A Translation and Analysis of the Patimokkha
by Nyanatusita Bhikkhu
The Pátimokkha and its Meaning
The Pátimokkha consists of two hundred and twenty training precepts (sikkhápada): 7 párájika, 13 saòghádisesa,
2 aniyata, 30 nissaggiya pácittiya, 92 pácittiya, 4 páþidesanìya, and 75 sekhiya.
The number of two hundred and twenty seven rules, which some modern scholars give, is incorrect. The
seven adhikaraóasamatha-dhammas are ways of settling legal issues and can therefore not be counted as training precepts. In the Suttavibhaòga there is not any Padabhájana comment on the adhikaraóasamathas and
this also indicates their non-sikkhápada status. It might also suggest that their inclusion in the Pátimokkha was a later addition.
Buddhaghosa thera did not include the seven adhikaranasamathadhamma in the Mahávibhaòga (=
Bhikkhuvibhaòga): “Thus the Great Analysis is two hundred and twenty training training rules …”: “Evaí
vìsádhikáni dve sikkhápadasatáni mahávibhaògo ti …”; D-a I 13.
In a suttanta in the Aòguttara Nikáya “more than hundred and fifty” are given as the number of rules
that come up for recitation. A I 230: “Venerable Sir, more than 150 training precepts come up for recitation
every half-month.”: “Sádhikam-idaí, bhante, diyaððhasikkhápadasataí anvaddhamásaí uddesaí ágacchati..” As
the commentary86 suggests, this could be an earlier reckoning from the period when the Buddha was
regularly laying down new rules. (See also MN 65/M I 44–45 where Ven. Bhaddáli asks why there were
fewer rules before.) However, it could also be that the 75 sekhiyas were originally not included in the
Pátimokkha or were not considered and counted as full training rules. The divergence in the number of
Sekhiya rules in the early Buddhist schools also indicates this. (Note that 150 + 75 = 225, which approximates the number of rules in the Pm.) It could also be a round number, like the number 500 which is often used to denote a large group of monks in the Pali Canon.
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Chronology of the Pali Canon
Bimala Churn Law, Ph.D., M.A., B.L.
Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, pp.171-201
As for the date of the composition of the two Patimokkha codes, one for the bhikkhus (monks) and other for the bhikkhunis (nuns), it is important to bear in mind that according to an ancient Buddhist tradition cited by Buddhaghosa, the Patimokkha codes as they are handed down to us are two among the Vinaya texts which were not rehearsed in the first Buddhist council (Sumangalavilasini, pt. I., p. 17). It may he readily granted that the codification of the Patimokkha rules in the extant shape was not accomplished immediately after the demise of the Buddha. It is one thing to say this and it is quite another that the rules themselves in a classified form had not been in existence from the earlier times. The Cullavagga account of the first Buddhist council throws some clear light on the process of codification. It is said that the utterance of the dying Buddha authorising his followers to do away with the minor rules of conduct (Khuddanu-khuddakani sikkhapadani), if they so desired, formed a bone of contention among the bhikkhus who took part in the proceedings of the first Buddhist Council (See Milinda Panha, pp.142-144). They were unable to decide which were precisely the minor rules they were authorised to dispense with. Some suggested all but the four Parajika rules, some, all but the four Parajika and thirteen Samghadisesa rules, some, all but the four Parajika, 13 Samghadisesa and two Aniyata rules and thirty Nissaggiya rules; some, all but the four Parajika, 13 Samghadisesa, two Aniyata, thirty Nissaggiya and ninety-two Pacittiya rules and some suggested all but 4 Parajika, 13 Samghadisesa, 2 Aniyata, 30 Nissaggiya, 92 Pacittiya and 4 Patidesaniya rules. The suggestion stopped with the 4 Patidesaniya rules and did not proceed beyond them, leaving us in the dark as to what the bhikkhus meant by all but 11 all these " (counted by names). The Patimokkha code in its final form includes two hundred and twenty-seven rules, that is to say, the seven adhikarana samathas and seventy-five sekhiya rules in addition to those mentioned in the Cullavagga account. Omitting the 75 sekhiya rules the total of the Patimokkha precepts of conduct would come up to 152, If the theras of the first Buddhist Council had in their view a Patimokkha code in which the 75 Sekhiya rules had no place, the total of precepts in the code recognised by them was 152. Now we have to enquire if there is any definite literary evidence to prove that in an earlier stage of codification, the total of the Patimokkha precepts was fixed at 152. Happily the evidence is not far to seek. The Anguttara Nikaya, as we heave seen above, contains two passages to indicate that the earlier Patimokkha code contained one and half hundred rules or little more (Sadhikam diyaddhasikkhapadasatam). * The earlier Patimokkha code with its total of 152 rules may be shown to have been earlier than the Suttavibhanga on the ground that the Sutta-Vibhanga scheme makes room for the 75 Sekhiya rules, thereby rocognising the Patimokkha total to be 227 which was possible only in the second or final stage of codification of the Patimokkha rules.
[ * Cf. Milinda Panha which refers to the some total of the Patimokkha rules in the expression "Diyaddhesu Sikkhapadasatesu."]
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This discussion will first examine the meaning and contents of Pratimoksa (Pali: Patimokkha) as well as how it has been defined in Vinaya texts, particularly in Pali canon.
The content and number of training rules in Pratimoksa are particularly significant in Buddhist chronology according to the Pali canons and other sources from various schools. According to Pachow, the Milindapanha (Nikaya) and Agama (Chinese translation) provide the exact numbers of Pratimoksa; the Pali canon gives 150 rules whereas other sutras in Agama (such as Samyktagama sutras, cf. A. III.87 Sadhika; A. III. 85-86 Sekha; and, A. III. 83 Vajjputta) give 205 rules. However, both the numbers and documents provide an important connection by stressing that the rules have been recited every half month during Uposatha days. Another source, the Pali Text Society’s translation, noted precisely 150 rules; the 75 Sekhiyas and 2 Aniyata were added subsequently, creating 227 total rules for bhikkhus’ training.
(See W. Pachow, A Comparative Study of The Pratimoksa: On the basic of its Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit and Pali versions (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2000)