Offering food by means of the internet etc

Does anyone know if a donor can verbally and or visually offer food to a bhikkhu, through an online medium such as zoom etc(whereby both the donor and bhikkhu can see each other and the food that is being offered). Obviously the food would already be in the Bhikkhu’s presence, as in it would be in the monasteries store room.

The rules in regards to a bhikkhu receiving food does state in the Padabhājaniya commentary section of the vibhanga, that the donor must be a certain distance, but now with modern technology such as internet and phones, and the knowledge that the rule that the Buddha made does not specify distance, could we not just offer and receive over long distance with internet assitance?

If for example, you were staying in my house while i was away on business, and I called you to tell you that you could eat any food in the fridge; my offering and your acceptance of it , would be legit, and so could this type of offering be done without a bhikkhu receiving an offence? ( from the point of view of the Padabhājaniya , he would be offensive, but from the point of view without taking that ‘word by word intrepretation input’ as authoritive, it seems he would not be breaking that minor rule.)

It sounds perfectly reasonable to me. ???


According to the text of the vinaya, offering should be in hatthapasa (arms reach).

At the moment, I am not doing hatthapasa offering because of covid, I am in an outbreak hotspot, please don’t come within hatthapasa!

In the Ghatikara Sutta, Ghatikara’s parents tell a previous Buddha to take directly from Ghatikara’s pot.

So it is not a substantial ethical point that the food is offered in hatthapasa.

In the Vimanavatthu, Ven Sariputta receives an offering thrown at his feet.

In the Bhesajja Kandhaka, however, it is allowed that a bhikkhu ask for fallen fruit be offered in a time of food shortage (a confusing point to me…presumably only food is short, not people). The traditional view (not only view) is that this allowance was later permanently revoked.

As more systems are automated, your meal ticket may be given by machine in the future.

But I wouldn’t personally do phone offering under normal circumstances. The reason for this is that the concept of a monastery store is Pali kappiya kuti. It is to be managed by the kappiya. If you leave me physically with your pantry or store, and you go away and only phone in, it is more like me managing the store, not you offering daily from the store.

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According to the word by word analysis which comes after the origin story and declaration of the rule by the Buddha,the offering should be in hatthapasa.

So the question is, who is doing that analysis? I am not saying that the analysis is bad but if after its explanation ,has essentially created new protocols or a new rule, then it goes against the Buddha when He said that nobody should make new rules.

1st rule from the Buddha:
“If any monk takes into the mouth nutriment that that has not been given, except
for water and tooth-sticks: a Pācittiya.”

2nd rule from the analyser:
“If any monk takes into the mouth nutriment that that has not been given, except
for water and tooth-sticks. Not been given: This refers to something that has not been received.
Given: Given with the body, with something connected with the body, or by relinquishing;
staying within arm’s reach, one receives it with the body or with something connected
with the body: this is called “given” :… a Pācittiya.”

Although the 2nd is similar to the 1st, it still is new, and made by someone other than the Buddha.

Your objection to allowing me to offer food to you over the phone etc, which has been left in the kappiya kuti near your dwelling, on account of you not wanting to take food out of the kappiya kuti because it seems like management, …i accept but question. What exactly is the problem with removing food from the kappiya kuti after i have offered all of it to you? That small act of ‘management’ if you can really call it that, is not against any rule that i am aware of.

Pacittiya 40 states the food must be ‘given’, and that act is a transaction, and transactions of such a kind are done reguraly over phone or internet nowadays, and are considered valid pretty much by every sane person.

In the origin story, people were upset because the food that the monk was using was not intended for him, and that was the fault there, not because nobody gave that food to him within hatthapasa. Which means, if the food was intended for him, if there was the perception of ‘given’, nobody would have complained.

It can also come across as quite conceited, if someone offers you something in person, but doesnt put it in your hand, but just clearly gestures to you that the food on the table is offered to you, and then the monastic refuses to take the food until the layman raises the dish into the monastics hand. it would seem as though the monastic refuses to lower themselves to level of an ordinary transaction of generosity, which can seem quite prideful or just plain crazy…from a point of view of a person who hasnt been brought up in such an environment.

