Management of Sangha Property


  • Monk (bhikkhu): someone who was entitled to and received ordination by a legitimate act of Sangha involving a motion and three invitations (samaggena saṅghena ñatticatutthena kammena akuppena ṭhānārahena upasampannoti) (Vin.3.24). Full definition in Appendix 7.
  • Nun (bhikkhunī): someone who was entitled to, and received, ordination by a legitimate act of both Sanghas involving a motion and three invitations (samaggena ubhatosaṅghena ñatticatutthena kammena akuppena ṭhānārahena upasampannāti bhikkhunī). Full definition in Appendix 8.
  • Sangha: a group of four or more Buddhist monks, or of nuns (catuvaggo pacchimo saṅgho'ti) (Vin.1.229). (N.B: The Buddha did not call groups of laypeople 'Sangha', but 'male assemblies' and 'female assemblies': upāsakaparisā; upāsikāparisā: D.2.145; M.1.213).
  • AACD Sangha (āgatānāgatassa cātuddisassa saṅgha): ‘the present and future Sangha of the four quarters’. At D.1.145, the term is abbreviated to cātuddisaṃ saṅghaṃ (‘the Sangha of the four quarters’). All the Sangha’s important possessions (garubandha) is held in trust for the monks' or nuns' AACD Sanghas. This does not mean that garubandha can be divided between the monks and nuns of the four quarters. It means that garubandha is available to whichever monks or nuns, now or later, who want to come and use it. The monks' AACD Sangha and nuns' AACD Sangha are quite separate: they cannot share garubandha, except temporarily (Vin.2.270).
  • AS Sangha (antosīmagatā saṅgha) ‘the within-the-sima Sangha’: all monks living within one sima, both nānāsaṃvāsaka monks and samānasaṃvāsaka monks i.e. monks of any communion (Vin.1.309). The nuns also have an AS Sangha. Although they cannot form schisms (Vin.2.204), nuns can be suspended; so the terms samānasaṃvāsaka and nānāsaṃvāsaka apply to them, too.
  • SB Sangha (sammukhībhūtena saṅgha) ‘the Sangha that is present’ is a group of monks within an AS Sangha. The term occurs only four times in Vinaya; three are described here; the fourth is described below, as one of the 'channels for obtaining robes'.

    A group of 1-3 monks may sometimes be offered cloth “for the Sangha”. The Buddha said that groups of 1-3 could accept such cloth for their own use - they do not need to share it with all the monks in the sima. This allowance is understandable because some large simas, for example in Rajagaha, contained many residences in the same sima (rājagahe sambahulā āvāsā samānasīmā honti) (Vin.1.108). Robes given to a single residence in a large sima would naturally be divided amongst the monks at that residence, not with all the monks in the sima. And this privilege extends to groups smaller than a Sangha. Only if a sima contained a single residence would robes be divided with the whole sima, because the SB Sangha is also the AS Sangha.

    If a residence has under 4 monks, the Buddha still called the group an SB Sangha (Vin.1.108). Such 'Sanghas' receive special privileges with regards to storing cloth - perhaps because they are too small to elect a cloth-store keeper. I discuss these privileges in a separate section below. For clarity, I call such small groups 'SB mini-Sanghas' because they are not really Sanghas.

    There are two other uses of the term 'SB Sangha' in Vinaya: When robe material was overflowing in the Sangha’s robestore, the Buddha said it should be shared amongst the SB Sangha (anujānāmi bhikkhave sammukhībhūtena saṅghena bhājetun’ti) (Vin..1.285). This Sangha must have been inside a large sima, where each residence had its own cloth store with its own store monk. Otherwise the Buddha would have said it should be shared with the AS Sangha.

