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the 92 pācittiyas (4)


4th part, āvasathaninḍa
 

pācittiya 31

"agilānena bhikkhunā eko āvasathapiṇḍā bhuñjitabbo. tato ce uttari bhuñjeyya, pācittiyaṃ."

Not to eat at the same spot twice consecutively food destined for travelling guests. If a bhikkhu who is not sick, after having eaten a meal offered at an inn that prepares meals for travellers, eats a meal there twice consecutively, he commits a pācittiya.

A sick bhikkhu can eat there several days consecutively without committing any fault. In this case, a bhikkhu is considered sick if, after having walked a distance equal to half a day's walk – between five and six kilometres (3 to 4 miles) – he is no longer physically able to continue.

pācittiya 32

"gaṇabhojane aññatra samayā pācittiyaṃ. tatthāyaṃ samayo, gilānasamayo cīvaradānasamayo cīvarakārasayo addhānagamanasamayo nāva, bhi ruhanasamayo mahāsamayo samaṇabhattasamayo, ayaṃ tattha samayo."

Not to eat several times food being incorrectly asked for. If a bhikkhu eats one of the "five sorts of food" – incorrectly asked for, he commits a pācittiya at every mouthful.

Such food can only be consumed if:

The bhikkhu is ill; the bhikkhu has entered the period when he is allowed to ask for a robe or to make one; the bhikkhu performs a long journey (one and a half day walk, between five and six kilometres); the bhikkhu goes on a boat trip; there are many bhikkhus in the same place (and these do not succeed in obtaining sufficient food); a bhikkhu receives this food from another bhikkhu.

The correct and incorrect way to offer or ask for food

If some dāyakas go to four or more bhikkhus, and invite them for a meal by using an appropriate language such as: "Venerables, please accept an invitation for a meal", this indeed is the proper way. But, if the dāyakas use an incorrect language such as: "Hey! Come and binge at my house", it is the improper way. There are words, in the pāḷi vocabulary and in certain Asian languages, which are utilised exclusively while addressing bhikkhus. Imagine that in a country where the saṃgha does prevail to say "eat", one uses the verb "to eat" meant for the laity and the verb "to feed" meant for bhikkhus. In this case, the verb "to eat" is not impolite at all while dealing with the laity. However, the same term becomes rude if it is used for a bhikkhu. It is then considered an incorrect way to invite the bhikkhus.

A group of four bhikkhus (or more) address dāyakas in that fashion: "Please offer rice to all four (or more).of us. " Or else, they express that request in this way, each separately to the same dāyakas: "Offer us rice." Then, they accept this food and eat it together. By accepting and eating this food, they commit the pācittiya 32.

The essential point is the acceptance of the food. For this reason, four or more bhikkhus who accept some food improperly obtained, even separately, one after another (or two by two, etc.) commit this fault by eating it.

The seven exceptions

There are seven exceptions by which a bhikkhu can eat some food improperly accepted by several bhikkhus, without committing any fault:

  1. The bhikkhu is sick or hurt in a way that he is no longer able to go and find food on his own.
  2. The bhikkhu has entered the period of the robe (materials' searches and robe's making, please refer to nissaggiya 3) and no benefits are obtained from the kathina.
  3. The bhikkhu has entered the period of the robe and the benefits of the kathina are obtained.
  4. Some bhikkhus gather in large number to sew or to dye the robes.
  5. The bhikkhu performs (or plans to perform) a trip equivalent to at least half a day's walk - either five and six kilometers (three to four miles).
  6. Some bhikkhus do not succeed in getting sufficient food while going for alms in a village or a town.
  7. The person who offers this food by using an inappropriate language is a bhikkhu, a bhikkhunī or a sāmaṇera.

The five kinds of food

  1. The seven kinds of rice (being already cooked).
  2. Flours and cakes or noodles, made with the seven kinds of rice.
  3. All kinds of cakes or noodles made from barley.
  4. Fish (flesh of aquatic beings).
  5. Meat (meat of beings living on earth).

pācittiya 33

"parampabhojane aññtra samayā pācittiyaṃ. tatthāyaṃ samayo, gilānasamayo cīvaradānasamayo cīvarakārasamayo, ayaṃ tattha samayo."

Not to go to eat at another place after having already been invited somewhere. If a bhikkhu who has been invited at a time suitable for a meal, without eating on that invitation (or eating only a little), goes somewhere else to eat food from another person, he commits a pācittiya.

