As we noted in the preceding chapter, the uposatha observance regularly provides an opportunity for bhikkhus to accuse their fellows of any offenses that the latter may have committed without making amends. However, there are many factors that might dissuade a bhikkhu from taking advantage of these regular meetings to make such an accusation. The recitation of the Pāṭimokkha may be so time-consuming that he is reluctant to prolong the meeting. During the months outside of the Rains the composition of the Community may be so variable from week to week that he is uncertain of their ability or willingness to judge the issue fairly, and they themselves may be in a poor position to judge the reliability of the accused and his accuser. During the months of the Rains-residence, however, when the Community is more stable, his reluctance to break his Rains may prevent him from bringing up the issue if he senses that the person he wants to accuse, or the accused's cohorts, are likely to retaliate. This being the case, he might feel tempted to put his personal convenience and comfort ahead of the Vinaya, and the accusation would never get a hearing.
For this reason, the Buddha allowed that, once a year at the end of the Rains-residence, bhikkhus who have observed the Rains without break may replace one uposatha observance with an Invitation (pavāraṇā), at which each gives the opportunity to his fellows to accuse him of any offense that they may have seen, heard, or suspected him of committing. If the Invitation proceeds without accusation, the bhikkhus are then free to go their separate ways, each with a clean reputation. If there is an accusation, this is the time to settle it once and for all.
The meeting at which this invitation is given is an ideal time to settle such issues. Because the Pāṭimokkha is not being recited — and because there are provisions for shortening the Invitation procedure in the event of a long, drawn-out discussion — there is more time to consider an accusation. Because the participating bhikkhus, for the most part, have lived together for three months, they are in a good position to assess the character both of the accuser and the accused. Because the Rains-residence ends the following morning, the accuser has less reason to fear retaliation from the accused, as he is under no compulsion to remain with the Community.
In addition, the rules surrounding the Invitation encourage an atmosphere in which accusations may be heard. On the one hand, with every participant expected to invite accusations, anyone who refuses to give leave for an accusation looks like he has something to hide. On the other hand, if a bhikkhu suspects one of his fellows of having committed an offense but does not at least bring up the issue in the Invitation meeting, he incurs an offense if he tries to bring it up at a later date. In this way, both sides are given incentives to put the Vinaya ahead of their own immediate convenience and comfort. As the Buddha said when making the original allowance for the Invitation, its purpose is to promote mutual conformity among the bhikkhus, to help them rise out of their offenses, and to foster their esteem for the Vinaya.
Because the Invitation acts as an alternate version of the uposatha observance, many of the rules surrounding it are the same as those surrounding the uposatha. In this chapter we will focus primarily on areas where the rules and procedures are different.
Invitation days. Invitation is normally held on the last day of the Rains-residence. However, if the bhikkhus so desire, they may delay the Invitation either one or two fortnights, but no more. In either case, the Invitation day, like a normal uposatha day, must be held on the last day of the fortnight. The possible reasons for delay are two:
If a Community decides to delay its Invitation, then all its members should attend a meeting on the full-moon day at the end of the first Rains. According to the Commentary, this means that none of them are allowed to send their consent instead. One of them then makes a motion and proclamation to delay the Invitation (see Appendix I). The bhikkhus then perform the uposatha as normal.
In addition to the fourteenth and fifteenth, there is also a unity Invitation day, on the model of the unity uposatha day. This, the Commentary says, may be held between the first day after the first Rains and the full moon day marking the end of the second Rains. Like the unity uposatha day, it adds, this Invitation may be held only after settling a major break in the Community.
Conveying invitation. Instead of giving his purity, a bhikkhu living in the territory who is too ill to attend the meeting must give his invitation. The rules surrounding the giving and conveying of an invitation are the same as those surrounding the giving and conveying of purity, with two exceptions:
This means: "Venerable sirs, the bhikkhu named so-and-so invites the Community. With regard to what is seen, heard, or suspected, venerable sirs, may the Community speak to him out of sympathy. On seeing (the offense), he will make amends. A second time... A third time, venerable sirs, the bhikkhu named so-and-so invites the Community... On seeing (the offense), he will make amends."
If the bhikkhu giving his invitation is senior to the one conveying it, Itthannāmo bhante bhikkhu should be changed to Āyasmā bhante Itthannāmo. The Vinaya-mukha recommends adding the word gilāno after the bhikkhu's name, which changes the first sentence to, "Venerable sirs, the bhikkhu named so-and-so, who is ill, invites the Community." Neither the Commentary nor the Sub-commentary mentions this point.
