Dharmaguptaka Vinaya and ordination of gay people

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007fc7abb865d0> #<Tag:0x00007fc7abb863f0> #<Tag:0x00007fc7abb862b0> #<Tag:0x00007fc7abb86170>


If monks are expelled for heterosexual activity why should homosexual activity be allowed? That makes no sense.


This question seems a good one. Because it does not contain assumption. I think this is a better place to start.

If you want to know what rules there were against homosexual activity, you can read about it. There are probably sources right here in this thread for that. But I think it is generally not going to help ones learning to assume what must have been the case based on what one personally feels is logical to assume. That’s my only point here.


I see what you are saying about personal assumptions but it is well-known that there are rules against heterosexual activity and sexual activity in general for monks they get expelled many seem to think that rule is ok but rules against homosexual activity is not ok. There are also rules against singing, dancing, and many other things.

If such a rule is to be abandoned then why not other rules too?


Hi ,
Why not consider this , in the beginning the Buddha Refused to accept women into the sangha right ? If Buddha was born intersex (with ambiguous genitalia) why would Buddha formed a Male sangha ? Very unlikely Buddha was born intersex imo .
That’s doesn’t make much sense .


Because being intersex tells us nothing necessarily about what social roles the person in question will practice.

Some intersex people take to the male role, some to the female, and some to neither. In this they are exactly like those who are distinctly male or female: Within both of those biological groupings as well, some people fit and take to the social role of man, some fit and take to the social role of woman, and some fit and take to neither, but instead are in between, or on any of lots of different paths. Biology is destiny in some ways, but not in this one.


The Dharmaguptaka Vinaya does not prohibit ordination of gay people.

If any monastery following Dharmaguptaka Vinaya would not ordain gay or lesbian people, that’s just because of their misinterpreting the term pandaka or their homophobic and conservative beliefs.

Here is the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya paragraph regarding pandaka :

Ordination skandhaka, part 5

爾時有黃門,來至僧伽藍中 ,語諸比丘言:「我欲出家受具足戒。」 諸比丘即與出家受具足戒。受具足戒已 ,語諸比丘言:「 共我作如是如是事來。」 比丘答言 :「 汝滅去 !失去 !何用汝為?」

Once, a paṇḍaka arrived at a monastery (saṅghārāma) and said to the bhikṣus, “I wish to go forth and take full ordination.” Then the bhikṣus let him go forth and take full ordination. Having taken full ordination, he said the bhikṣus, “Let us do such and such a thing together.” Thebhikṣus replied, “Be gone, go away! What is the use of you?”

彼復至守園人及沙彌所語言 :「 共我作如是如是事來。」 守園人沙彌語言:「汝滅去 !失去 !何用汝為?」 彼黃門出寺外,共放牛羊人作婬欲事。

The paṇḍaka then approached the monastic attendants and the śrāmaṇeras, saying, “Let us do such and such a thing together.” The monastic attendants and śrāmaṇeras said, “Be gone, go away, what is the use of you?” The paṇḍaka went out of the monastery and committed sexual acts with cowherds and shepherds.

時諸居士見已譏嫌言:沙門釋子并是黃門,中有男子者共作婬欲事。」 時諸比丘以此因緣白佛,佛言:「 黃門於我法中無所長益,不得與出家受具足戒;若已出家受具足戒應滅擯 。

When lay Buddhists saw this, they said in disgust,“The Śākyan recluses are all paṇḍakas. They commit sexual acts together.” The bhikṣus then went to the Buddha about this matter. The Buddha said, “Paṇḍakas do not benefit from my Dharma. They may not go forth and take full ordination. If they have gone forth and taken full ordination, they are to be expelled.”

是中黃門者,生黃門、犍黃門 、妬黃門、變黃門、半月黃門。生者 ,生已來黃門。犍者 ,生已都截去作黃門。妬者 ,見他行婬已有婬心起。變者 ,與他行婬時失男根變為黃門。半月者,半月能男半月不能男。」

There are various types of paṇḍaka: born paṇḍaka, castrated paṇḍaka, envious paṇḍaka, transformed paṇḍaka and semimonthly paṇḍaka. Born means a paṇḍaka by birth. Castrated means becoming a paṇḍaka due to an act of severing after birth. Envious means becoming sexually aroused only at the sight of others committing sexual acts. Transformed means while committing a sexual act with another, he loses masculine function, and thereby becomes a paṇḍaka. Semimonthly means having male function for half a month, and being impotent for the other half of the month.


Some Chinese Buddhists (not all, but some people like Xuānhuà) think because the paṇḍaka have sex with men, all the gay people is paṇḍaka.

