Three: The Bowl Chapter
An extra alms bowl may be kept ten days at most. Beyond that, it is to be forfeited and confessed.
The offense under this rule involves two factors.
1) Object: an alms bowl fit to be determined for use.
2) Effort: One keeps it for more than ten days without determining it for use, placing it under shared ownership, abandoning it (giving or throwing it away); and without its being lost, destroyed, burnt, snatched away, or taken by someone else on trust within that time.
According to the Commentary, an alms bowl fit to be determined for use must be—
1) made of the proper material;
2) the proper size;
3) fully paid for;
4) properly fired; and
5) not damaged beyond repair.
Cv.V.8.2 allows two kinds of alms bowls: made either of clay or of iron. Cv.V.9.1 forbids eleven: made either of wood, gold, silver, pearl, beryl, crystal, bronze, glass, tin, lead, or copper. Using the Great Standards, the Council of Elders in Thailand has recently decided that stainless steel bowls are allowable—because, after all, they are steel—but aluminum bowls not, because they share some of the dangers of tin. In the time of the Buddha, clay bowls were the more common. At present, iron and steel bowls are.
The Vibhaṅga contains a discussion of three proper sizes for a bowl—the medium size containing twice the volume of the small, and the large twice the volume of the medium—but they are based on measurements that are not known with any precision at present. The author of the Vinaya-mukha reports having experimented with various sizes of bowls based on a passage in the story of Meṇḍaka in the Dhammapada Commentary. His conclusion: A small bowl is just a little larger than a human skull, and a medium bowl approximately 27 1/2 English inches (70 cm.) in circumference, or about 8.75 inches (22.5 cm.) in diameter. He did not try making a large bowl. Any size larger than the large size or smaller than the small is inappropriate; any size between them falls under this rule.
Fully paid for
According to the Commentary, if a bowl-maker makes a gift of a bowl, it counts as fully paid for. If a bowl has been delivered to a bhikkhu but has yet to be fully paid for, it may not be determined and does not come under this rule until paid for in full.
The Commentary states that a clay bowl must be fired twice before it can be determined, to make sure it is properly hardened; and an iron bowl five times, to prevent it from rusting. Because stainless steel does not rust it need not be fired, but a popular practice is to find some way to make it gray—either by painting it on the outside or firing the whole bowl with leaves that will give it a smoky color—so that it will not stand out.
Not damaged beyond repair
The Vibhaṅga to the following rule says that a bhikkhu may ask for a new bowl if his current bowl has five mends or more, the space for a mend (§) being two inches (fingerbreadths). The Commentary explains this first by saying that a bowl with five mends or more is damaged beyond repair, and thus loses its determination as a bowl. It then expands on the Vibhaṅga’s statements as follows: A clay bowl is damaged beyond repair if it has at least ten inches of cracks in it, the smallest of the cracks being at least two inches long. Cracks less than two inches long are said not to merit mending—this is the meaning of the Vibhaṅga’s phrase, “space for a mend”—and so do not count. As the K/Commentary notes, whether the cracks are actually mended is not an issue here. If a bowl has fewer cracks than that, they should be mended either with tin wire, sap (but for some reason not pure pine sap), or a mixture of sugar cane syrup and powdered stone. Other materials not to be used for repair are beeswax and sealing wax. If the total length of countable cracks equals ten inches or more, the bowl becomes a non-bowl, and the owner is entitled to ask for a new one.
As for iron and steel bowls, a hole in the bowl large enough to let a millet grain pass through is enough to make the determination lapse, but not enough to make the bowl a non-bowl. The bhikkhu should plug the hole—or have a blacksmith plug it—with powdered metal or a tiny metal plug polished smooth with the surface of the bowl and then re-determine the bowl for use.
If the hole is small enough to be plugged in this way, then no matter how many such holes there are in the bowl they do not make it a non-bowl. The bhikkhu should mend it and continue using it. If, however, there is even one hole so large that the metal used to plug it cannot be polished smooth with the surface of the rest of the bowl, the tiny crevices in the patch will collect food. This makes it unfit for use, and the owner is entitled to ask for a new one to replace it.
An extra alms bowl, according to the Vibhaṅga, is any that has not yet been determined for use or placed under shared ownership. Because a bhikkhu may have only one bowl determined for use at any one time, he should place any additional bowls he receives under shared ownership if he plans to keep them on hand. (The procedures for placing bowls under determination and shared ownership, and for rescinding their determination and shared ownership, are given in Appendices IV & V.)
According to the Commentary, once a bowl belonging to a bhikkhu fulfills all the requirements for a determinable bowl, he is responsible for it even if he has not yet received it into his keeping—in other words, the countdown on the time span begins. For example, if a blacksmith promises to make him a bowl and to send word when it is finished, the bhikkhu is responsible for the bowl as soon as he hears word from the blacksmith’s messenger that the bowl is ready, even if he has yet to receive it. If the blacksmith, prior to making the bowl, promises to send it when it is done, then the bhikkhu is not responsible for it until the blacksmith’s messenger brings it to him. (All of this assumes that the bowl is already fully paid for.)
However, all of this runs contrary to the principle given at Mv.V.13.13, in which the countdown for a robe’s time span (see NP 1) does not begin until the robe reaches one’s hand. It would seem that the same principle should apply here.
The Vibhaṅga states that if within ten days after receiving a new bowl a bhikkhu does not determine it for use, place it under shared ownership, abandon it (give it or throw it away); and if the bowl is not lost, snatched away, damaged beyond repair, or taken on trust, then on the tenth dawnrise after receiving it he incurs the full penalty under this rule. If he then uses the bowl without having forfeited it, the penalty is a dukkaṭa.
Perception is not a mitigating factor here. Even if the bhikkhu thinks that ten days have not passed when they have, or if he thinks that the bowl is damaged beyond repair or placed under shared ownership, etc., when it isn’t, he incurs the penalty all the same.
The Vibhaṅga also states that, in the case of an extra bowl that has not been kept more than ten days, if one perceives it to have been kept more than ten days or if one is in doubt about it, the penalty is a dukkaṭa. As under NP 1, this dukkaṭa is apparently for then using the bowl.
Forfeiture & confession
The procedures for forfeiture, confession, and return of the bowl are the same as under NP 1. For the Pali formulae to use in forfeiting and returning the bowl, see Appendix VI. As with the rules concerning robe-cloth, the bowl must be returned to the offender after he has confessed his offense. Not to return it entails a dukkaṭa. Once the bowl is returned, the ten-day countdown starts all over again.
There is no offense if within ten days the bhikkhu determines the bowl for use, places it under shared ownership, or abandons it; or if the bowl is lost, destroyed, broken, or snatched away; or if someone else takes the bowl on trust. With regard to “destroyed” and “broken” here, the Commentary’s discussion indicates that these terms mean “damaged beyond repair,” as defined above.
Summary: Keeping an alms bowl for more than ten days without determining it for use or placing it under shared ownership is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu with an alms bowl having fewer than five mends ask for another new bowl, it is to be forfeited and confessed. The bowl is to be forfeited by the bhikkhu to the company of bhikkhus. That company of bhikkhus’ final bowl should be presented to the bhikkhu, (saying,) “This, bhikkhu, is your bowl. It is to be kept until broken.” This is the proper course here.
“Now at that time a certain potter had invited the bhikkhus, saying, ‘If any of the masters needs a bowl, I will supply him with a bowl.’ So the bhikkhus, knowing no moderation, asked for many bowls. Those with small bowls asked for large ones. Those with large ones asked for small ones. (§) The potter, making many bowls for the bhikkhus, could not make other goods for sale. (As a result,) he could not support himself, and his wife and children suffered.”
Here the full offense involves three factors:
1) Effort: Before one’s alms bowl is beyond repair, one asks for
2) Object: a new almsbowl fit to be determined for use.
3) Result: One obtains the bowl.
According to the Commentary, the phrase, a bowl “having fewer than five mends” refers to one that is not beyond repair, as explained under the preceding rule. Thus this rule allows a bhikkhu whose bowl is beyond repair to ask for a new one.
A bhikkhu whose bowl is not beyond repair incurs a dukkaṭa in asking for a new bowl, and a nissaggiya pācittiya in receiving it.
Forfeiture, confession, & bowl exchange
Once a bhikkhu has obtained a bowl in violation of this rule, he must forfeit it in the midst of the Community and confess the offense. (See Appendix VI for the Pali formulae used in forfeiture and confession.) He then receives the Community’s “final bowl” to use in place of the new one he has forfeited.
The Community’s final bowl is selected in the following way: Each bhikkhu coming to the meeting to witness the offender’s forfeiture and confession must bring the bowl he has determined for his own use. If a bhikkhu has an inferior bowl in his possession—either extra or placed under shared ownership—he is not to determine that bowl and take it to the meeting in hopes of getting a more valuable one in the exchange about to take place. To do so entails a dukkaṭa.
