Can a Bhikkhunī break Pārājika 1?

With all due respect Bhante, the idea that a woman can enjoy being raped is a completely male fabrication!

While being raped you are completely out of control of the situation, your brain reverts back to a basic survival mode. Your normal way of thinking and reacting is completely taken over by that. What can happen is some kind of resignation to it, which can be interpreted by the man as “she likes it” or “she consents to it”.

Men can get into the very dangerous delusion that deep underneath women like to be raped or will enjoy it if you force them long enough. Please don’t ever think that!

As Ven. @yodha pointed out, I would also say that a woman in that situation is not in control of her own faculties of rational thinking and can therefore be seen as “deranged”. In any case, she did not consent. So it would fall under the non-offence clauses.



A post was split to a new topic: Hearing the Nuns on How Their Texts are Lived

Irrelevant! We’re not making arguments about sexual perversion here! We’re talking about the only conceivable scenario in which pr1 could be violated without violating the others beforehand, and regardless of whether this is likely or possible, or not.

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My intention behind starting this tread was merely a text-critical analysis and it has derailed a little bit into a more emotional analysis of Pārājika 1.

I thank Venerable @akincana for her very valued contribution here and for pointing out the errors in my original post. For those of you who do not know her, Ven. Akincana is a respected scholar, who has made it her life’s work to study the Bhikkhunī Vinaya and it is partly thanks to her great work that we have the opportunity to practice as Bhikkhuniīs today. Indeed, a lot of work still needs to be done in this field before we can come to any definate conclusions about these rules and their original intention.

Please note here that this rule is originally a Bhikkhu rule that does not appear in the Bhikkhunī Vibhaṅga. There are therefore no detailed explanations that are specific for women. Please also note that Ven. Thanissaro’s book is written purely from a male perspective.

I thank Venerable @Niyyanika for her contribution here and am grateful that she has been willing to share with us how she is being taught and giving a little bit of insight into the real life of Bhikkhunīs, as @anon29387788 pointed out.

However, with all due respect to Ven. Niyyanika and especially to her preceptor Ayya Tathāloka, I must disagree. Having worked for AVAAZ and seen first-hand how rape can be used as a method of ethnic cleansing and as a warcrime, I think we have to be very careful here in how we interpret this rule, lest we set a very dangerous precedent. As various people on this thread have pointed out, I also believe that in case of rape the non-offence clauses apply. These rules are not there to hinder or restrict Bhikkhunīs in their practice, but to help them. This rule was meant as a deterrent to make people reflect and be more mindful of the underlying (strong) defilements in the mind and to help them to work with that. When somebody is raped, they are not making a conscious decision to engage in indulging such defilements. If they are, it is not rape. To me, this is how I would interpret this rule.


I don’t know much about the Vinaya but the bhikkhuni parajika from 5 onwards could be added later, considering the 5 and 8 are required generally for 1 to take place and that it isn’t the same as the bhikkhu parajika, which has 1 to 4 parajikas. I think any modern assigning of the vinaya should take into account homosexuality of both sexes. Initial consent and later withdrawn consent are both important. Even now in police investigation it is important thing to determine as it will decide whether it is rape or not. Maybe it would be better to have the police do the investigation than bhikkhus and give consent to share the confidential report with only those bhikkhus who need to know.

with metta

It seems likely that some of the lists of how different rules were broken, were not actual anecdotes, but thought experiments about how a rule might be broken or not broken. How likely is it that:

without someone setting those youth to rights?

[quote=“Kay V, post:24, topic:7278”] The nuns’ voices have mostly been lost in time. … I do call on the nuns out there, the bhikkhunis, the women studying and practising or training in this or interested in this and other related issues, to take a more active role in discussions/sharings such as these

The voices of the monks asking crude questions about a woman’s pleasure in rape remain in the text, but also the sense of compassion and understanding from the Buddha can be found. It is that voice of compassion that we bring into lived vinaya practice today.

The thought exercises are well for understanding the landscape of human sufferings and difficulties and curious and even spiteful responses that may emerge. It helps shape the law book.

The actual practice of living the vinaya is done with a heart of compassion for the individual monastic, for the monastic community, for the lay supporters, for all beings, and for the environment.

When a monastic may have broken a precept, they take the case to another monastic. That monastic should then act for benefit of the one making a confession. In most cases this is asking them to see the nature of their fault and to try to restrain in the future. However, in the case of a serious offense, they are to act as the defense attorney for the one making the confession. They are to carefully look at the guidelines of the vinaya and to interpret those guidelines with compassion as their basis.

In this way, I cannot see any but the most bizarre of thought experiment situations ever causing a raped person to be considered pārājika.