As with the uposatha, if the Community is going to use the meeting to perform any other business in addition to the Invitation, they will require the ill bhikkhu's consent as well.
Preliminary duties for the Invitation are the same as for the uposatha except that, as mentioned above, the conveying of an ill bhikkhu's invitation takes place not before the motion, but after the motion when his turn comes in terms of seniority.
Quorum. If the assembly that has gathered for the Invitation numbers five or more, they invite as a Community. If two to four, they perform a mutual Invitation. If one, he determines his Invitation. The situation in which not all of the bhikkhus present can participate in the Invitation — either because they have broken their Rains, were ordained during the Rains, are observing the second Rains while the others have observed the first, or observed the first Rains while the others are finishing the second — will be discussed as a special case, below.
Community Invitation starts with a motion, after which each of the bhikkhus invites the Community — normally, three times. If the Community is pressed for time, it may agree to have each bhikkhu invite only twice, only once, or it may have all the bhikkhus with the same number of Rains invite in unison. The Canon lists the following situations as valid reasons for shortening the procedure in these ways: Savages are menacing the Community, many people have come giving gifts until late at night, a Dhamma or Vinaya discussion has lasted until late at night, bhikkhus have been quarreling until late at night, a great cloud threatening rain has come up, or any of the ten obstructions mentioned in Mv.II.15.4 occurs. The Vinaya-mukha argues that an especially large number of bhikkhus in the assembly should also be a valid reason for shortening the procedure, so as not to inflict too great a hardship on the junior bhikkhus, who must stay in the kneeling position until they have given their invitation. Once the bhikkhus have decided how many times each one will invite, the motion should reflect the decision. The Canon indicates that if they choose not to have each bhikkhu state his invitation three times, the motion should include their reason for doing so. However, the Pubbasikkhā-vaṇṇanā cites an old tradition that treats this as optional, apparently for the sake of bhikkhus not well-versed in Pali who would find it hard to compose such a motion in the proper form. I have been unable to trace the source of this tradition in the commentaries, but it would fit under the allowance given in Pv.XIX.1.3-4 (see Chapter 12). I will give the Pubbasikkhā-vaṇṇanā's recommendations here, and the Canon's in Appendix I.
If each bhikkhu is to state his invitation three times, the motion is:
This means: "Venerable sirs, may the Community listen to me. Today is the Invitation day on the fifteenth [fourteenth]. If the Community is ready, the Community should invite with three statements."
For a unity Invitation, change paṇṇarasī to sāmaggī.
If each bhikkhu is to state his invitation twice, the word te-vācikaṃ should be changed to dve-vācikaṃ. If once, to eka-vācikaṃ.
The tradition cited by the Pubbasikkhā-vaṇṇanā states that when either of these two shortened forms is used, a bhikkhu may state his invitation up to three times if he likes, but he may not state it fewer times than called for in the motion. In other words, if the motion is for two times, he may state his invitation two or three times, but not just once.
If bhikkhus with equal rains are to invite in unison, the phrase saṅgho tevācikaṃ pavāreyya should be changed to saṅgho samāna-vassikaṃ pavāreyya, which means, "The Community should invite in the manner of equal Rains."
The tradition cited by the Pubbasikkhā-vaṇṇanā also states that if the Community does not want to determine how many times each bhikkhu will state his invitation, the last phrase in the motion can be: saṅgho pavāreyya — "The Community should invite." If this option is chosen, the tradition says, each bhikkhu may state his invitation one, two, or three times, but bhikkhus with equal Rains may not state their invitation in unison.
Once the motion has been made, all the bhikkhus are to get in the kneeling position — their robes arranged over one shoulder, their hands raised in añjali — and state their invitations in line with seniority. The most senior bhikkhu's invitation statement is:
This means: "Friends, I invite the Community. With regard to what is seen, heard, or suspected, may you speak to me out of sympathy. On seeing (the offense), I will make amends. A second time... A third time, friends, I invite the Community... On seeing (the offense), I will make amends."
The remaining bhikkhus then state their invitations in line with seniority, changing Saṅghaṃ āvuso to Saṅgham-bhante, and āvuso to bhante, i.e., "friends" to "venerable sirs."
Originally, all the bhikkhus remained in the kneeling position until everyone had made his invitation. However, in a monastery where there were many bhikkhus, the senior bhikkhus started keeling over, so the Buddha decreed that once a bhikkhu had made his invitation he could sit down.
