How whole meaning of Kamboja sutta is corrupted

Hi, I really don’t understand why are you guys translating matugamo as women in Kamboja sutta. The meaning of matugamo have other meanings:

  1. matugama , the “village mother,” with its connotation of a “primitive” female who thinks no further than her village horizon, a woman who has no higher ideal than motherhood.

  2. Matugama - the wandering philosopher of other sects similar to parivrajaka of male. (This definition I heard in Myanmar)

So in both cases the meaning of sutta is quite different than just blaming women. In first case the meaning would be blaming only primitive women, in second case the meaning would be blaming non-buddhist ascetics same as when he criticized jains and other sects.

“Primitive women”??
Could you say a bit more about this highly offensive term?

Also, the Pali word matugama has been discussed at length here:

That discussion was inconclusive.

Mātṛgrāma (in Sanskrit, mātugāma in pāli) is an abstraction that means the feminine gender collectively (or an individual within it) and it is used where a contrast with the masculine gender is implicit (and it is uttered from the point of view of a man). The word ’ strī ’ (pāli itthī), on the other hand, is normally used in an individual sense (without implying that it is referring to womankind in general), and does not convey the female/male contrast that mātṛgrāma conveys. Womenhood are collectively Māra’s snare for male bhikṣus (the word ‘Māra’ in Sanskrit has the sense of cupid as well (i.e. he is the personfication of lust), and he is usually depicted as the one bearing a bow made of sugarcane and pañca-bāṇa or five-arrows made of 5 different flowers, which are five sensual attractions that overpower the 5 indriyas). Mātṛgrāma are Māra’s snare (for bhikṣus) not because of what women do but simply because of who they are.

Yes, that is my understanding as well.

My question was where the adjective ‘primitive’ came from.

There is no implication of ‘primitive’ that the pali conveys. To assume it would be a mistranslation (in my understanding).

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What else to say, there primitive and there are intelligent people, it may doesn’t like to a person, that somebody call him primitive, but it’s reality. Buddha used different hard words Moghapurisa (useless man) is one of them. But as it is told in suttas, Tathagata knows, when to tell words that maybe can be felt as hard.

But how are you finding the negative adjective “primitive” in the collective noun ‘matugama’?

What evidence have you to support this view?

And how would it play out with mātugāma in the context of the second, third and fourth sanghādisesa rules for monks? Would it mean that there are women of another type (presumably “non-primitive” ones) towards whom the prohibited behaviour would be acceptable?

  1. Should any bhikkhu, overcome by lust, with altered mind, engage in bodily contact with a woman (mātugāmena), or in holding her hand, holding a lock of her hair, or caressing any of her limbs, it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.

  2. Should any bhikkhu, overcome by lust, with altered mind, address lewd words to a woman (mātugāmaṁ) in the manner of young men to a young woman alluding to sexual intercourse, it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.

  3. Should any bhikkhu, overcome by lust, with altered mind, speak in the presence of a woman (mātugāmassa santike) in praise of ministering to his own sensuality thus: “This, sister, is the foremost ministration, that of ministering to a virtuous, fine-natured follower of the celibate life such as myself with this act” –alluding to sexual intercourse– it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.

Well as I’m understand it’s not in the etymology, but in meaning itself, not all words contain etymological meaning, some have cultural meaning as well, same as slang, also possible that primitive comes from idea that particular woman not interested in anything than her village and motherhood, such lifestyle and lifeview is of course primitive. I read the full definition from from Timothy Conway and he linked to this definition to Dr. Helmuth Hecker. Here is more complete paragraph:
" Dr. Hellmuth Hecker observes that in the language of Middle India of the Buddha’s day, there were two expressions found to denote the female: the neutral term itthi , woman, and the rather discriminating term, matugama , the “village mother,” with its connotation of a “primitive” female who thinks no further than her village horizon, a woman who has no higher ideal than motherhood. Every matugama is an itthi , but not every itthi is a matugama . Whenever Buddhist scriptures speak of “primitive women” and “female vicissitudes,” the term matugama is in use. But the Buddha clearly taught that a woman (itthi ) could have nobler aspirations and could in fact attain to the highest levels of spiritual realization—nibbāna . [2]"

As for this I think context is important, it seems that term has many meaning and the meaning is different according to context.

With due respects to the great scholar Helmut Hecker, this is a misunderstanding of gāma when used as a suffix. We find the same usage with bhūtagāma and bījagāma, which following Hecker’s analysis would be “village being” and “village seed”. But they don’t mean that, but rather “plants” and “seeds”.