    If a monk dies, his bowl and robe belong to the AS Sangha; and the AS Sangha should formally give them to the attendants of the sick monk. If the attendant is a samanera, he should receive the same amount as a monk (Vin.1.303). However, the AS Sangha do not receive the dead monk's unimportant requisites: they are for the SB Sangha (yaṃ tattha lahubhaṇḍaṃ lahuparikkhāraṃ, taṃ sammukhībhūtena saṅghena bhājetuṃ) - which likely means those monks at the residence where he died (Vin.1.305). The important requisites belong to the AACD Sangha (garubhaṇḍaṃ garuparikkhāraṃ, taṃ āgatānāgatassa cātuddisassa saṅghassa). They should not be distributed to individual monks, except on loan.
  • VV Sangha (vassaṃ vutthasaṅgha): ‘the Sangha which has spent the vassa together’ (Vin.1.309). Offerings of cloth given during the kathina season belong to this group of monks or nuns until their kathina privileges end (vassaṃ vutthasaṅghassa deti: yāvatikā bhikkhū tasmiṃ āvāse vassaṃ vutthā, tehi bhājetabbaṃ) (Vin.1.309) Vin.3.204; Vin.4.287. If a monk, having spent the vassa, leaves before robes are given, his portion of robes should be allotted to him if there is a suitable receiver (idha pana bhikkhave vassaṃ vuttho bhikkhu anuppanne cīvare pakkamati sante patirūpe gāhake dātabbaṃ) (Vin.1.307-8).
  • Both Sanghas (ubhato saṅgha): the monks and nuns Sanghas. The Buddha is the leader of both Sanghas: buddhapamukhe ubhato saṅghe (M.3.255-6).
  • Worldwide Sangha: see Appendix 31.
  • Lahubandha: needles (sūci), scissors (satthakaṃ), sandals (upāhanā), belts (kāyabandhanaṃ), shoulder straps for bowls (aṃsabandhako), water-filters (parissāvanaṃ), water pots (dhammakarako), cloth (kusi, aḍḍhakusi, maṇḍalaṃ, aḍḍhamaṇḍalaṃ, anuvāto, paribhaṇḍaṃ), nutritive medicines, bowls (patta), gruel, fruit, solid food (Vin.2.177). These small requisites are mostly to be given to monks as needed (sace pūnapi attho hoti pūnapi dātabbanti), rather than being divided into equal portions like cloth. However, food may have been divided into equal shares.
  • Garubandha: the Sangha’s important possessions and requisites (saṅghassa garubhaṇḍāni garuparikkhārāni: Vin.3.90) held in trust for the AACD Sangha. It is a thullaccaya offence to give or distribute garubandha to individual monks, and if it is given to a monk it can be taken back from him (Vin.2.170-1). If garubandha belongs in one building or monastery, it is a dukkata offence to move it elsewhere (Vin.3.66; Vin.2.174). Garubandha should not be given by the monks’ Sangha to the nuns’ Sangha or visa versa, except temporarily (anujānāmi bhikkhave bhikkhunīnaṃ senāsanaṃ dātuṃ tāvakālikan’ti) (Vin.2.270). The Buddha defined garubandha as follows:
    • Land: monasteries (ārāmo), monastery land (ārāmavatthu)
    • Dwellings: monastic dwellings (vihāro), land associated with monastic dwellings (vihāravatthu)
    • Major furnishings: sleeping platforms (mañco), lying platforms (pīṭhaṃ), mattresses (bhisi), pillows (bimbohanaṃ)
    • Metal containers: metal urns (lohakumbhī), metal jars (lohabhāṇakaṃ), metal pots (lohavārako), metal vessels (lohakaṭāhaṃ)
    • Tools: adzes (vāsi), axes (pharasu), hatchets (kuṭhāri), spades (kuddālo), chisels (nikhādana) (cf. A.2.201).
    • Building materials: rope (vallī), bamboo (veḷu), muñja reed (muñjaṃ), babbaja reed (babbajaṃ), straw (tiṇaṃ), clay (mattikā)
    • Wooden goods (dārubhaṇḍaṃ): doors, window frames, roof beams (Vin.3.65).
    • Clay goods and earthenware (mattikābhaṇḍaṃ) (Vin.2.170).

  • Vatthu has two meanings: non-monastic and monastic land:
    • non-monastic: it is the land for non-monastic dwellings (vihāravatthu) or the land for non-monastic park (ārāmavatthu) (Vin.3.50). The Buddha did not accept such land. Nor did he accept agricultural land (khettaṃ - defined as being where grains and pulses are grown: Vin.3.50) (khettavatthupaṭiggahaṇā paṭivirato samaṇo gotamo) (D.1.5).
    • monastic: it is the land for monastic dwellings (vihāravatthu) and land for monastic parks i.e. monasteries (ārāmavatthu). These are the Sangha's important possessions (Vin.3.90).
  • Ārāma has two meanings: non-monastic and monastic parks.
    • non-monastic: a flower garden (pupphārāmo); a fruit park (fruit orchard) (phalārāmo) (Vin.3.49); somewhere for people to amuse and enjoy themselves (kīḷituṃ ramituṃ kataṃ hoti) (Vin.4.298). It is a pacittiya offence for nuns to visit such an ārāmo (Vin.4.298).
    • monastic: a monastic park i.e. monastery (ārāmo) is one of the Sangha’s important possessions (garubhaṇḍāni) (Vin.3.90). Monks’ Pacittiya 84 allows him to pick up a lost gem if he finds it in an ārāmo but not if he finds it outside of an ārāmo (Vin.4.184). Obviously, this does not mean he can pick up gems in a flower garden, fruit orchard pleasure park. The nuns’ call monasteries sabhikkhukaṃ ārāmaṃ (‘parks with monks’) (Vin.4.307); and, if the monks give permission, nuns may visit such ‘parks’.

