The Patimokkha Rules

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The word Patimokkha (Pali) is defined in the PTS Pali dictionary as 'that which should be made binding'. It refers to a collection of rules defining the proper conduct for members of the Buddhist monastic orders for bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns).

There are two patimokkhas: the bhikkhupatimokkha for bhikkhus and the bhikkhunipatimokkha for bhikkhunis. The patimokkha (in the Pali recension) for monks consists of 227 rules, and the patimokkha for nuns has 311 rules. The rules are devided into eight categories: parajika, sanghadisesa, aniyata, nissaggiya pacittiya, pacittiya, patidesaniya, sekhiya and adhikarana samatha. (The bhikkhunipatimokkha does not have any aniyata rules.) These categories determine the seriousness of the rule, and what should be done after breaking the rule. The adhikarana samatha are a bit different, in that they are not really rules, but ways in which conflicts within the Sangha (monastic community) can be resolved.

There are various extant versions of the Patimokkha, of different early buddhist schools. Complete versions exist of the Patimokkha of the Theravada and Dharmaguptaka schools.

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