1.        [59] Now while a meditator is engaged in the pursuit of virtue, he should set about undertaking the ascetic practices in order to perfect those special qualities of fewness of wishes, contentment, etc., by which the virtue of the kind already described is cleansed. For when his virtue is thus washed clean of stains by the waters of such special qualities as fewness of wishes, contentment, effacement, seclusion, dispersal, energy, and modest needs, it will become quite purified; and his vows will succeed as well. And so, when his whole behavior has been purified by the special quality of blameless virtue and vows and he has become established in the [first] three of the ancient Noble One’s Heritages, he may become worthy to attain to the fourth called ‘delight in development’ (A. ii, 27). We shall therefore begin the explanation of the ascetic practices.


         [The 13 Kinds of Ascetic Practices]


2.      Thirteen kinds of ascetic practices have been allowed by the Blessed One to clansmen who have given up the things of the flesh and, regardless of body and life, are desirous of undertaking a practice on conformity [with their aim]. They are:

i.         the refuse-rag-wearer’s practice

ii.       the triple-robe-wearer’s practice

iii.      the alms-food-eater’s practice

iv.     the house-to-house-seeker’s practice

v.       the one-sessioner’s practice

vi.     the bowl-food-eater’s practice

vii.    the later-food-refuser’s practice

viii.  the forest-dweller’s practice

ix.     the tree-root-dweller’s practice

x.       the open-air-dweller’s practice

xi.     the charnel-ground-dweller’s practice

xii.    the any-bed-user’s practice

xiii.  the sitter’s practice   


3.         Herein,

            (1) As to meaning, (2) character, etcetera, (3) The undertaking and directions, and then the grade, and breach as well, and benefits of each besides, (4) As to the profitable triad, (5) ‘Ascetic’ and so on distinguished, (6) And as to groups, and also (7) singly, the exposition should be known. [60]


4.         I. Herein, as to meaning, in the first place.

         i. It is ‘refuse (pamsukula)’ since, owing to its being found on refuse in any such place as a street, a charnel ground, or a midden, it belongs, as it were, to the refuse in the sense of being dumped in any one of these places. Or alternatively: like refuse it gets to a vile state PAMSU viy Kucchitabhavam ULAi), thus it is ‘refuse (pamsukula)’; it goes to a vile state, is what is meant. The wearing of a refuse-[rag], which has acquired its derivative name1 in this way, is ‘refuse-[rag-wearing] (pamsukulikanga)’. It is the action that is called the ‘practice’. Therefore it should be understood as a term for that by undertaking which one becomes a refuse-[rag-wear-]er.
     ii.  In the same way, he has the habit of [wearing] the triple robe (ti-civara)—in other words, the cloak of patches, the upper garment, and the inner clothing--, thus he is a ‘triple-robe-[wear-]er (tecivarika)’. His practice is called the ‘triple-robe-wearer’s practice’.


5.          iii. The dropping (pata) of the lumps (pinda) of material-sustenance (amisa) called alms (bhikkha) is ‘alms food (pindapata)’; the falling (nipatana) into the bowl of lumps (pinda) given by others, is what is meant. He gleans that alms food (that falling of lumps), he seeks it by approaching such and such a family, thus he is called an ‘alms-food-[eat-]er (pindapatika)l. Or his vow is to gather (patitum)2 the lump (pinda), thus he is a ‘lump-gatherer (pindapatin)’ To ‘gather’ is to wander for. A ‘lump-gatherer (pindapatin)’ is the same as an ‘alms-food-eater (pindapatika)’. The practice of the alms-food-eater is the ‘alms-food-eater’s practice.

6.          iv.  It is a hiatus (avakhandana) that is called a ‘gap (dana)’.3 It is removed (apeta) from a gap, thus it is called ‘gapless (apadana)’; the meaning is, it is without hiatus. It is together with (saha) what is gapless (apandana), thus it is ‘with the gapless, (sapadana)’; devoid of hiatus—from house to house—is what is meant.  His habit is to wander on what-is-the-gapless, thus he is a ‘gapless’ wanderer (sapadana-carin)’. A gapless wanderer is the same as a ‘house-to-house seeker (sapadana-carika)’. His practice is the ‘house-to-house-seeker’s practice.

7.          v.  Eating in one session is ‘one-session’. He has that habit, thus he is a ‘one-sessioner’. His practice is the ‘one-sessioner’s practice.’

           vi. Alms (pinda) in one bowl (patta) only, because of refusing a second vessel, is ‘bowl-alms (patta-pinda)’. Now, making ‘bowl-alms (patta-pinda)’ the name for the taking of alms-food in the bowl: bowl-alms-food is his habit, thus he is a ‘bowl-food-eater (pattapindika)’. His practice is the ‘bowl-food-eater’s practice’.