I think it’s out of misunderstanding. Since the Vinaya does saying " There are various types of paṇḍaka: born paṇḍaka, castrated paṇḍaka, envious paṇḍaka, transformed paṇḍaka and semimonthly paṇḍaka. ", none of this means gay people.

( born paṇḍaka: napumsakapandaka ; castrated paṇḍaka: opakkamikapandaka; envious paṇḍaka: ussuyapandaka; semimonthly paṇḍaka: pakkhapandaka. There is no mention of asittapandaka in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, only transformed paṇḍaka. Maybe they are the same, and perhaps there are some mistranslations in the Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya when the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya being translated into Chinese. )

And Janet Gyatso pointed out that pandaka are not homosexuals because, “The Vinaya, in fact, goes so far as to distinguish sexual activity between normative males from sexual relations between a socially normative male and a pandaka.”
See note 18: (Defining Buddhism(s): A Reader - Karen Derris, Natalie Gummer - Google 圖書 )

Regarding ordination gay or lesbian people, as far as I know, Chinese Buddhism monasteries usually are reluctant to discuss it, and if they have to answer, they usually discourage it. They maybe accept the ordination, maybe not. I think it depends on the monasteries or situations.

I think the reluctance mainly due to the common social stigma around gay or lesbian people in the Chinese Society.

(p.s. : And Chinese Buddhism monasteries usually discourage lay Buddhists reading and discussing the Vinaya contents and ordination rules, so only the Chinese Buddhism monks are sure of the “unspoken rules” and the actual situation. )


Welcome to the forum @kalestorm. We look forward to your participation :slight_smile:


Lotus Sutra does prohibit close association with the pañca-paṇḍaka, but doesn’t mention anything regarding gay or lesbian people.

Unless the pañca-paṇḍaka include gay or lesbian people, the Lotus Sutra overlooks the homosexual issue. ( As far as I know, only Xuānhuà claimed pañca-paṇḍaka have something to do with gay people. )

As for T1476 (佛說優婆塞五戒相經, “Scripture of the Buddha’s word on the upāsaka’s five precepts”) and Āryopāsakaśīlanāmamahāyānasūtra, they indeed are apocryphal…The non-vaginal penetration rule comes from Sarvastivada Abhidharma, not Buddha.

Āryabrahmājālabodhisattvaśīlanāmamahāyānasūtra (T1484 ) is apocryphal, but from my impression, it prohibits sex with men and women, not just men. It imitates the monk rules from the Vinaya.


Thank you. I am not a native speaker of English. Hope I do not write something foolish or strange.


Look at the definition of the “sprinkled one,” the āsecanapandaka. Or the asaktapradurbhavipandaka, the pandaka who gets mounted by another.


That’s āsitta-paṇḍaka. (You can see this, note 1063: Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism - José Ignacio Cabezón - Google 圖書

But Chinese Buddhism monks follow the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, and there is no mention of asitta-pandaka in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, only transformed paṇḍaka. ( So theoretically, they don’t know or care what is asitta-pandaka. )

And āsitta-paṇḍaka doesn’t refer to gay people, according to Paisarn Likhitpreechakul. ( Semen, Viagra and Pandaka: Ancient Endocrinology and Modern Day Discrimination* | Likhitpreechakul | Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies )

A child born of scanty paternal sperm becomes an asekya and feels no sexual desire (erection) without previously (sucking the genitals and) drinking the semen of another man. He is known as āsitta-paṇḍaka and ingests semen to compensate for his own inadequacy. The semen-carrying ducts of an asekya are expanded by the drinking of the semen as above described, which helps the erection of his reproductive organ


The above looks to be an awful lot like ayurvedic thinking trying to find a reason as to why some men enjoy other men’s genitals in their mouth and why some men seem more or less masculine and virile than other men.


I am not an expert of ayurvedic medicine and ancient India culture.

But if someone have to ingests semen to help the erection of his reproductive organ, it seems matching other types of paṇḍaka, like envious paṇḍaka (ussuyapandaka), and semimonthly paṇḍaka (pakkhapandaka).

Envious means becoming sexually aroused only at the sight of others committing sexual acts.

Semimonthly means having male function for half a month, and being impotent for the other half of the month. (namely, only having male function during specific lunar phases)


There is also “the one who becomes aroused while bathing.” Don’t these seem to be observations about how others might perceive homosexuals more so than true descriptions of an otherwise normal bloke who happens to like dudes?

I mean, the “one who is aroused while bathing” is probably not ONLY aroused during a communal or semi-communal bathing but also whenever he sees certain of his male peers naked or near-naked in whatever context.

