New Findings from Vinaya Texts

Sat., Aug. 23rd, 09:30-11:30


Why Is the kaṭhina Robe So Called?

Gombrich, Richard (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, Oxford, GBR)

Every Theravādin monastery is supposed to hold a ceremony soon after the end of the annual rains retreat, at which a monastic robe is made and offered to a monk who has been considered by the abbot to be particularly deserving. The decision to award it is one of the very few formal acts of the Saṅgha laid down in the canonical Vinaya, and the only one which is prescribed to happen annually. The robe (cīvara) is known as the kaṭhina cīvara, and the name kaṭhina also attaches to the ceremony as a whole. However, the etymology of kaṭhina has been forgotten.

This article describes the modern ceremony, in which a large new cloth is cut into pieces, which are then sewn together to make a robe. Comparing the kaṭhina ceremony with funerals, I trace the origin of making monastic robes out of pieces stitched together to the earliest times. This reveals that kaṭhina mean “rough”, because originally that is what the robes were. Though nowadays lay piety demands that monks wear the finest cloth, the kaṭhina ceremony reflects the prestige of the archaic.

Finally I garner some corroborative evidence from the Pali Vinaya section on the kaṭhina, though I show that a section of the account of how the ceremony came into being has been lost. The Ven. Analayo has kindly checked for me the parallel sections of the Vinayas surviving only in Chinese, but they turn out to be of little use. Though itself damaged, the Pali version is clearly the oldest. 

 

Flower Garland: The Transmission of a Vinaya Commentary in Tibet

Liu, Cuilan (Harvard, Montreal, CAN)

This paper discusses the transmission of the Vinayakārikā in Tibet. The Vinayakārikā is a versified compilation of Buddhist monastic rules of the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition. In the colophon of its Tibetan translation, Viśākhadeva, the author of the text, identified himself as a disciple of a certain Ārya Saṅghadāsa and gave the full text title as Vinayakārikā Mālākāra (’Dul ba tshig le’ur byas pa me tog phreng rgyud), “Verses of Vinaya: Flower Garland”. Hence, Tibetan authors often quote this text in abbreviation as Flower Garland. The self-identification and the full title, however, are absent in the Chinese translation.

This text was translated in China and Tibet but was received differently. Yijing (635-713) translated it into Chinese in 710 at the Grand Jianfu monastery, yet the Chinese Buddhists have exhibited little interest in studying or investigating it. In Tibet, the Newar scholar Jayākara and the Tibetan Sanskritist Prajñākīrti co-translated it, according to van der Kuijp (2013: 182), most likely in the eleventh century, “at the behest of Lha bla ma Zhi ba ’od (1016-1111)”. Later, Rong ston Shes bya kun rig (1367-1449) and Vanaratna (1384-1468) revised and finalized the Tibetan translation.

Evidence from the fifteenth century Tibetan chronicle, The Blue Annals, reveals that Tibetans were teaching and studying this text in the twelfth century. Extant commentaries on this text date to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Among its three major extant Tibetan commentaries, the earliest was composed by the above-mentioned Rong ston who, in the colophon of the commentary, self-identified using his religious name Śākya rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po. The second commentary was written at Snar thang monastery by Bka’ bzhi pa Shes rab seng ge (1383-1445), who also wrote a short text outlining the chapters of the Flower Garland. According to the colophon of the outline, the commentary was composed on the basis of instruction from a concise summary of the Flower Garland attributed to a Mchims Thams cad mkhyen pa Nam mkha’ grags pa (1210-1285), the seventh abbot of Snar thang monastery. This text is yet to be found. The third commentary was published in 2007 in the thirty-eighth volume of the Collected Writings of the Bka’ gdams pa. The fifteenth century scholar Bsam gtan bzang po wrote it on the basis of the second commentary at Snar thang monastery. The fact that two of the three extant commentaries and a lost commentary were produced at Snar thang monastery’s affiliates suggests that the teaching and studying of Flower Garland was popular at this monastery from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century.

 

Buddhist Monks at the Royal Courts of Ancient India

Pagel, Ulrich (SOAS, University of London, London, GBR)

This paper examines the status and influence of Buddhist monks at the royal courts in ancient India. It draws on a set of passages identified in the Mūlasarvāstivāda vinaya which suggests that the presence of the members of the Saṅgha at the seat of government gave rise to concern among the king’s counsellors. Some feared to lose access to the king, others grew uneasy about the monks’ seeming interference in political matters. Some even believed that the followers of the Buddha were involved in theft and sexual misdemeanour. Before long, this tension produced open conflict. Royal discontent led to a series of monastic injunctions through which the Saṅgha sought to scale back the prominence of its monks at court, worried about reputation and reprisal. I examine the passages that describe the events leading to the Buddha’s intervention and provide context, drawn from Buddhist and brahmanical sources, to aid us in their interpretation.

 

Buddhist Monks at the Royal Courts of Ancient India

Pagel, Ulrich (SOAS, University of London, London, GBR)

This paper examines the status and influence of Buddhist monks at the royal courts in ancient India. It draws on a set of passages identified in the Mūlasarvāstivāda vinaya which suggests that the presence of the members of the Saṅgha at the seat of government gave rise to concern among the king’s counsellors. Some feared to lose access to the king, others grew uneasy about the monks’ seeming interference in political matters. Some even believed that the followers of the Buddha were involved in theft and sexual misdemeanour. Before long, this tension produced open conflict. Royal discontent led to a series of monastic injunctions through which the Saṅgha sought to scale back the prominence of its monks at court, worried about reputation and reprisal. I examine the passages that describe the events leading to the Buddha’s intervention and provide context, drawn from Buddhist and brahmanical sources, to aid us in their interpretation.

The Vinaya of the Bon Tradition

Roesler, Ulrike (Oxford, GBR)

Historically, the monastic life of the Bon tradition of Tibet has developed side by side with that of the Tibetan Buddhists. However, the monastic code of the Bonpos is not identical with the Buddhist one. It consists of 250 rules for monks (pho khrims) and 360 rules for nuns (mo khrims), as well as shorter sets of rules for temporary ordination, for lay people, and novices. It uses its own terminology (such as drang srong “ṛṣi” for the monks and drang srong ma for the nuns) and has its own legendary and historical transmission lineages. Within the canonical collections of the Bon tradition, the “six vinaya scriptures” (’dul ba rgyud drug) have a special place as one of the few sections that are considered bka’ ma (transmitted from person to person in an unbroken lineage), not gter ma (concealed and recovered) texts. An intriguing aspect is the headings of the canonical vinaya texts in the mysterious “divine language of Kapita”. Another remarkable feature is the strong Mahāyāna leanings of the Bon vinaya. My paper is going to give a preliminary survey of the Bon vinaya as an important component of the vinaya traditions of Inner Asia.

 

 


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