BHIKKHUS – IT IS YOUR DUTY TO SAVE THE VINAYA BHIKKHUNI PATIMOKKHA

‘Continue, Bhikkhus, in the practice of Right Conduct, adhering to the Vinaya; continue enclosed by the restraint of the Vinaya, devoted to uprightness in life; train yourselves according to the Vinaya in all its Precepts, in all its Rules, taking them upon you in the sense of the danger in the least offence.”  [Akankheyya Sutta].

FOLLOW THE FOOT-PRINTS OF THE TATHAGATA:

  “Now, at that time Gautama Buddha, the Exalted One was dwelling near Savatthi, in East Park, at the house of Migara’s mother.  And on that occasion He was seated surrounded by the Bhikkhu Sangha, and it was the Uposatha.

Then, the Venerable Bhikkhu Ananda, as the night advanced and the first watch was passing, arose from his seat, put his outer robes over one shoulder, and bowing towards Gautama Buddha, the Exalted One, with folded palms, said to the Exalted One, Gautama Buddha:

‘Lord, the night is far advanced.  The first watch is passing.  Long hath the Bhikkhu Sangha been sitting here. Let my Lord, Gautama Buddha, the Exalted One recite the Patimokkha to the Bhikkhus.’ 

At these words the Exalted One, Gautama Buddha, was silent.

Then a second time, when the second watch was passing, the Venerable Bhikkhu Ananda arose and made the same request.  But the Exalted One, Gautama Buddha, was silent.

 And yet a third time, when the third watch was passing, the Venerable Bhikkhu Ananda rose from his seat and made the same request.  Then Gautama Buddha, the Exalted One said:

 “The assembly is not perfectly pure, Ananda.’

Then thought the Venerable Bhikkhu Moggallana the Great:

 ‘Concerning what person, I wonder, does the Exalted One, Gautama Buddha say this?’

And the Venerable Bhikkhu Moggallana the Great surveyed in mind the whole Bhikkhu Sangha, reading their thoughts with his [by way of the iddhi-power of clairvoyance].  

And the Venerable Bhikkhu Moggallana the Great beheld that person, one of evil conduct, of wicked nature, an impure and suspicious liver, one who covered up his deeds, one who was no recluse though claiming to be one, one who was unchaste though claiming to be chaste, inwardly foul, full of lusts, a sink of filth – sitting there amid the Sangha of Bhikkhus.  And, beholding him, he rose from his seat, went up to him and said:

‘Rise up, friend!  You are seen by the Exalted One, Gautama Buddha! You have no part nor lot with the Bhikkhus!’

But at these words that man was silent.

Then did the Venerable Bhikkhu Moggallana the Great repeat his words, and again a third time.  But a third time also that man was silent.

Then the Venerable Moggallana the Great took that man by the arm, and put him outside the door and drew the bolt, went to the Exalted One and said:

‘Lord, that person is put out.  Quite pure is the assembly, Lord.  Let my Lord Gautama Buddha the Exalted One recite the Patimokkha to the Bhikkhus.’

‘Strange it is Moggallana!  Wonderful it is, Moggallana, that that infatuated person [so I call him] should wait till taken by the arm!’

Then the Exalted One Gautama Buddha addressed the Bhikkhus saying:

‘From this time forth, Bhikkhus, I myself will not observe the Uposatha and recite the Patimokkha.  It is not fitting, Bhikkhus, it is inopportune for the Tathagata to observe the Uposatha and recite the Patimokkha when the assembly is not perfectly pure.’  [Udana, v.5]

Then Gautama Buddha the Exalted One recited:

THE EIGHT WONDERS OF THE MIGHTY OCEAN

 “Just, Bhikkhus, as the mighty ocean deepens and slopes gradually down, hollow after hollow, not plunging by a sudden precipice – even so, Bhikkhus, in this Dhamma-Vinaya the training is gradual progress is gradual, it goes step by step, there is no sudden penetration to insight.

Now since this is so, Bhikkhus, this is the first marvel and wonder of this Dhamma-Vinaya, seeing which again and again Bhikkhus take delight therein.

Again, Bhikkhus, just as the mighty ocean is by nature established and passes not its bounds, even so, Bhikkhus, the charge [Sikkhapadam] which I have delivered to my Bhikkhus, that charge they do not overpass, even at the cost of life.

That, Bhikkhus, is the second marvel and wonder of this Dhamma-Vinaya, seeing which again and again Bhikkhus take delight therein.

