Part Two: The Living Plant Chapter
11. The damaging of a living plant is to be confessed.
"Now a certain Alavi bhikkhu was chopping down a tree. The
devata living in the tree said to the bhikkhu, 'Sir, do not
chop down my dwelling to build a dwelling for yourself.'
The bhikkhu, paying no attention, continued chopping and
injured the arm of the devata's child. The devata thought:
'What if I were to kill this bhikkhu right here?' Then
another thought occurred to her: 'But no, that wouldn't be
proper. What if I were to inform the Blessed One of this
matter?' So she went to the Blessed One and on arrival
informed him of what had happened.
"'Very good, devata. It's very good that you didn't kill
the bhikkhu. If you had, you would have produced much
demerit for yourself. Now go, devata. Over there is a
vacant tree. Go into it.' (The Commentary adds here that
the tree, being in the Jetavana Monastery, was one of the
choicest pieces of devata real estate in those days. Other
devas coming to pay their respects to the Buddha also made a
point of paying their respects to the devata living in this
tree. At any rate:)
"People were offended and annoyed and spread it about, 'How
can these Sakyan contemplatives cut down trees and have them
cut down? They are destroying one-facultied life.'"
This is another offense with the four factors of object, effort,
perception, and intention.
Object. The Pali term for living plant -- //bhutagama// --
literally means the home of a being. This the Sub-commentary
explains by saying that devatas may take up residence in plants
standing in place by means of a longing on which their consciousness
fastens (at the end of their previous lives) as in a dream. This
rule is justified, it says, in that the etiquette of a contemplative
precludes doing harm to the abodes of living beings. As the origin
story shows, though, the reason this rule was laid down in the first
place was to prevent bhikkhus from offending people who held to the
animist belief that regarded plants as one-facultied life having the
sense of touch.
The Vibhanga defines //bhutagama// as vegetation arising from any
of five sources:
1) from bulbs, rhizomes, or tubers (e.g., potatoes, tulips),
2) from cuttings or stakes (e.g., willows, rose bushes),
3) from joints (e.g., sugar cane, bamboo),
4) from runners (e.g., strawberries, couch grass), or
5) from seeds (e.g., corn, beans).
According to the Commentary, a whole plant or part of one that has
been removed from its original place is no longer classed as
bhutagama. If it is capable of growing again if placed in the
ground, it is classed as //bijagama//, which means "home of a
plant." When a seed is sown, it is regarded as bijagama until the
first shoot turns a fresh green color, and the first leaf appears.
After that it is regarded as bhutagama.
In line with this criterion, the Commentary classifies as bijagama
such lower forms of plant life as mushrooms that still have their
spores, fungi, lichens without leaves, and moulds, in that they do
not pass through a fresh green stage, have no discernable leaves,
and yet are capable of regeneration. Mushrooms that have lost their
spores, and parts of any plants that have been removed from place
and will not grow, or that have been cooked or otherwise damaged to
the point where they are incapable of generation, are not grounds
for an offense under this rule.
The Commentary states further that to damage bijagama entails a
dukkata. The Vibhanga makes no mention of this point, but the
Commentary cites as its justification a passage that occurs in a
number of suttas (D.1, D.2, etc.) saying that bhikkhus refrain from
harming both bhutagama and bijagama. The Mahavagga and Cullavagga
give partial justification to the Commentary's assertion in two
passages, dealing with bhikkhus eating fruit, which we will discuss
below. The Jain ascetics follow similar observances, which suggests
that both the Buddhists and the Jains adopted this point from the
ancient Indian ascetics who predated both religions.
Furthermore, according to the Commentary, there are certain kinds
of plants that do not count either as bhutagama or bijagama under
this rule, and to damage them entails no offense. To justify this
point it quotes a passage from the Cullavagga (VIII.1.2): "If a
varnished wall...(or) finished floor has spots of mould (%), it is
to be wiped off with a moistened cloth that has been wrung out."
The Commentary extends the Canon's instructions here to cover not
only mould on walls but also other lower forms of plant life -- such
as algae on the inside of water jars, fungus on toothbrushes, and
mould on food -- that would count as filth if they were allowed to
Effort. According to the Vibhanga, the term //damaging// includes
such actions as cutting, breaking, picking, burning, and cooking.
The Commentary defines the term as "dealing with a plant as one
likes by cutting it, breaking it, and so on." Although the word
"dealing with," //paribhunjati//, literally means "making use of,"
the Commentary's illustrations of what this covers include even such
things as shaking a tree limb to get the dry leaves to fall off so
that one can sweep them up. Thus, it says, //damaging// would
include picking flowers or leaves, uprooting a plant, engraving
one's initials in a tree trunk, etc. Since no exception is made for
doing such things with "benevolent" intentions towards the plant,
pruning would be included as well. Given the catch-all nature of
the Commentary's definition, using herbicides to kill plants would
also come under the term "damaging."
Plants growing in water, such as water hyacinths, whose roots do
not extend to the earth beneath the water, have the water as their
base. To remove them from the water is to damage them, although
there is no offense in moving them around in the water. To move
them from one body of water to another without incurring a penalty,
one may take them together with some of the water in which they
originally lived and place them together with that water into the
new body of water.
Plants such as mistletoe, orchids, and bird vine that grow on
trees have the tree as their base. To remove them from the tree is
to damage them and so entails a pacittiya.
Perception. If one damages a living plant (%) perceiving it to be
something else -- say, a dead plant -- there is no offense. If one
damages a plant in doubt as to whether it is living or dead, then
regardless of what it actually is, the offense is a dukkata.
