Varṣa skandhaka

Source: Taishō (CBETA edition), Vol. 22, pp. 830–835. Translated by Christie Chang. Edited by Bhikṣunī Thubten Chodron and Venerable Thubten Damcho, with clarifications by Bhikṣunī Heng Ching. First published by the Bodhi Foundation for Culture and Education.

  1. Once, when the Buddha was at Jetavana in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Śrāvastī, the group of six bhikṣus wandered everywhere, at all times during the spring, summer, and winter.1 During the summer, the pouring rain caused floods and washed away their robes, bowls, sitting mats, and needle containers. The bhikṣus trampled on and killed living plants. At that time, the laypeople saw this and criticized the bhikṣus, saying, “Sons of the Śakyans have no integrity and consideration for others, trampling on and killing living plants. They claim they know the proper Dharma, but how can this be the proper Dharma when they trample on living plants and sever their life faculties, wandering everywhere and at all times during the spring, summer, and winter; and during the summer season, the pouring rain causes floods that wash away their robes, bowls, sitting mats, and needle containers?
  2. “Even the practitioners of other sects observe three-month varṣa (rains retreat). Still these sons of Śakyans wander everywhere at all times during the spring, summer, and winter, and during the summer season, the pouring rain causes floods and washes away their robes bowls, sitting mats, and needle containers. They trample on living plants and sever their life faculties.
  3. “Even insects and birds stay in their nests [during the rains], yet the sons of Śakyans wander everywhere, at all times during the spring, summer, and winter. During the summer season, the pouring rain causes floods and washes away their robes, bowls, sitting mats, and needle containers. They trample on living plants and sever their life faculties.”
  4. Then other bhikṣus heard [the laypeople’s criticism]. Some of the bhikṣus, having less desire, being more contented, observing ascetic practices, taking delight in learning the precepts, and having integrity and consideration for others, admonished the group of six bhikṣus, “How can you walk around and trample on living plants and sever their life faculties everywhere at all times during the spring, summer, and winter? During the summer season, the pouring rain causes floods and washes away your robes, bowls, sitting mats, and needle containers. Those laypeople believe that plants have sentience.2 You have caused the laypeople to criticize [the saṅgha], and thus caused them to create negativity.”3
  5. These bhikṣus went to the Buddha, bowed to the Buddha and sat on one side. They reported this matter to the Buddha, and the Buddha, gathering the bhikṣu saṅgha, admonished the group of six bhikṣus with skillful means, “What you did was wrong. You should not do what is not in accord with decorum, pure conduct, monastic rules, and societal norms. How can you walk around and trample on living plants and sever their life faculties everywhere, at all times during the spring, summer, and winter? During the summer season, the pouring rain causes floods and washes away your robes, bowls, sitting mats, and needle containers. The laypeople believe that plants have sentience, thus you have caused them to criticize [the saṅgha] and create negativity.”
  6. After admonishing the group of six bhikṣus with skillful means, the Buddha told the bhikṣus, “You should not wander about at all times during the spring, summer, and winter. From now on, I allow you bhikṣus to observe summer varṣa for three months.
  7. “You should go to the vinaya master you rely on and say, ‘I will observe varṣa here. Elder, please listen. I Bhikṣu _____ rely on _____ village, _____ monastery, _____ room to observe summer varṣa for three months, after the damages in the residence have been repaired.’ Make this statement three times. You should do the same for the later three-month varṣa.”
  8. Once, some bhikṣus stayed in a residence where there was no vinaya master, hence they did not know to whom they should make the declaration [for observing varṣa]. They wondered whether their varṣa was valid. They asked the Buddha, and the Buddha answered, “If you have intentionally entered varṣa, the retreat is valid. From now on, I allow you bhikṣus, if you do not have a vinaya master whom you can rely on, to perform the individual karman of the varṣa.”4
  9. Once, some bhikṣus stayed in a residence where there was no vinaya master, and they did not know how to make the declaration [for observing varṣa]. They also forgot to do the individual karman of the varṣa. They wondered whether their varṣa was valid. They asked the Buddha, and the Buddha answered, “If you have come intentionally for varṣa, the varṣa is valid.”
  10. Once, some bhikṣus were entering the territory of the retreat area, when dawn broke.5 They wondered whether their varṣa was valid. They asked the Buddha, and the Buddha answered, “If you have come intentionally for varṣa, the varṣa is valid.”
  11. Once, some bhikṣus were entering the monastery [in the retreat territory], when dawn broke. They wondered whether their varṣa was valid. They asked the Buddha, and the Buddha answered, “If you have come intentionally for varṣa, the varṣa is valid.”
  12. Once, some bhikṣus were entering the territory of the retreat area with one foot in and one foot out, when dawn broke. They wondered whether their varṣa was valid. They asked the Buddha, and the Buddha answered, “If you have come intentionally for varṣa, the varṣa is valid.”
  13. Once, some bhikṣus were entering the monastery [in the retreat territory] with one foot in and one foot out, when dawn broke. They wondered whether their varṣa was valid. They asked the Buddha, and the Buddha answered, “If you have come intentionally for varṣa, the varṣa is valid.”
  14. Once, at the end of varṣa, incoming bhikṣus came to expel the residing bhikṣus.6 The Buddha said, “[Incoming bhikṣus] should not expel the residing bhikṣus and [the residing bhikṣus] should not leave.”
  15. Once, some bhikṣus accepted their rooms without checking the conditions of the rooms and their bedding, so they did not get good rooms and bedding. They said angrily to the residing bhikṣus, “You do not act fairly. You assign good rooms and bedding to those you favor; you assign bad rooms and bedding to those whom you do not favor. Since you do not favor me, you have given me a bad room and bad bedding.” Then the bhikṣus reported this matter to the Buddha.
  16. The Buddha said to the bhikṣus, “Before observing varṣa, you should check the conditions of your rooms and bedding before accepting them. From now on, I allow you to appoint a distributor to assign rooms and bedding through a one-motion one-proclamation karman. Those who have the following five negative qualities should not be assigned as the distributor for rooms and bedding: partiality, anger, fear, ignorance, and not knowing what to distribute and what not to distribute. Those who have the aforementioned five negative qualities should not be assigned as the distributor for rooms and bedding. Those who have the following five virtuous qualities should be appointed as the distributor for rooms and bedding. Those who are free from partiality, anger, fear, ignorance, and know what to distribute and what not to distribute should be the distributor of rooms and bedding.
  17. “You should appoint someone who is capable of performing the karman, not on the basis of whether he is senior or junior, nor on the basis of his familiarity with the vinaya. The appointed person should declare the motion as follows:

