83. Should any bhikkhu, unannounced beforehand, cross the threshold of a consecrated noble king's (sleeping chamber) from which the king has not left, from which the valuable (the queen) has not withdrawn, it is to be confessed.
"As he was sitting to one side, King Pasenadi of Kosala said to the Blessed One, 'It would be good, venerable sir, if the Blessed One would appoint a bhikkhu to teach Dhamma in our harem'... So the Blessed One addressed Ven. Ānanda, 'In that case, Ānanda, go teach Dhamma in the king's harem.'
"Responding, 'As you say, venerable sir,' Ven. Ānanda entered the king's harem time and again to teach Dhamma. Then (one day) Ven. Ānanda, dressing early in the morning, taking his bowl and (outer) robe, went to King Pasenadi's palace. At that time King Pasenadi was lying on a couch with Queen Mallikā. Queen Mallikā saw Ven. Ānanda coming from afar and, on seeing him, got up hurriedly. Her cloth of burnished gold slipped off. Ven. Ānanda turned around and went back to the monastery."
The factors for the full offense here are two: object and effort.
Object. A king — a consecrated member of the noble warrior class, pure in his lineage through the past seven generations — is in his sleeping chamber with his queen. Sleeping chamber means any place where his bed is prepared, even if it is outside, surrounded only by a curtain or screen wall (as was the custom on royal excursions in those days, a custom often depicted in murals on the walls of Thai temples).
Effort. If, unannounced, one steps over the threshold of the sleeping chamber with one foot, the penalty is a dukkaṭa; when both feet are over the threshold, a pācittiya. Perception as to whether one has been announced is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
Non-offenses. There is no offense if —
Obviously, there is little chance that a bhikkhu will break this rule at present. However, in the course of formulating the rule, the Buddha mentioned ten dangers for a bhikkhu who enters the king's inner palace even at the king's request, and some of these dangers still apply to any situation in which a bhikkhu is on familiar terms with a person of influence, royal or not:
1) "'There is the case where the king is on a couch together with the queen. A bhikkhu enters there. Either the queen, seeing the bhikkhu, smiles; or the bhikkhu, seeing the queen, smiles. The thought occurs to the king, "Surely they've done it, or are going to do it"...
2) "'And furthermore, the king is busy, with much to do. Having gone to a certain woman, he forgets about it. On account of that, she conceives a child. The thought occurs to him, "No one enters here but the one gone forth. Could this be the work of the one gone forth?"...
3) "'And furthermore, some valuable in the king's inner palace disappears. The thought occurs to the king, "No one enters here but the one gone forth. Could this be the work of the one gone forth?"...
4) "'And furthermore, secret consultations in the confines of the inner palace get spread abroad. The thought occurs to the king, "No one enters here but the one gone forth. Could this be the work of the one gone forth?"...
5) "'And furthermore, in the king's inner palace the son is estranged from the father, or the father from the son. The thought occurs to them, "No one enters here but the one gone forth. Could this be the work of the one gone forth?"...
6 & 7) "'And furthermore, the king establishes one from a low position in a high position... (or) one from a high position in a low position. The thought occurs to those displeased by this, "The king is on familiar terms with one gone forth. Could this be the work of the one gone forth?"...
8) "'And furthermore, the king sends the army out at the wrong time. The thought occurs to those displeased by this, "The king is on familiar terms with one gone forth. Could this be the work of the one gone forth?"...
9) "'And furthermore, the king sends the army out at the right time, but has it turn around mid-way. The thought occurs to those displeased by this, "The king is on familiar terms with one gone forth. Could this be the work of the one gone forth?"...
10) "'And furthermore, bhikkhus, the king's inner palace is crowded with elephants... horses... chariots. There are enticing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations unsuitable for one gone forth. This, bhikkhus, is the tenth danger for one who enters the king's inner palace.'"
Summary: Entering a king's sleeping chamber unannounced, when both the king and queen are in the chamber, is a pācittiya offense.
84. Should any bhikkhu pick up or have (someone) pick up a valuable or what is considered a valuable, except in a monastery or in a dwelling, it is to be confessed. But when a bhikkhu has picked up or had (someone) pick up a valuable or what is considered a valuable (left) in a monastery or in a dwelling, he is to keep it, (thinking,) "Whoever it belongs to will (come and) fetch it." This is the proper course here.