Accepting monasteries

When the Buddha was offered monasteries, he would sometimes tell donors to dedicate it to the the 'present and future Sangha of the four quarters', but sometimes he simply received it.

For example, when the Setthi of Rajagaha asked what he should do with sixty dwelling places he had made for the Sangha, the Buddha told him to dedicate them (patiṭṭhāpehī’ti) to the present and future Sangha of the four quarters (Vin.2.147). The same thing happened with Anathapindika: he was told to dedicate, what he called “the Jetavana” (Jeta’s Grove) in the same way (jetavanaṃ āgatānāgatassa cātuddisassa saṅghassa patiṭṭhāpehī’ti) (Vin.2.164). ‘Jetavane’ became known as “Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s Monastery” (jetavane anāthapiṇḍikassa ārāma).

When Ambapali offered Ambapali's Grove, she gave it to the monks’ Sangha, with the Buddha at its head (imāhaṃ bhante ambavanaṃ buddha pamukhassa bhikkhusaṅghassa dammī’ti) and the Buddha accepted it (paṭiggahesi bhagavā ārāmaṃ) (Vin.1.233). It became called, not a ‘monastery’, but Ambapali’s Grove (ambapālivana). The same happened with King Seniya Bimbisara’s Bamboo Grove Pleasure Park (veḷuvanaṃ uyyānaṃ) which became known simply as the Bamboo Grove (veḷuvana) (Vin.1.39).

Allowable residences and buildings

Residences and buildings that can be received by Sanghas of monks, or of nuns, or by individual monks or nuns, or by male or female novices, or by female trainees, are:

  1. a bungalow (vihāro): larger than a kuṭi - for example, compare Sanghadisesa 6 and 7: kuṭi is what a monk builds for himself, mahallakaṃ vihāraṃ is what a sponsor builds. A bungalow is allowed to have a verandah, a covered terrace, an inner court and verandah roofing (ālindaṃ paghanaṃ pakuḍḍaṃ osarakanti). Moveable screens may be used by monks wanting to lie down on the verandahs in privacy (saṃsaraṇakiṭikaṃ ugghāṭanakiṭikanti: Vin.2.153). Each bungalow was allowed its own compound - see below.
  2. a semi-detached building (aḍḍhayogo). (PED - under yoga - says a 'half-connected' building).
  3. a multi-storey building (pāsādo): with an attic, a pāsādo would be three stories.
  4. a double-storey building (hammiyaṃ): house with a private room upstairs (hammiyagabbhantī) (Vin.2.152) - perhaps an attic. From the safety of the pāsādo and the hammiyaṃ, people watched the Buddha taming Nalagiri, the wild elephant (Vin.2.195).
  5. a cave (guhā): the cave can be used as a general store/ larder (kappiyabhūmiṃ: Vin.1.239); Uposatha hall (Vin.1.107); cloth store (Vin.1.284); an abode (Vin.2.146). So can the first five buildings on this list. Further explanation below.
  6. a compound (pariveṇaṃ) - a fenced or walled-in area containing a group of buildings. Compounds sometimes contained several bungalows (Vin.2.167). The sauna had its own compound (Vin.2.220). Nuns lived in village parivenas (Vin.4.252). Monks built fires in parivenas (Vin.2.154). Flagstones and drains prevented them becoming swampy (Vin.2.121). They were bordered by fencing (Vin.2.153). Nuns visited a monks' compound for the bi-monthly exhortation (Vin.4.52).
  7. a porch (koṭṭhako): compounds had porches at their entrances. Even the gateway and the sauna compounds had a porch (Vin.2.154).
  8. an assembly hall (upaṭṭhānasālā): for eating (Vin.2.153) and gathering (Vin.1.125).
  9. a fire-hall (aggisālā): place for making fires (aggiṭṭhānaṃ) (Vin.2.154).
  10. a larder (kappiyakuṭi): usually called kappiyabhūmi (kitchens/ stores) (Vin.1.238). Because of the noise associated with kitchens/stores, the Buddha initially prohibited monks from living in such places themselves. He later reversed this decision. He allowed monks to use four places for kitchen/stores (Vin.1.239) He said that the Sangha can keep there whatever they wish (tattha vāsetu, yaṃ saṅgho ākaṅkhati). The four places are:
      • whatever building is appointed by ñattidutiyakamma (ussāvanantikaṃ)
      • wherever happens to fortuitously be available. (gonisadika: see BD.4.328 note4: “the idea is that something is left to a haphazard element”)
      • whatever kitchen facility laypeople might offer (gahapatiṃ)
      • whatever place is agreed upon (sammutinti)
    • a walking meditation path (caṅkamo) - allowed for health reasons (Vin.2.119).
    • a walking meditation hall (caṅkamanasālā) - allowed because walking outside was too hot or cold (Vin.2.120).
    • a well (udapāno) - allowed to provide water for the sauna (Vin.2.122).
    • a hall for the well (udapānasālā) - allowed because drawing water outside was too hot or cold (Vin.2.122).
    • a bathing pool (pokkharaṇī): had a staircase and a drain (Vin.2.123).
    • a pavilion (maṇḍapo): a small-sized sālā; used for sewing robes (because outside was too hot or cold) (Vin.2.117); used for general gatherings, even the Uposatha recitation (Vin.1.125; about uposathāgāraṃ, see Vin.1.107); used for keeping drinking water cool (Vin.2.153). If robes were stored here, they would be eaten by rats and white ants (Vin.1.284).
    • a monastery (ārāmo). Fences and gates around monasteries prevented goats and cattle eating the small plants (Vin.2.154). Flagstones and drains prevented them becoming swampy (Vin.2.154).
    • land for a monastery (ārāmavatthu) (Vin.1.140).

