Methodology for Vinaya Parallels

Since Ayya Vimalanyani has begun work on the bhikkhuni patimokkhs, this has enabled us to correct some mistakes in my earlier Vinaya parallels. When I published these, in 2014, I had planned to publish a proper bibliography. However, I got distracted, so it never materialized. Below is an excerpt from a blog post I made at the time, which gives a brief summary. I am posting it here so the information is available, and am adding a bibliography.

Here I outline in brief the method I used for compiling the Vinaya correspondences. I hope to publish a more detailed description and bibliography at some point.

My primary source work was Nishimoto’s 1928 paper on comparative pātimokkha rules. While I can’t speak Japanese, I was able to make sense of his tables, which were kindly supplied by Shayne Clarke. I checked this against Pachows’s book, which was apparently compiled without knowledge of Nishimoto’s earlier work. A variety of more specialized studies were also consulted.

Most of these works assume that the Vinaya rules of one school are the same in the Vibhaṅga and the Pātimokkha, except in the case of multiple separate texts such as with the Sarvāstivāda. However, as I proceeded I discovered that in several cases, especially in the Chinese Vinayas, the Vibhaṅga and the Pātimokka had minor differences in numbering. So I decided to treat each individual text as a separate entity, even though in some cases, notable the Pali, the numbering of rules is identical.

Due to this and other minor differences, each of the sources I consulted gave slightly different numberings for the rules. Almost all of these variations occur in the sekhiya rules, while the remainder of Vinaya rules are almost entirely straightforward. In fact I spent probably more time trying to straighten out the sekhiya rules than the rest of the Vinaya combined, and I frequently despaired of the task. Only the thought that my predecessors had thought it worthwhile and had come so far kept me going. Even so, I am far from confident that they have been properly sorted out. Given the multiple uncertainties involved it is unlikely that we will ever be able to complete this task. So please treat the sekhiya correspondences with care!

In cases where my sources differed, I consulted the original Chinese and Sanskrit texts, using the texts as published on SuttaCentral. There is obviously a degree of subjectivity involved in making these decisions, and on the whole I probably tended to ascribe correspondences a little more liberally than Nishimoto or Pachow. This was mainly because I used a wider variety of sources, especially from the Sanskrit, and sometimes similarities emerge that are not obvious just from the Chinese texts. Nevertheless, as I said above, almost all such marginal cases pertain to the sekhiyas.

Given the vast numbers of parallel rules in different texts, I had to find a way of assigning each instance of each rule with a unique ID. These IDs are not only used to name each rule, they also form the URLs that identify the web page for that rule. These IDs use abbreviations that are subject to a number of constraints: they must be unique on SuttaCentral, case-insensitive, and use no special characters. While the method might seems a little arcane at first, once you have remembered a few abbreviations it is really quite simple. Pi Tv Bu Pm Pj 1 is “Pali Theravāda Bhikkhu Pātimokkha Pārājika 1″; Zh Sv Bi Vb Ss 3 is “Chinese Sarvāstivāda Bhikkhunī Vibhaṅga Saṅghādisesa 3”, and so on.

Note that throughout we try to use Pali names for titles, rule names and so on. This is simply to preserve consistency, not out of any belief that Pali was the original language of these texts. On the contrary, each text or school would have used a slightly different dialect. Sometimes we find variations even within the same text. Moreover, in many texts it is difficult to ascertain what the traditional title of a rule was, or even if there was one, as such information is usually merely inferred from the summaries or uddānas. In cases where the is no Pali title, we supply a Sanskrit title when possible. These don’t represent any particular Sanskrit texts, but are selected simply on the basis of what seems most clear. Very rarely I supply a title in Pali form for a rule that doesn’t exist in Pali; this is where rules are paired with a nearly identical one that is in the Pali. Where there is neither Pali nor Sanskrit, I have supplied an English title. In all cases these titles, as with headings for Buddhist texts generally, should be regarded merely as aids for the reader supplied by editors, ancient or modern, rather than as intrinsic to the text.

In addition to the pātimokkha correspondences, we also offer much less detailed correspondences of the Khandhakas. These are based on the details provided by Frauwallner in his classic study. I was tempted to include his more detailed breakdown, which showed parallels in various sections within each Khandhaka, however in the end I kept the correspondences at the level of the chapter or Khandhaka only. This is one the whole much simpler than dealing with the pātimokkha correspondences, although there are, as always, unexpected complexities and problematic exceptions.

In this case the major exception is the Mahāsaṅghika Vinaya, which doesn’t really have a Khandhaka section at all. Frauwallner treated it as a Khandhaka, albeit one that had been drastically reshaped by later editors, but Clarke has more recently shown that this is not the case. The exact relation between this and other Vinayas remains uncertain, although it seems likely to me that Frauwallner was correct to treat it as a later reorganization of material that previously resembled the Khandhakas more closely. However, despite the great differences in form, the subject matter discussed in various sections of the Mahāsaṅghika Vinaya shares much in common with the corresponding chapters in the Khandhakas. Since the main purpose of providing correspondences on SuttaCentral is to help the reader find similar passages for comparison, I have therefore retained as much as possible of Frauwallner’s correspondences for the Mahāsaṅghika Vinaya. Due to the way these passages are scattered through the text, however, it was not possible to show everything.


