Theravāda Vinayapiṭaka

Khandhaka (Cūḷavagga)

21. (Recitation with) Five Hundred (Pañcasata)

Origin of the Council

Then the venerable Kassapa the Great addressed the monks, saying: “Once upon a time, your reverences, I was going along the high-road from Pāvā to Kusināra together with a large Order of monks, with at least five hundred monks. Then I, your reverences, stepping aside from the way, sat down at the root of a certain tree. Now at that time a certain Naked Ascetic, having picked up a flower of the Coral Tree at Kusināra, was going along the high-road to Pāvā. Then I, your reverences, saw that Naked Ascetic coming in the distance, and seeing him I spoke thus to him: ‘Do you, your reverence not know about our Teacher?’ He said: ‘Yes, I know, your reverence, the recluse Gotama attained nibbāna a week ago. Because of that I picked up this flower of the Coral Tree.’

“Your reverences, of those monks who were not passionless, some, stretching forth their arms, wailed, they fell down hurting themselves, they reeled backwards and forwards, saying: ‘Too soon has the Lord attained nibbāna, too soon has the Well-farer attained nibbāna, too soon has the Eye in the World disappeared.’ But those monks who were passionless, these, mindful, circumspect, bore it, saying: ‘Impermanent are compounded things—what is here possible because of this?’

“Then I, your reverences, spoke thus to these monks: ‘Enough, your reverences, do not grieve, do not lament, for has it not already been explained by the Lord: ‘Of every single thing that is dear and beloved there is variation, separation, becoming otherwise. What is here possible, your reverences, because of this: that whatever is born, has become, is composite, is liable to dissolution? Indeed, thinking: ‘Let not that be dissolved’—such a situation does not exist”.

“Then at that time, your reverences, one named Subhadda, who had gone forth when old, was sitting in that assembly. Then your reverences, Subhadda who had gone forth when old spoke thus to these monks: ‘Enough, your reverences, do not grieve, do not lament, we are well rid of this great recluse. We were worried when he said: “This is allowable to you, this is not allowable to you.” But now we will be able to do as we like and we won’t do what we don’t like’.

“Come, let us, your reverences, chant dhamma and discipline before what is not dhamma shines out and dhamma is withheld, before what is not discipline shines out and discipline is withheld, before those who speak what is not-dhamma become strong and those who speak dhamma become feeble, before those who speak what is not discipline become strong and those who speak discipline become feeble.”

“Well then, honoured sir, let the elder select monks.” Then the venerable Kassapa the Great selected five hundred perfected ones, less one. Monks spoke thus to the venerable Kassapa the Great:

“Honoured sir, this Ānanda, although he is still a learner, could not be one to follow a wrong course through desire, anger, delusion, fear; and he has mastered much dhamma and discipline under the Lord. Well, now, honoured sir, let the elder select the venerable Ānanda as well.” Then the venerable Kassapa the Great selected the venerable Ānanda as well.

Then it occurred to the monks who were elders: “Now, where should we chant dhamma and discipline?” Then it occurred to the monks who were elders: “There is great resort for alms at Rājagaha and lodgings are abundant. Suppose that we, spending the rains at Rājagaha, should chant dhamma and discipline (there), and that no other monks were to come up to Rājagaha for the rains.”

Then the venerable Kassapa the Great informed the Order, saying: “Your reverences, let the Order listen to me. If it seems right to the Order, the Order may agree upon these five hundred monks to chant dhamma and discipline while they are spending the rains in Rājagaha, and that the rains should not be spent in Rājagaha by any other monks. This is the motion. Your reverences, let the Order listen to me. The Order is agreeing upon these five hundred monks to chant dhamma and discipline while they are spending the rains in Rājagaha, and that the rains should not be spent in Rājagaha by any other monks. If the agreement upon these five hundred monks to chant dhamma and discipline while they are spending the rains in Rājagaha, and that the rains should not be spent in Rājagaha by any other monks, is pleasing to the venerable ones you should be silent; he to whom it is not pleasing should speak. These five hundred monks are agreed upon by the Order to chant dhamma and discipline while they are spending the rains in Rājagaha, and (it is agreed) that the rains should not be spent in Rājagaha by any other monks. It is pleasing to the Order, therefore it is silent. Thus, do I understand this.


