Jotiya dhirasekera

CHAPTER VIII The Codified Law of the Saṅgha

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The Codified Law of the Saṅgha

The first indications of the evolution of a system of codified law for the Saṅgha come to us with the promulgation of sikkhāpada which was provoked by laxities in discipline in the monastic community which contravened the spirit of sīla. The sikkhāpada thus laid down from time to time soon grew to be a comprehensive code of discipline for the monks and was put into effective functioning through the fortnightly recital which was called the Uddesa or Pātimokkhuddesa.1 The Aṅguttara Nikāya specifies the total number of sikkhāpada which were thus regularly recited to be over a hundred and fifty (Sādhikam idam bhante diyaḍḍha-sikkhāpada-satam anvaddhamāsam uddesam āgacchati. A.I.230). This is evidently an early reckoning, for the extant code of the Pātimokkha (for the Bhikkhus) has a total of 220 sikkhāpada.2 Seven different groups of sikkhāpada contribute to this total of 220. The distribution of the sikkhāpada is as follows: Pārājika 4, Saṅghādisesa 13, Aniyata 2, Nissaggiya 30, Pācittiya 92, Pātidesaniya 4, Sekhiya 75. The Adhikaranasamathas which are seven in number, being differentled dhammā for obvious reasons, cannot be grouped together along with these sikkhāpada.

It is clear from the evidence of both the Sutta and the Vinaya Piṭakas that the promulgation of the sikkhāpada preceded the institution of the fortnightly recital of the Pātimokkha for the monks. This does not, however, preclude the possibility that additions were made to the corpus of sikkhāpada even after the institution of the Pātimokkha recital.1 But we discover Oldenberg has expressed a surprisingly different view. He says: "The origin of the earliest rules or laws laid down by the Buddhist community for the guidance of its members appears to have been connected with those assemblies of Bhikkhus which met at full and new moon."2 We fail to see why Olenberg adopted this sequence in relating the sikkhāpada to the Pātimokkha recital. According to what we have been able to gather from the evidence of the Suttas and the Vinaya this appears to be a reversal of the order. We ourselves observe that some of the rules of the Pātimokkha have had their origin after the recital of the Pātimokkha had acquired definite form and recognition. At the same time it appears to be resonable to assume that a large number of rules would have had their origin independent of the idea of a recital.

The promulgation of rules in the form of sikkhāpada was necessitated by the growing inadequacy of the moral injunctions of sīla to curb miscreants. Perhaps the form in which the rules of the Pātimokkha are introduced in the Suttavibaṅga led Oldenberg to his conclusion. The Suttavibhaṅga introduces every rule saying 'This rule shall be recited in this manner': Evañ ca pana bhikkhave imam sikkhāpadam uddiseyyātha. The editors of the Suttavibhaṅga, we may venture to guess, could not have thought of the sikkhāpada divorced from the Uddesa or the recital at the Uposatha. Thus it is said of all the sikkhāpada, from the first to the last, that they should be recited in this form.3 But we cannot infer from this that the entire code of the Pātimokkha was drawn up, like a constitution, prompted solely by the needs of the recital. We believe Oldenberg is much nearer the truth when he says the following: "A list of those offences which deserved punishment or some kind of expiation was, at a very early period, drawn up for the use of these confessional meetings."1 Rhys Davids and Oldenberg jointly express the same idea elesewhere: "A list was drawn up which of course it would be necessary from time to time to complete and rectify -- of those offences which ought to be confessed and atoned for....."2 This certainly was, in the first instance, a systematic grouping together of material which was already in existence.

In the Mahāvagga of the Vinaya Piṭaka, which gives the most comprehensive account of the origin and development of the ritual of the Pātimokkha, the Buddha says that he would sanction for recital at the ritual of the Pātimokkha the sikkhāpada which he has already laid down for the monks (Yannūnāham yāni mayā bhikkhūnam paññattāni sikkhāpadāni tāni nesam pātimokkhuddesam anujāneyyam. So nesam bhavissati uposathakamman'ti. Vin.I.102). The Vimativinodanī Ṭīkā, a Sub-Commentry on the Samantapāsādikā, which explains further the evolution of the Pātimokkha code adds that the Buddha himself gave to the sikkhāpada which he had laid down a formal character by codifying them and prefacing them with an introduction for the purpose of recital at the Uposatha meeting (Pubbe avijjamānam paññāpesī'ti na kevalañ ca etam. Pubbe paññattam'pi pana pārājikādi sikkhāpadam sabbam bhagavā tatr'ime cattāro pārājikā dhammā uddesam āgacchantī'ti ādinā pārājikuddesādivasena vinayamātikam katvā nidān'uddesena saha sayam eva sangahetvā pātimokkhan'ti paññāpesī'ti daṭṭhabbam. Vimt.396).3

We should draw attention here to the fact that Sukumar Dutt refers to the above account of the Mahāvagga as `the legend, incredible for obvious reasons...'1 As far as we can see the incredibility of the legend is not so obvious. But it is abundantly clear that this account, together with other allied evidence, contradicts his thesis regarding the Pātimokkha. Fact or fiction he may call this, it will be seen that there is adequate evidence both in the Suttas and in the Vinaya which support this tradition that

  1. the promulgation of the sikkhāpada, not necessarily all, started with the Buddha. (See M.I.444f; A.I.230f.).

  2. the recital of the Pātimokkha was instituted during the life time of the Buddha and under his personal direction. (See M.II.8, III.10; A.I.230).

  3. the sikkhāpada which had been promulgated earlier formed the text of the Uddesa or the recital. (See Vin.I.102; A.I.230).