Intention is discussed in detail under the non-offenses, below.
Making Fruit Allowable. Since fruit seeds are bijagama, the
question arises as to how bhikkhus should go about eating fruit.
The Commentary to this rule discusses in detail two passages, one
each in the Mahavagga (VI. 21) and the Cullavagga (V.5.2), dealing
with precisely this question. The Cullavagga passage reads, "I
allow you, bhikkhus, to consume fruit that has been made allowable
for contemplatives in any of five ways: if it is damaged by fire,
by a knife, by a nail, if it is seedless, and the fifth is if the
seeds are discharged." The Mahavagga passage reads, "Now at that
time there was a great quantity of fruit at Savatthi, but there was
no one to make it allowable....(The Buddha said,) 'I allow you,
bhikkhus, to consume fruit that is seedless or whose seeds are
discharged, (even if) it has not been made allowable."
First, to summarize the commentaries' discussion of seedless fruit
and fruit whose seeds have been discharged: According to the
Commentary to the Mahavagga, "seedless fruit" includes fruit whose
seeds are too immature to grow. As for fruit whose seeds have been
discharged, the Sub-commentary states that this means, "Fruit, such
as mangoes or jackfruit, which it is possible to eat having removed
the seeds and separating them entirely (from the flesh)."
The question sometimes arises as to whether bhikkhus may remove
the seeds themselves before eating fruit of this sort, or whether an
unordained person has to remove them first, but given the context of
the Mahavagga passage and the wording of the Sub-commentary's
explanation, it seems clear that the bhikkhus themselves may
discharge the seeds before or while eating the fruit. As the
Commentary notes, both these kinds of fruit are allowable in and of
themselves, and need not go through any other procedure to make them
Other kinds of fruit, though, such as those with numerous seeds
(such as tomatoes and blackberries) or whose seeds would be
difficult to remove undamaged (such as grapes) must be damaged by
fire, a knife, or a fingernail before a bhikkhu may eat them. The
Commentary's description of how to do this shows that the damaging
need only be symbolic: An unordained person draws a hot object or a
knife across the skin of the fruit, or pokes it with a fingernail,
saying "allowable" (//kappiyam//) either while doing the damaging or
immediately afterward. The Sub-commentary notes that the word for
"allowable" may be stated in any language.
If a heap of fruit, such as grapes, is brought to a bhikkhu, he
should say, "Make it allowable," (//Kappiyam karohi//,) either to
the donor or to any other unordained person who knows how. The
unordained person need only make one of the grapes allowable in line
with the above procedures for the entire heap to be considered
allowable, although he/she should not remove the grape from the heap
while doing so.
The Sub-commentary claims that the ceremony of making fruit
allowable must always be performed in the presence of a bhikkhu, but
the Commentary mentions this factor only in connection with this
last case -- making an entire heap of fruit allowable by "damaging"
only one piece -- and not in its basic description of how the
procedure is done.
In Communities that follow the Sub-commentary, the custom is as
follows: When a donor brings grapes, tomatoes, or similar fruit to
a bhikkhu, the bhikkhu says, "//Kappiyam karohi// (Make it
allowable)." The donor damages the fruit in any of the three
specified ways and says, "//Kappiyam bhante// (It is allowable,
sir)," while doing the damaging, and then presents the fruit to the
In Communities that do not follow the Sub-commentary, the donor
may perform the act of damaging the fruit beforehand, and simply
inform the bhikkhu that the fruit has been made allowable when
presenting it to him. In either case, the act of making a heap of
fruit allowable by damaging only one piece //must// be done in the
presence of a bhikkhu. And we should note again that seedless fruit
or fruit whose seeds may be removed entirely from the flesh of the
fruit are allowable in and of themselves, and do not have to go
through any procedure before a bhikkhu may accept and eat them.
The two passages in the Mahavagga and Cullavagga that we have been
discussing deal specifically only with fruit, but the Commentary
extrapolates from them to say that the same conditions apply to
other forms of bijagama, such as sugar cane, and bean sprouts as
Non-offenses. There is no offense for a bhikkhu who cuts a living
//unknowingly// -- e.g., thinking it to be dead,
//unthinkingly// -- e.g., absent-mindedly pulling grass while
talking with someone, or
//unintentionally// -- e.g., inadvertently uprooting grass while
raking leaves or grabbing onto a plant for support while climbing
a hill and inadvertently uprooting it.
Also, there is no penalty in telling an unordained person to make
an item allowable, in asking for leaves, flowers, etc. without
specifically saying //which// leaves or flowers are to be picked; or
in indicating indirectly that, e.g., the grass needs cutting ("Look
at how long the grass is") or that a tree needs pruning ("This
branch is in the way") without expressly giving the command to cut.
In other words, this is another rule where one may avoid an offense
by using //kappiya-vohara//: "wording it right."
The Cullavagga (V.32.1) says that if a brush fire is approaching a
dwelling, one may light a counter-fire to ward it off. In doing so,
one is exempt from any penalty imposed by this rule.
Also, according to the Sub-commentary to NP 6, a bhikkhu whose
robes have been stolen and who cannot find any other cloth to cover
himself, may pick grass and leaves to cover himself without
incurring any penalty here.
Summary: Intentionally cutting, burning, or killing a
living plant is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
12. Evasive speech and uncooperativeness are to be
This rule deals with a bhikkhu's behavior in a communal meeting when
being formally questioned about a charge made against him. The
factors for the full offense here are two:
1) //Intention//: One desires to hide one's own offenses.
