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Account of ways of purification for each kind of monastic fault.

purification of the faults


Regarding the pārājikas

A bhikkhu who has committed a pārājika cannot under any circumstances become a bhikkhu again in the course of his current existence. The only way of retaking the robe – of a bhikkhu – is to wait for a future existence.Whoever commits such an offence must disrobe immediately. Afterwards, he can choose to live either as a sāmaṇera or as a lay person. When confessing his transgression, he must declare: "I will lead my life of sāmaṇera (or of lay person) in order to purify myself."

Regarding the saṃghādisesas

The expiation of a saṃghādisesa

When a saṃghādisesa has been committed, it is possible to expiate it, but this is rather complicated and requires close surveillance of the offending bhikkhu by the other members of the saṃgha throughout the entire duration of the procedure.

The bhikkhu who commits a saṃghādisesa must inform another bhikkhu of what he has done as soon as possible. If he does not report his offence, a day is counted as one day of concealment of the offence from the passage of the following dawn. The number of days, months or years during which the transgression is concealed will be the same as the time required to submit to the parivāsa (the period of expiation of the fault).

When a saṃghādisesa has been committed, there are three exceptional cases in which the number of days without confessing the fault is not taken into account: The bhikkhu does not know that he has committed a saṃghādisesa; there are no other bhikkhus in the area; there is a danger along the route leading to the nearby bhikkhus.

The application of the parivāsa

For a bhikkhu to put the parivāsa in practice, he must first receive a reading of the fourth ñatti kammavācā in the presence of at least four bhikkhus within the sīmā.

Next, the offending bhikkhu must confess all the saṃghādisesa that he has committed as well as the number of days during which this (these) fault (s) has been concealed, so that the ensuing parivāsa can be established. If the bhikkhu is unable to remember precisely what saṃghādisesa he has committed or the number of days he has kept the faults hidden, he must say: "sabbahulā nānāvatthukā āpattiyo." In English: "All the faults of all kinds."

suddhantaparivāsa

A bhikkhu who commits a saṃghādisesa through negligence could easily forget the date. If he is unable to say how long he has concealed the offence, he must give an estimate of the number of days, months or years during which he thinks he has concealed the transgression. Next, the duration of parivāsa is established, making sure that it is at least of the same length as the concealment time. If he is unable to estimate the duration, he is asked how many vassas he is certain to have remained pure – of that saṃghādisesa –, and what is his total number of vassas. The difference between the two is then used to establish the duration of the parivāsa.

The establishment of the length of expiation for a saṃghādisesa through an estimate is called suddhanta parivāsa.

samodhānaparivāsa

If the bhikkhu has committed several saṃghādisesa with different times of concealment, the length of expiation is calculated by taking into account the longest duration of concealment among all the transgressions of all kinds. This case is called "samodhānaparivāsa" and three kinds are distinguished (odhānasamodhānaparivāsa, aggha samodhānahmā and missaka samodhāna).

odhānasamodhānaparivāsa

When a bhikkhu commits a saṃghādisesa during an expiation period, the latter loses its validity and must be started again from the beginning, with the addition of the number of days during which the new offence was concealed.

agghasamodhānahmā

When several saṃghādisesa have been committed, the greater duration of concealment is taken into account to establish the length of the parivāsa.

missakasamodhāna

If a bhikkhu commits different kinds of saṃghādisesa, these are all grouped into one in order to establish the parivāsa.

Recommencing the expiation after the beginning (mūlāyapaṭikassana)

If a bhikkhu commits a new saṃghādisesa during his expiation period, he must immediately declare it in the presence of another bhikkhu. The offence committed during this time is called "antarāpatti". If this transgression is concealed at least overnight, the past expiation period is invalidated and must be re-started from the beginning, with the addition of the number of days of concealment of the new transgression. In Pali this is called "mūlāyapaṭikassana".

The thirteen penances of the saṃghādisesa

Having committed a saṃghādisesa, those bhikkhus doing parivāsa are subject to a series of penances aimed at purifying the transgression (or transgressions). These penances must be applied following very precise rules.

