“… the Tathagata takes in hand a man who is to be trained and gives him his first lesson thus:


‘Come thou, Bhikkhu!  Be virtuous.  Abide constrained by the restraint of the obligation.  Become versed in the practice of right behaviour;  seeing danger in trifling faults, do you undertake the training and be a pupil in the moralities.”

M.N. iii chap. 107


[The Short Paragraphs on Conduct]


    “Putting away the killing of living things, Gautama the Recluse holds aloof from the destruction of life.  He has laid the cudgel and the sword aside, and ashamed of roughness, and full of mercy, He dwells compassionate and kind to all creatures that have life.”  It is thus that the unconverted man, when speaking in praise of the Tathagata, might speak.

    ‘Or he might say:  “Putting away the taking of what has not been given, Gautama the Recluse lives aloof from grasping what is not his own.  He takes only what is given, and expecting that gifts will come [2] He passes His life in honesty and purity of heart.”

    ‘Or he might say:  “Putting away unchastity, Gautama, the Recluse is chaste.  He holds Himself aloof, far off, from the vulgar practice, from the sexual act. [3]

    ‘Or he might say: “Putting away lying words, Gautama the Recluse holds himself aloof from falsehood.  He speaks truth, from the truth He never swerves; faithful and trustworthy, He breaks not his word to the world.”

   “Or he might say: “Putting away slander, Gautama the Recluse holds himself aloof from calumny.  What He hears here He repeats not elsewhere to raise a quarrel against the people here;  what He hears elsewhere He repeats not here to raise a quarrel against the people there.  Thus does He live as a binder together of those who are divided, an encourager of those who are friends, a peacemaker, a lover of peace, impassioned for peace, a speaker of words that make for peace.”

   “Or he might say: “Putting away rudeness of speech, Gautama the Recluse holds Himself aloof from harsh language.  Whatsoever word is blameless, pleasant to the ear, lovely, reaching to the heart, porin [civilized speech], pleasing to the people, beloved of the people – such are words He speaks.”

   “Or he might say:  “Putting away frivolous talk, [4]  Gautama, the Recluse holds himself aloof from vain conversation.  In season He speaks, in accordance with the facts, words full of meaning, on the Dhamma, on the Vinaya of the Buddha Sangha.  He speaks, and at the right time, words worthy to be laid up in one’s heart, fitly illustrated, clearly explained, to the point.”

   “Or he might say:  “Gautama the Recluse holds Himself aloof from causing injury to seeds or plants. [5]

   He takes but one meal a day, not eating at night, refraining from food after hours (after midday).

   He refrains from being a spectator at shows at fairs, with nautch dances, singing, and music.

   He abstains from wearing, adorning, or ornamenting Himself with garlands, scents, and unguents.

   He abstains from the use of large and lofty beds.

   He abstains from accepting silver or gold.

   He abstains from accepting uncooked grain.

   He abstains from accepting raw meat.

   He abstains from accepting women or girls.

   He abstains from accepting bondmen or bond-women.

   He abstains from accepting sheep or goats.

   He abstains from accepting fowls or swine.

   He abstains from accepting elephants, cattle, horses and mares.

   He abstains from accepting cultivated fields or waste.

   He abstains from the acting as a go-between or messenger.

   He abstains from buying and selling.

   He abstains from cheating with scales or bronzes, [6] or measures.

   He abstains from the crooked ways of bribery, cheating, and fraud.

   He abstains from maiming, murder, putting in bonds, highway robbery, dacoity, and violence.

   ‘Such are the things, Bhikkhus, which an unconverted man, when speaking in praise of the Tathagata, might say.’



[*] – THE MORALITIES – These titles occur, in the Manuscripts, at the end of the sections of the tract that now follows.  It forms a part of each of the Suttas in the first division, the first third, of this collection of Suttas.  The division is called therefore the Shila Vagga [Sila Vagga] or Section containing the Silas.

[2] – Neumann has ‘waiting for a gift’ which is a possible rendering; but patikankhati has not yet been found elsewhere in the sense of ‘waiting for.’  The usual meaning of the word expresses just such a trifling matter as we have been led, from the context, to expect.