Once the bhikkhus have assembled, the offender forfeits his bowl and confesses the offense. The Community, following the pattern of one motion and one announcement (ñatti-dutiya-kamma) given in Appendix VI, then chooses one of its members as bowl exchanger. As with all Community officials, the bowl exchanger must be free of the four types of bias: based on desire, based on aversion, based on delusion, based on fear. He must also know when a bowl is properly exchanged and when it’s not. His duty, once authorized, is to take the forfeited bowl and show it to the most senior bhikkhu, who is to choose whichever of the two bowls pleases him more—his own or the new one. If the new bowl is preferable to his own and yet he does not take it out of sympathy for the offender, he incurs a dukkaṭa. The K/Commentary and Sub-commentary add that if he does not prefer the new bowl, there is no offense in not taking it. The Commentary states that if he does prefer the new bowl but, out of a desire to develop the virtue of contentment with what he has, decides not to take it, there is also no offense.
To continue with the Vibhaṅga: Once the most senior bhikkhu has taken his choice, the remaining bowl is then shown to the bhikkhu second in seniority, who repeats the process, and so on down the line to the most junior bhikkhu. The bowl exchanger then takes the bowl remaining from this last bhikkhu’s choice—the least desirable bowl belonging to that company of bhikkhus—and presents it to the offender, telling him to determine it for his use and to care for it as best he can until it is no longer useable.
If the offender treats it improperly—putting it in a place where it might get damaged, using it in the wrong sort of way (on both of these points, see BMC2, Chapter 3)—or tries to get rid of it (§), thinking, “How can this bowl be lost or destroyed or broken,” he incurs a dukkaṭa.
A bhikkhu whose bowl is not beyond repair incurs no penalty if he asks for a new bowl from relatives or from people who have invited him to ask, or if he gets a new bowl with his own resources. He is also allowed to ask for a bowl for the sake of another, which—following the Commentary to NP 6—would mean that Bhikkhu X may ask for a bowl for Y only if he asks from his own relatives or people who have invited him to ask for a bowl OR if he asks from Y’s relatives or people who have invited Y to ask. Asking for and receiving a bowl for Y from people other than these would entail the full offense.
Summary: Asking for and receiving a new alms bowl when one’s current bowl is not beyond repair is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
There are these tonics to be taken by sick bhikkhus: ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, sugar/molasses. Having been received, they are to be used from storage seven days at most. Beyond that, they are to be forfeited and confessed.
The factors for a full offense here are two.
1) Object: any of the five tonics.
2) Effort: One keeps the tonic past the seventh dawnrise after receiving it.
The five tonics mentioned in this rule form one of four classes of edibles grouped according to the time period within which they may be eaten after being received. The other three—food, juice drinks, and medicines—are discussed in detail at the beginning of the Food Chapter in the pācittiya rules. Here is the story of how the tonics came to be a special class:
“Then as the Blessed One was alone in seclusion, this line of reasoning occurred to his mind: ‘At present the bhikkhus, afflicted by the autumn disease, bring up the conjey they have drunk and the meals they have eaten. Because of this they are thin, wretched, unattractive, and pale, their bodies covered with veins. What if I were to allow medicine for them that would be both medicine and agreed to be medicine by the world, and serve as food, yet would not be considered gross (substantial) food.’
“Then this thought occurred to him: ‘There are these five tonics—ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, sugar/molasses—that are both medicine and agreed to be medicine by the world, and serve as food yet would not be considered gross food. What if I were now to allow the bhikkhus, having accepted them at the right time (from dawnrise to noon), to consume them at the right time’….
“Now at that time bhikkhus, having accepted the five tonics at the right time, consumed them at the right time. Because of this they could not stomach even ordinary coarse foods, much less rich, greasy ones. As a result, afflicted both by the autumn disease and this loss of appetite for meals, they became even more thin and wretched…. So the Blessed One, with regard to this cause, having given a Dhamma talk, addressed the bhikkhus: ‘Bhikkhus, I allow that the five tonics, having been accepted, be consumed at the right time or the wrong time (from noon to dawnrise).’”—Mv.VI.1.2-5
The Vibhaṅga defines the five tonics as follows:
Ghee means strained, boiled butter oil made from the milk of any animal whose flesh is allowable for bhikkhus to eat (see the introduction to the Food Chapter in the pācittiya rules).
Fresh butter must be made from the milk of any animal whose flesh is allowable. None of the Vinaya texts go into detail on how fresh butter is made, but MN 126 describes the process as “having sprinkled curds in a pot, one twirls them with a churn.” Fresh butter of this sort is still made in India today by taking a small churn—looking like an orange with alternate sections removed, attached to a small stick—and twirling it in curds, all the while sprinkling them with water. The fresh butter—mostly milk fat—coagulates on the churn, and when the fresh butter is removed, what is left in the pot is diluted buttermilk. Fresh butter, unlike creamery butter made by churning cream, may be stored unrefrigerated in bottles for several days even in the heat of India without going rancid.
Arguing by the Great Standards, creamery butter would obviously come under fresh butter here. A more controversial topic is cheese.
In Mv.VI.34.21, the Buddha allows bhikkhus to consume five products of the cow: milk, curds, buttermilk, fresh butter, and ghee. Apparently, cheese—curds heated to evaporate their liquid content and then cured with or without mold—was unknown in those days, but there seems every reason, using the Great Standards, to include it under one of the five. The question is which one. Some have argued that it should come under fresh butter, but the argument for classifying it under curds seems stronger, as it is closer to curds in composition and is generally regarded as more of a substantial food. Different Communities, however, have differing opinions on this matter.
Oil, according to the Vibhaṅga, includes sesame oil, mustard seed oil, “honey tree” oil, castor oil, and oil from tallow. The Commentary adds that oil made from any plants not listed in the Vibhaṅga carries a dukkaṭa if kept more than seven days, although it would seem preferable to use the Great Standards and simply apply the full offense under this rule to all plant oils that can be used as food; and to class as medicines (see BMC2, Chapter 5) any aromatic plant oils—such as tea-tree oil or peppermint oil—made from leaves or resins that qualify as medicines that can be kept for life.
Mv.VI.2.1 allows five kinds of tallow: bear, fish, alligator, pig, and donkey tallow. Because bear meat is one of the kinds normally unallowable for bhikkhus, the Sub-commentary interprets this list as meaning that oil from the tallow of any animal whose flesh is allowable—and from any animal whose flesh, if eaten, carries a dukkaṭa—is allowable here. Because human flesh, if eaten, carries a thullaccaya, oil from human fat is not allowed.
Mv.VI.2.1 adds that tallow of any allowable sort may be consumed as oil if received in the right time (before noon, according to the Commentary), rendered in the right time, and filtered in the right time. (The PTS and Thai editions of the Canon use the word saṁsaṭṭha here, which usually means “mixed together”; the Sri Lankan edition reads saṁsatta, or “hung together.” Whichever the reading, the Commentary states that the meaning here is “filtered,” which best fits the context.) According to Mv.VI.2.2, if the tallow has been received, rendered, or filtered after noon, the act of consuming the resulting oil carries a dukkaṭa for each of the three activities that took place after noon. For example, if the tallow was received before noon but rendered and filtered after noon, there are two dukkaṭas for consuming the resulting oil.
Whether the Great Standards can be used to include gelatin under the category of “oil” here is a controversial topic. The argument for including it is that, like oil from tallow, it is rendered from a part of an animal’s body that the Commentary would include under “flesh,” and—on its own—it does not serve as substantial food. Different Communities, however, have differing opinions on this matter.
Honey means the honey of bees, although the Commentary lists two species of bee—cirika, long and with wings, and tumbala, large, black and with hard wings—whose honey it says is very viscous and ranks as a medicine, not as one of the five tonics.
Sugar/molasses the Vibhaṅga defines simply as what is extracted from sugar cane. The Commentary interprets this as meaning not only sugar and molasses, but also fresh sugar cane juice, but this contradicts Mv.VI.35.6, which classes fresh sugar cane juice as a juice drink, not a tonic. The Commentary also says that sugar or molasses made from any fruit classed as a food—such as coconut or date palm—ranks as a food and not as a tonic, but it is hard to guess at its reasoning here, as sugar cane itself is also classed as a food. The Vinaya-mukha seems more correct in using the Great Standards to say that all forms of sugar and molasses, no matter what the source, would be included here. Thus maple syrup and beet-sugar would come under this rule.
The Vinaya-mukha—arguing from the parallel between sugar cane juice, which is a juice drink, and sugar, which is made by boiling sugar cane juice—maintains that boiled juice would fit under sugar here. This opinion, however, is not accepted in all Communities.
