The Gurudharma on Bhikṣuṇī Ordination in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Tradition
Abstract This article surveys the stipulation on bhikṣuṇī ordination made in the different Vinayas as part of a set of eight principles to be respected (gurudharma), and explores the possibility, indicated by the formulation of the relevant gurudharma, that a legally valid Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣuṇī ordination could be conducted by bhikṣus only.
Academy of World Religions & Center for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg. Email: email@example.com. 2 The present paper takes its inspiration from discussions held between the two authors 2 The present paper takes its inspiration from discussions held between the two authors during the 1st Founding Members Conclave of the International Buddhist Confederation at Delhi, 9th to 12th September 2013. In part I of this paper, Anālayo surveys the gurudharma regulation on bhikṣuṇī ordination found in different Vinayas, while in part II Jampa Tsedroen examines the option of ordination by bhikṣus only, based on the formulation of the first gurudharma in the Tibetan Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya in comparison with the Sanskrit version. Her findings in this respect are one of the outcomes of a research project on “The ordination of nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist canon and its presentation in the Tibetan commentaries” undertaken with the support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, whose help is gratefully acknowledged. The authors
I. The Gurudharma On Bhikṣuṇī Ordination in Different Vinayas According to tradition, the gurudharmas, “principles to be respected,” were stipulated by the Buddha as a pre-condition for granting his foster mother Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī the higher ordination. The different Vinaya texts report that by accepting these principles to be respected Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī became the first bhikṣuṇī (nun), marking the starting point for the coming into being of an order of bhikṣunīs. While the different Vinayas agree in mentioning a set of eight such gurudharmas, the sequence in which these principles are listed varies considerably, as does their actual formulation.3 The themes broached by these eight principles to be respected concern matters of monastic etiquette, such as stipulating that a bhikṣuṇī should behave respectfully even towards a junior bhikṣu (monk), and the carrying out of legal acts. One legal act mentioned in all Vinaya lists of the eight gurudharmas is the procedure for conducting bhikṣuṇī ordination. As a starting point for subsequent discussion, in what follows the different versions of this gurudharma that appear in the canonical Vina
are indebted to Sāmaṇerī Dhammadinnā, Ann Heirman, and Petra Kieffer-Pülz for commenting on a draft version of the present paper. 3 For surveys of these eight rules see, e.g., Anālayo (“Women’s” 82–6), Cheng (Buddhist 83–100), Chung (“Gurudhamma”), Chung (“Ursprung” 13), Heirman (“Gurudharma”), Heirman (“Some Remarks” 34–43), Hirakawa (notes to 49–95), Horner (Women 118–61), Hüsken (“Eight”), Hüsken (“Legend” 46–58), Hüsken (Vorschriften 346–60), Kusumā (Dasasil 29–32), Nagata (283f), Nolot (397–405), Salgado, Sujato (Bhikkuni 51–81) and Waldschmidt (118–21). 745 Journal of Buddhist Ethics
yas are translated from the Chinese, Sanskrit and Pāli originals;4 the Tibetan version is taken up in more detail in the second part of the present paper. The translations below are given in alphabetical order according to the school affiliation of the respective Vinaya. The numbering given in brackets reflects the position of this particular gurudharma within the whole set of eight.
I.1 Translation Dharmaguptaka Vinaya (no. 4): “A śikṣamāṇā (probationer) who has trained in the precepts should request the higher ordination from the community of bhikṣus.”5 Lokottaravāda-Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya (no. 2): “A girl of eighteen years, having been instructed in the training and having completed this training for two years, should seek the higher ordination from both communities.”6
Since the emphasis in our paper is on the canonical Vinaya versions and their implication for legal acts in the respective Buddhist traditions, the gurudharma stipulations found in T. 196 at T. IV 158c19 and T. 1478 at T. XXIV 946b25 are not taken into account. The relevant part of the Vinayamātṛkā (毘尼母經), perhaps a text representing the Haimavata tradition, only reports the establishing of the eight gurudharmas by the Buddha, but does not list the actual gurudharmas individually; see T. 1463 at T. XXIV 803b13. The same is the case for T. 156 at T. III 154a1. 5 T. 1428 at T. XXII 923b8: 式叉摩那學戒已, 從比丘僧乞受大戒; see also T. 1810 at T. XL 540c4; this and the following gurudharmas have already been translated by the Committee of Western Bhikṣuṇīs (3) and Heirman (“Where” 111). 6 Roth (17,5) (§13): aṣṭādaśavarṣāye kumārībhūtāye dve varṣāṇī deśitaśikṣāye paripūrṇaśikṣāye ubhayato saṃghe upasampadā pratyāśaṃsitavyā; this has already been translated by Nolot (9) and Strong (55). Tsedroen and Anālayo, The Gurudharma on Bhikṣuṇī Ordination 746
Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya (no. 2): “Having trained for two years in the precepts, she receives higher ordination in both communities.”7 Mahīśāsaka Vinaya (no. 4): “A śikṣamāṇā who has trained in the precepts for two years should receive the higher ordination in both communities.”8 Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya (no. 1): “The bhikṣuṇīs should seek from the bhikṣus the going forth and the higher ordination, the becoming of a bhikṣuṇī.”9
7 T. 1425 at T. XXII 474c1: 二歲學戒, 二部眾中受具足; see also T. 1425 at T. XXII 471b12, which specifies that a woman who wishes to receive the higher ordination in the Tathāgata’s Dharma and Vinaya should also be fully eighteen years old; this has already been translated by Hirakawa (50f) and Heirman (“Where” 112). 8 T. 1421 at T. XXII 185c23: 式叉摩那學二戒已, 應在二部僧中受具足戒; this has already been translated by Heirman (“Where” 112) and Sujato (White 20). As noted by Chung (“Gurudhamma” 228), here and in the case of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya the eight gurudharmas are mentioned again as part of the instruction to be given after completed ordination. In this context, T. 1421 at
T. XXII 189a2 gives gurudharma 1 in the same formulation: 式叉摩那學二戒已, 應在二部僧中受具足戒. 9 T. 1451 at T. XXIV 351a1: 諸苾芻尼當從苾芻求出家, 受近圓, 成苾芻尼性 (repeated again at T. XXIV 351b21). The corresponding Sanskrit fragments have been edited by Ridding and La Vallée Poussin (125,30) and again by Schmidt (“Bhikṣuṇī-Karmavācanā” 244,21) (§4b5): bhikṣubhyaḥ śakāsād ānanda mātṛgrāmena pravrajyopasaṃpad bhikṣuṇībhāvaḥ pratikāṃkṣitavya; this has already been translated by Wilson in Paul (85). On the school affiliation of these fragments, see Chung (“Bhikṣuṇī-Karmavācanā” 420), Finnegan (For the Sake 310 note 591), Oberlies (62), Roth (5 note 3b), Schmidt (“Zur Schulzugehörigkeit”), and Yuyama (6). The same gurudharma is also quoted in the Abhidharmakośavyākhyā, Wogihara (374,18): bhikṣor antikād bhikṣuṇīnām upasaṃpat bhikṣuṇībhāvaḥ. As in the case of the Mahīśāsaka Vinaya, here, too, the eight gurudharmas are mentioned again as part of the instruction to be given after completed ordination, at which point gurudharma 1 is given as follows, T. 1453 at T. XXIV 464c3: “The bhikṣuṇīs should request from the bhikṣus the higher ordination, the becoming of a bhikṣuṇī,” 諸苾芻尼應從苾芻求受近圓, 成苾芻尼性. Notably, in this formulation the giving of the going forth by bhikṣus only is no longer mentioned; on the formal going
Sarvāstivāda Vinaya (no. 2): “A bhikṣuṇī should request the higher ordination from the community of bhikṣus.”10 Saṃmitīya Vinaya (1): “A bhikṣuṇī should certainly seek the gaining of the higher ordination from the community of bhikṣus.”11 Theravāda Vinaya (no. 6): “A śikṣamāṇā who has trained for two years in six principles should seek for higher ordination from both communities.”12
forth not being an indispensable requirement for the validity of higher ordination in the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition see Clarke (228–230). The instruction to be given after completing ordination has also been preserved in the Sanskrit fragment Schmidt (“Bhikṣuṇī-Karmavācanā” 269,8) (§29b5), which does mention the going forth (see below note 58). A more detailed discussion of the Tibetan translation of this gurudharma in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya can be found in the second part of this article. 10 T. 1435 at T. XXIII 345c10: 比丘尼應從比丘僧乞受具戒. This is not part of the account of the foundation of the order of bhikṣunīs, which in the Sarvāstivāda Vinaya is given in abbreviated form in T. 1435 at T. XXIII 291a1. The full account has been preserved in a Madhyama-āgama discourse, however, where a similar formulation can be found: MĀ 116 at T. I 606a5: “a bhikṣuṇī should seek the higher ordination from the bhikṣus,” 比丘尼當從比丘求受具足; translated in Anālayo (“Mahāpajāpatī’s” 279). The same formulation is also found in T. 60 at T. I 857b1. These two discourse versions differ from the Sarvāstivāda Vinaya insofar as, according to them, this is the first of the eight gurudharmas, not the second. 11 T. 1461 at T. XXIV 670c6: 比丘尼必定從比丘僧求得受具足戒. 12 Vin II 255,19: dve vassāni chasu dhammesu sikkhitasikkhāya sikkhamānāya ubhatosaṅghe upasampadā pariyesitabbā; this has already been translated by Horner (Book V 355); also see AN 8.51 at AN IV 277,9, which has been translated by Bodhi (1190), Hare (184), and Nyanatiloka and Nyanaponika (151). Here and elsewhere, Sanskrit terms are used even when translating from the Pāli, in order to facilitate comparison.