The general purpose of this rule is to prevent a bhikkhu from picking up misplaced valuables belonging to other people, for as the origin story shows, there are dangers inherent in such an act even when done with the best intentions.
"Now at that time a certain bhikkhu was bathing in the Aciravatī River. And a certain brahman, having placed a bag of 500 gold pieces on the river bank, bathed in the river and left, forgetting it. The bhikkhu, (saying to himself,) 'Don't let this bag of the brahman's be lost,' picked it up. Then the brahman, remembering, rushed back and said to the bhikkhu, 'My good man, have you seen my bag?'
"'Here you are, brahman,' he said, and gave it to him.
"Then the thought occurred to the brahman, 'Now by what means can I get away without giving a reward to this bhikkhu?' So (saying,) 'I didn't have 500, my good man, I had 1,000!' he detained him for a while and then let him go."
However, a bhikkhu who comes across a fallen valuable in a monastery or in a dwelling he is visiting — if he does not pick it up — may later be held responsible if it gets lost: thus the two situations mentioned as exemptions in the rule. In situations such as these, a bhikkhu is allowed even to pick up money and other items he is not normally allowed to take. In fact, the Vinaya-mukha states that if he does not pick up the valuable and put it in safe-keeping, he incurs a dukkaṭa. None of the other texts mention this point, although it is probably justified on the grounds that the bhikkhu is neglecting his duty in not following the "proper course" here.
The Vibhaṅga advises that if a bhikkhu has picked up a fallen valuable in this way and put it in safe keeping, he should take note of its features. (The Commentary adds that if it is a bag of money, he should open the bag and count how much it contains. The same would hold for such things as wallets at present.) He should then have an announcement made, "Let him come whose goods are lost." If a person comes to claim the item, the bhikkhu should ask him/her to describe it. If the person describes it correctly, the bhikkhu should hand it over. If not, he should tell the person to "keep looking." If the bhikkhu is going to leave the monastery to live elsewhere, he should entrust the item to another bhikkhu or — if no suitable bhikkhu is available — to a suitable lay person (§).
The Commentary adds that if, after a suitable length of time, no one comes to claim the item, the bhikkhu should have it exchanged for something of lasting use to the monastery. If, after that, the owner does come to claim the item, the bhikkhu should tell him/her of the use to which it was put. If the owner is satisfied, there is no problem. If not, the bhikkhu should arrange to have the owner compensated. However, as we noted in the discussion of compensation under Pr 2, the Canon imposes only one potential penalty on a bhikkhu in a situation such as this: The Community, if it sees fit, can force him to apologize to the owner (Cv.I.20; see BMC2, Chapter 20).
The factors for the offense here are four.
Object. The Vibhaṅga defines a valuable as jewels, gold, or silver. At present, money would be included here. What is considered a valuable means anything that people use or consume. Items meeting these definitions at present would include wallets, watches, keys, eyeglasses, cameras, etc.
According to the K/Commentary, the object has to belong to someone else to fulfill the factor of effort here. The Vibhaṅga does not state this point explicitly, but it does make the point implicitly by the activities it discusses under this rule: putting an item in safe keeping, quizzing those who come to claim it, taking an item on trust, borrowing it. These are all activities that pertain to the belongings of others, and not to one's own belongings. The K/Commentary adds that if the owner has given one permission to take the article, it does not fulfill the factor of object here. This comment has to be qualified, of course, by noting that if the item is a valuable, then taking it would involve an offense under another rule.
The Vibhaṅga defines in a monastery as follows: If the monastery is enclosed, then within the enclosure. If not, then in the immediate vicinity (according to the Commentary, a radius of two leḍḍupātas — approximately 36 meters — around the monastery buildings). As for in a dwelling: If the area around the dwelling is enclosed, then within the enclosure. If not, then in the immediate vicinity (according to the Commentary, the distance one can throw a basket or a pestle (!) from the dwelling).
