Six: The Alcoholic Drink Chapter
The drinking of alcohol or fermented liquor is to be confessed.
“Then Ven. Sāgata went to the hermitage of the coiled-hair ascetic of Ambatittha, and on arrival—having entered the fire building and arranged a grass mat—sat down cross-legged with his body erect and mindfulness to the fore. The nāga (living in the fire building) saw that Ven. Sāgata had entered and, on seeing him, was upset, disgruntled, and emitted smoke. Ven. Sāgata emitted smoke. The nāga, unable to bear his rage, blazed up. Ven. Sāgata, entering the fire element, blazed up. Then Ven. Sāgata, having consumed the nāga’s fire with his own fire, left for Bhaddavatikā.
“Then the Blessed One, having stayed at Bhaddavatikā as long as he liked, left on a walking tour to Kosambī. The lay followers of Kosambī heard, ‘They say that Ven. Sāgata did battle with the Ambatittha nāga!’
“Then the Blessed One, having toured by stages, came to Kosambī. The Kosambī lay followers, after welcoming the Blessed One, went to Ven. Sāgata and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there they said to him, ‘What, venerable sir, is something the masters like that is hard for you to get? What can we prepare for you?‘
“When this was said, some group-of-six bhikkhus said to the Kosambī lay followers, ‘Friends, there is a strong liquor called pigeon’s liquor (the color of pigeons’ feet, according to the Commentary) that the bhikkhus like and is hard for them to get. Prepare that.’
“Then the Kosambī lay followers, having prepared pigeon’s liquor in house after house, and seeing that Ven. Sāgata had gone out for alms, said to him, ‘Master Sāgata, drink some pigeon’s liquor! Master Sāgata, drink some pigeon’s liquor’ Then Ven. Sāgata, having drunk pigeon’s liquor in house after house, passed out at the city gate as he was leaving the city.
“Then the Blessed One, leaving the city with a number of bhikkhus, saw that Ven. Sāgata had passed out at the city gate. On seeing him, he addressed the bhikkhus, saying, ‘Bhikkhus, pick up Sāgata.’
“Responding, ‘As you say, venerable sir,’ the bhikkhus took Ven. Sāgata to the monastery and laid him down with his head toward the Blessed One. Then Ven. Sāgata turned around and went to sleep with his feet toward the Blessed One. So the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying, ‘In the past, wasn’t Sāgata respectful to the Tathāgata and deferential?’
“‘Yes, venerable sir.’
“‘But is he respectful to the Tathāgata and deferential now?’
“‘No, venerable sir.’
“‘And didn’t Sāgata do battle with the Ambatittha nāga?’
“‘Yes, venerable sir.’
“‘But could he do battle with even a salamander now?’
“‘No, venerable sir.’”
(§—Reading deḍḍubhena-pi with the Thai and Sri Lankan versions of the Canon.)
Alcohol means any alcoholic beverage made from grain, yeast, or any combination of ingredients. Examples now would include whiskey, beer, vodka, and gin. Fermented liquor means any alcoholic beverage made from flowers, fruits, honey, sugar, or any combination of ingredients. Examples now would include wine, mead, and rum. Together, the two terms are meant to cover all kinds of alcoholic beverages.
There is some controversy as to what other substances would be included in this factor in line with the Great Standards. Because the Canon repeatedly criticizes alcohol on the grounds that it destroys one’s sense of shame, weakens one’s discernment, and can put one into a stupor—as happened to Ven. Sāgata—it seems reasonable to extend this rule to other intoxicants, narcotics, and hallucinogens as well. Thus things like marijuana, hashish, heroin, cocaine, and LSD would fulfill this factor. Coffee, tea, tobacco, and betel do not have this effect, though, so there is no reason to include them here.
Perception as to whether a liquid counts as alcohol or liquor is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4). Thus a bhikkhu drinking champagne that he thinks to be carbonated apple juice would fall under this factor, regardless of his ignorance.
The Vibhaṅga defines drinking as taking even as little as the tip of a blade of grass. Thus taking a small glass of wine, even though it might not be enough to make one drunk, would be more than enough to fulfill this factor.
The Vibhaṅga does not, however, indicate how offenses are to be counted here. According to the Commentary, the number of offenses involved in taking an alcoholic drink is determined by the number of separate sips. As for intoxicants taken by means other than sipping, each separate effort would count as an offense.