I.2 Comparative study Comparing the canonical Vinaya versions of the gurudharma stipulation concerning how bhikṣuṇī ordination should be carried out brings to light two significant differences. One of these two differences concerns the period to be observed as a probationer, or śikṣamāṇā. While the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya version simply speaks of a śikṣamāṇā who has trained in the precepts, the Mahāsāṃghika, Mahīśāsaka, and Theravāda Vinaya versions note that her probationary period lasts for two years. The Lokottaravāda-Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya also indicates that she should be eighteen years old. The Theravāda Vinaya provides still further detail, as it mentions that during these two
years the śikṣamāṇā has to observe six rules. Alongside these variations in the degree to which the details of the probationary training are introduced, perhaps the most prominent difference among these versions is that the formulations of this gurudharma in the Mūlasarvāstivāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Saṃmitīya Vinayas do not mention the need to observe a probationary period at all. In order to evaluate the significance of this difference, it is necessary to turn to another rule in those Vinayas that do mention the probationary period (the Dharmaguptaka, Mahīśāsaka, and Theravāda Vinayas), namely the regulation against ordaining a woman who is pregnant.13 In these three Vinayas, this rule reads as follows:
Dharmaguptaka Vinaya (no. 119): “If a bhikṣuṇī admits a pregnant woman and confers on her the higher ordination, this is a pātayantika.”14 Mahīśāsaka Vinaya (no. 116): “If a bhikṣuṇī gives the higher ordination to a pregnant woman, this is a pātayantika.”15 Theravāda Vinaya (no. 61): “Whatever bhikṣuṇī should ordain a pregnant woman, this is a pātayantika.” 16 The above versions are in fairly close agreement on this rule. The narration that precedes this rule reports that the bhikṣuṇīs had indeed ordained a pregnant woman. The repercussions that her condition caused among the laity occasioned the laying down of a regulation to prevent this from happening again in the future. Now the problem caused by ordaining a pregnant woman would not have arisen in the first place if it had been established procedure that any female candidate for higher ordination needs to have completed a two year training period as a śikṣamāṇā.17 The same three Vinayas explicitly indicate that such training comprises the observing of celibacy,18 hence it would have been
14 T. 1428 at T. XXII 754b26: 若比丘尼度他妊娠女人, 授具足戒者, 波逸提; this has been translated by Heirman (Discipline 763) and Kabilsingh (Bhikkhunī 194), and discussed by Heirman (“Where” 117). 15 T. 1421 at T. XXII 92b3: 若比丘尼與懷妊 (with 任 as a variant reading) 女受具足戒, 波逸提; this has been translated in Kabilsingh (Bhikkhunī 109). 16 Vin IV 317,20: yā pana bhikkhunī gabbhiniṃ vuṭṭhāpeyya, pācittiyan ti; this has been translated by Horner (Book III 361), Hüsken (Vorschriften 245), and Kabilsingh (Bhikkhunī 24). 17 This has been pointed out by, e.g., Anālayo (“Women’s” 83f), Heirman (Discipline 796 note 122), Heirman (“Some” 69f), Hüsken (Vorschriften 353), Kieffer-Pülz (“Ehe-” 202 note 9), Shi (420), and Sujato (Bhikkhuni 192f). 18 Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, T. 1428 at T. XXII 924b7; Mahīśāsaka Vinaya, T. 1421 at T. XXII 186b17; and Theravāda Vinaya, Vin IV 319,26. As noted by Hüsken (Vorschriften 251
impossible to complete the period successfully and be pregnant, if such training had indeed be in existence right from the time the order of bhikṣuṇīs came into existence. Thus the formulation of the gurudharma concerning bhikṣuṇī ordination in the Dharmaguptaka, Mahīśāsaka, and Theravāda Vinayas results in an internal inconsistency, as it implies that the probationary training was promulgated by the Buddha at the time when the order of bhikṣuṇīs began. This makes it safe to conclude that the formulation used in
these Vinayas is the result of a later development. By contrast, the Mūlasarvāstivāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Saṃmitīya Vinayas, which do not mention the need to observe a probationary period at all, appear to present an earlier formulation of this gurudharma. Another difference between the Vinaya versions of the gurudharma on bhikṣuṇī ordination concerns the question of who should confer the higher ordination: Should the female candidate request higher ordination from both communities, or just from the community of bhikṣus? While the formulation of the gurudharma in the LokottaravādaMahāsāṃghika, Mahāsāṃghika, Mahīśāsaka, and the Theravāda Vinayas stipulates ordination by both communities, the gurudharma in the Dharmaguptaka, Mūlasarvāstivāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Saṃmitīya Vinayas mentions only ordination given by bhikṣus. Taking into account the narrative context in which the promulgation of the gurudharmas is embedded, it was only after Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī had become a bhikṣuṇī by accepting these eight gurudharmas
note 647), the Sarvāstivāda Vinaya explicitly links the training as a probationer to the need to find out whether a candidate is pregnant, T. 1435 at T. XXIII 326b17: “From now on I prescribe that a śrāmaṇerikā trains for two years in the six principles, [so] it can be understood if she is pregnant or not”, 從今聽沙彌尼二學六法, 可知有娠無娠.
that an order of bhikṣuṇīs came into being.19 Hence it would be more natural for the Buddha to ask, as a precondition for granting her higher ordination, that the higher ordination of women be conducted in a way that was possible at that time, namely, through a community of bhikṣus, instead of requiring the cooperation of a community of bhikṣuṇīs, which at the time was yet to come into being.20 Thus the reference to ordination by bhikṣus in the Dharmaguptaka, Mūlasarvāstivāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Saṃmitīya Vinayas appears to reflect an earlier formulation of this particular gurudharma.21 In contrast, the reference to ordination by both communities – a community of bhikṣus and a community of bhikṣuṇīs – in the gurudharma in the Lokottaravāda-Mahāsāṃghika, Mahāsāṃghika, Mahīśāsaka, and Theravāda Vinayas, seems to be the result of a later change in the formulation, probably influenced by the way the higher ordination of bhikṣuṇīs was carried out at the time of the compilation of these Vinayas.22
more detailed study of the evolution of bhikṣuṇī ordination, especially of the ordination of the followers of Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī, is presently in preparation. 20 As pointed out by Tsedroen (“Relevance” 11), “it makes sense that the dual ordination is not yet mentioned, because there was no order of nuns at the time when these rules were set up.” 21 This position has already been argued by Jampa Tsedroen (“Foundation”) for the Mūlasarvāstivāda gurudharma. 22 Nevertheless, the account given in the Theravāda Vinaya can be read coherently as a legal document. On such a reading, which is the viewpoint that would be adopted by adherents of the tradition, the gurudharma stipulation could be seen as setting the general trend for the future, which was then supplemented by a permission for bhikṣus to ordain bhikṣuṇīs as an exception applicable to a situation when no community of bhikṣuṇīs is in existence; as discussed in Anālayo (“Legality”).
