Professor Ko Lay
distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma
The Vinaya Pitaka is made up of
(1) Parajika Pali
(2) Pacittaya Pali
(3) Mahavagga Pali
(4) Culavagga Pali
(5) Parivara Pali
Parajika Pali which is Book I of
the Vinaya Pitaka gives an elaborate explanation of the important
rules of discipline concerning Parajika and Sanghadisesa, as well
as Aniyata and Nissaggiya which are minor offences.
(a) Parajika offences and
Parajika discipline consists of
four sets of rules laid down to prevent four grave offences. Any
transgressor of these rules is defeated in his purpose in
becoming a bhikkhu. In the parlance of Vinaya, the Parajika
Apatti falls upon him; he automatically loses the status of a
bhikkhu; he is no longer recognized as a member of the community
of bhikkhus and is not permitted to become a bhikkhu again. He
has either to go back to the household life as a layman or revert
back to the status of a samanera, a novice.
One who has lost the status of a
bhikkhu for transgression of any of these rules is likened to (i)
a person whose head has been cut off from his body; he cannot
become alive even if the head is fixed back on the body; (ii)
leaves which have fallen off the branches of the tree; they will
not become green again even if they are attached back to the
leaf-stalks; (iii) a flat rock which has been split; it cannot be
made whole again; (iv) a palm tree which has been cut off from
its stem; it will never grow again.
Four Parajika offences
which lead to loss of status as a bhikkhu.
(i) The first Parajika:
Whatever bhikkhu should indulge in sexual intercourse loses
(ii) The second Parajika:
Whatever bhikkhu should take with intention to steal what is
not given loses his bhikkhuhood.
(iii) The third Parajika:
Whatever bhikkhu should intentionally deprive a human being
of life loses his bhikkhuhood.
(iv) The fourth Parajika:
Whatever bhikkhu claims to attainments he does not really
possess, namely, attainments to jhana or Magga and Phala
Insight loses his bhikkhuhood.
The parajika offender is guilty of
a very grave transgression. He ceases to be a bhikkhu. His
offence, Apatti, is irremediable.
(b) Thirteen Samghadisesa
offences and penalties
Samhghadisesa discipline consists
of a set of thirteen rules which require formal participation of
the Samgha from beginning to end in the process of making him
free from the guilt of transgression.
(i) A bhikkhu having
transgressed these rules, and wishing to be free from his
offence must first approach the Samgha and confess having
committed the offence. The Samgha determines his offence and
orders him to observe the parivasa penance, a penalty
requiring him to live under suspension from association with
the rest of the Samgha, for as many day, as he has knowingly
concealed his offence.
(ii) At the end of the
parivasa observance he undergoes a further period of penance,
menatta, for six days to gain approbation of the Samgha.
(iii) Having carried out the
menatta penance, the bhikkhu requests the Samgha to reinstate
him to full association with the rest of the Samgha.
Being now convinced of the purity
of his conduct as before, the Samgha lifts the Apatti at a
special congregation attended by at least twenty bhikkhus, where
natti, the motion for his reinstatement, is recited followed by
three recitals of kammavaca, procedural text for formal acts of
Some examples of the Samghadisesa
(i) Kayasamsagga offence:
If any bhikkhu with lustful,
perverted thoughts engages in bodily contact with a woman,
such as holding of hands, caressing the tresses of hair or
touching any part of her body, he commits the Kayasamsagga
(ii) Sancaritta offence:
If any bhikkhu acts as a
go-between between a man and a woman for their lawful living
together as husband and wife or for temporary arrangement as
man and mistress or woman and lover, he is guilty of
Sancaritta Samghadisesa offence.
(c) Two Aniyata offences
Aniyata means indefinite,
uncertain. There are two Aniyata offences the nature of which is
uncertain and indefinite as to whether it is a Parajika offence,
a Samghadisesa offence or a Pacittiya offence. It is to be
determined according to provisions in the following rules:
(i) If a bhikkhu sits down
privately alone with a woman in a place which is secluded and
hidden from view, and convenient for an immoral purpose and
if a trustworthy lay woman (i.e., an Ariya), seeing him,
accuses him of any one of the three offences (1) a Parajika
offence (2) a Samghadisesa offence (3) a Pacittiya offence,
and the bhikkhu himself admits that he was so sitting, he
should be found guilty of one of these three offences as
accused by the trustworthy lay woman.
