The Pali word "paṃsukūla" means "forsaken robe", that is to say a neglected dress that has been abandoned on a spot indicating that what is meant is real abandonment, such as the edge of a road, a garbage heap, etc.
"paṃsu" = "dust (coming from wastes or earth)"; "kula" = "jutting out (such as the bank of a river)"
Literally, "paṃsukūla" therefore means "that which comes out of dust". Indeed, such a robe is abandoned in dust, and it covers other wastes, such as the dust itself.
According to another method, "paṃsukūla" can be decomposed as follows:
"paṃsu" = "such as the dust"; " = "disgust"; "ula" = "to arrive"
In this case, "paṃsukūla" means "(robe) that arrives from a disgusting spot (such as a charnel)"
Remark: although the term "paṃsukūla" does usually refer to a clothe, it also concerns any other object: a paṃsukūla bowl, some paṃsukūla sandals, some paṃsukūla meat, etc.
The bhikkhu who has got used to utilise only paṃsukūla robes is called a "paṃsu kūlika ". When this practice is conveniently carried out, backing up with sīla, samādhi et pañña, along with the determination of not breaking it, we say that there is "paṃsu kūlikaṅga " (spirit underlying the exclusive use of abandoned robes).
Owing to the fact that such a bhikkhu is rid of the attachment caused by offered robes, his virtue and practice of concentration are forcibly more perfected. That practice therefore enables to considerably lessen kilesās linked to the attachment to a robe.
Should a bhikkhu, who is about to pick up a "paṃsukūla" robe, think that the later could have been forgotten by its owner or fell off owing to lack of attention, he must wait for two or three days prior to picking it up, if it is still there.
In order to adopt this dhutaṅga, it is convenient to utter the following phrase, whether in Pali, or else according to one's language choice...
«gahapatidānacīvaraṃ paṭikkhipāmi, paṃsukūlikaṅgaṃ samādhiyāmi.»
«I renounce to the offered robes, I will train into utilising only abandoned robes.»
According to the restrictions, there do exist three kinds of practitioners of the paṃsukūla dhutaṅga:
The bhikkhu who utilises only abandoned robes that he finds among charnels is a noble practitioner of the paṃsukūla dhutaṅga.
The bhikkhu who utilises robes that have been abandoned with in mind the idea that some bhikkhus would pick them up is an intermediate practitioner of the paṃsukūla dhutaṅga.
The bhikkhu who utilises robes that have been abandoned at his feet (or close from him, with in mind the aim that it is being indirectly offered to him) is an ordinary practitioner of the paṃsukūla dhutaṅga.
By practising the paṃsukūla dhutaṅga, one can benefit with the following merits...
Remark: only the practice of a dhutaṅga enables one to truly understand its advantages.
Should a bhikkhu accept an offered robe, and this robe is attributed to him beyond his volition or he himself requested for this robe, from the moment he utilises this robe, he breaks his paṃsukūla dhutaṅga.
If, the intention to utilise it for his own purpose being absent, by thinking from the start to offer it to another bhikkhu, a bhikkhu accepts a robe with the anxiety to preserve the saddhā of the donor who offers it to him, he doesn't break his dhutaṅga.
Each practitioner of the paṃsukūla dhutaṅga should develop a lot of attention and vigilance if he wishes not to break his practice, but on the contrary make sure that it is as pure and complete as possible.
A paṃsukūla robe is a particular robe. Owing to the fact that it is a robe abandoned on a spot such as a charnel, the edge of a road, a garbage heap, it is even more specific. In the same manner, it can yield specific benefits.
To the laity, the advantages lying in respecting the one who wears a robe or the robe itself are innumerable, but to the one who wears it, they are even more numerous. From Buddha's time, the Venerables Saññaka and Pūjaka set a living example of those merits.
It is better, for a bhikkhu practising the dhutaṅga paṃsukūla, not to accept a vassa robe offered by some dāyakas who tell him: «We want to offer you a vassa robe.» This bhikkhu should suggest them to propose their offering to the saṃgha (or to another bhikkhu) living within the monastery. If the dāyakas tell: «We don't want to offer this robe to the saṃgha (or to another bhikkhu). We want to offer this robe only to you.», it is good to accept this robe (without utilising it for oneself) and to give it to one of the bhikkhus (or sāmaṇera) who has the habit to look after himself.
Should this bhikkhu nevertheless accept the robe of these dāyakas, he breaks his dhutaṅga.
Origin: Book in Burmese language
Author: Monk Devinda
Translator: Monk Dhamma Sāmi
Date of translation: 2004, January
Update: 2005, June the 18th