Then the monks who were elders went to Rājagaha to chant dhamma and discipline. Then it occurred to the monks who were elders: “Now, repairs to broken and dilapidated parts were praised by the Lord. Come, let us during the first month, make repairs to the broken and dilapidated parts; having assembled in the middle month, we will chant dhamma and discipline.” Then the monks who were elders made repairs to the broken and dilapidated parts during the first month.


Then the venerable Ānanda, thinking: “Tomorrow is the assembly. Now it is not suitable in me that I, being (only) a learner, should go to the assembly,” and having passed much of that night in mindfulness as to body, when the night was nearly spent thinking: “I will lie down,” he inclined his body, but (before) his head had touched the mattress and while his feet were free from the ground—in that interval his mind was freed from the cankers with no residuum (for rebirth) remaining. Then the venerable Ānanda, being a perfected one, went to the assembly.


Then the venerable Kassapa the Great informed the Order, saying: “Your reverences, let the Order listen to me. If it seems right to the Order I could question Upāli on discipline.” Then the venerable Upāli informed the Order, saying: “Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. If it seems right to the Order, I, questioned on discipline by the venerable Kassapa the Great, could answer.” Then the venerable Kassapa the Great spoke thus to the venerable Upāli: “Where, reverend Upāli, was the first offence involving defeat laid down?”

“At Vesālī, honoured sir.”

“Regarding whom?”

“Regarding Sudinna the Kalandaka.”

“On what subject?”

“On sexual intercourse.”

Then the venerable Kassapa the Great questioned the venerable Upāli as to the subject of the first offence involving defeat and he questioned him as to its provenance and he questioned him as to the individual and he questioned him as to what was laid down and he questioned him as to what was further laid down and he questioned him as to what was an offence and he questioned him as to what was no offence.

“Then, reverend Upāli, where was the second offence involving defeat laid down?”

“In Rājagaha, honoured sir.”

“Regarding whom?”

“Regarding Dhaniya, the potter’s son.”

“On what subject?”

“On taking what is not given.”

Then the venerable Kassapa the Great questioned the venerable Upāli as to the subject of the second offence involving defeat and he questioned him as to its provenance and he questioned him … as to what was no offence.

“Then, reverend Upāli, where was the third offence involving defeat laid down?”

“At Vesālī, honoured sir.”

“Regarding whom?”

“Regarding several monks.”

“On what subject?”

“On human beings.”

Then the venerable Kassapa the Great questioned the venerable Upāli as to the subject of the third offence involving defeat and he questioned him as to its provenance and he questioned him … as to what was no offence.

“Then, reverend Upāli, where was the fourth offence involving defeat laid down?”

“At Vesālī, honoured sir.”

“Regarding whom?”

“Regarding the monks on the banks of the Vaggumudā.”

“On what subject?”

“On conditions of further-men.”

Then the venerable Kassapa the Great questioned the venerable Upāli as to the subject of the fourth offence involving defeat and he questioned him as to its provenance and he questioned him as to … what was no offence. In this same way he questioned him about both the disciplines. Constantly questioned, the venerable Upāli answered.


Then the venerable Kassapa the Great informed the Order, saying: “Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. If it seems right to the Order, I could question Ānanda about dhamma.” Then the venerable Ānanda informed the Order, saying: “Honoured sirs, let the Order listen to me. If it seems right to the Order, I, questioned on dhamma by the venerable Kassapa the Great, could answer.” Then the venerable Kassapa the Great spoke thus to the venerable Ānanda:

“Where, reverend Ānanda, was the Brahmajāla spoken?”

“Honoured sir, between Rājagaha and Nālandā in the royal rest-house at Ambalaṭṭhikā.”

“With whom?”

“Suppiya the wanderer and Brahmadatta the brahmin youth.” Then the venerable Kassapa the Great questioned the venerable Ānanda as to the provenance of the Brahmajāla and he questioned him as to the individual(s).

“But where, reverend Ānanda, was the Sāmaññaphala spoken?”

“In Rājagaha, honoured sir, in Jīvaka’s mango grove.”

“With whom?”

“With Ajātasattu, the son of the Videhan (lady).”

Then the venerable Kassapa the Great questioned the venerable Ānanda as to the provenance of the Sāmaññaphala and he questioned him as to the individual. In this same way he questioned him about the five Nikāyas. Constantly questioned, the venerable Ānanda answered.

