Kāya­daḷhi­bahulā - ‘formers of cliques’ instead of "body-builders" in the Vinaya?

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007fc45b5024c8> #<Tag:0x00007fc45b502360>


The Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya is the only one that mentions monks without deportment.
It is the only ‘unusual’ grouping of monks found in any of the Chinese Vinayas which makes the Pali ‘kāyadaḷhibahulā’ stick out even more.


There is the beautiful English word “gregarious”. Does it not refer to a person, who likes to be in a crowd? It would be the opposite of a seeker for seclusion (viveka). A person who likes (to mix with) large crowds …


@akincana Yes, ‘gregarious’ would be quite close in meaning to what I am suggesting.

Post-canonically, ‘Kāya­daḷhi­bahulā’ occurs in the Visuddhimagga in the discussion of suitable circumstances for meditation practice. Bhikkhu Nanamoli translates it as ‘one who is much concerned about caring for the body’, (following the Vsm-mht definition which he gives as ‘one who is occupied in caring for and exercising the body’) and it says they ‘create disturbances, like adding muddy water to clear water’. It again occurs in a pairing with ‘one addicted to aimless talk’, suggesting that this phrase in the Vinaya is the origin. Again, we see ‘tiracchā­na­ka­thikā kāya­daḷhi­bahulā’ grouped together as the type of monks likely to cause disturbances, but no discussion of any kind of physical practice.

The Visuddhimagga also adds: “And it was owing to one such as this that the attainments of the young bhikkhu who lived at Kotapabbata vanished, not to mention the sign.” This seems to refer to a mountain vihara in Rohana in Southern Sri Lanka- does anyone know the rest of the story?

One candidate might be a story from the Mahavamsa, where a samanera (‘young monk’) lives at Kotapabbata and frequently climbs the mountain to visit a stupa near the peak, even hauling up large stones for stairs to make the climb easier. His health becomes poor as a result of these exertions, and he eventually passes away and is reborn as Prince Gamani, the future king Dutthugamani. This comes from a portion of the Mahavamsa that is thought to have circulated as a popular epic before being composed in Pāli, so it’s possible Buddhaghosa would have heard some version of it, even though the Mhv is generally thought to have been composed after his lifetime.

It would be a little strange to be lamenting the death of this particular monk, since Dutthugamani was a popular hero in Sri Lanka, but it’s possible that Buddhaghosa heard a precursor version of the story. Of course, it’s possible that Buddhaghosa had someone completely different in mind, who had passed from memory by the time the commentators needed to define tiracchā­na­ka­thikā kāya­daḷhi­bahulā, and the connection between the Mahavamsa story and obsessive exercise was made by them.



imāyapime āyasmanto ratiyā acchissantī

Thinking about this a bit more, could this also be rendered as: “In this way, even these venerables will be happy to stay put”?

Disregarding the issue of body builders vs. gregarious monks, gossips are likely to wander about the camp to visit their fellows…


The verb acchati just means “to be” or “to remain” and ratiyā functions as an adverb, meaning “happily” or “with delight”, or something to that effect. So the most straightforward meaning is “to be happy”. “Stay put” adds an additional element that is not immediately derivable from the Pali and would thus need some supporting evidence to be acceptable.

To my mind the broader context of monasticism points in the same direction. There is no real motivation for Dabba Mallaputta to wish them to “stay put”, rather the contrary, if anything. Someone in charge of dwellings is responsible for their distribution, but is unlikely to worry too much about whether the inhabitant stay for a long or a short time.


‘Stay put’ is probably a little colloquial, but I notice that the primary meaning given for acchati in several dictionaries is to sit, sit still, to remain or be in/on a place. The more general meaning of ‘live’ seems to occur primarily in combination with another verb (according to the CPED). Something like ‘to happily remain (in place)’ or ‘stay put’ seems in line with the meanings suggested from CPD, PED, and CPED where ‘be (on a place)’ and ‘sit’/‘sit still’ seem to be the primary meanings. All of them suggest remaining in a location, rather than the more general idea of dwelling or living.

As to the context and motivation, in the Visuddhimagga the problem given about this type of monk (in the discussion of unsuitable meditation companions) is that they create disruptions. If the last group of monks are monks who tend to be talkative and disruptive (as the tiracchā­na­ka­thikā certainly would be), putting them in one place means that they won’t interrupt the monks who are engaging in proper monastic activities. If they were scattered around the vihara and gardens, presumably they would be going from place to place to socialize and gossip and potentially disrupt or annoy the other monks. Whether the kāya­daḷhi­bahulā are ‘athletes’ or ‘swellers and multipliers of crowds’, keeping them and the tiracchā­na­ka­thikās away from the more studious monks is probably the best scenario for everyone, and since they like company keeping them together best accomplishes this.

In the description of Dabba’s organizing scheme, each of his reflections are specific to the types of monks he is grouping together- vinaya monks will debate the law, meditators won’t disturb each other, sutta monks will recite together, etc… If the last sentence is referring to disruptive monks (as the other Vinaya and the Visuddhimagga suggest), then the idea of them being content to stay together in one place gives a sensible rationale, just as occurs in the other four situations.