[3] – Gama-dhamma, from the village habit, the practice of country folk, the ‘barbarian’ way.

[4] – Sampha-ppalapa.

[5] – Samarambha.

[6] – Kamsa-kuta.  The context suggests that kamsa [bronze] may here refer to coins, and the word is actually so used in the 11th and 12th Bhikkhuni Nissagiya Rules – the oldest reference in Indian books to coins.  The most ancient coins, which were of private (not state) coinage, were either of bronze or gold.  Buddhaghosa explains the expression here used as meaning the passing of bronze vessels as gold.  Gogerly translates ‘weights’, Childers sub voce has ‘counterfeit metal’, and Newmann has ‘Maass.’



 ”Or he might say:  ‘Whereas some recluses and Brahmans, while living on food provided by the faithful, continue addicted to the injury of seedlings and growing plants whether propagated from roots or cuttings or joints or buddhings or seeds[1] – Gautama the Recluse holds aloof from such injury to seedlings and growing plants.’

‘Or he might say: ‘Whereas some recluses and Brahmans, while living on food provided by the faithful, continue addicted to the use of things stored up; stores, to wit, of foods, drinks, clothing, equipages, bedding, perfumes, and curry-stuffs[2] – Gautama the Recluse holds aloof from such use of things stored up.’

‘Or he might say: ‘Whereas some recluses and Brahmans, while living on food provided by the faithful, continue addicted to visiting shows[3]; that is to say,

1   – Nautch dances [nakkam].[4]
2   – Singing of songs [gitam].
3   – Instrumental music [vaditam].
4   – Shows at fairs [pekham].[5]
5   – Ballad recitations [akkhanam].[6]
6   – Hand music [panissaram].[7]
7   – The chanting of bards [vetalam].[8]
8   – Tam-tam playing [kumbhathunam].[9]
9   – Fairy scenes [Sobhanagarakam].[10[
10  – Acrobatic feats by Kandalas [Kandala-vamsa-dhopanam].[11]
11  – Combats of elephants, horses, buffaloes, bulls, goats, rams, cocks, and quails.
12  – Bouts at quarter-staff[12], boxing, wrestling.[13]
13/16 – Sham-fights, roll-calls, manoeuvres, reviews[14]

Gautama the Recluse holds aloof from visiting such shows.’

‘Or he might say: ‘Whereas some recluses and Brahmans, while living on food provided by the faithful, continue addicted to games and recreations,[15] that is to say,

01  – Games on boards with eight, or with ten, rows of squares.[16]
02  – The same games played by imagining such boards in the air.[17]
03  – Keeping going over diagrams drawn on the ground so that one steps only where one   ought to go.[18]
04  – Either removing the pieces or men from a heap with one’s own nail, or putting them into a heap, in each case without shaking it.  He who shakes the heap, loses.[19]
05  – Throwing dice.[20]
06  – Hitting a short stick with a long one.[21]
07  – Dipping the hand with the fingers stretched out in lac, or red dye, or flour water, and striking the wet hand on the ground or on a wall, calling out ‘What shall it be?’  and showing the form required: elephants, horses etc.[22]
08  – Games with balls.[23]
09  – Blowing through toy pipes made of leaves.[24]
10  – Ploughing with toy ploughs.[25]
11  – Turning summersaults.[26]
12  – Playing with toy windmills made of palm-leaves.[27]
13  – Playing with toy measures made of palm-leaves.
14/15 – Playing with toy carts or toy bows.[28]
16  – Guessing letters traced in the air, or on a playfellow’s back.[29]
17  – Guessing the play-fellow’s thoughts.
18  – Mimicry of deformities –

Gautama, the Recluse holds aloof from such games and recreations.’