The historicity of the gurudharmas is a rather doubtful matter.23 Nevertheless, the point in time when the gurudharmas came into being must still be fairly early, since they are found in all Vinayas. When evaluated from the viewpoint of their narrative context, it seems clear that the formulations of the gurudharma concerning bhikṣuṇī ordination found in the Mūlasarvāstivāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Saṃmitīya Vinayas reflect an earlier version. This earlier version did not yet stipulate the necessity of training as a sikṣamāna and it prescribed ordination given by bhikṣus only, not by both communities. From a traditional viewpoint, the gurudharmas are of course considered as legally binding as any other canonical Vinaya rule. Thus the indication that ordination given by bhikṣus only would be a valid form of higher ordination is of considerable legal significance, since it points to the possibility that an order of bhikṣuṇīs could be initiated in the Tibetan Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition in this way.24 A closer study of this option is the topic of the second part of this paper.
Pülz (“buddhistische” 378 note 378), Kusumā (“Inaccuracies” 8), Shih (420f), Sujato (Bhikkhuni 51–81), and Verma (73). 24 Regarding the alternative options of dual ordination done with the assistance of Dharmaguptaka bhikṣuṇīs, Kieffer-Pülz (“Presuppositions” 223 and 225) comments: “If considered only in terms of traditional law, then it is seemingly not possible for the Mūlasarvāstivādin to accept Dharmaguptaka ordination in a way that allows them to carry out formal procedures together.” It would be “far less controversial . . . [if] the Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣuṇī lineage would be re-established by first ordaining the female candidates through the Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣu saṅgha.” The same holds true for the Theravāda tradition, where ordination by bhikṣus only appears to be legally valid in a situation where no bhikṣuṇī order is in existence, an option that in traditional eyes is certainly far less controversial than an ordination carried out with the assistance of Dharmaguptaka bhikṣuṇīs; see Anālayo (“Revival”).
II. Mūlasarvāstivāda Bhikṣuṇī Ordination by Bhikṣus This section of the paper examines the legal significance of the gurudharma concerning bhikṣuṇī ordination in relation to the question of whether such ordination can, in accordance with the Tibetan Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya tradition, be conferred by bhikṣus only without infringing the rules.25
II.1 The original promulgation of gurudharma 1 In what follows, the study of the first gurudharma is based on collating 13 different Kangyur editions of the *Bhikṣuṇīkarmavācanā section in the Vinayakṣudrakavastu (ʼDul ba phran tshegs kyi gzhi) and comparing them with what has been preserved in the respective Sanskrit fragments, ms. c.25(R) of the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.26 While the text as a whole is only preserved in Tibetan translation, the gurudharma we are concerned with here is fully preserved in three different places in the Sanskrit manuscript.
For the Theravāda Vinaya, ordination by bhikṣus alone has recently already been discussed in detail in Anālayo (“Legality” 316, 325–332). From this it is clear that, in case an ordination in cooperation with an existing bhikṣuṇī community is not possible, from a Theravāda perspective higher ordination of nuns by bhikṣus on their own is valid. 26 Edited by Ridding and de La Vallée Poussin and re-edited by Schmidt (“BhikṣuṇīKarmavācanā”). The manuscript appears to have consisted of 32 folios, of which 25 folios are preserved, while seven folios are missing: 1–2, 8, 12–14, and 32.
The 13 Kangyur editions of the Tibetan *Bhikṣuṇīkarmavācanā (*Mahāprajāpatīgautamīvastu and *Bhikṣuṇyupasaṃpadājñāpti) in the Vinayakṣudrakavastu27 in which gurudharma 1 is attested are as follows: 28 L: London Shelkar (ʼdul ba), bam po 37-38, na, 21a8-50b7 R: Gyantse Tempangma (ʼdul ba), bam po 37-38, na, 19a6-45b1 T: Tōyō bunko (ʼdul ba), bam po 37-38, na, 20a4-48a5 N: Narthang (ʼdul ba), bam po 37-38, da, 326b5-360b2 H: Lhasa (ʼdul ba), bam po 36-37, da, 150b5-182a6 S: Stog (ʼdul ba), bam po 37-38, tha, 146a4-178a5 Z: Shey (ʼdul ba), bam po 37-38, tha, 154b1-188b4 F: Phudrag (ʼdul ba), bam po 31-32, tha, 124a6-149a6 Q: Peking 1737 (ʼdul ba), bam po 36-37, ne, 97a6-116a2 K: Kʼang hsi (ʼdul ba), bam po 36-37, phe-be, 378a7-15a8 J: Jang Satham (Lithang) (ʼdul ba), bam po 36- 37, da, 99a1-118b1 B: Berlin29 (ʼdul ba), bam po 36-37, na-pa, 360b8-12a6
Unlike the case of the Vinayavastu, the translation of the Kṣudrakavastu was not revised. See Skorupski (Catalogue 4, 23). 28 In this article we are only able to provide such a detailed collation for passages from the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, not for others passages. The siglas are according to the Kanjur Resources: http://www.istb.univie.ac.at/kanjur/xml3/sub/sigla.php (accessed October 13, 2013). In addition to the 13 editions listed above, readings from the Dpe bsdur ma edition have also been noted as Dpe. 29 Peking 1680. See http://www.istb.univie.ac.at/kanjur/xml3/editions/berlin.php (accessed October 13, 2013).