The Vibhaṅga states that there is no offense in taking items that are non-alcoholic, but whose color, taste, or smell is like alcohol. Thus, for example, carbonated apple juice that resembles champagne would not be grounds for an offense.
There is also no offense in taking alcohol “cooked in broth, meat, or oil.” The Commentary interprets the first two items as referring to sauces, stews, and meat dishes to which alcoholic beverages, such as wine, are added for flavoring before they are cooked. Because the alcohol would evaporate during the cooking, it would have no intoxicating effect. Foods containing unevaporated alcohol—such as rum babas—would not be included under this allowance.
As for alcohol cooked in oil, this refers to a medicine used in the Buddha’s time for afflictions of the “wind element.” The Mahāvagga (VI.14.1) allows this medicine for internal use only as long as the taste, color, and smell of the alcohol are not perceptible. From this point, the Vinaya-mukha argues that morphine and other narcotics used as pain killers are allowable as well.
In addition, the non-offense clauses contain a phrase that can be read in two different ways. The first way would be, “With regard to molasses and emblic myrobalan, (there is no offense) if he drinks unfermented ariṭṭha.” This is the way the Commentary interprets the phrase, which it explains as follows: Ariṭṭha is the name of an aged medicine, made from emblic myrobalan, etc., whose color taste, and smell are like alcohol, but which is not alcoholic. This item, however, would seem to come under the first non-offense clause. Another way to read the phrase would be to take ariṭṭha as an adjective, which would yield, “With regard to molasses and emblic myrobalan, (there is no offense) if he drinks what has not fermented and not turned bad.” Perhaps the mixture of emblic myrobalan and molasses was used to make a type of toddy, in which case the allowance would grant permission for the mixture to be drunk before it had fermented. This allowance could then be extended to liquids like apple cider consumed before it has turned alcoholic.
Summary: Taking an intoxicant is a pācittiya offense regardless of whether one is aware that it is an intoxicant.
* * *
Tickling with the fingers is to be confessed.
“Now at that time some group-of-six bhikkhus were making one of the group of seventeen laugh by tickling him with their fingers. Convulsed with laughter and unable to catch his breath, he died.”
There are three factors for the full offense here.
1) Object: another bhikkhu.
2) Effort: One touches any part of his body with any part of one’s own body
3) Intention: for fun.
A bhikkhu is grounds for a pācittiya here; any unordained person, grounds for a dukkaṭa. The Vibhaṅga does not say whether unordained here includes bhikkhunīs. The Commentary states explicitly that it does, adding that a bhikkhu looking for a little fun can tickle a bhikkhunī without incurring a penalty stronger than a dukkaṭa. There are occasional attempts at humor in the Commentary, and we can probably write this off as one of them.
Perception as to whether the person being tickled is ordained is irrelevant to the offense (see Pc 42).
This factor is fulfilled only by body-to-body contact, as defined at length under Sg 2. The following actions, if done with the intent of making the other person laugh, would be grounds for a dukkaṭa here regardless of whether the person was ordained or not:
using an item connected with the body—such as a stick—to poke at the person;
touching an item connected with the other person’s body;
tossing or dropping things on the other person.
If one has legitimate motives for touching the other person aside from a desire for fun, there is no penalty in doing so. Thus a bhikkhu massaging another bhikkhu’s tired back commits no offense if he inadvertently happens to touch a spot where the other bhikkhu is ticklish. However, touching another bhikkhu in anger would come under Pc 74.
Summary: Tickling another bhikkhu is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
The act of playing in the water is to be confessed.
Here again, the factors for the full offense are three.
1) Effort: One jumps up or down, splashes, or swims
2) Object: in water deep enough to immerse one’s ankle
3) Intention: for fun.
The Vibhaṅga is silent on how to count offenses under this rule. According to the Commentary, each individual effort counts as a separate offense. Thus if one is swimming for fun, one incurs a pācittiya for each hand or foot stroke.
Perception as to whether one’s actions count as “playing in the water” is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
Jumping up or down in water less than ankle deep entails a dukkaṭa, as does splashing water with the hands, feet, a stick, or a piece of tile; or playing with water or other liquids—such as rice gruel, milk, buttermilk, colored dyes, urine, or mud—in a vessel.
