Jotiya dhirasekera

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Buddhist Monastic Discipline

(Now Bhikkhu Dhammavihari)
Buddhist Monastic Discipline
A study of its origin and development in relation to the Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas

Jotiya Dhirasekera
Editor - in - Chief, Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Sri Lanka.
Formerly of the Department of Pali and Buddhist Civilization, University of Ceylon, Peradeniya

and the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, University of Toronto, Canada.

Ministry of Higher Education Research Publication Series, Sri Lanka.

Vinayo nāma Buddhasāsanassa āyu

vinaye hite sāsanam hita hoti

As long as the respect for law and order is maintained so long shall the word of the Buddha prevail.

Indebtedness of the author to the Ministry of Higher Education for the publication of this work is gratefully acknowledged.

Buddhist Monastic Discipline

Thesis submitted to the University of Ceylon for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

First Edition

Printed in Sri Lanka in 1982 by M.D.Gunasena & Co. (Printers) Ltd., Colombo 12.

878-2 / 79


The Vinaya which is a part of the system of training for the Buddhist disciple is a subject of absorbing interest not only for the study of Buddhist monasticism but also for the study of Buddhism as a whole. This is particularly true of Theravada Buddhism where the practice of monastic life as a means of attaining the religious goal is held in great esteem. Dr. Robert H.Thouless has made a thoroughly accurate assessment of this position as early as 1940. He says: `Perhaps the feature of Buddhism with which the modern Western mind finds it hardest to sympathize is its monastic character. The achievement of emancipation was regarded as a full-time occupation incompatible with the preoccupation of a man living in the world. It is true that householders might become disciples of the Buddha. These were required to abstain from taking life, drinking intoxicating liquors, lying, stealing, and unchastity, and also aim at pleasant speech, kindness, temperance, consideration for others, and love. By obeying these injunctions laymen might hope to advance so far that their future state would be a happier one. It is even suggested in one discourse that a householder might obtain full release, but it is clear that this was regarded as exceptional; the fruits of the Buddhist discipline could normally be achieved only by the monk who gave all his time to the task.'1

Nevertheless, it is our belief that the subject has not received the attention it deserves. The present work attempts to assess the role of the monk in the religion which is the outcome of the teachings of the Buddha. There were monks in India, no doubt, even before the time of the Buddha. But the first sermon which the Buddha delivered to the `Group of Five' monks made the Buddhist monks appear somewhat different from the rest of their kind. His views about life in Saṃsāra and the escape therefrom, his aesthetic sensibility, and his regard for sound public opinion contributed to emphasise these differences. Thus in Buddhist monasticism the life of the cloister is not an end in itself. It marks only the beginning of the pursuit of the goal. It is a long way before the monk could claim to have reached that worthy ideal: anuppattasadattho. It has been our endeavour to show that Buddhist Monastic Discipline covers this vast and extensive field.

I wish to express my gratitude to my colleagues and friends who have been of assistance to me at various stages in the course of this work.

Jotiya Dhirasekera
University Park, Peradeniya, Ceylon
1 October 1964

At this stage of publication the need for further comments on the subject matter of this thesis is not felt. It is to be reiterated, however, that any meaningful living of the monastic life in Buddhism has to accord with the spirit of both the Dhamma and the Vinaya.

Jotiya Dhirasekera
Encyclopaedia of Buddhism
135, Dharmapala Mawatha
Colombo 7
5 November 1981

Preface to the Second Edition

I now write this preface to the second edition of my Buddhist Monastic Discipline as a Buddhist monk of fifteen years' standing, having renounced the life in the household on retirement at the age of sixty-eight. More than thirty-nine years have passed since the production of this thesis and I still continue pursuing my studies on the Vinaya. I have seen and read several subsequent publications on the subject. This is neither the time nor the place to make any observations on them.

I wish to place my own findings and my observations on the subject before students of Buddhist monastic life in particular, and students of Buddhism in general, specially those who have missed seeing my work in the earlier edition and those who I believe are not adequately familiar with the original Vinaya texts in their Pali version.

Mention must be made of Venerable Mettavihari of Denmark and Venerable Pamburana Sanghasobhana who assisted me in diverse ways in the production of the manuscript of this second edition for the printer. My thanks go to Messrs. P.W. Dayananda and B.D.Jayasena who did the typing of the text.

I wish to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to the Director and the authorities of the Buddhist Cultural Centre, Anderson Road, Nedimala, Sri Lanka for kindly agreeing to bring out this second edition of Buddhist Monastic Discipline.

Bhikkhu Dhammavihari

International Buddhist Research and Information Center
380/ 9 Sarana Road, Off Bauddhaloka Mawatha
Colombo 7, Sri Lanka

5 November 2005

Table Of Contents

Preface v

Preface to the Second Edition vii

Table Of Contents ix

Abbreviations xi

CHAPTER I Introduction 1

CHAPTER II Brahmacarya: The Quest for Emancipation and Immortality 48

CHAPTER III The Early Buddhist Ideal of The Monk 76

CHAPTER IV The Foundations of Monastic Life: Sīla, Sikkhā and Sikkhāpada 99

CHAPTER V Further Aids to Monastic Perfection 128

CHAPTER VI The New Role of Sīla in Buddhist Monasticism 144

CHAPTER VII The Discipline and Development of the Mind 157

CHAPTER VIII The Codified Law of the Saṅgha 182

CHAPTER IX The Ritual of the Pātimokkha 217

CHAPTER X Penalties and Punishments 258

CHAPTER XI Additional Punitive Regulations 281

CHAPTER XII Spiritual Leadership and Life in the Community 307

CHAPTER XIII Women and the Religious Order of the Buddha 329

CHAPTER XIV The Disciplinary Code of the Bhikkhunis 354

Pārājika 357

Saṅghādisesa 362

Nissaggiya Pācittiya 363

Pācittiya 365

Pāṭidesaniya 370

Sekhiya dhamma. 371

The Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha 371

APPENDIX I The Exclusion of Guilty Monks From The Recital of the Pātimokkha 380

APPENDIX II The Abolition of the Lesser and Minor Rules of Training 392

APPENDIX III The Concept of Sīmā: Its Origin and Development 409

Bibliography 423



Index 430

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