D: Derge (ʼdul ba), bam po 36-37, da, 100a3-120b1
The first occurrence is the original promulgation of the gurudharma by the Buddha: kun dgaʼ bo dge slong rnams las30 bud med rnams31 kyis32 rab tu ʼbyung33 ba dang bsnyen34 par rdzogs nas dge slong maʼi dngos por ʼgyur35 ba36 rab tu rtogs par byaʼo.37 Ānanda, after women have received the going forth and the higher ordination from bhikṣus,38 they should well understand that they [[[attained]]] the status of a bhikṣuṇī.39 The Tibetan version differs from the corresponding Sanskrit fragment,40 which reads:
las LRTNHSZFQJD : lus KB. 31 rnams LRTNHSZQKBJD : om. F. 32 kyis LRTNHSQKBJD : kyi ZF. 33 byung F : ʼbyung LRTNHSZQKBJD. 34 bsnyen LRTNHSZQKBJD : snyen F. 35 ʼgyur LRTNHSZFQKJD : om. B. 36 ba LRTNHSZQKJD : om. B: bar F. 37 L 24b4; R 22a3; T 23b2; N 330b1; H 154a5; S 149b2; Z 157b3; F 127a5; Q 99b1; K 381b4; B 363b8; J 101a5; D 102a7; see Dpe 245.20. 38 On the translation “higher ordinationˮ or “full ordinationˮ for upasaṃpadā see Deleanu (“Transmissionˮ 3) and Tsedroen (“Erleuchtungspotenzialˮ 159). 39 The Tibetan dge slong maʼi dngos por ʼgyur ba would correspond to bhikṣuṇībhāvaḥ, “the having become a bhikṣuṇīˮ or “bhikṣuṇīhoodˮ. 40 Schmidt (“Bhikṣuṇī-Karmavācanā” 244,21 §4b4): bhikṣubhyaḥ sakāśād ānanda mātṛgrāmeṇa pravrajyopasaṃpad bhikṣuṇībhāvaḥ pratikāṃkṣitavya; this has already been
Tsedroen and Anālayo, The Gurudharma on Bhikṣuṇī Ordination 756 Ānanda, the going forth, higher ordination and the status of being a bhikṣuṇī should be expected by a woman from the bhikṣus.41 The second occurrence is when the gurudharma is reported by Ānanda to Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī: kun dgaʼ bo dge slong las42 bud med rnams kyis rab tu ʼbyung43 ba dang bsnyen44 par rdzogs te dge slong maʼi dngos por45 rab tu rtogs par byaʼo.46 Ānanda, receiving the going forth and the higher ordination from the bhikṣus, women should well understand that they [attain] the status of a bhikṣuṇī. The Sanskrit fragment reads: Ānanda, the going forth, higher ordination, and the status of a bhikṣuṇī should be expected by a woman from the bhikṣus.47
translated by Wilson in Paul (85); for the parallel in the Chinese translation of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, see above note 9. 41 Skt. singular mātṛgrāma; Tib. plural: bud med nams. 42 las LRTNHSZFQKBJD : lus B : la F. 43 ʼbyung QKBJD : byung LRTNHSZF. 44 bsnyen LRTNHSZQKBJD : snyen F. 45 por QKBJD : po LRTNHSZF. 46 L 26a5; R 23b2; T 25a3; N 332a5; H 156a1; S 151a4; Z 159a7; F 128b5; Q 100b2; K 383a5; B 365a8; J 102a7; D 103b1; see Dpe 248.13. 47 Schmidt (“Bhikṣuṇī-Karmavācanā” 246,26 §6b2): bhikṣubhyaḥ sakāśād ānanda mātṛgrāmeṇa pravrajyā upasaṃpad bhikṣuṇībhāvaḥ pratikāṃkṣitavyam; for the Chinese parallel see above note 9.
