The Chapter on Going Forth
Persons whose hands have been cut off
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)
Generated by 84000 Reading Room v22.214.171.124
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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.
Persons whose hands have been cut off
Persons whose hands have been cut off
The Blessed Buddha was staying at Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park near Śrāvastī. As was their wont, the group of six kept as apprentices anyone whose going forth had been allowed and who had been ordained, but who could not recognize a rogue. Once the apprentices could recognize a rogue, they were entrusted as apprentices to monks of good standing. On the advice of the Teacher, they would on occasion simply look in on their apprentices.
When this came up in conversation, Nanda and Upananda said, “These black begging bowl carriers might as well be snatching babies! Everyone we allow to go forth, they up and snatch away! Let’s allow to go forth the sort that these black begging bowl carriers won’t snatch away.”
Some time later, Upananda was out for a stroll [S.53.a] when he saw a man missing his hands and said, “Dear sir, why do you not go forth?”
He replied, “Noble one, as I have no hands, no one will allow me to go forth.”
“Dear sir, the Blessed One’s teachings are characterized by compassion. I shall allow your going forth.” And with that he allowed his going forth [F.130.b] and ordination.
After two or three days of teaching him how Dharma practitioners conduct themselves, Upananda said, “Dear sir, game does not eat other game. The whole of Śrāvastī is your field and fatherland, so seek out alms and live on them.”
“Do you not know even that much? I will show you.”
Upananda tied the handless monk’s under robe on with a cord, fastened his robe up with a pin, placed his begging bowl in the crook of his left arm, and nestled his khakkhara staff in the crook of his right arm. The handless monk had entered Śrāvastī on his rounds when a woman beat on his chest and cried, “Noble one! Who cut off the hands of a renunciant?”
“Sister,” he replied, “my hands were cut off when I was still a householder. They were not cut off after I went forth.”
“Who allowed your going forth?”
The people said, “Who else but a rogue would allow the going forth of someone like him?”
The monks then asked the Blessed One about it, and the Blessed One thought, “All those shortcomings ensue from the monks allowing the going forth of those without hands.”
Then the Blessed One decreed, “Monks, in light of this, monks should not allow going forth, nor grant ordination, to those who are missing hands. A breach occurs if you allow their going forth and grant them ordination. Just as it is so for persons whose hands have been cut off, it is also so for persons missing a leg, persons with hands of webbed fingers, persons with no lips, persons whose bodies have been branded, scarred by a whip, or tattooed,200 or the very old. Monks, if you allow the going forth of those who are too young, they will spoil the saṅgha’s bedding with urine and feces.” The Blessed One decreed, “Their going forth should not be allowed either.” [F.131.a]
“The going forth of persons with mobility impairments is also being allowed,” the Blessed One said. “Neither should their going forth be allowed.”
“The going forth of loose women, persons missing an eye, persons whose hands have been cut off, persons with kyphosis, persons of restricted growth, persons with goiters, persons who are speech impaired, persons who are hearing impaired, persons who use mobility aids, and persons with elephantiasis are also being allowed,” the Blessed One said. “People such as they should not be allowed to go forth. If you allow them to go forth, a breach occurs.”
“Monks, the going forth of those worn out by women, those worn out by burdens, those worn out by the road, persons with malabsorption syndromes, and persons with chronic fatigue are also being allowed,” the Blessed One said. “The going forth of such people should not be allowed. If you allow their going forth, a breach occurs.”
There are also other cases that warrant further exclusion.201
Thus concludes “The Chapter on Going Forth.”
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.
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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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