  • Anukul Chandra Banerjee: Sarvāstivāda Literature, The World Press private Limited, 1979.

  • Anukul Chandra Banerjee: Two Buddhist Vinaya Texts in Sanskrit (Prātimokṣa sūtra and Bhikṣukarmavākya), The World Press Private Limited, 1977.
    skt-mu-bu-pm-gbm3.pdf (11.7 MB)
    :large_orange_diamond: SC ID: skt-mu-bu-pm-gbm3

  • Samuel Beal: A Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese, Trubner & Co., 1871

  • Lokesh Chandra: Unpublished Gilgit Fragment of the Prātimokṣa Sūtra
    skt-mu-bu-pm-gbm2.pdf (3.0 MB)
    :large_orange_diamond: SC ID: skt-mu-bu-pm-gbm2

  • Shayne Clarke: Vinaya Mātṛkā—Mother of the Monastic codes, or Just Another Set of Lists?, Indo-Iranian Journal, 44: 77–120, 2004.

  • Louis Finot: Le Prātimokṣasūtra des Sarvāstivādins, Journale Asiatique, Nov-Dec, 1913, 465–558. (Including fragment of bhikṣuṇī prātimokṣa.)
    skt-sv-bu-pm-finot.pdf (3.4 MB)
    :large_orange_diamond: SC ID: skt-sv-bu-pm-finot

  • E. Frauwallner: The Earliest Vinaya and the Beginnings of Buddhist Literature, Is. M.E.O. 1956.

  • Akira Hirakawa, in collaboration with Zenno Ikuno and Paul Groner: Monastic Discipline for the Buddhist Nuns, an English translation of the Chinese text of the Mahāsaṁghika Bhiksuṇī Vinaya, K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna, 1982.

  • I.B. Horner: The Book of the Discipline, Pali Text Society, vols. 1–6.

  • Chatsumarn Kabalsingh: The Bhikkhuni Patimokkha of the Six Schools, Thammasat University, 1991.

  • R. Nishimoto, Rajū-yaku Jūju Bikuni Haradaimokusha Kaihon no Shutsugen narabini Shobu Sō-Ni Kaihon no Taishō Kenkyū (a recently discovered Bhipra of the Sarvāstivādins, translated by Kumārajīva, and a comparative study with the Bhipras of the other schools), Ōtani Gakuhō 9.2, 1928, pp.27 (245)-60 (278) (with comprehensive comparative charts). (27.3 MB)

  • Edith Nolot: Regles de Discipline des Nonnes Bouddhistes, College de France, 1991.

  • Charles S. Prebish: A Survey of Vinaya Literature, Jin Luen Publishing House, Taipei, 1994

  • Valentina Rosen: Comparative Tables of Pratimoksha
    Valentina Rosen, comparative tables of pratimoksa.pdf (1.6 MB)

  • Karma Lekshe Tsomo: Sisters in Solitude, State University of New York Press, 1996.

  • Valentina Rosen: Upāliparipṛcchāsūtra, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1984.

  • Gustav Roth: Bhikṣuṇī Vinaya, including Bhikhṣuṇī Prakīrṇaka and a summary of the Bhikhṣu Prakīrṇaka of the Ārya Mahāsaṁghika Lokuttaravādin, K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna, 1970.

  • Sanghasen Singh and Kenryo Minow: A Critical Edition and Translation of Abhisamācārikā Nāma Bhikhṣu-Prakīrṇakaḥ, Buddhist Studies, Department of Buddhist Studies, University of Delhi, Vol. XII, 1988.
    Abhisamacarika ed with trs by Sanghasen and Minowa.pdf (13.8 MB)

  • Ayya Tathaaloka: Vinaya Matrix—Reference key to Precept numbering, 2003.

  • Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana: So-sor-thar-pa; or, a Code of Buddhist Monastic Laws: Being the Tibetan version of Prātimokṣa of the Mūlasarvāstivāda School, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol XI, 1915, p. 29ff.
    bo-mu-bu-pm.pdf (9.0 MB)

  • Ernst Waldschmidt: Bruchstücke des Bhikṣuṇī- Prātimokṣa der Sarvāstivādins, mit einer darstellung der Überlieferung des Bhikṣuṇī-Prātimokṣa in den verschiedenen Schulen, Leipzig, 1926.
    (Google books)
    Waldschmidt, Bruchstucke der Bhiksunipratimoksa.pdf (55.2 MB)

  • Klaus Willie: Survey of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Turfan Collection, Vortrag anläßlich des Workshops Digitalisierung der chinesischen, tibetischen, syrischen und Sanskrit-Texte der Berliner Turfansammlung, Berlin, 02.06.2005
    Wille - Survey of Buddhist manuscripts in the Turfan collection.pdf (96.2 KB)