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Cullavagga VIII (excerpts)

Vatta Khandhaka

Collection of Duties


Translator's Introduction

This chapter of the Cullavagga contains the fourteen sets of khandhaka-vatta, or khandhaka duties, which derive their name from their location in the Khandhaka (Collections) section of the Vinaya. These duties govern the day-to-day life of the bhikkhus, although some communities will observe them more closely than others. Changes in technology, for example, have had inevitably led to the dropping of some of the duties -- the toilet duties, for instance, were designed for a very different kind of restroom than what's found in monasteries today even in Asia, to say nothing of the West. Still, these duties are important to know even when their precise details are dated, for the more fully a bhikkhu knows them, the better he is able to apply them in a useful way to modern situations.

The following passages consist of the complete lists of the fourteen sets of duties, together with a few of the origin stories describing the events that led to the formulation of each set. Where the duties are identical to the rules of the Sekhiya section of the Patimokkha, I have simply noted the fact, without listing the rules here. These rules may easily be found in The Buddhist Monastic Code. The duties of a student to his teacher, and of a teacher to his student, are identical to those governing the relationship between mentor (preceptor) and pupil, and so have not been repeated. I have included explanatory passages from the Commentary (the Samantapasadika) in brackets and marked with a capital C, and from the Sub-commentary (the Saratthadipani) in braces and marked with an SC. Passages in parentheses are my own observations. A section mark (§) denotes passages where my translation differs from that of I. B. Horner's translation, The Book of the Discipline.


Incoming Bhikkhus' Duties

A certain incoming bhikkhu, unfastening the bolt and pushing open the door, rushed into an unoccupied dwelling. A snake fell on his shoulder from the lintel above. Frightened, he let out a yelp.

"An incoming bhikkhu, [C: having come into the immediate area around a monastery,] thinking 'I will now enter the monastery,' having taken off his sandals, having put them down (close to the ground) and beaten off the dust, having lowered his sunshade, having uncovered his head, having put his robe on his torso/shoulder (khandha) (apparently, bhikkhus traveled with their robes over their heads), should enter the monastery properly & unhurriedly. As he is entering the monastery he should notice where the resident bhikkhus are gathered. Having gone where they are gathered -- at the assembly hall, a pavilion, or the root of a tree -- having placed his bowl to one side, having placed his robe to one side, having taken an appropriate seat, he should sit down. He should ask about the drinking water and washing water, 'Which is the drinking water? Which is the washing water?' If he wants drinking water, he should take drinking water and drink. If he wants washing water, he should take washing water and wash his feet. When washing his feet, he should pour water with one hand and wash it with the other. When pouring water with his hand, he should not wash with the same hand.

"Having asked for a sandal-wiping cloth, he should wipe his sandals. When wiping his sandals, he should wipe them first with a dry cloth, and then with a damp cloth. Having washed the sandal-wiping cloth, having wrung it out, he should spread it out to dry to one side.

"If the resident bhikkhu is his senior, he (the incoming bhikkhu) should bow down to him. If he is junior, he (the incoming monk) should have him bow down. He should ask about his lodging, 'Which lodging falls to me?' He should ask whether it is occupied or unoccupied. He should ask as to which places are in 'alms range' and which places are not. [C: He should ask, 'Is the alms range near or far? Should one go there early or late in the morning?' Places that are not alms range include homes where the people have wrong views or where they have limited food.] He should ask as to which families are designated as in training (see Patidesaniya 3). He should ask about the toilet, the urinal, drinking water, washing water, walking staffs. He should ask about the community's rules as to what time [C: places that might be occupied by wild animals or non-human beings] may be entered, what time they should be left.

"If the dwelling is unoccupied, then -- having knocked on the door, having waited a moment, having unfastened the bolt, having opened the door -- he should watch while standing outside [C: in case he sees the tracks of a snake or a non-human being leaving]. If the dwelling is dirty or bed is stacked up on bed, bench on bench, with the lodgings piled on top, then if he is able, he should clean (the dwelling). [C: If he's not able to clean the whole dwelling, he should clean just the section he plans to live in.]

"While cleaning the dwelling, he should first take out the ground covering and lay it to one side. Taking out the bed supports, he should lay them to one side. Taking out the mattress and pillow, he should lay them to one side. Taking out the sitting cloth and sheet, he should lay them to one side. Having lowered the bed, he should take it out properly, without scraping it [C: along the floor or knocking it against the door or door posts], and then lay it to one side. Having lowered the bench, he should take it out properly, without scraping it [C: along the floor] or knocking it against the door or door posts, and then lay it to one side. Taking out the spittoon ... the reclining board, he should lay them to one side.