For some reason, the Commentary says that if the item has fallen in an area of the monastery where many people come and go — e.g., the doorway to the Bodhi tree or public shrine — one should not pick it up. Its reasoning here is hard to guess. It notes that the Kurundī — one of the ancient commentaries — interprets the range of a bhikkhu's responsibility in the opposite direction. In other words, the Kurundī holds that if a bhikkhu walking alone along a road outside a monastery comes across a valuable or anything considered valuable in such circumstances that he might later be suspected of being responsible for its disappearance, he should stop and wait by the roadside until the owner appears. If no owner appears, he should make it "allowable" and take it with him. The Sub-commentary adds that making it allowable means deciding that it has been thrown away, and applies only to items classed as "considered a valuable." All of this, however, lies outside the allowances in the Vibhaṅga, and at most can be adopted, where appropriate, as a wise policy.
The Commentary also notes that if someone asks to put his/her belongings in safe keeping with a bhikkhu, the bhikkhu should not accept — so as to avoid being responsible for them — but if he/she leaves the things with the bhikkhu and goes off in spite of his objections or before giving him a chance to object, he should take the belongings and put them away in safe keeping.
Perception & intention. According to the Commentary, if one picks up money for one's own use, for the Community, or for anyone aside from the owner, the case would come under NP 18, rather than here. The same holds true with dukkaṭa objects, such as jewels and semi-precious stones. This judgment, though, would seem to hold only in the case where one perceives the money, etc., as thrown away or left behind for the use of the person or Community for whom one is taking it. If one does not perceive it as thrown away or abandoned, and one is not borrowing it or taking it on trust, the case would come under Pr 2, regardless of what the item is.
The Commentary also makes the peculiar point that if one sees an item belonging to one's mother or other close relative left behind on the roadside, one would incur the full penalty under this rule for picking it up to put in safe keeping for the owner, but no offense if one took the item, on trust, for one's own. Of course, after taking it on trust like this, one could then without penalty give it back to the owner as one liked.
Effort. When getting someone else to pick up the item, the offense is incurred not in the asking but only when the other person does as asked.
Non-offenses. There is no offense if, within a monastery or a dwelling, one picks up a valuable or what is considered a valuable — or if one has it picked up — with the thought, "Whoever this belongs to will come for it." (§)
Also, according to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense in taking an item "considered to be a valuable" no matter where it is found if one takes it on trust, borrows it, or perceives it as having been thrown away (§).
Summary: Picking up a valuable, or having it picked up, with the intention of putting it in safe keeping for the owner — except when one finds it in a monastery or in a dwelling one is visiting — is a pācittiya offense.
85. Should any bhikkhu, without taking leave of an available bhikkhu, enter a village at the wrong time — unless there is a suitable emergency — it is to be confessed.
As the origin story here indicates, the purpose of this rule is to prevent bhikkhus from passing their time among householders engaged in animal talk (see the discussion under Pc 7).
The factors for the full offense here are two.
Object. The Vibhaṅga says that if the village as a whole is enclosed, everywhere inside the enclosure is considered to be in the village. If not, the area in the village includes all the buildings and their immediate vicinity. According to the Sub-commentary, this means everywhere within a two-leḍḍupāta radius of the buildings.
Thus if one is staying in a monastery located within a village or town, the area covered by this factor would apparently begin at the vicinity of the nearest buildings outside the monastery.
Effort. The Vibhaṅga defines the wrong time as from after noon until the following dawnrise. This rule thus dovetails with Pc 46, which deals with the period from dawnrise until noon on days when one has been invited to a meal.
Perception as to whether the time is right or wrong is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
As under Pc 46, another bhikkhu is said to be available for taking one's leave if, in the Vibhaṅga's words, "It is possible to go, having taken leave of him." That is, if there is another bhikkhu in the monastery, and there are no obstacles to taking one's leave from him (e.g., he is asleep, he is sick, he is receiving important visitors), one is obliged to go out of one's way to inform him.
According to the K/Commentary, taking leave in the context of this rule means the simple act of informing the other bhikkhu that, "I am going into the village," or any similar statement. In other words, one is not asking permission to go, although if the other bhikkhu sees that one is doing something improper in going, he is perfectly free to say so. If one treats his comments with disrespect, one incurs at least a dukkaṭa under Pc 54. (See the discussion under that rule for details.)
The Commentary states that if there is no bhikkhu in the monastery to take leave from, there is no need to inform any bhikkhu one may meet after leaving the monastery. If many bhikkhus are going together, they need only take leave from one another before entering the village.
For a new bhikkhu still living in dependence (nissaya) on his mentor, though, taking leave is a matter of asking permission from his mentor at all times, "wrong" or not. (See the discussion of this point under Pc 46.)
