Why are there more rules for bikkhunis than for bhikkhus?

Sincere question, and I’m not asking from a place of bitterness. Why? Was it mere sexism? Was it because ancient India was a patriarchal society? Was it for their protection or something? Was it for an other reason that I can not think about right now?

I’m trying to understand why there are 227 rules for monks, but 311 for nuns. That is a significantly larger number. So why?

Bhante Sujato wrote a book on Bhikkhunī Vinaya Studies which you may find helpful? You can find a copy here :blush:

Good question. And I don’t have the full answer. This article will provide some useful history, such as how different each school’s vinaya is The Monastic Law: how monastic communities should live - Bhikkhu Brahmali

The Suttavibhaṅga consists of the pātimokkha rules embedded in a commentary that analyses each rule in detail. The Suttavibhaṅga is divided into two parts, the 227 rules for the monks and the 311 rules for the nuns. The majority of rules are the same for the two Orders, but 130 rules are specific to the nuns and 46 specific to the monks. The greater number of rules for the nuns is in large part due to the subdivision of individual monks’ rules into multiple rules for the nuns and to the fact that the nuns have rules in their pātimokkha that the monks have in the Khandhakas.

it is clear that not even all the pātimokkha rules belong to the earliest period (Pachow, 2000). This is true of many, perhaps all, of the most minor rules of the monks’ pātimokkha, the sekhiyas, but especially of the rules for the nuns, many of which vary considerably between the different schools, making it likely that they stem from the sectarian period.

If the nuns rules evolved separately, it could grow in difference naturally, but still, is it systemically sexist?

I think it obviously is, and I have seen nuns mention how their rules discriminate themselves modern day. You can also be the judge:

The 4 monks’ rules entailing expulsion

The 8 nuns’ rules entailing expulsion (3 of the extra 4 of which are related to sex)

There are other differences which can be seen by sequentially comparing for the other categories.

I’m sure people have tried to justify the differences for one reason or another, but no one said Buddhism would be perfect. I really don’t know if their original intention was even positive or negative, but for whatever its design ended up being, it would leave effects on the future and on the now. If someone does care about suffering, they will be ending hate and prejudice. It’s obvious every being should be open to the teachings, and it’s obviously bad kamma to prevent or encumber someone from learning them.


Namo Buddhaya!

I will explain the garudhammas, what is mysogyny and what is hypocrisy, in light of sutta.

First of all,

Let’s keep in mind that Buddha proclaimed transmigation. No woman or man alive is such that has not, in past, been otherwise.


They understand: ‘It’s impossible for a woman to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha. But it is possible for a man to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.’ They understand: ‘It’s impossible for a woman to be a wheel-turning monarch. But it is possible for a man to be a wheel-turning monarch.’ They understand: ‘It’s impossible for a woman to perform the role of Sakka, Māra, or Brahmā. But it is possible for a man to perform the role of Sakka, Māra, or Brahmā.’ SuttaCentral

It’s not easy to find someone who has not performed the role of a wheel-turning monarch, Sakka, Māra, or Brahmā.

And at that time those beings were men. And they were venerated as foremost of their kind. And when Tathgatha arises in the world, he is also a man, and foremost among gods & men.

Therefore manhood is a mark shared by these great beings and it is therefore worthy of respect & reverence.

Suppose a long time ago, there was a bhikkhu during a dispensation of some Buddha, wherein both orders are established. At that time, the bhikkhunis are very polite & humble, he likes this setup & relishes the garudhammas, very much so, and is a stalwart opponent of any relaxing of rules because he thinks ‘women are evil and it is necessary to keep them in check’.

He dies without any remarkable attainments, and transmigates for a very long time until he is once again reborn during a sasana of another Buddha, but now he is a bhikkhuni.

But now he doesn’t like the garudhammas, now he wants equality, now he thinks this is unfair, now he says ‘it is mysogyny’.

Now when he misunderstood the garudhammas as a bhikkhu, that is his conceit & mysogyny.

Now when she misunderstood the garudhammas as a bhikkhuni, that is her conceit & hypocrisy.

I think like this. I assume that some time in past life i had a very good & polite wife, such that did her duties well, very virtuous all around.

Now if i was to be reborn as a woman and married off, i hope to keep thinking in the same way, and perform the role of a wife properly, as my good wife did for me, because otherwise what is it but a lack of integrity?

Therefore the garudhammas and things of this sort have nothing to do with hating women or keeping them in check. It has to do with how the universe is set up, revering what is worthy of reverence and what roles we are expected to perform, based on this common history of transmigation.

And it is important to perform in line with expectations, even if people around us do not, because it is by performing one’s role well that one wins good peers who also perform their roles properly, assuring immense accomplishments born of cooperation, the garudhammas are just the script.