We notice that a comprehensive code of sikkhāpada was in existence in the monastic circles at an early date2 and that it was regularly recited before the Saṅgha once a fortnight,3 with a view to reminding and acquainting the disciples with the regulations in terms of which they were expected to discipline themselves.4 The Mahīśāsaka Vinaya in the Chinese version asserts negatively this function of the recital when it says that owing to the repeated recitals of abridged texts of the Pātimokkha the young monks failed to acquaint themselves with its contents.1

Each one of these sikkhāpada or rules which constitute the text of the Pātimokkha, according to the text of the Vinaya Piṭaka, was laid down on the commission of some offence which thereafter on the authority of the rules thus laid down, was declared illegal. These rules, as instruments of prosecution and punishment, therefore carried with them a host of carefully worded clauses which determine the gravity of the offence and the consequent changes in the nature of the punishment according to the circumstances of each case. Thus in the early days of the Pātimokkha recital with which we associate the very dynamic function of `dealing with offenders' (tam mayam yathādhammam yathāsattham kārema. M.III.10), the details connected with each rule were as vital as the rule itself. Every competent monk had to be a master of the text of what was to be recited at the Uddesa (i.e. sutta) together with those details (sutta-vibhaga).2 They were undoubtely parts of one single text and one cannot always speak of the details as being of later origin. Some of the historical prefaces and the amendments to the rules are evidently contemporary accounts and would have been essential in the application of the Pātimokkha as a legal system. Thus the reference to the Pātimokkha in terms of suttato and anuvyañjanaso undoubtedly covers the contents of the Suttavibhaṅga which embodies the Pātimokkha together with the details connected with it.3 These details were vitally needed in the days when the Uddesa was no mere recital of the list of rules but a trial at which the offenders thus discovered were to be judged and dealt with according to the law.

Further proof of this literary position of the Pātimokkha is seen in the solitary Canonical account of the First Buddhist Council, the Saṅgīti which was held soon after the demise of the Buddha. In the record of the literary activity of this Saṅgīti it is said that the venerable Mahā Kassapa questioned the venerable Upāli on the contents of the Ubhato Vinaya,1 commencing with the first Pārājika with all its details (Atha kho āyasmā mahākassapo āyasmantam upālim pahamassa pārājikassa vatthum'pi pucchi nidānam'pi pucchi puggalam'pi pucchi paññattim'pi pucchi anupaññattim'pi pucchi āpattim'pi pucchi anāpattim'pi pucchi... Eten'eva upāyena ubhato vinaye pucchi. Vin.II.287). There is little doubt that Ubhato Vinaya refers to the disciplinary code of the Bhikkhus and the Bhikkhunis and we are fairly safe in assuming this to be primarily the two Vibhaṅgas, [i.e. the codfied rules ot the Pātimokkha together with their legally relevant details of application as was revealed in the above report], though not necessarily in their present form. Thus it becomes clear that the text of the Pātimokkha was something already contained in the Vibhaṅgas, the Mahāvibhaṅga and the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga. No special mention of it is made under that name any where in the proceedings of the first Council. We are also compelled to add here that Ubhato Vinaya of the above report should include, under the connotation of that phrase, a reasonable amount of the core contents of the other section of the Vinaya known as the Khandhaka as well. That was vital for the execution of the ecclesiastical acts fo the Saṅgha as a corporate body.

Sukumar Dutt attempts in the following remarks to offer a different explanation for this omission: "In the reported proceedings, the term, Pātimokkha is nowhere mentioned, but all the heads of misdemeanour on the part of a Bhikkhu are listed except the Sekhiyas and the procedural rules of Adhikaranasamatha. The reason for the studied omission of the word, Pātimokkha, is not far to seek if we assume that at the time when the proceedings were put into the present narrative shape, the Bhikkhus understood by Pātimokkha something quite different from a code of Vinaya rules."1

Here we are prepared to concede that the `time when the proceedings were put into the present narrative shape' may even be some time after the Second Buddhist Council.2 On Dutt's own admission almost all the sikkhāpada of the extant Pātimokkha code were known by then. For he says: `but all the heads of misdemeanour on the part of a Bhikkhu are listed except the Sekhiyas and the procedural rules of Adhikaranasamatha.' On the other hand, he also says: `at the time....the Bhikkhus understood by Pātimokkha something quite different from a code of Vinaya rules.' What then did this body of sikkhāpada mean to them? Was their Pātimokkha still a `communal confession of Faith in a set from of hymn-singing' ?3 However, in the succeeding paragraph Dutt says the following: `The code, whatever its original contents, became after the First Council the bond of association of the Buddhist Bhikkhus, and was called Pātimokkha (Bond). Thus the old name for a confession of faith came to be foisted on something new, a code of Prohibitions for a Bhikkhu.'1 This attempted explnation of the omission of the term Pātimokkha in the proceedings of the First Council is far from being conclusive.

It is the Vibhaṅga and not the Pātimokkha which had the completeness of a code of discipline. That alone was the effective instrument of discipline, though one could have opted to learn only the body of rules in isolation. We find the sutta and the suttavibhaga referred to severally (Tassa n'eva suttam āgatam hoti no suttavibhago. Vin.II.96). But out of these two, it is the suttavibhaga which is looked upon as the Vinaya proper even in the commentarial tradition (No suttavibhago ti vinayo na paguo. VinA.VI.1197). The sutta has only the value of an extract, an abridged version or mātikā.2

In course of time, the recital of the Pātimokkha lost its legal validity and function, as would be shown in the following chapter. The details regarding the application of rules would have then proved themselves to be irksome to those whose only interest in the Ptimokkha was for the sake of its fortnightly recital, mainly as an instrument of monastic get-together and consolidation. The Vinayavinicchaya perhaps attempts to establish this attitude to the Pātimokkha in the following statement, which contrasts the Pavāraṇā with the Uposatha and asserts that the latter is for the purpose of stability and consolidation of the monastic community: Uposatho samaggattho visuddhatthā pavāraṇā. Vinvi.p.190. v.2599. There seems to be very little doubt that the term uposatha here stands for the fortnightly meeting at which the recital of the Pātimokkha is the main concern. At such a stage one would readily concede the extraction of the text of the rules, and the rules alone, from the Suttavibhaṅga to form an independent unit. Thus we would regard the emergence of an independent text by the name of Pātimokkha, which contained only the sikkhāpada and the instructions regarding their recital, to be historically later than the very substantial text of the Suttavibhaṅga.