Only a sick bhikkhus or those in the robes period (search of cloth and sewing) are authorised to eat other food after having been previously invited for a meal.

Unless it concerns fixed dates, if a bhikkhu is invited to a meal by several persons from different places, he must first attend the invitation that the first person extended, next the second, and so-on.

A bhikkhu who is not ill or in the robes period and who, without going or deferring for later an invitation for a meal, attends another invitation to a meal received after the preceding one, commits the pācittiya 33 with each mouthful (unless he has previously transferred the first invitation).

The way to transfer an invitation

The bhikkhu who is invited at a first dāyaka, and then at a second, and wishes for some reason to attend the invitation by the second without going to that of the first can, to be free from fault, transfer that first invitation to another bhikkhu, a bhikkhunī or a sāmaṇera. For that, he proceeds to a bhikkhu, a bhikkhunī or a sāmaṇera and says - in pāḷi or in another language:

"mahyaṃ bhattapaccāsaṃ tuhyaṃ dammi"

"I hand down to you the invitation for the meal at the whereabouts of the first dāyaka who invited me."

Then, the bhikkhu can freely go and eat at the whereabouts of the first dāyaka who gave the second invitation without committing any fault, even if the person having received the invitation does not go. However, it is proper that the bhikkhu who received the first invitation informs or makes someone else inform the dāyaka in whose whereabouts the invitation will not take place. If he wishes to proceed to a third invitation without answering to the second, it is appropriate that he does the same for the second invitation.

pācittiya 34

"bhikkhuṃ paneva kulaṃ upagataṃ pūvehi vā mantehi vā abhihaṭṭhuṃ pavāreyya, ākaṅkhamānena bhikkhunā dvattipattapūrā paṭiggahetabbā. tato ce uttari paṭiggaṇheyya, pācittiyaṃ. dvattipattapūrapaṭaggahetabba. tato ce uttaripaṭiggahṇeyya, pācittiyaṃ. dvettipattapūrepaṭiggahetvā tato nīharitvā bhikkhūhi saddhiṃsaṃvibhajatadhabhabbaṃ ayaṃtattha sāmīci."

Not to accept more than the equivalent of three bowls of pastries if they were not originally make for the bhikkhu. A bhikkhu can accept up to two or three bowls of confectionaries. If a bhikkhu accepts more pastries - even those eaten away by mice - in a house where two or three bowls of pastries have already been offered to some bhikkhus, he commits a pācittiya.

Note: In this context, the term "pastries " encompasses any food made of dough (bread, pancakes, cakes, etc.)

By leaving a house after having accepted a bowl full with pastries, if a bhikkhu catches a glimpse of another bhikkhu, he must tell him: "I just received a bowl full with pastries". By leaving this house after having accepted on his turn a full bowl full with pastries, if the second bhikkhu catches a glimpse of a third, he must tell him: "A bhikkhu has already received a bowl full with pastries and so did I". By leaving this house after having accepted on his turn a bowl full with pastries, if this third bhikkhu catches a glimpse of another, he must tell him: "Two bhikkhus and myself have each received a bowl full with pastries. Do accept no more of them".

If the first bhikkhu of the day to stand in front of a house, receives the equivalent of two or three bowls of pastries at once, he must inform the other possible bhikkhus who are likely to show up in front of the same house.

A bhikkhu who has received the equivalent of more than one bowl of pastries can keep only one for himself and must give the remaining bowl(s) to other bhikkhus. Also the bhikkhu who is supposed to share the pastries received must not do it with the bhikkhus whom he himself chose, but with those who are the closest to the house where the extra rations were received. The bhikkhu who does not share what he owes, commits a dukkaṭa.

However, if a bhikkhu who has received the equivalent of three bowls of pastries, does not commit any fault if he accepts some again, from a dāyaka who has got some extra and who has no more cakes to prepare.

pācittiya 35

"yo pana bhikkhu buttāvī pavārito anatirittaṃ khādanīyaṃ vā bojanīyaṃ vā khādeyya vā buñjeyya vā, pācittiaṃ."

To eat no longer once we have left our spot, after having made understood that we have finished our meal or refused to be served again. After having started to eat, if a bhikkhu who has performed a pavārito - showing that he has finished to eat - keeps on eating elsewhere, he commits a pācittiya.