2) //Effort//: One continues engaging in evasive speech or in
being uncooperative after the Community has brought a formal
charge of evasive speech or uncooperativeness against one.
These factors will be easier to understand if we discuss effort
and intention before going on to the formal act.
Evasive speech is illustrated in the origin story as follows:
"Now at that time Ven. Channa, having misbehaved and being
examined about the offense in the midst of the Community,
avoided one question with another: 'Who has committed the
offense? What was committed? With regard to what matter
was it committed? How was it committed? What are you
saying? Why do you say it?'"
The Commentary notes that //evasive speech// covers any and all
forms of speaking beside the point when being formally questioned,
and not just the ones given in the origin story. The Sub-commentary
agrees and gives an additional example of its own:
"Have you committed this offense?"
"I've been to Pataliputta."
"But we're not asking about your going to Pataliputta.
We're asking about an offense."
"From there I went to Rajagaha."
"Well, Rajagaha or Brahmanagaha, did you commit the
"I got some pork there."
As for uncooperativeness:
"Now at a later time Ven. Channa, being examined about an
offense in the midst of the Community, (thinking), 'By
avoiding one question with another, I will fall into an
offense,' remained silent and was uncooperative with the
Thus, the texts say, to be //uncooperative// means to remain
silent when being formally questioned in the midst of the Community.
Intention. This factor is fulfilled only if one is acting out of
a desire to conceal one's own offenses. If one has other reasons
for remaining silent or asking questions while being questioned,
there is no penalty. For example, there is no offense for a bhikkhu
who, when being examined, asks questions or gives answers not to the
point because he
does not understand what is being said,
is too ill to speak,
feels that in speaking he will create conflict or dissension in
the Community, or
feels that the Community will carry out its formal act unfairly or
not in accordance with the rule.
The formal act. If a bhikkhu speaks evasively or is uncooperative
out of a desire to conceal his own offenses, he incurs a dukkata.
If the Community sees fit, it may then bring a formal charge of
evasion or uncooperativeness against him in order to restrain him
from persisting in such behavior. If he then continues being
evasive or uncooperative, he incurs a pacittiya.
Perception is not a factor here. Once a formal charge of evasion
or uncooperativeness has been rightfully brought against a bhikkhu,
and he continues to be evasive or uncooperative, he incurs a
pacittiya regardless of whether he sees the charge as rightful or
not. If the charge has been wrongfully brought against him -- e.g.,
the formal act was not carried out strictly in accordance with
formal procedure -- then in continuing to be evasive or remain
silent out of a desire to hide his offenses, he incurs a dukkata
regardless of whether he perceives the charge as wrongful, rightful,
or doubtful. In other words, he is not let off the hook simply
because the Community has not mastered formal procedure.
If, after the Community rightly brings a formal charge of evasive
speech or uncooperativeness against a bhikkhu, he continues being
evasive or uncooperative simply to avoid revealing his offenses, he
may further be subject to a more severe penalty: a formal act of
censure (//tajjaniya-kamma//) for being a maker of trouble and
strife for the Community (Cv.I.1-8) or -- what is essentially the
same thing -- an act for further misbehavior
(//tassa-papiyasika-kamma//) for not admitting to a true charge
right from the start (see the discussion under the
Adhikarana-Samatha rules, Chapter 11).
Non-offenses. If a bhikkhu answers not to the point or remains
silent for any of the allowable reasons, he incurs no penalty even
after a formal act of evasive speech or uncooperativeness has for
some reason been brought against him.
Summary: Persistently replying evasively or keeping silent
in order to conceal one's own offenses when being questioned
in a meeting of the Community -- after a formal charge of
evasiveness or uncooperativeness has been brought against
one -- is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
13. Maligning or complaining (about a Community official) is
to be confessed.
Community officials. In the Cullavagga (VI.21), the Buddha gives
allowance for a Community of bhikkhus to designate various of its
members as Community officials, to handle such business as
distributing food, deciding who will stay in which lodging, keeping
the rosters that decide who will receive the invitations to which
meals, etc. Ven. Dabba Mallaputta was the first such official and
was well-equipped for the job:
"As for those bhikkhus who came at night, he would enter the
fire-element for them and by that light would assign them
lodgings -- so much so that bhikkhus would arrive at night
on purpose, thinking, 'We will see the marvel of Ven. Dabba
Mallaputta's psychic power.' Approaching him, they would
say, 'Friend Dabba, assign us lodgings.'
"Ven. Dabba Mallaputta would say, 'Where would you like?
Where shall I assign them?'
"Then they would name a distant place on purpose: 'Friend
Dabba, assign us a lodging on Vulture's Peak. Friend Dabba,
assign us a lodging on Robber's Cliff....'
"So Ven. Dabba Mallaputta, entering the fire-element for
them, went before them with his finger glowing, while they
followed behind with the help of his light."
Even with his special skills, there were bhikkhus who were
dissatisfied with the lodgings and meals he assigned to them -- as
we saw under Sanghadisesas 8 & 9 -- and in the origin story to this
rule they malign and complain about him.
Object. Only a bhikkhu who has been formally agreed upon as a
Community official fulfills the factor of object under this rule.
All other people, ordained or not, are grounds for a dukkata.
Effort. The Commentary and Sub-commentary give the clearest
description of the distinction between maligning and complaining:
To malign means to speak critically of a person in the presence of
one or more other people so as to make them form a low opinion of
him/her. To complain means simply to give vent to one's criticisms
of the person within earshot of someone else.
