KyaemonMay 26, 20106min120

The Four Disrobing Offences

Ajahn Brahmavamso

The core of the monastic discipline is a list of rules called the Patimokkha. In the bhikkhu-patimokkha (for the monks) there are 227 rules, while in the bhikkhuni-patimokkha (for the nuns) there are 311 rules. The first four rules in the patimokkha, for both monks and nuns, are the four Parajika. The word parajika (in the ancient Indian language called Pali) is usually translated as ‘making the doer defeated’.

In effect it means that the offender MUST DISROBE. No ceremony or trial is required.

From the instant the transgression is completed, the perpetrator automatically loses his or her status as a Buddhist monk or nun. Obviously these four rules were considered by the Buddha to be extreme violations of the spiritual ethic and a major obstacle in the path to enlightenment. They considered such gross behaviour on the part of a monk or nun that the penalty of disrobal was for life! Such a one could not simply re-ordain after a period of grace.

The four transgressions which incur a Parajika, the penalty of automatic disrobal, are as follows:

1. Engaging in sexual intercourse with another being of either sex.

2. Stealing something of value (which includes smuggling, cheating or deliberately avoiding payment of a tax).

3. Purposely killing a human being or encouraging him or her to commit suicide (this includes inciting another to murder somebody and it also includes convincing a woman to have an abortion.

4. Boasting that one has realised a high spiritual attainment, knowing that one is lying. For example, claiming to be enlightened, to be Maitreya Buddha, to have entered Jhana (deep meditation-ecstasy) or that one can read minds when one knows that one hasn’t reached any of these states.