By taking a meal when the food is again proposed, if a bhikkhu having crossed hands, makes a gesture with them to mean a refusal, declares: "I have enough of it"; "That's enough"; "I have finished eating", expresses in any way a refusal to be served again, whether by means of gestures or else by means of speech, he performs a pavārito (a refusal to be served again).

The characteristics of the pavārito

  1. The bhikkhu is eating at least one of the five sorts of staple foods.
  2. A person, whether a bhikkhu or not, proposes to serve, or to bring – after the beginning of the meal – to a bhikkhu one of the five kinds of food.
  3. The bhikkhu eats one of the five kinds of foods while some is brought to him and this one also belongs to one of the five kinds of staple foods.
  4. The person who brings the food is situated at least at a two cubits and half length - about 120 centimetres (40 inches) - from the bhikkhu.
  5. The bhikkhu refuses to receive more food, either by means of body (gestures), or by means of speech.

As soon as the five characteristics come together, the bhikkhu performs a pavārito.

The case when the pavārito is not performed

The person bringing food, who is about to serve the bhikkhu again, is situated at a distance measuring more than two and a half lengths – about 120 centimetres (40 inches) – away from this bhikkhu.

The person proposes food to the bhikkhu when the container of the food he/she is holding is situated beyond a distance of two and a half cubits length.

The person verbally proposes food to the bhikkhu, while being situated at least two and a half cubits length away from him, when in fact there is no food in the hand (nor in the container which he/she holds).

Other casual prospects

If the bhikkhu who has performed a pavārito, without doing atirita, takes food other than from the left overs of a bhikkhu gilāna, he commits the pācittiya 35.

A bhikkhu who has performed a pavārito, can without committing any fault, keep on eating as long as he does not change his position and the - solar - noon has not elapsed. By changing his position after having performed a pavārito, a bhikkhu who eats the leftovers of a bhikkhu gilāna or who eats after having performed atirita, does not commit any fault. If a bhikkhu, having performed a pavārito, eats food - which is not taken from the leftovers of a bhikkhu gilāna - without having proceeded to an atirita, he commits the pācittiya 35.

By making a trace with the fingers (or by means of a spoon, a piece of bread, etc.) when the contents of his bowl (or plate) is about to be fully consumed, he performs a pavārito. A visible trace of wiping inside of the bowl (or another eating bowl) is considered as a way to make others understand that one has finished eating.

On the other hand, if it concerns liquid food, such as soup for instance, the pavārito cannot be performed through wiping by means of fingers, as there will be not visible traces.

A pavārito doesn't take place if the foods proposed when the bhikkhu has refused to be served again are the following: Popped rice; rice balls; rice pastries; milk and dairy products; yoghurt; butter; oil; fat; pastries containing neither beef nor fish; rice grilled - but not cooked; meal of grilled rice; young rice; other foods made of rice; bamboo fruit; soup or broth cooked with meat and fish - which were taken out; meat juice, fish juice; all kinds of fruits; roots, in whatever way they are cooked (boiled, stewed, fried, etc.)

By refusing to be served a meal containing one of the forbidden "ten meats", a bhikkhu does not perform a pavārito. In the same way, if it concerns food that has been obtained for medical care, or out of veneration inspired by erroneous declarations of success (in reaching the state of ariyā, jhāna, etc.), or from buying or bartering, a bhikkhu does not commit a pavārito by refusing it.

As has been described, if a bhikkhu makes someone understand that he no longer wishes to be served, that he has enough, whether by means of a bodily gesture, speech or both at once, he performs a pavārito. After having changed his position, if this bhikkhu needs to eat again, he must first of all receive atirita food, as indicated by the procedure stipulated in the vinaya.

The way to perform atirita

On the occasion when a bhikkhu who has refused to be served again, wishes to eat again – before noon –, he must himself put food (including which has already been offered, of course) in a bowl, a pot or any other container, and then request another bhikkhu to offer it again to him – in hands – or a kappiya to hand it over to another bhikkhu so that he can then re-offer it to the bhikkhu wishing to eat again. If the bhikkhu who is likely to re-offer this food is situated at a distance over two and a half cubits length – about 120 centimetres –, it is advisable to come closer and ask him. Then, he hands the bowl to him while saying the following formula:

"atirittaṃ karotha bhante".

"Venerable(s), please make – from this bowl of food – leftovers".