8.      vii.  ‘No (khaul)’ is a particle in the sense of refusing [61]. Food (bhatta) obtained later by one who has shown that he is satisfied is called ‘later-food (paccha-bhatta)’. The eating of that later food is ‘later-food-eating’. Making ‘later-food (pacchabhatta)’ the name for that later-food-eating: later-food is his habit, thus he is a ‘later-food-[eat]er (pacchabhattika)’. Not a later-food-eater is a ‘no-later-food-[eat]-er (khalu-pacchabhattika)’, [that is, a ;later-food-refuser’.] This is the name for one who as an undertaking refuses extra food. But it is said in the commentary4  ‘Khalu is a certain kind of bird. ‘When it has taken a fruit into its beak and that drops, it does not eat any more. This [bhikkhu] is like that’. Thus he is ‘a later-food-refuser (khalu-paccha-bhattika)’. His practice is the ‘later-food-refuser’s practice’.

9.         viii.  His habit is dwelling in the forest, thus he is a ‘forest-dweller’. His practice is the ‘forest-dweller’s practice’.

         ix.  Dwelling at the root of a tree is ‘tree-root-dwelling.’ He has that habit, thus he is a ‘tree-root-dweller’. The practice of the tree-root-dweller is the ‘tree-root-dweller’s practice’. 

          x., xi.  Likewise with the open-air-dweller and the charnel-ground-dweller.


10.           xii.  Only what has been distributed (yad eva santhata) is ‘as distributed (yatha-santhata)’. This is a term for the resting place first allotted thus ‘This one falls to you’. He has the habit of dwelling in that as distributed, thus he is an ‘as-distributed user (yathasanthatika)’, [that is, an ‘any-bed-user’.]  His practice is the ‘any-bed-user’s practice,’

               xiii.  He has the habit of keeping to the sitting, [posture when resting], refusing to lie down, thus he is a ‘sitter’. His practice is the ‘sitter’s practice’.


11.          All these, however, are the practices (anga) of a bhikkhu who is ascetic (dhuta) because he has shaken off (dhuta) defilement by undertaking one or other of them. Or the knowledge that has got the name ‘ascetic (dhuta)’ because it shakes off (dhunana) defilement is a practice (anga) belonging to these, thus they are ‘ascetic practices (dhut-anga)’.  Or alternatively, they are ascetic (dhuta) because they shake off (niddhunana) opposition, and they are practices (anga) because they are a way (patipatti).

              This, firstly, is how the exposition should be known here ‘as to meaning’.


12.  2.  All of them have as their characteristic the volition of undertaking. For this is said [in the commentary] ‘He who does the undertaking is a person. That whereby he does the undertaking is states of consciousness and consciousness-concomitants. The volition of the act of undertaking is the ascetic practice. What it rejects is the instance’. All have the function of eliminating cupidity, and they manifest themselves with the production of non-cupidity. For their proximate cause they have the noble states consisting of fewness of wishes, and so on. [62] This is how the exposition should be know as to characteristic, etc., here.

13.      3.  As regards the five beginning with the undertaking and directions: during the Blessed One’s lifetime all ascetic practices should be undertaken in the Blessed One’s presence. After his attainment of nibbana this should be done in the presence of a principal disciple. When he is not available it should be done in the presence of one whose cankers are destroyed, of a Non-returner, of a Once-returner, of a Stream-enterer, of one who knows the three Pitakas, of one who knows two of the Pitakas, of one who knows one of the Pitakas, of one who knows one Collection,5 of a teacher of the Commentaries. When he is not available it should be done in the presence of an observer of an ascetic practice. When he is not available, then after one has swept out the shrine terrace they can be undertaken seated in a reverential posture as though pronouncing them in the Fully Enlightened One’s presence. Also it is permitted to undertake them by oneself.

         And here should be told the story of the senior of the two brothers who were Elders at Cetiyapabbata and their fewness of wishers with respect to the ascetic practices (see MA. Ii, 140).6

         This, firstly, is what applies to all [practices].


14.    Now we shall proceed to comment on the undertaking, directions, grade, breach, and benefits, of each one [separately].   
    i.  First, the refuse-rag-wearer’s practice is undertaken with one of these two statements: ‘I refuse robes given by house-holders’ or ‘I undertake the refuse-rag-wearer’s practice’. This, firstly, is the undertaking.


15.     One who has done this should get a robe of one of the following kinds: one from a charnel ground, one from a shop, a cloth from a street, a cloth from a midden, one from a child-bed, an ablution cloth, a cloth from a washing place, one worn going to and returning from [the charnel ground], one scorched by fire, one gnawed by cattle, one gnawed by ants, one carried as a flag, a robe from a shrine, an ascetic’s robe, one from a consecration, one produced by supernormal powers, on from a highway, one borne by the wind, one presented by deities, one from the sea. Taking one of these robe cloths, he should tear off and throw away the weak parts, and then wash the sound parts and make up a robe. He can use it after getting rid of his old robe given by householders.