According to the Vibhanga, the penalty for maligning or
complaining about a Community official is a pacittiya if one's
listener is a fellow bhikkhu, and a dukkata if one's listener is an
unordained person (%). The question of who one's remarks are
addressed to is irrelevant if one is maligning or complaining about
an unordained person or a bhikkhu who is not a Community official:
The penalty is a dukkata, regardless of whether the person to whom
the remarks are addressed is ordained or not.
Non-offenses. The Vibhanga says that if a Community official acts
habitually out of any of the four causes for prejudice --
favoritism, animosity, stupidity, or fear -- there is no offense in
maligning or complaining about him. For example, if he assigns the
best lodgings to certain bhikkhus simply because he likes them,
gives the poorest food to certain bhikkhus simply because he
dislikes them, habitually sends the wrong bhikkhus to the wrong
meals because he is too stupid to handle the rotating rosters
properly, or gives the best treatment to certain bhikkhus because he
is afraid of them or their supporters, there is no offense in
criticizing his behavior in the presence of others.
However, one should be very sure of the facts of the case before
taking advantage of this allowance. Disappointment and anger have a
way of coloring one's perceptions, making another person's perfectly
blameless behavior look biased and unjust. If one maligns or
complains about an official, thoroughly convinced that he has been
acting out of prejudice, one is still guilty of an offense if it
turns out that in fact the official's behavior has been fair. The
same considerations apply also to complaints or criticisms
concerning anyone, ordained or not.
To criticize a Community official to his face, simply for the sake
of hurting his feelings, would be an offense under Pacittiya 2,
regardless of whether his behavior has in fact been prejudiced or
The job of a Community official is often a thankless one. The
procedures he must follow in distributing invitations, etc., can be
fairly complex and, in large Communities, quite time-consuming.
Since there is no way he can guarantee equal treatment to all, there
may be times when he seems to be acting out of prejudice when he is
simply following standard procedure. If he cannot receive the
benefit of the doubt from his fellow bhikkhus, there is no incentive
for him to undertake these duties in the first place. The Buddha
likened material gains to excrement (see A.V.196), and when
excrement is shared out there is rarely any point in complaining
about who gets the choicest portions.
Summary: If a Community official is innocent of prejudice:
Criticizing him within earshot of another bhikkhu is a
* * *
14. Should any bhikkhu set a bed, bench, mattress, or stool
belonging to the Community out in the open -- or have it set
out -- and then on departing neither put it away nor have it
put away, or should he go without taking leave, it is to be
During the four months of the rains, furniture belonging to the
Community -- when not in use -- is to be kept in a place where it
will not be rained on, such as a fully-roofed storeroom or lodging.
During the remainder of the year, it may also be kept in a shed
roofed with slats or branches, or under a tree where birds do not
leave droppings. The Commentary implies, though, that this latter
allowance holds only in those regions with a distinct dry season;
and, according to the Sub-commentary, even where there is a dry
season, if a bhikkhu sees an unseasonable rain storm approaching, he
should not leave furniture in such semi-open places.
This rule deals with bhikkhus who set furnishings of the Community
out in the open and then leave without getting them put away in the
proper place. The factors for the full offense are three:
1) //Object//: any bed, bench, mattress, or stool belonging to
2) //Effort//: One sets such furnishings out in the open and then
departs without taking leave, putting the furnishings away, or
getting them put away in the proper place.
3) //Intention//: One has set them out for some purpose other
than sunning them (%).
Object. Any bed, bench, mattress, or stool belonging to the
Community is grounds for a pacittiya. Perception is not an issue
here: If the item actually belongs to the Community, this factor is
fulfilled regardless of whether or not one perceives it as such.
Other furnishings belonging to the Community -- such as carpets,
bedspreads, mats, foot-wiping cloths, chairs, even the brooms -- are
grounds for a dukkata, as are furnishings of every type belonging to
another individual. One's own furnishings are not grounds for an
According to the Commentary, if one has made an arrangement with
someone else to use his/her belongings on trust, there is no offense
in leaving that person's furnishings out in the open. The
Sub-commentary adds that furnishings a donor presents for the
Community to use out in the open -- e.g., stone or concrete benches
-- are likewise not grounds for an offense.
Effort. To depart the furnishings is defined as going further than
one //leddupata// -- approximately 6 meters -- from them. (A
//leddupata// is a unit of measure that appears frequently in the
Canon and is defined as the distance a man of average stature can
throw a clod of dirt underarm.) Taking leave, according to the
Commentary, means informing a bhikkhu, a novice, or a temple
attendant who agrees to take responsibility for the furnishings.
Responsibility. A bhikkhu is held responsible for putting away
furnishings that he has ordered another person to place in the open,
unless the other person is also a bhikkhu, in which case //he// is
the one responsible. The Commentary states that if a senior bhikkhu
requests a junior bhikkhu to place out in the open any furnishings
that may be grounds for a penalty, then the junior bhikkhu is
responsible for them until the senior bhikkhu sits down on them,
places an article of his use (such as a robe or a shoulder bag) on
them, or gives the junior bhikkhu permission to leave, after which
point the senior bhikkhu is responsible.
If there is to be an open-air meeting, the host bhikkhus are
responsible for any seats set out in the open, until the visiting
bhikkhus claim their places, from which point the visitors are
responsible. If there is to be a series of Dhamma talks, each
speaker is responsible for the sermon seat from the moment he sits
in it until the moment the next speaker does.
