Definitions of alajji and lajji bhikkhus

Dear all,
after a discussion with one of the most strict and stern teachers of vinaya I have met so far I would like to request some help in form of pointing out some definitions and giving some explanations. On the basis of a passage which he read in Thai (it was translated for me) he maintained that it is an offense for a bhikkhu to simply stay with unconscientious (on the word alajji the text was based upon) bhikkhus within the same monastery boundaries, however far-reaching the circumference might be. He argued that any bhikkhu who has fallen into any small offense, which he does not mend, is considered alajji and ground for an offense for any other bhikkhu who stays with him. Now these questions bother me at the moment regarding this:

  1. Where is his mentioned passage to be found in Paali or English (if at all)?
  2. What are the definitions of lajji and alajji regarding bhikkhus? Do they match the mentioned case or are they generally different?

He also mentioned that it is the responsibility of conscientious bhikkhus to point out the offenses of his co-resident bhikkhus, if he neglects it he would incur an offense himself. I see that there is Paacittiya 64 which stipulates so but argued that in the no-offense clause we find the following exemptions:

There is no offence if he does not tell, thinking: “There will come to be quarrel or dispute or strife or contention for the Order”; if he does not tell, thinking: “There will come to be a schism in the Order or dissension in the Order”; if he does not tell, thinking: “This one, harsh, rough, will be an obstacle to life or to the Brahma-life”; if he does not tell, not seeing other suitable monks; if he does not tell (though) not desiring to hide (him); if he does not tell, thinking: “It will be evident from his own action”; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer.

So, to my mind, if a bhikkhu doesn’t say something because he doesn’t wish the whole day finding faults and talking to other monks (in Pa Auk Mawlamyine, just to give a random example, this would be a full-time job with so many hundreds of monks) that would be no offense because he doesn’t want to hide, is that also your understanding? He said there is somewhere another passage which says one has to confront issues regardlessly but he could not find it? Are you aware of any?

Thank you so much for the assistance!


In Pacittiya 64 (Horner’s translation) it says “very bad offence”, that probably refers to parajia or sanghadisesa offences, and not to just any little thing:

“Whatever monk should knowingly conceal a monk’s very bad offence, there is an offence of expiation.”

There is also this little passage in MN 65:

“Here some bhikkhu progresses by a measure of faith and love. In this case bhikkhus consider thus: ‘Friends, this bhikkhu progresses by a measure of faith and love. Let him not lose that measure of faith and love, as he may if we take action against him by repeatedly admonishing him.’ Suppose a man had only one eye; then his friends and companions, his kinsmen and relatives, would guard his eye, thinking: ‘Let him not lose his one eye.’ So too, some bhikkhu progresses by a measure of faith and love…‘Let him not lose that measure of faith and love, as he may if we take action against him by repeatedly admonishing him.’

This just shows how the Buddha applies a very careful consideration and a sense of proportion when it comes to admonishing monastics (in this case, certainly not for a serious offence).

What do the vinaya experts say? Ajahn @Brahmali? Ayya @vimalanyani?


Pacittiya 64 applies to monks only (at least in the Pali version), so I’m not going to interfere with how they interpret their own rules. Best to have Ajahn @Brahmali comment on this.
So just a few general remarks, since @sabbamitta wanted to hear my input…

Well, from the point of view of the suttas, this is obvious nonsense. There are countless suttas where regular monastics live together with monastics who have committed some kind of offense. The most obvious that come to my mind at the moment are the Bhaddalisutta MN 65, where the Buddha himself and a large number of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis spend the rains with Bhaddali, even though he refuses to follow the rule about eating. And SN 4.243 where Anuruddha’s student tries to create a schism, and Anuruddha isn’t bothered at all.

Also from a practical perspective, is a bhikkhu supposed to walk around all day watching others to see if anyone makes a tiny mistake, and if so, is he expected to leave the monastery straightaway? How would you ever do any dhamma practise then? And is there any perfect monastery in samsara? You couldn’t go anywhere…

But I understand that these kinds of arguments are not going to convince a vinaya expert. You’d have to argue on the basis of vinaya. Since the question is specific about bhikkhus, I leave the answer to Ajahn @Brahmali.


Thanks for your reply. Concealing a very bad offense is a Paacittiya and a dukkata for concealing minor offenses:

If he conceals an offence that is not a very bad one, there is an offence of wrong-doing.

Thanks for sharing the relevant sutta passage.