The Vibhaṅga states that there is also a dukkaṭa for playing in a boat. This the Commentary illustrates with examples: such things as paddling a boat with an oar, propelling it with a pole, or pushing it up on shore. At present, sailing a sailboat or steering a motorboat would come under this factor.
The Vibhaṅga defines this factor as “for a laugh” (hassādhippāyo), which the Commentary translates as “for fun” or “for sport” (kiḷādhippāyo).
The question of swimming for fitness or exercise is not discussed in any of the texts and seems to have been virtually unheard of in Asia until recent times. Swimming in most Asian countries has long been regarded as a childish form of play, and the one mention in the Canon of athletic bhikkhus keeping their bodies in strong shape is disparaging. In the origin story to Sg 8, Ven. Dabba Mallaputta assigned separate dwellings to different groups of bhikkhus—those who studied the suttas, those who studied the Vinaya, those who meditated, etc.—and, finally, “for those bhikkhus who lived indulging in animal talk and keeping their bodies in strong shape, he assigned dwellings in the same place, ‘So that even these venerable ones will stay as they like.’” Thus it does not seem likely that the Buddha would have recognized physical fitness as an appropriate reason for bhikkhus to go swimming.
On the other hand, if a bhikkhu has a medical motive for swimming—e.g., he has injured his shoulder, and his doctor has recommended that he swim to help speed its healing—this would probably count as an instance of “having business to do in the water” and thus would come under the relevant non-offense clause.
Non-offenses. The Vibhaṅga states that there is no offense in jumping in or out of the water, swimming, or using a boat—
if one goes into the water not for fun but because one has business to do—examples would include bathing or helping a person who cannot swim;
if one is crossing to the other shore of a body of water; or
if there are dangers—e.g., one is escaping a fire or a wild beast.
Summary: Jumping and swimming in the water for fun is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Disrespect is to be confessed.
This rule refers to cases where one has been admonished for one’s behavior. The factors for the full offense are two.
1) Effort: Having been admonished by a fellow bhikkhu who cites a rule formulated in the Vinaya, one shows disrespect
2) Object: for the bhikkhu or for the rule.
We will discuss these factors in reverse order.
Only if the bhikkhu cites a rule formulated in the Vinaya is this factor grounds for a pācittiya. If he criticizes one’s actions, citing standards of behavior for the sake of being “self-effacing, scrupulous, or inspiring; for lessening (defilement) or arousing energy” that are not formulated in the Vinaya, this factor becomes grounds for a dukkaṭa. The Commentary limits “not formulated” to teachings in the suttas and Abhidhamma, but there is nothing in the Vibhaṅga to suggest that this is so. Its normal way of referring specifically to the suttas and mātikās (the basis for the Abhidhamma) is to say, “another Dhamma,” and so its choice of words here seems intended to include any principle, whether expressed in the other parts of the Canon or not, that aims at the goal of being self-effacing, etc. Thus any teaching devoted to such goals would be grounds for a dukkaṭa.
If the person admonishing one is not a bhikkhu, then regardless of whether he/she cites a rule in the Vinaya or standards for being self-effacing, etc., outside of the Vinaya, then the penalty for showing disrespect to that person is a dukkaṭa.
Perception as to whether the person doing the admonishing is ordained is irrelevant to the offense (see Pc 42).
The validity of the admonition is not an issue here. Even if the other person is really an ignorant fool, has misinterpreted the rule, or has peculiar ideas on being self-effacing, etc., one should be careful not to show disrespect in word or deed.
If one is being criticized against standards that have nothing to do with being self-effacing, etc., it would not be grounds for an offense. However, a wise policy would be to avoid showing disrespect for another person, regardless of the situation.
There are two possible targets for one’s disrespect—the person and the rule—and two ways of showing it: by word or by gesture.
Disrespect for the person includes—
saying things that show disrespect in either a crude or subtle way, e.g., “Who are you to tell me?” “It’s presumptuous of you to pass judgment when you aren’t in my position,” “Your critical attitude shows that you have some messy emotional problems that you would be well-advised to look into,” “Get lost!” or “Go to hell!”
or making a rude gesture or even a slight facial expression to show one’s contempt.
Disrespect for the rule includes—
saying, “That’s a stupid rule,” “That rule doesn’t apply to me”;
stubbornly repeating the action for which one was admonished (this point is covered in Mv.IV.17.7-9);
or making a rude gesture, saying, “This is what I think of that rule.”
