Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
TRobinson465
Posts: 494
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 5:29 pm
Location: United States

Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by TRobinson465 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:21 am

Okay so I just had an epiphany.

So the Pali Canon was collected and recited during the First Buddhist Council, a meeting of 500 arahants. But from my understanding, the 500 Arahants at the meeting were all Bhikkhus. Ananda recited the Sutta Pitaka, while the Bhikkhu Upali recited the Vinaya Pitaka.

That leaves me with the question, obviously the Bhikkhuni lineage hadnt been broken yet so there was no controversy surrounding their legitimacy like there is today. So where were the Bhikkhuni during the first Buddhist council? Did any Bhikkhuni arahants attend the meeting or was there a separate council just for Bhikkhuni? Finally, the biggest question I have is, if there were no Bhikkhuni involved in the First Buddhist Council, how do we know about the Bhikkhuni rules in the Vinaya today? Did Upali recite the Vinaya that applied to both the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni?
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

User avatar
JamesTheGiant
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:41 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:20 am

Good question! I don't know the answer.

As to this:
TRobinson465 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:21 am
Did Upali recite the Vinaya that applied to both the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni?
Yes, he most probably did, or they got a bhikkhuni in to do it and "forgot" to mention it. It's part of the Pali Canon, so they must have examined it at the council.
(I have a hunch the role of bhikkhunis on the council was removed and rewritten, years or centuries later... but you'd have to ask a Early Buddhist scholar about that to be sure it was edited to remove the women's role.)

In a related thing, at the ordination ceremony of a monk, the monk is quizzed as to whether he is fully familar with the vinaya of both bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. Knowing both vinayas is a requirement for ordination which the vast majority of monks ignore these days.
Upali would have been very familiar with all the bhikkhuni rules.

User avatar
Bhikkhu_Jayasara
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:54 am
Contact:

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:35 am

an interesting question with as far as I can tell, no clear "smoking gun" answer. It would be interesting to see some of the well known senior monastic scholars give their speculations.

The first thing that pops into my head is the possibility of these 500(a number that usually just signifies "a lot", not necessarily exactly 500) arahants being some of the oldest disciples, possible from even before the beginning of the Bhikkhuni order. This would make sense, at least for the sutta recitals and codification aspects of that council.


James has a good speculation about it being edited hundreds of years later, another possibility.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Bhikkhu Jayasāra -http://www.youtube.com/studentofthepath and https://bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com/

SarathW
Posts: 10118
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by SarathW » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:58 am

What do you call a female Arahant?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
JamesTheGiant
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:41 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:11 am

SarathW wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:58 am
What do you call a female Arahant?
Same as a man, an Arahant. It's a gender-neutral word.

User avatar
dylanj
Posts: 784
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:48 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by dylanj » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:24 am

TRobinson465 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:21 am
So where were the Bhikkhuni during the first Buddhist council?
If it was all bhikkhus, they must not have been invited.
TRobinson465 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:21 am
Did any Bhikkhuni arahants attend the meeting or was there a separate council just for Bhikkhuni?
A far as I know, neither.
TRobinson465 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:21 am
Finally, the biggest question I have is, if there were no Bhikkhuni involved in the First Buddhist Council, how do we know about the Bhikkhuni rules in the Vinaya today? Did Upali recite the Vinaya that applied to both the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni?
If there were no bhikkhunis involved then yes, upāli must have recited both.
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 2927
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by DooDoot » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:32 am

TRobinson465 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:21 am
So where were the Bhikkhuni during the first Buddhist council?
I would imagine it was not the place for bhikkhuni to be (given bhikkhuni should not be providing teachings for bhikkhu). I imagine it also affirms the genuineness of the Eight Garudhamma.

SarathW
Posts: 10118
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by SarathW » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:54 am

Where in Suta does it say in the canon only Bhikkhu present nor Bhikkhuni?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Bhikkhu_Jayasara
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:54 am
Contact:

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:26 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:54 am
Where in Suta does it say in the canon only Bhikkhu present nor Bhikkhuni?
You and James actually make a good point. I think what is needed is a study of the Pali.