After the bhikkhu (receiving the request) has eaten or not, a bit of food from the bowl that the other bhikkhu gave to him, he says in – in Pali – to the latter:

"alametaṃ sambbaṃ".

"I have finished eating this food (that which is in the handed bowl)".

Once this procedure is being completed, the bhikkhu can then eat again. If it concerns the leftovers of a bhikkhu gilāna, it is not necessary to ask him (as indicated above) to eat it.

The seven factors of the atirita procedure

To make sure that the atirita procedure is valid, seven factors should come into being:

  1. The food that a bhikkhu requests to be remitted to him, must have been previously offered. The food in question should be a proper one. As a consequence, it should not be one of the forbidden "ten meats", neither food having been obtained on medical grounds or else owing to veneration stirred up by false declarations of realisations, nor bought or exchanged.
  2. The food has conveniently been offered - given in hands the very same day.
  3. The container is presented before the bhikkhu likely to re-offer the food by slightly tilting it in his direction.
  4. The bhikkhu asking to eat again follows the procedure of this demand by stretching out the container in the hands and placing himself at a distance under two and a half cubits length.
  5. The bhikkhu likely to re-offer food must have already eaten before this - even if it is a small quantity of food.
  6. If the bhikkhu likely to re-offer the food himself performs a pavārito, he must not have changed his position. (If he has not performed a pavārito, this factor is needed even if he left his place meanwhile).
  7. The bhikkhu likely to re-offer food, whether he has or not eaten a bit of food from the container held by the bhikkhu wishing to eat again, declares:

"alametaṃ sambbaṃ"

"I have finished eating this food" or "I have had enough".

As soon as these seven factors are met, the food returned to a bhikkhu not having performed the pavārito, is considered as leftovers from this moment. The bhikkhu wishing to eat again can then do so.

The simple way

It is difficult to find a way to perform atirita, it is always possible to ask for leftovers from a bhikkhu gilāna. To do so, one asks him if he does not want to finish his meal. If he answers: "I can no longer eat" or "I have had enough", it is sufficient to take back the leftovers to keep on eating without an atirita being needed and without committing any fault.

By doing so, it is first of all advisable to come near a bhikkhu gilāna. This latter will probably give an invitation to eat with him. At this moment, one must tell him: "Only you Venerable, please eat!" If he answers that he has had enough, and that he no longer wishes to eat, the bhikkhu who has performed a pavārito can then start to consume it.

The way to avoid the pavārito

In all cases, the best thing to do will naturally be to avoid performed a pavārito. Henceforth, if a bhikkhu wishes not to be served for a while, instead of saying: "I have had enough" or to make a hand gesture meaning a refusal, he must, for example, tell something like:

"That is fine for the time being" or "If it is needed, I will let you know" (in this second case, it means to be served a meal that has already been offered).

Another way lies in telling the person who offers a meal and comes close to serve:

"Once it is offered, just leave it".

Without touching a plate, if a layman verbally proposes to a bhikkhu to serve himself again a dish being already offered, the latter should simply remain silent or say something like, for example: "That's fine, I will serve myself if needed", he does not perform any pavārito. However, he performs one if he replies that he has had enough, that he has been served.

pācittiya 36

"yo pana bhikkhu bhikkhuṃ buttāviṃ pavāritaṃ anatirittena khādanīyo vā bojanīyena vā abhihaṭṭhuṃ pavāreyya "handa bhikkhu khāda vā bhuñja vā" ti jānaṃ āyādanā-pekkho, bhuttasmiṃ pācittiaṃ."

Not to incite another bhikkhu to eat elsewhere after having made him understood that he has finished his meal or refused to be served again. Knowing that a bhikkhu has performed a pavārito, if another bhikkhu manages so that the first one commits a fault, by proposing him food before he has performed the atirita, or some food that is not the leftovers of a bhikkhu gilāna (sick), he commits a dukkaṭa.

If a bhikkhu having accepted this food, eats it, he commits a dukkaṭa at every mouthful. Once he has finished eating, the bhikkhu having proposed this food commits the pācittiya 36.

pācittiya 37

"yo pana bhikkhu vikāle khādanīyaṃ bojanīyaṃ vā khādeyya vā bhuñjeyya vā, pācittiaṃ."

Not to consume solid foods between noon and the following dawn. A bhikkhu who consumes food after - solar - noon commits a pācittiya.

