When was the patimokkha first written down?

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Dear Venerables and dhamma friends,
We were wondering when was the pātimokkha first written down as it’s own seperate document?

Mega metta
Pasanna (and the nuns)


Sorry, I don’t know anything about this. It’s an interesting question, though. I would suspect it was quite early.


Do you assume that it was written down at another time than other tipitaka material?

Prebish did a lot of work about the Patimokkhas. The following is from “Prebish - Buddhist Monastic Discipline” 1996, p.23. It deals not with writing the text down though. He also goes into some detail differences between the different schools. Note that here he is probably assuming the ‘corrected long chronology’.

the oldest portions of this text, indeed very ancient, may date from 500-450 BC. Due to the flexibility of the early text, its period of growth to completion must have taken a considerable period of time, perhaps 50 to 100 years. Thus it was probably in its final root form by about 400 BC.

About a specific old manuscript available he writes that the Gilgit Mulasarvastivadin Pratimoksa apparently was “written on birchbark in Gupta characters of the 5th or 6th century AD.” (p. 35) - later he is more careful and assumes the 7th century.

and further:

“In fact, due to the striking similarities between the language of the Mahasamghika-Lokottaravadin texts and the Mathura inscriptions edited by Heinrich Lueders and Klaus Janert and dated from the first century BC to the end of the first century AD, it is possible to ascribe the date of final compilation of these texts to this period” (p.38)