    [Motion]: Virtuous saṅgha, please listen. If the saṅgha is ready, may the saṅgha agree to appoint Bhikṣu _____ as the distributor of rooms and bedding. This is the motion.

    [Proclamation]: Virtuous saṅgha, please listen. The saṅgha now appoints Bhikṣu _____ as the distributor of rooms and bedding. Those who agree that the saṅgha appoints Bhikṣu _____ as the distributor of rooms and bedding remain silent. Those who do not agree speak up.

    [Conclusion]: Since the assembly has shown its silent approval, this bhikṣu saṅgha has completed appointing Bhikṣu _____ as the distributor of rooms and bedding. This matter will proceed as decided.

  18. “After the distributor of rooms and bedding has been assigned, the distributor counts the number of bhikṣus, rooms, and bedding. He also finds out how many rooms are occupied and how many rooms are empty, how many rooms have bedding and how many do not, how many rooms have blankets and how many do not, how many rooms have material supplies and how many do not, how many have utensils and how many do not, how many have robes provided by laypeople and how many do not, and how many have offerings and how many do not, and who the residence manager is.
  19. “If there is a residence manager, he should [first] ask the senior saṅgha members which rooms they wish to take and which they do not. After the distributor has counted the rooms and bedding, he should go to the most senior saṅgha member and say, “Venerable, please choose a room and bedding as you please.” After giving a room to the most senior saṅgha member, next he should assign a room to the second senior saṅgha member. After giving a room to the second senior saṅgha member, he should assign a room to the third senior saṅgha member. After giving a room to the third senior saṅgha member, he should assign a room to the fourth senior saṅgha member. Thus he should distribute accordingly until the most junior member.
  20. “If there are any rooms and bedding left, the distributor should start [the round of] the distribution procedure from the most senior saṅgha member again. If there are still extras left, they should be made available as accommodations for incoming bhikṣus. If there are incoming bhikṣus coming, the extras should be made available to them. If the incoming bhikṣus are without virtue, they should not be accommodated. If the incoming bhikṣus are virtuous, they should be accommodated. If there are still extras, they should be kept. The extra rooms should not be closed off [if needed]. If [the distributor] closes off extra rooms, he should be dealt with according to the rules.”
  21. Once, a bhikṣu received a dilapidated room and he thought, “I should not take this room in case they make me repair it.” The other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “He should take the room and repair it according to his ability.”
  22. Once, some bhikṣus were assigned [to stay in] the saṅgha gathering places, such as the sauna, the summer hall, and the walking meditation hall. Incoming bhikṣus arrived and had no place to stay. The other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “The common saṅgha gathering places, such as the sauna, the summer hall, and the walking meditation hall should not be distributed. If the lower level of the hall is a gathering place, the upper level can be assigned [as accommodation]. If the upper level of the hall is a gathering place, the lower level can be assigned [as accommodation].”
  23. Once, after seeing all the rooms, some bhikṣus saw a quiet cave and thought, “We shall observe varṣa here.” Later, some other bhikṣus also found this quiet cave and thought, “We shall observe varṣa here.” By the 16th [of the 4th month], many bhikṣus were gathered in this cave. The cave became too crowded and many diseases spread. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “If the bhikṣus wish to observe varṣa in similar places like this, they should make marks first, such as: a handprint, an image of a wheel, Maheśvara, creepers, grapevines, flowers, or five colors, or write names signifying that so-and-so will dwell in this place.”
  24. The Buddha allowed those who had left their marks first to reside [in the dwelling]. Later, one bhikṣu left a dwelling without erasing his name-mark. Other bhikṣus perceived that the dwelling was occupied and so did not dare to stay there. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “One should not leave [a dwelling] without erasing one’s name-mark; one should leave after erasing one’s name-mark.
  25. Once, people living at the border rebelled, and King Prasenajit led the army himself to quell the rebellion. Many bhikṣus happened to be nearby and their residence was too small to accommodate them all. The bhikṣus thought, “The Buddha asked us to distribute the beds equally.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “I allow you to distribute the beds equally. If space is insufficient, you should distribute the string beds equally. If space is still insufficient, you should distribute space for lying down equally. If that is still insufficient, you should distribute the space for sitting equally.”
  26. Some bhikṣus moved the assigned bedding to another room. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “You should not move bedding around.”
  27. It happened that there were rooms with extra bedding while there were rooms with insufficient bedding. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “I allow you to move the bedding after you request permission from the dwellers who arrived before you, such as the stūpa keeper, the residence manager, or those who are the room’s residents for varṣa.”
  28. Some bhikṣus departed without returning the [extra] bedding to its original location. The bhikṣus who arrived later thought that the bedding belonged in that room and continued to use it. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “They should not leave without returning the bedding. They should leave after returning the bedding. Otherwise, they should be dealt with according to the rules.”