The period starting from dawn and ending at noon (from the first light of the day in the sky, until the sun is half-way between the rising and the setting) is called "kāla", which is translated by "correct time". The corresponding period (starting from noon until dawn) is called "vikāla", which is translated by "incorrect time". During this "incorrect" period, a bhikkhu is supposed not to consume one of the "five sorts of foods" (please refer to the end of pācittiya 32), neither cakes, nor fruits of any kind whatsoever. In fact, none of the existing solid foods. During the " vikāla", if there are no health problems, it is also convenient not to take medicines.

In case of intense hunger, a bhikkhu is authorised to drink some sugar palms fermented liquid, liquid sugar, various kinds sorts of properly filtered juices, or even infusions made from elements which are not consumed in the form of solids in the concerned region. For example: A camomile tea can be drunk in the afternoon because the flower of the camomile cannot be eaten, but a mint tea cannot be drunk at afternoon time because the leaves of the mint are edible. On the other hand, tea can be drunk in certain countries and not in others, because the tea leaves can be eaten in salads in certain countries.

Foods such as cow milk, soya milk, coffee or chocolate drinks, are forbidden at afternoon time.

In case of absence of hunger, it is more suitable not to drink the authorised drinks. A simple thirst must be quenched with water.

A bhikkhu who is not ill must in no case eat solid food between noon and dawn. If a bhikkhu is very hungry or lacks energy, one can offer him a solid food, like hard molasses, he can if it is necessary suck it but in no case bite it.

Note: In the context of the vinaya, "noon" always refers to solar noon. Clocks are recent invention and the time zone is not very accurate, because time can be the same from one point and another, separated from west to east by a distance of a thousand kilometers (750 miles), whereas nearly thirty seven "solar" minutes separate the two points.

In this rule, there are four allowed periods, (kālika) depending on the type of foods being taken.

The four kālika

yāva kālika

Period starting from dawn to noon, during which all foods can be accepted and eaten, apart from the forbidden "ten kinds of meats".

The 10 forbidden meats are listed as follows:

human flesh, dog, horse, elephant, leopard, tiger, lion, bear, hyena and snake.

yāma kālika

Period starting from dawn to the following dawn, during which all the "authorised drinks" (see below) can be accepted and consumed. Example of non-authorised drinks:

alcoholic drinks - whatever the percentage; milk (considered to belong to the the same category as a solid food, because it is nourishing); juice or the concocted drinks obtained from foods which are eaten in the concerned areas.

The drinks being authorised - at all times

Properly filtered, save a few exceptions (see the following paragraph), all fruit juices are authorised.

The non authorised juices

The juices of the seven sorts of rice; cucumber; peas; and all sorts of juices concocted from cooked leaves.

The types of foods from which it is suitable to prepare a drink.

Fruits' leftovers; the fruits being already touched; the drinks made from leaves.

sattāha kālika

Period of seven days, during which the following food items can be accepted and consumed (the first day is counted from dawn on the day of offerings; the last day meaning the end of the seventh following dawn, following the time of the offering):

Butter; fat; oil; honey; molasses; liquid sugar and mixture of medicines made of the elements previously mentioned.

Please also refer to nissaggiya 23.

yāvajīvika kālika

There are two things that can be accepted, kept as long as life endures and consumed, without any restraint:

Water and medicines.If a health problem requires it, any medicinal food or medicine can be stored for life, without needing to perform a re-offering.

Those that can be considered as medicinal foods are the following elements, provided they are not culinary stuffs:

Roots, stems, timber hitches, barks, rich substances (yolk, palms heart, etc.), diluted substances, such as an egg white, fruits, shoots, leaves and buds. (Pepper, ginseng, ginger and liquorice, etc.)

Note: This rule corresponds to the sixth of the ten precepts.

See also: The food.

pācittiya 38

"yo pana bhikkhu sannidhikāramaṃ khādanīyaṃ bojanīyaṃ vā khādeyya vā bhuñjeyya vā, pācittiaṃ.

Not to store food at afternoon time. A bhikkhu who consumes food, or a drink, after having kept it for a period exceeding a day after it was offered, commits the pācittiya 38 (food can be re-offered to a bhikkhu only if it has been abandoned the preceding night). All foods become "stored food" at dawn in the morning following the offering.

