1. What is
Professor Ko Lay
distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma
Disciplinary and Procedural
Rules for the Samgha
The Vinaya Pitaka is made up of
rules of discipline laid down for regulating the conduct of the
Buddha's disciples who have been admitted as bhikkhus and
bhikkhunis into the Order. These rules embody authoritative
injunctions of the Buddha on modes of conduct and restraints on
both physical and verbal actions. They deal with transgressions
of discipline, and with various categories of restraints and
admonitions in accordance with the nature of the offence.
(a) Seven Kinds of
Transgression or Offence, Apatti
The rules of discipline first laid
down by the Buddha are called Mulapannatti (the root regulation);
those supplemented later are known as Anupannatti. Together they
are known as Sikkhapadas, rules of discipline. The act of
tranagressing these rules of discipline, thereby incurring a
penalty by the guilty bhikkhu, is called Apatti, which means
The offences for which penalties
are laid down may be classified under seven categories depending
on their nature:
An offence in the first category
of offences, Parajika, is classified as a grave offence,
Garukapatti, which is irremediable, atekiccha and entails the
falling off of the offender from bhikkhuhood.
An offence in the second category,
Samghadisesa, is also classified as a grave offence but it is
remediable, satekiccha. The offender is put on a probationary
period of penance, during which he has to undertake certain
difficult practices and after which he is rehabilitated by the
The remaining five categories
consist of light offences, lahukapatti, which are remediable and
incur the penalty of having to confess the transgression to
another bhikkhu. After carrying out the prescribed penalty, the
bhikkhu transgressor becomes cleansed of the offence.
(b) When and how the
disciplinary rules were laid down.
For twenty years after the
establishment of the Order there was neither injunction nor rule
concerning Parajika and Samghadisesa offences. The members of the
Order of the early days were all Ariyas, the least advanced of
whom was a Stream-winner, one who had attained the first Magga
and Fruition, and there was no need for proscribing rules
relating to grave offences.
But as the years went by, the
Samgha grew in strength. Undesirable elements not having the
purest of motives but attracted only by the fame and gain of the
bhikkhus began to get into the Buddha's Order. Some twenty years
after the founding of the Order, it became necessary to begin
establishing rules relating to grave offences.
It was through Bhikkhu Sudinna, a
native of Kalanda Village near Vesali, who committed the offence
of having sexual intercourse with his ex-wife, that the first
Parajika rule came to be promulgated. It was laid down to deter
bhikkhus from indulging in sexual intercourse.
When such a grave cause had arisen
for which the laying down of a prohibitory rule became necessary,
the Buddha convened an assembly of the bhikkhus. It was only
after questioning the bhikkhu concerned and after the
undesirability of committing such an offence had been made clear
that a certain rule was laid down in order to prevent future
lapses of similar nature.
The Buddha also followed the
precedence set by earlier Buddhas. Using his supernormal powers,
he reflected on what rules the earlier Buddhas would lay down
under certain given conditions. Then he adopted similar
regulations to meet the situation that had arisen in his time.
(c) Admission of
Bhikkhunis into the Order
After spending four vassas
(residence period during the rains) after his Enlightenment, the
Buddha visited Kapilavatthu, his native royal city, at the
request of his ailing father, King Suddhodana. All that time,
Mahapajapati, Buddha's foster mother requested him to admit her
into the Order. Mahapajapati was not alone in desiring to join
the Order. Five hundred Sakyan ladies whose husbands had left the
household life were also eager to be admitted into the Order.
After his father's death, the
Buddha went back to Vesali, refusing the repeated request of
Mahapajapati for admission into the Order. The determined foster
mother of the Buddha and widow of the recently deceased King
Suddhodana, having cut off her hair and put on bark-dyed clothes,
accompanied by five hundred Sakyan ladies, made her way to Vesali
where the Buddha was staying in the Mahavana, in the Kutagara
The Venerable Ananda saw them
outside the gateway of the Kutagara Hall, dust-laden with swollen
feet, dejected, tearful, standing and weeping. Out of great
compassion for the ladies, the Venerable Ananda interceded with
the Buddha on their behalf and entreated him to accept them in
the Order. The Buddha continued to stand firm. But when the
Venerable Ananda asked the Buddha whether women were not capable
of attaining Magga and Phala Insight, the Buddha replied that
women were indeed capable of doing so, provided they left the
household life like their menfolk.
Thereupon Ananda made his
entreaties again saying that Mahapajapati had been of great
service to the Buddha waiting on him as his guardian and nurse,
suckling him when his mother died. And as women were capable of
attaining the Magga and Phala Insight, she should be permitted to
join the Order and become a bhikkhuni.
The Buddha finally acceded to
Ananda's entreaties: "Ananda, if Mahapajapati accepts eight
special rules, garu-dhamma, let such acceptance mean her
admission to the Order."
The eight special rules [*] are:
(i) A bhikkhuni, even if she
enjoys a seniority of a hundred years in the Order, must pay
respect to a bhikkhu though he may have been a bhikkhu only
for a day.
(ii) A bhikkhuni must not keep
her rains-residence in a place where there are no bhikkhus.
(iii) Every fortnight a
bhikkhuni must do two things: To ask the bhikkhu Samgha the
day of uposatha, and to approach the bhikkhu Samgha for
instruction and admonition.
(iv) When the rains-residence
period is over, a bhikkhuni must attend the pavarana ceremony
conducted at both the assemblies of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis,
in each of which she must invite criticism on what has been
seen, what has been heard or what has been suspected of her.
(v) A bhikkhuni who has
committed a Samghadisesa offence must undergo penance for a
half-month, pakkha manatta, in each assembly of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis.
(vi) Admission to the Order
must be sought, from both assemblies, by a woman novice only
after two year's probationary training as a candidate.
(vii) A bhikkhuni should not
revile a bhikkhu in any way, not even obliquely.
(viii) A bhikkhuni must abide
by instructions given her by bhikkhus, but must not give
instructions or advice to bhikkhus.
unhesitatingly these eight conditions imposed by the Buddha and
was consequently admitted into the Order.
[*] 1. vide, Vinaya - II, 74-75.