This is the third article in the series about
the Vinaya, the body of monastic rules and traditions binding on
every Buddhist monk and nun. In this article I will discuss the
four Parajika - the disrobing offences.
The core of the monastic discipline is a list
of rules called the Patimokkha. In the bhikkhu-patimokkha (for the
monks) there are 227 rules, while in the bhikkhuni-patimokkha (for
the nuns) there are 311 rules. The first four rules in the
patimokkha, for both monks and nuns, are the four Parajika.
The word parajika (in the ancient Indian language
called Pali) is usually translated as 'making the doer
defeated'. In effect it means that the offender MUST
DISROBE. No ceremony or trial is required. From the instant
the transgression is completed, the perpetrator automatically
loses his or her status as a Buddhist monk or nun. Obviously these
four rules were considered by the Buddha to be extreme violations
of the spiritual ethic and a major obstacle in the path to
enlightenment. They considered such gross behaviour on the part of
a monk or nun that the penalty of disrobal was for life! Such a
one could not simply re-ordain after a period of grace.
The four transgressions which incur a
Parajika, the penalty of automatic disrobal, are as follows:
1. Engaging in sexual intercourse with
another being of either sex.
2. Stealing something of value (which
includes smuggling, cheating or deliberately avoiding payment of
3. Purposely killing a human being or
encouraging him or her to commit suicide (this includes inciting
another to murder somebody and it also includes convincing a
woman to have an abortion.
4. Boasting that one has realised a high
spiritual attainment, knowing that one is lying. For example,
claiming to be enlightened, to be Maitreya Buddha, to have
entered Jhana (deep meditation-ecstasy) or that one can read
minds when one knows that one hasn't reached any of these
Should any monk or nun do any of these then you
may know them as no longer holding the status of Buddhist monk or
nun. They must disrobe. Should they attempt to hide their
transgression and not disrobe then it is said that the bad karma
produced is extreme indeed!
In these four disrobing offences there is no
excuse for ignorance. In a story related in the Buddhist
scriptures , a newly ordained monk who had not as yet been
instructed in the Vinaya was cajoled by his former wife into
having sexual intercourse with her. When he told the other monks
of this, they approached the Buddha and asked what should be done.
The Buddha decreed that the offending monk had to disrobe and in
future all monks were to be told of the Four Things Not to be
Done, the four Parajika, immediately after they have
been ordained. Indeed, instructing the new monk in these four
rules has now become part of the Ordination Ceremony itself. So
there can be no excuse!
 Book of the Discipline, volume 4, page 124