  1. The bhikkhu undergoing penance must not sleep either under the same roof or between the same walls as a pakatatta bhikkhu (bhikkhu pure of any fault). Neither can he sleep under the same roof or between the same walls as another bhikkhu undergoing penance. If he sleeps under the same roof or between the same walls as a pakatatta bhikkhu or another bhikkhu undergoing penance, he commits a dukkaṭa and the number of nights thus spent increases the parivāsa by as many days.
  2. The bhikkhu undergoing penance must reside within the confines of a monastery where there is at least one pakatatta bhikkhu. If he leaves these confines, he must not distance himself more than twelve cubits – around six metres – from a pakatatta bhikkhu. If he spends a night in a place without a pakatatta bhikkhu, this increases the parivāsa by a day.
  3. Every time a bhikkhu arrives to the monastery, when he is informed, sees or hears of this, the bhikkhu undergoing penance must notify the arriving bhikkhu that he is in a period of parivāsa following a saṃghādisesa. If he does not notify this, his parivāsa is lengthened by a day. However, if the arrival is a bhikkhu to whom he had already reported his transgression, he only commits a dukkaṭa.
  4. The bhikkhu undergoing penance must not accept prostrations, homage, invitations to sit in a privileged place or any other expression of respect from pakatatta bhikkhu (even those with less vassas than him). However, bhikkhus undergoing penance can accept signs of respect from each other.
  5. During uposatha and pavāraṇā, the bhikkhu undergoing penance must take his place among those of least seniority.
  6. During rice collection, the bhikkhu undergoing penance must not place himself in the same line as the other bhikkhus. He must place himself behind this line by at least twelve cubits and one span (around 120 centimetres) and must extend his arms to accept the food.
  7. The bhikkhu undergoing penance must neither act as preceptor or instructor, nor can he give the reading of a kammavācā.
  8. The bhikkhu undergoing penance must not receive services from the sāmaṇeras. To this effect, he must forbid them to do so. However, if the sāmaṇera continue to render him services despite having been told not to, he does not commit an offence.
  9. The bhikkhu undergoing penance must not boast of his seniority to bhikkhus who have less vassas than him when addressing them.
  10. The bhikkhu undergoing penance must not reside alone in a forest vihāra.
  11. When a bhikkhu undergoing penance sees that a pakatatta bhikkhu less senior than himself approaches, he must get up to give him his place as if it was a more senior bhikkhu.
  12. The bhikkhu undergoing penance must not sit on the same bed with a pakatatta bhikkhu that has the same number of vassas than him.
  13. The bhikkhu undergoing penance cannot be part of those who integrate a new bhikkhu in the saṃgha or perform tasks concerning the running of the saṃgha other than the specific tasks provisionally assigned to him.

Notification of the parivāsa

Of the whole parivāsa procedure, the most difficult aspect is the notification of the parivāsa. After having formally confessed his saṃghādisesa in the sīmā, the bhikkhu undergoing penance must notify that he is performing parivāsa because of such fault to all the bhikkhus that he meets, as soon as he sees or hears them. If he hears a bhikkhu recite a text or beating a drum in the area, he must go to him straight away to notify his parivāsa. When on the road, if the bhikkhu undergoing penance notices a bhikkhu inside a vehicle, he is obliged to stop this vehicle to notify his parivāsa to the bhikkhu. If he fails in this duty, he commits a dukkaṭa and his expiation period is extended by one day (in Pali, the failure to comply with an obligation [penance] due in the parivāsa is vattabheda). If a bhikkhu undergoing penance does not succeed in reaching a bhikkhu travelling inside a vehicle to report his parivāsa, he does not commit a dukkaṭa, but his expiation period is increased by one day.

The obligations imposed by the parivāsa are relatively overpowering. Thus, it is recommended to the bhikkhus undergoing penance to reside in an isolated (little frequented) monastery during their expiation period.

Rescinding the parivāsa

The obligations imposed by the parivāsa are difficult. However, it is possible to rescind it, thus reducing the risk of failing to fulfill those obligations.

To rescind the parivāsa, the bhikkhu undergoing penance must first of all, enter the sīmā to request the parivāsa, the delivery of the parivāsa, the application of the parivāsa and finally the notification of the parivāsa. Thanks to rescinding the parivāsa, the bhikkhu undergoing penance is exempted from notifying to all the bhikkhus passing by the monastery soon as he sees or hears them. During the cancellation of the parivāsa, he can be considered as a pakatatta bhikkhu. The bhikkhu who commits a saṃghādisesa during his expiation period can include it in his parivāsa by grouping it with the preceding one.