On the lesser and minor training rules

Then the venerable Ānanda spoke thus to the monks who were elders: “The Lord, honoured sirs, spoke thus to me at the time of his attaining nibbāna: ‘If the Order, Ānanda, after my death is willing, the lesser and minor rules of training may be abolished’.”

“But did you, reverend Ānanda, ask the Lord, saying: ‘But which, Lord, are the lesser and minor rules of training?’”

“No, I, honoured sirs, did not ask the Lord, saying: ‘But which, Lord, are the lesser and minor rules of training?’”

Some elders spoke thus: “Except for the rules for the four offences involving defeat, the rest are lesser and minor rules of training.” Some elders spoke thus: “Except for the rules for the four offences involving defeat, except for the rules for the thirteen offences entailing a Formal Meeting of the Order, the rest are lesser and minor rules of training.” Some elders spoke thus: “Except for the rules for the four offences involving defeat … except for the rules for the two undetermined offences, the rest are lesser and minor rules of training.” Some elders spoke thus: “Except for the rules for the four offences involving defeat … except for the rules for the thirty offences of expiation involving forfeiture, the rest are lesser and minor rules of training.” Some elders spoke thus: “Except for the rules for the four offences involving defeat … except for the rules for the ninety-two offences of expiation, the rest are lesser and minor rules of training.” Some elders spoke thus: “Except for the rules for the four offences involving defeat … except for the rules for the four offences which ought to be confessed, the rest are lesser and minor rules of training.”

Then the venerable Kassapa the Great informed the Order, saying: “Your reverences, let the Order listen to me. There are rules of training for us which affect householders, and householders know concerning us: ‘This is certainly allowable for the recluses, sons of the Sakyans, this is certainly not allowable.’ If we were to abolish the lesser and minor rules of training there would be those who would say: ‘At the time of his cremation a rule of training had been laid down by the recluse Gotama for disciples; while the Teacher was amongst them these trained themselves in the rules of training, but since the Teacher has attained nibbāna among them, they do not now train themselves in the rules of training.’ If it seems right to the Order, the Order should not lay down what has not been laid down, nor should it abolish what has been laid down. It should proceed in conformity with and according to the rules of training that have been laid down. This is the motion. Your reverences, let the Order listen to me. There are rules of training for us … ‘… these do not now train themselves in the rules of training.’ The Order is not laying down what has not been laid down, nor is it abolishing what has been laid down. It is proceeding in conformity with and according to the rules of training that have been laid down. If the not laying down of what has not been laid down, if the not abolishing of what has been laid down, if the proceeding in conformity with and according to the rules of training that have been laid down are pleasing to the venerable ones, they should be silent; he to whom they are not pleasing should speak. The Order is not laying down what has not been laid down, it is not abolishing what has been laid down, it is proceeding in conformity with and according to the rules of training that have been laid down. It is pleasing to the Order, therefore it is silent. Thus do I understand this.


Then the monks who were elders spoke thus to the venerable Ānanda: “This, reverend Ānanda, is an offence of wrong-doing for you, in that you did not ask the Lord, saying: ‘But which, Lord, are the lesser and minor rules of training?’ Confess that offence of wrong-doing.”

“I, honoured sirs, out of unmindfulness, did not ask the Lord, saying: ‘But which, Lord, are the lesser and minor rules of training?’ I do not see that as an offence of wrong-doing, yet even out of faith in the venerable ones I confess that as an offence of wrong-doing.”

“This too is an offence of wrong-doing for you, reverend Ānanda, in that you sewed the Lord’s cloth for the rains after having stepped on it. Confess that offence of wrong-doing.”

“But I, honoured sirs, not out of disrespect, sewed the Lord’s cloth for the rains after having stepped on it. I do not see … but even out of faith in the venerable ones I confess that as an offence of wrong-doing.”

“This too is an offence of wrong-doing for you, reverend Ānanda, in that you had the Lord’s body first of all honoured by women; because these were weeping, the Lord’s body was defiled by tears. Confess that offence of wrong-doing.”

“But I, honoured sirs, thinking: ‘Do not let these be (here) at a wrong time,’ had the Lord’s body honoured first of all by women. I do not see that as an offence of wrong-doing … but even out of faith …”

“This too is an offence of wrong-doing for you, reverend Ānanda, in that you, (although) a broad hint was being given, a palpable sign was being made, did not ask the Lord, saying: ‘Let the Lord remain for a (full) lifespan, let the well-farer remain for a (full) lifespan for the welfare of the many-folk, for the happiness of the many-folk, out of compassion for the world, for the good, the welfare, the happiness of devas and mankind.’ Confess that offence of wrong-doing.”

