Vinaya Questions

Dear Venerable @sujato and all friends,

I have two questions and few … things to say!

  1. Am I right in assuming that the Vinaya translation on SC by Venerable Brahmali is based on the Thai edition?

  2. I was wondering about whether there have been any speculations or ideas regarding the relationship between patimokkha and vibhanga, meaning, which is the original, which actually happened first: When the Buddha made a rule, was it uttered by him in the detailed manner that we find in vibhanga and later on there came to be the recitation of an abridged version of it, or did the detailed and derived rules develop gradually from the general brief statement of the patimokkha, or did they happen together (as seems to be the case when the the text says “this rule is to be recited thus”?

And by the way: I found this strange succession of letters “msgstr” at the English translation of NP27 in the vibhanga on SC.

It Doesn’t seem to be a typo because I couldn’t place it anywhere with the original Pali: “tatra ce so bhikkhu”. What is it? It has rendered the whole text so enigmatic and, it is freaking me out!

Finally, I can’t find vol.2 of Venerable Ajahn Brahm’s “Vinaya Notes” anywhere online. Couldn’t find a hard photocopy of it either! Despite of the need/plan for editing and revising this work, still Ven. Ajahn Brahm has offered many valuable insights in vol.1. I’d appreciate any info on where to find vol.2 online! It’s not copyrighted so I will be able to download it!

Hey! Enjoy everyone this wonderful arriving autumn; and let us not forget metta to those who are deprived of it near the equator!

Sadhu anumodami.


I doubt it. But to be honest, I’m not sure what his main text is. @Brahmali?

Oh, the patimokkha rule is definitely earlier. In some cases, the Vibhanga may record the actual circumstances of laying down the rule, which in principle happens before the rule itself, but even in such cases the actual literary form postdates the rule.

Thanks, this is an error in converting the text, @vimala, could you fix this when you get a chance?

msgstr is a bit of code in the PO files that we are starting to use for our translations. It simply indicates a translated string. Ayya Vimala has been working with Ven Brahmali to get his translations working with this new system: a difficult and laborious task!

For your interest, here’s an example of how our new generation of texts look under the hood:

#. </p><p><a class="sc" id="12"></a><a class="pts" id="pts5.188"></a> #msgctxt "an10.93:15.1"
msgid "Evaṃ vutte te paribbājakā anāthapiṇḍikaṃ gahapatiṃ etadavocuṃ:"
msgstr "When he said this the wanderers said to him:"

The first line contains the HTML markup, which is separated from the text itself. It may also contain notes, variant readings, reference data, and so on. But the most important feature of this line is the msgctxt number, which uniquely labels each segment.

The second line is the Pali, and the third line the translation.

One of the great advantages of this approach is that we can add as many translations as we like, and they will all take the same markup, and match the same original text.

Not sure about this. Perhaps Brahmali would know about this.


But, Venerable, how do we know that?!

WOW! This is … WOW!

But are they doing this manually?!! Certainly not no?! I wish I could help but I am not skilled in this (my friends taught me a language called “python” a long time ago! it was fun! Now I remember nothing!)

I hope you will be able to manage the tremendous traffic on SC as these developments get implemented! :slight_smile:

Adoration to our developers and programmers! Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu! :pray:


It’s be easier to answer, “how do we not know that?”

The basic historical relation between the patimokkha and vibhanga is one of the earliest and best established findings on Buddhist studies. It is discussed in detail by, if I recall correctly, Oldenberg in the original PTS Pali edition of the Vinaya, and has been confirmed multiple times since then.

  1. The structure of the text: the explanation presupposes the thing explained
  2. Language: patimokkha rules contain multiple early and quirky usages that are “ironed out” in the Vibhanga
  3. Prior relation: the rules of the patimokkha as currently found in the Vinaya are embedded in the Vinaya. But there are multiple indications in the patimokkha that one passage connects with the next passage of the patimokkha, despite the fact that no such connection exists in the text as it stands. So the patimokkha must have existed as an independent text before the rules were separated by the Vibhanga material.
  4. Agreement of different schools: the level of agreement of rules is much greater than the agreement of the Vibhangas. In fact, the vibahngas in some cases are completely different while the rules are the same.

There’s a lot more, but that should be enough.

Yes, Ayya Vimala is doing it manually. But we do the hard work so that others don’t have to! Subsequent translators won’t have to worry about any of this.

I hope that this is our main problem!


Thanks Venerable. The reason I have asked the question above is that, to me, the patimokkha sometimes seem to be an “abridging” or “summarising” of something, rather than the origin. However much the “text” shows otherwise (as per your explanations). But many thanks. Just thoughts.

This is incredible! Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu Ayya @Vimala ! We are for ever grateful! wow!


Thank you very much Venerable! I’ve changed it now.


My translation is based on the Mahāsaṅgīti found on SuttaCentral. This in turn is very closely related to the Chaṭṭhasaṅgāyana version. Occasionally, but this is really quite rare, I disagree with the reading in these versions and refer to others instead, especially the PTS version which often has a few alternative readings.

As for Ajahn Brahm’s Vinaya Notes volume II, I am not sure if they have been made public. His work on volume I is much more thorough and has been properly revised. Volume II was never revised and polished to the same degree and it reflects an earlier period when his grasp of the Vinaya was not quite as good. I am not sure if he wants volume II in the public domain.