  29. Once, there was a room that was damaged. The bhikṣus were cautious [about moving bedding] because the Buddha had prohibited moving the bedding from one room to another. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “If a room is damaged, I allow you to move bedding from the damaged room to another room.”
  30. After moving the bedding, the bhikṣus did not use it and bugs caused it to rot. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “They should use the bedding.”
  31. Since the Buddha told them to use the bedding, the bhikṣus did not use [the bedding] to wash nor clean their feet. Instead they used it as their inner robes. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “They should not use the bedding to wash or clean their feet nor as their inner robes.
  32. The bhikṣus became cautious as the Buddha said that they should not use the bedding as their inner robes. As a result, they did not touch the bedding with their hands or feet. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “The bedding should not be used [as an inner robe] to cover the body from above the knees up to below the armpits. There is no harm in touching it with your hands and feet.”
  33. Once, a lay follower offered inner robes to the bhikṣus, and the bhikṣus, being cautious, did not accept them because the Buddha had prohibited them from wearing inner robes. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “You should do as the laypeople wish.”
  34. It happened that after a room was repaired, the bedding was not returned to this room. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “When a room is repaired, the bedding should be returned to the repaired room. Those who do not do so should be dealt with according to the rules.”
  35. It happened that one bhikṣu moved the assigned bedding in one vihāra to another. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “He should not move the bedding from one vihāra to another.”
  36. It happened that there were terrible disasters, such as [attacks from] enemies, rebellions, or the country and cities being destroyed, people harmed and killed and houses damaged. Many bhikṣus were cautious [about moving], because the Buddha had prohibited the bhikṣus from moving bedding from one vihāra to another. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “If there are terrible disasters, such as [attacks from] enemies, rebellions, or the country and cities being destroyed, people harmed and killed, and houses damaged, I allow you to move the bedding to other places.”
  37. Once, there were bhikṣus who were cautious because the Buddha had prohibited them from covering their bodies with the bedding. As a result, they did not cover themselves properly. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “The bhikṣus should adjust [the bedding] to cover their bodies appropriately.”
  38. “If other bhikṣus come to request things that they should not request, the bhikṣus should not give them what they request. The bhikṣus should only give to those who are trustworthy and will return what is given.”
  39. Later, peace was restored in the country and cities, people returned to their homes, and the vihāras were reestablished. However, the bhikṣus did not return the bedding. Other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “If peace is restored in the country and cities, people return to their homes, and the vihāras are reestablished, [the bhikṣus] should return the bedding. If not, they should be dealt with according to the rules.”
  40. Once, in a retreat residence, the saṅgha members from all four directions received a huge amount of undistributed bedding, string beds, wooden beds, quilts, pillows, and blankets of all sorts, carpets, bottles, canes, and fans. The bhikṣus did not know how to distribute these materials and reported it to the Buddha. The Buddha said, “I allow you to distribute [first] to those who do not have bedding in their rooms. If there are extras, you should distribute them starting from the most senior saṅgha member.”
  41. Once, Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana wished to observe varṣa with the Buddha. They set off on the 15th [of the 4th lunar month] and did not arrive until the 17th of [the 4th lunar month]. They did not know what to do. They told the bhikṣus, the bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “I allow you to observe the later varṣa. There are two kinds of varṣa, the earlier and the later. The earlier varṣa takes place in the earlier three months, and the later varṣa takes place in the later three months.”
  42. Those who observed the earlier varṣa wished to give the pravāraṇa. Those who resided in the later varṣa did not know if they could also give the pravāraṇa or not. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “I allow you to give the pravāraṇa, but you still have to stay for three full months.”
  43. Those who observed the earlier varṣa could count it as one of their [ordination] years, but those who observed the later varṣa did not know whether theirs could be counted. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “Those who have not [yet] completed the three-month retreat cannot count it as one of their [ordination] years.”
  44. At the end of the earlier varṣa and the completion of the pravāraṇa, the bhikṣus expelled those who did the later varṣa. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “[Those who observe the earlier varṣa] should not expel and [those who observe the later varṣa] should not leave.”
  45. At the end of the earlier varṣa and the completion of the pravāraṇa, the bhikṣus obtained their portions of the offerings given at the end of varṣa. Those observing the later varṣa were cautious and did not receive the offerings, because the Buddha did not allow them to accept offerings before the full three months had ended. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “I allow you to receive the offerings. You should continue the retreat for the remaining days.”