As for the suitable emergencies under this rule — which would seem to exempt even new bhikkhus from having to take leave from their mentors — the Vibhaṅga gives the example of a bhikkhu rushing to get fire to make medicine for another bhikkhu bitten by a snake. Examples more likely at present would include rushing to get a doctor for a sick bhikkhu or to get help when a fire has broken out in the monastery.
Further action. Although there is no penalty for engaging in animal talk, a bhikkhu who enters a village frequently and engages in it, even if he takes leave of other bhikkhus, can be subject to an act of censure for "unbecoming association with householders" (see BMC2, Chapter 20).
Non-offenses. There is no offense in entering a village when one has taken leave of another bhikkhu, or in going when one has not taken leave if:
Summary: Entering a village, town, or city during the period after noon until the following dawnrise, without having taken leave of an available bhikkhu — unless there is an emergency — is a pācittiya offense.
86. Should any bhikkhu have a needle box made of bone, ivory, or horn, it is to be broken and confessed.
The origin story here echoes the one for NP 22.
"Now at that time a certain ivory-worker had invited the bhikkhus, saying, 'If any of the masters needs a needle box, I will supply him with a needle box.' So the bhikkhus asked for many needle boxes. Those with small needle boxes asked for large ones; those with large ones asked for small ones. The ivory-worker, making many needle boxes for the bhikkhus, was not able to make other goods for sale. He could not support himself, and his wife and children suffered."
Here there are three factors for the full offense.
Two of these factors involve permutations: effort and intention.
Effort. The permutations under this factor are as follows: the act of making the needle box or having it made — a dukkaṭa; acquiring the finished box — a pācittiya. This last penalty applies regardless of whether the box was made entirely by oneself, entirely by others either partly or entirely at one's instigation, or whether one finished what others began or got others to finish what one began oneself. In any event, one must break the box before confessing the offense.
If one obtains a bone, ivory, or horn needle box made by another — not at one's instigation — then using it entails a dukkaṭa (§).
Intention. There is a dukkaṭa in making a bone, ivory, or horn needle box — or having it made — for another's use.
Non-offenses. The non-offense clauses, instead of listing materials from which a needle box might be made, list allowable items made of bone, ivory, or horn: a fastener (§) (for a robe), a fire-starter (according to the Commentary, this means a bow used with the upper stick of a fire-starter), a belt fastener, an ointment box, a stick for applying ointment, an adze handle, and a water wiper (§) (see BMC2, Chapter 1). This list was apparently intended simply to be illustrative, because the Khandhakas contain allowances for many other items to be made from bone, ivory, or horn as well — although it's worth noting that the non-offense clauses here are the only passages in the Canon stating that the fire-starter, adze handle, and water wiper can be made of these materials.
Pc 60 mentions a needle box as one of a bhikkhu's requisites, so apparently one would be allowable if not made of bone, ivory, or horn. Cv.V.11.2 contains an allowance for a "needle tube" (or "needle cylinder" — sūci-nāḷika) for keeping needles, but does not explain how it differs from a needle box. Apparently both the box and the tube may be made of reed, bamboo, wood, lac (resin), fruit (e.g., coconut shell), copper (metal), or conch-shell, as the Khandhakas often list these materials as allowable for other items as well.
The general principle. The Vinaya-mukha derives a general principle from this rule: The Buddha, in formulating this rule, was putting a halt to the sort of fad that can occur among bhikkhus when certain requisites become fashionable to the point of inconveniencing donors, and senior bhikkhus at present should try to put a halt to any similar fads.
Summary: Acquiring a needle box made of bone, ivory, or horn after making it — or having it made — for one's own use is a pācittiya offense requiring that one break the box before confessing the offense.
87. When a bhikkhu is having a new bed or bench made, it is to have legs (at most) eight fingerbreadths long — using sugata fingerbreadths — not counting the lower edge of the frame. In excess of that it is to be cut down and confessed.
The purpose of this rule is to prevent bhikkhus from making and using furnishings that are high and imposing.
The factors for the offense here are three.