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Thank you Vimalayani. See some quotes and comments below.

Actually he mentioned this as an exception, to wait until the vassa is finished. I actually brought it up during our discussion that at the Buddha’s time many truly conscientious bhikkhus lived together with even badly corrupted ones. He replied that they lived together only if an admonition was successful and if they were unsuccessful in their efforts to help they took appropriate measurements. I think this is reasonably possible, given the presence of the Buddha himself or other eminent disciples.

I think that is the stand he takes … The point you made was also mentioned by myself – you could not go probably anywhere.

Yes, I think so too.


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Hi Venerable; here are some thoughts about this (not my opinion, just Vinaya):

The attitude in the Vinaya clearly follows the direction of confronting the transgressing monk, which would actually be contradictory with any rule requiring monastics to leave the company of an alajji monastic. The discussion round the rules which require monastics to confront a transgressing colleague has been that this is a necessary requirement for validating a subsequent sanghakamma (formal meeting of sangha) which could pass a judgment or expel the transgressing monastic. In other words, the rulings of any such sanghakamma would be invalid if the monastic was not approached at first by other monastics and on a friendly basis; and actually this is one of the situations where a transgressing monastic may remain silent or refuse to cooperate in the sanghakamma without incurring any offense.

So possibly for the reason of ensuring the validation or legitimacy of a sanghakamma, engaging with a transgressing monastic on a one-on-one basis is a monastic duty according to Vinaya. But this connection is not mentioned explicitly in the text and one can also see the point and benefit of a friendly dialogue with a transgressing monastic. Another point here is also to quickly prevent any potential schism, because it only takes “four” monastics to refuse to acknowledge a Vinaya rule in order for a schism to be established! Leaving the transgressing monastic behind would only increase the possibilities of schisms.

In Thailand they have something called the “Korwat”, some kind of monastic training system that generally involves rules which have no basis in Vinaya whatsoever; take for example the shaving off of eyebrow hair. It may be possible that the monastic you’ve encountered has confused Korwat with Vinaya. And I do remember marveling at the extent of sensitivity and edginess with which monastics of different sects in Thailand related to each other; even without committing any offense, they would not stay together. It is also a widespread belief, and not altogether devoid of purpose, that staying together with transgressing or alajji monastics negatively effects rule-abiding ones, or creates a schismatic environment of inequality in an otherwise tightly integrated community.

The only time you would fall into an offence is if the monks has been suspended for his bad behaviour though ukkhepanīya-kamma. If you then associate with the monk in certain ways, you breach bhikkhu pācittiya 69. Apart from this, I am not aware of any offence for associating with monks who are alajjī.

Yes, I would say you are right about this.

No, the Vinaya tends to be reasonable. It’s all about time and place.

Thank you for bringing up this beautiful passage. The Buddha clearly had a nuanced and reasonable approach to admonishment. The monastic life is about spiritual growth more than anything, and admonishment should also be geared to this purpose.


Yeah, a good point.

Yes, and sometimes the Korwat seems to assume the place of the actual vinaya, it seems to me. Actually this monk is very much based on the tipitaka and reformed his approach accordingly, so, for example, he did not shave his eyebrows when a monk. He read the passage in Thai and it was translated to me … though they could not find neither English nor Pali equivalent. What I found is that to take nissaya under unconscientious bhikkhus is a dukkata. From Ledi Sayadaw I learnt that to be flagged as alajji one needs to know a rule and not act up accordingly (one among three total factors), even minor ones.


Thank you, very helpful. Is it correct that you went through all the vinaya material, if I am allowed to ask? It would give your statement even stronger weight and authority. I am asking also since I will continue discussion with the mentioned teacher and he will presumably ask about the peculiars of my source of information …



I cannot guarantee that I have not overlooked anything, but I have now translated about 80 percent of the Vinaya Piṭaka into English, the final product being intended for SuttaCentral. So I think my credentials are quite good. But unfortunately nothing is ever absolutely certain.

It also depends on how your friend approaches the Vinaya, that is, to what extent he relies on the commentaries and the like.


thank you for the further informations giving a personal glimpse of your background of acquaintance with the texts. Sorry also for the late reply but I generally try to use the Internet just every week or fortnight (except for Pāli perhaps more frequently) .

If I remember correctly he directly cited out of the root-text (mūla), but I might be wrong. I will contact them again to ask for specific references in Pāli or English …

Thank you very much in any case!
Much mettā!

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