16.    Herein, one from a charnel ground’ is one dropped on a charnel ground.

‘On from a shop’ is one dropped at the door of a shop.

‘A cloth from a street’ is a cloth thrown into the street from inside a window by those who seek merit.

‘A cloth from a midden’ [63] is a cloth thrown onto a place for rubbish.

‘One from a childbed’ is a cloth thrown away after wiping up the stains of childbirth with it. The mother of Tissa the Minister, it seems had the stains of childbirth wiped up with a cloth worth a hundred [pieces], an thinking ‘The refuse-rag –wearers will take it’, she had it thrown onto the Talaveli Road’.7 Bhikkhus took it for the purpose of mending worn places.


17.    ‘An ablution cloth’ is one that people who are made by devil doctors to bathe themselves, including their heads, are accustomed to throw away as a ‘cloth of ill luck.’

         ‘A cloth from a washing place’ is rags thrown away at a washing place where bathing is done.

        ‘One worn going to and returning from’ is one that people throw away after they have gone to a charnel ground and returned and bathed.

        ‘One scorched by fire’ is one partly scorched by fire; for people throw that away.

       ‘One gnawed by cattle,’ etc., are obvious; for people throw away such as these too.

       ‘One carried as a flag’ : Those who board a ship do so after hoisting a flag. It is allowable to take this when they have gone out of sight. Also it is allowable, when the two armies have gone away, to take a flag that has been hoisted on a battlefield.


18.    ‘A robe from a shrine’ is an offering made by draping an ant-hill [in cloth].

         ‘An ascetic’s robe’ is one belonging to a bhikkhu.

        ‘One from a consecration’ is one thrown away at the king’s consecration place.

       ‘One produced by supernormal power’ is a ‘come-bhikkhu’ robe.8

       ‘One from a highway’ is one dropped in the middle of a road. But one dropped by the owner’s negligence should be taken only after waiting a while.

       ‘One borne by the wind’ is one that falls a long way off, having been carried by the wind. It is allowable to take if if the owners are not in sight.

       ‘One presented by deities’ is one given by deities like that given to the Elder Anuruddha (See DhA. Ii, 173-4).

       ‘One from the sea’ is one washed up on dry land by the sea waves.


19.    One given thus ‘We give it to the Order’ or got by those who go out for alms-cloth is not a refuse-rag. And in the case of one presented by a bhikkhu, one given after is has been got [at a presentation of robes by householders] at the end of the Rains, or a ‘resting-lace robe’, [that is, one automatically supplied by a householder to the occupant of a certain resting place,] is not a refuse-rag. It is a refuse-rag only when given after not having been so obtained. And herein, that placed by the donors at a bhikkhu’s feet but given by that bhikkhu to the refuse-rag wearer by placing it in his hand is called pure in one way. That given to a bhikkhu by placing it in his hand but placed by him at the [refuse-rag wearer’s] feet is also pure in one way. That which is both placed at a bhikkhu’s feet and then given by him in the same way is pure in both ways.  [64] One obtained by being placed in the hand and [given by being] placed in the hand too is not a strict man’s robe. So a refuse-rag wearer should use the robe after getting to know about the kinds of refuse-rags.

These are the directions for it in this instance.  












1   ‘Nibbacana—derivative name (or verbal derivative)’; gram. Term not in P.T.S.; see MA, I, 61, 105; Vis. Ch. XVI, §16

2   ‘Patati—to gather (or to wander)’: not in P.T.S. Dict.

3   Avakhandana—hiatus’ and ‘dana—gap’: not in P.T.S. Dict.

4   Such references to ‘the Commentary’ are to the old Sinhalese commentary, no longer extant, from which Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa drew his material.

5   ‘”Ekasangitika”: one who knows one of the five Collections (nikaya) beginning with the Collection of Long Discourses (Digha-nikaya)’ (Pm. 76).

6   ‘That Elder, it seems, was a sitter, but no one knew it. Then one night the other saw him by the light of a flash of lightning sitting up on his bed. He asked, “Are you a sitter, venerable sir?”. Out of fewness of wishes that his ascetic practice should get known, the Elder lay down. Afterwards he undertook the practice anew. So the story has come down’ (Pm. 77).

7   The name of a street in Mahagama (S.E. Ceylon). Also in Anuradhapura, they say’ (Pm. 77).

8   On certain occasions, when the Going Forth was given by the Buddha with only the words ‘Ehi bhikkhu (come bhikkhu)’, owing to the disciple’s past merit robes appeared miraculously upon him (see e.g. Vin. Mahavagga, Kh. 1).