Object. The Canon contains many rules dealing with furnishings, especially in the Khandhakas, and because furnishings in the time of the Buddha were somewhat different from what they are now, it is often a matter of guesswork as to what, precisely, the rules are referring to. The bed (mañca) here almost certainly refers to what we mean by a bed. The bench (pīṭha), according to the K/Commentary, is shorter than a bed, but not so short that it is square. This last stipulation comes from Cv.VI.2.4, which allows bhikkhus to use an āsandika — apparently a square stool, large enough to sit on but not to lie on — even if the legs are long. Another piece of furniture with long legs allowed in the same passage is the sattaṅga, a chair or sofa with a back and arms. The Vinaya-mukha includes a pañcaṅga — a chair or sofa with a back but no arms — under this allowance as well. The Canon and commentaries make no mention of this point, but it seems valid: Armless chairs and sofas are less imposing than those with arms.
The sugata measures are a matter of controversy, discussed in Appendix II. For the purposes of this book, we are taking the sugata span to be 25 cm. Because there are twelve sugata fingerbreadths in a sugata span, eight sugata fingerbreadths would be equal to 16.7 cm.
Effort. The permutations under this factor are as follows: the act of making the bed/bench or having it made — a dukkaṭa; acquiring the finished article — a pācittiya. This last penalty applies regardless of whether the bed/bench was made entirely by oneself, entirely by others either partly or entirely at one's instigation, or whether one finished what others began or got others to finish what one began oneself. In any event, one must cut the bed/bench down to the proper size before confessing the offense.
If one obtains a tall bed/bench made by another — not at one's instigation — then using it entails a dukkaṭa (§). Cv.VI.8 allows that if furnishings of the sort unallowable for bhikkhus to own themselves are in a lay person's house (and belong to the lay person, says the Sub-commentary) bhikkhus may sit on them but not lie down on them. There are three exceptions to this allowance, the one piece objected to on account of its height being a dais (āsandī) — a square platform, large enough to lie on, and very high. Bhikkhus are not allowed even to sit on such a thing, even in a lay person's house.
Intention. There is a dukkaṭa in making a bed or bench with extra long legs — or having it made — for the sake of another person.
Non-offenses. There is no offense in making a bed or bench — or having one made — if the legs are eight sugata fingerbreadths or less; or in receiving a bed or bench with overly long legs made by another if one cuts the legs down to regulation size before using it. The Commentary notes that if one buries the legs in the ground so that no more than eight fingerbreadths separate the ground from the lower frame, that is also allowable.
Summary: Acquiring a bed or bench with legs longer than eight sugata fingerbreadths after making it — or having it made — for one's own use is a pācittiya offense requiring that one cut the legs down before confessing the offense.
88. Should any bhikkhu have a bed or bench upholstered with cotton down, it (the upholstery) is to be torn off and confessed.
Upholstery & cushions. Cotton down was apparently the most luxurious material known in the Buddha's time for stuffing furniture, cushions, and mattresses, inasmuch as bhikkhus are forbidden by this rule from making beds and benches upholstered with cotton-down. Cv.VI.8 forbids them from sitting on cushions or other articles of furnishing upholstered or stuffed with cotton down (this would include meditation cushions), even in the homes of lay people. The only article of furnishing stuffed with cotton down allowed to bhikkhus is a pillow (§), although the pillow should be made no larger than the size of the head (Cv.VI.2.6).
The Commentary's explanations of this point show that the pillow used in those days was an oblong cushion, looking like a rectangle when viewed from above and a triangle when viewed from either the right or left side (like the old style of pillow still in use in Thailand). Such pillows, the Commentary says, should be no more than two cubits (1 meter) long, and one span plus four fingerbreadths (32 cm.) from corner to corner on the sides (although this seems considerably larger than a pillow "the size of the head"). A bhikkhu who is not ill may use such a pillow for his head and feet; an ill bhikkhu may line up a series of pillows, cover them with a cloth, and lie down on them with no offense. According to Cv.VI.14, if bhikkhus are presented with cushions stuffed with cotton down, they may use them only after tearing them up and making them into pillows.
Human hair was another forbidden form of stuffing. Mattresses and cushions stuffed with other materials, though, are allowed even for use in the monastery. Cv.VI.2.7 mentions five kinds of allowable stuffing: wool, cloth, bark, grass, and leaves. (According to the Commentary, wool here includes all kinds of animal fur and bird feathers. Goose down would thus be allowable. Synthetic fibers and synthetic down would apparently come under "cloth." The Commentary also mentions that, according to the Kurundī, mattresses and cushions stuffed with these materials are allowable whether covered with leather or cloth.)