Similarly, perhaps the “sprinkled one” rather than having an extraordinary biology doesn’t actually “only” get aroused from ingesting semen. Maybe that’s just a particular striking thing they do that stands out about then that becomes their name. Do you get what I mean? I am typing on a phone so might be explaining what I mean poorly.


Yeah! I think that’s the point. We’re trying to understand how ancient central Asians understood sexuality. Personally, this is fascinating. Thanks for the info @kalestorm! :pray: And welcome to SC :slight_smile:





That explanation “the one who becomes aroused while bathing” comes from Puguang’s ( 普光) commentary of Abhidharmakośakārikā (俱舍論記).

The paragraph is “灌灑謂澡浴等灌灑男勢方起”, and it refers to the āsitta-paṇḍaka. (the “sprinkled one”).

The “sprinkled” (āsitta) means 灌灑 in Chinese. “灌灑謂澡浴等灌灑男勢方起” means the “sprinkled one”(āsitta-paṇḍaka) is the one who becomes aroused while bathing.

That explanation regarding āsitta-paṇḍaka only appears in the Puguang’s commentary, and I think he confused sprinkling semen with bathing.


I think I get what you mean. You think “the paṇḍaka concept” originated from some actual sex scenes, and then changed or developed gradually into the paṇḍaka.

But I am skeptical about it. The other two paṇḍaka, born paṇḍaka (napumsakapandaka) and castrated paṇḍaka (opakkamikapandaka), have something to do with male genitals’ function, not sex activity itself.

The envious paṇḍaka (ussuyapandaka), semimonthly paṇḍaka (pakkhapandaka) , and āsitta-paṇḍaka (if agreeing Paisarn Likhitpreechakul’s explanation) also are involving with male genitals’ function.

In fact, I think people usually are misdirected by the episode of paṇḍaka having sex with men , and forgetting what distinguish paṇḍaka from male is about the male genitals’ physiological function.

And people (I mean Chinese Buddhists) seldom consider the fact that paṇḍaka are sexually attracted to female in the Sarvastivada Vinaya. 【《十誦律》(Sarvastivada Vinaya):是時,跋難陀釋子,與不能男出家。是人,夜捫摸諸比丘 ( In the night, the paṇḍaka touched bhikkhu, the male monk) ,諸比丘驅出。到比丘尼 邊式叉摩尼沙彌沙彌尼邊,皆捫摸諸比丘尼學戒尼 ( After expelled by the male monk, the paṇḍaka touched bhikkhunī, the female monk) ,諸沙彌沙彌尼盡驅出。】)

Besides, there are female paṇḍaka (like 石女, meaning Vaginal hypoplasia in English). These female paṇḍaka also are about the female genitals’ physiological function, not sex activity itself.


So now that I am no longer on my phone.

So as the various Abhidharma traditions of Buddhism develop and progress they become more and more intertwined with the growing field of proto-ayurveda, or ancient Indian medical science. Some things the Hindu and Buddhist ayurvedic doctors intuit are reasonable, some things are, well, medieval fancy.

Take this

This is an explanation as to why the aśiṣṭikapaṇḍaka “only” becomes aroused after drinking the semen of another man.

Unfortunately for the ayurvedic theorists who would take up the Abhidharma traditions of Buddhism I’m medieval India, there is no such extraordinary biology amongst human beings, wherein a man’s semen-carrying ducts can become filled with that which he has ingested from his mouth.

The explanation is top-down and not bottom-up. It presumes that the technical definition of the aśiṣṭikapaṇḍaka to be true down to its minutia inasmuch as it is presented in Vinaya, Abhidharma, and related commentarial material. It does not presume observation and evidence, though, which would be a bottom-up approach. Instead, it starts with its premise “there is X” and invents a reason, creatively and intuitively for the time, but simply invents it nonetheless. No one observed these semen ducts in their operation or post-mortem to come to this conclusion. Indeed, if they had, though would have learned the opposite, that these “paṇḍakāḥ” are normal human beings and that the weird thing they think about them are simply not true.

Earlier Abhidharma texts simply have these paṇḍakāḥ as unfortunate births. It is later when ayurvedicists will generate a scholastic schematic for their characterization based on supernatural genital function.

This is all just AFAIK. If you have conflicting information or a different picture I would be interested in seeing it.

In the meanwhile, since such a thing as a man who fills his semen duct with others semen, somehow using his own mouth, it remains ambiguous if the historical Buddha IMO would have taught from this ayurvedic perspective or believed it.

