Jotiya dhirasekera

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The four Pārājikā of the Bhikkhu Pātimokkha are increased to eight in the code of the Bhikkhunis. Nos. 1, 2, and 4 of these additional rules1 which are peculiar to the Bhikkhunis (asādhāraa paññatti) pertain to sex life in some way or another and can therefore be looked upon as secondary rules deriving from Pārājika 1 of the Bhikkhu Pātimokkha. However, in the life of the Bhikkhunis, they are considered serious enough to be ranked under Pārājika. Thus half the number of Pārājika rules laid down for the Bhikkhunis deal with sex. These sikkhāpada not only attempt to safeguard the chastity of the brahmacārinī but also try to keep the whole body of Bhikkhunis above reproach. Unchaste behaviour of female mendicants was a reality in contemporary society2 and seeing the possibility of similar incidents within his own monastic Order, the Buddha was prompted to provide these extra safeguards. There is evidence of incidents in the history of the Sāsana in which Bhikkhunis were involved which were serious enough for public censure. The Mahāvagga records the incident of the sāmaera Kaṇḍaka who violated the chastity of a Bhikkhuni (Tena kho pana samayena āyasmato upanandassa sakyaputtassa kaṇḍako nāma sāmaero kaṇḍaka nāma bhikkhuni dūsesi. Vin.I.58). Provoked perhaps by the recurrence of such events the public also did at times make hasty and groundless accusations implicating Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis. A widowed father who had taken to the monastic life along with his young son once became the target of such an accusation. The father was accused, as a Bhikkhu, of having had the child through a Bhikkhuni (Abrahmacārino ime samaṇā sakyaputtiyā. Aya dārako bhikkhuniyā jāto'ti. Vin.I.79).

The Bhikkhunis were forbidden to indulge in frivolous behaviour with members of the opposite sex. A number of rules of the Bhikkhunis which supplement the contents of the Saṅghādisesa and Pācittiya groups of the Bhikkhus regulate the conduct of the Bhikkhunis with adequate caution so that they may not fall victims to the lustful desires of unscrupulous men. The following rules of the Bhikkhunis deserve special mention here: Saṅghādisesas 3, 5 and 6 and Pācittiyas 11-14, 36.

Saṅghādisesa 3: No Bhikkhuni shall, alone, leave the village, cross the river and go beyond, shall stay a night out, or be out of the company of the group. Whoever does so shall be guilty of a Saṅghādisesa offence.Vin.IV.229

Saṅghādesesa 5: No Bhikkhuni shall, with lustful intentions, receive and partake of any food from a lustful man with similar intentions. Ibid.233

Saṅghādisesa 6: No Bhikkhuni shall tell another `what ever will this man do unto you, whether he is lustful or otherwise as long as you entertain no such thoughts. Therefore accept and partake of whatever he offers you.' Ibid.234

Pācittiya 11: No Bhikkhuni shall, in the darkness of the night, at a place where there is no lamp, stay alone in the company of a man or converse with him. Whoever does so shall be guilty of a Pācittiya offence. Ibid.268.

Pācittiya 12: No Bhikkhuni shall stay alone in the company of a man or converse with him in a secluded place. Ibid.269.

Pācittiya 13: No Bhikkhuni shall stay alone in the company of a man or converse with him in an open place. Ibid.270.

Pācittiya 14: No Bhikkhuni shall, in the street, in a blind alley or at the cross-roads, stay alone in the company of a man, coverse with him, whisper in his ear or send away the Bhikkhuni who is her only companion. Ibid.271.

Pācittiya 36: No Bhikkhuni shall live in close association with a house-holder or a house-holder's son ... Ibid.294.

The other additional rule (No.3) in the Pārājika group of the Bhikkhunis makes it an offence for a Bhikkhuni to follow a monk who had been lawfully subjected to a boycott by the Saṅgha (ukkhittānuvattikā).1 Such indiscreet partisan loyalties, whether on the part of the Bhikkhus or of the Bhikkhunis, would have made it difficult to maintain law and order and to ensure harmony within the monastic community. Pācittiya 69 of the Bhikkhus warns monks against associating a miscreant Bhikkhu who had been lawfully subjected to punishment. According to the history of this sikkhāpada an act of boycott had been carried out by the Saṅgha on a monk named Ariṭṭha who held fast to a heresy, and the rest of the community were barred from seeking his company under the pain of a Pācittiya offence.2 In the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga, the loyalties of Bhikkhuni Thullanandā towards the same miscreant Bhikkhu Ariṭṭha assumes major proportions and leads to the promulgation of a Pārājika sikkhāpada.1 In contrast, it is worth noting that a Bhikkhuni who associates with another Bhikkhuni who had been subjected to a boycott under similar conditions is declared to be guilty only of a Pācittiya offence (Yā pana bhikkhunī jāna tathāvādiniyā bhikkhuniyā akatānudhammāya ta diṭṭhi appainissaṭṭhāya saddhi sambhuñjeyya vā savaseyya vā saha vā seyya kappeyya pācittiya. Bhikkhunī Pācittiya No.147).2

Let us probe further into this apparent discrimination. Both in the Sutta and the Vinaya we come across a number of instances of Bhikkhunis who show strong emotional attachment to Bhikkhus of their choice. Such Bhikkhunis, who often happened to be of frivolous character, seem not only to dedicate their whole life for the service of their chosen comrades, but also to engage themselves actively in canvassing for them the patronage of the laymen. This is clearly evident in the Bhikkhu Pācittiya 29 where Bhikkhuni Thullanandā underrates the greatness of Sāriputta, Moggallāna and other elders in the presence of a house-holder who had invited them. Here, she does so in order to exalt her own favourites like Devadatta, Kokālika and others whom she presents as the stalwarts of the Sāsana.3 We witness a further embarrassing situation in Pāṭidesaniya 2 where the Chabbaggiya Bhikkhunis personally supervised the feeding of their comrades, the Chabbaggiya Bhikkhus, and saw to it that they got the choicest dishes to the neglect of the rest (Chabbaggiyā bhikkhuniyo chabbaggiyāna bhikkhūna vosāsantiyo hitā honti idha sūpa detha idha odana dethā'ti. Chabbaggiyā bhikkhū yāvadattha bhuñjanti aññe bhikkhū na cittarūpa bhuñjanti. Vin.IV.177). This emotionalism of the Bhikkhunis appears to have gone a step further. In an attempt to defend their comrade monks and maintain their prestige, at times, the Bhikkhunis became pugnacious and offensive. Bhikkhuni Thullanandā once abused the elder Mahā Kassapa calling him the erstwhile heretic because she took exception to his criticism of Ānanda.1 Thus the Bhikkhunis ventured to silence the critics and shield themselves and their erring comrades. The attitude of Moliyaphagguna towards the criticisms hurled at his favourite nuns with whom he used to mingle freely and similar reactions on the part of the nuns themselves show that these emotions which the Buddha referred to as being characteristic of lay householders (gehasitā chandā gehasitā vitakkā) would have been a menace to the healthy and harmonious life of the community.2 If this tendency of the Bhikkhunis was allowed to continue without restriction it would have served to support and encourage the rebellious dissentients in the Saṅgha. Evidently such Bhikkhus considered the ability to command and count on the support of the Bhikkhunis to be a great asset. Thus it is clear that the vissicitudes of the Bhikkhu Sāsana would have warranted the inclusion of this additional Pārājika of theBhikkhunis (No. 3.) 'that no Bhikkhuni shall follow a Bhikkhu who had been lawfully subjected to a boycott by the Saṅgha and who subsequently had made no amends for it.'

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