The Chapter on Going Forth
Killing an Arhat
Degé Kangyur, vol. 1 (’dul ba, ka), folios 1.a–131.a
Translated by Robert Miller and team
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
First published 2018
Current version v 1.37.2 (2023)
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“The Chapter on Going Forth” is the first of seventeen chapters in The Chapters on Monastic Discipline, a four-volume work that outlines the statutes and procedures that govern life in a Buddhist monastic community. This first chapter traces the development of the rite by which postulants were admitted into the monastic order, from the Buddha Śākyamuni’s informal invitation to “Come, monk,” to the more elaborate “Present Day Rite.” Along the way, the posts of preceptor and instructor are introduced, their responsibilities defined, and a dichotomy between elders and immature novices described. While the heart of the chapter is a transcript of the “Present Day Rite,” the text is interwoven with numerous narrative asides, depicting the spiritual ferment of the north Indian region of Magadha during the Buddha’s lifetime, the follies of untrained and unsupervised apprentices, and the need for a formal system of tutelage.
This translation was carried out from the Tibetan by Robert Miller with the guidance of Geshé Tséwang Nyima. Ven. Lhundup Damchö (Dr. Diana Finnegan) provided her draft translation of the extant Sanskrit portions of this chapter. Dr. Fumi Yao and Maurice Ozaine kindly identified numerous misspellings and mistakes in the glossaries. Both Ven. Damchö and Dr. Yao generously shared their extensive knowledge of the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya and furnished invaluable assistance in researching the translation. Matthew Wuethrich served as style consultant and editor.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of Zhou Tian Yu, Chen Yi Qin, Irene Tillman, Archie Kao, and Zhou Xun, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
Killing an Arhat
Killing an Arhat
The Blessed Buddha was staying at Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park near Śrāvastī. When, in the thick of Yaṣṭī Grove, the Blessed One established in the truths the King of Magadha, Bimbisāra of the Guilds, along with 80,000 gods and hundreds of thousands of Magadhan brahmins and householders, Bimbisāra had the bells rung throughout his land and this pronouncement was read: “No one shall steal in my lands. If anyone does so, I will banish them and provide recompense from my own stores and treasury.”
When the Blessed One used the analogies of the Daharopama Sūtra197 to subdue Prasenajit, the King of Kosala, Prasenajit too had the bells rung throughout his land and this pronouncement was read: “No one shall steal in my lands. If anyone does so, they will face capital punishment and I will provide recompense from my own stores and treasury.”
At this, the robbers and bandits of Magadha and Kosala all moved to the borderlands. From their camps, they sacked merchant caravans traveling between Magadha and Kosala.
On one occasion, a caravan of merchants set out from Magadha for Kosala with an armed escort. When they reached the borderlands, [F.128.a] their caravan leader said, “Gentlemen, King Prasenajit is belligerent and ruthless. And if he will recompense us our losses, [S.52.a] why do we pay the wages for an armed escort? The escort can turn back now.”
The escort turned back as the caravan of traders continued, reduced in numbers. The bandits, though, had posted a lookout who was lying in wait and when he caught sight of them he asked, “Gentlemen, why do you sit indifferent when a small caravan of traders is approaching?”
With that, the bandits set upon the caravan, taking the lives of some merchants as other merchants abandoned their goods and fled. Without reflection, arhats do not have access to prescience and insight; and so the life of an arhat traveling with the merchants was also taken.
Those merchants who had fled sought out King Prasenajit, their faces and bodies smeared with dirt, howling, their hair in disarray. Pressing their palms together they said, “Your Majesty, in your lands we have been reduced to a state where we are not fit to be merchants!”
“We were sacked by bandits.”
“In what region?”
“In a region near the borderlands.”
The king commanded his general Virūḍhaka, “Bring me the stolen goods and the bandits. And be quick about it!”
As Virūḍhaka set out at the head of the four branches of the armed forces, the bandits were sitting around unconcerned with their armor off in a śāla forest, dividing their spoils. General Virūḍhaka had them surrounded and, once the bandits were hemmed in, struck fear into their hearts with the sound of conchs and war-drums. Some of the bandits abandoned their spoils and fled while some were killed. Taking sixty of the bandits who had been captured alive, General Virūḍhaka returned to the king with the stolen goods and said, “Your Majesty, these are the bandits and these are the stolen goods.”
The king then said to the bandits, “Gentlemen, I, the king, had the bells rung and announced, [F.128.b] ‘No one shall steal in my lands. If anyone does so, they will face capital punishment and I will provide recompense from my own stores and treasury.’ Did you not hear?”
“We heard, Your Majesty.”
“Well then, why did you rob the merchants?”
“We have no other means of making a living, Your Majesty.”
“Why did you take life?”
“To instill fear.”
“You may have instilled some fear but the fear I instill today shall be like none ever seen before.”
The king then ordered his ministers, “Gentlemen, execute all of these men today.”
As they were being led to the execution grounds, their sentences were proclaimed along the high roads and side streets, at intersections and crossroads. In the commotion, one bandit escaped in the midst of a crowded street and approached a monk in Jetavana and said, “Noble one, I want to go forth.”
The monk allowed the bandit’s going forth and ordained him while the other bandits were being executed.
