Meaning of pārājika

In another post…

This seems rather strange to me? How can one break (and indeed be defeated by) a precept when one hasn’t taken up the precept up in the first place?

Maybe I have the wrong understanding of the term ‘pārājika’? Does it’s scope cover - all beings, all human being, all buddhists, all ordained buddhists, something else? Or maybe it refers to different scopes in different applications? I guess there’s all sorts of humans that various (monastic) sanghas don’t want to join their sangha, but can these beings really be said to have committed a ‘pārājika’?

Further, these rules concerning the non-ordination (or expulsion) of certain beings who have commited transgressions in the past (when taken with the idea that it is impossible for an arahant to maintain a laypersons life) would also seem to put a limit on the degree of ‘letting go’ that certain humans can exercise, which appears to go against the thrust of the EBT’s in general. In short, it seems really strange that Angulimala manages to get ordained, but someone who impersonated a bhikkhu (prior to attempting to become a bhikkhu) can’t?

To what extent should I maintain confidence that these (de facto or virtual pārājika) were from the Buddha I am wondering? And to what extent are they useful now?

Many thanks in advance Phra @Dhammanando and Ajahn @Brahmali

I understand “defeat” more in the sense that Mara has tricked you into going so far off in the wrong direction that it’ll take you lifetimes to get back on track. That, because of your past actions, it would be unconscionable to give you robes. That nobody should trust you as a spiritual teacher after that.


Hello Stu, I am finally getting back to you. :grinning:

These are not actual pārājikas, but virtual pārājikas. In other words, they are pārājikas in the sense that the person cannot ordain, but not in the sense that they have committed a disrobing offence.

Yes, it does seem a bit strange that impersonating a bhikkhu should bar you from getting ordained. I suspect this is very much a cultural thing. Such people would have been regarded as thieves, who were not qualified to be monastics. Presumably they didn’t know the rules, nor did they practice the path. In effect, they lived off the lay people’s generosity through fraud.

You may well be right that this term was introduced to the Vinaya after the time of the Buddha. The term does not exist in the four main Nikāyas. And in the Vinaya it only occurs in standardised passages that might well be late, or at the very least added to. But this is quite tentative. More research is required!

Is the idea of “ordination by theft” still useful? Quite probably not. I have never heard of anything like this occurring. If it does occur, we will have to look at it more carefully.

As usual, no definitive conclusion. Isn’t that sort of oddly reassuring?


Indeed it is Bhante. Many thanks, as always.


@stu and
bhante @Brahmali

You may aware of theft of dhamma as mentioned in the sutta where wanderer Susima go forth as a thief or through deceiving in entering the Sangha .


Yes, there’s still fake monks out there, seeing that it’s an easy way to get people to put money or food into their bowls and they are otherwise very poor.

It’s also useful in terms of possible dangers in case there’s some people of other faiths who wishes to disrupt the Sangha from within by pretending to be a monk when it’s clear that it’s very hard for them to be ordained properly.


Good point! When you look at it like that, it’s really quite gross.

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