If we act without taking into account what was before, what we did & was done for us, then we are easily misled by our own immediate interest here & now.

I know this interpretation may not be fit for the limited spectrum of discussion that is allowed on this topic but i wanted to post it anyway because i think it is important to help people abandon the right things and not be misdirecting effort in abandoning something else.

This misapprehension of the training rules is a particularly pernicious thing that can keep one in this cycle of mysogyny & hypocrisy for an unimaginably long time.

And this is total BS.


It may be useful to list those rules not held in common for the purpose of examination. This webpage lists 110 different rules 110 specific rules for nuns - Dhamma Wiki

I browsed the rules and found nothing contraversial in them.

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I think the whole thread is based on a misunderstanding on the evolution of the ancient texts. The patimokkhas are not the only collections of rules, we have thousands more rules in the khandhakas.
Historically, the Buddha laid down rules in the patimokkhas, but after he entered nibbana, more rules needed to be made, as new situations came up, and the sangha spread to new locations with different climates and local customs. For the bhikkhus, the patimokkha was closed quite early and additional rules were collected in the khandhakas. For the bhikkhunis, additional rules were added to their patimokkha for centuries after the Buddha’s passing, until eventually it became too long. From then on, more rules were put into the bhikkhuni khandhaka. Therefore, there’s a large discrepancy in size of the patimokkhas.

There are also other factors, such as decisions on how to organize the texts made by the monks at the first council.

Vinaya is a complex matter and best discussed with a knowledgeable monastic face-to-face. If you ask vinaya questions on an online forum, there are going to be a lot of incorrect answers.


Thank you for your Reply Ayya, I really appreciate it. May I ask what the khandhakas are? I’ve never heard of that term before.

I have no access to a Sangha as of now, the closest Sangha here is a retreat center in Halkida which is hours away from my home and even if I did have access to a Sangha I would be too scared to ask in fear of getting some nonsense justification like the guy here who said women are more worldly than men or something like “it was all for their own good and for their protection”. So I would rather ask in a forum like this one.

Plus, there are probably not that many monastics where I live :frowning:

Now, I am not going to participate in discussion about your question, anyway you consider this particular dialectic as solved.

Nevertheless, I have one suggestion, to repeat - general one, not necessarily valid in this particular case.

Namely: Certain things are as they are, we may strongly dislike them, or be dead certain that they aren’t this way because we don’t like them to be that way, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are as they are.

Good example is that some Christians in order to refute belief in reincarnation say: but would like to be a worm?

Read: I don’t like the idea, therefore it isn’t true, it is a nonsense.

Lord Buddha undermine our most certain conviction: that we exist as separate personalities, it is totally contrary to our knowledge, when we start practicing Dhamma.

But using faith, we can come to conclusion that He is right, we are wrong. So generally on lower level is good to, as a spiritual exercise more seriously investigate ideas which contradict our convictions. Perhaps some of them aren’t as nonsensical as we assume.

With metta

Yes, but the comment you are referring to did not come from the Buddha.

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I think it will be clearer regarding ‘why’ if you study carefully the similarities and differences of the rules between monks and nuns.

Everyone talks about rules that weren’t there at the beginning of Buddha’s teaching career, or am I wrong, and of course that’s perfectly fine, but …

Did Buddha start with no rules, because they were a few close friends practising together, and with an expanding sangha it ended up with “countless” rules, what impact did this “fencing in” have on the number of practitioners reaching the goal?

Better result with many rules, or the other way around?


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This is the official blurb about the Khandhakas, only visible from this page:

The Khandhakas (“the Chapters”) comprise the rules and regulations of both Sanghas that fall outside of the Monastic Code, the Pātimokkha. There are 22 individual Khandhakas, most of which discuss a more or less unified topic. The Khandhakas include a variety of material, such as assorted biographical material of a number of eminent disciples and some notorious ones. They also incorporate a few Jātakas and other tales, as well as the stories of the first communal recitation after the Buddha’s passing away and the famous Vesālī affair, sometimes known as “the second council”. The whole collection is structured around the life of the Buddha after his awakening.

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I don’t understand what you’re talking about (English is not my first language)

Generally, I am talking about that most of our ideas, which we are taking for granted aren’t as certain as it seems to us, so in order to progress usually we have to “think against ourselves”.

As Ven Vimalanyani said, there can be a lot of nonsense in these threads by people who have little knowledge of the vinaya. I hope this doesn’t discourage you.

I’ve attached a PDF comparison chart of the bhikkhuni (bi) and bhikkhu (bu) rules. Unfortunately it goes over 2 pages in an awkward way. This chart has the corresponding khandaka and patimokkha rules so that you can see the overlap.
Comparison Table of Bhikkhu-Bhikkhuni Patimokkha Rules-1.pdf (274.4 KB)