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Where can I find the embarrassing questions that were/are asked of prospective bhikkhunis?


#10

Thank you for the link to the English text, Charlotteannun.


#11

Just for clarification, the only English translation available on Sutta Central for this text is by I. B. Horner, circa 1950. The excerpt that Ajahn Brahmali posted above is a new English translation that he has created, but is not yet published on Sutta Central.

Compare I.B. Horner’s

Now at that time ordained women were to be seen without sexual characteristics and who were defective in sex and bloodless and with stagnant blood and who were always dressed and dripping and deformed and female eunuchs and man-like women and those whose sexuality was indistinct and those who were hermaphrodites.

to Ajahn Brahmali’s

At that time the full ordination had been given to women without genitals, with incomplete genitals, who did not menstruate, who menstruated continuously, who always wore menstrual pads, who were incontinent, who had genital prolapse, who were sexual nonconformists, who were manlike, who had fistula, who were hermaphrodites.

I think this more recent translation provides clearer terminology that is consistent with modern usage.

EDIT: while cleaning up the raw code for pasting here, I inadvertently left out a few items. It is now fixed.


#12

Hi GreenTara,

Yes, it does seem that of the two passages you quoted here the one by Ajahn Brahmali is clearer. Will Ajahn Brahmali be publishing this in book form? Did he translate the entire Vinaya or just part of it?

Also, could you please provide the text between the quote from your last post and the quote in Ajahn Brahmali’s post? Also, the heading in Ajahn Brahmali’s translation is “Third Recitation Section,” right?

Also, the link provided above by Charlotteannun goes to an I.B. Horner translation which seems to have no section numbers. This is all in Khandaka # 20, section 17.1 in The Book of the Discipline, right?


#13

You can follow the progress for the publication of this translation on Sutta Central in this thread: https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/notes-on-the-segmentation-of-pali-vinaya-with-brahmalis-translation/10665/517 As to any intention to publish in book form, it would be best to ask Ajahn Brahmali about that - I have no idea.

The only intervening text is:

“They told the Master and he said:”

“The third section for recitation”

Right.


#14

Hi GreenTara,

Ok. Now I can piece together the entire section and use it in the article/letter I am writing.

Thank you for your help.


#15

Does “sambhinnā” mean “not being sexually attracted to anybody” (which is the normal meaning of “asexual” in modern English, but seems like a silly reason to disqualify someone) or “not possessing sexual organs” (which makes more sense in the context)?


#16

Well, as I said, it’s from an ordination script, not a translation by a professional translator.
IB Horner translates this as having indistinct sexuality, Ajahn Brahmali says having fistula…

Best to tag Ajahn @Brahmali to clarify.


#17

The word sambhinnā is made up of bhinna, a past participle that means “broken”, and the prefix sam, which normally means “with” or “together”. So from an etymological point of view, it may seem to refer to something that is joint together through being broken, which is what fistula refers to. This fits well with the commentarial explanation.

I didn’t include my comments on the terms translated above, and perhaps I should have. In any case, here is my comment on sambhinnā, which includes the commentarial explanation:

Sp.1.285 says: Sambhinnāti sambhinnavaccamaggapassāvamaggā, “Sambhinnā means the anus and the vagina are joined.” That passāvamagga, “the path of urine,” can refer to the vagina is clear from bhikkhu pārājika 1, MS.1.109, where it refers to an orifice for sexual intercourse. Also, it is anatomically more likely that that the anus and vagina would be conjoined, rather than the anus and the urethra.

The translations given in the document supplied by Ayya @Vimalanyani are not very reliable.


#18

I’m wondering if Horner is using some old-timey definition of “asexual.” I dunno what that word meant in the 1950s.

Thank you, @brahmali, for the clarification on what sambhinnā likely means.


#19

I believe the ordination script was translated by a Sri Lankan, who may not have been a native English speaker.
I’m guessing that they meant “no / not fully developed / ambiguous sexual organs”. This might also be what IB Horner had in mind…
As you say, “asexual” doesn’t make any sense in today’s usage.
And in the Vinaya, there are several cases of asexual people being ordained.


