Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

The chapter on relinquishment

Monks’ Relinquishment

20. The training rule on bartering

Origin story

At one time the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery. At that time Venerable Upananda the Sakyan had become skilled at making robes. He made an outer robe of rags, well-dyed and beautifully executed, and he wore it.

Just then a certain wanderer who was wearing an an expensive robe approached Upananda and said, “Your outer robe is beautiful. Please give it to me in exchange for my robe.”

“But do you know what you’re doing?”

“I do.”

“Ok then,” and he gave it.

The wanderer put on the outer robe and went to the wanderers’ monastery. And the wanderers said to him, “This outer robe of yours is beautiful. How did you get it?”

“I got it in exchange for my robe.”

“But how long will this outer robe last you? That robe of yours was better.”

The wanderer realized they were right, and so he returned to Upananda and said, “Here’s your outer robe; give me back my robe.”

“But didn’t I ask you if you knew what you were doing? I won’t give it back.”

Then that wanderer grumbled and complained, “Even householders give things back to a householder who has regrets. How then can an ascetic not give back to another ascetic?”

Monks heard the complaints of that wanderer, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized Upananda, “How can Venerable Upananda barter with a wanderer?”

After criticizing him in many ways, they informed the Master. … “Is it true, Upananda, that you did this?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked him: “… Foolish man, how can you barter with a wanderer? This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Final ruling

‘If a monk barters in various ways, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

Definitions

A: whoever … Monk: … The monk who has been given the full ordination by a complete Order through a formal procedure consisting of one motion and three announcements that is unchallengeable and fit to stand— this sort of monk is meant in this case.

Various ways: robes, almsfood, dwellings, or medicines; even bath powder, a toothbrush, or a piece of thread.

Barters: if he misbehaves, saying, “Give that for this/bring that for this/purchase that with this/exchange that for this,” he commits an offense of wrong conduct. When it has been bartered—his own goods are in the hands of the other and the other’s goods are in his own hands—it becomes subject to relinquishment.


The goods should be relinquished to an Order, a group, or an individual. “And, monks, it should be relinquished in this way. … To be expanded as in Relinquishment 1, paragraphs 13–17, with appropriate substitutions. … ‘Venerables, I have bartered in various ways. This is to be relinquished. I relinquish it to the Order.’ … the Order should give … you should give … ‘I give this back to you.’”

Permutations

If it is bartering, and he perceives it as bartering, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it is bartering, but he is unsure if it is, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it is bartering, but he does not perceive it as bartering, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If it is not bartering, but he perceives it as bartering, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is not bartering, but he is unsure if it is, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is not bartering, and he does not perceive it as bartering, there is no offense.

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if he asks for the price; if he tells an attendant; if he says, “I have this and I have need of such-and-such;” if he is insane; if he is the first offender.


The tenth rule, the training rule on bartering, is finished.

The second chapter on silk is finished.

This is the summary:

Silk, entirely, two parts,
Six years, sitting-mat;
And two on wool, should take,
Two on various kinds.