confessed. If she is in doubt as to whether she is not ill … If she thinks that she is ill when she is not ill … offence which ought to be BD.3.421 confessed. If she thinks that she is not ill when she is ill, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether she is ill, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that she is ill when she is ill, there is no offence.[6]


Bi-Pd.1.2.3 There is no offence if she is ill; if having been ill (and) having had it asked for she partakes of it when she is not ill, if she eats the remainder of an ill nun’s meal; if it belongs to relations; if they are invited; if it is for another; if it is by means of her own property; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.[7]

Footnotes and references:

1.

One of the five standard medicines.

5.

Cf. Vin.4.89.

6.

Cf. Vin.4.89.

7.

Cf. Vin.4.89.