Monday, 28 March 2011

Inception of Monastic Life


At the beginning the society of muni was a simple organization for the number of members was smaller and even they have the soul objective of attaining liberation. When the time went on the necessity arose for new rules and regulation to be introduced as the order growth in number and size. Buddhist muni at the beginning lived a wandering life. In the first few years they stayed in one place only in the four months of raining season. Even it was introduced as a response to the criticism by the people on monks. When the monks were traveling even in the rainy season the lay people started to criticize as follow.
µanussA ujjhayanti khIyanti vipacenti kathaM hi samaNA sakyaputtiya hemantamhi gimhampi vassampi cArikaM carissanti haritAni tinAni sammaddantAbahukhuddakapAne saGghantaM apadentati
= Men arose against in anger and in criticism as ‘How these recluses of Sakyan sons wander in tour in the winter, summer and in the rainy season destroying the green grass and killing many tiny creatures’”

Considering this situation monks were advised to observe the rainy season anujanami vassani vasam upagantum” (O monks, I allow to observe rainy retreat in rainy season).
In this manner monks stay in a single place four months or one third months of the year (1/3) and in the eight months they travel far and wide to propagate the noble teaching of the Buddha.  
The process of member of the order was complex as time went on in growing. The simple practice of granting ordination and higher ordination was becoming more a stereotype practice of official form. With the decentralization of the authority to grant ordination and higher ordination on the membership of the order-group fast. This paved for the beginning of monastic life. The common resident places of recluses gradually turned to be monasteries which are called ßenasana. Before that the Buddha had recommended no fix lodging. The µahAvagga says as follows on the nature of lodgings of the Buddhist monks in early period.
Tena kho pana samayena bhagavata bhikkhUnaM senAsanaM apaJJattaM hoti. te ca bhikkhu tahiM tahiM viharati AraJJe, rukkhamUle, pabbate, kandarayaM, giriguhAyaM, susAne, vanapanthe, abbhokAse, palAlapuJje

= At the lodgings were not allowed for monks by the Blessed one. Those bhikkhus who lived places, such as jungle, foot of a tree, mountain, hill-slope, mountain-cave, cemetery, thicket, open-air and strew-heap”

Once the SeTThi of RAjagaha was much pleased to the behaviour of Buddhist monks and wanted to offer some lodgings for monks. Yet, monks did not agree it at once for it has not been allowed because people expect monks to lead a wandering life. When the Buddha came to know this request of the SeTThi the Buddha gave permission for to accept only five kinds lodgings.

ånujAnAmi bhikkhave paJca lenAni viharaM, aDDhayogaM, pAsAdaM, hammiyaM, guhaM
= O monks, I allow you, the cave, abode, place, home with balcony, and constructed cave.

Accordingly the SeTThi constructed sixty abodes and the Buddha advised hom to offer them to the monks who came and not from four directions.

Tena hi tvaM gahapati te seTThi vihare AgatAnAgatassa catuddisassa saGghassa patiTThapehIti

This shows that the abodes were not offered individually but they were given as common property. These newly offered abodes were more likely to become temples with the practice of rainy season observation. This new change led for building of number of small huts at a place for the use of lodgings in rainy observers. The lodgings of monks with big number of huts was called samANasaMvAsakasImA. The Buddha granted  to monks to perform ecclesiastical activities (sanghakamma) together for monks to live in one place.

The above change led the monks to be used to a stationed life in the place of wandering they used to be before. But this new way of life did not obstruct the way of wandering life. The very sentence of offering lodgings says that it is offered even to monks who did not arrive yet. It pre-purposes that they  are offered for the used of wandering monks who would arrive there later. Some monks whoever get used for fix abodes. The MahAvaggapAli says that words of certain monk named Kassapagota. He lives in the village named VasabhagAma in Kasi country.

TatthAham  AvAsiko tannibaddho ussukkaM Apanno kinti AgatAnAgatA ca pesalA bhikkhU phAsu vihareyyUM ayaJca AvAso vuddhi virUlhiM vepullaM apajjeyyanti

=There, I am the resident bound to the place and has become busy as if the pleasant monks came and not would live in comfort and if this monastery would grow expand and became larger
These words show a stage where some monks have got used to live at residences looking after the facilities of resident and guests and also protection and growth of the monastery.
With this the duties and responsibilities of resident life was introduced by the Buddha. Some of them are as follows:

·    ågantukavatta- Guest duty.
·    ßenasanavatta- Resident duty
·    Vaccakutivatta – Toilet duty

In this manner the life-style of the monks changed with the culture the monastery.

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