Oldenberg, however, is very definite about the theory that the list called the Pātimokkha `is the earliest specimen of Buddhist Vinaya literature that we possess'.1 In support of this he says that if we read the ordinances of the Pātimokkha, without the commentary of the Vibhaṅga, we find that they constitute one uninterrupted whole.2 It is our opinion that this alleged continuity is more imaginary than real. If we begin with the four Pārājika rules of the Pātimokkha, even a cursory glance at them would show that there is no more continuity among them than their being grouped together under a single category. The position is identically the same with regard to their continuity even if we examine them in the Suttavibhaṅga, not better nor worse.

On the other hand, in the Suttavibhaṅga version the sikkhāpada come to possess more meaning and significance with regard to their disciplinary role. The generalised rule which occurs in isolation in the Pātimokkha looks revitalised when viewed in the specific setting of its origin. Nor does the fact that three or four rules in succession deal with different aspects of the same subject support Oldenberg's theory of continuity. For thereafter, there occurs irreconcilable deviation into a completely new theme. (Compare the Saṅghādisesa 6 and 7 in relation to the first five rules of the same group). Further he says: `and, moreover, it frequently happens that a rule refers to the one immediately preceding it, in a manner that would be altogether unintelligible if the two had been originally separated by the intervening explanations of the Vibhaṅga.'1 Here too, we find it difficult to subscribe to this view. He cites two examples in support of his statement. He points out the phrase tassa bhikkhuno which occurs in Pācittiya 49 as an indication of its link with the preceding rule. We would readily concede this, but we are unable to accept the position that the `intervening explanation of the Vibhanga' would make it `altogether unintelligible '. On the other hand, we would like to point out that the phrase aññatra tathārūpaccayā of Pācittiya 48 would be completely unintelligible without the explanations of the Vibhaṅga. We would make the same comments regarding the phrase tathāvādinā bhikkhunā of Pācittiya 69, which Oldenberg gives as the second example. The introductory story of this Pācittiya rule clearly specifies this tathāvādinā bhikkhunā as being Ariṭṭha, who was a well known character both in the Suttas and in the Vinaya.

Regarding this intelligibility of the rules without their explanations which Oldenberg assumes, we would commend the scrutiny of a few rules from the Pātimokkha which, on account of their very elliptical nature, would make very little sense in the enforcement of discipline without an acquaintance with their background. The following deserve special mention:


  1. 12 Aññavādake pācittiya

  2. 52 Agulipatodake pācittiya

  3. 53 Udake hāsadhamme pācittiya

  4. 54 Anādariye pācittiya 1

As for the details regarding the rules which occur in the Suttavibhaṅga, it need hardly be said that the explanations of the contents of the rules and the provision of modifications to the rules could not have preceded the rules themselves. But this does not necessarily separate them from the rules by a very wide margin of time and once they came into being this element would not have been divorced from the rest of the legal system as these details were necessary for its proper enforcement.

When we examine the stories which are given in the Suttavibhaṅga as leading to the promulgation of the rules we feel that the majority of these can be regarded as historical and that they serve a useful purpose in the proper understanding of the law. However, we are prepared to accept the position that some of the stories are possibly the contribution of the editors who felt that every rule, however simple or spontaneously laid down, should have a preceding incident leading up to it. This provision of a `historical basis' (nidāna) could have happened both in the case of rules which were not necessarily provoked by a specific incident and those whose stories of origin were replaced in course of time with more attractive versions.

Here are a few such cases which we think lie open to this criticism:

The rule

It's meaning

The incident leading to it


Bhūtagāma pātavya-tāya pācittiya1

Destruction of plant life brings about a Pācittiya offence.

In the act of cutting a tree a Bhikkhu enraged a deity who was resident in it and escaped death at his hands by the skin of his teeth.
Note: But the spirit in which the rule had been laid down accords more with the popular belief that trees possess life (jjīvasaññino hi moghapurisā manussā rukkhasmi.1 See also Vin.I.189.).
People did protest against the destruction of plant life by the Buddhist monks (Ekindriya samaṇā sakya- puttiyā jīva vihehentī ti.1 See also Vin.I.189).


Yo pana bhikkhu orenaddhamāsa nahāyeyya aññatra samayā pācittiya 1

Bathing more often than once a fortnight, except during specified seasons, leads to a Pācittiya offence

Monks who were given to frequent bathing monopolised the baths where the king himself was used to go. The king was inconvenienced and the Buddha is said to have rebuked the monks for not realising the limits of their bathing even after they had seen the king. Hence this legislation.1

Note: It is more likely that in a setting where austerity was the hallmark of virtue frequent bathing would have been looked upon as a proneness to luxury.

Pācittiyas 56 and 61 have a similar appearance.2

Oldenberg also raises the question of a contradiction in the relationship of the traditions of the Pātimokkha to those of the Vibhaṅga.3 Here too, we are compelled to say that this contradiction vanishes when we view the problem from a different angle. Oldenberg has already taken up the position that the Pātimokkha and the Vibhaṅga are from the very beginning two distinct units which stand apart. We have shown why we refuse to accept this position. The contents of what is spoken of here as the Pātimokkha are the rules governing the conduct of the members of the monastic community which had acquired, very early, an unalterably fixed character. Flexibility in the application of this legal system was the theme of the living tradition which grew on and around it and was considered so essential from the earliest times (Ubhayāni kho pana'ssa pātimokkhāni vitthārena svāgatāni honti suvibhattāni suppavattīni suvinicchitāni suttato anuvyañjanaso. Vin.I.65).

