What attributes made monks' robes "unconventional" during the time of the Buddha ???

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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DooDoot
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What attributes made monks' robes "unconventional" during the time of the Buddha ???

Post by DooDoot » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:20 pm

Dear forum

I recently watched a video of an American Ajhan bhikkhu giving a humorous informative biographical presentation at his US college/university reunion. He discussed his mental experiences wearing the robes, particularly in the West & their unconventionality. However, this made me reflect during the time of the Buddha obviously robes were an ordinary mode of dress for ordinary people. Therefore, what made the bhikkhu robes different to ordinary dress in the Buddha's time?? Merely colour? Merely being made from rags or discarded cloth? Thank you.

:smile: Video is set at 11:23 at the "robes" part.


It's amazing, Mallika. It's astounding: how deeply the Blessed One sees, having pierced through, as it were, with discernment. Come Mallika: Give me the ablution water." Then King Pasenadi Kosala, rising from his seat and arranging his upper robe over one shoulder, paid homage in the direction of the Blessed One with his hands palm-to-palm in front of his heart, and exclaimed three times:

Homage to the Blessed One, worthy & rightly self-awakened!
Homage to the Blessed One, worthy & rightly self-awakened!
Homage to the Blessed One, worthy & rightly self-awakened!

Piyajatika Sutta
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: What attributes made monks' robes "unconventional" during the time of the Buddha ???

Post by JamesTheGiant » Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:12 am

That's Ajahn Chandako, he's intense, works so hard, so much energy.

As far as I remember the robes had to be worn wound around the body in a certain pattern, and they were all the yellow-brown colour and mostly rags.

Historians say there's no reliable record of how the original bhikkhus wore their robes, although some senior Thai kruba ajahns say they know by meditation-visions that they wore them exactly how Thai monks do it today. How convenient.

budo
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Re: What attributes made monks' robes "unconventional" during the time of the Buddha ???

Post by budo » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:10 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:12 am
That's Ajahn Chandako, he's intense, works so hard, so much energy.

As far as I remember the robes had to be worn wound around the body in a certain pattern, and they were all the yellow-brown colour and mostly rags.

Historians say there's no reliable record of how the original bhikkhus wore their robes, although some senior Thai kruba ajahns say they know by meditation-visions that they wore them exactly how Thai monks do it today. How convenient.
Monks, these five future dangers, unarisen at present, will arise in the future. Be alert to them and, being alert, work to get rid of them. Which five?

There will be, in the course of the future, monks desirous of fine robes. They, desirous of fine robes, will neglect the practice of wearing cast-off cloth; will neglect isolated forest and wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities, and royal capitals, taking up residence there. For the sake of a robe they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things.

This, monks, is the first future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.


— AN 5.80

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seeker242
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Re: What attributes made monks' robes "unconventional" during the time of the Buddha ???

Post by seeker242 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:01 am

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:20 pm
Merely being made from rags or discarded cloth?
Discarded cloth, that was often taken off dead bodies at the charnel ground. Not very ordinary to wear cloth from dead bodies. :)

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AgarikaJ
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Re: What attributes made monks' robes "unconventional" during the time of the Buddha ???

Post by AgarikaJ » Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:45 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:20 pm
Therefore, what made the bhikkhu robes different to ordinary dress in the Buddha's time?? Merely colour? Merely being made from rags or discarded cloth?
The Buddha was a master in branding and the Vinaya has a whole section on robe materials.

Reading through it, it becomes obvious fairly quick, that at least some of the materials forbidden were so for the sole reason, that the clothing of his sect should differ sufficiently from those from other teachers, that they could not be mistaken. Unluckily we do not know, which particular styles as mentioned in the Vinaya as forbidden were worn by whom in particular.

In addition, the BUddha was very clear that his disciples should never wear typical householder styles of the time.

Lastly, there are detailed rules to exactly how many pieces a robe should contain, how it was cut, what exact coloring had to be used -- so one might again come to the conclusion, that the Buddha was well aware that the robes he asked his followers to wear would mark them out unmistakably and at first sight.

So yes, while robes might have been worn by many other followers of different masters (eg the Jains, etc), the Buddha created a unique and immediately recognizable style.

https://www.dhammatalks.org/vinaya/bmc/Section0041.html
“A kusa-grass garment … a bark-fiber garment … a garment of bark pieces … a human hair blanket … a horse tail-hair blanket … owls’ wings … black antelope hide, (each of which is) a sectarian uniform, should not be worn. Whoever should wear one: a grave offense.”—Mv.VIII.28.2

“A garment made of swallow-wort stalks … of makaci fibers (§) should not be worn. Whoever should wear one: an offense of wrong doing.”—Mv.VIII.28.3

“Robes that are entirely blue (or green) should not be worn. Robes that are entirely yellow … entirely blood-red … entirely crimson … entirely black … entirely orange … entirely beige (§) should not be worn. Robes with uncut borders … long borders … floral borders … snakes’ hood borders should not be worn. Jackets/corsets, tirīta-tree garments … turbans should not be worn. Whoever should wear one: an offense of wrong doing.”—Mv.VIII.29

“Woolen cloth with the fleece on the outside should not be worn. Whoever should wear it: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.V.4

“Householders’ lower garments (ways of wearing lower cloth)—the ‘elephant’s trunk,’ the ‘fish’s tail,’ the four corners hanging down, the palmyra-leaf fan arrangement, the 100 pleats arrangement—are not to be worn. Whoever should wear them: an offense of wrong doing” …. “Householders’ upper garments are not to be worn. Whoever should wear them: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.V.29.4
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

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