Non-offenses. As stated above, there is no offense if one departs
having set furnishings belonging to the Community or another
individual out in the sun with the purpose of drying them, and
thinking, "I will put them away when I come back." (%) Also, there
is no offense if one departs after someone else takes possession or
responsibility for furnishings one has left out in the open, or when
there are dangers of any sort -- the Commentary mentions tigers,
lions, ghosts, ogres, outlaws, and people who might cause one to
disrobe -- that give one no time to put the furnishings away.
The Vinaya Mukha, extracting a general principle from this rule,
says, "This training rule was formulated to prevent negligence and
to teach one to care for things. It should be taken as a general
Summary: When one has set a bed, bench, mattress, or stool
belonging to the Community out in the open: Leaving its
immediate vicinity without putting it away or arranging to
have it put away is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
15. Should any bhikkhu, having set out bedding in a lodging
belonging to the Community -- or having had it set out --
and then on departing neither put it away nor have it put
away, or should he go without taking leave, it is to be
Here again the three factors for a full offense are object, effort,
Object. //Bedding// here includes mattresses, pillows, rugs,
sheets, mats, sitting cloths, blankets, bedspreads, animal skins,
throw rugs, etc., but not the beds or benches on which they may be
placed. Unlike the previous rule, the question of whom the bedding
belongs to is not an issue in determining the offense under this
The place where it is left, though, //is// an issue. Bedding left
in a dwelling belonging to the Community is grounds for a pacittiya.
Bedding left in a dwelling belonging to another individual is
grounds for a dukkata, as is bedding left in the area around a
dwelling, in a meeting hall, or at the foot of a tree -- these last
three places belonging to the Community or to another individual.
Bedding left in a dwelling, etc., belonging to oneself is not
grounds for an offense. The same holds true for bedding left in a
dwelling belonging to anyone who has given one the right to use
his/her belongings on trust.
Perception is not an issue here. If, for example, the dwelling
actually belongs to the Community, it is grounds for a pacittiya
regardless of whether or not one perceives it as such.
Effort. //Putting the item away//, //having it put away//, and
//taking leave// are all defined as under the preceding rule. The
way to determine responsibility for bedding when a bhikkhu orders
someone else to spread it may also be inferred from the discussion
To //depart// is defined as going outside the grounds of the
monastery. The absence of any reference to this rule in the duties
to be done before one's almsround (//pindapata-vatta//)
(Cv.VIII.5), however, indicates that temporary excursions outside
the monastery are not counted as "departing." This conclusion is
seconded by one of the no-offense clauses, which says that in the
case of a bhikkhu who goes with the expectation of returning but
then changes his mind, if he then sends word back to the monastery,
he avoids any penalty under this rule. This implies that a bhikkhu
who leaves his bedding spread out in a dwelling belonging to the
Community, leaves the monastery temporarily with the intent of
returning, and returns as planned, incurs no penalty as well.
The question arises, though, as to how long a temporary period of
absence is allowable. The Vibhanga itself sets no time limit. The
Commentary illustrates the no-offense clause we have just mentioned
with the case of a bhikkhu who leaves, thinking, "I will return
today," but makes no specific statement that longer periods are not
Since the texts give no specific guidelines here, this is a matter
that each Community should decide for itself, taking the following
considerations into account:
1) The origin story suggests that the purpose of the rule is to
prevent the bedding's being left so long in an unoccupied
dwelling that it attracts ants, termites, or other pests.
2) Another consideration, raised by the Vinaya Mukha, is that if a
bhikkhu goes for a long excursion, leaving his bedding and other
belongings scattered about in a dwelling, this might
inconvenience the resident bhikkhus in that they could not easily
allot the dwelling to another bhikkhu in the interim.
Intention is a factor here, in that if one plans to return within
the allowable space of time but for some reason cannot -- examples
in the Commentary include flooding rivers, kings, and robbers --
there is no offense. And as mentioned above, if one leaves with the
intention of returning, but then changes one's mind, one can avoid
an offense by sending word back to the monastery via a messenger.
Non-offenses. In addition to the above two cases, the Vibhanga
says that there is no offense in departing having left bedding
spread out in a dwelling if someone else has taken responsibility
for the bedding or if one has taken leave of the resident bhikkhus.
With regard to this latter point, though, the duties to be done when
moving out of a monastery (//gamika vatta//) (Cv.VIII.3) include
putting away the bedding one has been using. To neglect this duty,
even when one takes leave of the resident bhikkhus, entails a
Summary: When one has spread bedding out in a dwelling
belonging to the Community: Departing from the monastery
without putting it away or arranging to have it put away is
a pacittiya offense.
* * *
16. Should any bhikkhu knowingly lie down in a lodging
belonging to the Community so as to intrude on a bhikkhu who
arrived there first, (thinking), "Whoever feels crowded will
go away" -- doing it for this reason and no other -- it is
to be confessed.
There are four factors for an offense here:
1) //Object//: a bhikkhu who should not be forced to move.
2) //Perception//: One perceives him as such.
3) //Effort//: One encroaches on his space in a dwelling
belonging to the Community.
4) //Intention//: One's sole motive is to force him out.
Object & perception. //Knowingly// is defined in the Vibhanga as
knowing that the lodging's current occupant is a senior bhikkhu, a
sick one, or one to whom the Community (or its official) has
assigned the dwelling. The Commentary interprets this definition as
a list of examples and generalizes from it to include any case where
one knows, "This bhikkhu shouldn't be forced to move."
