Vinaya Pitaka (3): Khandhaka

by I. B. Horner | 2014 | 386,194 words | ISBN-13: 9781921842160

The English translation of the Khandhaka: the second book of the Pali Vinaya Pitaka, one of the three major ‘baskets’ of Therevada canonical literature. It is a collection of various narratives. The English translation of the Vinaya-pitaka (third part, khandhaka) contains many Pali original words, but transliterated using a system similar to the I...

The story of malaria

Kd.1.50.1 Now at that time a certain family came to pass away as a result of malaria.[1] (Only) the father and little son belonging to it survived.[2] These, having gone forth among the monks, walked even for almsfood together. Then that boy, when almsfood was given to his father, having run up to him, spoke thus: “Give to me too, father, give to me too, father.” People Vin.1.79 … spread it about, saying: “These recluses, sons of the Sakyans, are not chaste. This boy was born of BD.4.99 a nun.” Monks heard these people who … spread it about. Then these monks told this matter to the Lord. He said:

Monks, a boy of less than fifteen years of age should not be let go forth. Whoever should let (one such) go forth, there is an offence of wrong-doing.[3]

Kd.1.51.1 Now at that time the family, faithful, believing, who supported the venerable Ānanda, passed away as a result of malaria, but two boys survived. These, having seen monks, ran up to them according to their former allowable custom, (but) the monks sent them away. These cried on being sent away by the monks. Then it occurred to the venerable Ānanda: “It is laid down by the Lord that a boy of less than fifteen years of age should not be allowed to go forth, and these boys are less than fifteen years of age. Now by what means might these boys not be lost?” Then the venerable Ānanda told this matter to the Lord. He said:

“But, Ānanda, are these boys able to scare[4] crows?”

“They are able (to do so), Lord.” Then the Lord, on this occasion, in this connection having given reasoned talk, addressed the monks, saying:

I allow you, monks, to let a youth of less than fifteen years of age and who is a scarer of crows[5] go forth.

Footnotes and references:


ahivātakaroga, should be “snake-wind-disease”. Word occurs at Ja.ii.79, Ja.iv.200. See note at Jataka Cambridge translation, ii.55. Cf. Mahāvastu i.253, a disease called adhivāsa (produced by non-human agency) which is said to attack a whole district.


sesā honti “came to remain”. Buddhaghosa at Vin-a.1003 explains the means by which a person may escape from the disease—by making a hole in the wall or roof and running away. This is also mentioned at Ja.ii.79, Ja.iv.200. See note at Jātaka translation, ii.55. The rogāmādigato, the reading which Vinaya Texts i.204, n.1 ascribes to the Commentary, should be tirogāmādigato, reached a distant village (where he is free, muccati, of the disease).


Five years, therefore, were to elapse before the upasampadā ordination was allowed (see Bu-Pc.65 and below, Kd.1.75.1). (Note by Sujato: This last reference is, apparently by mistake, left blank in the text. I have supplied the probable referent.) This intervening period is referred to at Ja.i.106: kulaputto … pabbajitvā upasampadāya pañcavassiko hutvā, a boy of good family, having gone forth, being five years off ordination …


uṭṭepetuṃ, meaning “to make fly up” or “to catch in snares”. See Pali-English Dictionary Vin-a.1003 is not helpful.


kākuṭṭepaka. The word should probably read uḍḍepaka. Vin-a.1003 explains as “having taken a clod of earth in his left hand, he is able, sitting down and having made the crows fly up (kāke uḍḍāpetvā), to eat a meal put down in front of (him)”. This shows a certain amount of physical strength and endurance, not to be found in an infant. In a country where crows are as persistent as they are in India, it must have been useful to have had boys who could scare them away. Nevertheless this allowance forms a most singular exception to the general rule forbidding the going forth of a youth under fifteen years of age.

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