I hope to receive higher ordination a week from tomorrow. We are reviewing the vinaya now. In all our conversations, the holding of the rules is to provide a security for practice and support for living the holy life.

Extending what @Coemgenu wrote – Let us all hope it happens to no-one on this forum or to anyone at all, and that the voice of compassion shines through if it does.


Thank you for explaining your views and the practises in your community!

Unfortunately, this interpretation is quite common.

You can of course argue that she was not a Theravada nun, but you will find such positions in Theravada as well.


Warm wishes for your ordination! May it bring you much inspiration and joy!


The Text states non-offence in the event of participating in the sexual act unwillingly. Actually it leaves the space wide open for interpretations as to the definition of “unwillingly”. And I wasn’t saying that the transformation of unwillingly into willingly after having been forced into the sexual act makes the parajika “deserved”, I was only stating that this could possibly be the position of the text, not “my” position (just to clarify). I am not interested in sharing “my position” in this discussion! Possibly because I have none!!

The discussion in the commentaries is interesting on this point, and for a good reason! Simply because “being taken by force” is not yet equal to being raped! The commentary mentions that resistance to the sexual act “on the mental level” is what determines whether an offence is committed or not. Some stories, real or for demonstration sake, emphasise physical/verbal resistance as well.

Of course I am aware that a rape victim is in need for support and compassion rather than questioning! Well, one who commits the full parajika willingly is not undeserving of support and compassion either! This was for me an abstract discussion on legality and interpretation; it had nothing to do with reality and human suffering and the urgent sense of responsible will and moral evaluation! Guess what, the Vinaya is full of abstract stuff like that, and we do discuss it, and in such pedantic detail, all the time. I have neither the power nor the desire to apply penalties on any one in this sorry world so please excuse me if I got carried away with the papañca!


wow! Congratulations in advance. Wishing you all the best and very glad to see you here. :pray:


Although a lot of valueble contributions have been made here, I want to attempt to get this thread back on the rails of text-critical analysis. I know I am partly to blame here with the title of this thread and I might have made it more clear. Ven. Akincana picked up on what I was hinting at in my first post as well as did @Mat:

I have a suspicion that this might have indeed been the case. Or more precisely, that these rules are “upgraded” Bhikkhu rules.
For instance, Pārājika 5 is the same as Saṅghādisesa 2 for the Bhikkhus.
Pārājika 6 is the same as Pācittiya 64 for the Bhikkhus.
Pārājika 8 seems to be made up of a combination of lesser rules for the Bhikkhus.
Pārājika 7 has no equivalent in the Bhikkhu rules but also seems particularly harsh as a Pārājika for this type of offence.

As Ven. Akincana already pointed out:

Ven. Akincana also pointed out that much more study is needed to come to any definate conclusions, but it is interesting to note that also in the other classes of rules we see the same discrepancies appear (many offences of “wrongdoing” for the monks, which are not in the Bhikkhu Pāṭimokkha but in the Khandhakas are suddenly Pācittiya rules for the nuns.)

So then the question arises: why make the rules so much harder for the nuns?
I suspect, but again, more evidence is needed to prove or disprove this point, that the nuns originally only kept the same rules as the Bhikkhus. I suspect that, just as in the Suttas, the word “Bhikkhu” was used to address the assembly of both monks and nuns and that the Pāṭimokkha was for both and that the Bhikkhunī part was only added later in response to the demands of a patriarchical society and this has partly led to the disappearance of the Bhikkhunī order. Of course I’m making some very bald and unproven statements here but it would be interesting to find evidence proving or disproving it.


Pārājika 1 for bhikkhus is (Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu’s translation):

  1. Should any bhikkhu—participating in the training and livelihood of the bhikkhus, without having renounced the training, without having declared his weakness—engage in sexual intercourse, even with a female animal, he is defeated and no longer in affiliation.

I am not knowledgable about bhikhhunī Patimokkha, however, I am a bit confused as to how the rule became the following for bhikkhunīs:

Should any bhikkhuni willingly engage in the sexual act, even with a male animal, she is defeated and no longer in communion.


The topic is about deconstructing complex rules of the Vinaya, and even more so in relation to the bhukkhunī Patimokkha, which is not as well studied. It is highly detailed and needs to not be taken out of context—that these are monastic rules, all of which have complex analyses.

I am certain no one here thinks that sexual assault or rape is good, however, these are parts of Pārājika 1. With such an analysis, it is therefore possible to conclude such things as…

A bhikkhunī or bhikhhi, being assaulted or raped, if there is no consent to it, does not result in automatic defeat/disrobing.

Without such discussions as those in the Vinaya, it would not be possible to have clear distinctions in regards to all the rules or be able to define more complex circumstances.