Just as, Bhikkhus, the mighty ocean hath no part nor lot with a dead body, for whatsoever dead body is put into the mighty ocean, straighway it washes it ashore and throws it up on dry land; even so, Bhikkhus, whatsoever person there be – of evil conduct, of wicked nature, an impure and suspicious liver, one who covers up his deeds, one who is no recluse though claiming to be one, one who is unchaste though claiming to be chaste, one inwardly foul, full of lusts, a sink of filth – with an one the Bhikkhu Sangha hath no part nor lot, but straightway, on meeting with him, refuses him.  Though seated amid the Sangha of Bhikkhus, yet far is he from the Buddha Sangha, and far is the Buddha Sangha from that person.

Inasmuch, then, as such a person is rejected this is the third marvel and wonder of this Dhamma-Vinaya, seeing which again and again Bhikkhus take delight therein.’

No Caste or Change in the Buddha Sangha

Just as, Bhikkhus, the great rivers, namely, Ganga, Yamuna, Aciravati, Sarabhu, and Mahi on reaching the mighty ocean renounce their former names and lineage and one and all are reckoned as the mighty ocean, even so, Bhikkhus, do the four castes, the Ariyas, the Vessas, the Suddas and the Brahmins, go forth from home to the homeless life under the Dhamma-Vinaya of the Tathagata and renounce their former names and lineage, and are reckoned just as recluses, sons of the Sakya.  Inasmuch as this is so, this is the fourth marvel and wonder, Bhikkhus, of the Dhamma-Vinaya, seeing which again and again Bhikkhus take delight therein.

Just as, Bhikkhus, all the streams in the world reach the mighty ocean, and all rain from the sky falls into it; yet is no emptying or filling thereof seen; even so, Bhikkhus, though many Bhikkhus pass away with Parinibbana which hath no condition of rebirth remaining, yet thereby no emptying nor filling of that passing away is seen; even so, Bhikkhus, this is the fifth marvel and wonder of the Dhamma-Vinaya, seeing which again and again the Bhikkhus take delight therein.

Release is the Goal

Just as, Bhikkhus, the mighty ocean hath but one savour, the savour of salt, even so, Bhikkhus, hath the Dhamma-Vinaya but one savour, the savour of release.  Since this is so, this is the sixth marvel and wonder of the Dhamma-Vinaya, seeing which again and again the Bhikkhus take delight therein.

The Gems

Just as, Bhikkhus, the mighty ocean has many a gem of divers sorts, such as the pearl, the diamond, catseye, chank, rock-crystal, coral, silver, gold, ruby, emerald, even so, Bhikkhus, hath this Dhamma-Vinaya many a gem of divers sorts, to wit – the Four Earnest Contemplations, the Four Best Efforts, the Four Ways of Will Power, the Five Controlling Faculties, the Five Powers, the Seven Limbs of Wisdom, the Ariyan Eightfold Path.  Insofar, Bhikkhus, as the Dhamma-Vinaya is such, this is the seventh marvel and wonder of this Dhamma-Vinaya, seeing which again and again the Bhikkhus take delight therein.

The Fruit

Just as, Bhikkhus, the mighty ocean is the haunt of mighty creatures, such as these: the leviathan, the whale, the great fish, the sea-devas, the sea-serpents, and the mermaids; just as in the mighty ocean there are monsters whose Atta-bhavo [being] spreads for one, two, three, four, five hundreds of yojanas; even so, Bhikkhus, this Dhamma-Vinaya is the haunt of mighty ones, amongst them these: the Stream-winner and the Winner of the Fruits of a Stream-winner; a Once-returner and the winner of the Fruits of a Once-returner; a Never-returner and the Winner of the Fruits of a Never-returner; an Arhat and the Winner of the Fruits of Arhatship.  Since this is so, this is the eight marvel and wonder of this Dhamma-Vinaya, seeing which again and again Bhikkhus take delight therein.’

Thereupon Gautama Buddha, the Exalted One, seeing the reality of all that, uttered thrice these inspired words:

‘Through the thatched roof the rain it goes, but not through what is open.  Then open what is covered up, and rain shall reach thee not.* [Udana, v.5, and Vinaya, ii.9]

WHAT THE BUDDHA DID TO BHIKKHU DEVADATTA, WHO MADE A SCHISM IN THE BUDDHA SANGHA

The Disappointed Ambition of Bhikkhu Devadatta

 ‘Now at that time the Exalted One Gautama Buddha was teaching, surrounded by a great company which contained the Rajah and his Court.