The changing pattern of monastic organization would have necessitated a corresponding change in the monastic administration. There is clear evidence of such changes, particularly in the acts of Pabbajjā and Upasampadā.1 The responsibility that was once the right of individual Bhikkhus had to be latterly vested in the collective organization of the Saṅgha. With every such change it was not possible to alter the structure of the rules of the Pātimokkha. On the other hand, the living traditions which accompanied it closely from the very beginning and constituted the contents of the Vibhaṅgas stood up to serve as a complement to the Pātimokkha. These are the changes which the Suttavibhaṅga shows in relation to the Pātimokkha and we have no doubt that they would have been smoothly effected through a sensible acceptance of the traditions of the Suttavibhaṅga.

The sikkhāpada which constitute the Pātimokkha have a new emphasis and are very different in character from advice and counsel given in the Dhamma under the category of sīla. They are at times restatements of items of sīla, increasing in number and diversity according to the needs of the monastic organization of the Saṅgha.2 Besides these, a number of regulations governing residence, food and clothing of the members of the Saṅgha as well as series of rules covering monastic propriety and procedure, and communal harmony of the society of the Saṅgha are also found in the Pātimokkha. However, as a code for the guidance of monks in their pursuit of religious development, these sikkhāpada are far more exacting and obligatory than the sīla.

The sīla concept, for example, of abstaining from destruction of life includes within it non-injury and the love and protection of life of every sort, both human and animal (Pāṇātipāta pahāya pāṇātipātā paivirato hoti nihitadaṇḍo nihitasattho lajjī dayāpanno sabbapāṇabhūtahitānukampī viharati. D.I.63). But in the sikkhāpada of the Pātimokkha where both prosecution and punishment are contemplated, the gravity of the offence of killing is fixed at different levels, drawing a distinction between human and animal life. The destruction of human life is classed among the Pārājika offences, the four greatest crimes under the monastic discipline which involve expulsion and complete loss of monastic status. Pārājika No.3, which covers this subject of homicide, also regards other conditions such as aiding and abetting which would contribute to the commission of the crime of suicide, as being equally reprehensible.1

There is a further rule pertaining to destruction of life, other than human, included under the lesser offence of Pācittiya. (Pāc.61: Yo pana bhikkhu sañcicca pāṇa jīvitā voropeyya pācittiya - Vin.IV.124.) Both the Old Commentary in the Suttavibhaṅga which defines pāṇa in this context as tiracchānagatapāṇa and the history of the sikkhāpada narrated there just before the text of the rule establish the fact that this rule concerns itself with the destruction only of animal life.1 Thus we notice that considerations which under the category of sīla had moral values are now, as sikkhāpada, forced into a legal frame-work, involving at times a sacrifice of the spirit in which they were originally introduced. Another clear instance of this is Pārājika No.2 which deals with stealing. Under the category of sīla theft meant the appropriation of whatever was not given and the scheming to obtaining the same (Adinnādāna pahāya adinnādānā paivirato hoti dinnādāyī dinnapāṭikakhī athenena sucibhūtena attanā viharati. D.I.63). But as a Pārājika rule, the regulation against stealing seeks further, backing from the law of the land, coupling together as it were both moral and legal considerations. The Buddha is in fact seen consulting a former Minister of Justice, who was now ordained as a monk, on this matter (Yo pana bhikkhu gāmā vā araññā vā adinna theyyasakhāta ādiyeyya yathārūpe adinnādāne rājāno coram gahetvā haneyyu vā bandheyyu vā pabbājeyyu vā coro'si bālo'si mūḷho'si theno'sī'ti tathārūpa bhikkhu adinna ādiyamāno ayam'pi pārājiko hoti asavāso. Vin.III.45).

There is no doubt that it was soon felt that the four items of discipline brought under the category of Pārājikā and stated in legal phraseology were necessarily circumscribed in relation to the moral well being of the true pabbajita. Thus while the greatest respect was shown to the codified monastic law an attempt was made to infuse into these four major items of discipline the spirit of sīla which comes in the earlier Sutta tradition. We find expression given to this in the declaration of Cattāri Akaraṇiyāni which are mentioned in the Mahāvagga.2 These are given there as four major items of discipline which no monk who has gained higher ordination shall transgress. He shall guard himself in terms of these all his life. Thus it is required by law that these should be made known to a Bhikkhu soon after the conferment of upasampadā or higher ordination on him.

The wider field of control of the Akaraṇīyāni in marked contrast to the Pārājikas is particularly evident in the items 2 and 3 which deal with theft and destruction of life respectively. It is these two, as we have shown above, which underwent serious contraction in the process of legalization. Under the category of Akaraṇīyāni the spirit which they lost appears to be restored. Note the wider applicability of the Akaraṇīyāni 2 and 3 which are given below.


  1. Upasampannena bhikkhunā adinna theyyasankhāta na ādātabba antamaso tiasalāka upādāya.1 i.e.
    No Bhikkhu who is an upasampanna shall take in theft what is not given to him, even as much as a blade of grass.

  1. Upasampannena bhikkhunā sañcicca pāṇo jīvitā na voropetabbo antamaso kunthakipillika upādāya.2 i.e.
    No Bhikkhu who is an upasampanna shall destroy the life even of an ant.

Sukumar Dutt makes a suggestion which gives the impression that the Cattāri Akaraṇīyāni were the precursors of the four Pārājikas.3 But a closer examination of the Vinaya texts would reval the fact that this assumption lacks historical support. In the text of the Akaraṇīyāni we find the precisely worded clauses of the Pārājikas embedded almost in their entirety. They also show an awareness of the incidents which are related in the Suttavibhaṅga connected with the promulgation of the rules.4 Akaraṇīyāni are obviously the result of a fusion of the legal statements pertaining to the Pārājikas from the Suttavibhaṅga with the general spirit of the sīla from the Sutta Piṭaka. This establishes beyond doudt the vital position which the items of discipline included under the four Pārājika came to occupy in Buddhist monasticism.

