On the customary practice of junior bhikkhus bowing to senior ones

One of the most beautiful things to witness in a monastery is the customary practice of junior bhikkhus bowing to senior ones - especially when one of the parties arrives or departs the monastery (vihara).

I would like to know if this is a practice endorsed by anywhere in the Vinaya Pitaka. Bhantes @Brahmali or @sujato, would you be able to tell?



The Vinaya’s Cūḷavagga contains a number of rules governing appropriate behaviour by and towards a newly arrived visiting monk. How he should behave and how he should be treated will depend upon whether he is junior or senior to the monk who receives him. You can read Horner’s translation here

Bowing is not mentioned in this translation, but the Pali verb abhivādeti that Horner translates as “to greet” really implies something rather more respectful than just saying “Hi!” and it’s from this that the custom of bowing probably derives:

“If a resident monk is senior, [the newly-arrived monk] should greet him; if he is newly ordained he should make him greet (him).”



Wonderful bhante!

Thank you so much for the reply.

The reason I asked it is that I know a person who has been bringing up that practice as a way to say bad things about monastics. I struggle to understand why some people have so much aversion and criticism towards those who are able to renounce more than them! :disappointed:

I personally see this customary practice as very inspiring and therefore, would like to trace its origins in the Vinaya so I can bring others unbiased information about it and, therefore, allow others to come up with informed understanding on the topic.

Much appreciated! :anjal:

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I have just come accross Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation of the same text and he translated it as bowing, in line with your understanding.

"If the resident bhikkhu is his senior, he (the incoming bhikkhu) should bow down to him.
If he is junior, he (the incoming monk) should have him bow down. "


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