None of the texts explicitly confine this factor to disrespect expressed in the person’s presence. Thus it would seem that if, as a result of the person’s comments, one expresses disrespect behind his or her back, it would fulfill this factor as well.
There is no offense if, being admonished, one states simply that one was taught differently by one’s teachers. (The precise words in the Vibhaṅga are, “Such is our teachers’ tradition and catechism.” (§)) The Commentary contains a discussion of which sort of teachers’ tradition is worthy of including in this exemption, but this seems to miss the point. If one can rightfully cite one’s teacher’s instruction as the reason for one’s behavior, then regardless of whether the teacher is right or wrong, such a citation would not count as disrespect.
As Dhp 76 says, one should regard a person who points out one’s faults as a guide who points out hidden treasure. If one shows disrespect to such a guide, it is unlikely that he/she will feel inclined to point out any hidden treasure ever again.
A good example of how to receive admonishment was set by Ven. Ānanda during the First Council (Cv.XI.1.10). Although he was admonished for committing acts that the Buddha had not declared to be offenses, and although he did not see that he had committed any error, still he willingly confessed his actions as offenses so as to show good faith in his fellow bhikkhus.
A related rule
Pc 71 covers the case of a bhikkhu who, trying to avoid an offense under this rule, uses a ploy to get out of altering his behavior in response to an admonition. For details, see the explanation under that rule.
Summary: Speaking or acting disrespectfully after having been admonished by another bhikkhu for a breach of the training rules is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu try to frighten another bhikkhu, it is to be confessed.
There are three factors for the full offense here.
One wants to frighten the other person.
One arranges a frightening sight, sound, smell, taste, or tactile sensation—this would include such things as hanging a sheet in a dark room so that it looks like a ghost, making a ghostly wail outside the person’s window, etc.—or one describes dangers from ghosts, robbers, or wild animals.
The other person is a bhikkhu. Anyone who is not a bhikkhu is grounds for a dukkaṭa.
Perception as to whether the person one is trying to frighten is ordained is irrelevant to the offense (see Pc 42).
“Result” is not a factor here. If the three factors are fulfilled, one commits the offense regardless of whether the other person is actually frightened.
To inform another person of dangers from ghosts, robbers, etc., without intending to frighten him/her constitutes no offense. The same exemption holds for arranging a sight, sound, smell, taste, or tactile sensation without the intention of causing fright.
Summary: Attempting to frighten another bhikkhu is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu who is not ill, seeking to warm himself, kindle a fire or have one kindled—unless there is a suitable reason—it is to be confessed.
“Now at that time, in the winter months, bhikkhus warmed themselves, having kindled a fire by a large hollow log. And in that hollow a cobra was scorched by the fire. Coming out, it sprang at the bhikkhus. The bhikkhus ran off every which way.”
Here again the factors for the full offense are three.
2) Effort: One lights a fire or gets someone else to light one
3) Intention: for the purpose of warming oneself.
Not ill, in the context of this rule, means that one can fare comfortably without warming oneself. The Vibhaṅga makes the point that perception as to whether one is actually ill is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4). What this means is that when it is chilly outside, one should be very sure that extra warmth is necessary for one’s health before lighting a fire to warm oneself.
Lighting a fire at present would include turning on the flame in a heating system in one’s dwelling for the sake of the warmth. Solar or electric heating systems, which do not use flames, would not be included here.
Getting a fire lit, according to the Vibhaṅga, means ordering another person to light a fire. Thus there is apparently room for kappiya-vohāra under this rule, as long as one’s suggestion for lighting a fire not be an express command.
If, when not ill, one orders someone else to light a fire (or fires) for the purpose of warming oneself, there is a pācittiya in making the order, and another pācittiya when the other person lights the fire(s), regardless of how many fires are lit as a result of the one order. To return a burning piece of fuel to a fire is grounds for a dukkaṭa; adding new fuel to a fire—according to the Commentary—is grounds for a pācittiya.
There is no offense if one lights a fire or has one lit for purposes other than warming oneself. Thus one may light a lamp or light a fire to boil water, burn dead leaves, or fire an alms bowl without penalty. Cv.V.32.1 says that if a forest fire is approaching one’s dwelling, one may light a counter-fire to ward off its approach. In other circumstances, though, Pc 10 would impose a penalty for lighting a fire on top of “live” soil; and Pc 11 would impose a further penalty for damaging plant life.