#20

Hi Ajahn Brahmali,

You provided a translation of part of the Bhikkuni KKhandhaka for me several months ago, as shown in this thread. I recently noticed that there is a significant difference between what you provided and the translation I have by I.B. Horner. In your version it is a nun who asks the difficult questions of the prospective bhikkhunis. But in the I.B. Horner version it seems to be a monk who asks the questions. Are you sure your version is correct? For reference I am providing both versions below.

The following is a quote from khandaka # 20, section 17.1 from The Book of the Discipline, translated by I. B. Horner:


THIRD RECITATION SECTION

Now at that time ordained women were to be seen without sexual characteristics and who were defective in sex and bloodless and with stagnant blood and who were always dressed and dripping and deformed and female eunuchs and man-like women and those whose sexuality was indistinct and those who were hermaphrodites .¹ They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “I allow you, monks, to question a woman who is being ordained about twenty-four things that are stumbling-blocks. And thus, monks, should she be questioned: ‘You are not without sexual characteristics? … You are not a hermaphrodite ? Have you diseases like this:² leprosy, boils, eczema, consumption, epilepsy? Are you a human being? Are you a woman ? Are you a free woman? Are you without debts? You are not in royal service? Are you allowed by your mother and father, by your husband?³ Have you completed twenty years of age?⁴ Are you complete as to bowl and robe? What is your name? What is the name of your woman proposer?’⁵

¹ Same list occurs at Vin 3.129 in definition of “he abuses”. Cf. the examination of male candidates for ordination at Kd 1.76.

² Cf. Kd 1.76–Kd 1.77 as far as to end of 17 below.

³ See Nuns’ Bi-Pc 80.

⁴ See Nuns’ Bi-Pc 71–Bi-Pc 73.

⁵ pavattinī. See Nuns’ Bi-Pc 69, and bd 3.377 where pavattinī is defined as upajjhā, woman preceptor.


The following is the translation you (Ajahn Brahmali) provided to me several months ago. (Note: The format of the first of the two asterisk notes below the main paragraph in the quote below refuses to take on proper format. I have copied and pasted it in from an MS Word document where the format was correct and it just keeps on getting indented and replacing the asterisk with a dot when I paste it here. I can’t seem to correct that.)


The nun who is giving the full ordination should ask about the twenty-four obstructions. And it should be done in this way: ‘ Do you lack genitals? Are your genitals incomplete? Are you without menstruation? Do you menstruate continuously? Do you always wear a menstrual pad? Are you incontinent? Do you have genital prolapse? Do you lack sexual organs? Are you manlike? Do you have fistula? Are you a hermaphrodite? Do you have any of these diseases: leprosy, abscesses,* mild leprosy,** tuberculosis, or epilepsy? Are you human? Are you a woman? Are you a free woman? Are you free from debt? Are you employed by the King? Do you have permission from your parents and husband? Are you twenty years old? Do you have a full set of bowl and robes? What is your name? What is the name of your preceptor?’

  • Gaṇḍa , literally, “a swelling”. Gaṇḍa is commonly translated as “boils”, yet a boil is often just a superficial skin disease without much swelling. “Abscess” seems closer to the mark.

** Kilāsa is closely related to kuṭṭha . Sp.3.88 says: Kilāsoti na bhijjanakaṃ na paggharaṇakaṃ padumapuṇḍarīkapattavaṇṇaṃ kuṭṭhaṃ , “ Kilāsa is leprosy without lesions, without discharge, and with the color of red and white lotuses.” It seems modern medical science distinguishes between tuberculoid leprosy, which is mild and has few lesions, and lepromatous leprosy, which is severe and has widespread lesions. It seems plausible to identify kilāsa with the former and kuṭṭha with the latter. But to avoid the technical Latinate medical vocabulary, I render them respectively as “mild leprosy” and “leprosy”.



#21

Maybe better tag ajahn @brahmali to assure he will see this.


#22

What does “tag” mean and how do I tag Ajahn Brahmali?


#23

Yes, I am sure. One of the purposes of (re-)translating the Vinaya Piṭaka was to correct the significant number of mistakes in I.B. Horner’s version. This is one of those mistakes. Here is the Pali:

Anujānāmi, bhikkhave, upasampādentiyā catuvīsati antarāyike dhamme pucchituṃ.

