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Presentation of the classification of the faults likely to be committed by the bhikkhus, along with some detailed explanations.

the vinaya's faults


When we deal with the faults committed by the bhikkhu, we sometimes refer to the eight kinds of āpatti (faults), or else the eight categories of faults. All possible faults are classified into seven kinds, according to their degree of gravity. In the classification of the pātimokkha, there are eight kinds of faults, grouped according to the type (way of purification and degree of gravity). Within all categories, we find similar kinds of faults. However, some kinds of faults are absent from the eight categories expounded in the pātimokkha.

The eight kinds of āpatti

A fault committed by a bhikkhu is called an āpatti in Pali. These āpatti are divided into eight kinds:

pārājika

According to pāḷi grammar, the term pārājika is divided as follows: "parā + ji + ta". "ji" meaning "victory". By adding the particle "parā"; "obstacle", "parāji" is obtained, which means: "defeat, loss". When the last particle: "ta" is added, the term becomes: "pārājika", meaning: "that which leads to loss" or more precisely (in the vinaya context): offence entailing the loss of the bhikkhu status.

saṃghādisesa

In accordance with the pāḷi grammar, the term saṃghādisesa is divided as follows: "saṃgha + ādi + sesa".

"saṃgha" = the community of bhikkhus

"ādi" = the beginning

"sesa" = the remaining (the middle and the end)

This definition clearly means that the saṃgha must be present during all the procedures (at the beginning, the middle and the end) of purification of the fault. In the first place, in order to appease such a fault, it is compulsory to summon at least four bhikkhus meeting for the occasion (the minimum required number to consider that there is saṃgha). In accordance with all the rules of the procedure, assigned by the members of the saṃgha, the offending bhikkhu will be set apart from the community for a while (a minimum of six days added to the number of days during which the faults were not declared). Once the fault is expiated, the offending bhikkhu can join the saṃgha once more. But for this, at least twenty bhikkhus must organise a meeting during which the kammavācā will be recited to the offending bhikkhu.

Thus, that is why the presence of the saṃgha is necessary at the beginning, the middle and the end of the whole process of purification of the fault. Because of this, this fault is termed a "saṃghādisesa".

thullaccaya

After the pārājika and the saṃghādisesa, the other five other kinds of faults can be purified by a bhikkhu, by means of the authoritative formula (desanā en pāḷi). It consists on fully revealing one's faults, assuming responsibility for them and following the step of not committing them ever again. See "The desanā". Among the kinds of faults that this formula allows to purify, the thullaccaya is the foremost.

"thula" = important

"accaya" = fault

A thullaccaya is therefore defined as an "important fault".

nissaggiya

Fault requiring the restitution of the wrong acquired thing.

pācittiya

A pācittiya is usually a fault committed deliberately, in this case, akusala arises. But in any case a pācittiya is caused by letting oneself go (often owing to lack of attention).

pāṭidesanīya

Among the five kinds of fault that can be purified by means of the formula desanā, a pāṭidesanīya must be revealed separately, by verbally declaring it in the presence of at least four bhikkhus.

The term pāṭidesanīya is divided as follows: "pāṭi + desanīya".

"pāṭi" = separated

"desanīya" = Admitting the fault

Thus, in the vinaya context, the definition of paṭidesanīya is: "a fault that is separately admitted ".

So as to admit such a fault, the formula to be pronounced is:

"gārayhaṃ āvuso dhammaṃ āpajjiṃ asappāyaṃ, taṃ paṭidesemi"

" Venerables, I fully disclose to you the improper fault that I have committed, which is likely to provoke negative criticism ".

dukkaṭa

The term dukkaṭa is divided as follows: "du + kaṭa".

"du" = that which is bad, evil

"kaṭa" = action

Therefore, what we call a dukkaṭa is a fault resulting from a bad action.

dubbhāsita

The term dubbhāsita is divided as follows: "du + bhāsita".

"du" = that which is bad, evil

"bhāsita" = speech

Therefore, what we call a dubbhāsita is a fault committed through offensive speech: harmful words, mockery, vulgar language, vain and foolish words.

The eight kinds of faults

The 227 rules of the pātimokkha are grouped into eight categories, according to the type of fault (the way of purification and degree of seriousness).

The pārājikas

They are the most serious faults in the vinaya. When a pārājika is committed, this leads immediately and automatically to the loss of the status of bhikkhu. The bhikkhu who commits this fault is no longer considered as such, even if he doesn't disrobe and his fault remains concealed from others' knowledge.

The saṃghādisesas

These faults are serious. When one of them is committed, it entails a long and complicated procedure leading, in a first stage, to a solemn acknowledgement of such a fault in the presence of four bhikkhus. Afterwards, the faulty bhikkhu will be subject to thirteen constraints lasting as much as the period during which his fault was not revealed, with six additional days. Among these constraints, the bhikkhu will have to remain apart from the other members of saṃgha at night, he won't be allowed to leave the monastery alone, he will have to declare his fault to all the bhikkhus whom he sees and hears, and he will even have to honour the bhikkhus who are newer than him by refusing all honour from them. By the end of this purging period, a minimum of twenty bhikkhus must meet around the faulty bhikkhu so as to reaccept him in the community. This reintegration is done by orally stating the specific formulas.

There is also a particular procedure allowing the faulty bhikkhu to avoid undergoing the constraints during the purging period.

A bhikkhu who has committed a saṃghādisesa but who disrobes immediately after, will have to follow the purging procedure of this fault as soon as he reintegrates in the saṃgha.

Note: Apart from the pārājikas and the saṃghādisesas, all other faults, including those that are not listed in the 227 rules of the pātimokkha, can be purified with the help of the formula of the desanā. See chapter "desanā".

The aniyata

Unidentified faults. Faults that deal with an awkward situation, in which the witness knows that there was a fault, but is unable to identify it.

The nissaggiya (or nissaggiya pācittiya)

Faults entailing the forfeiture of an object obtained in an incorrect manner that entails a pācittiya.

The pācittiya

Faults due to negligence.

The pāṭidesanīya

Faults that cannot be purged by simply performing the desanā – as is the case with other rules. For purging them, it is advisable to reveal them by announcing them distinctly and by uttering the appropriate formula.

The sekhiya

Points of training into the conduct. The sekhiyas concern the behaviour, the discipline and the dignity.

The adhikaraṇasamatha

The ways to proceed for settling disputes.

The eight categories of the 227 rules of the pātimokkha

  • pārājika : 4 rules
  • saṃghādisesa : 13 rules
  • aniyata : 2 rules
  • nissaggiya pācittiya : 30 rules
  • suddha pācittiya : 92 rules
  • pāṭidesanīya : 4 rules
  • sekhiya : 75 rules
  • adhikaraṇasamatha : 7 rules
  • Total : 227 rules

Note: the numbering of the pātimokkha rules doesn't correspond at all with the chronology in which they were established. Besides, we can ascertain that they are classified under categories according to their degree of gravity, and also grouped according to the elements concerned (food, obtention of robes, etc.)

The figures used in the measurements could appear rather exaggerated, because they are calculated simply by quite imprecise estimates based on the commentaries (aṭṭhakathās). Also, it might appear that in the Buddha's time, men were considerably taller than nowadays.

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Author: Monk Dhamma Sāmi

Date: 2000

Translator: Lucy Costa

Date of translation: 2002

Update: 2005, June the 18th