Theravāda Vinayapiṭaka

Nuns’ rules and their analysis

Nuns’ Formal Meeting (Saṅghādisesa) 2

… at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time in Vesālī, the wife of a certain Licchavi came to be an adulteress. Then that Licchavi spoke thus to that woman: “Please desist, else will we do you harm.” But being spoken to thus, she paid no heed. Now at that time a group of Licchavis were assembled in Vesālī on some business. Then that Licchavi spoke thus to those Licchavis: “Let the masters allow me power over one woman.”

“What is her name?”

“My wife commits adultery, I will kill her.”

“Take your right,” they said. Then that woman heard: “My husband wants to kill me,” and taking precious belongings, having gone to Sāvatthī, having approached members of other sects, she asked for the going forth. The members of other sects did not wish to let her go forth. Having approached nuns, she asked for the going forth. Neither did the nuns wish to let her go forth. Having approached the nun Thullanandā, having shown (her) the belongings, she asked for the going forth. The nun Thullanandā, having taken the belongings, let her go forth. Then that Licchavi, searching for that woman, having gone to Sāvatthī, seeing her gone forth among the nuns, approached King Pasenadi of Kosala; having approached, he spoke thus to King Pasenadi of Kosala:

“Sire, my wife, taking precious belongings, has reached Sāvatthī; let the king allow me power over her.”

“Well now, good sir, having examined (her), explain.”

“Sire, she was seen gone forth among the nuns.”

“If, good sir, she has gone forth among the nuns, there is nothing to do against her. Well preached by the lord is dhamma; let her lead the Brahma-life for the utter ending of ill.”

Then that Licchavi, looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “How can these nuns let a woman thief go forth?”

Nuns heard that Licchavi who … spread it about. Those who were modest nuns … spread it about, saying: “How can the lady Thullanandā let a woman thief go forth?” Then these nuns told this matter to the monks …

“Is it true, as is said, monks, that the nun Thullanandā let a thief go forth?”

“It is true, lord.”

The enlightened one, the lord, rebuked them, saying: “How, monks, can the nun Thullanandā let a woman thief go forth? It is not monks, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased … let the nuns set forth this rule of training:

Whatever nun should knowingly receive a woman thief found to merit death, without having obtained permission from a king or an Order or a group or a guild or a company, unless she is allowable, that nun also has fallen into a matter that is an offence at once, entailing a formal meeting of the Order involving being sent away.”


Whatever means: … nun is to be understood.

She knows means: either she knows by herself or others tell her or she tells her.

Woman thief means: she who takes by means of theft (anything) having the value of five māsakas or more than five māsakas that has not been given—she is called a woman thief.

To merit death means: having done that for which she is condemned to death.

Found means: she becomes known by other people, thinking, ‘This one merits death.’

Without having obtained permission means: not asking (for permission).

King means: where a king governs, the king’s permission should be obtained.

Order means: it is called an Order of nuns; the permission of the Order of nuns should be obtained.

Group means: where a group governs, the group’s permission should be obtained.

Company means: where a company governs, the company’s permission should be obtained.

Unless she is allowable means: having set aside one who is allowable. Allowable means: there are two who are allowable: either she who has gone forth among members of other sects, or she who has gone forth among other nuns.

If she thinks, “I will receive one, unless she is allowable,” and looks about for a group or for a female teacher or for a bowl or for a robe or if she determines a boundary, there is an offence of wrong-doing. As a result of the motion, there is an offence of wrong-doing. As a result of two proclamations, there are grave offences. At the end of the proclamations, there is an offence involving a formal meeting of the Order for the female preceptor, an offence of wrong-doing for the group and for the female teacher.

She also means: she is so called in reference to the former.

Offence at once means: … therefore again it is called an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order.


If she thinks that she is a thief when she is a thief (and) receives her, unless she is allowable, there is an offence entailing a formal meeting of the Order. If she is in doubt … offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that she is not a thief when she is a thief … no offence. If she thinks that she is a thief when she is not a thief, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she is in doubt as to whether she is not a thief, there is an offence of wrong-doing. If she thinks that she is not a thief when she is not a thief, there is no offence.


There is no offence if she receives her, not knowing; if she receives one, she having obtained permission; if she receives one who is made allowable; if she is mad, if she is the first wrong-doer.