Early monastics "breaking the Patimokkha"

  1. Not exactly. If we follow the details in MN 127, Ven. Anuruddha didn’t disclose his attainments to the layman carpenter Pancakanga, neither did he do it to his fellow monk Ven. Kaccana. Only after Kaccana asked him directly did he say it. But it was still a monk-to-monk reply and he did rebuke Kaccana for asking the question. It’d be more interesting had the layman Pancakanga asked the question and see how Ven. Anuruddha would reply. But then for nowadays, it’s hard to come by anyone like him, who (per the Comy.) has “fulfilled the paramis in past lives, Anuruddha had gone forth as a recluse, reached meditative attainments, and passed three hundred existences without interruption in the Brahma world. Hence his reply”.

  2. That monk Bhaddali still needs to finish his meal before lunch. The next paragraph clarifies it and the Comy. said:

His anxiety persisted because he would still have to finish his meal of the remains by noon.

  1. Uh… the couple were blind right?
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  1. Pancakanga was present, so Anuruddha did disclose it to him. It is irrelevant to the rule who asks the question. And as Gabriel just showed, the Buddha did the same thing when laypeople asked him.
  1. Yes, sure before lunch, but I was addressing the question of whether you could eat only once or multiple times before lunch.

  2. Blind people can also touch food. After all, the lady probably cooked it herself.

  1. Could you provide the link to any rule mandating single session meal?

  2. Since they were blind, if sticking with the rule, you wanted them to run their fingers all over the Buddha’s body to search for his hands first, and possibly touch some part that was not supposed to be touched?

That’s exactly the point here: What is the rule, and what is common sense? And in case the two are in conflict, to which one should one give preference?

  1. The Buddha asks for it in that sutta quote that I gave above and many other suttas. Also, I explicitly stated that I not only want to discuss the rules, but also current interpretations of the rules and that eating one meal is a very common practice in forest monasteries.
    One example is bhikkhuni pc 54. That rule applies under certain circumstances, not at all times.

Should any bhikkhuni, having eaten and turned down an offer (of further food), chew or consume staple or non-staple food (elsewhere), it is to be confessed.

The corresponding monks’ rule is slightly different.

  1. You realize that I am not saying that things need to be offered into one’s hands? I am just saying this is the standard practice in many monasteries. Also I think blind people are quite capable of locating someone’s hands without touching them in inappropriate places. They are blind, not stupid.

My blind friend, when it comes about shaking someone’s hand, just is very quick and reaches her hand out into the other person’s direction, and then they cannot other but just seizing it reflexively :wink:


Of course they’re not stupid. But they don’t have the world-transcending eyes of Ven. Anuruddha to instantly locate the Buddha’s hands either. Frankly if a monastic doesn’t give blind people a break, then there’s more serious problem than sticking to a rule.

That’s exactly the point we are trying to show here. Common sense was given priority in the EBTs, not strict adherence to rules. :slightly_smiling_face:


More like: one should stick to rules as much as one can, but there’ll always be exceptions where one needs to apply common sense (there’s a subtle difference between the 2 sentences)… :grinning:

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I think these examples are really good instances of how rules should be approached but Santa has a good point in that we should lean towards conformity as much as possible and give up only when necessary.

With metta


Maybe it’s too early for a discussion, I think the main idea of collecting examples of exceptions to rules is excellent. A discussion could be done in another post maybe to avoid early proliferation?


I had the same feeling! This was actually supposed to be a wiki.
Feel free to start another thread for the discussion.

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Last example from me for today: Bhikkhuni Sanghadisesa 3
There are also many references to bhikkhunis not observing Sanghadisesa 3, a rule that nowadays in many monasteries is interpreted to mean that nuns are not allowed to leave the monastery grounds alone, for example to go into the next village for alms round.
In the suttas nuns seem to have gone on alms round alone, spend the day in secluded spots, and also went wandering on long tours without any companion mentioned.

Alms round, seclusion: All of SN5, especially:
SN 5.1

Then, in the morning, the bhikkhuni Aḷavika dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Savatthi for alms. When she had walked for alms in Savatthi and had returned from her alms round, after her meal she went to the Blind Men’s Grove seeking seclusion.

SN 5.5

Then, in the morning, the bhikkhuni Uppalavaṇṇa dressed … she stood at the foot of a sal tree in full flower.
Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Uppalavaṇṇa, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:
“Having gone to a sal tree with flowering top,
You stand at its foot all alone, bhikkhuni.