Also, such transactions done through modern technology can open up possibilities for quite a secluded lifestyle for the monastic, and also possibilities to live in places previously unconsidered due to the fact that normal pindapata is unlikely.

And why wouldnt your voice or image being projected through a device not stand for ‘being connected to the body’ or ‘within hatthapasa’? If that doesnt count as a physical presence, then it would also open up other possibilities for actually performing certain acts which would normally be considered a breach of vinaya, such as pacittiya 45 for the bhikkhu, which states that he should not sit in private with a woman. If a zoom call is not considered a physical presence, then if he has a private zoom with a woman, he is considered from this point of view, not having broken that pacittiya, because the main factor of a woman being in his presence is not considered ‘there’. However, any sane person , i believe, owing to the belief in my own sanity, would consider that a breach of that rule, and no doubt if a husband had to walk in on his wife having a private call with another man/monk, in most cases there would an upset. And that is pretty the origin story for that pacittiya 45 .

All the best with your covid-hotspot-food-offering-situation, and thanks for taking your time to comment.

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Huh? Are you saying that the final rules are not from the Buddha?

Assuming that the Padabhājaniya section of a Vinaya rule belongs to a later textual stratum than the origin story and the training rule, would it necessarily follow from this that its definitions must be “new protocols or a new rule”?

How do you know that they (or at least some of them) are not merely codifications of how the sangha had always understood and practised the rule in question? For example, in the present instance have you researched how “offered” gets defined in other recensions of the Vinaya?

"The Suttavibhaṅga material is usually arranged in a series of four groups:

1- a story leading up to a rule;

2- a Pātimokkha rule, which always states the penalty incurred for breaking it;

3- the Old Commentary, the Padabhājaniya, on each rule, defining it word by word;

4- more stories telling of deviations from the rule, and showing either that they were not so grave as to entail the maximum penalty, or that they were reasonable enough to warrant, in certain circumstances, a modification or a relaxation of the existing rule, or that they were not such as to be rendered permissible by any extenuating circumstances.

Items (3) and (4) are sometimes reversed in position, and (4) is now and again absent altogether."

- … 28682.html

Also see this article on that commentary: … a_Vina.pdf


You still didn’t answer this question.

Very good point.

This could be a source of juicy vinaya discussions as tech improves to:

holographic projection of people remotely,

People remote controlling robot bodies as in the movie Surrogate.

And relevant to rules such as:

Ordination procedure, uposattha observance, etc…

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The Theravada School is very conservative and traditions tend to be preserved unchanged.
Traditionally Dana is offered by hand to the Sangha directly by the laity. by lifting or touching the food container that one is offering. IMHO these traditions should be maintained.
Modern technology has thrown up a lot of curly dilemmas for the Sangha, driving cars is not the same as urging an animal to pull the cart harder, a credit cards, gift cards, should be treated as money, etc.

“Assuming that the Padabhājaniya section of a Vinaya rule belongs to a later textual stratum than the origin story and the training rule, would it necessarily follow from this that its definitions must be “new protocols or a new rule”?”

It would not necessarily follow, but only when there is something added such as a defining ‘given’ as being done hand to hand from a certain distance, then it is a different rule, similar but different.

“How do you know that they (or at least some of them) are not merely codifications of how the sangha had always understood and practised the rule in question? For example, in the present instance have you researched how “offered” gets defined in other recensions of the Vinaya?”

How would you know that it is or isnt the case? A person can look at what some scholars say, which is that that word by word analysis seems to comes later, and then look at the origin rule and the declaration of that rule, and then see what is more likely the case, and then decide for oneself which section one wants to take as authoritive. The origin story and the rule precede the analysis, and in this particualr rule there is a discrepancy.

As for the term not-offered ‘adinnam’, it is defined as "what has not been given, what has not been let go of, what has been relinquished; what is guarded, what is protected, what is regarded as “mine”; what belongs to someone else. This is called what is not given.

