Are there any procedures for corrupted sanghas?

I vaguely remember reading some years back that there was a procedure in the Vinaya for corrupt sanghas and councils. I’m wondering if this is true? Do we have anything that gives advice on what to do? Or ways of handling it?

There is a procedure for rehabilitating schismatic monks. Is that what you’re thinking of?


What kind of Sangha corruption here in this topic? If it is about Vinaya rules, then I think just refer to Vinaya Pitaka will do. But schismatic or not, that’s a really difficult question.

Now, though we are using the term “Theravada”, but apparently it proliferates into many groups now: some rejected Abhidhamma Pitaka and become “Sauntrantika”; some admitted that there is an Antarabhava and ‘Soul’ becoming Puggalavadin; and some even questioning rebirth, etc…and they all wear the robes and claimed to be ‘Theravada Buddhist monks’…

If really want to deal with it, then one should be like Arahant Moggaliputta Tissa Thera during the Third Sangayana (as what happened in Kathavathu). But can it be done? I doubted so.

I think best we laypeople just practice according to what we learned. Let the monks be harmony with each other. Harmony is good.

You might find the events of the second council interesting in terms of how a situation was dealt with:

There are mechanisms. For example in DN 16, sangha can excommunicate a monk and give him silent treatment

After my passing, give the prime punishment to the mendicant Channa.”

“But sir, what is the prime punishment?”

“Channa may say what he likes, but the mendicants should not advise or instruct him.”

In the context of laypeople to group of mendicants, we can refuse to offer alms, not to invite them, etc.
This also work in reverse. Sangha can decide to ban certain layperson from giving them alsmfood or refusing invitation from him.

Source is somewhere there in Anguttara Nikaya, but I cant find it just now…

I meant less so schismatic sects and more so political corruption. Monasteries breaking major vows and not upholding or teaching the dharma as they may have preserved it within that Vinaya lineage. Corruption to the point a monastery or sangha is Buddhist only in name. I know we have the parajika, but what do we do if an entire temple starts advocating murder on behalf and to the benefit of say…the Thai king? Or the junta? I vaguely recall there was something about not being subject to rules of a council (such as defrocking) if the council was corrupted …but I don’t know if that was a real Vinaya rule or not.

Given the wide scope of the texts, I imagine there must be some loopholes and procedures Incase corrupt monasteries/sanghas exist.

Ohhh this is more like what I was thinking! I remember this one. But for some reason one I remember sticks to my mind, and I’m not even sure if it was real. It had something to do with a sangha/monastery/council ruling not having to be listened to on the basis of that sangha being corrupted. I remember getting chills reading about that.

Does that exist? This is exciting to see this one though, I remember this is how monks have been protesting the junta.

I was taught that this specific punishment is unique to Channa and was never set down as something the monks could impose on other monks. However there are similar punishments spelled out in great detail in the Vinaya. Most of which came about because of Channa. And specifically they include the reasons the punishment can be imposed as well as, most importantly, when it can be lifted. None of that happened with the brahmadaṇḍa punishment.

From the search I did the term only appears in the Mahaparinibbana sutta and in the Khandaka where the monks are discussing how to impose the punishment safely(!)

There is a series of Suttas in the Aṅguttara Nikāya book of the Eights on how to deal with improper behavior, starting with AN 8.87. The first one is on turning the bowl upside down, i. e. refusing offerings from certain laypeople who misbehave.

When there was the incident at Kosambi where the Saṅgha split into two groups who were fighting each other, the problem developed towards a solution when the laypeople decided not to offer them alms any more. It was quite effective.


What about sanghas (having 4 or more bhikkhus living together, using the same Sima on Uposathas) who are unwilling to use the Sanghakamma system whatsoever, to govern themselves (say, when it’s time for the community to buy garubhanda, or “heavy property”, spending the communal donations from the monastery coffres)? Like they never hold community transactions (as laid out in Ch. 12 of BMC 2) to decide anything (except, say, ordain someone as a bhikkhu)?

Is that a “corrupt” Sangha? Or maybe just ignorant?

Here is the way to handle it, which I was originally taught: a community/Sangha of Bhikkhus can refuse to hold Uposathas in common with a monk, or group of monks of any size (4 or more, which are a “Sangha”, if they are are all compatriots together), if their Vinaya conduct is more-or-less deemed too-far-gone unacceptable. This is to say, refuse to admit into the Sima, and refuse to recite the Pattimokkha with said monks in the same Sima, on the Uposatha. This would also especially exclude said monks from being privvy to/allowing participation in bhikkhu-confidential community-related topics discussed right after the Pattimokkha, still in the Sima. That last bit is where the real “teeth” are: being excluded from having any insider-to-the-resident-sangha information learned, let alone any voice, at that much weightier-than-normal time.

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If you’re talking about what lay people can do… don’t feed or support them.
There are many good monastics around who can use your support, even if they aren’t in your city.


As a layman, just do not support them any longer.

Sowing discord in the Sangha is like playing brother against brothers in the Bible, right? I think it was the book of proverbs. False witness is fitna in Islam, I think.