Then Bhikkhu Devadatta, [1] rising from his seat and throwing his upper robe over one shoulder, bowed towards Gautama Buddha the Exalted One with folded palms and said:

‘My Lord, the Exalted One is now grown old, is aged, far gone in years, He has come to life’s end.  Let now my Lord live without worry.  Let Him dwell, given to such happiness as this life contains.  Let Him hand over the care of the Buddha Sangha unto me, and I will take charge of the Buddha Sangha.’

‘Enough, Devadatta!’ – said the Exalted One Gautama Buddha –  ‘Seek not to take charge of the Buddha Sangha!’

Then a second time and yet a third time did Bhikkhu Devadatta make the same request and get the same reply. Then said Gautama Buddha the Exalted One:

‘Not even to Sariputta and Moggallana the Great would I hand over the care of the Buddha Sangha; much less to one like thee, Chavassa-khelapakassa! [vile lick-spittle, who lives on charity got by mean ways].

Then Bhikkhu Devadatta thought thus:  ‘The Exalted One, in the very presence of the Rajah and his Court, refuses me, calls me Chavassa-khelapakassa [vile lick-spittle, one who lives on charity got by mean ways], and extols Bhikkhu Sariputta and Bhikkhu Moggallana the Great!’  So, angry and annoyed, he bowed to the Exalted One, saluted Him by the right, and went away.

Now this was the first occasion of Bhikkhu Devadatta’s grudge against the Exalted One.’

[Thereupon Bhikkhu Sariputta was appointed to excomunicate Bhikkhu Devadatta in a formal manner.  Bhikkhu Devadatta afterwards made several attempts to kill the Buddha, but failed and came to a miserable end, smashed under an earthquake, after having attempted the unpardonable sins: of trying to slay his own father, create a schism in the Buddha Sangha and slay an Arhat].    [Vinaya, ii.7, 2].

Ambition

Now at one time Gautama Buddha the Exalted One was dwelling at Rajagaha on the mountain Vulture’s Peak, not long after the schism of Bhikkhu Devadatta.  Thereupon the Exalted One Gautama Buddha addressed the Bhikkhus about Bhikkhu Devadatta, saying:

‘To his own harm, Bhikkhus, did gain, favours, and flattery come to Bhikkhu Devadatta, and led to his downfall.  Even as a plantain brings forth fruit to its own loss, to its own destruction; even as a bamboo or a reed brings forth fruit to its own loss, to its own destruction; just as a mule brings forth young to her own loss; to her own destruction; even so to his own loss, to his own downfall, have gains, favours, and flattery come to Bhikkhu Devadatta.  Thus terible, Bhikkhus, are gains, favours, and flattery; they are a bitter, painful hindrance to the attainment of the sure peace that passeth all.

Wherefore, Bhikkhus, thus must ye train yourselves:

“When gains, favours and flattery befall us, we will reject them, and when they do befall us they shall not lay hold of and be established in our hearts.”

Thus spake the Exalted One Gautama Buddha: when the Happy One had thus spoken, as Teacher He added this further:

 “The plantain, bamboo, and the reed are ruined by the fruit they bear.  By homage is the fool destroyed, as the mule dies in bringing forth.”

 The Favour of Princes

Once Gautama Buddha the Exalted One was staying at Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove in the Squirrels’ Feeding-ground.

At that time Prince Ajatasattu was supporting Bhikkhu Devadatta and his group, late and early with five hundred carts, conveying therein food brought in five hundred cooking-pots.  Then a number of the Bhikkhus came before the Exalted One Gautama Buddha, saluted Him, and sat down at one side, and there sitting they told all of these things to Gautama Buddha the Exalted One.

‘Do ye not long for gains, favours, and flattery, Bhikkhus!  So long, Bhikkhus, as Prince Ajatasattu thus supports Bhikkhu Devadatta and his group, late and early, with five hundred carts, conveying therein food brought in five hundred cooking-pots, it is ruin, Bhikkhus, that may be expected of Bhikkhu Devadatta, and not growth in good conditions.

Just as if, Bhikkhus, one were to crumble liver on a mad dog’s nose, the dog would only get the madder – even so, Bhikkhus, so long as Prince Ajatasattu thus supports Devadatta, it is ruin that may be expected of Bhikkhu Devadatta and his group, and not growth in good conditions.  Thus terrible, Bhikkhus, are gains, favours, and flattery.  They are a bitter, painful hindrance to the attainment of the sure peace that passeth all.

