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dhutaṅga pattapiṇḍika


Meaning of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga

The Pali term "pattapiṇḍa" means "to put food in a bowl", that is to say, to eat only by means of a bowl, without utilising a second recipient.

"patta" = "recipient (bowl, etc.)"; "piṇḍa" = "food offered to the bhikkhus"

The bhikkhu who takes the habit to eat while utilising only one recipient is called a "pattapiṇḍika". When this practice is conveniently done, with steadiness and diligence, with the determination of not breaking it, we say that there is "pattapiṇḍikaṅga" (state of mind related to a meal taken by means of a sole recipient).

Adoption of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga

For adopting this dhutaṅga, it is convenient to utter the following phrase whether in Pali, or else in the language of his choice...

In Pali:

«dutiyabhājanaṃ paṭikkhipāmi, pattapiṇḍikaṅgaṃ samādhiyāmi.»

In English:

«I renounce to eat with means of second recipient, I will train into eating by means of a sole recipient.»

The three kinds of practitioners of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga

According to restrictions, there do exist three kinds of practitioners of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga:

  1. ukkaṭṭha pattapiṇḍika, the noble practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga
  2. majjhima pattapiṇḍika, the intermediate practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga
  3. mudu pattapiṇḍika, the ordinary practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga

1. the noble practitioner

The noble practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga doesn't utilise any extra recipient, not even for dropping his own food wastes (bones, seeds, peel, etc.) In this case, the bhikkhu evacuates the wastes by spitting them out (into nature). The noble practitioner of this dhutaṅga can utilise another recipient only for spitting (mucus, saliva).

When the noble practitioner of this dhutaṅga finds some wastes in his mouth (bone(s), fish bone(s), pips, etc.), he should try to chew and swallow them. If this is not possible, he must not remove them by means of the hand; he must directly spit them out from the mouth, into nature.

Contrarily to an intermediate or ordinary practitioner, the noble practitioner doesn't spit his wastes in a recipient. The sugar cane can be cut during the meal and (after the chewing) its wastes drop into a recipient designed to that purpose. In this case, the dhutaṅga is not broken.

In all cases, the practitioner of this dhutaṅga (of the three kinds) won't have to prepare his meal before eating so that there won't be wastes in the bowl. If he did so, he would inevitably choose what he wants to eat and what he doesn't. He would then risk to develop feelings of attachment. That's why the one who has renounced doesn't choose the food that he eats, even if he has a wide choice at disposal.

Besides, once he has started to eat, the noble practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga will not break into pieces foodstuffs such as fish, meat, cakes... On the other hand, it is convenient that an intermediate or ordinary practitioner of this dhutaṅga does it. A few bhikkhu who are teachers claim that (wrongly) the noble practitioner of the dhutaṅga pattapiṇḍika mixes up all foodstuffs (rice, vegetables, meats, sauces, cakes, fruits, etc.) in his bowl before eating. Thus, by mixing up together all the foodstuffs, we obtain something repugnant. Nobody wishes to eat something repugnant. Buddha himself only appreciated the food being eaten in the proper way. sekhiyas criticise at large these improper ways to eat. For that reason, the practitioners of this dhutaṅga must eat without trying to make the contents of their bowl disgusting.

2. the intermediate practitioner

The intermediate practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga can break the foodstuffs by means of an hand while eating. Such a practitioner is called a «hatthayogī», which means "an individual utilising the hand".

3. the ordinary practitioner

The ordinary practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga can break all the foodstuffs that are in his bowl (or plate...) by means of an hand or teeth (except, for a bhikkhu, foodstuffs that the sekhiya 45 doesn't authorise to break by means of teeth). Such a practitioner is called a "pattayogī", which means "an individual utilising a bowl".

The advantages of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga

By practising the dhutaṅga pattapiṇḍika, we can benefit with the following advantages...