In all cases, food cannot be stored at afternoon time, nor can it be accepted. A bhikkhu who does not respect this rule commits a dukkaṭa. If a layman offers food to a bhikkhu during the afternoon, it is advised to the latter to inform the former that it is not possible for him to accept food in the afternoon. If the layman is not in the position to come back the next morning or a subsequent one, or if no other layman or sāmaṇera is present, the bhikkhu can at least propose to him to leave the food on this very spot, without a bhikkhu taking it in hands. It can then get it re-offered to him on the following day.

After having been offered to a bhikkhu, a food that has been abandoned to the laity or to the sāmaṇera, cannot either be taken back or stored by a bhikkhu, unless it has been re-offered. In this case, a bhikkhu cannot accept such a food if a layman, or a sāmaṇera, on his own proposes it to him, without having had to ask for it, even if it concerns a person who would have requested him to ask for it.

Provided it wasn't kept beyond the occurrence of dawn, some food already offered to one or several bhikkhus can once more be offered and consumed the following day.

When the bowl is badly cleaned, some marks remain, such as oil or sauce. If it is cracked, some food particles could permeate the holes or the cracks. By eating rice which is impregnated - even if it is only a small particle - by oil which has leaked through the cracks of the bowl on the previous day, a bhikkhu commits the pācittiya 38. For that reason, one should always properly clean the bowl (and all the utensils with which one eats) to make sure that no food remnant is left. However, if a bhikkhu isn't in the position to fill up the cracks or splits of the bowl in which he eats, he must abandon it. (refer to nissaggiya 22).

pācittiya 39

"yāni kho pana tāni paṇītabhojanāni, seyyathidaṃ, sappi navanītaṃ telaṃ madhu phāṇitaṃ maccho maṃsaṃ khīraṃ dadhi, yo pana bhikkhu evarūpāni paṇītabhojanāni agilāno atthāya viññāpetvā bhuñjeyya, pācittiaṃ."

Not to ask for food of superior quality for oneself. By any means whatsoever, except for solving a health problem, if a bhikkhu asks for himself, from some people who are not relatives of his or who haven't invited him, for one of the nine following foods of higher quality (paṇītabhojana) or a dish containing one of these foods, he commits a pācittiya: Butter; oil; fat; honey; molasses; fish; beef meat; milk; curdled milk.

It is not proper, on a bhikkhu's side, to express preferences. If he asks (or makes someone ask) for specific food items (even if they are apart from the "superior quality"), he also commits the pācittiya 39.

pācittiya 40

" yo pana bhikkhu adinnaṃ mukhadvāraṃ āhāraṃ āhareyya aññatra udakadanta ponā, pācittiaṃ."

Not to eat food which has not been offered and given in hands. Except for water (unless it is bottle put on sale) and a stick of "tooth brush" (in certain areas and epochs, a kind of wooden stick was utilized as a tooth brush, by fringing out the edges), if a bhikkhu on purpose inserts in his mouth, any type of food or drink, without having it been correctly offered to one or several members of the saṃgha, on a layman's behalf, from a sāmaṇera, an animal or a deva, it entails a pācittiya. In the pārājika 2, a thing belonging to someone, which has not been given by the owner is called: "adinna". In this rule also, food that has not been offered by the owner (or by a person who is in charge to do so) is called: "adinna".

To offer food to the saṃgha or to re-offer food already belonging to the saṃgha, five conditions must compulsorily be fulfilled so that a "correct offering" could take place...

The five required conditions for a correct offering:

  1. The offered object must be remitted to the bhikkhu face to face, in hands, and the donor - if he is not a bhikkhu - must bow slightly.
  2. The donor does perform the offering only by means of one or both hands, the bhikkhu receives only by means of one or both hands, and the two persons are separated from one another by a distance measuring about two and a half cubit lengths.
  3. The offered object and the container holding it (bowl, plate, pot, etc.) or the thing on which it is placed (tray, table, stool, etc.) and which is to be remitted in the hands of a bhikkhu can be carried or lifted by a man of normal anatomical complexion.
  4. The offering can be performed according to one of the three following ways:
    • The donor is in direct physical contact with the container of the offering that he directly hands over to the bhikkhu.
    • The donor is in direct physical contact with the offering that he directly hands over to the bhikkhu: bowl, plate, ladle, tray, table (or what is contained in the offering, etc., all should be carried together or raised at the same time as the moment of the offering).
    • The donor gives or organises a donation to the bhikkhu.
  5. The offering can be accepted according to one of the two following ways:
    • The bhikkhu receives offering in direct contact with his body (hands, arms, etc.)
    • The bhikkhu receives offerings with the help of a utensil that he carries (bowl, plate, tray, etc.)