Wherefore, Bhikkhus, thus must ye train yourselves:

“When gains, favours and flattery befall us, we will reject them, and when they do befall us, they shall not lay hold of and be established in our hearts.”   [S.N., ii. 242].

 Fools Rush In

 Then the Exalted One Gautama Buddha addressed the Bhikkhus and said:

‘Once upon a time, Bhikkhus, there was a great pool in a forest region and elephants dwelt beside it.  These, plunging into the pool, used to pull up the stalks of lotuses; they washed them clean, and when they were free from mud snatched them up and swallowed them.  This practice was for them a source of health and strength.  Consequent on this they did not come by death or any mortal pain.

Now, Bhikkhus, the young elephant-calves, following the example of the big elephants, likewise plunged into that pool and pulled up the lotus-stalks, but without washing them clean they snatched them up, mud and all, and swallowed them.  This practice was not for them a source of health and strenght.  Consequent on that they came by their death, or at least came to mortal pains.  Even so, Bhikkhus, shall Bhikkhu Devadatta die, the miserable man, by imitating me.

Just as the young calf-elephant – who imitates the mighty elephant that shakes the earth and eats the stalks of lotuses, and all night long keeps watch upon the riverside – doth eat the mud [and die the death], so dies the wretch that copies me.’     [Vinaya, ii. 7,5, and S.N. ii. 268].

The Doom

Bhikkhu Devadatta, Bhikkhus, being overcome by, his mind obsessed by, eight evil conditions, is doomed to Avitchi, the state of woe, for the whole aeon, without hope of remedy.  What are those eight conditions?

Bhikkhu Devadatta is overcome, his mind obsessed by love of gain and loss of gain, by love of fame and loss of fame, by love of honour and loss of honour, by evil desires and by evil friends.  Such, Bhikkhus, are the eight conditions.

Moreover, Bhikkhus, there are three evil conditions, by which overcome, his mind obsessed by which, Bhikkhu Devadatta is so doomed.  What are the three?

Because Bhikkhu Devadatta had evil desires, because Bhikkhu Devadatta had evil friends, and because Bhikkhu Devadatta turned aside [from the Path] and came to a standstill by the attainment of the inferior iddhi [lower magic powers that led Bhikkhu Devadatta astray].          [Vinaya Pitaka, ii.7, 7].

The Jackal – I –

 ‘Once Gautama Buddha, the Exalted One, was staying near Savatthi.  Then the Exalted One, Gautama Buddha, said:

‘Have ye heard the jackal, Bhikkhus, that barks by night and at early dawn?

‘Yes, Lord’, said the Bhikkhus.

‘That, Bhikkhus, is a decrepit jackal suffering from a disease called mange.  Wherever it lists, there it goes; wheresoever it lists, there it stays; wherever it lists, there it squats down; wherever it lists, there it lies, however cold be the wind that blows upon it.

Well might it be, Bhikkhus, for  Bhikkhu Devadatta, vowed to the Sakyas’ son, if he should attain such a state of birth as that.

Therefore, Bhikkhus, thus must ye train yourselves:  ‘Earnest will we dwell.’  Even so, must ye train yourselves.’

 The Jackal – II –

Once the Exalted One, Gautama Buddha, was staying near Savatthi.  Then Gautama Buddha, the Exalted One, said:

‘Have ye heard the jackal, Bhikkhus, that barks by night and at early dawn?’

‘Yes, Lord’, said the Bhikkhus.

‘It may be, Bhikkhus, that the sense of thanks and gratitude felt by that decrepit jackal is not to be found in Bhikkhu Devadatta, vowed to the Sakyas’ son.

Therefore, Bhikkhus, thus must ye train yourselves: “Thankful will we be and full of gratitude; may not the slightest boon to us be given in vain.’  Even so must ye train yourselves.’   [S.N. ii 182-3]

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Foot-notes:

 [*] – These words refer to the guilty Bhikkhu who covered up his faults. The commentator says that the Buddha sent His Bhikkhus to a poor man to ask for firewood.  He gave them the timber off his roof.  Then, though it rained all round, his house was dry.

 [1] – Consumed with the ambition to lead, Bhikkhu Devadatta made a schism in the Buddha Sangha.

 

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[Some Sayings of the Buddha, According to the Pali Canon, translated form the Pali by F.L. Woodward, Oxford University Press, Madras, 1925].

 

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