do bhikkhunis follow more precepts (sikkhapada) than monks?
In Theravada, monks follow 227 precepts and bhikkhunis follow
311 precepts. This difference often leads to misunderstanding
that the Buddha in fact did not want women to join the Order,
and so he set up rules as barrier to fence off women right at
From a comparative
study between the monks and nuns patimokkha (presented at an
International Conference on Thai Studies, Chiengmai, Oct. 1417,
1996) it is shown that counting by section, bhikkhus observe
eight sections as compared to seven sections by nuns. One section
exclusively for monks is called "Aniyata." In this
section, there are two rules introduced by Visakha, the leading
female lay supporter in early Buddhism. One of them forbids
the monks from staying alone with a female in a covered place
and another one forbids monks from staying alone with a female
in an open place beyond hearing of others.
the first section of the patimokkha which is concerned with
the most severe offences, any monk or nun who has transgressed
any one of these rules is "defeated" at the moment
of committing that act. There are four rules for monks and eight
rules for nuns. The extra rules that nuns have to observe in
this section may be found for monks also but are classified
under Sanghadisesa, the second section which is less
severe. Having transgressed it a monk will have to go through
'manatta' period, a temporary self-expulsion from the Sangha.
It is worth noting that classification of the rules can easily
be the work of a later period at the hands of the monks.
section, there are eight rules for bhikkhunis. Bhikkhus have
the same content of the rules but they are counted as one and
classified under Sekhiya, another section. This is one
of the reasons responsible for the bloated number of rules for
In the Pacittiya
section, bhikkhunis follow 166 rules as compared to 92 for bhikkhus.
There are 70 common rules shared by both Sanghas. Then bhikkhus
have another set of 22 exclusively for bhikkhus and bhikkhunis
have another set of 76 rules exclusively for bhikkhunis. Within
76 rules exclusively for bhikkhunis, it is notable that there
are many rules regarding ordination requirements which the bhikkhus
also have to follow, but for bhikkhus they are not counted in
the Patimokkha. This also results in a seemingly larger number
of Patimokkha rules for bhikkhunis.
Due to the
above reasons, the bhikkhunis carry a higher number of rules
in the Patimokkha than the monks, but in reality they follow
a similar set of rules.