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 an animal

Kd.1.63.1 Now at that time a certain serpent was troubled about his birth as a serpent, Vin.1.87 he was ashamed of it, loathed it[1]. Then it occurred to that serpent: “Now, by what means could I be freed quickly from birth as a serpent and get back[2] human status?” Then it occurred to that serpent: “These recluses, sons of the Sakyans, are dhamma-farers, even-farers, Brahma-farers, they are truth-speakers, they are of moral habit, of good conduct. Now if I were to go forth among the recluses, sons of the Sakyans, so would I be freed quickly from birth as a serpent and could get back human status.”

Kd.1.63.2 Then that serpent, in the form of a brahmin youth, having approached the monks, asked for the going forth. The monks let him go forth, they ordained him. Now at that time that serpent, together with a certain monk, was living in a dwelling-place on the boundary.[3] Then that monk, getting up in the night towards dawn, paced up and down in the open air. BD.4.111 Then that serpent, confident that that monk had gone out, fell asleep. The whole dwelling-place was full of the snake, his coils were protruding through the windows.

Kd.1.63.3 Then that monk, thinking: “I will enter the dwelling-place,” opening the door,[4] saw the whole dwelling-place full of the snake, his coils protruding through the windows. Terrified at seeing this, he uttered a cry of distress. Monks, having run up, spoke thus to that monk: “Why did you, your reverence, utter a cry of distress?”

“Your reverences, this whole dwelling-place is full of a snake, his coils are protruding through the windows.” Then that serpent having awakened because of this noise, sat down on his own seat. Monks spoke thus: “Who are you, friend?”

“I am a serpent, honoured sirs.”

“But why did you, friend, act in this way?” Then that serpent told this matter to the monks. The monks told this matter to the Lord.

Kd.1.63.4 Then the Lord on this occasion, in this connection, having had the Order of monks convened, spoke thus to this serpent: “Indeed, you serpents are not liable to growth in this dhamma and discipline. You, serpent, go away, observe the Observance day precisely[5] on the fourteenth, fifteenth and eighth day of the half-month. Thus will you be freed quickly from birth as a serpent and get back human status.”

Then that serpent, thinking: “It is said that I am not liable to growth in this dhamma and discipline,” pained, afflicted, shedding tears, departed having uttered a cry of distress.

Kd.1.63.5 Then the Lord addressed the monks, saying: “Monks, there are these two cases of manifestation of a serpent’s true nature[6]: when he indulges in sexual intercourse with a female of his own species, and when he falls asleep in confidence. Monks, these are two cases Vin.1.88 of manifestation of a serpent’s true nature. Monks, if an animal is not ordained, it should not be ordained; if it is ordained, it should be expelled.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Stock, as at AN.i.145; MN.i.423, MN.iii.300.

2.

paṭilabhati. He had been unchaste (in a former birth), Vin-a.1022. If paṭilabhati does mean “to get back” here rather than to “acquire”, it indicates a belief in the possibility of losing human status for animal status.

3.

paccantima. Vinaya Texts i.218 say “(near the boundary wall of the Jetavana)”, and although this may be meant, there is no evidence for it at Vin-a.1022. Paccantima cannot well mean “neighbouring, adjoining” here, for the evidence is that monk and snake shared the same dwelling-place.

4.

kavāṭaṃ paṇāmento. On this phrase see BD.1.199, n.3.

5.

tatth’ eva.

6.

Vin-a.1022 gives five cases: the time of its reinstatement, paṭisandhi, of its sloughing its skin, the two cases mentioned in the text, and the time of its passing away.