The purpose of all this is to keep bhikkhus from using furnishings that are extravagant and ostentatious. As the Vinaya-mukha mentions, though, standards of what counts as extravagant and ostentatious vary from age to age and culture to culture. Some of the things allowed in the Canon and commentaries now seem exotic and luxurious; and other things forbidden by them, common and ordinary. Thus the wise policy, in a monastery, would be to use only those furnishings allowed by the rules and regarded as unostentatious at present; and, when visiting a lay person's home, to avoid sitting on furnishings that seem unusually grand.
The factors for the offense here are three.
Object. Cotton down, according to the Vibhaṅga, includes any down from trees, vines, and grass. The Commentary to Cv.VI.2.6 interprets this as meaning down from any plant, inasmuch as "trees, vines, and grass" is the Canon's usual way of covering all plant life. Kapok, flax fibers, jute, and cotton would thus all come under this category.
Because cotton-down cushions are forbidden in all situations, bed and bench here would seem to include all forms of furniture, including the stools, chairs, and sofas exempted from the preceding rule.
Effort. The permutations under this factor are as follows: the act of making the bed/bench or having it made — a dukkaṭa; acquiring the finished article — a pācittiya. This last penalty applies regardless of whether the bed/bench was made entirely by oneself, entirely by others either partly or entirely at one's instigation, or whether one finished what others began or got others to finish what one began oneself. In any event, one must tear off the upholstery before confessing the offense.
If one obtains an upholstered bed/bench made by another — not at one's instigation — then using it entails a dukkaṭa (§).
Intention. There is a dukkaṭa in making a bed or bench upholstered with cotton down — or having it made — for the sake of another person.
Non-offenses. There is no offense in using cotton down to stuff a pillow, a belt, a shoulder strap, a binding, or a bag for carrying the alms bowl; or to form the filter in a water strainer. If one obtains a bed or bench stuffed with cotton down made for another person's use, there is no offense in using it if one removes the upholstery first.
Summary: Acquiring a bed or bench stuffed with cotton down after making it — or having it made — for one's own use is a pācittiya offense requiring that one remove the stuffing before confessing the offense.
89. When a bhikkhu is having a sitting cloth made, it is to be made to the standard measurement. Here the standard is this: two spans — using the sugata span — in length, one and a half spans in width, the border a span. In excess of that, it is to be cut down and confessed.
The origin story here follows on the passage in Mv.VIII.16.3, where the Buddha allows bhikkhus to use a sitting cloth in order to protect their robes from getting soiled by their furnishings, and their furnishings from getting soiled by their robes and bodies.
"Now at that time the Blessed One had allowed a sitting cloth for the bhikkhus. Some group-of-six bhikkhus... used sitting cloths, without any limit in size, that hung down in front and behind even on beds and benches." (As a result, the Buddha set the limit at 2 by 1.5 spans.) Now, Ven. Udāyin was very large. Setting out his sitting cloth in front of the Blessed One, he stretched it out on all sides before sitting down. The Blessed One said to him, 'Why is it, Udāyin, that when setting out your sitting cloth you stretch it out on all sides like a worker in old leather? (§)'
"Because the sitting cloth the Blessed One has allowed for the bhikkhus is way too small.'" (Thus the Buddha added the allowance for the border.)
There are three factors for the full offense here.
Object. A sitting cloth, by definition, has to have a border, regardless of whether it is made of felted or woven material. However — as none of the texts give any clear indication as to how many sides should have a border or how the borders should be patterned — there is no definitive measurement as to how large the overall cloth should be. A wise policy, then, is to take the origin story as a guide: Make the cloth large enough so that one can sit cross-legged on it without soiling one's robes or furnishings, but not so large that it extends out on any side.
Effort. The permutations under this factor are as follows: the act of making the sitting cloth or having it made — a dukkaṭa; acquiring the finished article — a pācittiya. This last penalty applies regardless of whether the cloth was made entirely by oneself, entirely by others either partly or entirely at one's instigation, or whether one finished what others began or got others to finish what one began oneself. In any event, one must cut the cloth down to the proper size before confessing the offense.
If one obtains an oversized sitting cloth made by another — not at one's instigation — then using it entails a dukkaṭa (§).
Intention. There is a dukkaṭa in making an overly large sitting cloth — or having it made — for the sake of another person.