In such cases, gāma has the sense “group, collection”. This sense goes back as far as Rig Veda 9.90.3a, where we have śūragrāmaḥ, “a horde of champions”.

Just as a village is a “collection” of houses, bhūtagāma is the class of things that have grown (also in Sanskrit), while bījagāma is the class of things that give birth to plants.

Matugāma is therefore the class of beings who are (potentially) mothers, namely women. By extension it also means an individual of that class.

Perhaps you meant to say, “because of the defilements of men”.

As I pointed out in my earlier discussion, there is a clear differentiation in the usage of mātugāma: it is typically opposed to bhikkhu while the more generic itthī is opposed to purisa “man”. This is not an absolute distinction, but in most cases it holds up.

It seems, however, that that Sanskrit mātṛgrāma is found only in Buddhist texts. Perhaps it was invented by the Buddha?

Its usage is clearly intentional, but it is not easy to parse out what the exact intent was. I feel like the idea was to restrict the sense so as to speak of women in a specific context as being a temptation to monks, while not imputing the same connotations to itthī.

Up till now, I have translated mātugāma as “female”, in an attempt to capture the biological aspect of motherhood in the term.

But language is tricky, and the Buddha was subtle. Normally a “mother” is revered. Perhaps the term is deliberately respectful, even overly formal, to convey the sense, “even though women are respected like mothers, they still pose a temptation”. If this is the case, then the sense would be conveyed literally by “motherkind”, and perhaps more idiomatically by “lady”. The use of lady as a noun has the advantage of semantic softness. Less usefully, I already use it for a number of expressions (nārī, janapadakalyāṇī) so it is less disambiguated than “female”.


Yes, it was said from the POV of the narrator. The same applies to both genders.

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Not wishing to offend or disrespect anyone, but how would this apply to a gay monk? For example all the other monks could be considered as a temptation to a gay monk. Therefore would they be male temters as opposed to female temptresses? Could the neuter ‘tempter’ be used instead, keeping in mind it is the perceiver who is the one feeling the temptation?

The word is specifically female, with the word ‘mātā’ mother’. But yes, perhaps that’s the sense of it.
And of course, as it has been stated, the problem actually lies in the mind of the tempted, not the tempter.

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Well, if we delve a little bit further into it -

  1. (Statement retracted)
  2. Both the Māra-nature and the Buddha-nature are in reality present within one and the same person (and they aren’t to be looked at as mythological externalities i.e. the way some of us misunderstand Māra to be an external mythological demon). One is an antithesis of the other and there is a perpetual fight between them in the mind of the same individual. The Māra nature (being the personification of lust) is gender-neutral (it applies to all orientations and genders), even though Māra himself is depicted as male. Māra cannot be permanently defeated even by the Buddha hence Māra’s attacks on the Buddha’s mind don’t cease even after nirvāṇa. The Buddha and other arhats still have to contend with him when he appears periodically. To the Buddha and the male bhikṣus, it is the mātṛgrāma who create a space for Māra’s appearance (within their own minds). This is why I said above that it is not a fault of the mātṛgrāma/womankind that Māra appears (i.e. it is not anything they do), but the fault is with the bhikṣus or the Buddha themselves that Māra appears within them, and then the Buddha-nature has to then defeat the Māra-nature (temporarily) before he resurfaces again. Māra and the Buddha were both depicted as warriors, and the Buddha is depicted as the victor in their battles. For bhikṣunis, Māra nature could appear within themselves when they meet menfolk, a space for Māra’s appearance is created in their own minds until their own Buddha-nature is able to defeat their own Māra-nature.

I am sceptical of your assertion LGQBT are paṇḍaka. The word itself can also mean jaundice or weak. A brief look at the context it appears in might even suggest it means someone who is addicted to sexual lust, an individual who has weak or not restraint when it comes to sexual urges regardless of gender or sexual orientation.


This topic has been discussed a lot on the forum, see for example:

Just to note a few threads.


Neither of these things are true.

  • paṇḍaka is a complex and difficult term with social, physiological, and supernatural elements that clearly does not map on to what we consider LGBTQ today.
  • same-sex relationships and gender transitioning are treated as absolutely normal in the Vinaya and are dealt with in the same way as any other sexual matters.

OK thanks @sujato @sabbamitta & @AniOrgyen - I have retracted that statement. Paṇḍaka isn’t an umbrella term equal to the modern LGQBT but rather equal to some part of it.

oo I like that. Reminding the monks to respect the women. Definitely a very different feel from “females” and captures the neologistic aspect of the term as well.