As for the term ‘dinnam’, it is only defined in that analysis as “standing within arm’s reach of one giving by body or by what is connected to his body or by releasing, he receives it by body or by what is connected to his body—this is called “given”.”

So the analysis defines the meaning which wasnt defined by the Buddha, atleast that is what I see.

Well yes, that is what I am implying, especially since other scholars say that very thing.
See the link I sent above which is about that word by word analysis commentary.

Edit: sorry I might have misunderstood your question. The final rule - “If any monk takes into the mouth nutriment that that has not been given, except
for water and tooth-sticks: a Pācittiya.”- i am saying is the Buddha’s final declaration on that matter, and it is not defined there in detail as it is below that declaration in the word-commentary.

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Oh, I certainly wouldn’t know! That is to say, I haven’t the requisite Vinaya learning to make any sort of judgment about whether any given padabhājaniya definition is a complete innovation or merely a later codification of what had earlier been an ancient (but only tacit) understanding of what particular words meant.

It wasnt the purpose of my earlier post to challenge your thesis, but only to query the basis of your certitude. I notice that the two authors of the source that you cite in a later post seem to take a more tentative approach:

In fact, the function of the padabhājanīya is to explain and define, not to promulgate or prescribe something new. Thus the word explanation translated above only implies that the listed ways of disavowal of one’s higher ordination are from now on those considered legally valid from the viewpoint of pārājika casuistry. It does not imply that these ways had never been in use earlier and only came into existence with the arising of this word-commentary.

(Bhikkhus Brahmali & Analayo, Canonical Exegesis in the Theravada Vinaya)

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An Occassion when a Bhikkhuni accepts food without it being given by hand, and that act is not mentioned as offensive or non-offensive:

Nisaggiya pacittiya 5:

"…Just then some bandits had stolen a cow and slaughtered it, and were taking the meat to the Blind Men’s Grove. The head bandit saw Uppalavaṇṇā sitting at the foot of that tree. He thought, “If my sons and brothers see this nun, they’ll harass her,” and he took a different path. Soon afterwards, when the meat was cooked, he took some of the best meat, tied it up in a palm-leaf packet, hung it from a tree not far from Uppalavaṇṇā, and said, “Whatever acetic or brahmin sees this gift, please take it.” And he left.

Uppalavaṇṇā had just emerged from stillness when she heard the head bandit making that statement. She took the meat and returned to her dwelling place. The following morning she prepared the meat and made it into a bundle with her upper robe. She then rose into the air and appeared in the Bamboo Grove.

When she arrived the Buddha had already entered a village to collect almsfood, but Venerable Udāyī had been left behind to look after the dwellings. Uppalavaṇṇā approached Udāyī and said, “Venerable, where’s the Buddha?”
“He has entered the village to collect almsfood.”
“Please give this meat to the Buddha.”…"


“I allow you to give him the four filthy edibles:
“Anujānāmi, bhikkhave, cattāri mahāvikaṭāni dātuṁ—
feces, urine, ash, and clay.”
gūthaṁ, muttaṁ, chārikaṁ, mattikan”ti.

The monks thought,
Atha kho bhikkhūnaṁ etadahosi—
“Do they need to be received or not?”
“appaṭiggahitāni nu kho udāhu paṭiggahetabbānī”ti.
Bhagavato etamatthaṁ ārocesuṁ.

“They should be received if there is an attendant. If there isn’t, I allow you to take them yourself and then eat them.”
“Anujānāmi, bhikkhave, sati kappiyakārake paṭiggahāpetuṁ, asati kappiyakārake sāmaṁ gahetvā paribhuñjitun”ti.

FWIW I agree. Ideally: offered within reach. But, if there’s a pressing need (e.g. a pandemic) and everyone trusts each other, I think it’s okay to bend that a bit.

I’d also like to point out that food delivery apps, gift cards to local restaurants, etc are 100% okay because the e.g. delivery person can do the handing off to the monastic no problem.

This has become so common here during the pandemic, in fact, that my monastery now has a couple full-time cooks making the orders that our disciples phone in and pay for remotely.