Effort. To //encroach// means to lie down or sit down in the area
immediately adjacent to the bhikkhu's sleeping or sitting place --
which the Commentary defines as anywhere within 75 cm. of the
sleeping or sitting place -- or on a 75 cm. wide path from either of
those places to the entrance to the dwelling. There is a dukkata
for placing one's bedding or seat in such an area, and a pacittiya
for each time one sits or lies down there. To place one's bedding
or seat in any other part of the dwelling entails a dukkata; and to
sit or lie down there, another dukkata -- assuming in all of these
cases that the dwelling belongs to the Community.
Perception with regard to the dwelling is not an issue here. If
the dwelling actually belongs to the Community, this part of the
factor is fulfilled regardless of whether one perceives it as
belonging to the Community or not.
There is a dukkata in encroaching on the space of a bhikkhu --
intending to force him out -- in the area immediately adjacent to
such a dwelling, in a place belonging to the Community that is not
the dwelling of a particular person (e.g., an eating hall), the
shade of a tree, in the open air, or in a dwelling belonging to
another individual. To do so in a dwelling belonging to oneself
entails no offense. According to the Commentary, this last
allowance also applies to a dwelling belonging to anyone who has
offered to let one use his/her belongings on trust.
Intention. If there is a compelling reason -- one is ill or
suffering from the cold or heat, or there are dangers outside -- one
may intrude on the space of another bhikkhu without penalty. The
reason for these allowances would appear obvious -- one is not
aiming at forcing the other bhikkhu out -- but it turns out that the
matter is not as simple as that. The Sub-commentary reports the
Three Ganthipadas as saying that because of this allowance, one may
make an excuse of one's illness, etc., as a pretext for intruding on
the other bhikkhu's space so as to force him out of the lodging.
The Sub-commentary tries to argue with this ruling, but the
Ganthipadas have the support of the Vibhanga here: Only if one's
//sole// motive is to force the other bhikkhu out is one subject to
an offense under this rule. If one has mixed motives, one may take
advantage of one's illness, etc., to move in on the other bhikkhu.
However, once one's illness, etc., has passed, one would commit an
offense each time one continued to sit or lie down encroaching on
All of this may seem very strange on the surface, but it is likely
that the original occupant would not feel unduly pressured if an ill
bhikkhu or one escaping dangers were to move into his dwelling,
while he //would// start feeling pressured by the continued presence
of the bhikkhu after the illness or dangers had passed, which is why
the penalties are allotted as they are.
Summary: Encroaching on another bhikkhu's sleeping or
sitting place in a dwelling belonging to the Community, with
the sole purpose of making him uncomfortable and forcing him
to leave, is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
17. Should any bhikkhu, angry and displeased, evict a
bhikkhu from a dwelling belonging to the Community -- or
have him evicted -- it is to be confessed.
"At that time some group-of-17 bhikkhus were fixing up a
large dwelling on the fringes of the monastery, thinking,
'We will spend the rains here.' Some group-of-six
bhikkhus... seeing them, said, 'These group-of-17 bhikkhus
are fixing up a dwelling place. Let's drive them out.' But
others of them said, 'Wait, friends, while they fix it up.
When it's fixed up, then we'll drive them out.'
"Then the group-of-six bhikkhus said to the group-of-17
bhikkhus, 'Get out, friends. The dwelling is ours.'
"'Shouldn't this have been mentioned beforehand so that we
could have fixed up another one?'
"'Isn't this a dwelling belonging to the Community?'
"'Then get out. The dwelling is ours.'
"'The dwelling is large, friends. You can stay here, and
we'll stay here, too.'
"'Get out. The dwelling is ours.' And, angered and
displeased, taking them by the throat, they threw them out.
The group-of-17 bhikkhus, having been thrown out, began to
The three factors for the full offense here are:
1) //Object//: a bhikkhu.
2) //Effort//: One evicts him from a dwelling belonging to the
3) //Intention//: One's prime motivation is anger.
Object. A bhikkhu is grounds for a pacittiya here, while the
following are grounds for a dukkata: a bhikkhu's belongings, an
unordained person, and an unordained person's belongings.
Effort. According to the Commentary, this rule covers both
physical eviction -- picking up the bhikkhu and throwing him out --
as well as verbal eviction -- ordering him to leave. The penalty in
both cases is the same. (The Mahasanghikas and Sarvastivadins write
this point into their version of the rule.)
There is a dukkata in telling someone else to evict the bhikkhu --
no allowances for //kappiya-vohara// are given here -- and, assuming
that all the other factors are fulfilled, a pacittiya once the
bhikkhu has been evicted.
To evict a bhikkhu from a dwelling belonging to the Community
entails a pacittiya. (Again, perception with regard to the
ownership of the dwelling is not an issue here.) To evict anyone --
bhikkhu or not -- from an area immediately adjacent to a dwelling
belonging to the Community, from a place belonging to the Community
that is not the dwelling of a particular person, from the shade of a
tree, from a spot in the open air, or from a dwelling belonging to
another individual entails a dukkata. There is also a dukkata for
throwing a person's belongings out from any of these places. (In
all the cases mentioned in this paragraph, the assumption is that
one is motivated by anger.)
To evict anyone or anyone's belongings from one's own dwelling --
or from one that belongs to an individual who has offered to let one
use his/her belongings on trust -- is not grounds for an offense.
Intention. There is no offense in evicting anyone when one's
primary motive is not anger. Examples given in the no-offense
clauses include evicting anyone -- or the requisites of anyone --
who is insane, shameless in his/her behavior, or a maker of
quarrels, strife, and dissension in the Community. The Commentary
adds here that one also has the right to throw the person out of the
monastery as a whole if he/she is a maker of quarrels, strife, and
dissension, but not if he/she is simply shameless.