(ii) If a bhikkhu sits down
privately alone with a woman in a place which is not hidden
from view and not convenient for an immoral purpose but
convenient for talking lewd words to her, and if a
trustworthy lay woman (i.e., an Ariya), seeing him, accuses
him of any one of the two offences (1) a Samghadisesa offence
(2) a Pacittiya offence, and the bhikkhu himself admits that
he was so sitting, he should be found guilty of one of these
two offences as accused by the trustworthy lay woman.
(d) Thirty Nissaggiya
Pacittiya offences and penalties
There are thirty rules under the
Nissaggiya category of offences and penalties which are laid down
to curb inordinate greed in bhikkhus for possession of material
things such as robes, bowls etc. To give an example, an offence
is done under those rules when objects not permitted are
acquired, or when objects are acquired in more than the permitted
quantity. The penalty consists firstly of giving up the objects
in respect of which the offence has been committed. Then it is
followed by confession of the breach of the rule, together with
an undertaking not to repeat the same offence, to the Samgha as a
whole, or to a group of bhikkhus, or to an individual bhikkhu to
whom the wrongfully acquired objects have been surrendered.
Some examples of the Nissaggiya
(i) First Nissaggiya Sikkhapada.
If any bhikkhu keeps more than
the permissible number of robes, namely, the lower robe, the
upper robe and the great robe, he commits an offence for
which he has to surrender the extra robes and confess his
(ii) Civara Acchindana Sikkhapada.
If any bhikkhu gives away his
own robe to another bhikkhu and afterwards, being angry or
displeased, takes it back forcibly or causes it to be taken
away by someone else, he commits a Nissaggiya Pacittiya
Nissaggiya offences are light
offences compared with the grave offences of Parajika Apatti or
The Pacittiya Pali which is Book
II of the Vinaya Pitaka deals with the remaining sets of rules
for the bhikkhus, namely, the Pacittiya, the Patidesaniya,
Sekhiya, Adhikaranasamatha and the corresponding disciplinary
rules for the bhikkhunis. Although it is called in Pali just
Pacittiya, it has the distinctive name of 'Suddha Pacittiya',
ordinary Pacittiya, to distinguish it from Nissaggiya Pacittiya,
(a) Ninety two Pacittiya
offences and penalties
There are ninety two rules under
this class of offences classified in nine sections. A few
examples of this type of offences:
(i) Telling a lie deliberately
is a Pacittiya offence.
(ii) A bhikkhu who sleeps
under the same roof and within the walls along with a woman
commits a Pacittiya offence.
(iii) A bhikkhu who digs the
ground or causes it to be dug commits a Pacittiya offence.
A Pacittiya offence is remedied
merely by admission of the offence to a bhikkhu.
(b) Four Patidesaniya
offences and penalties
There are four offences under this
classification and they all deal with the bhikkhu's conduct in
accepting and eating alms-food offered to him. The bhikkhu
tranagressing any of these rules, in making admission of his
offence, must use a special formula stating the nature of his
The first rule of Patidesaniya
offence reads: should a bhikkhu eat hard food or soft food having
accepted it with his own hand from a bhikkhuni who is not his
relation and who has gone among the houses for alms-food, it
should be admitted to another bhikkhu by the bhikkhu saying,
"friend, I have done a censurable thing which is unbecoming
and which should be admitted. I admit having committed a
The events that led to the laying
down of the first of these rules happened in Savatthi, where one
morning bhikkhus and bhikkhunis were going round for alms-food. A
certain bhikkhuni offered the food she had received to a certain
bhikkhu who took away all that was in her bowl. The bhikkhuni had
to go without any food for the day. Three days in succession she
offered to give her alms-food to the same bhikkhu who on all the
three days deprived her of her entire alms-food. Consequently she
became famished. On the fourth day while going on the alms round
she fainted and fell down through weakness. When the Buddha came
to hear about this, he censured the bhikkhu who was guilty of the
wrong deed and laid down the above rule.