II.2 Gurudharma 1 in the ordination manual Instructions for the procedure to be adopted in the higher ordination of bhikṣuṇī are given in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya just after the narrative of Mahāprajāpatīʼs going forth. Although the wording is almost the same as before, the legal implications are different due to the placement of the gurudharma at the end of the manual for the bhikṣuṇī ordination rite (dge slong ma bsnyen par rdzogs par nye bar sgrub paʼi cho ga). The bhikṣuṇī ordination manual starts with the provision for admission, the taking of refuge, and the receiving of the precepts for lay followers (Tib. dge bsnyen ma, Skt. upāsikā), followed by the going forth (Tib. rab tu byung ba, Skt. pravrajyā), the taking of the precepts for novices (Tib. dge tshul ma, Skt. śrāmaṇerikā),48 and of the precepts for probationers (Tib. dge slob ma, Skt. śikṣamāṇā) from bhikṣuṇīs, and then culminates in the higher ordination. On the day of the higher ordination, the śikṣamāṇā, who should have observed her precepts for two years, first receives a formal agreement to become ordained, known as the brahmacaryopasthānasaṃvṛti (tshangs par spyod pa la rim gror bya baʼi sdom pa),49 from a community of twelve bhikṣuṇīs.50 Later on the same day, the high
Notably, in the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition pravrajyā and śrāmaṇerikā ordination are considered two different steps. In the living tradition, there are women, especially in the Karma Kagyü tradition, who have received the five upāsikā precepts and the going forth, but not the śrāmaṇerikā precepts. Legally they are considered to be lay women, although they usually live in a “nunnery.” In society they are referred to as “nuns” (ani), the same expression as used for śrāmaṇerikās. The main difference is that their lower robe (Tib. sham thabs; Skt. nivāsana) has no patches and they have no yellow/orange upper robe (Tib. stod g.yogs, Skt. uttarāsaṅga, Mvy 8934 bla gos), which śrāmaṇerikās wear during ceremonies. 49 Regarding this term, see Kieffer-Pülz (“Presuppositionsˮ 218 n. 4) and Sujato (“Vuṭṭhāna” 13f). 50 According to the traditional understanding, this is a vow given before the actual bhikṣuṇī vow is taken; it is regarded as an intermediate discipline that is substantially
er ordination is given in the presence of a two-fold community of ten bhikṣus and twelve bhikṣuṇīs.51 After ascertaining the time when the higher ordination has been received, the principles or guidelines to be observed are announced by the karmakāraka-bhikṣu (las byed paʼi dge slong pha). These principles are: 1. The three supports of life (Tib. gnas gsum, Skt. trayo niśrayāḥ), 2. The eight defeats (Tib. phas pham pa brgyad, Skt. *aṣṭau pārājikā dharmāḥ, see Mvy 8358), 3. The eight principles to be respected (Tib. bla maʼi chos brgyad, Skt. aṣṭau gurudharmāḥ) and 4. The four dharmas for a recluse (Tib. dge sbyong gi chos bzhi, Skt. catvāraḥ śramaṇīkāraka dharmāḥ). The formulation for the first gurudharma in this context is as follows: ming ʼdi zhes bya ba bud med52 kyis53 dge slong rnams las rab tu byung zhing bsnyen54 par rdzogs nas dge slong maʼi dngos por ʼgyur bar55 rab tu rtogs par byaʼo.56
the same as the śikṣamāṇā vow; see the Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo (2: 2254): tshangs spyod nyer gnas kyi sdom pa: dge slong maʼi sdom pa dngos ma blangs sngon la ʼbog paʼi sdom pa zhig ste, dge slob maʼi sdom pa dang rdzas rigs gcig pa bar maʼi tshul khrims so. 51 The details will be discussed in another article presently in preparation. Here we focus on the gurudharma only. 52 Here the Tibetan has, different from above, not the plural bud med rnams, but the singular bud med. 53 kyis TFQKBJD : kyi LRNHSZ. 54 bsnyen LRTNHSZQKBJD : snyen F. 55 ʼgyur bar LRTNHSZFQKBJD : gyur pa F.
[You], named so-and-so, after a woman has received the going forth and the higher ordination from the bhikṣus, she should fully understand that she has become a bhikṣuṇī.57 The Sanskrit fragment repeats the formulation used earlier, except that it adds the specification “named so-and-so.ˮ Thus it reads: [You], named so-and-so, the going forth, the higher ordination and the state of being a bhikṣuṇī should be expected by a woman from the bhikṣus.58 What is rather significant here is not the slight variation in the formulation of this gurudharma, but the fact that it is part of the manual for bhikṣuṇī ordination (Skt. *bhikṣuṇyupasaṃpadājñāpti) and thus integral part of the bhikṣuṇī ordination rite (Tib. dge slong ma sgrub pa'i cho ga, in short ma chog, Skt. *bhikṣuṇī karmavidhi), which can be expected to have
56 L 48b1; R 43b2; T 46a2; N 358a2; H 180a1; S 175b7; Z 185b8; F 147a4; Q 114b2; K 12b7; B 10a7; J 116b8; D 118b7; Dpe 286.16. 57 Other occurrences of this gurudharma can be found in the “Section on Rites and Acts in connection with the bhikṣuṇī pravrajyāvastuˮ (dge slong maʼi rab tu byung baʼi gzhiʼi skabs kyi cho ga dang las rnams) in the Ekottarakarmaśataka, D 4118, (ʼdul ba), wu, 139a1: ming ʼdi zhes bya ba dge slong mas dge slong rnams las rab tu ʼbyung ba dang bsnyen par rdzogs pa dge slong maʼi dngos po yongs su btsal bar bya ba; as well as in the Abhidharmakośopayikāṭīkā, D 4094 (mngon pa), ju, 213a2: kun dgaʼ bo bud med kyi tshogs dag gis rab tu byung zhing bsnyen par rdzogs pa dge slong maʼi dngos po dge slong dag las blang bar bya ste. 58 Schmidt (“Bhikṣuṇī-Karmavācanā” 269,5 §29b5): bhikṣubhyaḥ śakāsād evaṃnāmike mātṛgrāmeṇa pravrajyā upasaṃpat bhikṣuṇībhāvaḥ pratikāṃkṣitavya. The whole four-part announcement is also found in the Vinayasūtra, which similarly at this point refers in an abbreviated manner to gurudharma 1; see Bapat and Gokhale (53,14): upasaṃpad bhikṣubhyaḥ; see also T. 1453 at T. XXIV 464c3.