IMO this story that followed illustrates the wicked sexual deviance that paṇḍakāḥ were believed to have, first trying to molest the monks, then the nuns. It could even be a historical story and some mislead soul tried to do this. Bisexuals are hardly perfect and are just as vulnerable to sexual misconduct as heterosexuals.

I mean, you have a group of mendicants who have a nice vihāra. You have the option of that or homelessness if you are also wandering but not a member of the ascetic Gautama’s sect.

I imagine many gay men tried to join if nothing else thinking that other gay men had also run away from society and joined before them. It’s not what the sangha’s for, but I think any even slightly socially contrarian all-male community would have that problem, of beings trying to find comforts within that community that it simply wasn’t designed to give.

And this wouldn’t have been a uniquely Buddhist problem either. All mendicant communities would face this. The Jains also have discourses on the dangers of paṇḍakāḥ whom they characterise as false renunciants.

All of this is irrespective of whether homosexuals with a heart set upon genuine renunciation should be allowed to go forth into the community.

Apologies. I should have actually replied to this first. It is important that two people understand each others base positions when communicating. I once heard a wise saying that says when speaking to someone, before replying, you should see if you are able to phrase your partners statements yourself in a way that he or she agrees with. That way, you can know if you understand what they meant.

I think that the relations that Buddhism has with sexual and gender minorities is complex and oscillates between harsh and soft positions.

It is clear that people do not want to be called or associated with the word paṇḍakāḥ in the society in which śramaṇa religions like Jainism and Buddhism found themselves arising.

Like you and I both mentioned before:

So there seems to be identifications, IMO at least, both with the homosexual being the kind of character characterized by the name aśiṣṭikapaṇḍaka and also being the kind of character identified as being perhaps third-gender (this is ignoring the sorts of paṇḍakāḥ who are simply maimed individuals or have birth defects). The defining feature of the aśiṣṭikapaṇḍaka seems to be what it is named for.

There are many reasons why homosexual men living in Buddhist societies of the time would be wanting to have this association far from them. Even if practicing celibacy within the saṁgha, it is possible that stories might exist from before ordination of someone’s past sexual partners among the laity of the community one is from and even perhaps gossip among some peers.

I believe it is Abhidharmakośakārikā as well as Visuddhimagga which are alike in characterizing the lust of the paṇḍaka as frenzied, sitting-ill within his psyche, overspilling and causing him to desire contact with any flesh nearby. This is all paraphrasing, and paraphrasing of two disparate sources so bear with me while I find the substantiating materials, but the belief boils down to the notion that the paṇḍaka cannot abide in a samādhi or sustain śamatha due to the unsteadiness of his mind. From there it is determined that the paṇḍaka must await birth as a normal male or female to enter into the path. For this reason, I imagine Buddhists would not want to be associated with this state, and I imagine that the spiritual friends of those some or many good monks who were formerly homosexual in their sexual activities would have read this material and would not want to apply it’s condemnation upon their peer. In short, because these teachings are simply not true, technicalities and exceptions must be made and those peers would have been able to identify that, I believe.

This is in tension with other currents with take a softer stance:

Tesu āsittapaṇḍakassa ca usūyapaṇḍakassa ca pabbajjā na vāritā, itaresaṃ tiṇṇaṃ vāritā.
Of these, the sprinkled pandaka and the jealous pandaka are not prevented from going forth, while the remaining three are. (Vinayapiṭake, Mahāvaggāṭṭhakathā, Mahākhandhakaṃ, Bodhikathā).

The above is from Venerable Buddhaghoṣa’s Pāli translations of the commentaries. So it seems that at one point there was a softer stance towards the sorts of paṇḍakāḥ who seem homosexual or perhaps sexual deviant in some other way (the “jealous one” is sometimes translated as a voyeur, I have seen this associated in some Tibetan vinaya materials with modern-day pornography addicts) but not is such as the case appears to be for people with birth defects, maimed individuals, or ambiguous male/female gender presentation. Those are still barred for whatever reason.

So I think that paṇḍaka began as an outsiders observation of a particular homosexual tendency and that this misconception would then be challenged by the society that produced it in a dynamic back-and-forth. This back and forth is what I was trying to get at here:

By the time we have the Buddha, it seems that we have both men who have or who have had sex with other men primarily classified as aśiṣṭikapaṇḍaka & āśaktapṛthubudhnapaṇḍaka but also, as testified to the threefold distinction with regards to sex intercourse in the vinaya (not with a man, not with a woman, not with a paṇḍaka), we have a treatment of these men who have or who have had sex with men simply classified as men as any other ordinary men may be.

