Jotiya dhirasekera

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The eight Pāṭidesaniya rules of the Bhikkhunis are extremely simple in character and seem in fact to be a splitting up of the single rule which bars a Bhikkhuni, unless she is ill, from obtaining by request and using ghee, oil, honey, molasses, fish, meat, milk and curd. The Bhikkhus, on the other hand, have four Pāṭidesaniya rules of their own which also deal with food but are wider in their scope.5 Nos. 1 and 2 determine the relations of Bhikkhus with Bhikkhunis at meals, and hence have no relevance to the Bhikkhunis themselves. Nos. 3 and 4 refer to certain situations in which a monk who is not ill should not help himself to food. No. 4 deals with it specifically in relation to forest residences. Therefore this rule would not apply to the Bhikkhunis. No. 3 embodies an undoubtedly singnificant consideration. It prescribes against possible exploitation of pious lay patrons by inconsiderate monks, who while helping themselves to a meal, would fail to consider the economic stability of the people who provide them with food. Here the Buddha decrees that the Bhikkhus should formally decide among themselves not to strain those families of devoted laymen whose resources are depleted. The Bhikkhus shall not call on them and accept food unless on invitation or in cases of illness.

Sekhiya dhamma.

Both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis share the same set of seventy-five Sekhiya dhammas.

The Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha

The text of the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha seems to have presented a number of problems to the scholars who ventured to examine it. Miss Durga N. Bhagavat who apparently approached it solely through the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga of the present Vinaya Piṭaka discovered therein only a fragment of it. She has erred so far as to mistake this abridged version for the complete text.1 The result of this has been obviously disastrous as has already been pointed out by Miss Horner.2 Miss Horner suggests that the Nuns' Vibhaṅga in its present form may be regarded as an abridged version of some more complete Vibhaṅga for nuns.1 In support of this she adduces as evidence the fragment of the Prātimokṣasūtra of the Sarvāstivādins published by Finot.2 The Bhikṣunī-prātimokṣa in it, it is pointed out, contains the end of one sikkhāpada and the beginning of another which are identified as Saṅghādisesas for nuns corresponding to Monks' Saṅghādisesa 8 and 9. This leads us to the legitimate inference that there existed at some stage among the Sarvāstivādins a complete, unabridged Prātimokṣa for the Bhikṣunis. However, the earlier hypothesis of the existence of `a more complete Vibhaṅga for nuns' is not necessarily established thereby, because there is evidence to show that the Prātimokṣasūtras which came to be recited fortnightly at the Uposatha meetings existed quite distinctly apart from the Vibhaṅgas, and very naturally in an unabridged form.

On the other hand, as we examine the early literary history of the Vinaya Piṭaka we discover evidence which point to the existence of a complete and unabridged text of the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga. Buddhaghosa, while describing the Vinaya texts which were rehearsed at the First Council, speaks of the Ubhato Vibhaṅga consisting of the Mahāvibhaṅga and the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga. These two texts, it is said, were gone through separately each in its entirety. The Mahāvibhaṅga, says Buddhaghosa, consists of 220 rules (Eva vīsādhikāni dve sikkhāpadasatāni mahāvibhago'ti kittetvā hapesu. DA.I.13). We should note here how precise Buddhaghosa is in not adding the 7 Adhikaraṇasamatha dhammas to the list of sikkhāpada, as most scholars do, when they speak of 227 rules of the Pātimokkha, the 7 Adhikaranasamatha dhammas to the list of disciplinary rules.1 The Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga consists of 304 rules, and not 311 for the same reason. (Eva tīni sikkhāpadasatāni cattāri ca sikkhāpadāni bhikkhunīvibhago'ti kittetvā... Ibid.) This shows that at least the tradition which Buddhaghosa inherited knew of an early reckoning of the contents of the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga independent of the Mahāvibhaṅga, and it leads us to surmise on the independent existence of a complete Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga.

Further it is worth noting that Buddhaghosa, while speaking of the literary activity of the First Cuncil, does not speak of an independent rehearsal of either of the Pātimokkhas apart from the Vibhaṅgas, although he goes so far as to include both the Khandhakas and the Parivāra under the Vinaya literature rehearsed at the First Council.2 The two Pātimokkhas were apparently reckoned as being part and parcel of the two respective Vibhaṅgas at that stage. This is clear from the manner in which the elder Mahā Kassapa questioned the venerable Upāli from the first Pārājika onwards inquiring not only about the rule but also about the details connected with it.