In addition, there is no offense in warming oneself at raked-out coals or at a fire lit by someone else (not at one’s request). And there is no offense in lighting a fire when there are dangers. This, the Commentary says, refers to cases when one is bitten by a snake (and wants to make the snake-bite medicine mentioned under Pc 40), when one is surrounded by robbers, or disturbed by non-human beings or beasts of prey.
Cv.V.14.1 allows bhikkhus to use a “fire hall (§),” similar to a sauna at present, for the purpose of inducing perspiration for health reasons. According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense in lighting a fire in a place such as this.
The purpose of this rule is suggested by AN 5:219, which lists the five disadvantages of sitting around a fire: It is bad for one’s eyes, bad for one’s skin, bad for one’s strength, and (most importantly, in this context) groups tend to form (that can turn into factions), and they spend their time in animal talk.
Summary: Lighting a fire to warm oneself—or having it lit—when one does not need the warmth for one’s health is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu bathe at intervals of less than half a month, except at the proper occasions, it is to be confessed. Here the proper occasions are these: the last month and a half of the hot season, the first month of the rains, these two and a half months being a time of heat, a time of fever; (also) a time of illness; a time of work; a time of going on a journey; a time of wind or rain. These are the proper occasions here.
“Now at that time bhikkhus were bathing in the hot spring (at Rājagaha). Then King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, having gone to the hot spring (with the thought), ‘I will bathe my head,’ waited to one side, (thinking,) ‘I will wait as long as the masters are bathing.’ The bhikkhus bathed until nightfall.
“Then King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, after having bathed his head at the wrong time (night)—the gates of the city being closed—spent the night outside the city walls…. (The Buddha learned of the incident and rebuked the bhikkhus:) ‘How can you worthless men, even though you saw the king, bathe not knowing moderation?’”
The original formulation of this rule—with no allowance for “proper occasions”—seems to have been intended as a temporary disciplinary measure for the bhikkhus who had inconvenienced the king. (There was a similar temporary rule, against eating mangoes (Cv.V.5.1), that the Buddha formulated when King Bimbisāra had invited the bhikkhus to help themselves to his mangoes, and some group-of-six bhikkhus went and took all the mangoes in his park, even the unripe ones. The rule was later rescinded (Cv.V.5.2) when the Buddha allowed bhikkhus to eat any and all fruit as long as it was allowable in any of the five ways mentioned under Pc 11.)
As for this rule: Once the proper occasions were added, they relaxed it considerably. For instance:
a time of illness is any time when one does not feel comfortable without bathing;
a time of work can involve as little work as sweeping out the yard of one’s dwelling (§);
a time of going on a journey is whenever one is about to go, is going, or has gone on a trip of at least half a yojana (approximately 5 miles/8 kilometers);
a time of wind and rain is whenever a dusty wind blows and at least two or three drops of rain fall on one’s body.
In addition, Mv.V.13 tells the story of Ven. Mahā Kaccāna’s leaving the middle Ganges Valley and settling in Avantī, to the south. After some time, one of his students—Ven. Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa—asked permission to visit the Buddha. Ven. Mahā Kaccāna gave his permission, together with a request to convey to the Buddha: that certain rules inappropriate for areas outside of the Ganges Valley—this rule among them—be rescinded for bhikkhus living in outlying districts. The Buddha complied with the request and defined the outlying districts in such a way that there is nowhere in the world outside of the middle Ganges Valley where this rule applies.
For those who live in the middle Ganges Valley, the offenses for bathing more frequently than once a fortnight outside of the proper occasions are these: a dukkaṭa for every time one scrubs oneself with chunam (bathing powder) or clay (soap), and a pācittiya when one has finished bathing.
Perception as to whether a fortnight has actually passed is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
In addition to the allowances to bathe more frequently than once a fortnight during the proper occasions or in areas outside the middle Ganges Valley, there is no offense in bathing more frequently if one is crossing a river or if there are dangers. This last allowance the Commentary explains with an example: One is being chased by bees and so jumps into the water to escape them.