been used in India for centuries, that is, until the time when the Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣuṇī order ceased to exist.59 From a legal perspective, an ordination received by accepting the eight gurudharmas is considered an ancient rite (sngon chog),60 whereas the ordination received before both communities became the current rite (da chog),61 and it is this current rite that should be followed. Yet, the advice to receive the going forth and the higher ordination from bhikṣus remained part of the latter rite, i.e., the current rite, and is therefore still valid. A prohibition (dgag pa) that an ordination cannot be performed by bhikṣus alone is in fact not recorded in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya.62 To summarize, the indication that bhikṣuṇīs should receive ordination from bhikṣus is, depending on circumstances, still valid. In legal terms as understood in the living tradition, the first gurudharma would have to be considered either as a permission (gnang ba) or as a prescription (sgrub pa). Of course, this does not mean that bhikṣus can give higher ordination solely by means of asking Buddhist women to accept the eight gurudharmas, that is, just by stating that accepting the eight gurudharmas is their going forth and higher ordination in the same way that, according to the texts, the Buddha did in the case of Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī.63 In
A more detailed discussion of the transmission of the Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣuṇī ordination is presently in process. 60 Tib. sngon gyi cho ga, Skt. purākalpa; see Mvy 9281. 61 Tib. da ltar byung ba'i cho ga, Skt. vartamānakalpa. 62 See Geshe Rinchen Ngödrup’s statement in Mohr and Tsedroen (Dignity 261, note 4). 63 As pointed out by Tsering (“Lampˮ 164f): “Today women cannot be fully ordained through simply accepting the gurudharmas. They should be ordained gradually by means of the present ceremonial rite (da ltar gyi cho ga)ˮ; see Tsering (Nyams zhib 31); also see the statement by Samdhong Rinpoche in Mohr and Tsedroen (Dignity 255).
stead, it means that, depending on circumstances, bhikṣus today can give the going forth as well as the higher ordination to bhikṣuṇīs. The permission to do so has never been withdrawn and thus is still valid. In such a case, even a minor fault (Tib. nyes byas, Skt. duṣkṛta) of the monastic rules is not incurred.64 The situation would be different if a qualified community of bhikṣuṇīs were present. In such a case, if a community of bhikṣus were to give ordination without involving the community of bhikṣuṇīs, those who gave the ordination would commit an offense (Tib. ltung ba, Skt. āpatti).65 But in the absence of bhikṣuṇīs, bhikṣus are authorized or even have the duty to ordain women, if requested to do so, provided the necessary conditions on the side of the candidate are met.66
subtle form of rūpa; see Dhammajoti (14f)). It is believed to cease with the body at death, provided it has neither been returned nor broken by committing a major defeat (Tib. pham pa, Skt. pārājika). This avijñāptirūpa is generated out of certain causes and conditions. In the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya context, it is important to note that the Abhidharmakośabhāṣya (Chos mngon pa'i mdzod kyi bshad pa), D 4090, ku, 176b1, in relation to verse II.14b-c, explains that in substance or in essence the vow of a bhikṣuṇī does not differ from that of a bhikṣu. It is only the name that changes according to gender: rdzas su rnam pa bzhi yin no | | dge slong gi sdom pa dang | dge tshul gyi sdom pa dang | dge bsnyen gyi sdom pa dang | bsnyen gnas kyi sdom pa'o | | de ltar nas sor thar pa'i sdom pa ni mtshan nyid so sor nges pa'i phyir rdzas nyid du rnam pa de bzhin yin te | dge slong gi sdom pa las ni dge slong ma'i sdom pa gzhan ma yin no | | dge tshul gyi sdom pa las kyang dge slob [em. slob : slong D] ma dang | dge tshul ma'i sdom pa gzhan ma yin no | | dge bsnyen gyi sdom pa las kyang dge bsnyen ma'i sdom pa gzhan ma yin no | | ji ltar shes she na | mtshan las ming ni 'pho ba'i phyir. See also Bapat and Gokale (VinayaSūtra xli and xliii).
II.3 The interim steps for higher ordination Besides the going forth and the higher ordination, several interim steps are required for completing the gradual ordination procedure for women in the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition. Thus the question arises as to whether, in the absence of a bhikṣuṇī saṃgha, the additional intermediate stages prescribed for women are required and, if so, whether they can also be given by bhikṣus. For many centuries now, it has been common in the Tibetan tradition for bhikṣus, including H.H. the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, to give the upāsikā precepts, the going forth, and the śrāmaṇerikā precepts to women by employing the male manual for ordination (pha chog). This means that the same manual is used for giving upāsaka (dge bsnyen) precepts, the going forth, and the śrāmaṇera (dge tshul) precepts to women as is used in giving these precepts to men. For the specific intermediate steps, however, the manual for females (ma chog) has to be applied, since the manual for males does not provide formulas for conferring the śikṣamāṇā precepts and the brahmacāryopasthānasaṃvṛti. These intermediate steps are necessary in order to arrive at what tradition reckons to be “flawless and perfect bhikṣuṇī vowsˮ (dge slong maʼi sdom pa nyes med phun sum tshogs pa).67 These steps include the requirement that a female candidate receive the śiksāmāṇā precepts (to be observed for two years), and the brahmacāryopasthānasaṃvṛti, which is to be given on the day of higher ordination. Both are supposed to be conferred by a bhikṣuṇī saṃgha alone.
Tsering (“Lamp” 173) and Finnegan (“Flawless” 197).