Three other buildings, though allowed to monks, were forbidded to nuns:

  1. a toilet (vaccakuṭi):
  2. a sauna (jantāgharaṃ)
  3. a sauna hall (jantāgharasālā)

A sauna and sauna hall were forbidden to nuns because when they used it, they created an uproar (kolāhalaṃ akaṃsu) (Vin.2.280). A screened toilet with walls was forbidden to them because the group of six nuns performed abortions there (gabbhaṃ pātenti) (Vin.2.280). Nuns therefore would use chamber pots, which created further problems, for instance if they carelessly emptied it over a wall onto someone's head (Vin.4.265) or onto neighbouring fields, to the distress of the farmer (Vin.4.266).

The five types of lodgings - the bungalow, the semi-detached house, the multi-storey building, the double storey building, and the cave - often occur together, because the Buddha allowed them to be used for various similar purposes:

  • abodes, more luxurious than the root of a tree (rukkhamūlasenāsanaṃ nissāya pabbajjā; tattha te yāvajīvaṃ ussāho karaṇiyo; atirekalābho: vihāro aḍḍhayogo pāsādo hammiyaṃ guhā: Vin.1.58). They are called the five abodes (pañca lenāni: Vin.2.146). The translation of lena as 'cave' is therefore dubious.
  • Uposatha halls (uposathāgāraṃ): vihāraṃ vā aḍḍhayogaṃ vā pāsādaṃ vā hammiyaṃ vā guhaṃ). Patimokkha should not be recited in other places which are not appointed, in case visitors arrive (na bhikkhave, anupariveṇīyaṃ pātimokkhaṃ uddisitabbaṃ asaṅketena: Vin.1.107). If there is no appointed place, it can be done wherever the monks return, an assembly hall, a pavilion, or the root of a tree (yattha bhikkhu paṭikkamanti upaṭṭhāna sālāya vā maṇḍape vā rukkhamūle: Vin.1.125). Marker stones around the building can be used to determine the maximum size of assembly allowed at the Patimokkha (yadi saṅghassa pattakallaṃ, saṅgho etehi nimittehi uposathamukhaṃ sammanneyya, esā ñatti: Vin.1.108).
  • cloth stores bhaṇḍāgāraṃ sammannituṃ, yaṃ saṅgho ākaṅkhati vihāraṃ vā aḍḍhayogaṃ vā pāsādaṃ vā hammiyaṃ vā guhaṃ vā: Vin.1.284.
  • general stores/larders (kappiyabhūmiṃ) (Vin.1.239).

Nuns' accommodation

Living quarters for nuns are described in Appendix 17.

Eight channels for obtaining robes

There are eight channels by which robe-material comes to monks (aṭṭhimā bhikkhave mātikā cīvarassa uppādāya). These are explained as follows:

