SuttaCentral

Translation of the five Chinese Bhikkhuni Patimokkhas


#44

Hmm, interesting suggestion, but the rules I showed are for bhikkhunis, and women are not that likely to visit prostitutes in the first place. And unlike “red light district”, “a family that is eating” has a straightforward meaning that makes perfect sense.
There’s also nothing that would suggest that the rules are talking about going to a brothel. Even the vibhanga and commentaries don’t suggest that. It’s about visiting an ordinary family.

The thing is that other rules directly mention sex, such as parajika one. So it’s strange that these minor rules would use an obscure idiom.


#45

Doesn’t the French translation mention it with aux plaisirs charnels?


#46

Well it’s a translation of the idiom.
The French translator followed the commentaries (sex) rather than the straightforward reading (meal).

I just put it there for people who cannot read Sanskrit. It doesn’t help establish what the original text means.


#47

Thank you! Between my rusty high school French, unfamiliarity with the monastic rules, and total ignorance of the Chinese language, I got quite turned about. :grin: I’ll go back to watching from the sidelines and cheerleading.


#48

I have still done some further research, since the parallels above seem a bit messed up, and it turns out that Waldschmidt sorted the parallels differently from SC:
Mi 139 and Mg 117 (of the first set above) are parallel to each other, but don’t have any further parallels according to him; and Mg 85 (of the second set) has only two parallels: Mi 170 and Dg 161.

This is entirely different from the above, so here’s a new overview:
Mg 85 repeated again, with the Lo variant:
若比丘尼。知食家先不語而入者波夜提。
If a bhikkhuni knowingly doesn’t call out before entering (the house of) a family that is eating, it is a pc.

Lo 85:
yā puna bhikṣuṇī jānantī saṁbhojanīyaṁ kulaṁ divā pūrve apratisaṁviditā upasaṁkrameya pācattikaṁ |
Et si une nonne se rend sciemment dans la journée, sans prévenir d’abord, chez une famille où l’on s’adonne aux plaisirs charnels, c’est une faute entraînant aveu formel.

Mi 170
若比丘尼白衣不喚。非時入其家。波逸提。
If a bhikkhuni, without being invited by white-clothed laypersons, enters their house at the wrong time, it is a pc.

Dg 161
若比丘尼,向暮至白衣家,先不被喚,波逸提。
If a bhikkhuni, without having first been invited, arrives at the house of white-clothed laypersons in the evening, it is a pc.

Again, there’s not much in these parallels that would suggest that the idiom is about sex. The family could just be having dinner.

I haven’t decided yet, but I might stick with the straightforward reading of the text.


#49

If the text talks of “white-clothed family / layperson”, doesn’t that usually mean they are keeping celibacy? This would speak against the idiom meaning sex in that context.


#50

The Sanskrit reading saṁbhojanīye is interesting (Lo 117). It suggests that this word is the prefix saṃ + the action noun bhojanīya, rather than sa +. There seems to be no such word anywhere in the Pali texts. The most likely meaning would be “eating together”, which doesn’t really help very much.

Anyway, I don’t have much more to add. Good luck with sorting out this tangle of related rules. You seem to be doing very well so far.


#51

Indeed; MW has “eating together, a common meal, dinner party” for sambhojana, “to be fed” for sambhojanīya:

http://sanskritdictionary.com/?iencoding=iast&q=sambhojan*&lang=sans&action=Search


#52

Ayya do you think differences in the Chinese versions/interpretations contribute to the fact that the lineage survived and thrived whereas Theravadan nuns died out ? Thanks. Apologies if this is not a very good question but I am curious. Thanks for your dedication.


#53

Very interesting point, and that would have been great if that had indeed been the case. But in suttas such as MN 73, all kinds of laypersons dress in white:

“Leaving aside Master Gotama, the monks, the nuns, the celibate laymen, and the laymen enjoying sensual pleasures, is there even a single laywoman disciple of Master Gotama—white-clothed and celibate—who, with the ending of the five lower fetters, is reborn spontaneously, to be extinguished there, not liable to return from that world?” “There are not just one hundred such celibate laywomen who are my disciples, Vaccha, or two or three or four or five hundred, but many more than that.”

“Leaving aside Master Gotama, the monks, the nuns, the celibate laymen, the laymen enjoying sensual pleasures, and the celibate laywomen, is there even a single laywoman disciple of Master Gotama—white-clothed, enjoying sensual pleasures, following instructions, and responding to advice—who has gone beyond doubt, got rid of indecision, and lives self-assured and independent of others regarding the Teacher’s instruction?” “There are not just one hundred such laywomen enjoying sensual pleasures who are my disciples, Vaccha, or two or three or four or five hundred, but many more than that.”

Would be interesting to see if the Chinese texts preserve this in the same way. If I have time, I might investigate this further.


#54

I’m not sure. So far, I have found plenty of differences in details, but nothing so huge that it would impact on the survival of an entire lineage. Especially since the sangha in Mahayana countries nowadays uses the Dharmaguptaka patimokkha, which is very close to the Pali. (The closest of all the versions that have been preserved).

The survival may have to do with Mahayana bhikkhunis and bhikkhus deciding not to follow some rules and do things like farming, etc. to be self-sufficient. But they didn’t change their patimokkha and these rules are still found there.


#55

@Sabbamitta, your theory does not hold up to further inquiry, and Chinese texts interpret it the same way as the Pali counterparts:

Here are some Pali suttas that mention white-clothed lay Buddhists with less than 8 precepts - i.e. not celibate -, and their parallels (if any), to see if Chinese suttas also have laypersons who keep less than 8 precepts and still wear white.

