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Giving out lahubhaṇḍa (light property) to laity

Is there any precedence in the vinaya or commentaries from which we may get to understand if it is proper for a dispenser of minor items (appamattakavissajjako) to hand out saṅghika lahubhaṇḍa (light property belonging to the sangha) to lay yogis (who reside in and help the monastery)? Is it OK or not, how would you appraise the issue? Thank you!

Mettā

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Tena kho pana samayena aññatarassa bhikkhuno bahuṃ cīvaraṃ uppannaṃ hoti. So ca taṃ cīvaraṃ mātāpitūnaṃ dātukāmo hoti. Bhagavato etamatthaṃ ārocesuṃ. Mātāpitaroti kho, bhikkhave, dadamāne kiṃ vadeyyāma? Anujānāmi, bhikkhave, mātāpitūnaṃ dātuṃ. Na ca, bhikkhave, saddhādeyyaṃ vinipātetabbaṃ. yo vinipāteyya, āpatti dukkaṭassāti.

Now at that time much robe-material accrued to a certain monk, and he was desirous of giving that robe-material to his parents. They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “Because he is himself giving to his parents, monks, what can we say? I allow you, monks, to give to parents. But, monks, a gift of faith should not be brought to ruin. Whoever should bring (one) to ruin, there is an offence of wrong-doing.”

Giving to the parents is not a problem at any stuation but things other than garubhaṇḍa. When monks use gifts of faith unnecessarily and ruin them without care makes the devotees (lay people who give) censure. When the gifts are used carefully for a long time people become confident about monks. And that makes them happy. Handing gift of faith to unfit is also saddhādeyya vinipāta. Therefore monks should be careful when they use saṅghika properties.

pabbajitaparibhogo hi āgārikānaṃ cetiyaṭṭhāniyo
Things that bhikkhūs use considered as monument to lay people.

Therefore saṅghika lahubhaṇḍa also comes with this category. Giving them to the lay people is not appropriate. However giving to paṇḍuplāsa (one who is waiting to go forth), those who work in the monastery, and who attend to the parents is not a problem. Giving to the lay people other than this is considered to be a wrong doing (dukkaṭa). It is appropriate to give even lahubhaṇḍa to paṇḍuplāsa, since he is about to go forth and waiting for the completion of pattacīvara.

Exchanging saṅghika bhaṇḍa to something useful and worth ia also appropriate.
Commentary

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Thank you for the reference and your thoughts. As far as I understand, the commentarial explanation does not mention something about saṅghika property (lahubhaṇḍa or garubhaṇḍa), just about “untouched almsfood” ( anāmaṭṭhapiṇḍapāto), which I would rather class as personal property. What do you think?

​piṇḍapāte pana — anāmaṭṭhapiṇḍapāto kassa dātabbo, kassa na dātabbo? mātāpitunaṃ tāva dātabbo. sacepi kahāpaṇagghanako hoti, saddhādeyyavinipātanaṃ natthi. mātāpitūpaṭṭhākānaṃ veyyāvaccakarassa paṇḍupalāsassāti etesampi dātabbo. tattha paṇḍupalāsassa thālake pakkhipitvāpi dātuṃ vaṭṭati. taṃ ṭhapetvā aññesaṃ āgārikānaṃ mātāpitunampi na vaṭṭati. pabbajitaparibhogo hi āgārikānaṃ cetiyaṭṭhāniyo . apica anāmaṭṭhapiṇḍapāto nāmesa sampattassa dāmarikacorassāpi issarassāpi dātabbo. kasmā? te hi adīyamānepi “na dentī”ti āmasitvā dīyamānepi “ucchiṭṭhakaṃ dentī”ti kujjhanti. kuddhā jīvitāpi voropenti, sāsanassāpi antarāyaṃ karonti. rajjaṃ patthayamānassa vicarato coranāgassa vatthu cettha kathetabbaṃ. evaṃ piṇḍapāte paṭipajjitabbaṃ.

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Things are tight when it comes to saṅghika properties.
saṅghika properties are belong to saṅgha, even a bhikku cannot use them without an apalokana vinaya kamma if it is divisible. After apalokana kamma things become personal property. Therefore giving them to appropriate ones is not a problem after the vinayakamma.

And there are many rules laid to protect properties belong to sangha. Even bhikkhūs should be careful using properties belong to sangha.

  1. Mañcasanthārana
    If a monk takes a bed, a bench, a mattress, or a stool belonging to the Order and puts it out in the open or gets it put out, and he then leaves without putting it away, getting it put away, or telling anyone, he commits an offense entailing confession.’
  2. Seyyasanthārana

There are many minor offences too,

Na, bhikkhave, adhotehi pādehi senāsanaṃ akkamitabbaṃ. Yo akkameyya, āpatti dukkaṭassa

Na, bhikkhave, allehi pādehi senāsanaṃ akkamitabbaṃ. Yo akkameyya, āpatti dukkaṭassa.