The critical word here is upasampādentiyā, which is the present participle of upasampādeti, “to ordain”. The person who ordains is the person who performs the ceremony, not the candidate for ordination. This is an important point, where many people go wrong. So when someone says “I intend to ordain as a monk/nun” it is technically incorrect. It should rather be “I intend to get ordained”. The one who ordains is the upajjhāya/pavattinī, the “preceptor”. So in the present example upasampādentiyā, “the one ordaining”, refers most likely to the preceptor. It certainly cannot refer to the candidate.

Now upasampādentiyā has a feminine declension, the -iyā ending, an instrumental case ending. This means that the one ordaining in this case must be a female. Upasampādentiyā must means “by the one (female) who is ordaining,” i.e., “by the one (female) who is giving the ordination”, which must refer to a bhikkhunī. The above phrase can then be translated, quite literally, as follows:

I allow (anujānāmi), monks (bhikkhave), by the female who is ordaining (upasampādentiyā) to ask (pucchituṃ) about the twenty-four (catuvīsati) obstacle ( antarāyike) things (dhamme).

In other words:

Monks, the nun who is giving the full ordination should ask about the twenty-four obstructions.

Thanks, Gabriel. I’ve seen it because he replied to my earlier post.


#24

Hi Ajahn Brahmali,

Ok. Thank you for the explanation. I was going to omit your version and use only I.B. Horner’s in the article I am working on (which is almost finished) but now I think I will put yours back in and keep both versions .

Best regards,

Vincent


#25

Please don’t use I.B. Horner’s; it’s wrong. We just end up perpetuating old mistakes. Even seemingly small things like this matter for our understanding of the evolution of the ordination of bhikkhunīs, which in turn impacts on our ability to accept bhikkhunī ordination. If you have doubts about my translation, maybe you should take a second opinion from someone knowledgeable in Pali, such as Bhante Sujato or Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi.


#26

Hi Ajahn Brahmali,

I am considering using only your translation. I think that may be the best plan. I was preparing a post to ask you a question relating to that just now. Here is the question:

Is the following a complete and accurate rendition of your translation of that entire section (not just the portion which you provided a quote of)? (I have pieced this together from a couple of different posts in this same thread.)


THIRD RECITATION SECTION

At that time the full ordination had been given to women without genitals, with incomplete genitals, who did not menstruate, who menstruated continuously, who always wore menstrual pads, who were incontinent, who had genital prolapse, who were sexual nonconformists, who were manlike, who had fistula, who were hermaphrodites. The nun who is giving the full ordination should ask about the twenty-four obstructions. And it should be done in this way: ‘ Do you lack genitals? Are your genitals incomplete? Are you without menstruation? Do you menstruate continuously? Do you always wear a menstrual pad? Are you incontinent? Do you have genital prolapse? Do you lack sexual organs? Are you manlike? Do you have fistula? Are you a hermaphrodite? Do you have any of these diseases: leprosy, abscesses,* mild leprosy,** tuberculosis, or epilepsy? Are you human? Are you a woman? Are you a free woman? Are you free from debt? Are you employed by the King? Do you have permission from your parents and husband? Are you twenty years old? Do you have a full set of bowl and robes? What is your name? What is the name of your preceptor?’

  • Gaṇḍa , literally, “a swelling”. Gaṇḍa is commonly translated as “boils”, yet a boil is often just a superficial skin disease without much swelling. “Abscess” seems closer to the mark.

** Kilāsa is closely related to kuṭṭha . Sp.3.88 says: Kilāsoti na bhijjanakaṃ na paggharaṇakaṃ padumapuṇḍarīkapattavaṇṇaṃ kuṭṭhaṃ , “ Kilāsa is leprosy without lesions, without discharge, and with the color of red and white lotuses.” It seems modern medical science distinguishes between tuberculoid leprosy, which is mild and has few lesions, and lepromatous leprosy, which is severe and has widespread lesions. It seems plausible to identify kilāsa with the former and kuṭṭha with the latter. But to avoid the technical Latinate medical vocabulary, I render them respectively as “mild leprosy” and “leprosy”.


Update: I can see that at least some of the text must be missing from the rendition I provided above. The I.B. Horner version says

“They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “I allow you, monks, to question a woman who is being ordained about twenty-four things that are stumbling-blocks.”

I guess that that part (at least the first sentence) is missing. I would appreciate it if you could provide your translation of the whole section.