Summary: Bathing more frequently than once a fortnight when residing in the middle Ganges Valley, except on certain occasions, is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
When a bhikkhu receives a new robe, any one of three means of discoloring it is to be applied: green, brown, or black. If a bhikkhu should make use of a new robe without applying any of the three means of discoloring it, it is to be confessed.
“Now at that time many bhikkhus and wanderers were traveling from Sāketa to Sāvatthī. On the way, thieves came out and robbed them. Royal officials, coming out of Sāvatthī and capturing the thieves with the goods, sent a messenger to the bhikkhus, saying, ‘Come, your reverences. Let each identify his own robes and take them.’ The bhikkhus couldn’t identify their robes. People criticized and complained and spread it about, ‘How can their reverences not identify their own robes?’”
As this rule indicates, a bhikkhu should wear robes only that have been marked with an identifying mark. The Vibhaṅga does not go into any great detail on procedures for marking a robe, aside from saying that the mark may be as small as the tip of a blade of grass, and can be made with any of the colors mentioned in the rule. (The color green in Pali also covers the color blue, so a mark made with blue ink would be acceptable.)
The Commentary goes into more detail: After the robe has been dyed, one should make a round mark no smaller than the size of a bedbug’s back and no larger than the iris of a peacock’s eye in all four corners of the robe, three corners, two, or one, as one sees fit. Only round marks are allowable. Such things as lines or angular marks (squares, triangles, or stars) are not. Because these prohibitions have no basis in the Canon or the Great Standards, they are not binding.
As the Vibhaṅga notes, once the robe has been marked there is no need to mark it again, even if the mark wears off, the marked part of the robe gets worn through age, one sews a marked cloth together with an unmarked one, or one patches, darns, or adds a hem to a marked robe. If Bhikkhu X marks a robe and then gives it to Bhikkhu Y, Y may wear it without having to mark it again.
In Thailand at present, the custom is to make three small dots in one corner of the robe, saying, “Imaṁ bindu-kappaṁ karomi,” (I make this properly marked) while making each dot. This procedure does not appear in the Canon or commentaries, but does not conflict with any of them.
The factors for the offense here are two: object—a new robe; and effort—one makes use of it without first marking it.
According to the Vibhaṅga, a new robe here is one made out of any of the six kinds of robe-cloth and not yet marked. Thus an unmarked cloth kept for a long time is still regarded as new. The Commentary, noting that the Vibhaṅga does not qualify robe as including even the smallest cloth that can be placed under shared ownership, concludes that robe in the context of this rule refers specifically to completed robes that can be worn over the shoulders or around the waist—i.e., lower robes, upper robes, outer robes, rains-bathing cloths, skin-eruption covering cloths—and not to ordinary pieces of cloth or other cloth items such as sitting cloths, handkerchiefs, or shoulder bags. Any cloth requisite that is not a robe in this sense is not grounds for an offense. Shoulder cloths (aṁsa) were not worn in the time of the Commentary but would seem to fall under this factor, as would any other item a bhikkhu might wear around his body.
Perception as to whether the robe has actually been marked is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
The Vibhaṅga defines this factor with the verb “use” (paribhuñjati), while the K/Commentary is more specific in saying that this factor is fulfilled when one wears the robe over the shoulders or around the waist. Because the mark is to be added only after the robe is dyed, this factor does not cover such things as trying on a new robe while it is being sewn but has yet to be dyed.
As noted above, there is no offense—
in using a robe that has been properly marked;
in using a robe whose mark has worn off (as in washing); or
in using a robe whose marked corner has been torn off or otherwise destroyed.
There is also no need to re-mark a marked robe if one sews it together with an unmarked piece of cloth, or if one patches it, darns it, or adds a new hem to it.
The K/Commentary, arguing from the allowance for makeshift robes under NP 6, states that if one’s robes have been snatched away, destroyed, etc., one may wear an unmarked piece of cloth without committing an offense.
Summary: Wearing an unmarked robe is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu, having himself placed robe-cloth under shared ownership (vikappana) with a bhikkhu, a bhikkhunī, a female trainee, a male novice, or a female novice, then make use of the cloth without the shared ownership’s being rescinded, it is to be confessed.
As mentioned in the explanations to NP 1, vikappana is an arrangement whereby a bhikkhu places a robe or robe-cloth under shared ownership so that he may store it for any length of time without its being counted as an extra cloth. One may share ownership with any of one’s co-religionists as mentioned in the rule.