  1. A donor gives to a sima (sīmāya deti): it should be shared with all the monks in the sima (sīmāya deti: yāvatikā bhikkhū antosīmagatā tehi bhājetabbaṃ) i.e. amongst the antosīmagatā Sangha, the ‘AS Sangha’. The area in one sima may contain‘nānāsaṃvāsaka’ monks and ‘samānasaṃvāsaka’ monks i.e. different communions of monks. Material gains should be distributed equally to all (āmisaṃ kho sāriputta sabbesaṃ samakaṃ bhājetabban”ti; Vin.1.356).
  2. A donor gives where there is a compact (katikāya deti): several residences agree to hold in common whatever they are given. What is given to one residence is given to all (katikāya deti: sambahulā āvāsā samānalābhā honti ekasmiṃ āvāse dinne sabbattha dinnaṃ hoti). Further discussion below.
  3. A donor gives with an announcement of an almsfood donation (bhikkhāpaññattiyā deti): he gives where they provide constant support for the Sangha (bhikkhāpaññattiyā deti: yattha saṅghassa dhuvakārā karīyanti tattha deti). [This likely means a donation of robes is given at the residence which the donor usually supports].
  4. A donor gives to ‘the Sangha' (saṅghassa deti) (e.g. Vin.1.298-9): it should be divided among the SB Sangha (saṅghassa deti: sammukhībhūtena saṅghena bhājetabbaṃ).
  5. A donor gives to both Sanghas (ubhato saṅghassa deti) (e.g. Vin.4.287): even if there are many monks and just one nun, or many nuns and just one monk, a half should be given to each side (ubhato saṅghassa deti: bahukāpi bhikkhū honti, ekā bhikkhunī hoti, upaḍḍhaṃ dātabbaṃ. Bahukāpi bhikkhuniyo honti, eko bhikkhu hoti, upaḍḍhaṃ dātabbaṃ).
  6. A donor gives to the Sangha which has spent the vassa together (vassaṃ vutthasaṅghassa deti) (e.g. Vin.1.299): it should be shared among the monks who spent the vassa at that residence (vassaṃ vutthasaṅghassa deti: yāvatikā bhikkhū tasmiṃ āvāse vassaṃ vutthā, tehi bhājetabbaṃ). [i.e. amongst the ‘VV Sangha’]. If a monk leaves before cloth has been distributed, his portion should be given to him if there is a suitable receiver (Vin.1.307-8).
  7. A donor gives to those monks to whom he has previously offered conjey, rice, food, robes, lodgings or medicine (ādissa deti: 'he gives having offered') [for example, rains robes were apparently offered to monks by the same people every year - see NP24; or nuns living in residences of a certain guild would be supported with conjey - see Vin.4.252] (ādissa deti: yāguyā vā bhatte vā khādanīye vā cīvare vā senāsane vā bhesajje vā). Such a group is not an SB Sangha, an AS Sangha, a VV Sangha or any other Sangha. It is a unique group.
  8. A donor gives to an individual (puggalassa deti): he says “I give robe material to so and so” (puggalassa deti: imaṃ cīvaraṃ itthannāmassa dammī'ti) [such material belongs to him alone] (Vin.1.309; Vin.1.196). Giving robes to named individuals is the way to avoid the rules that apply when giving to the Sangha, for example,. giving cloth during the 'right time' means certain individuals may not receive the cloth, as happened with Venerables Isidasa and Isibhatta (Vin.1.299).

Cloth-giving season

The 'cloth-giving season' is the 'right time for giving cloth'

The cloth-giving season (cīvaradānasamayo) is also known as 'the right time for giving cloth' (kālacīvaraṃ) (Vin.4.246).

  • Without kathina privileges, it is the fourth month of the vassa season (vassānassa pacchimo maso) (Vin.4.100).
  • With kathina privileges, it is the five months after the rains residence period (atthake kaṭhine pañcamāsā) (Vin.4.100).

Any cloth given during this time goes to the VV Sangha (yathā kho mayaṃ āvuso bhagavatā dhammaṃ desitaṃ ājānāma tumhākaṃyevetāni cīvarāni yāva kaṭhinassa ubbhārāyā’ti: Vin.1.299). If they do not spread kathina, then, in accordance with the principle laid down at Vin.4.100, the privilege lasts only till the end of the fourth month of the wet season (cīvaradānasamayo nāma anatthate kaṭhine vassānassa pacchimo maso; atthake kaṭhine pañcamāsā).

The 'wrong time for giving cloth' is the rest of the year.

'The wrong time for giving cloth' (akālacīvaraṃ) is the other months:

  • without kathina privileges it is the other eleven months (anatthate kaṭhine ekādasamāse uppannaṃ).
  • with kathina privileges it is the other seven months (atthate kaṭhine sattamāse uppannaṃ) (Vin.3.204).

Cloth given during this time would go, for instance, to the SB Sangha or AS Sangha, not the VV Sangha.

Turning the 'right time' into the 'wrong time'

The 'right time' for giving cloth (kālepi ādissa dinnaṃ) (Vin.3.204) can be turned into the 'wrong time' for giving cloth if the Sangha formally removes the kathina privileges (kaṭhīnaṃ uddharituṃ) (Vin.4.287). The advantage of doing this is that donors can then offer requisites to the SB Sangha (sammukhībhūtena saṅgha), the Sangha actually present at their alms offering. If gifts were offered to the Sangha during the 'right time' they would automatically go to the VV Sangha (vassaṃ vutthasaṅgha) who might all be away on tour.