According to Mv.VI.16.1, even if the sugar has a little flour mixed in with it simply to make it firmer—as sometimes happens in sugar cubes and blocks of palm sugar—it is still classed as a tonic as long as it is still regarded simply as “sugar.” If the mixture is regarded as something else—candy, for instance—it counts as a food and may not be eaten after noon of the day on which it is received.
Sugar substitutes that have no food value would apparently not be classed as a food or a tonic, and thus would come under the category of life-long medicines.
According to Mv.VI.40.3, any tonic received today may be eaten mixed with food or juice drinks received today, but not with food or juice drinks received on a later day. Thus, as the Commentary points out, tonics received in the morning may be eaten with food that morning; if received in the afternoon, they may not be eaten mixed with food at all.
Also, the Commentary to this rule says at one point that one may take the tonic at any time during those seven days regardless of whether one is ill. At another point, though—in line with the Vibhaṅga to Pc 37 & 38, which assigns a dukkaṭa for taking a tonic as food—it says that one may take the tonic after the morning of the day on which it is received only if one has a reason. This statement the Sub-commentary explains as meaning that any reason suffices—e.g., hunger, weakness—as long as one is not taking the tonic for nourishment as food. In other words, one may take enough to assuage one’s hunger, but not to fill oneself up.
Mv.VI.27, however, contains a special stipulation for the use of sugar. If one is ill, one may take it “as is” at any time during the seven days; if not, then after noon of the first day one may take it only if it is mixed with water.
If a bhikkhu keeps a tonic past the seventh dawnrise after it has been received—either by himself or another bhikkhu—he is to forfeit it and confess the nissaggiya pācittiya offense. Perception is not a mitigating factor here. Even if he thinks that seven days have not yet passed when they actually have—or thinks that the tonic is no longer in his possession when it actually is—he incurs the penalty all the same (§).
The procedures for forfeiture, confession, and return of the tonic are the same as under NP 1. The formula to use in forfeiting the tonic is given in Appendix VI. Once the bhikkhu receives the tonic in return, he may not use it to eat or to apply to his body, although he may use it for other external purposes, such as oil for a lamp, etc. Other bhikkhus may not eat the tonic either, but they may apply it to their bodies—for example, as oil to rub down their limbs.
The Vibhaṅga states that, in the case of a tonic that has not been kept more than seven days, if one perceives it to have been kept more than seven days or if one is in doubt about it, the penalty is a dukkaṭa. As under NP 1, this dukkaṭa is apparently for using the tonic.
According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense if within seven days the tonic gets lost, destroyed, burnt, snatched away, or taken on trust; or if the bhikkhu determines it for use, abandons it, or—having given it away to an unordained person, abandoning desire for it—he receives it in return and makes use of it (§).
The Commentary contains an extended discussion of these last three points.
1) Determining the tonic for use means that within the seven days the bhikkhu determines that he will use it not as an internal medicine, but only to apply to the outside of his body or for other external purposes instead. In this case, he may keep the tonic as long as he likes without penalty.
2) Unlike the other rules dealing with robe-cloth or bowls kept x number of days, the non-offense clauses here do not include exemptions for tonics placed under shared ownership, but the Commentary discusses abandons it as if it read “places it under shared ownership.” Its verdict: Any tonic placed under shared ownership may be kept for more than seven days without incurring a penalty as long as the owners do not divide up their shares, but after the seventh day they may not use it for internal purposes. The Sub-commentary adds that any tonic placed under shared ownership may not be used at all until the arrangement is rescinded.
3) The Commentary reports a controversy between two Vinaya experts on the meaning of the last exemption in the list—i.e., “having given it away to an unordained person, abandoning possession of it in his mind, he receives it in return and makes use of it.” Ven. Mahā Sumanatthera states that the phrase, “if within seven days” applies here as well: If within seven days the bhikkhu gives the tonic to an unordained person, having abandoned possession of it in his mind, he may then keep it and consume it for another seven days if the unordained person happens to return it to him.
Ven. Mahā Padumatthera disagrees, saying that the exemption abandons it already covers such a case, and that the exemption here refers to the situation where a bhikkhu has kept a tonic past seven days, has forfeited it and received it in return, and then gives it up to an unordained person. If the unordained person then returns the tonic to him, he may use it to rub on his body.
The K/Commentary agrees with the latter position, but this creates some problems, both textual and practical. To begin with, the phrase, “if within seven days,” modifies every one of the other non-offense clauses under this rule, and there is nothing to indicate that it does not modify this one, too. Second, every one of the other exemptions refers directly to ways of avoiding the full offense and not to ways of dealing with the forfeited article after it is returned, and again there is nothing to indicate that the last exemption breaks this pattern.
On the practical side, if the exemption abandons it covers cases where a bhikkhu may give up the tonic to anyone at all and then receive it in return to use for another seven days, bhikkhus could spend their time trading hoards of tonics among themselves indefinitely, and the rule would become meaningless. But as the origin story shows, it was precisely to prevent them from amassing such hoards that the rule was formulated in the first place.
“Then Ven. Pilindavaccha went to the residence of King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha and, on arrival, sat down on a seat made ready. Then King Seniya Bimbisāra… went to Ven. Pilindavaccha and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Pilindavaccha addressed him: ‘For what reason, great king, has the monastery attendant’s family been imprisoned?’
“‘Venerable sir, in the monastery attendant’s house was a garland of gold: beautiful, attractive, exquisite. There is no garland of gold like it even in our own harem, so from where did that poor man (get it)? It must have been taken by theft.’
“Then Ven. Pilindavaccha willed that the palace of King Seniya Bimbisāra be gold. And it became made entirely of gold. ‘But from where did you get so much of this gold, great king?’
“(Saying,) ‘I understand, venerable sir. This is simply the master’s psychic power’ (§—reading ayyass’ev’eso with the Thai edition of the Canon)’ he had the monastery attendant’s family released.
“The people, saying, ‘A psychic wonder, a superior human feat, they say, was displayed to the king and his retinue by the master Pilindavaccha,’ were pleased and delighted. They presented Ven. Pilindavaccha with the five tonics: ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, and sugar.
“Now ordinarily Ven. Pilindavaccha was already a receiver of the five tonics (§), so he distributed his gains among his company, who came to live in abundance. They put away their gains, having filled pots and pitchers. They hung up their gains in windows, having filled water strainers and bags. These kept oozing and seeping, and their dwellings were crawling and creeping with rats. People, engaged in a tour of the dwellings and seeing this, criticized and complained and spread it about, ‘These Sakyan-son monks have inner storerooms like the king….’”
Thus it seems more likely that the Vibhaṅga’s non-offense clauses should be interpreted like this: A bhikkhu is no longer held responsible for a tonic if he abandons it or gives it away—no matter to whom he gives it, or what his state of mind—but he may receive it in return and use it another seven days only if within the first seven days he has given it to an unordained person, having abandoned all possession of it in his mind.
Summary: Keeping any of the five tonics—ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, or sugar/molasses—for more than seven days, unless one determines to use them only externally, is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
When a month is left to the hot season, a bhikkhu may seek a rains-bathing cloth. When a half-month is left to the hot season, (the cloth) having been made, may be worn. If when more than a month is left to the hot season he should seek a rains-bathing cloth, (or) when more than a half-month is left to the hot season, (the cloth) having been made should be worn, it is to be forfeited and confessed.
Bhikkhus in the time of the Buddha commonly bathed in a river or lake. Passages in the Canon tell of some of the dangers involved: They had to watch over their robes to make sure they weren’t stolen or washed away by the river, and at the same time make sure they didn’t expose themselves. (SN 2:10 tells of a female deva who, seeing a young bhikkhu bathing, became smitten with the sight of him wearing only his lower robe. She appeared to him, suggesting that he leave the monkhood to take his fill of sensual pleasures before his youth had passed, but fortunately he was far enough in the practice to resist her advances.) A further danger during the rainy season was that the rivers would become swollen and their currents strong. During this time, then, bhikkhus would bathe in the rain.
Mv.VIII.15.1-7 tells the story of a servant girl who went to a monastery and—seeing bhikkhus out bathing naked in the rain—concluded that there were no bhikkhus there, but only naked ascetics. She returned to tell her mistress, Lady Visākhā, who realized what was actually happening and made this the occasion to ask permission of the Buddha to provide rains-bathing cloths for the bhikkhus, because as she put it, “Nakedness is repulsive.” He granted her request, and at a later point (Mv.VIII.20.2) stated that a rains-bathing cloth could be determined for use during the four months of the rainy season—beginning with the day after the full moon in July, or the second if there are two—and that at the end of the four months it was to be placed under shared ownership. This training rule deals with the protocol for seeking and using such a cloth during the rains and the period immediately preceding them.
