A Comparative Study of the Pratimoksa (On the Basis of its Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit and Pali Versions)

A Comparative Study of the Pratimoksa (On the Basis of its Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit and Pali Versions)

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Book Specification

Item Code: IDK225
Author: W. Pachow
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 9788120815723
Pages: 256
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.9" X 5.7"

Book Description

From the Jacket

The Pratimoksa is a code of Buddhist monastic disciplinary rules governing the daily conduct and decorum of bhiksus (monks). It was established by the Buddha on various occasions out of necessity. This work discusses the historical, cultural, religious and social issues in ancient India in relation to the rationale of formulating particular precepts. Depending on the special circumstances some of the rules may be enforced or suspended. On the basis of this code the Buddhist Sangha has the authority to impose punishment on the offender which ranges from expulsion to sanctions of probation, penance, forfeiture, repentance or confession. By effectively enforcing the code of Pratimoksa and observing the fortnightly recitation ceremony related to this text, the Sangha may attain the fruition of purity, harmony and spiritual liberation.

This study has made an extensive comparison of the various versions belonging to different Buddhist sects in Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese and Tibetan languages. As a sequel it reveals how in a period of several centuries this code had expanded from 218 rules of the Mahasanghikas to 263 of the Sarvastivadins. Viewing the text from the historical perspective one may better understand the significance of the legal, social and religious life of the Buddhist Sangha.

Dr. W. Pachow is Professor Emeritus of Asian Religions and Buddhist Studies at the University of Iowa School of Religion, Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.A. Prior to this position he studied in China and India and taught at the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, the University of Allahabad, India, and the University of Ceylon,


Being unable to solve the mystery manifested in the universe, ancient Indian seers turned to the inner consciousness searching for the infinite and the eternal, so that they may attain to enlightenment and emancipation. By treading the Aryan path of spiritual realization, Gautama Buddha achieved his ultimate objective and created a religion on the foundation of righteousness and morality. The doctrines and practices taught by him are rational, practical and easy to understand. As a sequel the growth of Buddhism was rapid and people of all walks of life flocked to him for refuge and became his disciples. This group of mendicants (bhiksus) has been known as the Buddhist Sangha. As each of these bhiksus came from a particular social or religious background the new communal life under the supervision of the Buddha may cause discordance without a set of regulations to be observed by all. It was under these circumstances there arose the necessity of a code of conduct for them. The disciplinary rules established by the Buddha on numerous occasions were later on classified into eight sections amounting to about two hundred fifty precepts entitled, Bhiksu Pratimoksa Sutra. If anyone should violate a particular precept, certain penalty or punishment would be imposed on the guilty individual. Depending on the nature of the offence the punishment may be light or severe. Being a religion of compassion, expulsion is the worst sentence an offender would ever receive. In comparison to a normal secular chastisement, the Buddhist way is very mild and humane.

The present work discusses the religious background and other factors which influenced the formation of the Buddhist code of conduct, the fortnightly recitation of the Pratimoksa Sutra, the rationale or cause for establishing a particular rule, the function and authority of the Pratimoksa in relation to the Sangha, the development of the text among the Buddhist sects, the importance of the Pratimoksa in Buddhist history and other associated topics. By obeying the admonition of the Buddha and observing the code of conduct, members of the Sangha will lead a life in purity, harmony and emancipation.

In the early nineteen forties when I was studying at the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, India (This Institute was founded by poet Rabindranath Tagore winner of the Nobel Prize in literature), this work was prepared for a Ph.D. degree in the University of Bombay, India. In the preparatory stage I was profoundly indebted to Prof. V.V. Gokhale of the University of Poona, my teacher and supervisor for his learned advice on various matters concerning my thesis, to the late Prof. P.C. Bagchi, Research Professor of the Visva-Bharati Cheena-Bhavana for consultation on ancient Indian religious traditions and to the late Prof. Tan Yun-shan, Director of the Visva-Bharati Cheena-Bhavana and founder of the Sino-Indian Cultural Society for his advice and guidance on academic and other matters. I am extremely grateful to them for their magnanimous blessings. With the assistance of these scholars it was published by the Sino-Indian Cultural Society, Santiniketan, in 1955. Being a scholarly dissertation the number of printed copies was severely limited. It was out of print within a few years of its appearance. No, it is heartening to learn that the management of Motilal Banarsidass Pvt. Ltd., a leading Indological publisher in Delhi, India has proposed to publish it in the 'Buddhist Tradition' series. I appreciate greatly this welcome opportunity and hope that its availability may facilitate, in a small measure, the advancement of Buddhist studies, and it may generate some interest among scholars in the area of Asian religions and literature.


This excellent coverage by W. Pachow of the Pratimoksa code of Buddhist Vinaya originally appeared in parts in Sino-Indian Studies (Santiniketan) in its Vol. (1951) and in its Vol. V. (1955). Pachow is correct in stressing the importance of this code as going back to earliest Buddhism, besides implicating early Buddhist Councils. The meaning of 'comparative' in his title is that Pachow does not restrict himself to Pali, but usually presents in addition many other traditions, such as the Sarvastivadin. After much useful introduction, Pachow gives his translation of the text, with both Pali and Sanskrit equivalents, and alternate renderings for the terms, including references to the Tibetan version (as it had been translated into English).

Of course, the reprinting of the entire text required some re-editing; and this has probably improved the text for the reader of the final version, which is an invaluable scholarly account of the early Buddhist Vinaya.


Foreword vii
Preface ix
Abbreviations xiii
Introduction 1-63
I The Meaning of Pratimoksa 4
II Number, date and authorship of the Pratimoksa Rules 7
III Pratimoksa and the Councils 18
IV Text and the Schools 29
V Differences of Interpretation 42
VI The Saiksa Dharmas 46
VII Pratimoksa, its external influences and function 56
VIII Conclusion 63
Pratimoksa Sarvastivada (Nidana) 67-198
I The Four Parajika Dharmas 71
II The Thirteen Samghavasesa Dharmas 75
III The Two Aniyata Dharmas 89
IV The Thirty Nihsargika Patayantika Dharmas 91
V The Ninety Patayantika Dharmas 112
VI The Four Pratidesaniya Dharmas 158
VII The Sambahulah Saiksa Dharmas 162
VIII The Seven Adhikaranasamatha Dharmas 190
IX Conclusion 192
Appendix I: Classification of the Pratimoksa Rules of the Sarvastivadin School 201
Appendix II: Patayantika Rules not found in the Sv. But found in other Texts 203
Appendix III: Classification of the Saiksa Dharmas of the Sarvastivadin School 205
Appendix IV: Concordance Tables of the Pratimoksa Rules 207
Appendix V: The Pratimoksa and the Vinaya 227
Bibliography 233
Index 235

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