Even as far as the function of the Pātimokkha was concerned, it is evident that in the early days of Buddhist monasticism much importance was attached to the meaning and interpretation, and all the implications of the sikkhāpada. It was also necessary for the proper enforcement of the law that those who were in authority knew all the circumstances leading to the promulgation of the various sikkhāpada. Therefore it is not unusual to find a monk being challenged regarding the authenticity of a particular item of discipline which he wishes to enforce. Thus, the maintenance of acceptable good monastic conduct being the live function of the Pātimokkha, it was necessary for a monk, specially for one who was in authority such as a Vinayadhara or a Bhikkhunovādaka,1 to learn both codes of the Pātimokkha in detail with all the explanations. Note the significance of the following observations: `If a monk is not well-versed in both codes of the Pātimokkha with all their details and explanations, then if he were to be questioned as to where the Buddha has laid down such and such an injunction, he would not be able to give an answer. Then there would be many who would advise him to first learn his Vinaya.' (No ce bhikkhave bhikkhuno ubhayāni pātimokkhāni vitthārena svāgatāni honti suvibhattāni suppavattīni suvinicchitāni suttaso anuvyañjanaso ida pana āyasmā kattha vutta bhagavatā'ti puṭṭho na sampāyati. Tassa bhavanti vattāro ingha tāva āyasmā vinaya sikkhassū'ti. A.V.80f.). There is no doubt, that all these requirements imply a thorough knowledge of the texts of the Vibhaṅga. Buddhaghosa, in fact, explains suttaso of the above passage as vibhangato.2 In the Samantapāsādikā, he explains the phrase vitthārena svāgatāni which also occurs in the above passage as implying a knowledge of the twofold Vibhaṅga (Tattha ubhayāni kho pana'ssa pātimokkhāni vitthārena svāgatāni hontī'ti ubhato vibhagavasena vuttāni. VinA.V.990).

However, it is clear that Buddhaghosa was aware of the existence in his own day of the two Pātimokkhas as independent literary works, besides the two Vibhaṅgas, in the Vinaya Piṭaka. In a general description of the Vinaya Piṭaka, Buddhaghosa adds to its contents the two Pātimokkhas as well, which now take their stand side by side with the Vibhaṅgas, the Khandhakas and the Parivāra. (Tattha pahamasagītiya sagītañ ca asagīta ca sabbam pi samodhānetvā ubhayāni pātimokkhāni dve vibhagāni dvāvīsati khandhakā soasaparivārā'ti ida vinayapiaka nāma.).1 He also makes it clear in this statement that not all the contents of the extant Vinaya Piṭaka were rehearsed at the First Council.