The protocol as sketched out in the Vibhaṅga—together with details from the Commentary in parentheses and my own comments in brackets—is as follows: During the first two weeks of the fourth lunar month of the hot season—[the lunar cycle ending with the full moon in July, or the first full moon if there are two]—a bhikkhu may seek a rains-bathing cloth and make it (if he gets enough material). (However, he may not yet use it or determine it for use because it may be determined for use only during the four months of the rainy season—[see Mv.VIII.20.2].)
In seeking the cloth he may directly ask for it from relatives or people who have invited him to ask, or he may approach people who have provided rains-bathing cloths in the past and give them such hints as: “It is the time for material for a rains-bathing cloth,” or “People are giving material for a rains-bathing cloth.” As under NP 10, he may not say, “Give me material for a rains-bathing cloth,” or “Get me…” or “Exchange for me …” or “Buy me material for a rains-bathing cloth.” (If he asks directly from people who are not relatives or who have not invited him to ask, he incurs a dukkaṭa; if he then receives cloth from them, he incurs the full penalty under NP 6. If he gives hints to people who have never provided rains-bathing cloths in the past, he incurs a dukkaṭa [which the Commentary assigns on the general principle of breaking a duty].)
During the last two weeks of the fourth lunar month of the hot season he may now begin using his cloth (although he may not yet determine it for use). [This shows clearly that this rule is providing an exemption to NP 1, under which he otherwise would be forced to determine the cloth within ten days after receiving it.] (If he has not yet received enough material, he may continue seeking for more in the way described above and make himself a cloth when he receives enough.)
(When the first day of the rainy season arrives, he may determine the cloth. If he does not yet have enough material to make his rains-bathing cloth, he may continue seeking it throughout the four months of the rains.) If he bathes naked in the rain when he has a cloth to use, he incurs a dukkaṭa. (However, he may bathe naked in a lake or river without penalty. If he has no cloth to use, he may also bathe naked in the rain.)
(At the end of the four months, he is to wash his cloth, place it under shared ownership, and put it aside if it is still usable. He may begin using it again the last two weeks of the last lunar month before the next rainy season and is to re-determine it for use on the day the rainy season officially begins.)
Toward the end of his discussion of this rule, Buddhaghosa adds his own personal opinion on when a rains-bathing cloth should be determined for use if it is finished during the rains—on the grounds that the ancient commentaries do not discuss the issue—one of the few places where he overtly gives his own opinion anywhere in the Commentary. His verdict: If one receives enough material to finish the cloth within ten days, one should determine it within those ten days. If not, one may keep what material one has, undetermined and throughout the rainy season if need be, until one does obtain enough material and then determine the cloth on the day it is completed.
As the K/Commentary points out, this rule covers two separate offenses whose factors are somewhat different: the offense for seeking a rains-bathing cloth at the wrong time and the offense for using it at the wrong time.
The factors here are three: object, effort, and result. The bhikkhu is looking for material for a rains-bathing cloth, he makes hints to people during the time he is not allowed to make hints, and he receives the cloth.
The factors here are two: object—he has a rains-bathing cloth—and effort—he has other robes to use, there are no dangers, and yet he wears the cloth during the period when he is not allowed to wear it. (The conditions here are based on the non-offenses clauses, which we will discuss below.)
In neither of these cases is perception a mitigating factor. Even if a bhikkhu thinks that the right time to hint for the cloth or to wear it has come when it actually hasn’t, he is not immune from an offense.
A bhikkhu who has committed either of the two full offenses here is to forfeit the cloth and confess the offense. The procedures for forfeiture, confession, and return of the cloth are the same as under NP 1.
If a bhikkhu seeks or uses a rains-bathing cloth during the permitted times and yet believes that he is doing so outside of the permitted times, or if he is in doubt about the matter, he incurs a dukkaṭa.
As the rule states, there is no offense for the bhikkhu who hints for a rains-bathing cloth within the last lunar month of the hot season, or for one who wears his rains-bathing cloth during the last two weeks of that month.
The Vibhaṅga then refers to a situation that occasionally happens under the lunar calendar: The four months of the hot season end, but the Rains-residence is delayed another lunar cycle because a thirteenth lunar month has been added at the end of the hot season or the beginning of the rainy season to bring the lunar year back into line with the solar year. In this case, it says that the rains-bathing cloth—having been sought for during the fourth month and worn during the last two weeks of the hot season—is to be washed and then put aside. When the proper season arrives, it may be brought out for use (§).
The Commentary adds that there is no need to determine the cloth in this period until the day the Rains-residence officially starts, but it doesn’t say when the proper season for using it begins. Having made use of the two-week allowance for using the undetermined bathing cloth at the end of the hot season, is one granted another two-week allowance prior to the Rains-residence, or can one begin using it only when the Rains-residence begins? None of the texts say. It would make sense to allow the bhikkhu to begin using the cloth two weeks before the Rains-residence, but this is simply my own opinion.
The Vibhaṅga then adds three more exemptions: There is no offense for a “snatched-away-robe” bhikkhu, a “destroyed-robe” bhikkhu, or when there are dangers. Strangely enough, the Commentary and the K/Commentary—although both were composed by Buddhaghosa—give conflicting interpretations of these exemptions. The Commentary interprets “robe” here as meaning rains-bathing cloth, and says that these exemptions apply to the dukkaṭa offense for bathing naked in the rain. A bhikkhu whose rains-bathing cloth has been snatched away or destroyed may bathe naked in the rain without incurring a penalty, as may a bhikkhu with an expensive bathing cloth who would rather bathe naked because of his fear of cloth thieves.
The K/Commentary, however, makes the Vibhaṅga’s exemptions refer also to the full offense. If a bhikkhu’s other robes have been snatched away or destroyed, he may wear his rains-bathing cloth out of season. The same holds true when, in the words of the K/Commentary, “naked thieves are plundering,” and a bhikkhu decides to wear his rains-bathing cloth out-of-season in order to protect either it or his other robes from being snatched away.
Because the non-offense clauses usually apply primarily to the full offense, it seems appropriate to follow the K/Commentary here.
At present, much of this discussion is purely academic, inasmuch as most bhikkhus—if they use a bathing cloth—tend to determine it for use as a “requisite cloth” so as to avoid any possible offense under this rule.
Summary: Seeking and receiving a rains-bathing cloth before the fourth month of the hot season is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
Using a rains-bathing cloth before the last two weeks of the fourth month of the hot season is also a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu—having himself given robe-cloth to (another) bhikkhu and then being angered and displeased—snatch it back or have it snatched back, it is to be forfeited and confessed.
“At that time Ven. Upananda the Sakyan said to his brother’s student, ‘Come, friend, let’s set out on a tour of the countryside.’
“‘I can’t go, venerable sir. My robe is threadbare.’
“‘Come, friend, I’ll give you a robe.’ And he gave him a robe. Then that bhikkhu heard, ‘The Blessed One, they say, is going to set out on a tour of the countryside.’ The thought occurred to him: ‘Now I won’t set out on a tour of the countryside with Ven. Upananda the Sakyan. I’ll set out on a tour of the countryside with the Blessed One.’
“Then Ven. Upananda said to him, ‘Come, friend, let’s set out on that tour of the countryside now.’
“‘I won’t set out on a tour of the countryside with you, venerable sir. I’ll set out on a tour of the countryside with the Blessed One.’
“‘But the robe I gave you, my friend, will set out on a tour of the countryside with me.’ And angered and displeased, he snatched the robe back.”
As the Commentary points out, this rule applies to cases where one perceives the robe-cloth as being rightfully one’s own even after having given it away, as when giving it on an implicit or explicit condition that the recipient does not later fulfill. Thus the act of snatching back here does not entail a pārājika. If, however, one has mentally abandoned ownership of the robe to the recipient and then for some reason snatches it back, the case would come under Pr 2.
The factors for an offense here are three.
A piece of any of the six allowable kinds of robe-cloth, measuring at least four by eight fingerbreadths.
One has given the cloth to another bhikkhu on one condition or another and then either snatches it back or has someone else snatch it back. In the latter case, one incurs a dukkaṭa in giving the order to snatch the robe, and the full offense when the robe is snatched. If one’s order is to snatch a single robe but the person ordered snatches and delivers more than one robe, they are all to be forfeited.
Perception (with regard to the recipient/victim) is not a mitigating factor here. If he actually is a bhikkhu, then the offense is a pācittiya regardless of whether one perceives him to be so. If he is not a bhikkhu, the offense is a dukkaṭa, again regardless of whether one perceives him as a bhikkhu or not.
One is impelled by anger or displeasure. The displeasure here, however, need not be great, as the Vibhaṅga makes an exemption for only one sort of intention under this rule, that of taking the cloth on trust (§).