"If there are cobwebs, sweep them out, starting from the ceiling and working down. Wipe the windows, the doors, and the corners. If the wall or floor have become moldy (§), moisten a rag, wring it out, and wipe them with it. If the floor of the room is treated with blackening (polished), then he should moisten a rag, wring it out, and wipe the floor with it. If the floor is bare ground, sprinkle it all over with water before sweeping it, so that the dust does not fly up and soil the room. Look for any rubbish and throw it away.

"Having dried the ground-covering in the sun, clean it, shake it out, bring it back in, and lay it down in its proper place. Having dried the supports for the bed in the sun, wipe them, bring them back, and place them in their proper places. Having dried the bed...the bench in the sun, clean them, shake them out, lower them, bring them back in properly without scraping them (against the floor) or knocking them against the door or door posts, and place them in their proper places. Having dried the mattress and pillow...the sitting cloth and sheet in the sun, clean them, shake them out, bring them back in, and place them in their proper places. Having dried the spittoon in the sun, wipe it, bring it back in, and place it in its proper place. Having dried the reclining board in the sun, wipe it, bring it back in, and place it in its proper place.

"Put away the bowl and robes. When putting away the bowl, take the bowl in one hand, feel under the bed or bench with the other hand, and place the bowl there, but do not place it on the bare ground [C: any place where it will get soiled]. When putting away the robe, take the robe with one hand, stroke the other hand along the rod or cord for the robes [C: to check for any rough spots or splinters on the cord or rod that will rip the cloth], place the robe over the cord or rod with the edges away from one and the fold towards one. [C: The fold should not be placed on the side of the wall, for if there is a splinter in the wall, it may rip the robe in the middle (making its determination lapse).]

"If dusty winds blow from the east, close the eastern windows. If from the west, close the western windows. If from the north, close the northern windows. If from the south, close the southern windows. If the weather is cool, open the windows by day and close them at night. If the weather is hot, close them by day and open them at night.

"If a courtyard is dirty, sweep it (§). If a porch...attendance hall...fire hall (sauna)...restroom is dirty, sweep it. If there is no drinking water, provide it. If there is no washing water, provide it. If there is no water in the pitcher for rinsing [C: in the restroom], pour it into the pitcher."

[Cv.VIII.1.2-5]


Resident Bhikkhus' Duties

"A resident bhikkhu, on seeing an incoming bhikkhu who is his senior, should prepare a seat [C: If the resident bhikkhu is making robes or doing construction work, he should stop it to prepare a seat, etc., for the incoming bhikkhu. If he is sweeping the area around the chedi, he should put away his broom to prepare the seat, etc. The incoming bhikkhu, if smart, should tell the resident bhikkhu to finish sweeping first. If the resident bhikkhu is making medicine for a sick bhikkhu, then if the sick bhikkhu is not seriously ill, stop making the medicine so as to perform the duties of welcoming the incoming bhikkhu. If the sick bhikkhu is seriously ill, finish the medicine first. In either case, the incoming bhikkhu, if smart, should say, 'Finish the medicine first.'] He should set out washing water for the feet, a foot stand, a foot wiper, on standing up to greet him he should receive his bowl and robes, should ask if he needs water to drink, should ask if he needs water to wash (last phrase not in PTS or Burmese versions) [C: if the incoming bhikkhu finishes the first glass of water, ask him if he would like some more]; if he is able (if he feels up to it?) he should wipe the incoming bhikkhu's sandals. When wiping his sandals, he should wipe them first with a dry cloth, and then with a damp cloth. Having washed the sandal-wiping cloth, having wrung it out, he should spread it out to dry to one side. [C: The resident bhikkhu should fan the incoming bhikkhu first at the back of the feet, then at the middle of the body, then at the head. If the incoming bhikkhu says, 'Enough,' fan him more gently. If he says 'Enough' a second time, fan him still more gently. If he says, 'Enough' a third time, stop fanning him.]

"He should bow down to the senior incoming bhikkhu and appoint a lodging for him, (saying,) 'This lodging falls to you.' He should tell whether it is occupied or unoccupied. [C: It's appropriate to beat the dust out of the sleeping mats, etc., before spreading them out for the incoming bhikkhu.] He should point out which places are in 'alms range' and which places are not. He should point out which families are designated as in training. He point out to him where the toilet, the urinal, drinking water, washing water, walking staffs are. He should tell the community's rules, (saying,) 'This is the time for entering, this is the time for leaving.'