So these two strands seem to co-mingle and it seems inconclusive to me which is likely to have been the case originally.


From my point of view, the explanation of envious paṇḍaka (ussuyapandaka) and semimonthly paṇḍaka (pakkhapandaka) don’t appear more scientific & credible than the āsitta-paṇḍaka.

You can see the following link at note 14 & 15, there are many strange cure methods and causes of sexual impotence, like the irsyrati (I think that refers to the ussuyapandaka ) caused by one’s parents’ jealously.

Defining Buddhism(s): A Reader - Karen Derris, Natalie Gummer - Google 圖書

So, I would just assume that’s some ayurvedic way of thinking, and was deemed as common sense in the ancient India society. Maybe only napumsakapandaka and opakkamikapandaka really exist, others are just sexual impotence due to various reasons. And the real impotent reason was unknown to those ayurvedic doctors.

Besides, the pañca-paṇḍaka come from Pali Vinaya’s Commentary, so the historical Buddha maybe doesn’t specify what paṇḍaka is.

As for the Sarvastivada Vinaya, maybe that paṇḍaka is bisexual or not. That’s unrelated to the point that paṇḍaka could be sexually attracted to female, and only toward female.

For example, if a man’s sexuality is toward female, after becoming an eunuch, he could still keep his sexuality toward female.


I still don’t think āsitta-paṇḍaka is just some ancient India men having oral sex with men or from outsiders observation of a particular homosexual tendency.

If that’s the case, it’s strange to me then the Vinaya would distinguish a monk having sex with men from having sex with paṇḍaka, as you also said.

And it’s strange to me, when an India man have sex with paṇḍaka, the man is still male.
Then, why India men having oral sex with men, he became āsitta-paṇḍaka? If an India man have sex with āsitta-paṇḍaka (whatever the word means), is he still male or becoming āsitta-paṇḍaka? If he is still male, does the āsitta-paṇḍaka really mean men having oral sex with men? If he become āsitta-paṇḍaka, then why an India man have sex with paṇḍaka, the man is still male?


Janet Gyatso pointed out that pandaka are not homosexuals because, “The Vinaya, in fact, goes so far as to distinguish sexual activity between normative males from sexual relations between a socially normative male and a pandaka.”

See note 18: (Defining Buddhism(s): A Reader - Karen Derris, Natalie Gummer - Google 圖書 )

If pandaka are just homosexuals, then the Vinaya wouldn’t distinguish a male monk having sex with men from having sex with paṇḍaka.

And I don’t believe in the ancient India society, there would had been “a group of (gay) men” escaping from the society into the sangha. They would just be married with women, and maybe secretly had sex with other men, just like the following case. The ancient India society may not criminalize male to male sex, but I think it would still regard heterosexual sex and marriage favorably. And ancient India gay men don’t know what is gay or homosexual orientation (not like modern gay men), so they probably would just follow the custom, not running into the sangha.

I agree (if I grasp the meaning correctly). Still, I think finding what does pandaka mean in the ancient culture (not modern interpretations, like “jealous one", the ussuya-pandaka, translated as a voyeur ) is somewhat important.


So I think the gist of our agreements and disagreements can be boiled down to:

I think ayurveda is a Medieval Indian movement, not a Bronze Age movement like Buddhism, and I think you are willing to push ayurveda back to the time of the Buddha, because you support what I understand to be the ayurvedic origins of these diverse pandaka classifications as medical conditions and not stereotypes related to sex acts. Am I right there? This is a fine disagreement because no one really knows from whence fully-fleshed ayurveda comes and it’s roots could indeed be quite antique. There are many perspectives on its origin and mine, informed though I think it be, is only one of them. I think it is later, some think it is earlier.

Vis-a-vis ancient gay men leaving home in ancient India, I agreed that most would simply marry women as would be expected of them, however I also believe there is a sort of gay man who cannot do that, and who might leave home if rejected by his parents for not producing children for them. So I can see both situations as a possibility. After all, pandaka did try to join the order.

I think our fundamental point of disagreement is that I see up to two of the five pandakas as describing homosexual activity, and you see them all as medical reproductive conditions with no relation to homosexuality or bisexuality. I am fine with this, but my point remains about the medical impossibility of the condition being described. It leads to me think it is a later ad hoc rationalization of a previous believed belief.

I think our agreement is that should a man or woman formerly homosexual or bisexual in their sexual activities wish to ordain under a heart set upon genuine renunciation this option should generally be open to them. Our disagreement is that I think some gay men would have been called pandaka and some not, and you believe none were rightly classed as pandakas.

Do you agree? Is this a fair representation of your positions?