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The Uposatha And Patimokkha

When Seniya Bimbisara, the king of Magadha, was advanced in

years, he retired from the world and led a religious life. He

observed that there were Brahmanical sects in Rajagaha keeping

sacred certain days, and the people went to their meeting-houses

and listened to their sermons.

Concerning the need of keeping regular days for retirement from

worldly labors and religiou
instruction, the king went to the

Blessed One and said: "The Parivrajaka, who belong to the

Titthiya school, prosper and gain adherents because they keep the

eighth day and also the fourteenth or fifteenth day of each

half-month. Would it not be advisable for the reverend brethren

of the Sangha also to assemble on days duly appointed for that


And the Blessed One commanded the bhikkhus to assemble on the

eighth day and also on the fourteenth or fifteenth day of each

half-month, and to devote these days to religious exercises.

A bhikkhu duly appointed should address the congregation and

expound the Dharma. He should exhort the people to walk in the

eightfold path of righteousness; he should comfort them in the

vicissitudes of life and gladden them with the bliss of the fruit

of good deeds. Thus the brethren should keep the Uposatha.

Now the bhikkhus, in obedience to the rule laid down by the

Blessed One, assembled in the vihara on the day appointed, and

the people went to hear the Dharma, but they were greatly

disappointed, for the bhikkhus remained silent and delivered no


When the Blessed One heard of it, he ordered the bhikkhus to

recite the Patimokkha, which is a ceremony of disburdening the

conscience; and he commanded them to make confession of their

trespasses so as to receive the absolution of the order.

A fault, if there be one, should be confessed by the bhikkhu who

remembers it and desires to be cleansed. For a fault, when

confessed, shall be light on him.

And the Blessed One said: "The Patimokkha must be recited in this


"Let a competent and venerable bhikkhu make the following

proclamation to the Sangha: 'May the Sangha hear me! To-day is

Uposatha, the eighth, or the fourteenth or fifteenth day of the

half-month. If the Sangha is ready, let the Sangha hold the

Uposatha service and recite the Patimokkha. I will recite the


"And the bhikkhus shall reply: 'We hear it well and we

concentrate well our minds on it, all of us.'

"Then the officiating bhikkhu shall continue: 'Let him who has

committed an offence, confess it; if there be no offence, let all

remain silent; from your being silent I shall understand that the

reverend brethren are free from offences.

'As a single person who has been asked a question answers it, so

also, if before an assembly like this a question is solemnly

proclaimed three times, an answer is expected: if a bhikkhu,

after a threefold proclamation, does not confess an existing

offence which he remembers, he commits an intentional falsehood.

'Now, reverend brethren, an intentional falsehood has been

declared an impediment by the Blessed One. Therefore, if an

offence has been committed by a bhikkhu who remembers it and

desires to become pure, the offence should be confessed by the

bhikkhu, and when it has been confessed, it is treated duly.'"