Cloth offered to 'SB quasi-Sanghas'

'SB quasi-Sanghas': groups of 1-3 monks

Monks living in small groups of 1-3 cannot elect a store keeper. Whatever amounts of cloth they are offered cloth, the Buddha allowed them to keep it for themselves. To these small groups of monks, the Buddha applied the term 'SB Sangha', as follows: When a monk living alone wanted to know how to share out cloth given to him, the Buddha said he should share it with the SB Sangha; but as the monk was living alone, and was then told to keep the cloth for himself, he alone was what the Buddha had called the SB Sangha. Because the allowances given in this section are extended to up to three monks, it seems that the term 'SB Sangha' can be extended to up to three monks (Vin.1.299). I will call this an 'SB quasi-Sangha' because it is smaller than a Sangha. He said that SB quasi-Sanghas can even keep cloth offered to 'the Sangha'. Their year is divided into the wet season and dry season. This is different from the the 'in-season' and 'out-of-season' system.

Wet versus dry seasons

In Vinaya, the year is sometimes divided into the wet season (vassa) and dry season (utukālaṃ: the rest of the year). In the wet season, including the rains residence period, all cloth offerings automatically belong to the SB quasi-Sangha until their kathina privileges end (Vin.1.299). The monks do not need to determine the cloth or formally divide it between themselves (idha pana bhikkhave, bhikkhu ekako vassaṃ vasati; tattha manussā 'saṅghassa demā' ti cīvarāni denti; anujānāmi bhikkhave, tasseva tāni cīvarāni yāva kaṭhinassa ubbhārāyā'ti Vin.1.299).

In the dry season, if a monk is living alone, he must ceremonially claim cloth offerings by saying: “All this cloth is for me” (mayhaṃ imāni cīvarānī'ti). If he does not do this, then if another monk arrives (añño bhikkhu āgacchati), he must formally give that monk an equal portion (samako dātabbo bhāgo) by drawing lots.

If the two monks do not formally share the cloth, then if another monk arrives, they must give him an equal portion (samako dātabbo bhāgo), again by drawing lots (Vin.1.299). If the third monk comes after they have formally shared the cloth, they can give him a single portion “if they are not unwilling” (na akāmā dātabbo bhāgo).

If the SB Sangha has four monks, it is not an SB quasi-Sangha; the monks cannot accumulate undetermined cloth. They must elect a storekeeper.

Drawing lots

Drawing lots means deciding by chance. This means dividing the cloth into equal portions, using kusa grass as tokens. The Buddha specifically prohibited monks sharing out cloth either according to seniority (yathābuḍḍha), or according to the length of residency (āgatapaṭipāṭiyā) (Vin.1.285).

'SB quasi-Sangha privileges' plus kathina season privileges

The dry season can be divided into kathina season (5 months) and post-kathina season (4 months). Monks with 'SB quasi-Sangha privileges' also have kathina privileges. Kathina privileges mean in-season cloth cannot be shared with visiting monks during the whole of the kathina season - which is the first five months of the dry season (utukālaṃ). During kathina season, therefore, monks living in SB quasi-Sanghas do not lose cloth to visitors, even if it is not claimed or shared out in the way mentioned above.

Dying people’s bequests to “the Sangha”

  • If a dying nun, female novice or female trainee bequests their possessions to “the Sangha” (mamaccayena mayhaṃ parikkhāro saṅghassa hotū’ti), the possessions are for the nuns’ Sangha, not the monks’ Sangha (anissaro tattha bhikkhusaṅgho bhikkhūnī saṅghassevetaṃ).
  • If a dying monk, male novice, layman or laywoman bequests their possessions to “the Sangha”, the possessions are for the monks’ Sangha not the nuns (anissaro tattha bhikkhūnīsaṅgho bhikkhūsaṅghassevetaṃ) (Vin.2.268). Thus for both laymen and laywomen, 'Sangha' is taken to mean 'the Sangha of monks'.

Reserving Sangha property

Once, when the Buddha went on tour with a Sangha of monks, the pupils of the group of six monks went ahead, and took possession of dwelling places and sleeping places, saying, “This will be for our preceptors, this will be for our teachers, this will be for us.” Venerable Sariputta, not getting a sleeping place, stayed at the root of a tree. When the Buddha found out, he asked the monks which of them was most worthy of the best seat, the best water, the best alms. Some monks thought it was those from high caste families; others thought it was the experts in the suttas, or the vinaya, or those proficient in jhana, or the sotapannas, the sakadagamis, the anagamis, the arahants.

The Buddha told them the story of the partridge, the monkey and the elephant. When they discovered that the partridge was the eldest, the other two animals said: “You, friend, are the eldest. We will respect you and will abide by your advice.” The partridge gave them the five precepts, and all three were reborn in heaven. The Buddha said that if animals can abide so politely to each other, then monks gone forth in a well-taught Dhamma and Vinaya should also be able to abide courteous and polite to one another.