MN 73 - Chinese parallels SA2 198 and SA 964

“Leaving aside Master Gotama, the monks, the nuns, the celibate laymen, and the laymen enjoying sensual pleasures, is there even a single laywoman disciple of Master Gotama—white-clothed and celibate—who, with the ending of the five lower fetters, is reborn spontaneously, to be extinguished there, not liable to return from that world?” “There are not just one hundred such celibate laywomen who are my disciples, Vaccha, or two or three or four or five hundred, but many more than that.”
“Leaving aside Master Gotama, the monks, the nuns, the celibate laymen, the laymen enjoying sensual pleasures, and the celibate laywomen, is there even a single laywoman disciple of Master Gotama—white-clothed, enjoying sensual pleasures, following instructions, and responding to advice—who has gone beyond doubt, got rid of indecision, and lives self-assured and independent of others regarding the Teacher’s instruction?” “There are not just one hundred such laywomen enjoying sensual pleasures who are my disciples, Vaccha, or two or three or four or five hundred, but many more than that.”

SA2 198 and SA 964 don’t mention “white-clothed”.
There is a partial Pali parallel to MN 73: DN 29 - The Chinese parallel DA 17 also doesn’t mention “white-clothed”.

AN 5.179 = MA 128

Then the Buddha said to Venerable Sāriputta: “You should know this, Sāriputta, about those white-clothed laypeople whose actions are restrained in the five precepts, and who get four blissful meditations in the present life belonging to the higher mind when they want, without trouble or difficulty. They may, if they wish, declare of themselves: ‘I’ve finished with rebirth in hell, the animal realm, and the ghost realm. I’ve finished with all places of loss, bad places, the underworld. I am a stream-enterer! I’m not liable to be reborn in the underworld, and am bound for awakening.’
尊者舍梨 子及眾坐已定,世尊告曰:「舍梨子!若汝知白 衣聖弟子善護行五法及得四增上心,現 法樂居,易不難得。舍梨子!汝當記別聖弟 子地獄盡,畜生、餓鬼及諸惡處亦盡,得須陀 洹,不墮惡法,定趣正覺,極受七有,天上人 間七往來已而得苦邊。
(No need to add a translation because it is quite similar to the Pali text.)

AN 5.196 - no Chinese parallel

White caterpillars with black heads crawled up from his feet and covered his knees. This was fulfilled when many white-clothed laypeople went for refuge to him for life. This was the third great dream that appeared to him while he was still not awakened.

So, there is at least one Chinese sutta, MA 128, that contradicts @Sabbamitta’s theory, and confirms that also in the Chinese texts, white clothes were worn by all kinds of lay Buddhists, whether celibate or not. I only had a look at Chinese parallels to Pali texts that matched my search criteria. It is quite possible that there are more Chinese suttas about this topic without Pali parallel, but I’m not going to search further.


Just as an interesting side fact, there are also white-clothed lay followers of non-Buddhist traditions:
Jains: MN 104, DN 29, DN 33
Naked ascetics: AN 6.57
Brahmins: DN 3
And there are plenty of references in the Pali suttas to people wearing white without being involved in any kind of spiritual or religious practise. So it seems that white clothes and celibacy had nothing to do with each other.


#56

Thank you for this extensive research, Ayya!

But if these are the facts, why do Anagarikas have to wear white—such a terrible color to keep clean??? :scream:


#57

That’s interesting, I hadn’t paid attention to that.
We don’t have any other Sanskrit bhikkhuni pm or vb, but we do have a few bhikkhu pm-s. Here’s an overview:

Lo bu 53: yo puna bhikṣur jānan saṃbhojanīye kule anupakhajjāsane niṣadyāṃ kalpeya pācattikaṃ
Mg bu 53: yo punabhikṣū jānantaṃ bhojanīye kule anupakhajjāsane niṣadyāṃ kalpeya pācattikam ||
Mu bu 42: yaḥ punar bhikṣur jānan sabhojane kule anupraskadyāsane niṣadyāṃ kalpayet pāyantikā || (Gilgit 2)
Mu bu 42: yaḥ punar bhikṣur jānan sabhojane kule anupraskandyāsane niṣadyāṃ kalpayet pāyantikā | (Gilgit 3)
Sarv bu 42: yaḥ punar bhikṣuḥ sabhojane kule anupraskadya āsane niṣadyāṃ kalpayet pātayantikā

Pali bu 43 for comparison: Yo pana bhikkhu sabhojane kule anupakhajja nisajjaṃ kappeyya, pācittiyaṃ.

Mg uses bhojanīye without any prefix. Not sure if this is of any importance.
Does the -īye ending change the meaning in any way?


#58

The ending -īye should not affect the meaning much. It is a future passive participle that has used as noun: “to be eaten”, “can be eaten”, or just “food”, which is its normal meaning. It is hardly distinguishable from bhojane.


#59

There are some rules that beginn with this sign: ◎; e. g. Mu bi pc 41

◎若復苾芻尼知如是語人。未為隨法不捨惡見。共為言說共住受用。同室而宿者。波逸底迦。

It looks a little like the symbol for a string hole in palm leaf or birch bark manuscripts. Does anyone know if it has any meaning in a Chinese text?


#60

I don’t know, it was just in the source files. A string-hole? That would be weird, but makes sense.


#61

Perhaps this is also a part of the symbolism.


#62

What do you mean by this?


#63

Only that it takes effort to avoid many of the defilements.