Passages in the Mahāvagga (VIII.20.2; VIII.21.1) show that shared ownership is intended for cloth that is being stored and not for cloth in use. Cloth that has not been made into a finished robe, rains-bathing cloths being kept during the eight months of the year outside of the rainy season, and skin-eruption covering cloths being kept when they are not needed, may all be placed under shared ownership. The three basic robes, miscellaneous requisites, handkerchiefs, and the sitting cloth may not. As this rule states, when a bhikkhu wants to use a piece of cloth placed under shared ownership, the shared ownership must first be rescinded.
The Vibhaṅga to this rule explains how cloth may be placed under shared ownership, but unfortunately the explanation is rather terse, so we will have to discuss two alternative interpretations.
What the Vibhaṅga says
One may place a piece of cloth under shared ownership only if it is one of the six kinds of robe-cloth discussed under NP 1 and it measures at least four by eight fingerbreadths. There are two ways of placing it under shared ownership: in the presence of (the second owner presumably, although this is a controversial point) or in the absence of (again, this would seem to mean the second owner).
In the first method, one says, “I place this robe-cloth under shared ownership with you (plural)” or “with so-and-so.” (The Pali formulae for this and the following procedures are in Appendix V.) This is as far as the Vibhaṅga explains the method, but it seems to refer to two ways of doing the procedure in the presence of the second owner: One uses “you (plural)” if the other owner is a bhikkhu with more seniority than oneself; and the second owner’s name if he/she is a junior bhikkhu, a bhikkhunī, female trainee, or male or female novice. (Passages throughout the Canon show that it was considered disrespectful to refer to a senior person by his name in his presence. Buddhists, for instance, would never address the Buddha as Gotama, although members of other religions often did. At Mv.I.74.1, Ven. Ānanda says that he is not worthy enough to refer to Ven. Mahā Kassapa by name, as the latter is his teacher.)
The Vibhaṅga does not say how shared ownership is to be rescinded in a case like this, although the K/Commentary gives a formula for the second owner to say: “Use what is mine, give it away, or do as you like with it.”
In the second method, one gives the cloth to a witness and says, “I give this robe-cloth to you to place under shared ownership.” The witness then says, “Who are your friends and acquaintances?” One then names two of one’s friends (with whom one has made an arrangement for using one another’s belongings on trust), and the witness says, “I give it to them. Use what is theirs, give it away, or do as you like with it.”
This second method, apparently, is for use in situations where one has an extra cloth whose time span is almost up and one is far away from any co-religionist with whom one has made an arrangement to use one another’s belongings on trust.
What is happening in the procedure is that one is giving the cloth away to the witness; the witness then places it with one as a gift to one’s friends. Because one already has permission to use their things on trust, one may freely make use of the cloth if one wants to, or simply keep it for any number of days if not. (See Mv.V.13.13.) Cases of placing gifts in trust in this way are discussed in detail at Mv.VIII.31.2-3. According to those passages, the witness has no business in giving one permission to use the cloth after having given it to the two other people; perhaps the statement is included here to show that all sides involved—the witness and the two new owners of the cloth—are agreeable to one’s making use of the cloth. If the two new owners have not previously given one permission to use their belongings on trust, one may not make use of the cloth until they give express permission to do so, although one may keep it for any number of days without incurring a penalty under NP 1.
What the K/Commentary says
The Commentary has nothing to say about these procedures, while the K/Commentary goes into great detail, reworking the Vibhaṅga’s descriptions to come up with three methods.
In the first method, “in the presence of,” one says in the presence of the second owner, “I place this robe-cloth under shared ownership with you.” The shared ownership is rescinded when the second owner/witness gives one permission to use the cloth, give it away, or do as one likes with it.
In the second method—which the K/Commentary also calls “in the presence of”—one says in the presence of a witness who is not the second owner, “I place this robe-cloth under shared ownership with so-and-so.” The shared ownership is rescinded when the witness gives one permission to use the cloth, give it away, or do as one likes with it.
In the third method, “in the absence of,” one gives the cloth to a witness, saying, “I give this robe-cloth to you to place under shared ownership.” The witness says, “Who is a friend or acquaintance of yours?” One names a friend, and the witness says, “I give it to him/her. Use what is his/hers, give it away, or do as you like with it.” The shared ownership is rescinded when the witness says this.