Let us examine further the relationship of the Pārājika rules to the lists of sīlas. The first thing that strikes us is the difference in the order of these items in the two groups, i.e. sīlas and the sikkhāpada of the Pātimokkha. The sīlas commence with abstinence from destruction of life. Considerations regarding theft come second and the vow of celibacy is listed as the third item. Under the Pārājikas, on the other hand, celibacy takes the first place. Destruction of life, which is now restricted to destruction of human life alone, stands as the third item. These two items have thus changed places in the two groups. Regarding these discrepancies1 we would make the following observations:

Sīla, at least in part, remain the common property of both monks and laymen. The laymen are capable of keeping some of them. With the addition of abstinence from intoxicants2 a list of five items of sīla is constituted for the guidance of the daily life of lay persons. On special occasions, they observe three additional sīlas, thus making a total of eight. It is on those occasions alone that the laity take the vow of celibacy temporarily [ for a specific duration of twenty-four hours ]: abrahmacariyā veramaṇī. At all other times the sīla of the laity specifies this as the vow of chastity, i.e. restraint in the enjoyment of sex pleasures: kāmesu micchācārā veramaṇī. Commentaries repeatedly explain kāmesu here as methuna-samācāre. Monks alone take the vow of complete celibacy to be observed all their life. Hence we would regard this virtue of celibacy as one of the primary distinguishing features which marks out the monk from the layman. It is also clear from the history of the Pārājikas that nothing else seems to have run so contrary to the spirit of pabbajjā as the violation of this virtue of celibacy. For Sudinna, who is presented as the first miscreant who violated this virtue, is accused of having directly contradicted the fundamental teachings of the Buddha. (Tattha nāma tvam āvuso bhagavatā virāgāya dhamme desite sarāgāya cetessasi visaṃyogāya dhamme desite saṃyogāya cetessasi anupādānāya dhamme desite saupādānāya cetessasi.... Nanu āvuso bhagavatā anekapariyāyena kāmānam pahānaṃ akkhātaṃ kāmasaññānaṃ pariññā akkhātā kāmapipāsānaṃ paṭivinayo akkhāto kāṃavitakkānaṃ samugghāto akkhāto kāmapariḷāhānaṃ vūpasamo akkhāto. Vin.III.19f.). Hence we would regard the prominence given to this rule pertaining to the virtue of celibacy in the codified law of the Saṅgha as being quite legitimate. It savours of the very essence of nekkhamma or renunciation which is the basis of pabbajjā.1

But we are aware of the fact that the Pārājikas have been assessed differently by some scholars. This is what Dr. Nagai has to say regarding the first Pārājika: `With regard to the problem of inhibitions for priests, one that will remain perplexing for a long time to come is the inhibition concerning sexual relations. To me it appears that the problem of inhibitions for the Buddhist priests of the present day (except those belonging to the Shinshū Sect) depends upon the manner of interpretation of this particular inhibition. If it is interpreted as one requiring all Buddhist priests to observe celibacy, I fear that very few priests will be found living in Japan who are really worthy of the name bhikkhu.'2 There is no doubt that it is the bold venture of Shinran in the 13th century which led to this state of affairs in Japan. It is not possible to undertake a full analysis of this in the present study. However, unless it is admitted that the concepts of bhikkhu and priest in this context are incomparably different, one from the other, we are not in a position to concede this magnanimity in the interpretation of the first Pārājika rule. The early history of the religion and the nature of its fundamental teachings do not seem to allow it.

We should here refer the reader to the observations of Miss Horner on the regulations governing the lives of the Buddhist disciples. `If monks behaved in a way that was censurable in monks, this does not necessarily mean that their conduct was wrong in itself. Various activities were not only permissible for lay-people, but were fully accepted to be such as could be unquestionably pursued by them. Marriage, negotiating for parties to a marriage, trading, the owning of possessions, are cases in point.... I think it very likely that some of the courses of training for monks that are included in this volume were formulated as a result of this bringing over of lay-life into the religious life; for a difference between the two had to be made, and then maintained.'1 We feel that these remarks are obviously the result of a thorough understanding of original authoritative texts which deal with Buddhist monasticism.

In the evaluation of the Pārājikas, however, the fourth Pārājika seems to have confronted Miss Horner with some serious difficulty. For she says: "The curious fourth Pārājika, concerned with the offence of `claiming a state of quality of further-men' (uttarimanussadhamma), seems to have been fashioned in some different mould, and to belong to some contrasting realm of values."1 This attitude towards the fourth Pārājika has made her evaluate the four Pārājikas from a new angle. She remarks: `For I think it possible that the Pārājikas are arranged in an ascending scale of gravity, in which the offence held to be the worst morally, though not legally, is placed last.'2 We find it difficult to agree with this. In an attempt to regard the fourth Pārājika as supremely important it is hardly possible to consider the first Pārājika as being the least offensive morally. We would regard it to be undoubtedly the worst, for it runs contrary to the basic teachings of Buddhism, whose main theme is virāga, visaṃyoga etc.3 We have already shown above what we consider to be the significance of this sikkhāpada which gives it the pride of place among the Pārājikas.

Let us now examine the fourth Pārājika, which is said [by Miss. Hornert] to rival the first in moral value. The text of the sikkhāpada is as follows: "Whatever monk should boast, with reference to himself of a state of further-men, sufficient ariyan knowledge and insight, though not knowing it fully, and saying: This I know, this I see, then if later on, he, being pressed or not being pressed, fallen, should desire to be purified, and should say: `Your reverence, I said that I know what I do not know, see what I do not see, I spoke idly, falsely, vainly,' apart from the undue estimate of himself, he also is one who is defeated, he is not in communion."4 This sikkhāpada provides that no monk shall make false claims (anabhijānan'ti asanta abhūta asavijjamāna ajānanto apassanto attani kusala dhamma atthi me kusalo dhammo'ti. Vin.III.91) to spiritual attainments except under the pain of being expelled from the Order. The sikkhāpada refers to such attainments under the terms iti jānāmi iti passāmi.

