Prātimokṣa

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The Prātimokṣa (Sanskrit: प्रातिमोक्ष Prātimokṣa; Pali: Pāṭimokkha) is a list of rules (contained within the vinaya) governing the behaviour of Buddhist monks (Bhikkhus) and nuns (Bhikkhunis). Prati means "towards", and mokṣa means liberation from cyclic existence (saṃsāra).

It became customary to recite these rules once a fortnight at a meeting of the sangha during which confession would traditionally take place. A number of prātimokṣa codes are extant, including those contained in the Theravāda Vinaya, Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya, Mahīśāsaka Vinaya, Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, Sarvāstivāda Vinaya, and the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya.[1] Prātimokṣa texts may also circulate in separate prātimokṣa sūtras, which are extracts from their respective vinayas.

Overview[edit]

The Prātimokṣa belongs to the Vinaya of the Buddhist doctrine and is seen as the very basis of Buddhism. On the basis of the Prātimokṣa there exist in Mahayana Buddhism two additional set of vows: The Bodhisattva vows and the Vajrayana vows. If these two set of vows are not broken, they are regarded as carrying over to future lives.

Texts[edit]

The Prātimokṣa is traditionally a section of the Vinaya. The Theravada Vinaya is preserved in the Pali Canon, in the Vinaya Piṭaka section. The Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya is preserved in both the Tibetan Buddhist canon in the Kangyur, in a Chinese edition, and in an incomplete Sanskrit manuscript. Some other complete vinaya texts are preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon (see: Taishō Tripiṭaka), and these include:

  • Mahīśāsaka Vinaya (T. 1421)
  • Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya (T. 1425)
  • Dharmaguptaka Vinaya (T. 1428)
  • Sarvāstivāda Vinaya (T. 1435)
  • Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya (T. 1442)

Prātimokṣa in Buddhist traditions[edit]

Indian Buddhism[edit]

The Dharmaguptaka sect are known to have rejected the authority of the Sarvāstivāda pratimokṣa rules on the grounds that the original teachings of the Buddha had been lost.[2]

Theravada Buddhism[edit]

The Patimokkha is the Pali equivalent of Prātimokṣa (Sanskrit). It is being followed by the monks of the Theravada lineage (Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos). It consists of 227 rules for fully ordained monks (bhikkhus) and 311 for nuns (bhikkhunis). The Patimokkha is contained in the Suttavibhanga, a division of the Vinaya Pitaka.

East Asian Buddhism[edit]

Buddhist traditions in East Asia typically follow the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya lineage of the Prātimokṣa, and this is standard for the following Buddhist traditions:

Some traditions of Japanese Buddhism also carry out full monastic ordination, but most Japanese traditions do not. Instead, these traditions of Japanese Buddhism have priests who take Bodhisattva vows, but not full monastic vows (i.e. Prātimokṣa).

Tibetan Buddhism[edit]

The Prātimokṣa of the Mulasarvastavada lineage, followed in Tibetan Buddhism, is taken for the whole life and the vows end when the person who received it died or has broken one or more of the four root vows.

In Tibetan Buddhism, there are eight types of Prātimokṣa vows:

Vows for laity[edit]

  • Fasting Vows (skt. Upavasa; tib. Nyung ne) — 8 vows
  • Laymans' Vows (skt. Upasaka; tib. Genyen) — 5 vows
  • Laywomans' Vows (skt. Upasika) — 5 vows

Upasak means 'worshipper' and Upasika 'female worshipper.'

The laywoman and layman Prātimokṣa consists of 5 vows. They are also named as The Five Shilas (skt. moral discipline):

  1. To refrain from killing.
  2. To refrain from stealing.
  3. To refrain from false speech.
  4. To refrain from sexual misconduct.
  5. To refrain from using intoxicants.

One is not obliged to take all five vows. The commentaries describe seven types of lay followers:

  1. Promising to keep just one vow.
  2. Promising to keep certain vows.
  3. Promising to keep most of them.
  4. Promising to keep all five.
  5. Keeping all five and also promising to keep the pure conduct of avoiding sexual contact.
  6. Keeping all five, pure conduct, and wearing robes with the promise to behave like a monk or a nun.
  7. Lay follower of mere refuge. This person is unable to keep the vows but he promises to go for refuge to the triple gem until death.

Vows for monastics[edit]

  1. Male Novices' Vows (skt. Sramanera, tib. Getsul) — 36 vows
  2. Female Novices' Vow (skt. Sramanerika, tib. Getsulma) — 36 vows
  3. Probationer Nun's Vows (skt. Siksamana)
  4. Full Nun's Vows (skt. Bhikshuni, tib. Gelongma) — 364 vows
  5. Full Monk's Vows (skt. Bhikshu, tib. Gelong) — 253 vows

Only full monks and full nuns are seen as full members of the buddhist monastic order. A group of minimum 4 full ordained is seen as a Sangha. The Prātimokṣa tells also how to purify faults, how to solve conflicts and deal with all kinds of situations which can happen in the Sangha Community.

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Indian Buddhism[edit]

  • "Buddhist Monastic Discipline: The Sanskrit Pratimoksha Sutras of the Mahasamghikas and Mulasarvastavadins" by Charles S. Prebish, India, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1339-1

Tibetan Buddhism[edit]

  • Novice Vows: Lama Mipham's commentary to Nagarjunas "Stanzas for a Novice Monk" together with "Essence of the ocean of Vinaya" by Tsongkhapa ISBN 81-86470-15-8 (LTWA India)
  • Full Monk Vows: "Advice from Buddha Sahkyamuni" by HH the 14th Dalai Lama, ISBN 81-86470-07-7 (LTWA India)
  • Complete Explanation of the Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva and Vajrayana Vows: "Buddhist Ethics" (Treasury of Knowledge: Book Five), Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, ISBN 1-55939-191-X, Snow Lion Publications
  • Monastic Rites by Geshe Jampa Thegchok, Wisdom Books, ISBN 0-86171-237-4
  • Ngari Panchen: Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the Three Vows, Wisdom Publication, ISBN 0-86171-083-5 (Commentary on the three sets of vows by Dudjom Rinpoche)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Keown, Damien. Dictionary of Buddhism. 2003. p. 220
  2. ^ Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 52

External links[edit]