Buddhist Case Law on Theft

Volume 6, 1999

Buddhist Case Law on Theft: the Vinītavatthu on the Second Pārājika

Andrew Huxley
University of London Law Department
School of Oriental and African Studies 

Of the twenty-eight pages of the vinayapāli devoted to theft, fifteen contain case law. They are the object of this study. The vinayapāli (which was collated and reduced to writing in the first century BCE) consists of oral memorized texts and jottings of various kinds from the prior Buddhist centuries, the core of which must have been fixed by the reign of King Aśoka (circa 273-232 BCE) The four most dramatic offences known to the vinayapāli are the pārājika, the conditions of defeat, dealt with in the first of its six volumes. The second pārājika, identified by a Pāli abstract noun that means taking things which have not properly been offered to you, is what we call theft.

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