“But I, honoured sirs, because my mind was obsessed with Māra, did not ask the Lord, saying: ‘Let the Lord remain … the happiness of devas and mankind.’ I do not see … out of faith …”

“This too is an offence of wrong-doing for you, reverend Ānanda, in that you made an effort for the going forth of women in the dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder. Confess this offence of wrong-doing.”

“But I, honoured sirs, made an effort for the going forth of women in the dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder, thinking: ‘This Gotamid, Pajāpatī the Great, is the Lord’s aunt, foster-mother, nurse, giver of milk, for when the Lord’s mother passed away, she suckled him.’ I do not see that as an offence of wrong-doing, but even out of faith in the venerable ones I confess that as an offence of wrong-doing.”


Now at that time the venerable Purāṇa was walking on almstour in the Southern Hills together with a large Order of monks, with at least five hundred monks. Then the venerable Purāṇa, having stayed in the Southern Hills for as long as he found suiting, after the monks who were elders had chanted dhamma and discipline , approached Rājagaha, the Bamboo Grove, the squirrels’ feeding place, and the monks who were elders; having approached, having exchanged friendly greetings with the monks who were elders, he sat down at a respectful distance. The monks who were elders spoke thus to the venerable Purāṇa as he was sitting down at a respectful distance:

“Reverend Purāṇa, dhamma and discipline have been chanted by monks who are elders. Submit yourself to this chanting.”

“Your reverences, well chanted by the elders are dhamma and discipline, but in that way that I heard it in the Lord’s presence, that I received it in his presence, in that same way will I bear it in mind.”

On the higher penalty

Then the venerable Ānanda spoke thus to the monks who were elders: “Honoured sirs, the Lord, at the time of attaining nibbāna, spoke thus to me: ‘Well now, Ānanda, after I am gone, let the Order enjoin the higher penalty for the monk Channa.’

“But did you, reverend Ānanda, ask the Lord: ‘But what, Lord, is the higher penalty?’”

“I, honoured sirs, did ask the Lord: ‘But what, Lord, is the higher penalty?’ He said, ‘Ānanda, Channa may say whatever he likes to monks, but the monk Channa must neither be spoken to, nor exhorted nor instructed by monks’.”

“Well then, reverend Ānanda, do you yourself enjoin the higher penalty on the monk Channa.”

“But how can I, honoured sirs, enjoin the higher penalty on the monk Channa? That monk is fierce and rough.”

“Well then, reverend Ānanda, go along together with many monks.”

“Very well, honoured sirs,” and the venerable Ānanda, having answered these monks in assent, having, together with a large Order of monks, with at least five hundred monks, disembarked at Kosambī from a boat going upstream, sat down at the root of a certain tree not far from King Udena’s pleasure grove.


Now at that time King Udena was amusing himself in his pleasure grove together with his concubines. Then King Udena’s concubines heard: “It is said that our teacher, master Ānanda, is sitting at the root of a certain tree not far from the pleasure grove.” Then King Udena’s concubines spoke thus to King Udena: “Sire, they say that our teacher … not far from the pleasure grove. We, sire, want to see master Ānanda.”

“Well then, do you see the recluse Ānanda.” Then King Udena’s concubines approached the venerable Ānanda; having approached, having greeted the venerable Ānanda, they sat down at a respectful distance. The venerable Ānanda gladdened, rejoiced, roused, delighted King Udena’s concubines with talk on dhamma as they were sitting down at a respectful distance. Then King Udena’s concubines, gladdened … delighted by the venerable Ānanda with talk on dhamma, bestowed five hundred inner robes on the venerable Ānanda. Then King Udena’s concubines, pleased with the venerable Ānanda’s words, having thanked him, rising from their seats, having greeted the venerable Ānanda, having kept their right sides towards him, approached King Udena.

King Udena saw the concubines coming in the distance; seeing them he spoke thus to the concubines: “Did you see the recluse Ānanda?”

“We, sire, did see master Ānanda.”

“But did not you give anything to the recluse Ānanda?”

“We gave, sire, five hundred inner robes to master Ānanda.”