Then he said two things:

  • “I allow, monks, greeting, rising up for, salutation, proper homage, the first seat, the first water, the first alms according to seniority” (anujānāmi bhikkhave yathāvuḍḍhaṃ abhivādanaṃ paccuṭṭhānaṃ añjalikammaṃ sāmīcikammaṃ aggāsanaṃ aggodakaṃ aggapiṇḍaṃ).
  • “However, whatever belongs to an Order should not be kept reserved according to seniority. For anyone reserving it, it is a dukkata offence”(na ca bhikkhave saṅghikaṃ yathāvuḍḍhaṃ paṭibāhitabbaṃ. Yo paṭibāheyya āpatti dukkaṭassā’ti ) (Vin.2.162).

The words aggāsanaṃ aggodakam aggapindam mean that the senior monk should receive the first offerings of seat, water and food as part of the respectful duties due to him. It does not mean that seats, food and water are to be kept reserved for him if he is absent. That one should restrain one's respect to senior monks in this way is confirmed by an incident described three pages later:

A certain chief minister invited the Sangha for a meal. Venerable Upananda arrived late, and took a seat off one of the junior monks. The chief minister complained: “Is it not possible, sitting somewhere else, to eat as much as one wishes?” The Buddha later said that if a senior monk tries to take a junior monk’s seat while he is eating he should be told to get some water (gaccha udakaṃ āharā'ti vattabbo). If this does not solve the problem, then the seat should be given to him. But the Buddha forbade monks, by any method, to reserve seats for senior monks who are absent, making it a dukkata offence to do so (na tvevāhaṃ bhikkhave kenaci pariyāyena vuḍḍhatarassa bhikkhuno āsanaṃ paṭibāhitabbanti vadāmi; yo paṭibāheyya āpatti dukkaṭassāti: Vin 2 165).

Likewise, for the group of monks on tour with the Buddha, the word ‘keep reserved’ implies that the preceptors and teachers of the group of six monks were not actually part of the group. If the preceptors and teachers had been actually present and senior to Venerable Sariputta, the Buddha would not have complained about Venerable Sariputta having to sleep under a tree. If they had been actually present and junior, the Buddha would not have prohibited reserving according to seniority.

The idea of keeping lodgings reserved occurs again at Vin.1.356, when the Buddha told Venerable Sariputta to allocate vacant lodgings (vivittaṃ senāsanaṃ) to the quarrelsome monks of Kosambi, and if there were none vacant, he should make some vacant. The Buddha must have thought that monks might not make available lodgings used by absent senior monks because he added “But, Sariputta, in no way should a lodging be kept reserved for a senior monk. If anyone reserves one, it is a dukkata offence (na tvevāhaṃ sāriputta kenaci pariyāyena vuḍḍhatarassa bhikkhuno senāsanaṃ paṭibāhitabbanti vadāmi; yo paṭibāheyya āpatti dukkaṭassā”ti).

When then asked how material gains should be distributed, the Buddha said they should be distributed equally amongst all (āmisaṃ kho sāriputta sabbesaṃ samakaṃ bhājetabban”ti - Vin.1.356). This means that monks have to share offerings of robes and food even with schismatics. Within the schismatic groups, however, senior monks receive the first offerings of seat, water and food.

The Buddha had to made one exception to the rule against reserving, because nuns were so perplexed about seating arrangements in the refectory that they missed eating the meal. The Buddha allowed seats for eight nuns to be kept reserved according to seniority, the rest as they come (anujānāmi bhikkhave aṭṭhannaṃ bhikkhunīnaṃ yathāvuḍḍhaṃ avasesānaṃ yathāgatikan’ti). Then the nuns reserved seats wherever they went (sabbattha aṭṭheva bhikkhuniyo yathāvuḍḍhaṃ paṭibāhanti). So the Buddha said that the allowance only applied to the refectory, nowhere else; applying it elsewhere is a dukkata offence (anujānāmi bhikkhave bhattagge aṭṭhannaṃ bhikkhunīnaṃ yathāvuḍḍhaṃ avasesānaṃ yathāgatikaṃ; aññattha sabbattha yathāvuḍḍhaṃ na paṭibāhitabbaṃ; yā paṭibāheyya āpatti dukkaṭassā’ti: Vin.2.274).