  46. At the end of the earlier varṣa and the completion of the pravāraṇa, the bhikṣus obtained their portions of bedding. Those observing the later varṣa were cautious and did not receive the offerings, because they had not completed three months of retreat yet. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “I allow you to receive the bedding for the future’s sake.”
  47. Once, some bhikṣus observed varṣa in the open, and became sun-tanned, skinny, and their skin became dry and cracked as the result of over-exposure to the wind and sun. The bhikṣus went to pay respect to the Buddha and sat to one side. The Buddha knew about this but asked purposely, “Why is it that you are sun-tanned, skinny, and your skin is dry and cracked?” The bhikṣus replied, “Because we did our retreat in the open air.” The Buddha said, “You should not do your retreat in the open air. From now on, I allow bhikṣus to observe varṣa in a sheltered area.”
  48. Once, some bhikṣus observed varṣa in the trees, and urinated and excreted on the trees. The tree-god became angry and patiently bided his time to kill the bhikṣus. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I do not allow bhikṣus to observe varṣa in trees. You should not climb trees to a height higher than a human being. You should not pollute the trees by urinating or excreting around them.”
  49. Once, some bhikṣus were walking in Kośala and encountered fierce animals, so they climbed trees to a height higher than a human being. The bhikṣus became cautious and climbed down from the trees, because the Buddha prohibited bhikṣus from climbing trees to a height higher than a human being. As a result, the bhikṣus were harmed by these fierce animals. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow you to climb trees to a height higher than a human being when you encounter situations that threaten your life or your pure practice.”
  50. Some bhikṣus wished to collect dry wood from the trees, so the Buddha allowed them to use hooks, ladders, and strings to obtain them. Later, the bhikṣus also became cautious about climbing the dead and dried out trees. So the Buddha said, “If the trees have become completely dead and dried out, I allow you to climb them.”
  51. Once, some bhikṣus wished to observe varṣa under some trees, so they went to ask the Buddha. The Buddha said, “From now on, I allow you to observe varṣa under trees that are taller than the height of a person if their leaves are sufficient to shelter your seat.”
  52. Once, the group of six bhikṣus applied honey to the tent in which they observed varṣa. They thought, “We will spend the night in the tent and hide it in the daytime. When people see this, they will think we have attained superpowers.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, you should not observe varṣa in the tent you apply honey to. You should not change your normal behavior in order to receive praise.”
  53. Once, a bhikṣu wished to observe varṣa in a small hut. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow you to observe varṣa in a small hut as long as it is high enough inside not to touch your head when you stand up and wide enough for your knees when you are seated, and can shelter you from the rain.”
  54. Once a bhikṣu wished to observe varṣa in a mountain cave. He asked the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow you to observe varṣa in a mountain cave as long as it is high enough inside not to touch your head when you stand up and wide enough for your knees when you are seated, and can shelter you from the rain.”
  55. Once a bhikṣu wished to observe varṣa in a natural mountain cave.7 He went to ask the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow you to observe varṣa in a natural mountain cave as long as the natural cave is high enough inside not to touch your head when you stand up and wide enough for your knees when you are seated, and can shelter you from the rain.”
  56. Once, a bhikṣu wished to observe varṣa inside a hollow tree. The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow bhikṣus to observe varṣa inside a hollow tree as long as the hollow tree is high enough inside not to touch your head when you stand up and wide enough for your knees when you are seated, and can shelter you from the rain.”
  57. Once, a bhikṣu wished to rely on a cowherd [for support] to observe varṣa.8 He asked the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow you to rely on a cowherd [for support] to observe varṣa. You may go wherever the cowherd goes during the varṣa.”
  58. Once, some bhikṣus wished to rely on a sesame oil maker [for support] to observe varṣa. They asked the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow you to rely on a sesame oil maker [for support] to observe varṣa. You may go wherever the sesame oil maker goes during the varṣa.”
  59. Once, a bhikṣu wished to observe varṣa on a boat. He asked the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow bhikṣus to observe varṣa on a boat. You may go wherever the boat goes during the retreat.”
  60. Once, a bhikṣu wished to rely on a woodcutter [for support] to observe varṣa. He asked the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow bhikṣus to rely on a woodcutter [for support] to observe varṣa. You may go wherever the wood-cutter goes during the varṣa.”
  61. Once, a bhikṣu wished to rely on a lay community [for support] to observe varṣa. He asked the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow bhikṣus to rely on a lay community [for support] to observe varṣa. Should the lay community split into two groups during the varṣa, you should stay with the group that can provide you with sufficient necessities. If the community you stay with moves, you should move with them during the varṣa.”