Forfeiture & confession. A bhikkhu who has obtained robe-cloth in violation of this rule is to forfeit it and confess the offense. The procedures for forfeiture, confession, and return of the cloth are the same as under NP 1. The formula to use in forfeiting the cloth is given in Appendix VI.
There is a dukkaṭa for angrily snatching back from a bhikkhu requisites other than cloth; and for angrily snatching back any kind of requisite—cloth or otherwise—that one has given to someone who is not a bhikkhu. The Sub-commentary adds that to give robe-cloth to a layman planning to be ordained, and then to snatch it back in this way after his ordination, entails the full offense.
According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense if the recipient returns the robe of his own accord or if the donor takes it back on trust (§). The Commentary’s discussion of the first exemption shows that if the recipient returns the robe after receiving a gentle hint from the donor—“I gave you the robe in hopes that you would study with me, but now you are studying with someone else”—the donor incurs no penalty. However, if the donor’s hint shows anger—“I gave this robe to a bhikkhu who would study with me, not to one who would study with somebody else!”—he incurs a dukkaṭa for the hint, but no penalty when the recipient returns the robe.
Summary: Having given another bhikkhu a robe on a condition and then—angry and displeased—snatching it back or having it snatched back is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu, having requested thread, have robe-cloth woven by weavers, it is to be forfeited and confessed.
This rule covers two actions—asking for thread and getting weavers to weave it into robe-cloth—but the Vibhaṅga is often unclear as to which action its explanations refer to. It barely touches on the first action explicitly, and even its treatment of the second action is extremely terse, leaving many questions unanswered. For these reasons, the compilers of the Commentary felt called upon to clarify the references and fill in the blanks even more than is normally the case. The Vibhaṅga’s discussion does make clear that the factors for an offense here are three—object, effort, and result—so the following discussion will focus on each factor in turn, stating what the Vibhaṅga does and doesn’t say about that factor, giving the Commentary’s further explanations, at the same time evaluating those further explanations as to their cogency.
Thread or yarn of the six allowable types for robe-cloth that a bhikkhu has himself requested from others. Because the Vibhaṅga’s non-offense clauses give an exemption “to sew a robe,” the Commentary is apparently right in stating that, to fulfill this factor, the thread or yarn has to have been requested for the purpose of making robe-cloth. And because the non-offense clauses also state, “from relatives or people who have invited one to ask,” the Commentary also seems right in stating that thread requested from these two types of people would not fulfill this factor. However, none of the texts explicitly assign a penalty for requesting thread that would not fall under the exemptions. Perhaps it would entail a dukkaṭa under the catch-all rule against misbehavior (Cv.V.36).
One gets weavers to weave robe-cloth using the thread. Again, because of the exemptions regarding relatives and people who have invited one to ask, the Commentary seems correct in saying that any weavers who fall into either of these categories would not fulfill this factor.
The Vibhaṅga does not give a minimum size for the robe-cloth. The Commentary, following the pattern from other NP rules, states that any cloth measuring four by eight fingerbreadths or larger would fulfill this factor. However, several of the items allowed in the non-offense clauses would be larger than that measurement, so it seems preferable to interpret robe-cloth here as robe—as the Commentary does under Pc 58, where again the Vibhaṅga gives no minimum size for the cloth. In other words, the penalty is for getting the weavers to weave a wearable robe.
The Vibhaṅga states that there is a dukkaṭa in the effort of getting the weavers to weave the robe-cloth, which the Commentary explains by saying that the first dukkaṭa is incurred with the weavers’ first effort toward actually making the cloth, with additional dukkaṭas incurred for each additional effort they make. In other words, the dukkaṭa is for successfully getting the weavers to act on one’s request. It may seem strange not to allot a dukkaṭa for the request itself, but the Vibhaṅga to the following rule clearly states that the bhikkhu, in a similar case, incurs a dukkaṭa only when the weavers act on his request to improve a robe. The Vibhaṅga for this rule simply uses the causative—the form of verb describing the act of getting someone else to do something—which is ambiguous, for it could mean either trying to get the weavers to weave the cloth or successfully getting the weavers to weave the cloth. To clear up the ambiguity, the Commentary seems justified in applying the pattern from the following rule here. However, it seems excessive to impose multiple dukkaṭas on the bhikkhu for what, from his point of view, was a single action. There are many rules—such as Pc 10, Pc 20, and Pc 56—where a single request carries only one offense even if the person requested does the action many times.
None of the texts discuss this point further, but the Commentary’s interpretation of the causative verb here apparently holds for other rules as well in which the Vibhaṅga imposes a penalty on a bhikkhu for improperly getting someone else to make an item for him, such as NP 11-15 and Pc 86-92: no offense for the request itself, but a dukkaṭa if the request successfully persuades the other person to act in line with it. Only when the Vibhaṅga explicitly states that there is an offense in the request—as under Pc 26, the rule concerned with sewing a robe or having one sewn for a bhikkhunī—does the request carry an offense even if the person requested does not follow it.
One obtains the cloth. According to the Commentary, the cloth counts as “obtained” when the weavers have completed weaving four by eight fingerbreadths of cloth. It also states that there is an extra NP offense for each added four-by-eight-fingerbreadths section they complete. Neither of these explanations has a precedent anywhere in the Canon. Mv.V.13.13 states clearly that the countdown on the time span of robe-cloth begins only when it is delivered to one’s hand, and the same principle would surely apply here: The full offense is incurred when the robe-cloth is delivered to one’s hand. As for the second explanation, the Vibhaṅga assigns only one full offense for receiving the cloth, which means that a larger piece of cloth would not carry more offenses than a smaller one.
Perception is not a factor here. The Vibhaṅga states if the cloth was woven as a result of one’s request, then even if one perceives it as not having been woven at one’s request or if one is in doubt about the matter, one incurs the full offense. If, on the other hand, the cloth was not woven at one’s request and yet one perceives it as having been woven at one’s request—or one is in doubt about the matter—the penalty on obtaining it is a dukkaṭa.
Forfeiture & confession
Robe-cloth received in a way that entails the full offense under this rule is to be forfeited and the offense confessed, following the procedure under NP 1.
To provide a complete treatment of the various combinations of proper and improper behavior related to the two actions covered by this rule, the Commentary gives a table working out the possible combinations of offenses based on two variables: thread properly or improperly received, and weavers proper or improper for the bhikkhu to ask. Thread properly received is any that the bhikkhu has requested from people who are related to him or have invited him to ask. Similarly, weavers proper for him to ask are any who are related to him or have offered him their services.
If both the thread and the weavers are classed as not proper, the penalty is a dukkaṭa in getting them to weave cloth, and a nissaggiya pācittiya when the cloth is obtained.
There is a dukkaṭa in obtaining the cloth if the thread is proper, but the weavers not; OR if the thread is not proper, but the weavers are. (For ease of remembrance: a dukkaṭa if one variable is proper and the other not.)
If both variables are proper, there is no offense.
The Commentary then has a field day working out the permutations if two different weavers—one proper and one improper—work on the cloth, or if proper and improper thread are used in the cloth—proper warp and improper woof, or alternating strands of proper and improper thread—which if nothing else provides an insight into the commentators’ minds.
The Vibhaṅga says that there is no offense “to sew a robe; in (§) a knee strap (§), in a belt, in a shoulder strap, in a bag for carrying the bowl, or in a water-strainer; from relatives or people who have invited one to ask; for the sake of another; or by means of one’s own resources.”
The Commentary interprets the first exemption as applying to the first action mentioned in the rule, meaning that there is no offense in asking anyone at all for thread or yarn to sew a robe. This seems right, as the grammatical form of the exemption is unusual for a non-offense clause, and does not follow the pattern the Vibhaṅga would have used if the exemption were for getting the weavers to sew a robe.
The Commentary also states that the exemptions for a knee strap and the other small items also apply to the first action. In other words, one may request thread or yarn from anyone to make these items, but may not get weavers to weave them. This explanation seems designed to support the Commentary’s position that a piece of cloth measuring four by eight fingerbreadths would be grounds for a full offense under this rule. Here, however, the grammatical form of the relevant exemptions does not support the Commentary’s assertion, for it follows a pattern typical throughout the Vibhaṅga for non-offenses related to the main action covered by a rule. Thus there would be no offense in providing weavers with thread with which to make small items of this sort. Because these articles can be quickly woven, this may have been a common courtesy that weavers extended to contemplatives in the Buddha’s time.
As for the exemptions for relatives and people who have invited one to ask, we have already noted that the Commentary seems correct in applying them to both actions: asking for thread and getting weavers to weave cloth.