When the parivāsa has been rescinded, it is restored automatically at dawn. To maintain it rescinded, the bhikkhu must then say a formula in Pali to another bhikkhu just before dawn, and to another just after dawn. The first rescindement of the parivāsa must be done in the sīmā in the presence of at least four bhikkhus. For the following ones, it is acceptable if there are only two bhikkhus.

However, it is more appropriate to go and dwell in a secluded monastery and pursue the parivāsa there (without rescinding it).

The practice of mānatta

In order to regain the esteem and respect of the other bhikkhus and for his practice of sīla, the bhikkhu in the expiation period must apply the practice of mānatta.

A bhikkhu who on the same day reveals a saṃghādisesa he has committed, has no need to undergo parivāsa. He is, however, obliged to undergo mānatta. Counting the number of days is not necessary; six days are assigned. To put mānatta in practice, the bhikkhu who has committed the transgression must proceed to request mānatta within the sīmā in the presence of at least four bhikkhu.. The saṃgha transmits the mānatta through a reading of the fourth ñatti kammavācā. Next, the mānatta is put into practice, and, by reason of this, the notification of the mānatta. As with the parivāsa, the mānatta must also be notified to all the bhikkhus seen or heard arriving at the monastery, and can be rescinded. To rescind the mānatta, the bhikkhu in the period of mānatta must first of all go outside the enclosures of the monastery before dawn, together with at least four bhikkhus (if there is no wall or enclosure, they must go to a minimum distance of two stone throws from the corner of the furthest building of the monastery). There, at the side of the road, behind a bush (or anything else permitting to be out of view), he will put the mānatta in practice, and performs the notification of the mānatta. Once dawn has passed, he can rescind the mānatta.

Although the practice of parivāsa is similar to that of mānatta, the parivāsa lasts a time equal to the time the offence has been concealed, whereas mānatta has a fixed duration of six days. Rescinding the parivāsa requires four bhikkhus only the first time, whereas the mānatta requires this for each of the six days

Leaving the saṃgha during the period of parivāsa or of mānatta

When a bhikkhu disrobes during his period of parivāsa or of mānatta to return to lay life, or to the life of a sāmaṇera, this parivāsa or mānatta is automatically interrupted. However, if he retakes the robes of a bhikkhu, he must continue the period of parivāsa or mānatta in order to complete the remaining number of days, without having to restart the period. However, if he has proceeded to rescind the parivāsa or the mānatta, he must retake the procedure from the beginning.

When re-entering the saṃgha, the bhikkhu who has disrobed having committed one or more saṃghādisesa without confessing them, recovers them automatically and is obliged to reveal them and follow the proper procedure (without counting the time spent outside the saṃgha).

The reintegration (abbhāna)

When the period of parivāsa or of mānatta is fulfilled, the abbhāna takes place among the other members of the saṃgha. Thus, everybody can take note that the offence has been completely purified. The abbhāna designs the reconsideration, reacceptance and reintegration within the saṃgha.

The abbhāna must take place during a meeting of at least twenty bhikkhus. So that these pure bhikkhus can perform the abbhāna by reading the fourth ñatti kammavācā, the bhikkhu about to purify his fault must formulate his request to them. For the offence to be purified, the bhikkhu must reject his point of view. If he has not done this at the end of three consecutive readings of the ñatti kammavācā, he continues to be in saṃghādisesa. Concerning the saṃghādisesa 10, 11, 12 and 13, as long as the bhikkhu has not rejected his point of view, he cannot initiate the expiation period (practice of the parivāsa or of the mānatta). Once the whole procedure has been fulfilled, the bhikkhu who has committed the saṃghādisesa can again be considered a pakatatta bhikkhu.

Regarding the aniyatas

The two aniyata are not entire offences. As their name indicates, they are undefined. This means that when they are committed, the decision of the saṃgha is made according to the declaration of the accused bhikkhu accused or of witnesses. If it concerns bhikkhu renowned for his honesty, the decision is determined based on his admission. If it is a dishonest bhikkhu with a the habit of lying, the decision cannot be taken on the casis of his declaration. Before a decision is taken, it is necessary to conduct a minutious enquiry taking into account the entire situation.