  62. Once, a layperson invited a bhikṣu and said, “I wish to make offerings to you at my residence.” The bhikṣu thought, “His residence is far away and I will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, I allow you to take a seven-day leave. You should not take a seven-day leave solely for the sake of receiving food. You may take a seven-day leave for the following reasons: to receive robes, bowls, sitting mats, needle containers, or healing herbs [from laypeople]. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”9
  63. Once, some bhikṣus who sought sought to expiate their remainder (saṅghāvaśeṣa) offenses invited senior bhikṣus to administer their probation (parivāsa), restarting (mulāya-paṭikassana), penance (mānatva), and rehabilitation (ābhyayana). The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “Their residence is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  64. Once, some bhikṣuṇīs who sought to expiate their remainder offenses invited senior bhikṣus to administer their penance. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “Their residence is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  65. Once, some śikṣamāṇās invited senior bhikṣus to relieve them from their offenses by presiding over their confession, re-ordination,10 or to give them the full-ordination. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “Their residence is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  66. Once, some śrāmaṇeras invited senior bhikṣus to give them full ordination. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “Their residence is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  67. Once, some śrāmaṇerikās invited senior bhikṣus to give them the six trainings. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “Their residence is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  68. Once, a high-ranking official who did not have faith invited senior bhikṣus to meet with him. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “His place is far away and we will not be able to return in the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day regardless of whether the meeting was beneficial or not.”
  69. Once, a high-ranking official with faith invited senior bhikṣus to meet with him. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “His place is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take a seven-day leave: if faithful upāsakas are ill or have worries, and wish to benefit [from inviting bhikṣus to meet with them]. The invited bhikṣus should return by the end of the 7th day.
  70. Once, some parents who did not have faith invited senior bhikṣus to meet with them. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “Their residence is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. If they still have no faith, you should teach them so that they may generate faith. If they have unethical principles, you should teach them to keep the right precepts. If they are stingy, teach them generosity. If they have no wisdom, teach them so that they will develop wisdom. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  71. Once, some parents with faith invited senior bhikṣus to meet with them. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “Their residence is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. If your faithful parents are ill or have worries, or if your stay will benefit them, I allow you to take a seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  72. Once, a mother invited her bhiksu son to meet with her. The invited senior bhikṣu thought, “Her residence is far away and I will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take a seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day. The same seven-day leave should apply to the bhikṣus when they receive invitations from their father, sisters, brothers, relatives, and friends.”
  73. Once, a bhikṣu recited 60 sutras, including the Brahmajāla Sutra, and decided to go out and invite others to recite them with him. The bhikṣu thought, “Their residence is far away and we will not be able to return in the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  74. Once, a bhikṣu needed to go into the woods to carry out an assigned task. The bhikṣu thought, “The place is far away and I will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  75. Once, people living at the border rebelled. King Prasenajit led the army himself to quell the rebellion. Some high-ranking officials with no faith took the robes, quilts, food, and other necessities that the king had offered to the Buddha and the saṅgha. The bhikṣus wished to report this to the king, but they thought, “The king’s palace is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  76. Once, people living at the border rebelled. King Prasenajit led the army himself to quell the rebellion. Some high-ranking officials with no faith, who harbored jealousy and ill-intentions, wished to build a ditch in Jetavana. The bhikṣus wanted to report this to the king, but they thought, “The king’s palace is far away and we will not be able to return within the same day. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take the seven-day leave. You should return by the end of the 7th day.”
  77. Once, a layperson sent a messenger to invite senior bhikṣus to his residence in order to give offerings. The invited senior bhikṣus thought, “His residence is far away and we will not be able to return within seven days. The Buddha has not allowed such a case before.” The bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “From now on, in such a case, I allow you to take an ‘over-seven-day leave,’ whether for 15 days or even a month. Perform a one-motion one-proclamation karman. You should appoint someone who is capable of performing the karman, not on the basis of whether he is senior or junior, nor on the basis of his familiarity with the vinaya. The appointed person should declare the motion as follows:

