# Measure for bowl

Hello, I have read about bowls measurement in: https://suttacentral.net/en/pi-tv-bu-vb-np21

A bowl means:
there are two kinds of bowls: an iron bowl, a clay bowl. There are three sizes
for a bowl: a large bowl, a medium-sized bowl, a small bowl. A large bowl means
that it takes half an āḷhaka measure of boiled rice, a quarter of that quantity of uncooked rice, asuitable curry. A medium-sized bowl means that it takes a nāḷika measure of boiled rice, a quarter of that quantity of uncooked rice, a suitable curry. A small bowl means that it takes a pattha measure of boiled rice, a quarter of that quantity of uncooked rice, a
suitable curry. (A bowl) greater than that is not a bowl, (a bowl) smaller (than that) is not a bowl.

Why measurement method using uncooked rice? far as I know, in DN 1 monks did not receive raw food, did the translation is wrong?

Nb:

1. Sorry for my bad English language… :3

With metta, Jhindra.

Well spotted! The Pali word is khādana, a variant of khādanīya, often translated (too literally) as “hard food” or as “staple”, etc. It has nothing to do with raw rice, so this is a mistake. The passage should be translated something like:

An āḷhaka measure of rice, with a quarter accompaniments, and suitable sauce.

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Thanks for your correction Bhante…

Here is my translation, hopefully to be uploaded to Suttacentral quite soon:

A bowl: there are two kinds of bowl: the iron bowl and the clay bowl. And there are three kinds of bowl: the large bowl, the medium bowl, and the small bowl. Anything larger than this is not a bowl, nor anything smaller. The large bowl: it takes half an āḷhaka measure of rice, a fourth part of non-staple food, and suitable curry. The medium bowl: it takes a nāḷika measure of rice, a fourth part of non-staple food, and suitable curry. The small bowl: it takes a pattha measure of rice, a fourth part of non-staple food, and suitable curry.

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Thanks for the translation bhante… Ah… almost forget, one more question… Anyone know about exact size of nalika measure?

A detailed study of ancient Indian and Sri Lankan measures was done by T.W. Rhys Davids almost 150 years ago. His book is called “On the ancient coins and measures of Ceylon : with a discussion of the Ceylon date of the Buddha’s death” and was published in 1877. It is available here.

I don’t think you will find any exact number for the nāḷika measure, but the book should still give you some pointers.

Many thanks Bhante…

I have read the book. In statement “half adhaka means a boiled food made from 2 Nali of dry rice.” And the measure of Nali is Magadha Nali (13.5 Pasathas). It means 1 Adhakara bowl fits more than 27 pasathas of boiled rice. Well, I think more than 27 pasathas of boiled rice is too much for monks tummy. Is the statement is true?

Well spotted! Not sure what to make of this.

Unless the early monks like a rakkhasa, I think more than 27 Pasathas of rice is enough for his tummy… Fee-fi-fo-fum… :3

My bowl is medium-sized (I think, might be considered large at that time) and holds 5.2 liters. Ajahn Brahm’s bowl is even bigger but I cannot imagine any bowl twice the size.
There is no way I can eat that much and I don’t think there is any monk or nun who has the bowl completely full. So the size of the bowl does not say much about how much people eat.

Of course, T.W. Rhys Davids might have been wrong. He also says Magadha Nali so that might mean there are different types of Nali as well.

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When I became a novice, my bowl can hold about 2.5 Liters… And I just can ate about quarter of foods. Monks bowl is more larger than my bowl… I think the bowl size must be wrong… I felt sorry when it should discard the alms foods… :o

Then only put in what you can eat and no more

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I think it is worth noting that at least in Thailand - from what I have noticed over the years - bowls are more than just the receptacles of a bhikkhu’s daily meal.

It serves very well to keep robes, extra pieces of cloth (such as the cloth they lay on their laps during meals, the cloth they usually lay their heads on when sleeping, etc) and of course belongings - such as razor, toothbrush, toothpast, sewing kits, flashlights, books, etc - when he travels here and there.

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Yeah, that’s my impression of the reason for massive bowls. The ones I’ve seen are overkill for just eating one meal, even an enormous one. Unless it’s just lettuce or something.

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