Also, one may without penalty evict one's student from his
dwelling if he is not properly observing his duties.
In all of these cases, the Sub-commentary notes, if anger happens
to arise in one's mind in the course of evicting the person, there
is no offense as long as it is not the primary motive.
Summary: Causing a bhikkhu to be evicted from a dwelling
belonging to the Community -- when one's primary motive is
anger -- is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
18. Should any bhikkhu sit or lie down on a bed or bench
with detachable legs on an (unplanked) loft in a dwelling
belonging to the Community, it is to be confessed.
Object. A bed or bench with detachable legs on an unplanked loft is
grounds for a pacittiya if it is in a dwelling belonging to a
Community, a dukkata if in a dwelling belonging to another
individual, and no offense if in a dwelling belonging to oneself or
to anyone who has offered to let one use his/her belongings on
trust. Perception of the ownership, as in the preceding rules, is
not an issue here.
The purpose of this rule, as indicated by the origin story, is to
guard against injury to a bhikkhu living under the loft: He might
get hit on the head if any of the detachable legs fall down through
the floor of the loft. Thus there is no offense if the loft is not
high enough off the ground for a man of medium height to stand under
it without hitting his head; if the floor of the loft is completely
planked; if there is no one under the loft; if the area under the
loft cannot be used as a dwelling (e.g., it is used solely for
storage space, says the Commentary); if the bed or bench with
detachable legs is on the ground; or if the legs of the bed or bench
are securely fixed to their frame.
Effort. There is a question as to whether //sitting// and //lying
down// would include standing as well, since the no-offense clauses
allow one "to stand there and hang things up or take them down."
The Commentary interprets "there" as a bed or bench with detachable
legs, but standing on such a thing would seem to be even more
dangerous than sitting or lying down on it. More probably, "there"
refers to the unplanked loft.
Some people have noted that although the bhikkhu in the origin
story sat down hurriedly, the word "hurriedly" does not appear in
the rule, and they speculate that it may have been dropped by
mistake. If one is not allowed at all to sit or lie down on a bed
or bench with detachable legs on an unplanked loft, they say, there
would be no reason to have one there. Actually, beds with
detachable legs do not sound like wise things to have on an
unplanked loft, and perhaps the Buddha's purpose in formulating this
rule was to discourage their being placed there in the first place.
Summary: Sitting or lying down on a bed or bench with
detachable legs on an unplanked loft in a dwelling belonging
to the Community is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
19. When a bhikkhu is building a large dwelling, he may
apply two or three layers of facing to plaster the area
around the window frame and reinforce the area around the
door frame the width of the door opening, while standing
where there are no crops to speak of. Should he apply more
than that, even if standing where there are no crops to
speak of, it is to be confessed.
"Now at that time a chief minister who was Ven. Channa's
supporter was having a dwelling built for Ven. Channa. Ven.
Channa had the finished dwelling covered with roofing
material again and again, plastered again and again, so that
the dwelling, overloaded, caved in. Then Ven. Channa,
collecting grass and sticks, despoiled the barley field of a
certain brahmin. The brahmin was offended and annoyed and
spread it about, 'How can revered ones go around despoiling
our barley field?'...Bhikkhus...were offended and annoyed
and spread it about, 'How can Ven. Channa have a finished
dwelling covered with roofing material again and again,
plastered again and again, so that the dwelling gets
overloaded and caves in?'"
This rule is an extension of Sanghadisesa 7, giving further
directions for how a bhikkhu should go about building a dwelling for
his own use when sponsored by another person. Since it deals with
techniques used in building wattle and daub dwellings 2,500 years
ago, both the rule and its explanations in the Canon and
commentaries contain terms whose meaning is uncertain at present.
The syntax of the rule suggests one interpretation, the Commentary
another, while the Vibhanga is non-committal on the points where the
two interpretations differ. Since both interpretations make sense,
we will present them both here.
What the rule seems to say. The area 1.25 meters around the door
frame is to be covered with up to three layers of plaster or roofing
material to reinforce it so that when the door is blown open or shut
it will not damage the wall or be loosened from its hinges. Five
kinds of roofing material are mentioned in the Vibhanga: tiles,
stones, lime (cement), grass, and leaves.
Similarly, around the windows, an area the width of the window
shutters is to be reinforced with up to three layers of plaster to
protect it from being damaged when the shutters are blown open or
shut. Three kinds of plaster were used in the Buddha's time --
white, black and red-chalk -- and bhikkhus were allowed to apply
them in a number of geometrical patterns, but not to use them to
make obscene pictures of men and women on the walls (!)
(Cv.VI.3.1-2). Although the bhikkhus were allowed to cover the
entire walls and floor with this plaster, this rule gives directions
only for the minimum area that should be covered to keep the walls
What the Commentary says. Because the rule refers to roofing
material, the Commentary assumes that it must refer to the roof of
the dwelling, even though this assumption does violence to the
syntax of the rule. Its interpretation: One may reinforce the door
and window frames with as much plaster or roofing material as one
likes, but may cover the roof with only three layers of roofing
material. A relevant point from the Canon is the passage at
Cv.VIII.3.3 stating that if at a later date the roof begins to leak,
the resident bhikkhu -- if he can -- should re-roof it himself or
arrange for someone else to do it for him. If he can do neither,
though, there is no offense.