Non-offenses. There is no offense if one receives an overly large sitting cloth made by another person (§) — not at one's instigation — and cuts it down to size before using it oneself. The non-offense clauses also state that there is no offense in a canopy, a floor-covering, a wall screen, a mattress/cushion, or a kneeling mat. This apparently means that if one receives an overly large sitting cloth, one may use it as a canopy, etc., instead.
Summary: Acquiring an overly large sitting cloth after making it — or having it made — for one's own use is a pācittiya offense requiring that one cut the cloth down to size before confessing the offense.
90. When a bhikkhu is having a skin-eruption covering cloth made, it is to be made to the standard measurement. Here the standard is this: four spans — using the sugata span — in length, two spans in width. In excess of that, it is to be cut down and confessed.
Object. Mv.VIII.17 allows bhikkhus to use a skin-eruption covering cloth to protect their robes when they are suffering from boils, running sores, rashes, or "thick scab" diseases (large boils? psoriasis?). The Vibhaṅga to this rule states that the cloth is to cover the area from the navel down to the knees, thus suggesting that the cloth is intended to be worn as an inner robe beneath the lower robe. As we already mentioned under NP 1, one should determine these cloths for use when one is suffering from such a disease and place them under shared ownership when not.
As mentioned under Pc 87, above, the sugata measures are discussed in Appendix II. Here we take the sugata span to equal 25 cm., which would put the standard measurement for the skin-eruption covering cloth at 1 meter by 50 cm.
Effort, intention, & non-offenses. The permutations of these factors are the same as under the preceding rule.
Summary: Acquiring an overly large skin-eruption covering cloth after making it — or having it made — for one's own use is a pācittiya offense requiring that one cut the cloth down to size before confessing the offense.
91. When a bhikkhu is having a rains-bathing cloth made, it is to be made to the standard measurement. Here the standard is this: six spans — using the sugata span — in length, two and a half spans in width. In excess of that, it is to be cut down and confessed.
Object. The rains-bathing cloth has already been discussed in detail under NP 24. Taking the sugata span as 25 cm., the standard measurement for the rains-bathing cloth would be 1.5 m. by 62.5 cm.
Effort, intention, & non-offenses. The permutations of these factors are the same as under Pc 89.
Summary: Acquiring an overly large rains-bathing cloth after making it — or having it made — for one's own use is a pācittiya offense requiring that one cut the cloth down to size before confessing the offense.
92. Should any bhikkhu have a robe made the measurement of the sugata robe or larger, it is to be cut down and confessed. Here, the measurement of the Sugata's sugata robe is this: nine spans — using the sugata span — in length, six spans in width. This is the measurement of the Sugata's sugata robe.
Object. The term sugata — meaning well-gone or accomplished — is an epithet for the Buddha.
Robe is not defined in the Vibhaṅga here but apparently means any of the three basic robes: the lower robe, the upper robe, and the outer robe. This raises an interesting point: Perhaps in the Buddha's time all three of the basic robes were approximately the same size. This would have made it much more convenient than it is at present to hold to the practice of using only one set of three robes. When washing one robe, one could wear the other two without looking out of line.
At any rate, taking the sugata span to be 25 cm. would put the size of the Buddha's robes at 2.25 m. by 1.50 m. — much larger than the lower robes used at present, but much smaller than present-day upper and outer robes.
As we will see under Appendix II, various theories have been offered over the centuries as to the length of the sugata span. Beginning at least with the time of the Mahā Aṭṭhakathā, one of the ancient commentaries, the Buddha was assumed to be of three-times normal height, and so his handspan, cubit, etc., were assumed to be three-times normal length. Only recently, within the last century or so, have Vinaya experts taken evidence from the Canon to show that the Buddha, though tall, was not abnormally so, and thus the estimate of the sugata span, etc., has shrunk accordingly. Still, the traditional estimates of the Buddha's height continue to influence the size of the robes that bhikkhus wear today throughout the Theravādin countries. There was a movement in Thailand during the mid-19th century to return to the original size and style as shown in the earliest Indian Buddha images, but the idea never caught on.
Effort, intention, & non-offenses. The permutations of these factors are the same as under Pc 89.
Summary: Acquiring an overly large robe after making it — or having it made — for one's own use is a pācittiya offense requiring that one cut the robe down to size before confessing the offense.