Following the Commentary’s explanation under NP 6 & 22, for the sake of another here would mean that one may ask from one’s own relatives or from those who have invited one to ask OR from relatives of the other person or people who have invited him to ask. Asking for his sake from people other than these would entail the full offense.
If the cloth is obtained by means of one’s own resources—i.e., one arranges to pay for the thread and hire the weavers—the Commentary states that one is responsible for the cloth as soon as it is finished and fully paid for, regardless of whether it is delivered into one’s possession. One must therefore determine it for use within 10 days of that date so as not to commit an offense under NP 1. (Alternatively, the Commentary suggests, one may avoid this difficulty by not giving full payment for the cloth until it is delivered.) If, after one has given full payment for the cloth, the weavers promise to send word when the cloth is done, one’s responsibility starts when one receives word from their messenger; if they have promised to send the cloth when done, one’s responsibility begins when their messenger delivers it. At any rate, as with its explanation of “obtaining cloth” under this rule, the Commentary’s statements here conflict with the principle in Mv.V.13.13, in which the countdown on the time span of the cloth begins only when it is delivered to one’s hand.
Summary: Taking thread that one has asked for improperly and getting weavers to weave cloth from it—when they are unrelated and have not made a previous offer to weave—is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
In case a man or woman householder unrelated (to the bhikkhu) has robe-cloth woven by weavers for the sake of a bhikkhu, and if the bhikkhu, not previously invited (by the householder), having approached the weavers, should make stipulations with regard to the cloth, saying, “This cloth, friends, is being woven for my sake. Make it long, make it broad, make it tightly woven, well woven, well spread, well scraped, well smoothed, and perhaps I may reward you with a little something”; and should the bhikkhu, having said that, reward them with a little something, even as much as almsfood, it (the cloth) is to be forfeited and confessed.
The origin story here starts like the origin story for NP 8—a donor plans to clothe Ven. Upananda with a robe—but it contains two differences: Ven. Upananda interferes in the process of making the robe while it is still cloth being woven; and he addresses his stipulations, not to the donors, but to the weavers. The Buddha could have used this occasion as a chance to expand that rule, but he didn’t—perhaps because the change in details required new definitions for the factors of effort and object. Under NP 8, “object” is fulfilled only by a finished robe; here, it is fulfilled simply by the cloth made by the weavers, whether sewn into a finished robe or not.
The factors for an offense here are three.
A piece of any of the six allowable types of robe-cloth, measuring at least four by eight fingerbreadths, which is being made for one’s sake by the arrangement of a donor who is unrelated and has not given an invitation to ask.
One approaches the weavers and gets them to improve the cloth in any of the seven ways mentioned in the rule. Although the rule seems to indicate that the factor of effort is completed only when the weavers receive the promised reward, the Vibhaṅga says simply that it is completed when, as a result of one’s statement, the weavers improve the cloth as requested. In addition, the non-offense clauses give no exemption for a bhikkhu who does not give the promised reward. Thus, the bhikkhu does not have to give the reward for this factor to be fulfilled. The commentaries follow the Vibhaṅga on this point, and add that the bhikkhu’s statement need not even include a promise of a reward. As the Commentary puts it, the bhikkhu’s words quoted in the rule are meant simply as an example of any way in which one might get them to add more thread to the cloth. The Sub-commentary, however, notes that of the seven ways of improving the cloth, only the first three involve added thread. Its implied conclusion is that any statement that succeeds in getting the weavers to improve the cloth in any of these seven ways would fulfill the factor of effort here, regardless of whether the improvement involves adding more thread.
As for the promised reward, the Vibhaṅga defines almsfood as covering anything of even the slightest material value—food, a lump of powder, tooth wood, unwoven thread, or even a phrase of Dhamma. (For example, the bhikkhu might try to get the weavers to improve the cloth by promising to describe the merit they will gain by doing so.) Note, however, that almsfood is defined as the minimal amount of reward. There is no maximum on what might be promised. Thus, even if the bhikkhu promises to pay in full for any added materials or time that the weavers might devote to the robe, he does not escape fulfilling this factor of the offense. (Some have objected that it should be all right for the bhikkhu to pay in full for the improvements in the robe, but remember that to do so would be an insult to the donors.)
One obtains the cloth.
The bhikkhu incurs a dukkaṭa when the weavers improve the cloth in line with his instructions, and the full offense when he obtains it. The procedures for forfeiture, confession, and return of the cloth are the same as under NP 1. The role of perception—regarding whether the donors are one’s relatives or not—is the same as under NP 8.
There is no offense if—
the donors are relatives,
they have invited one to ask,
one asks for the sake of another,
one gets the weavers to make the cloth less expensive than the donors had ordered, or
it is by means of one’s own resources. (This last point refers only to cases where the bhikkhu was the one who had the weavers hired in the first place.)
Summary: When donors who are not relatives—and have not invited one to ask—have arranged for weavers to weave robe-cloth intended for one: Receiving the cloth after getting the weavers to improve it is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
Ten days prior to the third-month Kattika full moon, should robe-cloth offered in urgency accrue to a bhikkhu, he is to accept it if he regards it as offered in urgency. Once he has accepted it, he may keep it throughout the robe season. Beyond that, it is to be forfeited and confessed.
The third-month Kattika full moon is the full moon in October, or the first if there are two. This is the final day of the first Rains-residence, and the day before the beginning of the robe season.
Robe-cloth offered in urgency is any piece of the six allowable kinds of robe-cloth, measuring at least four by eight fingerbreadths, offered under the following conditions: The donor is someone who wants the greater merit that some people believe accrues to a gift of cloth given during the robe season, but who does not want to wait until the robe season to make an offering, either because his/her survival is in doubt—as when a soldier is going into war, a traveler is about to set out on a journey, or a woman has become pregnant—or because he/she has developed new-found faith in the religion. At any time from the fifth through the fifteenth day of the waxing moon at the end of the first Rains-residence (see BMC2, Chapter 11) he/she sends a messenger to the bhikkhus, saying, “May the venerable ones come. I am giving a Rains-residence (cloth).” (The Commentary adds that the donor can also simply bring the cloth to the bhikkhus him- or herself.) Out of compassion for the donor, the bhikkhus should accept the cloth and then, before putting it aside, mark it as robe-cloth offered in urgency. The cloth can then be kept throughout the robe season—the first month after the Rains if the kaṭhina is not spread; and the period during which the kaṭhina privileges are in effect if it is.
The question is, why mark it?
The Commentary argues that, because the cloth counts as Rains-residence cloth, it can appropriately be shared out only among bhikkhus who have kept the Rains-residence up to that point. If any other bhikkhu receives such a piece of cloth, he must give it back, as it belongs to the Community. Thus the mark is for the purpose of recognizing it as such. However, if this were the rationale, there would be no reason to treat the cloth any differently from other gifts of Rains-residence cloth. A more likely rationale for the mark is suggested by a later passage in the Commentary: Other gifts of cloth received during the last ten days of the Rains-residence carry a life span that can, under NP 1 or 3, extend past the end of the robe season. If, for instance, the cloth is offered five days before the end of the Rains, then after the end of the robe season, it can be kept—without determining it or placing it under shared ownership—for an additional five days; if it is not enough to make a robe, it can be kept for up to an additional 25. Robe-cloth offered in urgency, however—as the Vibhaṅga makes clear—carries a life-span that cannot extend past the end of the robe season. Thus, on receiving such a gift of cloth, one should mark it as such before putting it away so as not to forget its status when the end of the robe season approaches.
The factors for an offense
The factors for an offense here are two: object—robe-cloth offered in urgency; and effort—one keeps it past the end of the robe season: the dawnrise after the full moon one month after the end of the first Rains-residence if one does not participate in a kaṭhina, or the end of one’s kaṭhina privileges if one does.
Perception is not a mitigating factor here. Thus the Vibhaṅga states that if, at the end of the robe season, one perceives a piece of robe-cloth offered in urgency as something else—say, as ordinary out-of-season cloth—and keeps it for the amount of time allowed for ordinary out-of-season cloth under NP 3, one commits the full offense all the same. The same penalty holds if the cloth has not been determined or placed under shared ownership and yet one keeps it past the end of the robe season, perceiving that it has.
As for robe-cloth that has not been offered in urgency, if one perceives it as having been offered in urgency or is in doubt about the matter, the penalty is a dukkaṭa. Arguing from the Commentary’s explanation of the similar situation discussed under NP 1, the dukkaṭa here would be for using the cloth without having forfeited it after the robe season is ended.
There is no offense if, before the robe season is over, one determines the cloth, places it under shared ownership, or abandons it (gives it away or throws it away); if it is lost, destroyed, burnt, or snatched away; or if someone else takes it on trust.