    [Motion]: Virtuous saṅgha, please listen. If the saṅgha is ready, may the saṅgha agree that Bhikṣu _____ takes a 15-day (one month) leave outside the territory, for the sake of _____. After he has done this, he will return here for varṣa. This is the motion.

    [Proclamation]: Virtuous saṅgha, please listen. Bhikṣu _____ will take a 15-day (one month) leave outside the territory for the sake of _____. After he has done this, he will return here for varṣa. Those who agree that Bhikṣu _____ takes a 15-day (one month) leave outside the territory for the sake of _____, and after he has done this, he will return here for varṣa remain silent. Those who do not agree speak up.

    [Conclusion]: Since the assembly has shown its silent approval, this bhikṣu saṅgha has agreed that Bhikṣu _____ can take a 15-day (one month) leave from the territory for the sake of _____, and after he has done this, he will return here for the varṣa. This matter will proceed as decided.

  78. The same karman for the over-seven-day leave may apply to all the following cases: when bhikṣus are invited by other bhikṣus, by bhikṣuṇīs, by śikṣamāṇās, by śrāmaṇeras, by śrāmaṇerīs, by officials who have no faith or have faith, by parents who have no faith or have faith, by siblings, relatives, and friends, by bhikṣus who recite 60 kinds of sutras; when bhikṣus are out on assigned duties; when bhikṣus wish to report to the king about offerings taken away or for ditches [dug in their monasteries]. The same karman for the over-seven-day leave applies for all the cases mentioned above.
  79. Once, when the Buddha was in Kośala, a high-ranking officer who was a brave and skillful fighter went to see the Buddha and was ordained due to his faith. Later, King Udagana asked him, “Why don’t you stop practicing the path? I will give you a wife, property, and jewelry that you can use to sustain your life.” The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, I will encounter obstacles to my pure practice.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a harmful situation, you should leave.”
  80. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. A teenage girl came to seduce him and said, “Why don’t you stop practicing the path? I will be your wife.” The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, I will encounter obstacles to my pure practice.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a harmful situation, you should leave.”
  81. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. A licentious woman came to seduce him and said, “Why don’t you stop practicing the path? I will be your wife, or you can marry my daughter.” The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, I will encounter obstacles to my pure practice.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a harmful situation, you should leave.”
  82. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. A paṇḍaka11 grew fond of the bhikṣu and asked him several times to engage in impure conduct. The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, I will encounter obstacles to my pure practice.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a harmful situation, you should leave.”
  83. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. Some spirits and deities told the bhikṣu that there were buried treasures there. The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, I will encounter obstacles to my pure practice.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a situation, you should leave.”
  84. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. Some spirits and deities lay in wait, wishing to take the bhikṣu’s life. The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, my life will be threatened.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a situation, you should leave.”
  85. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. Some thieves lay in wait, wishing to take the bhikṣu’s life. The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, my life will be threatened.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a situation, you should leave.”
  86. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. Some angry poisonous snakes lay in wait, wishing to take the bhikṣu’s life. The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, my life will be threatened.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a situation, you should leave.”
  87. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. Some fierce wild animals lay in wait, wishing to take the bhikṣu’s life. The bhikṣu thought, “If I observe varṣa here, my life will be threatened.” He reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “In such a situation, you should leave.”
  88. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa where there was inadequate food, medicine, and helpers. The bhikṣu did not know what to do. He spoke to other bhikṣus. The other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “If a bhikṣu observes varṣa in a place where there is inadequate food, medicine, or helpers, the bhikṣu should leave.”
  89. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. There were many poisonous insects along the route where the bhikṣu did walking meditation. Walking meditation made him healthy, while not doing walking meditation made him weak. The bhikṣu thought, “If I remain in retreat here, it may be harmful to my life.” He reported this to the Buddha, and, the Buddha said, “In such a situation, you should leave.”
  90. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. He saw some bhikṣus skillfully striving to cause a schism in the saṅgha. The bhikṣu thought, “A schism in a saṅgha is a serious and evil matter. I will not let the saṅgha be divided in my presence. What should I do?” He spoke to other bhikṣus, the other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “If a bhikṣu is observing varṣa and sees some bhikṣus skillfully striving to cause a schism, and if the bhikṣu thinks, ‘A schism in a saṅgha is a serious and evil matter. I will not let the saṅgha be divided in my presence,’ then the bhikṣu should leave.”
  91. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. He saw some bhikṣuṇīs skillfully striving to cause a schism in the saṅgha. The bhikṣu thought, “A schism in a saṅgha is a serious and evil matter. I will not let the saṅgha be divided in my presence.” Then the bhikṣu should leave.”
  92. Suppose a bhikṣu is observing varṣa. He hears some bhikṣus skillfully striving to cause a schism in the saṅgha. The bhikṣu thinks, “A schism in a saṅgha is a serious and evil matter. I will not let the saṅgha be divided in my presence.” Then the bhikṣu should leave.
  93. Suppose a bhikṣu is observing varṣa. He hears some bhiksunis skillfully striving to cause a schism in the saṅgha. The bhikṣu thinks, “A schism in a saṅgha is a serious and evil matter. I will not let the saṅgha be divided in my presence.” Then the bhikṣu should leave.
  94. Once, a bhikṣu was observing varṣa. He heard some bhikṣus skillfully striving to cause a schism in the saṅgha. The bhikṣu thought, “If I approach and admonish them, they will listen to me and the schism will be prevented.” Later, the bhikṣu reconsidered, “If I approach them alone, they may not heed my advice and the schism will not be prevented. However, I have good friends who may be able to prevent the schism. If I request them to help me prevent the schism, they will definitely agree. What should I do?” He spoke to other bhikṣus, the other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “If a bhikṣu is residing in retreat and hears some bhikṣus skillfully striving to cause a schism in the saṅgha and if the bhikṣu thinks, ‘If I approach and admonish them, they will listen to me and stop the schism,’ but later, the bhikṣu reconsiders, ‘If I approach them alone, they may not heed my advice and the schism will not be prevented. However, I have friends who may be able to prevent the schism. I will ask them to prevent the schism.’ The bhikṣu should then leave [to ask his friends to talk to the bhikṣus].