It is clear that the state or quality of further-men (uttarimanussa-dhamma) referred to here pertains to the realm of emancipation and hence reckons exclusively with knowledge and insight. Uttarimanussadhamma also marks different stages in the process of spiritual development like the eight jhānas and the state of Saññāvedayitanirodha.1 The Suttavibhaṅga appears to take note of both these in its comment on uttarimanussadhamma. (Note: Uttarimanussadhammo nāma jhānaṃ vimokkhaṃ samādhi samāpatti ñāṇadassanaṃ maggabhāvanā phalasacchikiriyā kilesapahānaṃ vinīvaraṇatā cittassa suññāgāre abhirati - Vin.III.91). At the same time there is also reference to uttarimanussadhamma in association with less transcendental achievements like the ability to exercise miraculous powers. This is referred to as uttarimanussadhammaṃ iddhi-pāṭhāriyaṃ (Note: na bhikkhave gihīnaṃ uttarimanussadhammaṃ iddhipāṭihāriyaṃ dassetabbaṃ. Vin.II.112).

The spirit of this sikkhāpada seems to be made further clear in the Buddha's reference to the five great thieves who are identified with different types of monks which occurs in the introduction to the sikkhāpada. The fifth thief who is referred to here as the greatest of all is described in terms which coincide, more or less, with the text of the sikkhāpada. (Note: Ayaṃ aggo mahācoro yo asantaṃ abhūtaṃ uttarimanussadhammaṃ ullapati. Vin. III. 9). Thereafter, the Buddha proceeds to give a reason for the stigmatisation of such attempts. The reason is that the monks who do so subsist on what is collected by theft (Ta kissa hetu. Theyyāya vo bhikkhave raṭṭhapiṇḍo bhutto'ti. Vin.III.90).

This emphasis on the correctness of ājīva or the mode of earning a living is seen to be specifically so in the incident which led to the promulgation of the fourth Pārājika (Varaṃ tumhehi moghapurisā tiṇhena govikattanena kucchi parikanto natv 'eva udarassa kāraṇā gihīnam aññamaññassa uttarimanussadhammassa vaṇṇo bhāsito. Vin.III.89). Further, the text assures us that it was a false claim which they made before the laymen (Kacci pana vo bhikkhave bhūtan'ti. Abhūta bhagavā'ti. Vin.III.89).

At rhe same time we should also take note of the fact that Pācittiya 8 too, records the incidents of the fourth Pārājika almost in identical terms. The one point of difference, and that is vital here, is that the spiritual attainments of the Bhikkhus of which they give publicity to lay people are states to which they had genuinely attained. Hence there does not arise a question of dishonesty here and the offence is only the lesser one of Pācittiya.1

Apart from considerations of honesty and truthfulness of a monk in the mode of obtaining his requisites from the laymen there seems to be yet another associated idea in this sikkhāpada. To our mind it is the unscrupulous exploitation of the regard and the respect which the lay people of the time had for `these 'super-human achievements' which were generally associated with those who had renounced the household life.2 The Seṭṭhi of Rājagaha sums up this position beautifully when he says yo samao vā brāhmao vā arahā c'eva iddhimā ca, i.e. any monk or brahmin who is both an Arahant and one who is possessed of miraculous powers.1 People viewed such superhuman achievements with awe and credulity, with little scrutiny as to whether those claims were genuine or false. Hence a false claim would be deemed an act of meanness which is unworthy of a Buddhist disciple.

On the other hand, it is said that even where claims to such superhuman powers were real a true Buddhist disciple would not display them in public for the sake of worldly and personal benefits. The Vinaya Piṭaka tells us of the elder Piṇḍolabhāradvāja who was sternly rebuked by the Buddha for displaying his superhuman powers by performing miraculous feats in public for the sake of winning a sandal-wood bowl. Thereafter, the Buddha forbade such acts and decreed that one who did so was guilty of a Dukkaṭa offence (Na bhikkhave gihīnaṃ uttarimanussadhammaṃ iddhipāṭihāriyaṃ dassetabbaṃ Yo dasseyya āpatti dukkaṭassa. Vin.II.112). In the Saṃyutta Nikāya it is said that the venerable Mahaka once performed a similar miracle (uttarimanussadhammaṃ iddhipāṭihāriyaṃ) before Citta, the house-holder, but with no desire for personal gain. However, as a result of it when Citta invited him to stay in Macchikāsaṇḍa, promising to provide him with his requisites, he left the place never to return again.2 Perhaps he did so out of his conviction that if he remained to enjoy the hospitality which was offered he would be guilty of having `earned it' in the wrong way.

We would now sum up our observations on the fourth Pārājika as follows:

Claims to superhuman powers and attainments and to the title Arahant appear to have been part of the aspirations of most groups of religious men of India who had left the household life.

Judging by the great esteem in which such powers were held by the public there is no doubt that any such claim would have been received with great acclamation.

Thus, for the petty purpose of ensuring for oneself a `comfortable living' any false claim to superhuman powers and attainments would amount to a despicable form of lying. Hence the inclusion of the offence, like that of theft, in the category of Pārājika.

Where such powers and attainments were genuinely achieved, any public declaration, other than in the presence of monks and nuns, would amount to a vulgar display and is ranked in the Vinaya as an offence which is lesser in gravity than the former. It is a Pācittiya offence.

As such, we are unable to see how the fourth Pārājika could be morally more significant than the first.