Summary: Keeping robe-cloth offered in urgency past the end of the robe season after having accepted it during the last eleven days of the Rains-residence is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
There are wilderness lodgings that are considered dubious and risky. A bhikkhu living in such lodgings after having observed the Kattika full moon may keep any one of his three robes in a village if he so desires. Should he have any reason to live apart from the robe, he may do so for six nights at most. If he should live apart from it beyond that—unless authorized by the bhikkhus—it is to be forfeited and confessed.
The Vibhaṅga explains the phrase, “after having observed the Kattika full moon,” as meaning that, having completed the first Rains-residence, one is now in the fourth month of the rainy season. As we noted under NP 2, that rule—unlike NP 1 & 3—is not automatically rescinded during this month. However, the origin story to this rule indicates that this period was a dangerous time for bhikkhus living in wilderness areas, as thieves were active—perhaps because they knew that bhikkhus had just received new requisites, or simply because now that roads had become passable it was time to get back to their work. This rule was thus formulated to provide a bhikkhu living in a dangerous wilderness area with a safe place to keep a robe away from his lodging as long as certain conditions are met. The Commentary notes that this rule would be of special use to bhikkhus who have completed their robes, ended their kaṭhina privileges, and so want to settle down in the wilderness to meditate. If it so happens that a bhikkhu’s kaṭhina privileges are still in effect, he has no need for the allowance under this rule because NP 2 is automatically rescinded as part of those privileges, which means that he can keep his robes in a safe place away from his lodging as long as he wants.
The Commentary defines the situation covered by this rule in terms of four factors:
1) A bhikkhu has spent the first Rains-residence (see BMC2, Chapter 11) without break.
2) He is staying in a wilderness lodging, defined in the Vibhaṅga as one at least 500 bow-lengths, or one kilometer, from the nearest village, this distance being measured by the shortest walkable path between the two and not as the crow flies. At the same time, he is not so far from a village that he cannot go for alms there in the morning and then return to eat in his lodging before noon.
3) The lodging is dubious and risky. According to the Vibhaṅga, dubious means that signs of thieves—such as their eating, resting, sitting, or standing places—have been seen within it or its vicinity; risky means that people are known to have been hurt or plundered by thieves there. Unlike other rules occurring later in the Pāṭimokkha that mention the vicinity of a lodging—such as Pc 15 & 84—none of the texts define precisely how far the vicinity extends for the purpose of this rule. This lack of a precise definition also occurs in the other rule dealing with dangerous wilderness lodgings, Pd 4. Given the risks inherent in such places, perhaps it was felt unwise to delimit the area in too precise a manner. Thus, in the context of this rule, the “vicinity” of the lodging can be stretched to include any area where the presence of thieves leads to a common perception that the lodging is dangerous.
4) The time period for the extension is one month beginning the day after the end of the first Rains-residence.
A bhikkhu living in the situation complying with these four factors may keep one robe of his set of three anywhere in the village where he normally goes for alms, and—if he has a reason—may stay apart from it six nights at most. As usual, nights are counted by dawns.
The factors for an offense
The factors for an offense here are two: object—any one robe of a bhikkhu’s basic set of three; and effort—staying away from the robe for seven straight dawns (i.e., six straight dawns after first leaving it). Perception is not a mitigating factor here: Even if one thinks that the seventh dawnrise has not arrived when it actually has, one is not immune from the offense.
As the Sub-commentary points out, the Commentary and K/Commentary differ in their definition of the factor of effort here—in particular, as to what it means to be apart from one’s robe. The difference centers on how the two commentaries interpret one of the non-offense clauses: “Having been apart for six nights, having entered the village territory (gāma-sīmā) again, having stayed there (to greet dawnrise), he departs.” The K/Commentary interprets this as meaning that if, at the seventh dawnrise, one is in one’s wilderness dwelling, one incurs the full offense, but if one enters the village territory for the seventh dawnrise, one can then leave the robes there for another six dawns. This means that the bhikkhu counts as being apart from his robe when it is placed in the village and he is in his wilderness lodging.
The Commentary, however, interprets the non-offense clause as covering a different and very particular situation: The bhikkhu is away from both the village and the lodging, and as the seventh dawnrise approaches he is closer to the village than the lodging. The non-offense clause allows him to enter the village, stay in the public hall or any other spot in the village, check up on his robe, and then return to his dwelling, free from an offense. From this interpretation, the Sub-commentary, following Bhadanta Buddhadatta Thera, concludes that the bhikkhu is not counted as apart from his robe when it is placed in the village and he is staying in his lodging. Thus he can leave the robe in the village for the entire fourth month of the rainy season, but if he leaves that lodging on business and lets his robe remain in the village, he may stay away from the lodging or the village only six dawns at a stretch.
There are minor problems with both interpretations. The Commentary’s explanation of the non-offense clause seems forced, but the K/Commentary’s interpretation ignores the Vibhaṅga’s definition of “any reason”—i.e., “any business”—which under other rules indicates situations where a bhikkhu would be away from his lodging. The reason for this rule, as suggested by the origin story, was similar to that for NP 2: When the bhikkhus were away from their robes, the robes “were lost, destroyed, burned, eaten by rats.” If the bhikkhu is staying in his lodging and going for alms in the village, he may check up on his robe every day to make sure that it is safe and sound. The Commentary’s interpretation seems preferable, but both interpretations would fulfill what seems to be the purpose for the rule, so the question of which interpretation to follow is up to each Community.
None of the texts, by the way, define village territory in the context of this exemption. Apparently it has the same meaning as the village territory mentioned in Mv.II.12.7 which, according to the Commentary to that rule, includes not only the built-up area of the village but also any surrounding areas—such as land under cultivation—from which it collects taxes (see BMC2, Chapter 13).
Forfeiture & confession
A bhikkhu under these conditions who has been away from his robe for seven dawns is to forfeit it and confess the offense. The procedures for forfeiture, confession, and return of the robe are the same as under NP 1. The Pali formula for forfeiting the robe is in Appendix VI.
If seven dawns have not yet passed, and yet one thinks that they have or one is in doubt about the matter, the penalty is a dukkaṭa. As under NP 1, this penalty is apparently for using the robe.
There is no offense for a bhikkhu who has stayed away from his robe six dawns or fewer than six; or
if, having been apart from his robe six dawns, he enters the village territory again, stays there (to greet dawnrise), and departs;
if, within the six nights, he rescinds the determination of the robe, places it under shared ownership, abandons it; or the robe gets lost, destroyed, burnt, snatched away, or taken by someone else on trust; or
if he has been authorized by the Community to be apart from his robe. (This, according to the Commentary, refers to the authorization discussed under NP 2.)
As mentioned above, a bhikkhu is immune from an offense under this rule as long as his kaṭhina privileges are in effect, no matter how many nights he is away from any of his robes.
Summary: When one is living in a dangerous wilderness lodging during the month after the Rains-residence and has left one of one’s robes in the village where one normally goes for alms: Being away from the lodging and the village for more than six nights at a stretch—except when authorized by the Community—is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu knowingly divert to himself gains that had been allocated for a Community, they are to be forfeited and confessed.
In AN 3:58, the Buddha states that a person who prevents a donor from giving a gift where intended creates three obstacles: one for the donor’s merit, one for the intended recipient’s gains, and one for himself. There are many ways of creating these obstacles, one of them being to convince the donor to give, not to the recipient originally intended, but to someone else. This is one of two rules— Pc 82 is the other—aimed at preventing a bhikkhu from creating obstacles of this sort.
The origin story here is this:
“Now in Sāvatthī at that time a certain guild had prepared a meal with robe-cloth for the Community, (thinking,) ‘Having fed (the bhikkhus), we will clothe them with robe-cloth.’
“Then some group-of-six bhikkhus went to the guild and on arrival said, ‘Give us these robe-cloths, friends.’
“‘We can’t, venerable sirs. We arrange alms with robe-cloth for the Community (like this) on a yearly basis.’
“‘Many are the Community’s donors, my friends. Many are the Community’s supporters. It’s in dependence on you, looking to you, that we live here. If you won’t give to us, then who is there who will? Give us these robe-cloths, friends.’
“So the guild, pressured by the group-of-six bhikkhus, gave them what robe-cloth they had prepared and then served the meal to the Community. The bhikkhus who knew that a meal with robe-cloth had been prepared for the Community, but not that the cloth had been given to the group-of-six bhikkhus, said to the guild: ‘Present the robe-cloth to the Community, friends.’
“‘There isn’t any, venerable sirs. What robe-cloth we had prepared, the masters—the group-of-six bhikkhus—have diverted to themselves.’
“Those bhikkhus who were modest … criticized and complained and spread it about: ‘How can these group-of-six bhikkhus knowingly divert to themselves gains allocated for the Community?’”
Here there are four factors for an offense.