An offering can only be valid if one of these five conditions are respected. If a layman touches or serves a meal which has been offered beforehand to the sangha, the bhikkhu can continue to serve the food as long as the layman has not considered it as his meal.

Note: As soon as it does not concern food, if an object is fixed or too heavy to be carried (tree, monastery, etc.), it can simply be offered with the help of speech. It is however preferable to offer household objects to the saṃgha rather than to one or even to several particular bhikkhu. In the case of a fruit tree offered to one or several members of the saṃgha, no bhikkhu will be authorised to pick up fruits, not even those which has fallen down. They should ask a kappiya to offer them with their own hands.

The incorrect way to offer

By grasping an object that one cannot move, such as heavy tile, a tree, a pole planted in the ground, a heavy table, a sealed furniture, etc. to offer one or several of the objects posed or hung above, this offering cannot be accepted.

If it concerns a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a branch, not taken from a living tree, this offering cannot be accepted.

If the food is placed on small pieces of leaves to be remitted in the hands of a bhikkhu, this offering cannot be accepted.

Even lifted by several persons, if it concerns a table which a man of normal corpulence is unable to lift, this offering cannot be accepted by lifting the table. In this case, it is suitable to offer the plates one by one.

If a container holding food is too heavy – like a big cooking pot – for only one person to lift, the offering cannot be accepted.

The six ways to break the validity of an offering

Whether concerning food or not, for certain reasons, the offerings can loose their validity. A case where an offering has lost its validity requires to be re-offered before being again used or eaten. Here are the six ways to break the validity of an offering:

  • Abdication of the saṃgha.
  • Substitution by force from a thief, or a brigand.
  • Death.

The passage from the status of bhikkhu to that of bhikkhunī, because of a natural change in sex (probability nearly negligible).Abandon, with conscience, with the help of (gestures, speech, etc.) thoughts, or two at the same time, without the beneficiary – of this abandonment – being known.

Abandon, by offering donations to a layman, to a sāmaṇera, to an animal or to a deva.

Things that do not need to be offered to be used as consumables

Clean water. Water which is mixed with whatsoever can be drunk without being the subject of an offering. Not to offer muddy water, or water containing impurities, or other elements extraneous to water, which should be carefully filtered before being drunk.

Hot water (or warm) can be drunk without being the subject of an offering on the condition that it is not directly heated by a layman or a sāmaṇera: Water heated by being near a source of heat – sun, fire or a radiator; hot water from the tap; water heated by a bhikkhu.

The residual food stuck – by lack of attention – between the teeth can be swallowed without being re-offered. A bhikkhu who eats something that has accidentally fallen into the mouth does not commit any fault. If, while brushing the teeth, a particle of food falls down, it is necessary for it to be re-offered before being eaten.Substances coming out from all the orifices of the body. If nasal mucus manages to enter into the mouth before being stopped and it is swallowed without having been offered, there is no fault. If the mucus is recuperated before going in the mouth, it must be offered before eating it. It is the same for all the substances coming out from all the orifices of the body (excretion from the eyes, substance from the ears, tears, the salt in the sweat, excrements, urine, etc.) If a bhikkhu absorbs one of these substances without being offered, he does not commit any fault, unless they are still attached to the body at the moment of their absorption (pending, stuck, running on the skin, etc.) However, if one of them is separated from the body, it cannot be consumed after having been offered.

The way to measure the distance

In accordance with this rule, one must recall that the distance between the donor and the bhikkhu receiving an offering must not exceed a distance of two and a half cubits, about 120 centimetres (40 inches). This distance must be taken into consideration, from the bhikkhu, starting from: The back if he is seated; the back of the heals if he is standing; the sides upright - the most far away - if he is lying down, the head and the back opposite the head if he is lying on the stomach.

If it concerns to take into consideration this "distance of respect" starting from the part of the body that is furthest, and with the head a little bit straight. The distance must be counted from the bhikkhu to the person making the offerings (or vice-versa) by taking into consideration the same distances, according to the position that he occupies.

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Origin: Texts in Burmese language

Translator (Burmese to French): Monk Dhamma Sāmi

Date of translation: 2000

Translator (French to English: Thierry Lambrou

Date of translation (into English): 2002

Update: 2005, June the 19th