Can monks and nuns bow to their biological parents?

So… Here in Eastern culture, it’s very common that a son or daughter must bow to their parents. Every year, at least 1 time we Asian people show our respect to our parents by bowing to their feet.

But when someone become monks and nuns, is it forbidden to show our respect to parents by bowing? Is there any Suttas or Vinaya that allow/ forbids monks and nuns to pay respect to their biological parents by bowing?


Maybe that’s a good question for our resident Vinaya expert, bhante @Brahmali ! :anjal:

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To start you out, you could read the section on paying homage:

It’s not long, so I’ll paste it here:

Paying homage
A regular bhikkhu should pay homage to three sorts of people: the Buddha, a bhikkhu senior to him, and a senior bhikkhu of a separate affiliation (see Appendix V) who speaks (teaches) what is Dhamma. Homage here means bowing down, rising up to greet, doing añjali (placing the hands palm-to-palm over the heart), and performing other forms of respect due to superiors. At the same time, a regular bhikkhu is prohibited from paying homage to ten sorts of people: a bhikkhu junior to him, an unordained person, a woman, a paṇḍaka, a senior bhikkhu of a separate affiliation who speaks (teaches) what is not Dhamma; a bhikkhu undergoing probation; a bhikkhu deserving to be sent back to the beginning; a bhikkhu deserving penance; a bhikkhu undergoing penance; a bhikkhu deserving rehabilitation. (These last five are bhikkhus in various stages of undergoing the procedures for rehabilitation from a saṅghādisesa offense. For the duties of respect incumbent on them, see Chapter 19.) However, it is the custom in Thailand for a senior bhikkhu to do añjali to a junior bhikkhu when the latter is bowing down to him. This is an area where the wise policy is to follow the standards of one’s own Community.
The Vinaya-mukha questions the propriety of bhikkhus’ not paying homage to people outside of their own group, but this misses the symbolism of this simple act: that bhikkhus have renounced the benefits and responsibilities that come from the normal give-and-take of lay society in favor of the freedom that comes from living on society’s edge.


It would be a minor offense (dukkaṭa) according to the Pali Vinaya, and in addition, would be seen as quite startling and inappropriate in most Theravadin contexts.

Having said which, it doesn’t mean that a monastic can’t bow. It just means that if they do they incur a minor infraction (and risk embarrassing their parents!).

FWIW I have harbored a long doubt about this specific passage in the Pali Vinaya. It occurs in a way that seems rather out of place. But I have not studied it in detail, so this is no more than vague question. It’d be interesting to look at the other Vinayas.


Thank you… So there’s some rules in Khandhaka that forbids a monk for bowing to lay person. :grin::pray:

Well, according to Milinda Panha, minor offenses is Dukkata and Dubhassita. So… I guess, yes, a monks can make exception. :thinking: