Patimokkha and Garudhamma

Buddhism is a profound ideology. However for the last few centuries it has been enshrouded in inaccuracy. These inaccuracies linger on from the misreadings of past colonial scholarship. Unfortunately, even today due to the nature of institutional education [mentorship etc.] this extreme reliance on the past scholarship is preventing the correct perspective in the study of this profound ideology.

A look at the textual description by the Buddhist text on the topic on Patimokkha and Garudhamma will reveal the shortcomings in the understanding of contemporary scholarship on these topics [both orthodoxy and Orientology]. Their simplistic interpretations are not true to Buddhism.

In the Patimokkha and the Garudhamma the topic is not social or political as these institutions believe. By interpreting the Patimokkha and the Garudhamma as rules governing sexual misconducts etc. as laid down by "the Buddha" one reduces the Patimokkha and Garudhamma to regulations and control by a male misogynist, thereby diverting from the profound metaphysics the ancient texts offer. These simplistic misreadings abound in the entirety of not only Eastern Spiritual ideologies but also Western Spiritualism. We of the contemporary culture have unwittingly maligned our forefathers due to our ignorance. Feminism unfortunately merely capitalizes on these misinterpretations to exploit for their political advantage.

The rules for bhikkhunis (female monastics) and bhikkhus (male monastics) are laid down in the Patimokkha in many Vinayas ('Basket of Discipline'): the Pali Vinaya in Shri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam, and the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya in Tibet and Mongolia. The Pali Vinaya containing the Patimokkha specifies 311 rules for bhikkhunis and 227 for bhikkhus. All the above-mentioned Vinayas have more tenets for bhikkhunis than bhikkhus(1). The 'Eight Rules' mandated for bhikkhunis only are known as Garudhamma in Pali and Garudharma in Sanskrit and they are also found in the Pali, Chinese, Sanskrit(1) and Tibetan Vinayas and will be dealt with later on. We are going to deal mainly with the Patimokkha in this essay. We are going to deal with the Patimokkha in a traditional textual way from the Shri Kali perspective to avoid lingering on with 'contemporary overlays' on the study of the bhikkhunis, particularly by feminist scholars since the 1970's, and also to avoid dealing with the 'consequences of the Buddha's imposition of the "Eight Rules" ' in a historical sense, as the history of the bhikkhuni order is highly controversial and difficult to trace without an in-depth study. Recent attempts to restore a bhikkhuni order are also controversial. Apart from which, the Shri Kali view is that the socio-political renderings that project the bhikkhunis as subordinate to the bhikkhus is not an actual textual reading but a contemporary overlay and this needs to be substantiated and is best done by studying the Patimokkha... (continues)