"If the incoming bhikkhu is his junior, then (the resident bhikkhu,) while sitting should tell him, 'Put your bowl there, put your robes there, sit on this seat.' He should point out to him the drinking water, the washing water, the rag for wiping sandals. He should have the junior incoming bhikkhu bow down to him. He should point out a lodging for him, (saying,) 'That lodging falls to you.' He should tell whether it is occupied or unoccupied. He should point out which places are in 'alms range' and which places are not. He should point out which families are designated as in training. He point out to him where the toilet, the urinal, drinking water, washing water, walking staffs are. He should tell the community's rules, (saying,) 'This is the time for entering, this is the time for leaving.'" [C: The fact that one is in a large monastery doesn't exempt one from performing the appropriate duties for incoming bhikkhus.]

[Cv.VIII.2.2-3]


Departing Bhikkhus' Duties

"A bhikkhu who is about to depart, having put away the wooden goods and clay goods [C: If the hut isn't an appropriate place to put these goods away, put them away in the sauna, under an overhanging cliff, or any place that will protect them from the rain], having closed the windows and doors, should turn over the lodging (to another bhikkhu). If there is no bhikkhu, he should turn it over to a novice. If there is no novice, he should turn it over to a monastery attendant. If there is no monastery attendant, he should turn it over to a lay follower. If there is no bhikkhu, novice, monastery attendant, or lay follower, then having set the bed on four stones, having stacked bed on bed, bench on bench, having placed the lodgings in a heap on top, having put away the wooden goods and clay goods, having closed the windows and doors, he may set out. [C: If the hut isn't subject to termite attacks, no need to turn it over to anyone or to set the bed on four stones, etc. (????)]

"If the dwelling is leaking, then if he is able he should roof it or make an effort, (thinking,) 'How can the dwelling be roofed?' If he succeeds in this, well and good. If not, then having set the bed on four stones in a place where it is not leaking, having stacked bed on bed, bench on bench, having placed the lodgings in a heap on top, having put away the wooden goods and clay goods, having closed the windows and doors, he may set out.

"If the entire dwelling is leaking, then if he is able he should convey the lodgings to a village or make an effort, (thinking,) 'How can the lodgings be conveyed to the village?' If he succeeds in this, well and good, If not, then having set the bed on four stones in the open air, having stacked bed on bed, bench on bench, having placed the lodgings in a heap on top, having put away the wooden goods and clay goods, having covered over with grass or leaves, he may set out (thinking,) 'I hope that at least parts of them will remain.'"

[Cv.VIII.3.2-3]


The Duties in Giving Thanks (Anumodana)

"I allow that thanks be given in the refectory. ... I allow that thanks be given in the refectory by the eldest bhikkhu. [C: If the hosts ask another bhikkhu to give the thanks instead of the eldest bhikkhu, it's OK for him to do so. Neither he nor the eldest bhikkhu commits an offense, although he should inform the eldest bhikkhu first before giving thanks.] ... I allow that four or five bhikkhus who are elders or near-elders stay behind in the refectory (with the senior bhikkhu who is giving thanks)." [C: If he gives them permission to leave early, however, they may go. They may ask for permission, too.] ... Now at that time a certain elder stayed behind in the refectory although he had to relieve himself [C: the need to relieve himself was oppressive]. Holding himself in, he keeled over stiff .... "When there is reason, I allow you to leave after having informed (turned over responsibility to) the next bhikkhu in line."

[Cv.VIII.4.1]


Refectory Duties

"If the time is announced in the monastery, having put on the under robe wrapped all around him, covering the three circles (navel & knees), having tied his waistband/belt, having made the upper robe a lining for the outer robe (§), having put on the outer robe, having fastened the fastener, having washed (the bowl -- see student's duties for preceptor), having taken the bowl, he should enter the village properly & unhurriedly. Without cutting in too close he should walk in front of the elder bhikkhus. (OR: He should not walk cutting in front of the elder bhikkhus.) SEKHIYAS 1-26.

"He shouldn't sit encroaching on the elder bhikkhus, shouldn't block/lay claim to the seats for the newer bhikkhus, shouldn't spread out the outer cloak and sit on it in inhabited areas. When water [C: for washing the bowl] is being given out, having grasped the bowl with both hands, he should receive the water. Having put it down low, the bowl should be carefully [C: without letting the water make a sound] washed without scraping it (against the floor (§)). If there is someone to receive the water, having placed the bowl low he should pour the water into the water receptacle, (thinking,) 'May the person receiving the water not be splashed, may the bhikkhus around me not be splashed, may my outer robe not be splashed.' If there is no one to receive the water, then having placed the bowl down low, he should pour the water on the ground, (thinking,) 'May the bhikkhus around me not be splashed, may my outer robe not be splashed.'