As already pointed out by Samdhong Rinpoche during the Hamburg congress in 2007, Bhikṣus may if necessary leave their summer retreat to confer śikṣamāṇā ordination, which is normally given by bhikṣuṇīs alone. This allowance implies that bhikṣuṇīs are not available to give such ordination themselves. Inferring from this . . . where no bhikṣuṇīs are available, the brahmacarya and bhikṣuṇī ordination ceremonies may also be performed by the bhikṣu saṅgha alone.68 The relevant Vinaya passage can be found in the Varṣavastu, in the section concerning the rainy season retreat. This passage indicates that a bhikṣu can leave his rainy season retreat for up to seven days in the following cases: 1. A śrāmaṇerikā asks him to come in order to confer on her the training of a śikṣamāṇā;69 2. A śikṣamāṇā who has completed the two years training period asks him to come in order to confer on her the higher ordination.70
Mohr and Tsedroen (Dignity 256). 69 The formulation employed indicates explicitly that the bhikṣu may leave in order to confer the training in the six principles and the six minor principles, D (ʼdul ba), ka, 244b5, H (ʼdul ba), ka, 342a4: chos drug dang | rjes su mthun paʼi chos drug gi bslab pa stsal du gsol, see also Dutt (143,5): ṣaṭsu dharmeṣu ṣaṭsv anudharmeṣu śikṣāṃ dāsyanti, and T. 1445 at T. XXIII 1043b15: 願為我授六法, 六隨法. This makes it clear that the point at issue is the formal initiation into the probationary training, pace Heirman (“Becoming” 190). 70 D (ʼdul ba), ka, 244b1, H (ʼdul ba), ka, 341b4; see Dutt (142,13).
The allowance that a bhikṣu may leave the rainy season retreat in order to give higher ordination to a sikṣamāṇā can be understood in two ways: 1. He might go to participate in an higher ordination performed together with a bhikṣuṇī community, or 2. He might go to participate in a higher ordination performed by a bhikṣu community alone. That the higher ordination can be given by bhikṣus alone is only clear from the first gurudharma. In at least two major Indian Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya commentaries, we find an allowance that not only permits a bhikṣu community to give the vow (sdom pa) of full ordination and the vow of a śikṣamāṇā, but also to give the brahmacāryopasthānasaṃvṛti. The latter is usually given by a bhikṣuṇī community alone on the day of higher ordination. According to Ācārya Dharmamitra’s Extended Commentary on the Vinayasūtra:71 The meaning of “It is also [similar] for the śikṣamāṇās regarding the brahmacarya upasthāna vow and full ordination” is: If a śikṣamāṇā wishes to receive the brahmacarya upasthāna vow and also full ordination and the śikṣamāṇā is outside the boundary (sīmā) [of the bhikṣus], then to accomplish these two purposes for the benefit of the Dhar
ʼDul baʼi mdoʼi rgya cher ʼgrel pa (Vinayasūtraṭīkā), D 4120 (ʼdul ba), yu, 138b5: dge slob maʼi tshangs par spyod pa la nye bar gnas paʼi sdom pa dang bsnyen par rdzogs par bya ba la yang ngo zhes bya ba ni | dge slob ma mtshams kyi phyi rol na gnas pa rnams kyis tshangs par spyod pa la nye bar gnas paʼi sdom pa mnod pa dang | bsnyen par rdzogs par bya ba chos dang ldan paʼi don de gnyis byung na de dag bsgrub paʼi don du yang dge slong dbyar gnas par khas blangs pa mtshams kyi nang na ʼdug pas zhag bdun man chad mtshams kyi phyi rol du ʼgro zhing de tshun chad kyis phyir ʼkhor bar byin gyis brlab bo zhes bya bar sbyar ro.
ma—to bestow the brahmacarya upasthāna vow and to give full ordination—bhikṣus, even if they have accepted the rainy season [restrictions] and are inside the boundary, may leave the boundary for up to seven days after having done the requisite blessing, stating that they will return within this time.72 This is a commentary on the following sentence in Guṇaprabha’s Vinayasūtra:73 It is also [similar] for the śikṣamāṇās regarding the brahmacaryopasthānasaṃvṛti and the higher ordination. While these indications are not from the Vinaya itself, but from the commentaries, they carry comparable importance for members of the tradition, who consider the Vinaya commentaries as authoritative.74
Conclusion From what has been discussed above there is clear canonical evidence that, based on the first gurudharma, bhikṣus can give all stages of a womanʼs ordination, starting with the going forth and reaching all the way up to the higher ordination, if circumstances so require. If these steps are
This is the translation already given in Tsering (“Lamp” 177). 73 Tengyur D 4117 (ʼdul ba), wu, 63a5: dge slob maʼi tshangs par spyod pa la nye bar gnas paʼi sdom pa dang bsnyen par rdzogs par bya ba la yang ngo. 74 As Samdhong Rinpoche in Mohr and Tsedroen (Dignity 255) emphasizes, “Tibetans strictly follow the Indian commentaries on it by Guṇaprabha and Dharmamitra.” Finnegan (“Flawless” 199) explains that “the root Vinaya text . . . is no longer read by most Tibetan monks or scholars. Instead, Vinaya education and the regulation of monastic life are centered on Guṇaprabhaʼs highly condensed interpretive digest and the vast commentarial tradition based on his work.ˮ Tsedroen and Anālayo, The Gurudharma on Bhikṣuṇī Ordination 766
Abbreviations AN Aṅguttara-nikāya B Berlin edition D Derge edition Dpe Bkaʼ ʼgyur dpe bsdur ma edition F Phudrag edition H Lhasa edition J Jang Satham edition K Kʼang hsi edition L London Shelkar edition MĀ Madhyama-āgama (T 26) Mvy Mahāvyutpatti N Narthang edition Q Peking edition R Gyantse Tempangma edition S Stog Skt. Sanskrit T. Taishō edition (CBETA)
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