Foot Notes

[1]   – Buddhaghosa gives examples of each of these five classes of the vegetable kingdom without explaining the terms.  But it is only the fourth which is doubtful.  It may mean ‘graftings,’ if the art of grafting was then known in the Ganges valley.
[2]   – Amisa. Buddhaghosa (pag.83) gives a long list of curry-stuffs included under this term.  If he is right then Gogerly’s ‘raw grain’ is too limited a translation, and Neumann’s ‘all sorts of articles to use’ too extensive.  In its secondary meaning the word means ‘something nice, a relish, a dainty.’
[3]   – Visuka-dassanam. This word has only been found elsewhere in the phrase ditthi-visukam, ‘the puppet shows of heresy’ [Majjhima I, pp.8, 486; and Serissaka Vimana LXXXIV, 26).  The Sinhalese renders it wiparita-darsana.
[4]   – Dancing cannot mean here a dancing in which the persons referred to took part.  It must be ballet or nautch dancing.
[5]   – Literally ‘shows’.  This word, only found here, has always been rendered ‘theatrical representations.’  Clough first translated it so in his Sinhalese Dictionary, p.665, and he was followed by Gogerly, Burnouf, myself [in ‘Buddhist Suttas,’ p. 192], and Dr Neumann approve this.  But it is most unlikely that the theatre was already known in the fifth century b.c.  And Buddhaghosa [p.84] explains it, quite simply, as nata-samagga.  Now samaggo is a very interesting old word [at least in its Pali form].  The Sanskrit samagya, according to the Petersburg Dictionary, has only been found in modern dictionaries.  The Pali occurs in other old texts such as Vinaya II, 107; IV, 267 [both times in the very same context as it does here];  ibid. II, 150; IV, 85; Sigalovada Sutta, p.300; and it is undoubtedly the same word as samaga in the first of the fourteen Edicts of Ashoka.  In the Sigalovada there are said to be six dangers at such a samaggo; to wit, dancing, singing, music, recitations, conjuring tricks, and acrobatic shows.  And in the Vinaya passages we learn that at a samaggo not only amusements but also food was provided; that high officials were invited, and had special seats; and that it tok place at the top of a hill.  This last detail of ‘high places’ [that is sacred places] points to a religious motive as underlying the whole procedure.  The roog ag [ayw, ago, whence our ‘act’] belongs to the stock of common Aryan roots,and means ‘carrying on.’  What was the meaning of this ‘carrying on together’?  Who were the people who took part?  Were they confined to one village?  Or have we here a survival from old exogamic communistic dancings together?  Later the word means simply ‘fair’, as at Gataka III, 541:
        ‘Many the bout I have played with quarterstaves at the fair,’ with which Gataka I, 394 may be compared.  And it is no doubt this side of the festival which is here in the mind of the author; but ‘fair’ is nevertheless a very inadequate rendering.  The Sinhalese has ‘rapid movement in dance-figures’ [ranga-mandalu].
[6]   – These ballad recitations in prose and verse combined were the source from which epic poetry was afterwards gradually developed.  Buddhaghosa has no explanation of the word, but gives as examples the Bharata and the Ramayana.  The negative anakhanam occurs in Majjhima I, 503.
[7]   – Buddhaghosa explains this as ‘playing on cymbals’; and adds that it is also called panitalam.  The word is only found here and at Gataka V, 506, and means literally, ‘hand-sounds.’
[8]   – Buddhaghosa says ‘deep music, but some say raising dead bodies to life by spells.’  His own explanation is, I think, meant to be etymological; and to show that he derives the word from vi+tala.  This would bring the word into connection with the Sanskrit vaitalika, ‘royal bard.’  The other explanation connects the word with vetala, ‘a demon,’ supposed to play pranks [as in the stories of the Vetala-panka-vimsati] by reanimating corpses.  Dr Neumann adopts it.  But it does not agree so well with the context;  and it seems scarcely justifiable to see, in this ancient list, a reference to beliefs which can only be traced in literature more than a thousand years later.  Gogerly’s rendering ‘funeral ceremonies,’ which I previously followed, seems to me now quite out of the question.