There are several problems with the K/Commentary’s interpretations. First, it is hard to see any practical difference between its methods 2 and 3, why one should be called “in the presence of” and the other “in the absence of,” and in method 2 why the witness should have the right to give one permission to use an article that strictly speaking belongs to someone else.
Second, the K/Commentary’s method for “in the absence of” deviates from the Vibhaṅga’s description of the method. In the Vibhaṅga’s description, the witness places the cloth under shared ownership with two of one’s friends, whereas in the K/Commentary’s, he/she places it under shared ownership with one friend. Why this should be the case, none of the texts explains.
For these reasons, it would seem that the previous explanation—that there are two methods, as described in the Vibhaṅga—is preferable to the K/Commentary’s.
The factors for the offense
The factors for the offense here are two: object—any one of the six kinds of robe-cloth, measuring at least four by eight fingerbreadths, that one has placed under shared ownership; and effort—one uses the cloth without the shared ownership’s being rescinded.
Perception as to whether the shared ownership has actually been rescinded is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
The K/Commentary notes that this rule applies not only to robe-cloth, but also to bowls as well. None of the other texts mention this point, but—given that bowls placed under shared ownership are mentioned under NP 21, and that there is nothing in the Vibhaṅga to indicate that this arrangement is different for bowls than it is for cloth—the Great Standards could be cited to support the K/Commentary here.
There is no offense in using an item placed under shared ownership if the shared ownership has been rescinded or if one makes use of the item on trust. The factors for legitimately taking an item on trust are as follows (Mv.VIII.19.1):
1) The other person is a friend.
2) He/she is an intimate.
3) He/she has spoken of the matter. (According to the Commentary, this means that he/she has said, “You may take any of my property you want.”)
4) He/she is still alive.
5) One knows that he/she will be pleased at one’s taking it.
These factors are discussed in detail under Pr 2.
The K/Commentary’s analysis of the factors involved in committing an offense under this rule suggests that when an item placed under shared ownership is taken on trust, the shared ownership is automatically rescinded, and the item reverts to the status of extra cloth or an extra bowl, as the case may be.
Summary: Making use of cloth or a bowl stored under shared ownership—unless the shared ownership has been rescinded or one is taking the item on trust—is a pācittiya offense.
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Should any bhikkhu hide (another) bhikkhu’s bowl, robe, sitting cloth, needle box, or belt—or have it hidden—even as a joke, it is to be confessed.
This is another rule that comes from some members of the group of six teasing the children in the group of seventeen. The factors for the full offense are three.
Any of the requisites mentioned in the rule, belonging to a bhikkhu. Robe here means any piece of robe material measuring at least four by eight fingerbreadths, except for sitting cloths, which are mentioned separately. Needle box covers not only cases containing needles (see Pc 86) but also empty ones. Any requisite not mentioned in the rule but belonging to a bhikkhu is grounds for a dukkaṭa, as is any requisite belonging to a person who is not a bhikkhu.
Perception as to the status of the person whose requisite one is hiding is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 42).
One hides the article or has it hidden. In the latter case—assuming that the other factors are fulfilled—there is a pācittiya in making the request/command/suggestion, and another pācittiya when the other person does one’s bidding, regardless of how many items that person hides as the result of the one request/command/suggestion.
One is doing it as a game. The Sub-commentary makes clear that the “game” here can either be friendly or malicious. If one hides the other bhikkhu’s requisites out of the perverse pleasure of annoying him or simply for a friendly laugh, one commits the full offense all the same.
There is no offense if—
not as a game, one puts away properly items that have been put away improperly (§), e.g., a bowl left hanging on a peg (see Cv.V.9.5); or
one puts away an item, thinking, “I will give it back (to him) after having given him a Dhamma talk.” Dhamma talk here, the Commentary says, refers to such admonitions as, “A contemplative should not leave his requisites scattered around.” Hiding things with this purpose in mind is sometimes an effective way for a teacher to train his students to stop being careless with their belongings, but it should be used with discretion, for it can easily backfire.
Summary: Hiding another bhikkhu’s bowl, robe, sitting cloth, needle box, or belt—or having it hidden—either as a joke or with the purpose of annoying him, is a pācittiya offense.