  95. Suppose a bhikṣu is observing varṣa and hears some bhikṣuṇīs skillfully striving to cause a schism in the saṅgha. The bhikṣu thinks, “If I approach and admonish them, they will listen to me and the schism will be prevented.” Later, the bhikṣu reconsiders, “If I approach them alone, they may not heed my advice and the schism will not be prevented. However, I have good friends who may be able to prevent the schism. If I request them to help me prevent the schism, they will definitely agree.” Then the bhikṣu should leave.
  96. Suppose a bhikṣu is observing varṣa and hears of a schism in a bhikṣu saṅgha [that has already taken place]. The bhikṣu thinks, “If I approach and admonish them, they will listen to me and the saṅgha will be in harmony again.” Later, the bhikṣu reconsiders, “Perhaps I cannot [bring the saṅgha back into harmony]. However, I have friends who may be able to heal the schism. If I request them, they will definitely agree to bring the saṅgha back into harmony.” Then, the bhikṣu should leave.
  97. Suppose a bhikṣu is observing varṣa and hears of a schism in a bhikṣuṇī saṅgha [that has already taken place]. The bhikṣu thinks, “If I approach and admonish them, they will listen to me and the saṅgha will be in harmony again.” Again, the bhikṣu thinks, “Perhaps I cannot [bring the saṅgha back into harmony]. However, I have friends who may be able to help heal the schism. If I request them, they will definitely agree to bring the saṅgha back into harmony.” Then the bhikṣu should leave.
  98. Once, a bhikṣu had received a seven-day leave from the territory, and stayed for the sake of his mother. By the time he wished to return, it was too late to do so within the seven-day [period]. He wondered whether he could count or would lose the [varṣa as one of his ordination] years. He spoke to other bhikṣus, the other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “He will not lose the [varṣa as one of his ordination] years. This applies to parents, brothers, sisters, former wives, mistresses, yakṣas, ghosts, and spirits.”
  99. Once, a bhikṣu had received a seven-day leave but had to stay away longer due to disruptions of water and land routes, and obstacles from thieves, wolves, tigers, and lions. He wondered whether he could count or would lose the [varṣa as one of his ordination] years. He spoke to other bhikṣus, the other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “He will not lose the [varṣa as one of his ordination] years.”
  100. Once, the Buddha was in Ghoṣitārāma in Kauśāmbī. King Udagana and Bhikṣu Upananda, son of the Śakyas, were close friends, so King Udagana invited the bhikṣu to observe varṣa in Kauśāmbī. Bhikṣu Upananda did so, but upon hearing that there were greater offerings of material supplies and robes in another place, he left and resided there briefly before returning to Kauśāmbī. King Udagana heard about this and complained, “Why did Upananda, son of the Śakyas, accept my invitation to observe varṣa here, but upon hearing that there were greater offerings of material supplies and robes in another place, leave and reside there briefly before returning?”
  101. The other bhikṣus heard about this. Some of them who had less desire, were more content, observed ascetic practices, took delight in learning the precepts, and had integrity and consideration for others, admonished Upananda, son of the Śakyas, “How could you observe varṣa in one place, hear that there were greater offerings of material supplies and robes in another place, leave and reside there briefly before returning?”
  102. The bhikṣus went to the Buddha, bowed, and sat on one side. They reported this matter to the Buddha, who then gathered the saṅgha. He skillfully admonished Upananda, “You, foolish man, do not abide by decorum, keep pure practice, act like a śramaṇa, or follow the rules. This is not what you should have done. Why, Upananda, did you observe varṣa in Kauśāmbī, but upon hearing that there were greater offerings of material supplies and robes in another place, leave and reside there briefly before returning?” After having admonished Upananda, the Buddha said to the bhikṣus, “If a bhikṣu who observes the earlier varṣa in one place hears that there are greater offerings of material supplies and robes in another place and leaves for that place, he cannot count that varṣa [in his ordination years], and he commits an offense due to breaking his promise.”
  103. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa [in a particular residence]. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha outside the territory, and after that he leaves for another residence. This bhikṣu breaks his earlier varṣa and commits an offense due to breaking his promise.
  104. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha outside the territory. He reaches the residence but leaves for another residence that very day. This bhikṣu breaks his earlier varṣa and commits an offense due to breaking his promise.
  105. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha outside the territory. He reaches the residence and accepts a room and bedding. Having no business [to attend to], he leaves [for another residence]. This bhikṣu breaks his earlier varṣa and commits an offense due to breaking his promise.
  106. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha outside the territory. He reaches the residence and later takes the seven-day leave, but he cannot return within seven days despite his wish to do so. This bhikṣu breaks his earlier varṣa and commits an offense due to breaking his promise.
  107. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha outside the territory. He reaches the residence and later takes the seven-day leave, and returns within seven days. This bhikṣu does not break his varṣa and commits no offense due to keeping his promise.
  108. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha outside the territory. He reaches the residence and later takes the seven-day leave within the last seven days before the end of the varṣa. Whether he returns to that residence or not, he does not break his earlier varṣa and commits no offense due to keeping his promise.
  109. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha inside the territory. He reaches the residence, but leaves for another residence that very day. This bhikṣu breaks his earlier varṣa and commits an offense due to breaking his promise.
  110. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha inside the territory. He reaches the residence and accepts a room and bedding. Having no business [to attend to], he leaves [for another residence]. This bhikṣu breaks his earlier varṣa and commits an offense due to breaking his promise.
  111. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha inside the territory. He reaches the residence and later takes the seven-day leave, but he cannot return in seven days despite his wish to do so. This bhikṣu breaks his earlier varṣa and commits an offense due to breaking his promise.
  112. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence, he does the poṣadha inside the territory. He reaches the residence and later takes the seven-day leave, and returns within seven days. This bhikṣu does not break his varṣa and commits no offense due to keeping his promise.
  113. Suppose a bhikṣu has accepted an invitation to observe the earlier varṣa. While traveling to that residence he does the poṣadha inside the territory. He reaches the residence and later takes the seven-day leave within the last seven days before the end of the varṣa. Whether he returns to that residence or not, he does not break his earlier varṣa and commits no offense due to keeping his promise.
  114. Once, a bhikṣu accepted an invitation to observe the varṣa in one place, but later he encountered obstacles that threatened his life and pure practice. He wondered what he should do. He spoke to other bhikṣus, the other bhikṣus reported this to the Buddha, and the Buddha said, “If a bhisku residing in the earlier or later varṣa encounters obstacles that threaten his life and pure practice, he should leave or send a messenger to ask his sponsor for permission to move. If the sponsor agrees, that is good, if not, he should leave.”