Na, bhikkhave, saupāhanena senāsanaṃ akkamitabbaṃ. Yo akkameyya, āpatti dukkaṭassa.

Na, bhikkhave, parikammakatāya bhūmiyā niṭṭhubhitabbaṃ. Yo niṭṭhubheyya, āpatti dukkaṭassa. Anujānāmi, bhikkhave, kheḷamallakaṃ.

What about the appamattavissajjako (dispenser of miscellaneous items), can he not give out lahubhaṇḍa? The Buddha mentioned that he can give out several smaller items, so perhaps by extensions he can give out others too (lahubhaṇḍa) … Or would you say that for all saṅghika an apalokanakamma needs to be done? Is there any reference in the pāli or aṭṭhakathā that shows that such vinayakamma needs to be performed for every item belonging to the saṅgha?

That’s for sure, no doubt.

I guess so.
Bhante @brahmali, Can you give your opinion on this?

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An apalokanakamma is only required if there is no-one designated as responsible for sharing out the requisites. According to the Vinaya, the Sangha can appoint a distributor of robes, a distributor of bowls, and indeed an appamattavissajjako (“a distributor of minor requisites”), all through the appropriate sanghakamma. The general principle seems to be that any lahubhaṇḍa (“ordinary requisite”) can be distributed in this way. In all such cases it is up to the appointed person to ensure that the requisites are distributed fairly. No apalokanakamma is required.

As for giving monastic requisites to lay people, this should only be done if there is an excess that the monastery (or wider Sangha) cannot use. It is much better for things to be given away to lay people than for them to be thrown away. However, it is good to let lay people know that this is the policy of the monastery. In this way they won’t get disappointed if they find out.

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Bhante, would you say so because of the rule that bhikkhus shouldn’t bring gifts of faith to ruin (saddhādeyyavinipātanaṃ)? What you said seems to me based upon or akin to this reasoning, is that correct?

Bhikkhus, a gift of faith should not be brought to ruin, whoever should bring it to ruin, this would be an offense of dukkata – (na ca, bhikkhave, saddhādeyyaṃ vinipātetabbaṃ. yo vinipāteyya, āpatti dukkaṭassāti).

With the commentary explaining in this way:

Bhikkhus, do not […] a gift of faith: Here, one giving a remainder to his relatives brings to ruin, but if father and mother [the parents] wish to stay in the kingdom, it is fit to give – (na ca bhikkhave saddhādeyyanti ettha sesañātīnaṃ dento vinipātetiyeva.
mātāpitaro pana sace rajje ṭhitā patthayanti, dātabbaṃ
; MV-a).

Also: The references do not specify the kind of gift of faith or of the remainder, if it is saṅghika or puggalika. Even though the background was re puggalika (robes given to parents), the final ruling appears to be global, i.e. both (saṅghika and puggalika) must be understood having been referred to in the above treatment and not be brought to ruin (not even giving a remainder, or perhaps part). I think it is somewhat important to make this distinction because one may say that “bringing not to ruin” refers only to puggalika.

I think it is also pertinent to note that actually, from the perspective of another commentarial explanation, the amount to be given out from one’s alms-food (by extension other personal property I would say) should not exceed a kahāpana:

piṇḍapāte pana — anāmaṭṭhapiṇḍapāto kassa dātabbo, kassa na dātabbo?
mātāpitunaṃ tāva dātabbo. sacepi kahāpaṇagghanako hoti, saddhādeyyavinipātanaṃ natthi. mātāpitūpaṭṭhākānaṃ veyyāvaccakarassa paṇḍupalāsassāti etesampi dātabbo. tattha paṇḍupalāsassa thālake pakkhipitvāpi dātuṃ vaṭṭati. taṃ ṭhapetvā aññesaṃ āgārikānaṃ mātāpitunampi na vaṭṭati.

Summary of the above quote: The commentary sees it fit to seemingly share with ones parents or those intending to go forth, having placed into a small bowl or beaker, not exceeding a kahāpana . Other householders than that cannot receive a share of untouched food (i.e. not left over), exceptions would be violent foes and thieves as well as lords (chiefs, perhaps chieftains?) since they might get angry to receive left-overs.

So to me, the texts support your explanation implicitly and the matter appears more or less straightforward. What would you say, bhante? Anything amiss in the reasoning? :pray:

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Yes.

Well, if the gift is to the Sangha (saṅghika), then giving it away could potentially be an act of stealing. For this reason I think the main reference here is to personal gifts (puggalika).

It sounds reasonable to me. I would say the main principle is to respect the generosity of others. If you treat gifts appropriately, you tend to encourage generosity, which is obviously a good thing. But the reverse is also true.

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Thank you, bhante! :pray:

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