Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

The chapter on relinquishment

Monks’ Relinquishment

23. The training rule on tonics

Origin story

At one time the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery. At that time Venerable Pilindavaccha wanted to build a shelter, and he was having a hillside cleared near Rājagaha. On that occasion King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha went to Pilindavaccha, bowed down to him, sat down to one side, and said, “Venerable, what are you having made?”

“I’m clearing the hillside, great king, because I want to build a shelter.”

“Do you need a monastery worker?”

“The Master hasn’t allowed monastery workers.”

“Well then, Venerable, please ask the Master and inform me of the outcome.”

“Yes, great king.”

And Pilindavaccha instructed, inspired, and gladdened King Bimbisāra with a teaching. The king rose from his seat, bowed down to Pilindavaccha, circumambulated him with his right side towards him, and departed.

Soon afterwards Pilindavaccha sent a message to the Master: “Venerable Sir, King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha wishes to provide a monastery worker. What should I do?” The Master then gave a teaching and addressed the monks: “Monks, I allow monastery workers.”

Once again King Bimbisāra went to Pilindavaccha, bowed down to him, and sat down to one side. And said, “Venerable, has the Master allowed monastery workers?”

“Yes, great king.”

“Well then, I’ll provide you with a monastery worker.”

But after promising a monastery worker to Pilindavaccha, he forgot about it. He only remembered after a long time. He then addressed the minister in charge of all practical affairs, “Listen, has the monastery worker I promised been provided?”

“No, sir, he hasn’t.”

“How long is it since we made that promise?”

The minister counted the days and said, “It’s five hundred days, sir.”

“Well then, provide him with five hundred monastery workers.”

“Yes, sir.”

The minister provided Pilindavaccha with five hundred monastery workers, and a separate village was established. They called it “The Monastery Workers’ Village” and “Pilinda Village.”

And Pilindavaccha began associating with the families in that village.

After dressing one morning, he took his bowl and robe and entered Pilinda Village for almsfood. At that time they were holding a festival in that village, and the children were dressed up with ornaments and garlands. As Pilindavaccha was walking on continuous almsround, he came to the house of a certain monastery worker, where he sat down on a prepared seat. Just then the daughter of the house had seen other children dressed up in ornaments and garlands. She was crying, “Give me a garland! Give me ornaments!” Pilindavaccha asked her mother why the girl was crying. She told him, adding, “How can poor people like us afford garlands and ornaments?” Pilindavaccha took a roll of grass and said to the mother, “Here, place this roll of grass on the girl’s head.” She did, and it turned into a beautiful golden garland. Even the royal compound had nothing like it.

People informed King Bimbisāra, “Sir, in the house of a particular monastery worker there’s a beautiful golden garland. Even your household, sir, has nothing like it. So how did those poor people get it? No doubt it was taken by theft.” And King Bimbisāra had that family imprisoned.

Once again Pilindavaccha dressed in the morning, took his bowl and robe, and entered Pilinda Village for almsfood. As he was walking on continuous almsround, he came to the house of that monastery worker. And he asked the neighbors, “Where has the family of this monastery worker gone?”

“Venerable, the king had them imprisoned because of that golden garland.”

Pilindavaccha then went to King Bimbisāra’s house and sat down on a prepared seat. King Bimbisāra approached Pilindavaccha, bowed down to him, and sat down to one side. And Pilindavaccha said, “Great king, why have you had the family of that monastery worker imprisoned?”

“Venerable, in the house of that monastery worker there was a beautiful golden garland. Even the royal compound has nothing like it. So how did those poor people get it? No doubt it was taken by theft.”

Pilindavaccha then focused his mind on turning King Bimbisāra’s stilt house into gold. The whole house became gold. And he said, “Great king, how did you get so much gold?”

“Understood, Venerable, this is your supernormal power.” And he released that family.

People were saying, “It seems Venerable Pilindavaccha has shown a superhuman ability, a wonder of supernormal power, to the king and his court!” They were delighted and gained confidence in Pilindavaccha, and they brought him the five kinds of tonic: ghee, butter, oil, honey, and sugar. Ordinarily, too, Pilindavaccha was getting these five tonics. Since he was getting so much, he gave it away to his followers. And his followers acquired an abundance of tonics. After filling up jars and pitchers and setting these aside, they filled their water-strainers and bags and hung these in the windows. The tonics were dripping all over, and the dwellings became infested with rats. People who were touring the dwellings saw this, and they grumbled and complained, “These Sakyan ascetics are hoarding goods indoors, just like King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha.”

Monks heard the complaints of those people, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized those monks, “How can these monks choose to live in such abundance?”

After criticizing those monks in many ways, they informed the Master. … “Is it true, monks, that some monks are living in this way?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha criticized them, “… How can those foolish men choose to live in such abundance? This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Final ruling

‘After being received, the tonics allowable for sick monks— that is, ghee, butter, oil, honey, and sugar— should be used from storage for at most seven days. If one uses them beyond that, one commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

Definitions

The tonics allowable for sick monks: Ghee: ghee from cows, ghee from goats, ghee from buffaloes, or ghee from whatever animal whose meat is allowable. Butter: butter from the same animals. Oil: sesame oil, mustard seed oil, honey tree oil, castor oil, oil from tallow. Honey: honey from bees. Sugar: from sugar cane.

After being received […] should be used from storage for at most seven days: they are to be used for seven days at the maximum.

If one uses them beyond that, one commits an offense entailing relinquishment: it becomes subject to relinquishment at dawn on the eighth day.


The tonics should be relinquished to an Order, a group, or an individual. “And, monks, they should be relinquished in this way: … To be expanded as in Relinquishment 1, paragraphs 13–17, with appropriate substitutions. … ‘Venerables, these tonics that I have kept over seven days are to be relinquished. I relinquish them to the Order.’ … the Order should give … you should give … ‘I give these tonics back to you.’”

Permutations

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

If they have not been determined, but he perceives them as determined, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If they have not been given away, but he perceives them as given away, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If they have not been lost, but he perceives them as lost, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If they have not been destroyed, but he perceives them as destroyed, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If they have not been burnt, but he perceives them as burnt, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If they have not been stolen, but he perceives them as stolen, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

After the relinquished tonics have been returned, they are not to be used on the body, nor are they to be eaten. They can used in lamps or as a black coloring agent. Other monks may use them on the body, but they may not eat them.

If it is less than seven days, but he perceives it as more than seven days, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is less than seven days, but he is unsure if it is, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is less than seven days and he perceives it as less than seven days, there is no offense.

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if within seven days they have been determined, given away, lost, destroyed, burnt, stolen, or taken on trust; if, without any desire for them, he gives them up to a person who is not fully ordained, and he then obtains them again and then uses them; if he is insane; if he is the first offender.


The third rule, the training rule on tonics, is finished.