Thanks in advance,

Vincent


#27

There are a couple of minor edits. Here is the latest version of my translation:

The third section for recitation

At that time the full ordination had been given to women who lacked genitals, with incomplete genitals, who did not menstruate, who menstruated continuously, who always wore menstrual pads, who were incontinent (1), who had genital prolapse (2), who were without sexual organs (3), who were manlike (4), who had fistula (5), who were hermaphrodites. They told the Master and he said:

“The nun who is giving the full ordination should ask about the twenty-four obstructions.

And it should be done in this way: ʻDo you lack genitals? Are your genitals incomplete? Are you without menstruation? Do you menstruate continuously? Do you always wear a menstrual pad? Are you incontinent? Do you have genital prolapse? Do you lack sexual organs? Are you manlike? Do you have fistula? Are you a hermaphrodite? Do you have any of these diseases: leprosy, abscesses (6), mild leprosy (7), tuberculosis, or epilepsy? Are you human? Are you a woman? Are you a free woman? Are you free from debt? Are you employed by the King? Do you have permission from your parents and husband? Are you twenty years old? Do you have a full set of bowl and robes? What is your name? What is the name of your preceptor?ʼ”

(1) Paggharantī. Sp.1.285 says: Paggharantīti savantī; sadā te muttaṃ savatīti vuttaṃ hoti, “Paggharantī means flowing. It is said, ‘Their urine is always flowing.ʼ”
(2) Sikharaṇī. Sp.1.285 says: Sikharaṇīti bahinikkhantaāṇimaṃsā, “Sikharaṇī means a piece of flesh is protruding outside.”
(3) Itthipaṇḍaka. Although I have rendered paṇḍaka as “eunuch”, it does not seem right to translate itthipaṇḍaka as “female eunuch”, which is largely meaningless, especially so in an ancient Indian context. It seems the idea of a paṇḍaka expanded over time and that the itthipaṇḍaka may refer to this expanded category, see The meaning of paṇḍaka in light of the Vedic and Jain scriptures. According to Sp.1.285: Itthipaṇḍakāti animittāva vuccati, “It is just a woman who lacks genitals who is called an itthipaṇḍakā.” This seems strange since in the ordination procedure a woman is asked both whether she is an itthipaṇḍaka and whether she is animitta. If they mean the same thing, then we have a redundancy. Perhaps the two words are close in meaning, but not identical, and thus the apparent redundancy. Given the commentarial explanation, I have opted to translate itthipaṇḍaka as “a woman without sexual organs”.
(4) Vepurisikā. Sp.1.285 says: Vepurisikāti samassudāṭhikā purisarūpā itthī, “Vepurisikā means a woman who has a beard and a mustache like a man.”
(5) Sambhinnā. Sp.1.285 says: Sambhinnāti sambhinnavaccamaggapassāvamaggā, “Sambhinnā means the anus and the vagina are joined.” That passāvamagga, “the path of urine,” can refer to the vagina is clear from bhikkhu pārājika 1, MS.1.109, where it refers to an orifice for sexual intercourse. Also, it is anatomically more likely that that the anus and vagina would be conjoined, rather than the anus and the urethra.
(6) Gaṇḍa, literally, “a swelling”. Gaṇḍa is commonly translated as “boils”, yet a boil is often just a superficial skin disease without much swelling. “Abscess” seems closer to the mark.
(7) Kilāsa is closely related to kuṭṭha. Sp.3.88 says: Kilāsoti na bhijjanakaṃ na paggharaṇakaṃ padumapuṇḍarīkapattavaṇṇaṃ kuṭṭhaṃ, “Kilāsa is leprosy without lesions, without discharge, and with the color of red and white lotuses.” It seems modern medical science distinguishes between tuberculoid leprosy, which is mild and has few lesions, and lepromatous leprosy, which is severe and has widespread lesions. It seems plausible to identify kilāsa with the former and kuṭṭha with the latter. But to avoid the technical Latinate medical vocabulary, I render them respectively as “mild leprosy” and “leprosy”.

If you need anything else from my translation, I would be more than happy to provide it.


#28

Hi Ajahn Brahmali,

This is good. Thanks. I think I will probably do as you suggested and just use your version.

Best regards,

Vincent


#29

Hi Ajahn Brahmali,

Another question: I can correctly refer to this section of the Pali texts as: khandaka # 20, section 17.1 from The Book of the Discipline. Is that right?

Regards,

Vincent