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The Vinaya Piṭaka (Sanskrit, Pali; English: Basket of Discipline) is a Buddhist scripture, one of the three parts that make up the Tripiṭaka (lit. Three Baskets). The other two parts of the Tripiṭaka are the Sutra Piṭaka (Sanskrit; Pali: Sutta Piṭaka) and the Abhidharma Piṭaka (Sanskrit; Pali: Abhidhamma Piṭaka).

Its primary subject matter is the monastic rules of conduct for monks and nuns.


According to tradition, the Tripiṭaka was compiled at the First Council shortly after the Buddha's death. The Vinaya Piṭaka is said to have been recited by Upāli, with little later addition. Most of the different versions are fairly similar, most scholars consider most of the Vinaya to be fairly early, that is, dating from before the separation of schools.[1]

Scholarly consensus places the composition of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya in the early centuries of the first millennium, though all the manuscripts and translations are relatively late.[2]


Six complete versions are extant. Fragments of the remaining versions survive in various languages. The first three listed below are still in use.

  • The Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya (Sanskrit; Tibetan: འདུལ་བ་, Wylie: ‘Dul ba; Chinese: 根本說一切有部律; pinyin: Gēnběnshuōyīqiēyǒubùlǜ; Wade–Giles: ken pen shuo i ch'ieh yu pu lü) (T. 1442), a translation from the Mūlasarvāstivāda school, extant in both Chinese and Tibetan. This is the version used in the Tibetan tradition. It comprises seven major works and may be divided into four traditional sections.
    • Vinayavastu (འདུལ་བ་གཞི་ ‘dul ba gzhi): 17 skandhakas (chapters)
    • Vinayavibhaṅga
      • Prātimokṣasūtra (སོ་སོར་ཐར་པའི་མདོ་ so sor thar pa‘i mdo): rules for monks
      • Vinayavibhaṅga (འདུལ་བ་རྣམ་འབྱེད་ ‘dul ba rnam ‘byed): explanations on rules for monks
      • Bhikṣunīprātimokṣasūtra (དགེ་སློང་མའི་སོ་སོར་ཐར་པའི་མདོ་ dge slong ma‘i so sor thar pa‘i mdo): rules for nuns
      • Bhikṣunīvinayavibhaṅga (དགེ་སློང་མའི་འདུལ་བ་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་ dge slong ma‘i ‘dul ba rnam par ‘byed pa): explanations on rules for nuns
    • Vinayakṣudrakavastu (འདུལ་བ་ཕྲན་ཚེགས་ཀྱི་གཞི་ ‘dul ba phran tshegs kyi gzhi): miscellaneous topics
    • Vinayottaragrantha (འདུལ་བ་གཞུང་བླ་མ་ ‘ba gzhung bla ma): appendices, including the Upāliparipṛcchā, which corresponds to a chapter of the Parivāra.
      • Vinayottaragrantha (འདུལ་བ་གཞུང་དམ་པ་ ‘dul ba gzhung dam pa): a second, more comprehensive version of the above
  • The Vinaya in Four Parts (Sanskrit: Cāturvargīya-vinaya; Chinese: 四分律; pinyin: Shìfēnlǜ; Wade–Giles: Ssŭ-fen lü) (T. 1428). This is Chinese translation of the Dharmaguptaka version and is used in the Chinese tradition and its derivatives in Korea, Vietnam and in Japan under the early Kokubunji temple system. In the case of Japan, this was later replaced with ordination based solely on the Bodhisattva Precepts.
    • Bhikṣuvibhaṅga: rules for monks
    • Bhikṣunīvibhaṅga (明尼戒法): rules for nuns
    • Skandhaka (犍度): of which there are 20
    • Samyuktavarga
      • Vinayaikottara, corresponding to a chapter of the Parivara[citation needed]
  • The Ten Recitation Vinaya (Sanskrit: Daśa-bhāṇavāra-vinaya; Chinese: 十誦律; pinyin: Shísònglǜ; Wade–Giles: Shisong lü) (T. 1435), a Chinese translation of the Sarvāstivāda version
    • Bhikṣuvibhaṅga
    • Skandhaka
    • Bhikṣunīvibhaṅga
    • Ekottaradharma, similar to Vinayaikottara
    • Upaliparipriccha
    • Ubhayatovinaya
    • Samyukta
    • Parajikadharma
    • Sanghavasesha
    • Kusaladhyaya[citation needed]
  • The Mahāsāṃghika-vinaya (Chinese: 摩訶僧祇律; pinyin: Móhēsēngqílǜ; Wade–Giles: Mo-ho-seng-ch'i lü) (T. 1425), a Chinese translation of Mahāsāṃghika version. An English translation of the bhikṣunī discipline is also available.[3]


The Pali version of the Patimokkha contains 227 rules for bhikkhus and 311 rules for bhikkhunis. The Vibhaṅga sections consist of commentary on these rules, giving detailed explanations of them along with the origin stories for each rule. The Khandhaka section gives numerous supplementary rules grouped by subject that also consist of origin stories.

The collected Chinese editions of the Vinaya Piṭaka consist of a broader category of literature, as it includes all four Chinese vinayas listed above, as well as post-canonical literature, lay precepts and the Bodhisattva Vinaya.

Place in the traditionEdit

According to the sutras[citation needed], in the first years of the Buddha's teaching the sangha lived together in harmony with no vinaya, as there was no need, because all of the Buddha's early disciples were highly realized if not fully enlightened. As the sangha expanded, situations arose which the Buddha and the lay community felt were inappropriate for mendicants.

The first rule to be established was the prohibition against sexual intercourse. The origin story tells of an earnest monk whose family was distraught that there was no male heir and so persuaded the monk to impregnate his former wife. All three—the monk, his wife and son, the latter of whom later ordained—eventually became fully enlightened arhats.[citation needed]

The Buddha called his teaching the "Dhamma-Vinaya", emphasizing both the philosophical teachings of Buddhism as well as the training in virtue that embodies that philosophy. Shortly before his passing, the Buddha clarified to his disciples through Ānanda:

Now, Ānanda, if it occurs to any of you—"The teaching has lost its arbitrator; we are without a Teacher"—do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma and Vinaya I have pointed out and formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ New Penguin Handbook of Living Religions, page 380
  2. ^ Sasson, Vanessa R. (2012). Little Buddhas: Children and Childhoods in Buddhist Texts and Traditions. Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 9780199979929. The Pāli Vinaya has been critically edited and translated in its entirety and will serve as a point of comparison with the Northern Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition that is the focus of this study.
    Dating the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya is problematic, since all the manuscripts and translations are relatively late. Scholarly consensus places it in the early centuries of the first millennium, probably around the time of the Kuṣāṇa emperor Kaniṣka.
  3. ^ Hirakawa, Akira (1999). Monastic Discipline for the Buddhist Nuns: An English Translation of the Chinese Text of the Mahāsāṃghika-Bhikṣuṇī-Vinaya (2 ed.). Patna, India: Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute.



  • Davids, T. W. Rhys, Oldenberg, Hermann (joint tr): Vinaya texts, Oxford, The Clarendon press 1881. Vol.1 Vol.2 Vol.3 Internet Archive

External linksEdit