Looking for Vinaya studies

Dear all,

Aside from those done by ven. Ajahn Brahm and ven. Ajahn Thanissaro, I’d really appreciate it if you share with me Other similar English studies or treatises on the vinayapitaka that you know of.

Most appreciatively


Nyanatusita’s word for word patmokkha translation
a draft version in PDF, final print version for 8$, and a few other related books from various authors with this google site search of bps.lk

Advanced apologies if you’re looking for work that handles the whole Vinaya, and/or was written within the last half century. If you’re not fussed about those details though, you might be interested in Frauwallner’s study of the Khandhaka.


Also, Petra Kieffer-Pülz has done some work on the Vinaya. Alas she hasn’t yet made it off my own “Yet to get round to list”, but all the same, she offers titles such as:


I wrote a book called Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies some time ago.

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Thanks Bhante, and Ven. @anon61506839 , here’s the link:


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Many thanks to everyone for the suggestions, and to @Aminah & @AnagarikaMichael for providing links :anjal:

At present I’m studying the vinayapitaka and developing as I go some kind of anthology of rules and regulations, with view of both commentarial and contemporary understanding and discussion. I hope to share this study with you one day when it is finished, in gratitude for your contribution by sharing some of the resources here.


Dear Ven. Dhammarakkhita,

It’s possible that my brain is awash with happy chemicals having just been hugely relieved to find that I didn’t accidentally break my computer through my own silliness as for a moment I thought I had. This in turn may account for a bit of random expressiveness, but may I humbly comment that every post I’ve read of yours since you joined the forum has made me grin with gladness and your latest here is no exception. Thanks for coming along, and further great thanks for your work, I can’t wait to read your study.


@Aminah I have read so many of your posts in the 3 weeks period I was exploring this forum before deciding to join in, and i must admit that they have encouraged me to be here now. I even took note of the fact that this was the first time I received a reply from you since I joined, and I secretly said to myself:

“FINALLY!” :).

And in my case my happiness is in no way conditioned by anything other than receiving your wonderful replies! I’m glad your computer is fine though. :).



Dear Venerable, your message is ineffably moving and I can see you really did do enough reconnaissance work to deduced that the only way I’d be able to cope with such a moving message is if you made it funny as well!

:laughing: oh gosh… how can I excuse myself… erm… I plead the first clause of Dhp100… :neutral_face:… oh my, it’ll never do!

A terribly belated, enthusiastic, verbalised (as opposed to ‘like’-based) warm welcome. :slight_smile:



Dear Dhammrakkhita,
are you interested also in literature concerning more the historical development or merely the practical content? Often even in works regarding the practical content the two aspects get merged, so I list some works with historical hue or some which are entirely so – hope it helps, at least a bit.

1. Wright, Roger: A survey of the extant vinayavibhaṅga texts and a reassessment of the dating of the vinayas (https://soas.academia.edu/RogerWright)

2. Holt, John Clifford: Discipline: The Canonical Buddhism of the Vinayapitaka

3. Blackburn, Anne: Looking for the Vinaya: Monastic Discipline in the Practical Canons of the Theravada (https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/jiabs/article/viewFile/8890/2797)

4. Hallisey, Charles: Apropros the Pāli Vinaya as a Historical Document: A Reply to Gregory Schopen (http://www.palitext.com/JPTS_scans/JPTS_1990_XV.pdf)

5. Von Hinueber, Oskar:

6. Anālayo: (https://uni-hamburg.academia.edu/venerableanalayo)

  • Canonical Exegesis in the Theravāda Vinaya
  • The Legal Consequences of pārājika
  • The Case of Sudinna: On the Function of Vinaya Narrative, Based on a Comparative Study of the Background Narration to the First Pārājika Rule
  • Vinaya. In: Encyclopedia of Buddhism

7. Kieffer-Pülz, Petra:

8. Ohnuma, Reiko: Bad Nun: Thullanandā in Pāli Canonical and Commentarial Sources (https://dartmouth.academia.edu/ReikoOhnuma)



Dear Venerable @A.Bhikkhu … I bow to you with appreciation for all your generosity and kindness, having provided such a marvellous list and many resources. Sādhu anumodami.

My study on the Vinaya is a bit down-to-earth pragmatism, intended for insulating the rules (and the circumstances behind them), from all kinds of interpretations including my own. It goes like this: (1) Here is the rule according to the text, (2) here are the circumstances in which it was made according to the text, (3) here are some relevant or interesting or conflictual or debatable interpretations and issues regarding it, whether commentarial or contemporary (including my own). (4) discussion about how to understand and appreciate this rule in a contemporary context regardless of authenticity, legality, and traditions.

This is interesting for me (and I presume for some others), but the real challenge is how to do this intelligently, and sincerely, without boring myself and others! Although the Vinayapitaka is an incredibly wonderful text on so many different levels, there has developed through the ages so much flat, tedious, pedantic boredom surrounding it! This is a rare occasion where I will not restrain myself from being of immoderate stance! So please forgive me for that!

