Contextualizing a point from the third training rule

At one time there was a man had two wives, one who was barren and one who was fertile. The barren one said to a monk who was supported by her family, “If the other wife gives birth to a child, Venerable, she’ll become mistress of the whole household. Please find a method of abortion for her.” “All right,” he said, and he did so. Both died… neither died. The monk became remorseful … “There’s no offense entailing expulsion, but there’s a serious offense.”

The reason why this one is a thullaccaya rather than a pārājika seems to be because the monk would run out of or have less donations if his barren supporter were to no longer be the mistress of her household. Also, I hope the fertile woman, even if she exists only as a theoretical postulation, wanted said abortion in addition to the barren woman wishing she have one.

Can we contextualize this, whether through more information in general or via commentarial literature?

2 Likes

This particular text has two stories shortened to easier memorization.

1. Both died…
The monk is defeated (pārājika)
2. Neither died
When no one is dead there is no pārājika offence but still the monk has done something serious, trying to kill them.
Therefore, there’s no offense entailing expulsion (pārājika), but there’s a serious offense.

Here the problem arises with the peyyāla; an indication to show that passage has been omited in the root text.

Tranlation uses an ellipsis (…) to indicate omitting where the root uses pe - peyyāla.

Tena kho pana samayena aññatarassa purisassa dve pajāpatiyo honti – ekā vañjhā, ekā vijāyinī. Vañjhā itthī kulūpakaṃ bhikkhuṃ etadavoca – “Sace sā, bhante, vijāyissati sabbassa kuṭumbassa issarā bhavissati. Iṅghāyya, tassā gabbhapātanaṃ jānāhī”ti .“Suṭṭhu, bhaginī”ti tassā gabbhapātanaṃ adāsi. Dārako kālamakāsi, mātā na kālamakāsi. Tassa kukkuccaṃ ahosi…pe… “Āpattiṃ tvaṃ, bhikkhu, āpanno pārājika”nti.

peyyāla is a problem that is hard to solve. In this case we can guess what may have been omitted. But there are some suttas where it is hard to find the texts which has been omited.

6 Likes

As highlighted by @Amatabhani below are the other relevant passages on the topic:

At one time there was a man had two wives, one who was barren and one who was fertile. The barren one said to a monk who was supported by her family, “If the other wife gives birth to a child, Venerable, she’ll become mistress of the whole household. Please find a method of abortion for her.” “All right,” he said, and he did so.
The child died, but the mother did not die. The monk became remorseful …
“You have committed an offense entailing expulsion.”

At one time there was a man had two wives, one who was barren and one who was fertile. The barren one said to a monk who was supported by her family, “If the other wife gives birth to a child, Venerable, she’ll become mistress of the whole household. Please find a method of abortion for her.” “All right,” he said, and he did so.
The mother died, but the child did not die. The monk became remorseful … “
There’s no offense entailing expulsion, but there’s a serious offense.”

At one time there was a man had two wives, one who was barren and one who was fertile. The barren one said to a monk who was supported by her family, “If the other wife gives birth to a child, Venerable, she’ll become mistress of the whole household. Please find a method of abortion for her.” “All right,” he said, and he did so. Both died. …
Neither died. The monk became remorseful … “
There’s no offense entailing expulsion, but there’s a serious offense.”

From reading it I understand that in this kind of situation killing a child yet to be born is worse than killing its mother. :man_shrugging:

Mind that elsewhere in the Bhikkhu Vinaya we find:

“When a monk is ordained he should not intentionally deprive a living thing of life, even if it is only an ant. Whatever monk deprives a human being of life even down to causing abortion, he becomes not a (true) recluse, not a son of the Sakyans.
As a flat stone, broken in half, becomes (something) not to be put together again, even so a monk, having intentionally deprived a human being of life, becomes not a (true) recluse, not a son of the Sakyans.
This is a thing not to be done by you as long as life lasts."

Perhaps only because the mother died actively participating in seeking to kill? Otherwise, it seems to be caste-making i.e. if terms of targets of wrong doing, women are less than men in the same way animals are less than humans.
However, is targeting a Buddha or arahant for harm seen as more wrong than targeting an ordinary person? I think it is, even though it seems counter-intuitive, that trying to harm one liberated from suffering is worse than trying to harm one yet to attain… Yet perhaps the point is, it decreases possibilities for exposure to the Dhamma for many, if it impairs or shortens an ariya lfe or the life/practice of one set on ariya attainment.

But it seems a grave mistake to think the distinction is gender. Isn’t gender just rūpa?

The killing was aimed at the child, not at the mother. So if the child dies that’s actual murder. If the mother dies that may be considered an “accident”, though a highly likely one, given the measures they were using for abortion.

8 Likes

Yes, that’s it, the mother was colateral damage in that case. :man_facepalming:

1 Like

It’s not a gender issue.
As per above @sabbamitta solved the puzzle, the mother was not the target, the child was the target.
The killing of the mother was unintended.
And this is very aligned with kamma=intention axiom.
Gender of the victim could not be different as you cannot abort a child through its father! :sweat_smile:

I agree, not a gender issue; precisely part of what I wanted to make explicit.

Regarding gender of victim: it makes no difference if child is/was a girl or boy; no additional or reduced culpability on that basis.