(c) Seventy five Sekhiya
rules of polite behaviour
These seventy five rules laid down
originally for the proper behaviour of bhikkhus also apply to
novices who seek admission to the Order. Most of these rules were
all laid down at Savatthi on account of indisciplined behaviour
on the part of a group of six bhikkhus. The rules can be divided
into four groups. The first group of twenty six rules is
concerned with good conduct and behaviour when going into towns
and villages. The second group of thirty rules deals with polite
manners when accepting alms-food and when eating meals. The third
group of sixteen rules contains rules which prohibit teaching of
the Dhamma to disrespectful people. The fourth group of three
rules relates to unbecoming ways of answering the calls of nature
and of spitting.
(d) Seven ways of settling
Pacittiya Pali concludes the
disciplinary rules for bhikkhus with a Chapter on seven ways of
settling cases, Adhikaranasamatha.
Four kinds of cases are listed:
— Disputes as to what is dhamma, what is not
dhamma; what is Vinaya, what is not Vinaya; what the Buddha
said, what the Buddha did not say; and what constitutes an
offence, what is not an offence.
— Accusations and disputes arising out of them
concerning the virtue, practice, views and way of living of a bhikkhu.
— Infringement of any disciplinary rule.
— Formal meeting or decisions made by the Samgha.
For settlement of such disputes
that may arise from time to time amongst the Order, precise and
detailed methods are prescribed under seven heads:
(i) Sammukha Vinaya: before
coming to a decision, conducting an enquiry in the presence
of both parties in accordance with the rules of Vinaya.
(ii) Sati Vinaya: making a
declaration by the Samgha of the innocence of an Arahat
against whom some allegations have been made, after asking
him if he remembers having committed the offence.
(iii) Amulha Vinaya: making a
declaration by the Samgha when the accused is found to be
(iv) Patinnata Karana: making
a decision after admission by the party concerned.
(v) Yebhuyyasika Kamma: making
a decision in accordance with the majority vote.
(vi) Tassapapiyasika Kamma:
making a declaration by the Samgha when the accused proves to
be unreliable, making admissions only to retract them,
evading questions and telling lies.
(vii) Tinavattharaka Kamma the
act of covering up with grass' — exonerating all
offences except the offences of Parajika, Samghdisesa and
those in connection with laymen and laywomen, when the
disputing parties are made to reconcile by the Samgha.
(e) Rules of Discipline
for the bhikkhunis
The concluding chapters in the
Pacittiya Pali are devoted to the rules of Discipline for the
bhikkhunis. The list of rules for bhikkhunis runs longer than
that for the bhikkhus. The bhikkhuni rules were drawn up on
exactly the same lines as those for the bhikkhus, with the
exception of the two Aniyata rules which are not laid down for
the bhikkhuni Order:
|(4) Nissaggiya Pacittiya
|(5) Suddha Pacittiya
These eight categories of
disciplinary rules for bhikkhus and bhikkhunis of the Order are
treated in detail in the first two books of the Vinaya Pitaka.
For each rule an historical account is given as to how it comes
to be laid down, followed by an exhortation of the Buddha ending
with "This offence does not lead to rousing of faith in
those who are not convinced of the Teaching, nor to increase of
faith in those who are convinced." After the exhortation
comes the particular rule laid down by the Buddha followed by
word for word commentary on the rule.
The next two books, namely,
Mahavagga Pali which is Book III and Culavagga Pali which is Book
IV Of the Vinaya Pitaka, deal with all those matters relating to
the Samgha which have not been dealt with in the first two books.
Mahavagga Pali, made up of ten
sections known as Khandhakas, opens with an historical account of
how the Buddha attained Supreme Enlightenment at the foot of the
Bodhi tree, how he discovered the famous law of Dependent
Origination, how he gave his first sermon to the Group of Five
Bhikkhus on the discovery of the Four Noble Truths, namely, the
great Discourse on The Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma,
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta · This was followed by another great
discourse, the Anattalakkhana Sutta. These two suttas may be
described as the Compendium of the Teaching of the Buddha.
