Guide to Tipitaka


1. Pæræjika Pæđi

Pæræjika Pæđi which is Book I of the Vinaya PiĨaka gives an elaborate explanation of the important rules of discipline concerning Pæræjika and Saĩghædisesa, as well as Aniyata and Nissaggiya which are minor offences.

(a) Pæræjika offences and penalties.

Pæræjika discipline consists of four sets of rules laid down to prevent four grave offences. Any transgressor of these rules is defeated in his purpose in becoming a bhikkhu. In the parlance of Vinaya, the Pæræjika Æpatti falls upon him; he automatically loses the status of a bhikkhu; he is no longer recognized as a member of the community of bhikkhus and is not permitted to become a bhikkhu again. He has either to go back to the household life as a layman or revert back to the status of a sæmažera, a novice.

One who has lost the status of a bhikkhu for transgression of any of these rules is likened to (i) a person whose head has been cut off from his body; he cannot become alive even if the head is fixed back on the body; (ii) leaves which have fallen off the branches of the tree; they will not become green again even if they are attached back to the leaf-stalks; (iii) a flat rock which has been split; it cannot be made whole again; (iv) a palm tree which has been cut off from its stem; it will never grow again.

Four Pæræjika offences which lend to loss of status as a bhikkhu.

(i) The first Pæræjika: Whatever bhikkhu should indulge in sexual intercourse loses his bhikkhuhood.

(ii) The second Pæræjika: Whatever bhikkhu should take with intention to steal what is not given loses his bhikkhuhood.

(iii) The third Pæræjika: Whatever bhikkhu should intentionally deprive a human being of life loses his bhikkhuhood.

(iv) The fourth Pæræjika: Whatever bhikkhu claims to attainments he does not really possess, namely, attainments to jhæna or Magga and Phala Insight loses his bhikkhuhood.

The Pæræjika offender is guilty of a very grave transgression. He ceases to be a bhikkhu. His offence, Æpatti, is irremediable.

(b) Thirteen Saĩghædisesa offences and penalties.

Saĩghædisesa discipline consists of a set of thirteen rules which require formal participation of the Saĩgha from beginning to end in the process of making him free from the guilt of transgression.

(i) A bhikkhu having transgressed these rules, and wishing to be free from his offence must first approach the Saĩgha and confess having committed the offence. The Saĩgha determines his offence and orders him to observe the parivæsa penance, a penalty requiring him to live under suspension from association with the rest of the Saĩgha, for as many days as he has knowingly concealed his offence.

(ii) At the end of the parivæsa observance he undergoes a further period of penance, manætta, for six days to gain approbation of the Saĩgha.

(iii) Having carried out the mænatta penance, the bhikkhu requests the Saĩgha to reinstate him to full association with the rest of the Saĩgha.

Being now convinced of the purity of his conduct as before, the Saĩgha lifts the Æpatti at a special congregation attended by at least twenty bhikkhus, where ņatti, the motion for his reinstatement, is recited followed by three recitals of kammavæcæ, procedural text for formal acts of the Saĩgha.

Some examples of the Saĩghædisesa offences.

(i) Kæyasaĩsagga offence:

If any bhikkhu with lustful, perverted thoughts engages in bodily contact with a woman, such as holding of hands, caressing the tresses of hair or touching any part of her body, he commits the Kæyasaĩsagga Saĩghædisesa offence.

(ii) Saņcaritta offence:

If any bhikkhu acts as a go-between between a man and a woman for their lawful living together as husband and wife or for temporary arrangement as man and mistress or woman and lover, he is guilty of Saņcaritta Saĩghædisesa offence.

(c) Two Aniyata offences and penalties.

Aniyata means indefinite, uncertain. There are two Aniyata offences the nature of which is uncertain and indefinite as to whether it is a Pæræjika offence, a Saĩghædisesa offence or a Pæcittiya offence, It is to be determined according to provisions in the following rules:

(i) If a bhikkhu sits down privately alone with a woman in a place which is secluded and hidden from view, and convenient for an immoral purpose and if a trustworthy lay woman (i.e., an Ariya), seeing him, accuses him of any one of the three offences (1) a Pæræjika offence (2) a Saĩghædisesa offence (3) a Pæcittiya offence, and the bhikkhu himself admits that he was so sitting, he should be found guilty of one of these three offences as accused by the trustworthy lay woman.

(ii) If a bhikkhu sits down privately alone with a woman in a place which is not hidden from view and not convenient for an immoral purpose but convenient for talking lewd words to her, and if a trustworthy lay woman (i.e., an Ariya), seeing him, accuses him of any one of the two offences (1) a Saĩghædisesa offence (2) a Pæcittiya offence, and the bhikkhu himself admits that he was so sitting, he should be found guilty of one of these two offences as accused by the trustworthy lay woman.

(d) Thirty Nissaggiya Pæcittiya offences and penalties.

There are thirty rules under the Nissaggiya category of offences and penalties which are laid down to curb inordinate greed in bhikkhus for possession of material things such as robes, bowls etc. To give an example, an offence is done under these rules when objects not permitted are acquired, or when objects are acquired in more than the permitted quantity. The penalty consists firstly of giving up the objects in respect of which the offence has been committed. Then it is followed by confession of the breach of the rule, together with an undertaking not to repeat the same offence, to the Saĩgha as a whole, or to a group of bhikkhus, or to an individual bhikkhu to whom the wrongfully acquired objects have been surrendered.

Some examples of the Nissaggiya Pæcittiya offences.

(i) First Nissaggiya Sikkhæpada.

If any bhikkhu keeps more than the permissible number of robes, namely, the lower robe, the upper robe and the great robe, he commits an offence for which he has to surrender the extra robes and confess his offence.

(ii) Cøvara Acchindana Sikkhæpada.

If any bhikkhu gives away his own robe to another bhikkhu and afterwards, being angry or displeased, takes it back forcibly or causes it to be taken away by someone else, he commits a Nissaggiya Pæcittiya offence.

Nissaggiya offences are light offences compared with the grave offences of Pæræjika Æpatti or Saĩghædisesa Æpatti.