  1. The climate in India has only three seasons: spring, summer (the rainy season), and winter. 

  2. In particular, the Jains believed that plants were sentient beings. 

  3. Laypeople are not supposed to criticize the saṅgha. Anyone who causes them to do so causes them to create negativity. 

  4. There is also the individual karman of the pravāraṇā/poṣadha/seven-day leave, etc. The type of individual karman applies in cases when a one-to-one karman or a saṅghakarman is required, but there are not sufficient bhikṣus present in the territory to do it. Bhikṣunīs do not do an individual karman in this situation, because they cannot live alone. There should always be another bhikṣuṇī present with whom they can do a one-to-one karman. 

  5. A new day begins at dawn [not at midnight]. If the bhikṣus were supposed to arrive on the 15th for varṣa and they arrive after dawn the next day, they are late. 

  6. The vinaya texts mention “incoming bhikṣus”—those who just arrive at a place—and “residing bhikṣus”—those who are already staying at the place. Residing bhikṣus are not permanent residents; during the Buddha’s time all monks were wanderers outside of the rainy season. 

  7. This is deeper in the wilderness than the mountain cave mentioned in paragraph 54. 

  8. A bhikṣu may not have a community or residence, in which case he needs the help of a lay supporter to observe varṣa. 

  9. The day you depart is the first day of the leave. You must return before the dawn of the 8th day. 

  10. Bhikṣus are technically not allowed to give the six śikṣamāṇā trainings, but this is an exception made during the varṣa. 

  11. There are various types of paṇḍakas; one is a eunuch. 

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