It is not possible to determine with any certainity the time when the Pātimokkha (of the Bhikkhus and the Bhikkhunis) were thus extracted from the Vibhaṅgas. All that we can safely infer from the statements of Buddhaghosa is that it certainly took place before his time, but at a date which does not go so far back as the First Council. Hence the absence in the Cullavagga of any reference to the Pātimokkha as a Vinaya treatise during the recital of the Vinaya at the First Council.2 The independent existence of the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha in their entirety, at least during the time of Buddhaghosa, is clearly evident in the Kaṅkhāvitaraṇī of Buddhaghosa. We notice there that Buddhaghosa is familiar with an unabridged text of the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha. In commenting, however, on the sikkhāpada of the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha, he recognises the items which the Bhikkhunis hold in common with the Bhikkhus (sādhāraa paññattiyo) and refers back for their explanation to his comments on those identical sikkhāpada in the Bhikkhu Pātimokkha. He commences his Bhikkhunīpātimokkha-vaṇṇnā with a comment on the first Pārājika, the first of the eight Pārājikas of the Bhikkhunis which incidentally also happens to be a sādhāraa paññatti. (Yā pana bhikkhunī chandaso methuna dhamma paiseveyyā'ti vutta tattha chandaso'ti methunarāgapaisamyuttena chandena c'eva ruciyā ca ... Kkvt.157). Therefore he refers to the rest of the common sikkhāpada in the following terms: `Here and in the instances which follow, the rest should be understood with the help of the explanations given under the common injunctions which the Bhikkhus share with the Bhikkhunis.'(Sesa ettha itoparesu ca sādhāraasikkhāpadesu vuttanayānusāren'eva veditabba. Kkvt.157). That in the Kaṅkhāvitaraṇī Buddhaghosa was commenting on a complete text of the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha is further evident in the remarks which he adds after his comments on the first six rules of the Bhikkhunī Saṅghādisesas which are peculiar to the nuns alone. Noting that the next three Saṅghādisesas, i.e. nos. 7, 8 and 9, are held in common with the Bhikkhus, Buddhaghosa says that their explanations are to be known in terms of what has been said about the triad which begins with the sikkhāpada on sañcaritta (sañcarittādittaye vuttanayen'eva vinicchayo veditabbo. Kkvt.165), and refers them back to the Bhikkhu Pātimokkha. They were, nevertheless, reckoned as forming a part of the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha, for Buddhaghosa proceeds to number the sikkhāpada which follows these three as the tenth (Dasame kinnu' mā'va samaiyo'ti. Kkvt.165). When Buddhaghosa, following this order, regards the suceeding sikkhāpada as No.11, the editor of the Kaṅkhāvitaraṇi (P.T.S.) hastens to make the following comment: `This really refers to the Saṅghādisesa 8 as given at Vin.IV.238 and not to No.11. There are only 10 in the recognised Pali Canon.'1 It should here be pointed out that this attempted correction is not only unwarranted but is also dangerously misleading. After Saṅghādisesa 13 of the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha, Buddhaghosa is aware of the existence of four more sikkhāpada for the Bhikkhunis under the Saṅghādisesa which the Bhikkhunis share in common with the Bhikkhus (Sagha-bhedādisu catusu vuttanayen'eva vinicchayo veditabbo. Kkvt.166). Thus Buddhaghosa winds up his comments on the Saṅghādisesas of the Bhikkhunis with commendable accuracy, thereby establishing the existence of 17 sikkhāpada in that group.

Attention has already been drawn to the change of emphasis in the ritual of Pātimokkha at a time when the mere recital of the sikkhāpada at the assenbly of the Bhikkhus, without any evident probe into the incidents of indiscipline, constituted the ritual of the Uposatha. At such a function, it was obviously the text of the Pātimokkha rules that mattered. The details of interpretation and application which were closely connected with the rules and thus formed an essential part of the Vibhaṅga would have been eventually left out. This, perhaps, explains the extraction of the rules of the Pātimokkha from the body of the Vibhaṅgas and the formation out of these of the two manuals of Bhikkhu and Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha, intended undoubtedly to be used for recital at the ritual of the Uposatha. Thus it is the consequent independent existence of the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha, in its entirety, which in all probability, could have justified the abridgement of the text of the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga into the form in which we have it today. The Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga was an abridged text even at the time of Buddhaghosa and the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha as well as the Bhikkhu Pātimokkha had already acquired an independent position in the Vinaya Piṭaka.1 Thus in marked contrast to the Kaṅkhāvitaraṇi which is Buddhaghosa's commentary on the two Pātimokkhas, Buddhaghosa commences his Bhikkhunīvibhaṅgavaṇṇanā in the Samantapāsādikā with the first additional Pārājika of the Bhikkhunis which he treats as No.1, for he proceeds to the rest of the four asādhāraa paññatti as dutiya, tatiya and catuttha, i.e. second, third and fourth respectively. He follows the same method in the Saṅghādisesa as well as in the other succeeding groups of sikkhāpada. In the Samantapāsādikā we discover an implicit admission of Buddhaghosa that the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga which is before him is an abridged text containing only the asādhāraa paññattiyo. Commenting on the phrase uddiṭṭhā kho ayyāyo aṭṭha pārājikā dhammā he first refers to the four Pārājikas laid down for the Bhikkhus (....bhikkhū ārabba paññattā sādhāraṇā cattāro. VinA.IV.906) and offers four only as the contents of the Pārājika group of the Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga (....ime ca cattāro'ti - Ibid.). Affirming as it were our earlier assumption that the recital at the ritual of the Uposatha was now the immediate and perhaps the single purpose of the Pātimokkha, Buddhaghosa says that the Pātimokkha recital brings before us the complete list of Bhikkhunī sikkhāpada (... eva pātimokkhuddesamaggena uddiṭṭhā kho ayyāyo aṭṭha pārājikā dhammā'ti evam ettha attho daṭṭhabbo. Ibid.). This establishes beyond doubt the position that in Buddhaghosa's day there existed an abridged Bhikkhunīvibhaṅga and an unabridged Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha.

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