"When rice is being given, having grasped the bowl with both hands he should receive the rice. A space should be made for the bean curry. If there is ghee or oil or delicacies [C: or any food, even rice], the elder bhikkhu should say, 'Arrange equal servings for all.' [C: If there's enough of a particular dish for only two bhikkhus, the elder bhikkhus shouldn't say this. One or two of them should take what is offered even though others won't get any.] SEKHIYAS 27-30. The elder bhikkhu should not eat as long as not everyone has been served rice. SEKHIYAS 31-55.

"The elder bhikkhu should not accept (rinsing) water as long as not everyone has finished (bhuttavi: see Pac. 35). When water is being given out, having grasped the bowl with both hands, he should receive the water. Having put it down low, the bowl should be carefully [C: without letting the water make a sound] washed without scraping it (against the floor (§)). If there is someone to receive the water, having placed the bowl low he should pour the water into the water receptacle, (thinking,) 'May the person receiving the water not be splashed, may the bhikkhus around me not be splashed, may my outer robe not be splashed.' If there is no one to receive the water, then having placed the bowl down low, he should pour the water on the ground, (thinking,) 'May the bhikkhus around me not be splashed, may my outer robe not be splashed.' SEKHIYA 56.

"When they are returning, the newer bhikkhus should go first, followed by the elder bhikkhus." [C: The newer bhikkhus should wait near the door for the elder bhikkhus, and then the bhikkhus should go in line with seniority. When walking through the village or town, they should leave room between themselves so that other people can cross their path conveniently.] SEKHIYAS 1-26.

[Cv.VIII.4.3-6]


The Duties for Bhikkhus Going for Alms

A certain bhikkhu going on alms round entered a house compound without observing. Mistaking an inner door for an outer door, he entered an inner chamber. And in that inner chamber a naked woman was lying on her back. The bhikkhu saw the naked woman lying on her back, and on seeing her, the thought occurred to him, 'This isn't an outer door. This is an inner chamber.' He got out of the inner chamber. The woman's husband saw her lying naked on her back, and on seeing her he thought, 'My wife has been raped by this bhikkhu.' Seizing the bhikkhu, he gave him a good beating. Then the woman, awakening at the noise, said to the man, 'Why, master, are you beating this bhikkhu?'

'You were raped by this bhikkhu.'

'I wasn't raped by this bhikkhu. He's innocent.' And she made him let the bhikkhu go.

"A bhikkhu going for alms, thinking, 'I will enter the village,' having put on the under robe wrapped all around him, covering the three circles (navel & knees), having tied his waistband/belt, having made the upper robe a lining for the outer robe (§), having put on the outer robe, having fastened the fastener, having washed (the bowl -- see student's duties for preceptor), having taken the bowl, he should enter the village properly & unhurriedly. ODD-NUMBERED SEKHIYAS 1-25.

"When entering a house compound (§) he should observe, 'I will enter by this way, and leave by this way.' He should not enter quickly, should not leave quickly. He shouldn't stand too far away. He shouldn't stand too near. He shouldn't stand for too long a time. He shouldn't stand for too short a time. While standing, he should observe whether they want to give alms or not. If (the potential donor) puts down his/her work or rises from his/her seat or wipes a spoon, wipes a dish, or sets one out, he should remain, (thinking,) 'It looks like he/she wants to give.' When alms are being given, having raised the outer robe with his left hand, having uncovered the bowl with his right hand, having grasped the bowl with both hands, he should receive the alms. While alms are being given he should not look [C: the donor] in the face. He should then observe, 'Do they want to give bean curry or not?' If the donor wipes a spoon, wipes a dish, or sets one out, he should remain, (thinking,) 'It looks like he/she wants to give.' When alms have been given, having concealed the bowl under his outer robe, he should leave carefully and unhurriedly. ODD-NUMBERED SEKHIYAS 1-25

"Whoever returns first from alms-going in the village should prepare the seat(s), should set out washing water for the feet, a foot stand, a foot wiper. Having washed the left-over food container, he should set it out. He should set out drinking water and washing water. Whoever returns last from alms-going in the village, if there is left-over food and he wants it, he may eat it. If he doesn't want it, he should throw it away where there are no plants to speak of or drop it in water where there are no living creatures. He should put up the seat(s), put away the washing water for the feet, the foot stand, the foot wiper. Having washed the left-over food container, he should put it away. He should put away the drinking water and washing water. He should sweep the refectory. Whoever sees that the vessel for drinking water, the vessel for washing water, or the jar for rinsing water in the toilet is empty should set out water. If he cannot do this, then inviting a companion by signaling with his hand, with a movement of his hand, he should have the water set out, but he should not for that reason break into speech.

[Cv.VIII.5.2-3]



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Dhamma Essay:
Our Underlying Tendencies by Ayya Khema


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