Wandering without a companion mentioned :
SN 44.1 Bhikkhuni Khema wandering around in Kosala:

Now on that occasion the bhikkhunī Khema, while wandering on tour among the Kosalans, had taken up residence in Toraṇavatthu between Savatthī and Saketa. Then King Pasenadi of Kosala, while travelling from Saketa to Savatthī, took up residence for one night in Toraṇavatthu between Saketa and Savatthī. Then King Pasenadi of Kosala addressed a man thus: “Go, good man, and find out whether there is any ascetic or brahmin in Toraṇavatthu whom I could visit today.” …
“Sire, there is no ascetic or brahmin in Toraṇavatthu whom your majesty could visit. But, sire, there is the bhikkhunī named Khema, a disciple of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. Now a good report concerning this revered lady has spread about thus: ‘She is wise, competent, intelligent, learned, a splendid speaker, ingenious.’ Let your majesty visit her.”

In the Therigatha, there are numerous references to solitude, wandering etc.: (I compiled this list a while ago, and the references are to the verse numbers. I don’t know how to convert them to SC references without looking up every single one. Seems a bit much work since we don’t have an English translation anyway. Those who have the books or translations into other languages should be able to identify the verses easily enough.)
Alms food 2, 17, 110, 329, 349, 402
Wandering 14, 20, 110, 183, 332, 427
In the forest 51, 80, 372f
At the root of a tree 24, 75, 362
In the mountains 27, 29, 48, 108
Being alone, secluded 44, 57, 372f, 402


Please keep this wiki free of discussion and discuss here instead. :anjal:

But feel most welcome to post sutta quotes in line with the OP!


AN 3.84:

On one occasion the Blessed One was living in Vesālī, in the Great Wood. Then a certain Vajjian monk approached him and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, “Lord, this recitation of more than 150 training rules comes every fortnight. I cannot train in reference to them.”

“Monk, can you train in reference to the three trainings: the training in heightened virtue, the training in heightened mind, the training in heightened discernment?”

“Yes, lord, I can train in reference to the three trainings: the training in heightened virtue, the training in heightened mind, the training in heightened discernment.”

“Then train in reference to those three trainings: the training in heightened virtue, the training in heightened mind, the training in heightened discernment. As you train in heightened virtue, heightened mind, & heightened discernment, your passion, aversion, & delusion—when trained in heightened virtue, heightened mind, & heightened discernment—will be abandoned. You—with the abandoning of passion, the abandoning of aversion, the abandoning of delusion—will not do anything unskillful or engage in any evil.”

Later on, that monk trained in reference to heightened virtue, heightened mind, & heightened discernment. His passion, aversion, & delusion—when trained in heightened virtue, heightened mind, & heightened discernment were abandoned. He—with the abandoning of passion, the abandoning of aversion, the abandoning of delusion—did not do anything unskillful or engage in any evil.


Many thanks Ayya @vimalanyani for starting this wiki, very interesting and informative subject for people studying vinaya or interested in practising it. Many thanks also for all contributors thus far.

I totally agree that discussion over applicability of a sutta incident is not important, especially that vinaya rules are not clear for some people. I’d rather actually encourage everyone to post an incident even if they’re not sure whether it involves a vinaya breach or not, or even if it borders on constituting a breach.

Also if the quoted text is too long, it would be very nice -but not necessary ok!- to write a line or two about what’s the violation about.

THANKS! :heart_eyes:


From MN 82: Arahant Raṭṭhapāla explicitly asks for food:

Just then a servant of his relatives was about to throw away some old rice-soup. Seeing this, the venerable Raṭṭhapāla said to her: “Sister, if that stuff is to be thrown away, then pour it into my bowl here.”


The pacittiya about damaging plants bu 11 / bi 107:

The Buddha collects grass for a meditation seat, p. ex:
MN 140

Then the Blessed One entered the potter’s workshop, prepared a spread of grass at one end, and sat down,

An 3.36

After the meal, when I have returned from the alms round, I enter a grove. I collect some grass or leaves that I find there into a pile and then sit down.


From Mahavagga 5.1.7. The Buddha orders ven. Sāgata to perform super powers to villagers:

Then those eighty thousand village overseers approached the Lord … Then the Lord, knowing by reasoning of mind the minds of those eighty thousand village overseers, addressed the venerable Sāgata, saying: “Well then, do you, Sāgata, abundantly show a superhuman state, a wonder of psychic power.”

“Very well, Lord,” and the venerable Sagata, having answered the Lord in assent, having risen above the ground, paced up and down in the air, in the atmosphere, and he stood, and he sat down, and he lay down, and he smoked and he blazed, and then he vanished.


Yes, this is the way, the only way, we can respect The Great Teacher and The Dhamma He taught. Without these essential two aspects, I doubt if anybody can progress in the Noble Path.