The Blessed One had advised, “Monks, again and again you should be able to scrutinize your own failings, others’ failings, your own strengths, and others’ strengths. Why is that so? Because your own failings and others’ failings act as a spur to disenchantment, while your own strengths and others’ strengths also act as a spur to disenchantment.”
In light of this advice, the monks had taken to visiting the charnel ground. When the time came for the monks to visit the charnel grounds again, the bandit turned monk accompanied them, and there he saw that the other bandits had been executed. He stood still, choked with tears. The monks said, “Venerables, though he has only newly gone forth, he has such a kind heart.”
When he began to sob, the monks asked, “Venerable, why do you make such a fuss?”
The bandit turned monk replied, “This is my father. This is my brother. This is my uncle on my father’s side. This [F.129.a] is my uncle on my mother’s side.”
“These men took the life of an arhat,” said the monks.
When the bandit turned monk admitted they had taken the life of an arhat, the monks asked the Blessed One about it, [S.52.b] and the Blessed One decreed, “Monks, this person has killed an arhat. A person who has killed an arhat will not take root in this Dharma and Vinaya. Therefore, monks, you should exclude from this Dharma and Vinaya those persons who have killed an arhat. If someone wishing to go forth approaches any of you, you should ask, ‘You are not a killer of an arhat, are you?’ If you allow going forth and grant ordination without asking this, a breach occurs.”
Causing a Schism in the Saṅgha
The venerable Upāli asked the Blessed Buddha, “Reverend, if a person who caused a schism among the Tathāgata’s saṅgha disciples in a previous ordination career again wants monkhood, to go forth and be ordained in the well-proclaimed Dharma and Vinaya, should his going forth be allowed or not?”
Maliciously Drawing Blood from a Tathāgata
The venerable Upāli asked the Blessed Buddha, “Reverend, if a person who has maliciously drawn blood from a tathāgata wants monkhood, to go forth and be ordained in the well-proclaimed Dharma and Vinaya in the Blessed One’s presence, should his going forth be allowed or not?”
Suffering One of the Four Defeats
The venerable Upāli asked the Blessed Buddha, “Reverend, if a person who has fallen by committing any of the four actions leading to defeat during a previous ordination career wants monkhood, to go forth and be ordained in the well-proclaimed Dharma and Vinaya, should his going forth be allowed or not?”
Three Types of Suspension
The Blessed Buddha was staying at Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park near Śrāvastī. The Blessed One then said to the monks, “Monks, if a person who has been suspended for refusing to acknowledge an offense198 returns and says, ‘Venerables, I acknowledge the offense. Please allow my going forth,’ then you should allow his going forth. Once he has gone forth, if he says, ‘Venerables, I confess my offense. Please grant me ordination,’ then he should be granted ordination. If perchance, after being ordained, he should say, ‘I do not acknowledge the offense,’ then, provided there is a majority within the saṅgha, he should be suspended for refusing to acknowledge the offense. In the event that there is no majority within the saṅgha and he has been ordained, the ordination is to be judged valid, for it is difficult for a person to find monkhood, to go forth and be ordained in the well-proclaimed Dharma and Vinaya. The same conditions apply to suspensions meted out for refusing to amend one’s behavior, and suspensions meted out for refusing to give up deviant views.” [F.130.a]
This was translated by the Kashmiri preceptor Sarvajñādeva, the Indian preceptor Vidyākaraprabha, the Kashmiri preceptor Dharmākara, and the translator Bandé Palgyi Lhünpo. It was then revised and finalized by the Indian preceptor Vidyākaraprabha and the managing editor-translator, Bandé Paltsek.202
|S||Stok Palace Manuscript|
The Translated Text: “The Chapter on Going Forth”
rab tu ’byung ba’i gzhi (Pravrajyāvastu). Toh 1, ch. 1, Degé Kangyur, vol. 1 (’dul ba, ka), folios 1.a–131.a.
rab tu ’byung ba’i gzhi. bka’ ’gyur (dpe sdur ma) [“Pedurma” Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–2009, vol. 1, pp. 3–308 and pp. 722–67.
Vogel, Claus and Klaus Wille (1984). “Some Hitherto Unidentified Fragments of the Pravrajyāvastu Portion of the Vinayavastu Manuscript Found Near Gilgit,” in Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1–41. Göttingen: Philologisch-Historische Klasse, 1984.
———(1992). “Some More Fragments of the Pravrajyāvastu Portion of the Vinayavastu Manuscript Found Near Gilgit: Part 1: Saṅgharakṣitāvadāna,” in Sanskrit-Texte aus dem buddhistischen Kanon: Neuentdeckungen und Neueditionen III, edited by Heinz Bechert et al, 65–109. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992.
———(1996a). “The Final Leaves of the Pravrajyāvastu Portion of the Vinayavastu Manuscript Found Near Gilgit: Part 1: Saṅgharakṣitāvadāna,” in Sanskrit-Texte aus dem buddhistischen Kanon: Neuentdeckungen und Neueditionen III, edited by G. Bongard-Levin et al, 241–96. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996a.
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The Commentary to “The Chapter on Going Forth”
Ācārya Kalyāṇamitra. ’dul ba gzhi rgya cher ’grel ba (Vinayavastuṭīkā, “An Extensive Commentary on the Chapters on Monastic Discipline”). Toh 4113, Degé Tengyur, vol. 156 (’dul ba, tsu), folios 177.b–326.b.
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