I believe the account of the first council is in the vinaya, somewhere in the Khandakas, although im not sure. I'll explore it and respond when I can, unless someone else beats me to it first.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Bhikkhu Jayasāra -http://www.youtube.com/studentofthepath and https://bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com/

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2148
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by Zom » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:55 pm

Did Upali recite the Vinaya that applied to both the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni?
Yes. Suttas sometimes mention wise bhikkhus, who know both Vinayas.
I think only male arahants assembled there. And yes, 500 means just "many". But still, this was only a small part of a bigger Sangha. As for the word, I recall "arahanti" for female arahants. Though I'm not sure if this is correct.

User avatar
Bhikkhu_Jayasara
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:54 am
Contact:

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:35 pm

https://suttacentral.net/pli-tv-kd21/en/horner-brahmali

https://suttacentral.net/pli-tv-kd21/pli/ms

Here are the english and pali for the story of the 1st council found in the Khanadakas of the Vinaya.

on face value(ie not debating the validity of the texts, if they were edited etc) going by the story it appears quite clear that the 500 were bhikkhus, the fact that they are arahants is only mentioned in the beginning(arahant appears in the pali one time), after that they are referred to Bhikkhu.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Bhikkhu Jayasāra -http://www.youtube.com/studentofthepath and https://bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com/

TRobinson465
Posts: 494
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 5:29 pm
Location: United States

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by TRobinson465 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:27 pm

Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:35 pm
https://suttacentral.net/pli-tv-kd21/en/horner-brahmali

https://suttacentral.net/pli-tv-kd21/pli/ms

Here are the english and pali for the story of the 1st council found in the Khanadakas of the Vinaya.

on face value(ie not debating the validity of the texts, if they were edited etc) going by the story it appears quite clear that the 500 were bhikkhus, the fact that they are arahants is only mentioned in the beginning(arahant appears in the pali one time), after that they are referred to Bhikkhu.
Very helpful, thank you bhante. :anjali:
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

User avatar
Polar Bear
Posts: 1178
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:39 am
Location: Bear Republic

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by Polar Bear » Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:30 pm

I’m not sure we can rely on the text only referring to bhikkhus to conclude there were no bhikkhunis.

See Ven. Anālayo’s essay: Bhikkhave and Bhikkhu as Gender-inclusive Terminology in Early Buddhist Texts:
Abstract

In what follows we examine whether the use of the vocative bhikkhave or the nominative bhikkhu in Buddhist canonical texts imply that female monastics are being excluded from the audience. In the course of exploring this basic point, we also take up the vocative of proper names and the absence of the term arahantī in Pāli
discourse literature.
:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

User avatar
Bhikkhu_Jayasara
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:54 am
Contact:

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:46 pm

Polar Bear wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:30 pm
I’m not sure we can rely on the text only referring to bhikkhus to conclude there were no bhikkhunis.

See Ven. Anālayo’s essay: Bhikkhave and Bhikkhu as Gender-inclusive Terminology in Early Buddhist Texts:
Abstract

In what follows we examine whether the use of the vocative bhikkhave or the nominative bhikkhu in Buddhist canonical texts imply that female monastics are being excluded from the audience. In the course of exploring this basic point, we also take up the vocative of proper names and the absence of the term arahantī in Pāli
discourse literature.
:anjali:

I am aware of this new understanding, however I'm not quite sure it fits in this case, although it might. There are a few extenuating circumstances that make it different from the typical sutta beginning that it tends to mostly applies to. As I said above, it would be neat for a senior monastic scholar like Bhante Analayo to weigh in with his speculations.Otherwise we are not going to get very far.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Bhikkhu Jayasāra -http://www.youtube.com/studentofthepath and https://bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com/

User avatar
Polar Bear
Posts: 1178
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:39 am
Location: Bear Republic

Re: Bhikkhuni in the First Buddhist Council

Post by Polar Bear » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:00 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:20 am
In a related thing, at the ordination ceremony of a monk, the monk is quizzed as to whether he is fully familar with the vinaya of both bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. Knowing both vinayas is a requirement for ordination which the vast majority of monks ignore these days.
Upali would have been very familiar with all the bhikkhuni rules.
I thought only the preceptor would have to know both patimokkhas but not the ordinand. I thought bhikkhus were just supposed to know the patimokkha after having heard it twice and after that there is no excuse if they failed to remember a rule.

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 24 guests