It has also been generally assumed that the fourth Pārājika finds no parallel among the sīlas.1 But after the analysis we have made above of this Pārājika it becomes clear that the injunction against false claims to superhuman attainments is laid down because such claims are made with a view to gaining an easy livelihood in a manner which is unworthy of a monk. It is evidently for this same reason that Buddhaghosa introduces this Pārājika rule as one laid down for the guidance of ājīvapārisuddhi or purity of livelihood in his definition of Ājīvapārisuddhisīla (... ājīvapārisuddhisīle ājīvahetu paññattāna channa sikkhāpadānan'ti yāni tāni ājīvahetu ājīvakāraṇā pāpiccho icchāpakato asantam abhūtam uttarimanussadhamma ullapati āpatti pārājikassa. Vism.I.22). It is also of interest to note that Buddhaghosa couples the six sikkhāpada which he introduces under Ājīvapārisuddhisīla with similar considerations on ājīvapārisuddhi which he derives from the category of sīla (...kuhanā lapanā nemittakatā nippesikatā lābhena lābha nijigisanatā'ti eva ādīnañ ca pāpadhammāna vasena pavattā micchājīvā virati. Vism.I.16) These hint at both fraud and artful conversation as means of gaining an easy livelihood in an unworthy manner. These considerations are traceable to item 36 in the list of sīla (Yathā vā pan'eke bhonto samaabrāhmaṇā saddhādeyyāni bhojanāni bhuñjitvā te kuhakā ca honti lapakā ca nemittikā ca nippesikā ca lābhena ca lābha nijigisitāro. Iti evarūpā kuhanā lapanā paivirato hoti. Idam pi'ssa hoti sīlasmi. D.I.67. Sec.55)1 The scope of both Pārājika 4 and Pācittiya 8 seems to be within the range of this item of sīla. Thus we feel inclined to assume that the fourth Pārājika too, as much as the other three, is traceable to the broader basis of sīla which in the early history of Buddhist monasticism was the primary guide in the life of the pabbajita.

Further modifications which sīla underwent while they were expressed in the form of sikkhāpada are witnessed in Pācittiya 1 and 3 which deal with lying (musāvāda) and tale-bearing (pisuṇāvāca) respectively. Here, the original concepts which occur under sīla are narrowed down and are made more specific.



Musāvāda pahāya musāvādā paivirato hoti saccavādī saccasandho theto paccayiko avisavādako lokassa.1

Sampajānamusāvāde pācittiya2

Pisuṇāvācam pahāya pisuṇāya vācāya paivirato hoti ito sutvā na amutra akkhātā imesa bhedāya amutra vā sutvā na imesa akkhātā amūsa bhedāya. Iti bhinnāna sandhātā sahitāna vā anuppadātā samaggārāmo samaggarato samagganandī samaggakarai vāca bhāsitā.3

Bhikkhupesuññe pācittiya.4

Besides these sikkhāpada which are closely related to sīla or the personal moral well-being of the disciple, there are also a host of others in the Pātimokkha which attempt to maintain the concord and communal harmony of the Buddhist Saṅgha. A number of sikkhāpada of the Saṅghādisesa group aim at achieving this end.5

These may be broadly classified as calculated to suppress:

  1. Attempts to despise and discredit fellow members of the Order by making false and unfounded accusations of a definitely serious nature against them with a view to damaging their spiritual life. Saṅghādisesa 8 and 9 appear to safeguard against such situations.

    "Whatever monk, malignant, malicious and ill-tempered should defame a monk with an unfounded charge involving defeat, thinking: `Thus perhaps may I drive him away from this Brahma-life,' then, if afterwards he, being pressed or not being pressed, the legal question turning out to be unfounded, if the monk confesses his malice, it is an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order."1

  2. Attempts to disrupt the united organization of the Saṅgha by canvassing public opinion against the Saṅgha and by instituting disciplinary action manoeuvered to cause disunity.2

    "Whatever monk should go forward with a schism of the Order which is harmonious, or should persist in taking up some legal question leading to a dissension:.... there is an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order."3

    Such tendencies were clearly manifest in the activities of Devadatta. The following remarks of Devadatta betray him completely:

    "It is possible, your reverence, with these five items, to make a schism in the Order of the recluse Gotama, a breaking of the concord. For, your reverence, people esteem austerity."1

  3. Attempts to resist, under various pretexts, correction of bad and unworthy behaviour which is justly undertaken by fellow members.2

    " If a monk is one who is difficult to speak to, and if himself being spoken to by the monks according to dhamma concerning the courses of training included in the exposition, he reckons himself as one not to be spoken to, saying: `Do not say anything to me, venerable ones, either good or bad, and I will not say anything to the venerable ones, either good or bad; refrain venerable ones, from speaking to me'... there an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order."3

There is yet another collection of 16 sikkhāpada (including rules from the Nissaggiya, Pācittiya and Pāṭidesanīya groups) whose purpose is to safeguard the mutual relations of the Bhikkhus and the Bhikkhunis.4 These must admittedly bear the stamp of relative lateness in that they pertain to Bhikkhunis, the members of the latterly established Order of nuns. Irregular performance of monastic duties and excesses in personal relationships which are detrimental to the progress of the religious life and also would provoke public censure come within the purview of these regulations.

Their distribution is as follows:

Nissaggiya 4 and 17

: Monks engaging the services of the nuns

Pācittiya 26

: Monks rendering services to the nuns

Nis. 5 and Pāc. 59

: Monks accepting and using robes belonging to the nuns.

Pācittiya 25

: Monks giving robes to the nuns

Pācittiya 29

: Nuns expressing their personal attachment to the monks.

Pāṭidesanīya 1 and 2 Pācittiya 21 - 24

: Irregular performance of monastic duties by monks towards the nuns.

Pācittiya 27, 28, 30

: Irregular social relationships of monks towards the nuns.