Regarding the nissaggiyas

The nissaggiya are offences that, on the one hand, cause a pācittiya, and on the other, require the forfeiture of an object obtained in an incorrect manner. If this is an object that the bhikkhu is allowed to keep, he only relinquishes it momentarily to another bhikkhu, who next returns it. The procedure of purification of the nissaggiya is carried out in two phases: in the first, the bhikkhu must give up the object that he has obtained or caused to be offered in an incorrect manner; next, he must purify his fault by means of the desanā.

Regarding the sekhiyas

The word "sekhiya" means: "aspects of conduct that must be learnt, understood and put into practice". These rules are an obligation for every bhikkhu and every sāmaṇera. They must learn them in order to understand them. Once understood, they must be followed strictly. Knowing and understanding these sekhiya, if a bhikkhu neglects, disregards, or does not apply any of them, he commits a dukkaṭa. If a sāmaṇera neglects, disregards, or does not apply any of them, he receives a penance, such as transporting sand or water.

By breaching a sekhiya, a gilāna (sick) bhikkhu does not commit an offence.

The desanā

Performing desanā is a means to purify the offences (excluding the pārājika and the saṃghādisesa) that bhikkhus commit. This is done regularly or whenever becoming aware of having committed an offence. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to the bhikkhus to perform this daily in order to purify the multitude of minor transgressions that most of them commit without noticing. Thus one abides always at ease with onself. It is imperative to do desanā just before the pātimokkha recitation (on every full moon and every new moon) so that, through this, all the bhikkhus have pure sīla at that time.

To do this, with the robe arranged around the left arm (traditional although not obligatory), the more senior kneels, with bare feet, and the most junior bhikkhu does the same placing himself in front or to the side. desanā can be done in twos or threes. In the case of a desanā in threes, the two more junior place themselves facing or to the side of the most senior and confess their faults together. At that moment, the most junior bhikkhus addresses the more senior to purify his faults. Next, the senior bhikkhu addresses the more junior by reciting, in the same way, a second verse. As a bhikkhu can only be "purified" by a bhikkhu who is already pure, the most junior pronounces again a third verse. For this reason, a bhikkhu who wishes to purify his faults with a bhikkhu who has just done desanā, only needs to use the first verse. Below, la formula of the desanā that must be recited in Pali:

(The text that must be recited by the more senior is in italic).

1st verse

"ahaṃ bhante sabbā āpattiyo āvikaromi.

sādhu āvuso sādhu sādhu.

ahaṃ bhante sambahulā nānāvatthukā sabbā āpattiyo āpajjiṃ tā, tumhamūle patidesemi.

passasi āvuso tā āpattiyo.

āma bhante passāmi.

āyatiṃ āvuso saṃvareyyāsi.

sādhu suṭṭhu bhante saṃvarissāmi.

sādhu āvuso sādhu sādhu".

2nd verse

"ahaṃ āvuso sabbā āpattiyo āvikaromi.

sādhu bhante sādhu sādhu.

ahaṃ āvuso sambahulā nānāvatthukā sabbā āpattiyo āpajjiṃ tā, tuyhamūle patidesemi.

passatha bhante tā āpattiyo.

āma āvuso passāmi.

āyatiṃ bhante saṃvareyyātha.

sādhu suṭṭhu āvuso saṃvarissāmi.

sādhu bhante sādhu sādhu".

3rd verse

"ahaṃ bhante sambahulā nānāvatthukā sabbā āpattiyo āpajjiṃ tā, tumhamūle patidesemi.

passasi āvuso tā āpattiyo.

āma bhante passāmi.

āyatiṃ āvuso saṃvareyyāsi.

sādhu suṭṭhu bhante saṃvarissāmi.

sādhu āvuso sādhu sādhu".

1st verse in English

"The whole of my faults (voluntary or not), I confess openly to you, Venerable.

Very good, my friend, very good.

Whichever the type and whatever the reason for the offences committed, I fully assume them, Venerable.

Do you undertake to remain vigilant of all these offences, my friend?

Yes Venerable, I will be vigilant in order to be correct.

In the future, my friend, take care of your conduct.

It is understood Venerable, I will watch my conduct.

Very good, my friend, very good."

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Author: Monk Dhamma Sāmi

Date: 2000

Translator: Lucy Costa

Date of translation: 2002

Update: 2005, June the 20th