Abandoning the Monastic Training Rules in the Pāli Canon

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 30, 2023

The Function and Contemporary Role of sikkhāpaccakkhāna (Abandoning the Training Rules) in the Pāli Canon

Chandima Gangodawila
Ronin Institute

This article examines the intricacies of abandoning the monastic training rules (sikkhāpaccakkhāna) in key Pāli sūtta and Vinaya texts to better understand how these textual sources, in addition to early modern Sri Lankan monastics as well as the contemporary saṅgha, have understood the abandonment of the training rules not as a spiritual failure, but rather as a set of pragmatic monastic principles that emphasize the retention of monkhood and the continuity of the Buddhasāsana. To demonstrate this, I propose an innovative approach to examining the first pārājika (concerning sexual intercourse) in relation to the sikkhāpaccakkhāna by considering Pāli sūttas, Vinaya texts, and the example of noncelibate seventeenth-century Laṅkān gaņinnānse (non-bhikkhu monks). I conclude by arguing that the contemporary Sri Lankan saṅgha can use sikkhāpaccakkhāna to avoid falling into the first pārājika, which provides a basis for reordination and thus a more human-centered framework for supporting the stability and duration of the Buddhasāsana.
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