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A question about pindapata and dharmaguptaka/mulasarvastivada

Hi! So, I’ve got a question for our vinaya experts here…

I can’t say this for certain, but I was researching how northern buddhist traditions (particularly zen, chan and tibetan) handle things like pindapata and alms storage. I notice that with the zen and chan in particular they have very lax food storage rules as well as only implementing pindapata in areas where it’s more feasible (see the korean zen tradition)

I notice that there’s some similarity in the pali vinaya, albeit it’s much more strict and generally says to just do the alms round and not store things. But there is some room for this to exist there.

My thought was that if this exists in a much lesser way in the pali vinaya, there must be more lax or differently structured alms round rules in the mulasarvastivada and especially the dharmaguptaka vinayas.

So my question essentially is; can we find any evidence of this in the mulasarvastivada or dharmaguptaka vinayas?

The regional climatic zone is a determining factor. It would be much easier to store food when there’s snow on the ground and less practical to go on almsrounds.

I don’t think how it’s practised has to do with differences in vinaya, as from here: Should the Vinaya be kept secret from the laity? - #17 by NgXinZhao

From Dalai Lama’s Book Buddhism: One teacher, Many Traditions, there’s a table comparing the Vinayas.

The main difference between the vinaya of Theravāda, Dharmaguptaka, Mūlasarvāstivāda is on the training rules (sekhiya, śaikṣa), second is lapses expiable by confession (pācittiya, śuddha-pāyattika), the rest has the same number of rules for each section.

“The number and meaning of the precepts in the three vinayas are very similar, and the differences are minor. For example, seven precepts concerning how to wear the lower garment in the Mūlasarvāstivāda are subsumed into one precept in the Theravāda.”

Excerpt From: Dalai Lama. “Buddhism”. Apple Books.

On the ground, theravada monks in Malaysia also, some don’t go for alms arounds (outside of the monasteries) at all. People come and offer food, and it’s (Vinaya) allowed to have a location in the monastery designated as the food storage area for unoffered food for the lay people in the monastery to take, cook and offer daily. It’s much easier for the donors to be able to donate canned stuffs to the monasteries like this.

Even Ajahn Brahm’s place, bodhinyaya has the kitchen area to store and cook and offer food by the 8 preceptors living in the monasteries.

Yeah, I was lurking in the thread and saw this. The Dalai Lama isn’t…wrong? But he’s not entirely right either-for example the rules on dancing and music are a bit stricter AFAIK in the Pali tradition, as well as the supplementary commentarial one, but in the dharmaguptaka they allow music/dancing for the monks, with the rule that its only for ceremonial purposes which leads alot more openness and explains how korean, vietnamese, chinese zen traditions can allow for musical performances as they may do. I believe there may be similar rule also in the mulasarvastivada, but that’s speculation.

The commentary in the pali definitely bans even sacred music, but I don’t know if this is outwardly banned in the actual vinaya. I just know it’s somewhat stricter as a redaction.

It seems the Suttavibhanga is the same more or less between the three vinaya lineages, but the kandakas are where they get different.

Wow! This is a really interesting bit of information you’ve given me, thank you!! I knew that the pali-theravada vinaya allowed for storage when it came to distance and environment constraints but this is the first time I’ve ever gotten to hear about a monastery carrying it out. Normally all you can find of information with monasteries food customs online is alms rounds.

This kind of thing is my favourite part of learning about buddhism, just seeing how we handle things like this.

Linking this back in connection to the music differences in the dharmaguptaka, I feel like the wording and structure of the dharmaguptaka may be slightly different. But I’m not sure, as I haven’t read the dharmaguptaka vinaya in it’s entirety in english. My theory is that if I’m correct, it would be in relation to the ban on farming-looking at the way many zen monasteries may also carry out small gardens for the monastics.

TLDR; it’s possible the dharmagupta have lax rules on gardening and harvesting foods, as well as storage, but I’m not sure.

Oh wow! I like hearing that alot. If I ever became a monk, not that I’m saying I am, but if I were I’d go to Bodhinyaya most likely. Having a sensitivity to the sun makes going out in the daylight impossible! The more I hear about him the more I like him.

“…On the ground, theravada monks in Malaysia also, some don’t go for alms arounds (outside of the monasteries) at all. …”

Interestingly at Santi Monastery in Ulutilam JB (Malaysia) monks go everyday on piṇḍacara, same in the sister monastery Palelai in Singapore, i guess it depends on what practices any given lineage tends to emphasise. For example in the Mahasi/Pa auk tradition it doesn’t seem to be emphasised as much as TFT (Thai Forest Tradition) although in the Pauk parampara they still eat out of their bowls, in any case difficulties with piṇḍacara are myriad. For example timing, in places where alms round is not a daily event is there actually going to be any food at the time you enter the village without prior notice, if there is notice given it can be the case there is too much food, oppositely if the dayaka come to the ārāma you can do chanting/meditation. If there is alot of atireka / excess food around it can be problematic as then it creates phassa -vedana-taṇhā hence pacittita rules around storing up food stuffs.

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During this current lockdown period, I doubt it’s wise or compassionate to continue alms round outside of the monastery. So a lot of modifications are done. SBS where I am living now had Sundays for market alms round but we stopped it long time ago due to stricter lockdowns.

Ya, I had been with Santi’s alms round before, when I was in white.

You should visit monasteries @Danamitra and stay as 8 precept observers. Then you’ll know the particular monasteries’ style. And stay at many monasteries to get a sample of what’s each monasteries’ food system is like.

Ajahn Brahm’s monastery in particular, unless you’re an Australian or PR, you’ll basically have no chance to be ordained there. You might as well put in your name now, maybe 10 years later a spot might open up. 10 years later, you might already be ready to go renounce.

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Very good point, I’m inclined to agree. This is one of the most marvelous and amazing things with the Buddha’s social structure, how it allows for the monastic institution to adapt so well.

Ahhh yeah, I know that you’re right. There’s a few large hurdles I have that keep me in the lay life, but one of those is the fact the sun will kill me. I doubt I’ll ever be ready to renounce in this life, but it’s precious advice all the same. Thank you. :slight_smile:

Or, they could just not follow the Vinaya very closely, as is unambiguously the case with their rule against handling money, or the time when Shaolin monks engaged in battle against Wang Shichong and afterwards were granted formal supremacy over all other monasteries in China.

I believe the historical cause of these practices is fairly clearly due to social factors among the host cultures of China and Tibet. I don’t think we have robust documentary evidence of exactly what went on in the earliest era ~ the first century CE, but from my rough understanding there is a consistent pattern of even zealous supporters and sponsors of Buddhism lacking nuanced understanding (most followed at least two other religions), and more-or-less forcing vinaya violating benefits on monks (to say nothing of what was forced on them by their opponents).

There was a point in Japanese history were everyone was required by law to “belong” to a Buddhist temple and pay that temple monetary taxes.

I know in the Pali Suttas there’s even a warning against chanting too melodiously.