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


#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


#30

Yes, roughly. You could make it a bit more specific by saying it is from the Bhikkhunī-kkhandhaka (“the Chapter on nuns”) and that section 17.1 refers to the PTS edition of the Pali.

As for “The Book of the Discipline”, this is just I.B. Horner’s translation of Vinaya Piṭaka. The problem with this translation is that the Vinaya doe not just concern rules but all sorts of procedures that the Sangha needs to follow. My translation is “Collection on Monastic Law”. I think it would be preferable if you mentioned the Pali, which is a unique identifier, and then provided your preferred translation.

By the way, what is this article you are writing?


#31

Tagging is done by entering @ before the username. In this case, as you were replying brahmali first place that was not needed. :slight_smile:


#32

Hi Ajahn Brahmali,

Thanks again for all your help.

The article I am writing is a critique of the “diversity programs” at the Insight Meditation Society and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. I will be sending a copy to the Executive Director at each of those organizations in the near future. The section in which I am using the quote you provided addresses the fact that IMS’s website promotes transgender people and even says that they support ordination of transgender women as bhikkhunis. I argue in part that the Buddha would not have wanted this, as is evident from the language in khandhaka # 20.

Best regards,

Vincent


#33

How sad to see someone using EBTs to justify exclusion and prejudice.
I wish you worst of luck with your argument!

I’m sure that independent of their former sexual choices anyone good enough to fullfill the gradual path found in sutras like DN2 will only serve to inspire generosity and harmony among those who take refuge in the Buddha and his Teaching and understand the value and role of a mendicant community as a perfect environment for the embracing of the eightfold path.

Those busying themselves with finding ways to stop others to fullfil their spiritual aspirations are miles behind and can only be object of compassion , surely they’re not only wasting their precious current human life but as well guaranteeing a ticket to continue riding the samsara rollercoaster for many more lifetimes to come… No wonder 2,500 years after the last Buddha we are still around … :sweat_smile:
:anjal:


#34

Do you think your letter will be taken seriously in any institution that promotes ‘Buddhism’.


#35

Hi Gabriel,

Don’t you care about what the Buddha said on this topic? Did you read the passages from Khandhaka # 20 that were discussed in this thread? Do you want the Buddha’s words and wishes to be overridden and ignored??

Vincent


#36

Hi Mat,

You put the word Buddhism in quotes, so I guess you meant that these Buddhist meditation centers are teaching a form of Buddhism that has degenerated and deviated from the true and correct teachings. Is that right?

In my article I am quoting the Buddha’s words repeatedly (not just the words discussed in this thread). So hopefully they will listen to what I wrote. It would be a bad state of affairs if prominent Buddhist meditation centers thumbed their noses at the Buddha’s words and teachings.

Regards,

Vincent


#37

Gabriel, I believe that the argument against exclusion is being made by the IMS.


#38

I trust, care and embrace what I see recurrently and consistently repeated in the EBTs: the eightfold path and more broadly the 37 principles to awakening.

I don’t see as honest taking a passage so subject to later edits and or highly circumstantial/ contextual to the times these were written to justify one’s own biases against specific individuals and their sexual choices before they decided to embrace the path and the right livelihood it entails.

I have read and translated enough of the Vinaya Vibhanga to have perfect trust on the compassion and understanding of the Blessed One.

See it for yourself in the permutation chapters all the bizarre and borderline parajika offense events the Buddha treated as not as serious clearly to allow those making a mistake to not be removed from a monastic community.

I just cannot reconcile how the same Buddha word have stopped rightly motivated women to take on the path just for whatever bodily defect they were born with. That would make things very incoherent. And this sort of incoherence is aligned with what we see in cultures still alive in which women are excluded just because of their gender.


#39

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#40

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