Pacittiya vs dukkata

Hello everyone :pray:

This is probably a silly question that’s been asked many times, but I couldn’t really find a satisfactory answer anywhere.

Where in the Suttavibhanga or in the Khandhakas (if anywhere) is it specified that dukkatas are to be confessed?
If I’m not mistaken the idea comes from the categorization of both kinds of offences under lahukāpatti in the Parivāra, which is considered late/commentarial.

If both dukkatas and pacittiyas entail confession, then what is really the difference between the two, and why use two different names/categories for them?

Thank you :pray:

Dukkatas are the equivalent of the pacittiya category after the closure if the text of the patimokkha.

There is no real difference in weight between a pacittiya and a dukkata, the difference is that the pacittiya was likely considered by the redactors to date from the Buddha’s time, while dukkatas were laid down by the sangha later, by analysis etc.

Example: hitting a monk- pacittiya
Hitting a layperson-dukkata

Of course it’s not right to hit a layperson, but we can’t know that from the text of the patimokkha itself, this is an extension of the rule as a dukkata.

I think from the example given, the rationale for confessing these should be fairly straightforward in context. A number of things we associate closely with the vinaya, like not cooking, are actually dukkatas. But so are a range of more random or possibly even questionable analyses.

At the first council, the sangha asks Ananda to confess five dukkatas, which might be a model for confession.

But I don’t know a place where it is explicitly stated that they should be confessed sorry. Different monasteries have different approaches to them, some places confess them, others don’t.


Thank you very much for the exhaustive answer Ayya :pray:

Could you explain that a bit more and where you are getting that from? My reading of the Vinaya is that dukkatas can almost always be seen as somehow less offensive. There is no real need to put them in a different historical period for them to make sense as they are, is there?

Certainly there are things in the actual commentaries that are of later origin and do start to get to be a bit much with the derivations.

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There is no difference between a pacittiya and a dukkata in terms of the required outcome, which is confession.

In some ways, the vibhanga & khandaka material in which the term dukkata occurs already is already the early commentary. There are many sectarian differences at this level of the text already & not much consistency with the narratives. It is difficult to see it dating to the Buddha’s time, as the early transmittors felt free to modify and change this material in ways that typically haven’t happened for the text of the patimokkha itself, the transmission of which has been more conservative (not saying that material hasn’t moved or been edited in the patimokkha though). I think Ajahn @Brahmali had mentioned this previously.

I don’t recall who made these arguments originally. Someone could fill me in.

Yes, for sure. I think many people (sorry to use that argument) would say that pacittiyas are somehow worse than dukkatas in terms of … badness? It’s not really karmic weight. But it feels like it’s something.

For me, it matters when one has to think about applying rules to new situations. If something is closer to a pacittiya than a dukkata, I’m more likely to consider it more carefully. But perhaps that is not the best way to think.

I would imagine that the custom of confessing dukkatas may stem from the idea of “seeing fear in the slightest fault”. Of course most Bhikkhus barely keep any Vinaya rules at all, let alone confess the breaking of them. So it may also be a form of identity for “Vinaya” monks to affirm their group membership.