Sharing of Sangha benefits

Sharing of Sangha benefits between monks usually means giving equal portions. For example:

  • when distributing delicacies at a meal invitation, the senior monk should say “Give the same amount to all (sabbesaṃ samakaṃ sampādehīti)” (Vin.2.214).
  • When dividing up vassa lodgings, each monk gets the same number of sleeping places, or dwellings (Vin.2.167).
  • When distributing cloth, everyone gets the same amount (Vin.1.308). If any monk wants more than his portion he must give compensation (Vin.1.285).
  • Gains distributed in a sima should be divided equally, even with nānāsaṃvāsaka monks (Vin.1.356).
  • The Buddha specifically prohibited the sharing out of cloth either according to seniority (yathābuḍḍha) or according to length of residency (āgatapaṭipāṭiyā) (Vin.1.285). Cloth should be shared out by drawing lots. Drawing lots means deciding by chance i.e. dividing the cloth into equal portions, and, by tradition, using kusa grass for counters.
  • However, senior monks and nuns should receive the first offerings of seat, water and food as part of the respectful duties due to them.


Once, the Sangha acquired a valuable woollen blanket (mahaggho kambalo) and a valuable woven cloth (mahagghaṃ dussaṃ) as part of its furnishings for lodgings (saṅghassa senāsanaparikkhārikaṃ). The Buddha allowed monks to barter these for something more useful (phātikammatthāya parivattetunti) (Vin.2.174) (phātikamma: increase, profit, advantage: PED). This has to be done in accordance with Nissaggiya Pacittiya 20: “If a monk engages in any kind of bartering, it is an offence of nissaggiya pacittiya”. The no-offence clause to that rule says it is no offence to ask the value (agghaṃ pucchati), or to point it out to one who makes things allowable (kappiyakārakassa ācikkhati), saying “This is ours; we want this and that” (idaṃ amhākaṃ atthi, amhākañca iminā ca iminā ca attho”ti).

There seems no reason why the Sangha’s important possessions and requisites (saṅghassa garubhaṇḍāni garuparikkhārāni) cannot also be bartered if it is for the Sangha’s benefit – the thullaccaya offence for giving away the Sangha’s garubandha was established in a context where it was done mischievously, without the Sangha’s consent (Vin.2.170).


A ‘compact’ (katikāya) is where several residences agree to hold in common whatever they are given. Whatever is given to one residence is given to all (katikāya deti: sambahulā āvāsā samānalābhā honti ekasmiṃ āvāse dinne sabbattha dinnaṃ hoti: Vin.1.309). This either means simas holding gains in common with other simas (i.e. AS Sanghas with AS Sanghas), or communities within simas holding gains in common with other communities in the same sima (SB Sanghas with SB Sanghas). Nowadays there is usually one monastery per sima, so monasteries can easily have compacts with other monasteries. Compacts are not explicitly restricted to robes; and it is likely that any gains can be shared, if everyone involved agrees. Sometimes laypeople are consulted about such matters, sometimes not (Vin.4.254; Vin.2.270).

'Donor’s dwellings'

In the Buddha’s day, monasteries and buildings were sometimes named after their donors. Migāramātupāsāda was the name given to the storeyed building erected by Visākhā Migāramātā in the Pubbārāma. Jetavane Anāthapindikassa Ārāma was named after the men who offered it. Ghositārāma was a monastery in Kosambi built by Ghosita, King Udena's treasurer. Therefore, when the Sangha are having a new building erected, they formally allocate responsibility for building “the dwelling of whatever householder (itthannāmassa gahapatino vihāraṃ)” to an overseer of building work (navakammiko bhikkhu).

This shows that the monasteries and dwellings were called the 'donors’ monasteries' and the 'donor’s dwellings' not because the donors owned them, but because they had offered them, and continued to take an interest in them. Therefore when monks removed furnishings from a donor’s dwelling to use elsewhere (aññatarassa upāsakassa vihāraparibhogaṃ senāsanaṃ aññatra paribhuñjanti) the donor complained, and the Buddha made it a dukkata offence “to use elsewhere furnishings belonging somewhere else” (aññatra paribhogo aññatra paribhuñjitabbo) except if they are taken temporarily (tāvakālikaṃ) or taken to protect them (guttatthāya haritunti) (Vin.3.66; Vin.2.174).

Giving to laypeople

When a monk received a large quantity of robes, and wanted to give some to his parents, the Buddha allowed monks to give to their parents (anujānāmi bhikkhave mātāpitunnaṃ dātuṃ) but said that a gift of faith should not be brought to ruin (na ca bhikkhave saddhādeyyaṃ vinipātetabbaṃ yo vinipāteyya āpatti dukkaṭassā’ti) (Vin.1.298). Perhaps this means that monks can give offerings to other laypeople, not just one's parents, if done judiciously. However, it is a pacittiya offence for nuns to give robe material to laypeople other than their parents (Vin.4.285).     |     © 2008, Bhante Varado     |     Install the Gentium font