I have noticed, venerable, given your other recent question on King Ashoka and the list of resources you provided here, that you are probably very interested in the historical development of Buddhism. I am no longer so keen on following this track, though I have picked that thread up again since the time when I felt nearly guilty for being so completely ignorant about the particulars surrounding the Bhikkhuni ordination debates.

I believe that, just in parallel to the benevolence inherent in Venerable Ajahn Brahm’s initiative, there was yet another benevolent cause that Ajahn Brahm probably did not intend: that of bringing a powerful and fresh wide interest and curiosity regarding matters of legality and tradition which were before that known only to the few. And that is very good! But in all honesty, and without making generalisations here, and perhaps being influenced by my familiarity with something like Egyptology and Palaeontology for some years in the past; I have generally found research in the field of Buddhist history to be surprisingly undisciplined! where fact, deduction, probability, and fancy, along with all sorts of conclusions that one may construe out of the myriad combinations of these, are all mingled together without clarity or carefulness or integrity. And I do not know why this is the case; perhaps because this field is just beginning(?) - (although then it seems that it has been beginning for quite a long time now!). And indeed, when we today look back at what was written in the early research in the field of ancient Egyptian history, we marvel at the extent of liberty with which researchers then had permitted themselves, and which seems to had been equally proportional to the extent of their erroneous conclusions and judgements! (and interestingly, in connection with our Buddhist situation today, some of the earliest Egyptologists had indulged in biased views concerning what they concluded to be the ‘low’ status of women in ancient Egyptian society, all of which eventually turned out to be completely false!). Another reason could be that there is no “Buddhology”, in the same way there is Egyptology for example; with serious educational institutions providing rigorous training to would-be scientists of historical investigation in the history of Buddhism, and who will thereby have experienced mentors to guide them in their research, and who will have their reputation to worry about when they allow themselves to cut corners in methodology, imagine evidence, and bend facts to suit conclusions. And again, when one observes the intellectual humility and discipline and drudgery of an Egyptologist or Palaeontologist, as one reads a several hundred pages research attempting to explain the simplest phenomena, such as how ancient people built structures, stored grain, or made glass for example; you find that the researcher, across the major portion of his or her text, is painstakingly demonstrating to you, to his colleagues, and to the world, how and by what means he or she themselves came to their careful conclusions, where the conclusions themselves occupy only a tiny portion of the text! And after all that, few years later, another or even the same researcher, modifies or even refutes the work that has been done at first! Then it might occur to one that what passes as historical research in other situations, lacking such meticulousness and discipline, yet declaring the most confident conclusions concerning the most grand issues - perhaps cannot really be trusted, or cannot really be consider a historical research at all.

Of course at last I apologise if I was too critical here in an unpleasant way, but this is honestly how I view the situation. I also did not mean to over-generalise, there may be and probably there are many great efforts done right now and in the past in this area of research. Also i’m only aware of research done in languages which I can read, which are western languages. Perhaps there is excellent research done in Hindi, Burmese, Sinhalese, Thai, and other languages, of which i’m totally unaware. But the reason I bring these matters up here is that, I remember vividly, at the early phase of my practice (and faith), when I was still unable to decide for myself what to trust in the text and what to be cautious about or handle with carefulness, I was then interested in the matter of “authenticity”. But I was frustrated and only more confused by the research that I had found then, including that done by “authoritative” figures! This is important, because we hold the Buddha to be a “fully-enlightened” being; we are responsible to give an accurate and fair description of His enlightenment then, we cannot err, we cannot make stuff up here. But we have issues now, not just in monastic traditions and social appropriations of Dhamma, but sometimes in the text itself.

Therefore I hope of course to see one day something like “Buddhology” emerging as a distinct field, objective, scientific, and unaffected by the quarrels of monastics over matters of law and tradition, and that may bring to light many a hidden truth about the development of Buddhism both as history and as text, conclusions that we can trust and respect without feeling that we may be cheating or kidding ourselves. But sometimes I wonder whether this hasn’t yet emerged perhaps because there in fact isn’t much data and evidence to collect in the first place, and that the Pali Canon might continue to be the main source of information that we will ever have, while other “real historical documents” that we can study and examine in connection with the historical development of Buddhism, will remain lacking. But I don’t even know if that was in fact the case. For now I would have been much more comfortable if we were able to admit to ourselves, that in matters of authenticity and originality, given the present state of information and knowledge in our disposal (as far as I can judge myself); we cannot really know and cannot really be sure; and that should things continue the way they are now, then we will probably never really know or be sure!

I’m very glad to finally have a conversation with you venerable. And again many thanks for the resources you provided.


Dear Ven @anon61506839,
This may contain the papers by Ven Anālayo already listed above by Ven @A.Bhikkhu but here is a recent book:


Venerable Analayo is selling it? He is providing it no where for free?!

Usually, to judge from experience, he gives out his materials for free. In the past I approached him via mail several times for papers otherwise only for sale online and he provided promptly and happily.



If venerable Analayo wouldn’t mind it, it would then be appreciated if you venerable are able to pass his email to me for me to follow suit and ask him.

