Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

The chapter on relinquishment

Monks’ Relinquishment

21. The training rule on bowls

Origin story

First sub-story

At one time the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery. At that time monks from the group of six were storing many bowls. People who were touring the dwellings saw this, and they grumbled and complained, “How can the Sakyan ascetics store many bowls? Will they start up as bowl merchants or set up a bowl shop?”

Monks heard the complaints of those people, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized those monks, “How can those monks from the group of six keep extra bowls?”

After criticizing those monks in many ways, they informed the Master. … “Is it true, monks, that you do this?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked them: “… Foolish men, how can you keep extra bowls? This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Preliminary ruling

‘If a monk keeps an extra bowl, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

In this way the Master laid down this training rule for the monks.

Second sub-story

Soon afterwards a bowl was offered to Venerable Ānanda, but he wished to give it to Venerable Sāriputta who was staying at Sāketa. Knowing that the Buddha had laid down a rule against keeping an extra bowl, Venerable Ānanda thought, “What should I do in this situation?” He informed the Master, who said, “How long is it, Ānanda, before Sāriputta returns?”

“Nine or ten days, Master.”

Soon afterwards the Master gave a teaching and addressed the monks: “Monks, you should keep an extra bowl for ten days at the most. And so, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Final ruling

‘A monk should keep an extra bowl for ten days at the most. If he keeps it beyond that, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

Definitions

For ten days at the most: it should be kept for ten days at a maximum.

An extra bowl: a bowl that is not determined, nor transferred.

A bowl: there are two kinds of bowl: the iron bowl and the clay bowl.

And there are three kinds of bowl: the large bowl, the medium bowl, and the small bowl. Anything larger than this is not a bowl, nor anything smaller. The large bowl: it takes half an āḷhaka measure of rice, a fourth part of non-staple food, and suitable curry. The medium bowl: it takes a nāḷika measure of rice, a fourth part of non-staple food, and suitable curry. The small bowl: it takes a pattha measure of rice, a fourth part of non-staple food, and suitable curry.

If he keeps it beyond that […] entailing relinquishment: it becomes subject to relinquishment at dawn on the eleventh day.


The bowl should be relinquished to an Order, a group, or an individual. “And, monks, it should be relinquished in this way. After approaching the Order, that monk should put his upper robe over one shoulder and pay respect at the feet of the senior monks. He should then squat on his heels, put the palms of his hands together, and say, ‘Venerables, this bowl that I have kept over ten days is to be relinquished. I relinquish it to the Order.’ After relinquishing it, he should acknowledge the offense. The acknowledgment should be received by a competent and capable monk. The relinquished bowl is then to be given back:

‘Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This bowl that was to be relinquished by monk so-and-so has been relinquished to the Order. If it seems appropriate to the Order, the Order should give this bowl back to monk so-and-so.’

After approaching several monks, that monk should put his upper robe over one shoulder and pay respect at the feet of the senior monks. He should then squat on his heels, put the palms of his hands together, and say, ‘Venerables, this bowl that I have kept over ten days is to be relinquished. I relinquish it to the venerables.’ After relinquishing it, he should acknowledge the offense. The acknowledgment should be received by a competent and capable monk. The relinquished bowl is then to be given back:

‘Let the venerables listen to me. This bowl that was to be relinquished by monk so-and-so has been relinquished to you. If it seems appropriate to you, you should give this bowl back to monk so-and-so.’

After approaching a single monk, that monk should put his upper robe over one shoulder, squat on his heels, put the palms of his hands together, and say, ‘This bowl that I have kept over ten days is to be relinquished. I relinquish it to you.’ After relinquishing it, he should acknowledge the offense. The acknowledgment should be received by that monk. The relinquished bowl is then to be given back: ‘I give this bowl back to you.’”

Permutations

If it is more than ten days and he perceives it as more than ten days, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it is more than ten days, but he is unsure if it is, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it is more than ten days, but he perceives it as less than ten days, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If it has not been determined, but he perceives it as determined, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it has not been transferred, but he perceives it as transferred, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it has not been given away, but he perceives it as given away, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it has not been lost, but he perceives it as lost, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it has not been destroyed, but he perceives it as destroyed, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it has not been broken, but he perceives it as broken, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If it has not been stolen, but he perceives it as stolen, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he uses a bowl that should be relinquished without first relinquishing it, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is less than ten days, but he perceives it as more than ten days, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is less than ten days, but he is unsure if it is, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is less than ten days and he perceives it as less than ten days, there is no offense.

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if within ten days it has been determined, transferred, given away, lost, destroyed, broken, stolen, or taken on trust; if he is insane; if he is the first offender.


At one time monks from the group six did not give back a relinquished bowl. They informed the Master. “Monks, a relinquished bowl should be given back. If a monk doesn’t give it back, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.”

The first rule, the training rule on bowls, is finished.