Dear Venerable @Brahmali … thanks a lot for your reply.

This is rather puzzling to me, since, when I hear “Mahasangiti” I presume this is just the Burmese (and by affiliation Sinhalese!) edition. Anyways, there is a curious variance between PTS, Burmese/Sinhalese, and Thai editions, over a derived rule of NP30. I saw that your translation follows specifically the Thai edition; but it is possible that I may be confused about what “mahasangiti” really means!!

I vaguely remember seeing crudely printed versions of vol.2 once or twice before in monastic libraries, so it seems that the work has been “out there” already, and for quite a long time i suppose! I do not know why it hasn’t been revised by Venerable Brahm all that time, especially since, even in its present unrevised form, i found it to include many helpful and important insights, especially those which differ with some of the interpretations which we find in the very similar work of Venerable Thanissaro. I am presently working on an extensive study of Vinaya, and given the unpublished and unrevised condition of Venerable Brahm’s work, it is unfortunate that I will probably have no options other than to omit all specific references to it in my study.

Venerable, thanks a lot for your fresh and openly available translation of Vibhanga.

Most appreciatively :anjal:

The Mahasangiti edition refers to the specific redaction used on SC, sometimes referred to as the “World Tipitaka” and published by the (now defunct) Dhamma Society of Bangkok. This is based on the digital text of the VRI edition, with extensive proofreading and correction. The mainline source text was the first edition of the Sixth Council printed in Myanmar, but multiple printed editions were consulted. In the main, it follows Burmese readings. (The Dhamma Society allege that due to the turmoil in Burma in the early 60s, when it came time to publish the second edition, the text of the Fifth Council was used instead by mistake. They say that all subsequent editions, including the VRI text, are in fact based on the Fifth Council, not the Sixth Council as claimed. I haven’t seen any independent verification of this.)

The Buddha Jayanthi edition is, so far as I know, quite separate. Though it is often assumed that the Sixth Council produced a unified text, this is not the case. The Burmese monks ran the event, and produced a text based on Burmese readings. The Sri Lankan monks worked separately and produced a Sinhalese edition, which I believe is the basis for the Buddha Jayanthi edition. So far as I understand, the digital version of this has not been proofread with such care, although this is just my impression, I have not studied it in detail.


I believe this is correct, though tracing information is a headache, but it must be performed:

The Buddha Jayanthi Edition of Tripitaka, which contains Pali version of Thripitaka and its Sinhala translation, was sponsored by the Government of Sri Lanka, during 1956 – 1990 and the last volume was published by the Government Publishers in 1990.
Though there are several versions of Tripitaka, it is widely believed that this Buddha Jayanthi version is the most authentic version of Tripitaka in Sinhala as it was meticulously translated by a prominent team of scholars from the sangha community in Sri Lanka.
The series comprises of 40 volumes and 57 books. Mr Saminda Ranasinghe converted the original printed books to electronically readable pdf files.
Download Theravada Tripitaka in Sinhala and Pali ත්‍රිපිටකය - USJ - University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka

With metta


Thanks for the info Venerable @sujato.

It has been difficult for me to understand what happened after the last council in Burma, and how each national group came to work out their final editions, and finally involve clear differences from each other though apparently all nation-groups were working together on this (except for India). I am aware that the differences are not so great across editions, but I just miss the presence of a serious study on this clearly messy and confounded matter, even if just to put our minds to rest that we are not missing out on something important which we think doesn’t exist, though it does, in some obscure or marginalised edition, book, chapter, paragraph, phrase, or line!

Not that i’m discontent with the treasure we already have! Adoration to Sangha :anjal:

I think the key, which we heard from Venerable Dhammavihari Dhirasekera on one of his visits to Perth, was that apart from attending the event, the different national Sangha groups did not, in fact work together on the text. Perhaps the language difficulties were just too much.


Dear Venerable,

I would be more than happy to send you a copy of Ajahn Brahm’s text. Please just PM me with your email address and I’ll send it through. But please be careful with how you use it, and if anything seems controversial, please check with me before you accept it as Ajahn Brahm’s view.

The reason Ajahn Brahm has not revised it is that he no longer had the time for such things. And that was over 25 years ago! He has far less time now, and I can assure there will never be any further revisions, unfortunately.

As for the similarities between Ajahn Brahm’s notes and Ajahn Thanissaros’ BMC, this is certainly no coincidence. In the early days the two of them cooperated, and much of BMC is based on Ajahn Brahm’s notes. At one point they decided that one of them needed to take on the project alone, and that’s when Ajahn Brahm pulled out.


Thanks a lot, Venerable Brahmali, for your willingness to provide a copy. You need not be troubled further with this, since I have acquired a private copy already. I will no longer be quoting or referring to Venerable Brahm’s notes in my work, but if I do I will check with you before publishing. Thanks for your willingness to do that too.

I hope you spent a good vassa and wish you a happy Kathina.


Venerable Ajahn Brahmali,

I am Ven Deepaloka from Nauyana monastery in Srilanka. May I request you to kindly share the Volume 2 Vinaya notes of Ajahn Brahm for self reference. You can send the copy to my email. Thank you. With Metta