And many thanks for pointing it out, friend @Linda

See your messages.


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Dear Dhamrakkhita,
thanks for your extensive and stimulating reply. :pray: See some quotes and comments below.

I see, very interesting, yes. I hope you will announce your project’s completion. It seems, to judge from the outline you gave, that your work will resemble Thānissaro’s Buddhist Monastic Code, is that correct? In what way will it probably show some similarities and where is it intended to be different? If I may be permitted to inquire a bit.

If I may venture to posit some evaluation: I am confident that you may succeed in your desired presentation, given your fluent and lucid writing. With the help of reviewing peers the chances increase even more, I believe.

Astutely observed, yes. Yes, I can empathize as it comes to your motivation of picking the mentioned historical thread up again … it’s surely a powerful force … :slight_smile:

To judge from the materials which I have had chance to get a hand at, and the repute I came to hear of of some scholars I suspect actually another status quo as the ‘undisciplined’ one of modern research in the field of Buddhist history studies you observed. Several works I have read include to a great deal very painstakingly and carefully provided perusals of source materials and not to a lesser degree prudent conclusions, similar to what you said about the other fields of study (Egyptology and Palaeontology). But that just to give another personal account next to yours, which was introduced fairly as not making generalizations. Do you have any specific works in mind? Where might they be faulty? Maybe your evaluation is founded upon a larger spectrum of works and I am generally not in the position to take any more or less fixed position on that.

I understand and also agree with the last mentioned part of your above quoted passage. Research in what area you mean specifically? Could you finally resolve your initial doubts, answer your questions? I think it is in quite some areas we probably have to be very patient as to not being able to know for certain, for some time to come at least, maybe we will never know for certain, e.g. perhaps regarding the actually simple statement of when the Buddha actually passed away. Also: To answer one simple question one may have to spent a few years.

I concur with that, yes, probably in many cases this holds true. I think a crucial factor is here also that we need to be able to bear with this uncertainty – one aspect under which khanti can be understood canonically as well, when I remember correctly. You mentioned the undisciplined approach in the field of Buddhist historical studies, which I also came to observe at times of course as well, and I think one reason for this approach might be that some people can’t bear this uncertainty, without, at the same time, being willing or able (for whatever other reasons) to undertake the necessary steps for a satisfactory high quality study, so they may jump to premature conclusions. In some cases this may also happen quite unconsciously, I suppose.

Likewise. Your are most welcome. :pray:
Many Blessings

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Yes venetable @A.Bhikkhu, the study i’m working on has many similarities with (& very much based on) the work done by Ven. Thanissaro and Ven. Brahm. There are many differences though in the representation of the rules. The discussion regarding rules will be sometimes similar to the work of the Venerables (& often referring to their work), but other times quite different, with concerns about the relevance and significance of certain rules to our contemporary reality from a psychological, social and practical perspectives, much more than in the case of the work of the Venerabels.

Luckily I no longer feel a necessary need to refer to historical research to tell me which text to trust and which to doubt. The “voice” of the Buddha in the Suttapitaka is generally quite “consistent” to my ears, this includes not only His manner of speech, but also style of interrogation, methods of instruction, commenting on events, and most significantly, the Dhamma itself that he expounds. When that “voice” changes, or when the content of His speech drifts even slightly from the norm, I (and many others I suppose) can immediately sense that. This by itself doesn’t necessarily mean that this part of the text is false or apocryphal, but to me this is enough to make it questionable, especially if it involves any depiction of the Buddha where he appears to espouse any such qualities that I deem inconsistent with my understanding of a fully enlightened being. These instances are generally quite rare in the pitakas, and they are almost always dwarfed by the right depiction of Buddha in the majority of other suttas. Take super-normal powers or events for example; in a number of suttas they feature in such a way that I find problematic; but this is balanced by the Buddha’s powerful emphasis against obsession or even concern for such things. Another example, the status of women, in rare occasions we get problems here, but again this is dwarfed by the bhikkhunisamyutta and other texts, which to this day remains to be incomparable in its emphasis on women’s full capacity to attain spiritual excellence. So I believe that such variables are much more telling and dependable in guiding our search for authenticity, than historical research including that done perfectly. Why? because we simply do not seem to have enough historical documents to refer to and depend on in our investigation of something of that nature in the first place. It’s just for some reason so much difficult to convince people, even Buddhists, that intuition is much more dependable than reasoning. Also, in their quest to convince others, people are bound to refer to “objective facts” rather than individual experiences. Me? I don’t believe there are any objective facts that can ever be found outside of individual experiences! And to me, this is just Dhamma!

Imagine the expression on the face of my PhD supervisor, when in an imaginative scenario, I write nothing in the “references” section except:

“My intuition!”

:). :anjal:

Dear Ven @anon61506839

Oh no, he doesn’t sell anything, and always waives any royalties from books that are published for sale! Due to copyright restrictions, unfortunately I don’t think this is yet freely available on the web. Once the copyright is no longer an issue, he makes his work freely available on the web.


I believe, also, that this book is a compilation of earlier essays, many or all of which are individually available.

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