In the group of Pācittiya are found a number of rules which deal with matters of procedure and propriety to be observed within the monastic organization so that its collective honour and authority may in no way be undermined.1 A monk shall not maliciously challenge the validity of an expiatory act which has been properly carried out by members of the Saṅgha and urge for its performance again. (Yo pana bhikkhu jāna yathādhamma nihatādhikaraa punakammāya ukkoeyya pācittiya - Vin.IV.126: Pāc.63). He should also not conduct himself in such a way as to reduce or nullify the effect of an act of punishment inflicted on an offender.2 Nor should he repudiate the authority or doubt the competence of his fellow members when they advise him on matters of discipline. (Yo pana bhikkhu bhikkhūhi sahadhammika vuccamāno eva vadeyya na tāvā'ha āvuso etasmi sikkhāpade sikkhissāmi yāva na añña bhikkhu vyatta vinayadhara paripucchāmī'ti pācittiya. Vin.IV.141: Pāc.71). He is also not to underrate the value of the disciplinary measures agreed upon by the Saṅgha as being effective and essential for the well-being of the community. (Yo pana bhikkhu pātimokkhe uddissamāne eva vadeyya ki pan'imehi khuddānukhuddakehi sikkhāpadehi uddiṭṭhehi yāvadeva kukkuccāya vihesāya vilekhāya savattantī'ti sikkhāpadavivaṇṇake pācittiya. Vin.IV.143: Pāc.72). These sikkhāpada show that the purpose of the Pātimokkha was not only to safeguard the outward conduct and the moral life of the disciple but also to protect the machinery which was set up to achieve this end.

In the code of the Pātimokkha even the day to day life of the Buddhist monk is circumscribed within certain considerations relating to the articles of daily use such as his bowl and the robe, beds, seats, rugs etc.1 We notice that on account of certain abuses by monks they were forbidden the use of needle-cases made of bone, ivory and horn. In the evolution of monastic discipline such restrictions become general rules and through the code of the Pātimokkha govern the life of all members of the community. Likewise, the monks are forbidden the use of couches and chairs which are bolstered with cotton on account of the protests that they are like the luxuries enjoyed by laymen.2 The use and distribution of what belongs to the Saṅgha also needed to be done with sufficient caution.3 Neglect and damage of monastic property and misappropriation of what belongs to the collective organization of the Saṅgha for private ends are safeguarded against. A monk who places for his own use a couch or a chair or a mattress or a stool belonging to the Order in the open air, should either remove it or have it removed on departing, or should inform those concerned of his departure. If he does not do so, there is an offence of expiation - Pācittiya.1 It is also stated that a monk who knowingly appropriates for himself or fransfers to another individual a benefit which accrues to the Saṅgha is guilty of a breach of discipline. In the former case he is gulity of the more serious offence of Nissaggiya Pācittiya and in the latter of a Pācittiya.2 It is clear from these injunctions that the Pātimokkha also takes cognizance of a considerably settled monastic life.

Of the diverse monastic rituals witnessed in the Khandhakas the Pātimokkha has a few references to the kahina ubbhāra, which is closely associated with the ceremony of the vassāvāsa or rains-retreat, and these too, are mainly in terms of the acceptance and use of robes.3 The sikkhāpada deal no more with it. On the other hand, Pācittiya 72 and 73 directly refer to the ritual of the Pātimokkha with a view to eliminate any irregularities and abuses which may occur in connection with the recital of the Pātimokkha.4 Saṅghādisesa 12 presupposes the existence of the Pātimokkha under the term uddesa. These rules which are contained in the text of the Pātimokkha clearly reveal the scope and function of the Pātimokkha and its recital as an instrument for detecting miscreants in the monastic circles and assisting them in their correction. Therefore we are compelled to observe that these sikkhāpada were latterly added to the collection of the Pātimokkha while the recital as a regular observance was acquiring a definite character.

Modelling the life of a monk in terms of the rules of the Pātimokkha marks the shift of accent from sīla to sikkhāpada as well as the change of responsibility for the maintenance of monastic discipline from the individual monk to the collective organization of the Saṅgha. Even the venerable Upasena Vaṅgantaputta who is distinguished as a forest-dwelling monk devoted to austere ways of living (āraññako piṇḍapātiko pasukūliko) seems to accept, as a member of the general corpus of the Saṅgha, the code of rules laid down by the Buddha, in its entirety, as the guiding factor in monastic discipline. (Na maya apaññatta paññāpessāma paññatta vā na samucchindissāma yathāpaññattesu sikkhāpadesu samādāya vattissāmā'ti. Vin.III.231). The Buddha heartily endorses this view. Sādhu sādhu upasena, says the Buddha in recognition of this attitude. We seem to hear the echo of this in the remarks of the venerable Mahā Kassapa at the First Council where arose the dispute about the abrogation of the minor rules.1

Thus it is clear that the sikkhāpada and the recital of the Pātimokkha are closely connected not only in their literary content but also in their aims and aspirations. Besides, in all the standard definitions of the virtuous monk, the virtue of his sīla is always coupled with the restraint he acquires through the discipline of the Pātimokkha and the sikkhāpada.2 This shows us that from early times in the history of Buddhism all possible criteria have been used for the maintenance of good discipline. In the Ākaṅkheyya Sutta the Buddha requests his disciples to go through this complete course of training which couples together sīla and the Pātimokkha. (Sampannasīlā bhikkhave viharatha sapanna-pātimokkhā pātimokkhasavarasavutā viharatha ācāragocarasapannā anumattesu vajjesu bhayadassāvī samādāya sikkhatha sikkhāpadesu. M.I.33). True to this tradition, the venerable Ānanda, in his admonitions to the Sakyan Mahānāma, describes in identical terms a worthy disciple who is a sīlasampanna. (Idha mahānāma ariyasāvako sīlavā hoti pātimokkhasavarasavuto viharati ācāragocarasapanno anumattesu vajjesu bhayadassāvī samādāya sikkhati sikkhāpadesu. Eva kho mahānāma ariyasāvako sīlasampanno hoti. M.I.355)

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