The reasons for this rule. The origin story suggests that the
Buddha imposed the three-layer limit in order to prevent the
dwelling from collapsing under the weight of too much roofing
material, but the no-offense clauses show clearly that the rule is
aimed at preventing bhikkhus from abusing the generosity of the
person sponsoring the building work by using too much roofing
material. In either case, the Commentary's interpretation has its
logic, in that an overloaded roof would be more burdensome to the
dwelling and to the sponsor than an overloaded window or door frame
A supplementary regulation arising from the origin story is that
one should not perform any building operations, including
supervising, where grain is growing.
The offenses here are as follows: a pacittiya for each piece of
roofing beyond the allowable three layers, and a dukkata for doing
or directing the work while standing where crops are growing. These
offenses apply regardless of whether one is doing the work oneself
or having it done. They also apply whether one is building a new
dwelling or having an old one repaired.
Perception is not a factor here. If one happens to miscount the
number of layers of plaster or roofing material, one is still not
immune from an offense.
Non-offenses. According to the Vibhanga, these regulations do not
apply to "an abode in a cave, a grass hut, (a dwelling) for the use
of another, (a dwelling built) by means of one's own resources, or
anything other than a dwelling." The Sub-commentary argues from the
wording of the rule -- the fact that it refers to "a large dwelling"
-- that the regulations also do not apply to small dwellings built
to the standard measurement specified under Sanghadisesa 6: i.e.,
no larger than 3 by 1.75 meters.
Summary: When a bhikkhu is building or repairing a large
dwelling for his own use, using resources donated by
another, he may not reinforce the window or door frames with
more than three layers of roofing material or plaster. To
exceed this is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
20. Should any bhikkhu knowingly pour water containing
living beings -- or have it poured -- on grass or on clay,
it is to be confessed.
This is an offense with four factors.
Object: water containing living creatures. The K/Commentary's
contribution to the next factor shows that this includes things like
mosquito larvae, but not beings so small they cannot be seen.
Perception. One knows that the living creatures are there (from
having seen or heard them, says the K/Commentary) and that they will
die from the factor of effort, defined below.
If one is in doubt as to whether water contains living beings,
then to use it in a way that would cause their death if they
//were// there is to commit a dukkata.
Effort. Because of a peculiarity of Pali syntax, this rule can
also be interpreted as reading, "Should any bhikkhu knowingly pour
grass or clay -- or have it poured -- in water containing living
beings, it is to be confessed." The Commentary states that both
readings are correct. It also states that //grass and clay//
includes any material that would cause death to living beings in the
water. Thus actions covered by this rule would include such things
as emptying old water from a flower vase onto the ground, using
water to make cement, or pouring a toxic chemical or heavy pollutant
into the water.
Unlike some of the other rules that deal with giving orders,
simply giving the order to pour is enough to fulfill this factor.
Thus, for example, a bhikkhu who tells someone else to dump an
aquarium of fish on the floor incurs a pacittiya for giving the
order and another pacittiya when the other person does as told.
Intention. This factor is fulfilled simply by the desire to pour
the water or to have it poured (or to pour "grass and clay" into the
water or to have it poured). As the K/Commentary notes, one need
not have murderous intent towards the living beings in order to
fulfill this factor. For example, if after perceiving that the
water contains insects, one chooses to ignore their existence and
pours the water on a burning log -- not to kill the insects, but to
put out the fire -- one commits an offense all the same.
Result is not a factor here. Whether or not the living beings
actually die is of no consequence in determining the offense.
Non-offenses. There is no offense in using water containing
living beings in any of the ways covered by this rule --
//unknowingly// -- e.g., not knowing that it contains living
beings; pouring a toxic chemical into the water thinking it to be
//unthinkingly// -- e.g., heating a kettle of water on the stove,
seeing that it has tadpoles in it and in a knee-jerk reaction
dumping the water out on the ground so that they won't be boiled
to death; or
//unintentionally// -- e.g., accidentally knocking over a goldfish
However, a bhikkhu should always check water before using it. One
practical method for checking large amounts of water is to look at
two or three cupfuls as samples: If no living being are visible in
the samples, the water may be used without further check. An
alternative method is to use a filter, being mindful to return any
living beings caught in the filter to some other water in good time.
Watering plants. The topic of watering plants comes up in the
Commentary's discussion of the bad habits of the bhikkhus at
Kitagiri mentioned under Sanghadisesa 13. There it says that even
if the water has no discernable life, to use it or have someone else
use it to water plants with the purpose of corrupting families with
gifts from the plant, entails a dukkata. In cases of this sort, one
is not allowed to use //kappiya-vohara// or any other way of
indicating one's desire that the plant be watered.
If one wants to use the fruits or flowers of the plant in other
ways -- to eat the fruit oneself, to make a gift of fruit to the
Community, to use the flowers as an offering to a Buddha image, etc.
-- one may not water it oneself, but there is no offense in getting
someone else to water it if one uses //kappiya- vohara// ("Look at
how dry this plant is !" "If it doesn't get any water, it's going to
If one wants the plant to grow for other reasons -- for the sake
of its shade or as part of a decorative garden or forest -- there is
no offense in watering it oneself as long as one uses water with no
discernable life in it. Two of the ancient commentaries add that if
one simply desires shade, a garden, or a forest, one may plant the
plant oneself as long as one places it in earth that would not count
as "soil" (//jata-pathavi//) under Pacittiya 10.
Summary: Pouring water that one knows to contain living
beings -- or having it poured -- on grass or clay is a
pacittiya offense. Pouring anything that would kill the
beings into such water -- or having it poured -- is also a
* * * * * * * *