King Udena looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying: “How can this recluse Ānanda accept so many robes? Will the recluse Ānanda set up trade in woven cloth or will he offer (them) for sale in a shop?” Then King Udena approached the venerable Ānanda; having approached, he exchanged greetings with the venerable Ānanda; having exchanged greetings of friendliness and courtesy, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, King Udena spoke thus to the venerable Ānanda:

“Did not our concubines come here, good Ānanda?”

“Your concubines did come here, your majesty.”

“Did they not give anything to the honourable Ānanda?”

“They gave me five hundred inner robes, your majesty.”

“But what can you, honourable Ānanda, do with so many robes?”

“I will share them, your majesty, with those monks whose robes are worn thin.”

“But what will you do, good Ānanda, with those old robes that are worn thin?”

“We will make them into upper coverings, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ānanda, with those upper coverings that are old?”

“We will make these into mattress coverings, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ānanda, with those mattress coverings that are old?”

“We will make them into ground coverings, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ānanda, with those ground coverings that are old?”

“We will make them into foot-wipers, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ānanda, with those foot-wipers that are old?”

“We will make them into dusters, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ānanda, with those dusters that are old?”

“Having torn them into shreds, your majesty, having kneaded them with mud, we will smear a plaster-flooring.”

Then King Udena, thinking: “These recluses, sons of the Sakyans, use everything in an orderly way and do not let things go to waste,” bestowed even another five hundred woven cloths on the venerable Ānanda. Therefore this was the first time that a thousand robes had accrued to the venerable Ānanda as an alms of robes.


Then the venerable Ānanda approached Ghosita’s monastery; having approached, he sat down on an appointed seat. Then the venerable Channa approached the venerable Ānanda; having approached, having greeted the venerable Ānanda, he sat down at a respectful distance. The venerable Ānanda spoke thus to the venerable Channa as he was sitting down at a respectful distance: “The higher penalty has been enjoined on you, reverend Channa, by the Order.”

“But what, honoured Ānanda, is the higher penalty?”

“You, reverend Channa, may say what you please to the monks, but you must neither be spoken to nor exhorted nor instructed by the monks.”

Saying: “Am I not, honoured Ānanda, destroyed because I may be neither spoken to nor exhorted nor instructed by the monks?” he fell down fainting at that very place. Then the venerable Channa, being troubled about the higher penalty, being ashamed of it, loathing it, dwelling alone, aloof, zealous, ardent, self-resolute, having soon realised here and now by his own super-knowledge that supreme goal of the Brahma-faring for the sake of which young men of family rightly go forth from home into homelessness, entering on it, abided in it and he understood: “Destroyed is (individual) birth, lived is the Brahma-faring, done is what was to be done, now there is no more of being this or that.” And so the venerable Channa became another of the perfected ones. Then the venerable Channa, having attained perfection, approached the venerable Ānanda; having approached he spoke thus to the venerable Ānanda: “Honoured Ānanda, now revoke the higher penalty for me.”

“From the moment that you, reverend Channa, realised perfection, from that moment the higher penalty was revoked for you.”

Now because five hundred monks—not one more, not one less—were at this chanting of the discipline, this chanting of the discipline is in consequence called ‘that of the Five Hundred’.

Told is the Eleventh Section: that on the Five Hundred.

In this Section are twenty-three items. This is its key:

When the Self-enlightened One had attained nibbāna the elder called Kassapa
addressed a group of monks on preserving what is true dhamma, /
On the high-road from Pāvā, what was declared by Subhadda,
we will chant true dhamma, before what is not-dhamma shines forth, /
And he selected Ānanda also for the one in the five hundred less one
spending the rains in chanting dhamma and discipline in the best of resorts. /
He asked Upāli about discipline, the wise Ānanda about the Suttantas:
disciples of the Conqueror chanted the three Piṭakas. /
The lesser and minor, various, in conformity with and according to what was laid down,
he did not ask, having stepped on, he caused to honour, and he did not request, /
the going forth of women: out of faith they are offences of wrong-doing for me.
Purāṇa, and the higher penalty, the concubines with Udena, /
So many, and worn thin, upper coverings, mattresses,
ground coverings, foot-wipers, dusters, kneading with mud,
a thousand robes accrued for the first time to the one called Ānanda. /
Threatened with the higher penalty he attained the fourfold truth.
The five hundred having mastered:
therefore it is called (the Chanting) of the Five Hundred.