I normally like discussions on Vinaya, but partaking in an online discussion on Pārājika 1 might not have been my best idea. :sweat_smile:

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The reason for the different wording in Paaraajika 1 for bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, is because a bhikkhuni can leave the order without a formal statement of “renouncing the training and declaring her weakness” - she just disrobes in silence, and that’s it. She is no longer a bhikkhunii.

The different wording in “sexual intercourse” and “the sexual act”, is just a translators’ carelessness.

There is however the Sanghaadisesa rule no. 10 (only for Bhikkhuniis) prohibiting them from relinquishing Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, and the training (sikkhaa) in anger. …

It is not clear to me whether this is really permitted for monks. If they did it, it would probably mean, that they are on the point of disrobing… This would, of course, normally not be done in an angry mood.


Bhante, I think it could be possible that a portion of your previous post/posts might be a bit emotionally charged due to completely unfounded accusations from misinterpretations by a passerby with no knowledge of how the Vinaya works.

The Vinaya, and especially Pārājika 1, is filled with unappealing discussions of the sort. That’s what the Vinaya is for—to distinguish from the not-so-bad, the bad, the awful and the worst (which is Pārājika 1)—as well as the right actions and behaviours to develop.

It is understandable that someone might be taken aback by such troubling topics, especially having no prior exposure to the Vinaya (and especially the worst offense!). It is also understandable, and most would have such a reaction, to be taken aback by similar and completely unfounded accusations. This appears, however, to solely be an unintended and general misunderstanding of the topic.

With mettā. :slight_smile:

Yes, I’m afraid your post is very much off-topic. Ayya Vimala, quite clearly clarified above that the purpose of this thread was to explore Pārājika 1 from the perspective of text-critical analysis.

Can I please ask you and anyone else who wishes to explore the Vinaya through a different lens to start a new thread.

Thank you.


I apologise.


Thanks Ayya for raising this topic, and thanks to everyone for their contributions. If I might make a few remarks.

I agree, I think it would be extremely unlikely, and restricted to highly unusual or artificial circumstances. Given the organic and case-driven nature of the Vinaya, it is not unusual to find rules that overlap and displace each other like this. In many cases, such rules would simply remain “on the books” but would never actually be applied in practice. There are many rules in the monks’ Vinaya that have probably never been applied.

This is something that comes up more generally in Vinaya issues, and i think it is important to keep it clear that Vinaya is not Abhidhamma. It is not just a mere thought or shift of the mind that is being talked about here, but a conscious choice. As Yodha says:

There is no place for “thought moments” in the Vinaya.

Indeed. The Vinaya is a legal system, and the facts must be determined. This is the same as modern law, it is a painful and regretful necessity to determine whether there was consent. But as with all Vinaya questions, there is a strong presumption of innocence. If she says there was no consent, there was no consent, full stop. There should be no further pursuing of the matter.

Indeed. Another example is the Satipatthana Sutta, where the MA version addresses monks and nuns. Based on these and other examples, I have concluded (along with several other monks I know) that the term bhikkhu is, like “man” in English, used by default for both genders, and we cannot assume that just because the masculine grammatical gender is used that women were not present. This is why I translate bhikkhu as the gender-neutral “mendicant”, except where it is clear that only males were intended.

Thank you.

Yes, there is a general tendency for Vinaya rules to get “upgraded” (although I’m not sure if that’s the right word!) over time. So much so that I would regard the fact of such upgrading as itself a sign of late development.

In Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies I argued that the existing texts, especially of the Pali and Lokuttaravada Vinayas, point to an earlier Vinaya tradition among the nuns, which lacked some of the patriarchal features of the developed Vinayas. Notably, that ordination was originally by nuns only. I believe this is well established, but of course it only applies to a limited scope. There are many more areas needing such analysis.

But it does open up the possibility that in some cases the differences between the nuns’ and monks’ Vinaya is not a matter of adaptation or upgrading, but of a distinct and unshared tradition unique to the nuns. This nuns’ tradition was likely not understood very well by the monks, so when adapting it in the main Vinaya they tended to normalize it in terms they understood.

Of course it’s not an either/or situation, as clearly there is much in the nuns’ Vinaya that is adapted from the monks. But I think it should be borne in mind that “upgrading” is not the only possible source of differences.

Just to note, the different phrasing is twofold: the absence of the phrase on renouncing of the training, as you note; but also the addition of the word chandaso (“with consent”). In the monks’ Vinaya, consent is discussed in the analysis, but not mentioned explicitly in the rule itself. Chandaso is also found in the Lokuttaravāda text, so it is likely to be original.


A second apology is warranted here.
Friend @Aoife I apologise to you for my coarse and disagreeable response to you above. :pray:


Thank you so much Venerable! :pray:
I also wish to apologise for anything I have said that has come across as disrespectful or offensive.