The first section continues to
describe how young men of good families like Yasa sought refuge
in him as a Buddha and embraced his Teaching; how the Buddha
embarked upon the unique mission of spreading the Dhamma 'for the
welfare and happiness of the many' when he had collected round
him sixty disciples who were well established in the Dhamma and
had become Arahats; how he began to establish the Order of the
Samgha to serve as a living example of the Truth he preached; and
how his famous disciples like Sariputta, Moggallana, Maha
Kassapa, Ananda, Upali, Angulimala became members of the Order.
The same section then deals with the rules for formal admission
to the Order, (Upasampada), giving precise conditions to be
fulfilled before any person can gain admission to the Order and
the procedure to be followed for each admission.
Mahavagga further deals with
procedures for an Uposatha meeting, the assembly of the Samgha on
every full moon day and on the fourteenth or fifteenth waning day
of the lunar month when Patimokkha, a summary of the Vinaya
rules, is recited. Then there are rules to be observed for rains
retreat (vassa) during the rainy season as well as those for the
formal ceremony of pavarana concluding the rains retreat, in
which a bhikkhu invites criticism from his brethren in respect of
what has been seen, heard or suspected about his conduct.
There are also rules concerning
sick bhikkhus, the use of leather for footwear and furniture,
materials for robes, and those concerning medicine and food. A
separate section deals with the ceremonies where annual making
and offering of robes take place.
Culavagga Pali which is Book IV of
the Vinaya Pitaka continues to deal with more rules and
procedures for institutional acts or functions known as
Samghakamma. The twelve sections in this book deal with rules for
offences such as Samghadisesa that come before the Samgha; rules
for observance of penances such as parivasa and manatta and rules
for reinstatement of a bhikkhu. There are also miscellaneous
rules concerning bathing, dress, dwellings and furniture and,
those dealing with treatment of visiting bhikkhus, and duties of
tutors and novices. Some of the important enactments are
concerned with Tajjaniya Kamma, formal act of censure by the
Samgha taken against those bhikkhus who cause strife, quarrels,
disputes, who associate familiarly with lay people and who speak
in dispraise of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha;
Ukkhepaniya Kamma, formal act of suspension to be taken against
those who having committed an offence do not want to admit it;
and Pakasaniya Kamma taken against Devadatta announcing publicly
that "Whatever Devadatta does by deed or word, should be
seen as Devadatta's own and has nothing to do with the Buddha,
the Dhamma and the Samgha." The account of this action is
followed by the story of Devadatta's three attempts on the life
of the Buddha and the schism caused by Devadatta among the Samgha.
There is, in section ten, the
story of how Mahapajapati, the Buddha's foster mother, requested
admission into the Order, how the Buddha refused permission at
first, and how he finally acceded to the request be cause of
Ananda's entreaties on her behalf.
The last two sections describe two
important events of historical interest, namely, the holding of
the first Synod at Rajagaha and of the second Synod at Vesali.
Parivara Pali which is Book V and
the last book of the Vinaya Pitaka serves as a kind of manual. It
is compiled in the form of a catechism, enabling the reader to
make an analytical survey of the Vinaya Pitaka. All the rules,
official acts, and other matters of the Vinaya are classified
under separate categories according to subjects dealt with.
Parivara explains how rules of the
Order are drawn up to regulate the conduct of the bhikkhus as
well as the administrative affairs of the Order. Precise
procedures are prescribed for settling of disputes and handling
matters of jurisprudence, for formation of Samgha courts and
appointment of well-qualified Samgha judges. It lays down how
Samgha Vinicchaya Committee, the Samgha court, is to be
constituted with a body of learned Vinayadharas, experts in
Vinaya rules, to hear and decide all kinds of monastic disputes.
The Parivara Pali provides general
principles and guidance in the spirit of which all the Samgha
Vinicchaya proceedings are to be conducted for settlement of