  1. We can get rid of feelings of attachment to culinary tastes.
  2. We can get rid of feelings of attachment arising out of the utilisation to several plates while eating.
  3. Health enjoys auspicious conditions, risks of being diseased are reduced, etc.
  4. We are rid of all the work required by the preparation and the dish washing of numerous plates.
  5. The mind cannot fickle from one plate to the next, concentration is much more inclined to develop itself.
  6. We enjoy a convenient means to provide for what we need, while being able to be contented with little.

Remark: the practice of a dhutaṅga alone enables one to understand its advantages.

The way to break the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga

As soon as the practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga utilises a second recipient (bowl, plate, etc.) while eating, he breaks his dhutaṅga. And while utilising a third recipient all the more, etc.

A few bhikkhus who are teachers think that an individual a practising the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga and who accepts some food by means of several plates, or prepare his meal by means of several plates, breaks his dhutaṅga, even if he hasn't started to eat or else he heats by means of a sole recipient thereafter.

A few bhikkhus who are teachers think that the bowl that has been utilised for a meal (for a practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga) is be considered as a "second bowl" if he takes another meal during the same day (even if the utilised bowl is the same). According to them, a practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga breaks this dhutaṅga as soon as he eats a second time during the Daytime.

A few bhikkhus who are teachers think that whatever enters the mouth of the practitioner of this dhutaṅga (including the wastes such as bones, fish bones...) must be patiently ground, chewed and swallowed. According to them, if he rejects something from his mouth, he breaks his dhutaṅga.

A few noble bhikkhus who are teachers think that no fault is being committed while accepting food by means of several plates, provided the practitioner utilises only one recipient at time of eating. Indeed, we can accept some food or prepare one's meal by means of several plates (recipients), without having to break ones' dhutaṅga.

According to commentaries (aṭṭhakathās), as it is convenient that a bhikkhu limits his food contained into his bowl to the minimum quantity required for his body, there is no fault committed if he prepares for himself the required quantity of food inside of his bowl (neither too much, nor too little, but simply the quantity that he needs) before taking his meal. Thus, we can consider that an individual doesn't break this dhutaṅga if he prepares for himself the food by means of several recipients containing his meal, before consuming it.

The one who practises the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga without practising the ekāsanika dhutaṅga, can stand up and after, continue to eat, without breaking his dhutaṅga, as long as he eats by means of the same recipient. We can therefore eat several times during the same day by means of the same recipient, without breaking the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga.

In reality, the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga does only concern the fact to eat concerns the fact to eat by confining himself to the utilisation of a sole recipient. In the visuddhi magga, it is told:

«imesaṃ pana tiṇṇampi dutiyabhājanaṃ sāditakkhaṇe dhutaṅgaṃ bhijjati.»

Which means: «The ordinary, intermediate or noble practitioner (of this dhutaṅga) breaks this dhutaṅga as soon as he utilises, a single moment, a second recipient for eating.»

In these conditions, this dhutaṅga cannot be broken, even by eating several meal during the same day. The most essential thing is to take all meals of the day by means of the same recipient.

Given the fact that the water can be drunk at any time of the day, we can naturally drink some by means of another recipient without breaking this dhutaṅga, as the later concerns only food.

The mixture of foodstuffs

The practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga should avoid mixing up some foodstuffs whose mixture produces a disgusting taste. If we offer him some meat and some porridge of rice, for example, he should first eat the meat, then the porridge of rice, or porridge at a first stage, and then only after the meat. If on the other hand, he has at disposal two types of foodstuffs whose mixture is nothing disgusting, such as some porridge of rice (without oil and without salt) and some honey, he can mix them up. However, he shouldn't serve himself out of greed, in a way so that he may not be able to finish up the contents of his recipient.

A practitioner of the pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga can however put some sweet foodstuffs, such as fruits, cakes, etc., in a corner of his bowl (or plate...), without mixing them up, which he will be able to eat before or after the rest of the meal. He, besides, has to do so if he takes his meal at once.

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Origin: Book in Burmese language

Author: Monk Devinda

Date: 2001

Translator: Monk Dhamma Sāmi

Date of translation: 2004, January

Update: 2005, June the 18th