Any requisite—“robe-cloth, almsfood, lodgings, medicine, even a lump of powder, tooth wood, or unwoven thread”—that donors have indicated by word or gesture that they intend to give to a Community. As the Commentary notes, donors here include not only lay people in general, but also one’s fellow bhikkhus and relatives—even one’s own mother. The fact that a gift is allocated for a Community overrides all other considerations, even when one is ill.
One perceives that the donors have allocated the requisite for a Community. (§—The various editions of the Canon differ with regard to the role of perception under this rule. The PTS edition essentially holds that perception is not a factor here, saying that if one diverts to oneself an item that has actually been allocated to a Community, then whether one perceives the item as allocated or not allocated or is doubtful about the matter, one incurs the full offense in every case. This reading is clearly mistaken, as it does not account for the word knowingly in the rule. The Burmese and Sri Lankan editions list the penalties for the same cases as follows: perceiving it as allocated, the full offense; in doubt about the matter, a dukkaṭa; perceiving it as not allocated, a dukkaṭa. The Thai edition lists the penalties as follows: perceiving it as allocated, the full offense; in doubt about the matter, a dukkaṭa; perceiving it as not allocated, no offense. This last reading is most consistent with the word knowingly in the rule and the Vibhaṅga’s general treatment of rules that include this word. In particular, it corresponds to the parallel passage under Pc 82 as given in all four major editions, and is also supported by the K/Commentary to this rule even in its PTS edition. Thus we will adopt it here.)
All the editions of the Canon agree that if the item is not allocated for a particular recipient, there is a dukkaṭa for diverting it to oneself or anyone else if one perceives it as allocated or is doubtful about the matter, and no offense if one perceives it as not allocated.
This is the only NP rule where perception is a factor in the full offense.
One tries to persuade them that they should give it to oneself instead. (The texts make no allowance for kappiya-vohāra here.) This in itself, following on the second factor, entails a dukkaṭa.
One obtains the article from the donors. This entails the full offense.
Forfeiture & confession
Any gains obtained in violation of this rule are to be forfeited and the offense confessed. The procedures here are the same as under NP 1. The Pali formula for forfeiting the gains is in Appendix VI.
If one knowingly tries to divert gains allocated for a Community to oneself, but the donors go ahead and give the gains to the Community anyway, then the Commentary says that one should not have a share in them. If one does receive a share from the Community, one should return it. If, instead of returning it, one shares it among lay people, the case is to be treated under Pr 2. This, however, seems unnecessarily harsh, for in the case where the donors do give the item to the bhikkhu who tries to divert it to himself, he can receive it back after having forfeited it and then use it as he likes. To impose a heavier penalty on a bhikkhu for not being successful in diverting items to himself seems unfair, and the Vibhaṅga’s judgment here seems preferable: that the penalty in this case would simply be a dukkaṭa for fulfilling the factor of effort.
To divert items allocated for a Community to another individual entails a pācittiya under Pc 82. To divert items allocated for one Community of bhikkhus to another Community or to a shrine (cetiya) entails a dukkaṭa. The same holds true for diverting items allocated for a shrine to a Community, to an individual, or to another shrine; and for diverting items allocated for an individual to a Community, to a shrine, or to another individual. In all of these cases, there is no preliminary offense for the effort. The offense is incurred only when—assuming all the other factors are present—the factor of result is fulfilled.
The Commentary states that the term individual here can mean common animals as well as human beings, and that this last case thus includes even such things as saying, “Don’t give it to that dog. Give it to this one.” This point is well-taken: A bhikkhu has no business interfering with the gains that are to be freely given to another being, no matter what that being’s current status (see AN 3:58).
The Sub-commentary holds that once an item has been presented by a donor, there is nothing wrong in diverting it elsewhere. Thus, it says, taking flowers presented to one shrine and placing them at another—or chasing a dog away from food that has been given to it so that another dog can have a share—would be perfectly all right, but the Thai editors of the Sub-commentary state in a footnote that they disagree.
The Vibhaṅga discusses the non-offenses under this rule in two different contexts. As we noted above, in its passage on perception it says that if one perceives a planned donation as not yet allocated for a particular recipient, one incurs no offense in diverting it to oneself or to others. In the non-offense clauses, however, aside from the standard exemptions, the Vibhaṅga states simply that if one is asked, “Where do we give (this)?” one may answer, “Give wherever your gift would be used, or would be well-cared for, or would last long, or wherever your mind feels inspired.”
The question is, why the exemption for perception was not included in the non-offense clauses. The apparent answer is that that exemption absolves one from an offense under this rule, but not from offenses under other rules concerning inappropriate requests. In particular, as we have noted above, this rule contains no exemption for diverting an item perceived as allocated even when the donors are relatives or people who have invited one to ask. However, if one perceives the item as not allocated, it would not come under this rule, and so one can request it from people such as these or in other instances where requests for items of that sort are allowed. Aside from these instances, though, one may still not request the item even when perceiving it as not allocated. In other words, perceiving an item as not allocated does not give carte blanche to divert it as one likes.
As for the Vibhaṅga’s non-offense clause, it is similar to a passage in SN 3:24, where King Pasenadi asks the Buddha where a gift should be given, and the Buddha replies, “Wherever the mind feels inspired.” This is an important point of bhikkhu etiquette. Throughout the early texts, the act of generosity is treated as an expression of the donor’s freedom of choice and an illustration of the principle of action. If there were no freedom of choice, actions would be predetermined and there would be no motivation to follow a path of action leading to the end of suffering. When a donor gives a gift, he/she is experiencing a moment of freedom from the claims of greed and possessiveness, and gaining direct experience of the benefits of exercising that freedom. For this reason, the Buddha was careful never to infringe on that freedom by suggesting that there was an obligation to give gifts. When King Pasenadi, in the same sutta, asked the Buddha where a gift, when given, bears great fruit, the Buddha stated that this was a different question entirely, and one that he could answer directly: “What is given to a virtuous person—rather than to an unvirtuous one—bears great fruit.”
Thus, following the Buddha’s example, a bhikkhu may tell where a gift bears great fruit, but even when asked where a gift should be given he may not be more specific than the Buddha’s response in SN 3:24 or the response in the Vibhaṅga’s non-offense clause here. When not asked, he has no business at all telling people where they should give their gifts, regardless of how noble his motives may seem in his eyes.
The Commentary provides an additional example of what it regards as proper etiquette in this case: If donors come to a bhikkhu, expressing a desire to give a gift to a Community, a shrine, or an individual bhikkhu, adding that they want to give it in line with his preference, the bhikkhu may say, “Give where you want.” If they are inspired by this remark and give the gift to him, he incurs no offense. The Commentary adds, though, that if the donors express a general desire to give without saying that they want to give in line with the bhikkhu’s preference, he may say only what is stated in the non-offense clause.
Summary: Persuading a donor to give a gift to oneself, knowing that he or she had planned to give it to a Community, is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense.
* * *
A bhikkhu who commits any of these thirty nissaggiya pācittiya offenses must first forfeit the item in question before confessing the offense. If he makes use of the item before forfeiting it, he incurs an extra dukkaṭa—except for money received in violation of NP 18 or 19, which would involve another nissaggiya pācittiya if used in trade. The Commentary to NP 20 states that if the item gets lost, destroyed, or consumed before the bhikkhu forfeits it, he may simply confess a pācittiya. The same would apparently hold true if the item is snatched away or thrown away.
Aside from cases where forfeiture must be made in the midst of a Community of four bhikkhus or more (NP 18, 19, & 22), the offender may forfeit the item to a single bhikkhu, to a group of two or three, or to a Community of four or more. Once he has confessed the offense, he is cleared of the penalty.
In cases where he must forfeit the item in the midst of the Community, he may not receive it in return. In the remaining cases, though, the item must be returned to him. Not to do so entails a dukkaṭa for the bhikkhu(s) to whom it is forfeited. In two cases—NP 22 & 23—there are restrictions as to what a bhikkhu may and may not do with the item received in return after forfeiture, but apart from these rules he is free to use the returned item as he likes.
The act of forfeiture is thus symbolic in most cases, and the effect of the rules is more internal: The offender may not make use of the item until he has confessed his wrong doing, and this in itself should give him time to reflect on his actions. If the item has been obtained or made in an inappropriate way, the act of handing it over to another provides the opportunity to reflect on whether it is worth whatever greed, anger, or delusion it has sparked in one’s mind. If the item has been held in possession either too long (as under NP 1 & 21) or not kept in one’s care at the necessary time (such as NP 2), one can reflect on this evidence of one’s carelessness and on the need for heightened mindfulness.
Offenses of this and the remaining categories in this book are classed as light offenses (lahukāpatti) and are also termed desanā-gāminī, meaning that they can be cleared through confession.