[9]   – It is clear from Gataka V, 506 that this word means a sort of music.  And at Vinaya IV, 285, kumbhathunika are mentioned in connection with dancers, acrobats, and hired mourners.  Buddhaghosa is here obscure and probably corrupt, and the derivation is quite uncertain.  Gogerly’s guess seems better than Burnouf’s or Neumann’s.  The Sinhalese has ‘striking a drum big enough to hold sixteen gallons.’
[10]  – Buddhaghosa seems to understand by this term [literally ‘of Sobha city’] the adornments or scenery used for a ballet-dance.  [Patibhana-kittam at Vinaya II, 151; IV, 61, 298, 358; Sum. I, 42 is the nude in art].  Weber has pointed out [Indische Studien, II, 38; III, 153] that Sobha is a city of the Gandharvas, fairies much given to music and love-making.  It is quite likely that the name of a frequently used scene for a ballet became a proverbial phrase for all such scenery.  But the Sinhalese has ‘pouring water over the head of dancers, or nude paintings.’
[11]  – Buddhaghosa takes these three words separately, and so do all the MSS. of the text, and the Sinhalese version.  But I now think that the passage at Gataka IV, 390 is really decisive, and that we have here one of the rare cases where we can correct our MSS. against the authority of the old commentator.  But I follow him in the general meaning he assigns to the strange expression ‘Kandala-bamboo-washings.’
[12]  – See Gataka III, 541
[13]  – Nibuddham. The verbal form nibbugghati occurs in the list at Vinaya III, 180 [repeated at II, 10]; and our word at Milinda 232.
[14]  – All these recur in the introductory story to the 50th Pakittiya [Vinaya IV, 107].  On the last compare Buddhaghosa on Mahavagga V, I, 29.
[15]  – Chess played originally on a board of eight times ten squares was afterwards played on one of eight times eight squares.  Our text cannot be taken as evidence of real chess in the fifth century b.c., but it certainly refers to games from which it and draughts must have been developed.  The Sinhalese Sanna says that each of these games was played with dice and pieces such as kings and so on.  The word for pieces is poru [from purisa] – just our ‘men.’
[16]  – Akasam.  How very like blindfold chess!
[17]  – Parihara-patham.  A kind of primitive ‘hop-scotch.’  The Sinhalese says the steps must be made hopping.
[18]  – Santika.  Spellicans, pure and simple.
[19]  – Khalika.  Unfortunately the method of playing is not stated.  Compare Eggeling’s note as in his Satapatha-Brahmana III, 106, 7. In the gambling-scene on the Bharhut Tope [Cunningham, Pl. XLV, No.9] there is a board marked out on the stone of six times five squares [not six by six], and six little cubes with marks on the sides visible lie on the stone outside the board.
[20]  – Ghatikam.  Something like ‘tip-cat’. Sim-kelimaya in Sinhalese.
[21]  – Salaka-hattham.  On flour-water as colouring matter, see Gataka I, 220.
[22]  – Akkham.  The usual meaning is ‘a die’.  But the Sinhalese translator agrees with Buddhaghosa.  Neither gives any details.
[23]  – Pangakiram.  The Sinhalese for this toy is pat-kulal. Morris in J.P.T.S., 1889, p.205, compares the Marathi pungi.
[24]  – Vankakam.  From Sanskrit vrika.  See Journal of the Pali Text Society, 1889, p.206.
[25]  – Mokkhakika.  So the Sinhalese.  Buddhaghosa has an alternative explanation of turning over a trapeze, but gives this also.  See Vinaya I, 275, and J.P.T.S., 1885, p.49.
[26]  – Kingulikam.  See Morris in the J.P.T.S., 1885, p.50, who compares kingulayitva at Anguttara III, 15, 2.
[27]  – All these six, from No.10 inclusive, are mentioned in the Majjhima, vol. i, p.266, as children’s games.
[28]  – Akkharika.  It is important evidence for the date at which writing was known in India that such a game should be known in the fifth century b.c.
[29]  – The following list recurs Vinaya I, 192 = II, 163 = Anguttara I, 181, etc.  


 [‘Dialogues of the Buddha’, translated from the Pali by T. W. Rhys-Davids, Oxford University Press, London, 1899].