Mutual Invitation. If the assembly contains four bhikkhus, the motion is as follows:
This means: "Listen to me, sirs. Today is the Invitation day on the fifteenth [fourteenth]. If you are ready, we should invite one another."
The bhikkhus should then invite one another, in line with seniority. Because there are so few of them, each should invite three times, saying:
This means: "Friends [venerable sirs], I invite you. With regard to what is seen, heard, or suspected, may you speak to me out of sympathy. On seeing (the offense) I will make amends. A second time... A third time, friends [venerable sirs], I invite you... On seeing (the offense) I will make amends."
If the assembly contains three bhikkhus, they follow the same procedure as for four, except that āyasmanto is changed to āyasmantā, both in the motion and in the invitation, as is appropriate when addressing two rather than three people.
If the assembly contains only two bhikkhus, they do not make a motion. Each simply invites the other, saying:
Determination. If the assembly consists of only one bhikkhu, he is to prepare the place as he would for determining an uposatha observance, and then when he is sure that no one is coming he may determine his Invitation:
As with the uposatha, the Commentary notes that one may add paṇṇarasī (the fifteenth) or cātuddasī (the fourteenth) at the end of the determination, but this is optional.
Borderline quorums. Following the pattern of the uposatha observance, if the bhikkhus in a given territory or monastery number five or fewer, an ill bhikkhu is not to send his consent or invitation so that the others can conduct the invitation in his absence. All must meet together, even if this means convening at the dwelling of the one who is ill.
Accusations. As with the uposatha, a bhikkhu may not invite if he has an offense for which he has not made amends. If, while giving his invitation, he recalls an offense he has committed or has doubt about having committed an offense, he may inform a neighboring bhikkhu as he would during an uposatha observance.
The procedure for making an accusation during the Invitation is more streamlined than it is on an uposatha day in that there is no need first to ask or answer questions about Vinaya in the assembly. If Bhikkhu X is convinced that Bhikkhu Y has an offense for which he (Y) has not made amends, Mv.IV.16.1-5 states simply that X may interrupt Y's invitation, get him to give leave, and then accuse him of the offense. If Y refuses to give leave, X may then cancel his invitation, although he must do so before Y finishes his invitation. Mv.IV.16.4-5 seems to indicate that the only proper time to do this is during Y's invitation, but the Commentary states that X may do this during the opening motion as well. The motion for canceling Y's Invitation is:
This means: "May the Community listen to me, venerable sirs. [The individual named so-and-so] is, with an offense, inviting. I cancel his Invitation (or: I cancel the Invitation for him). One should not invite in his presence." (BD mistakenly reads the sentence following this in the Canon as part of the motion.)
Because the Invitation puts the accused in a vulnerable position, the Canon assigns the Community an active role in protecting him from an ill-founded accusation. If they know the accuser to be impure in his bodily behavior, verbal behavior, and livelihood, to be ignorant, inexperienced, and incompetent to respond to questioning, they should override his cancellation, telling him not to cause strife in the Community, and then proceed with the Invitation. But if they know him to be pure in his bodily behavior, verbal behavior, and livelihood, to be knowledgeable, experienced, and competent to respond to questioning, they question him as to which precise offense he is accusing Y of having committed, and on what grounds — seeing, hearing, or suspecting — the accusation is based. If he responds in an ignorant or inconsistent way, they may disregard his accusation and proceed with the Invitation. If, however, his responses are knowledgeable and consistent, they should conduct an investigation. If Y admits to having committed an offense, he should be dealt with in accordance with the gravity of the offense (for a saṅghādisesa offense, he may simply be convicted of the offense), and then the Invitation may proceed. Similarly, if X admits to having defamed Y, he must be dealt with in accordance with the gravity of the defamation before the Invitation may proceed. The third possible outcome — that X has grounds for his accusation but Y is in fact innocent — does not require that either be punished. Once the truth is established, the assembly may proceed with the Invitation from where it left off.
There is also the possible case where, prior to the Invitation, X announces to the assembly that an offense has been committed, but he is uncertain as to either who committed it or what the precise offense is. If he requests the assembly to place the issue on hold and to go ahead with the Invitation, they are to tell him that the Invitation was established by the Buddha for those who are pure and united, and that he should speak up about the matter immediately. If, after he states his case, the assembly cannot ascertain either the person or the precise offense, they may go ahead with the Invitation, and the matter may be brought up again when the uncertain factor is brought to light.
If X announces to the assembly that he knows the offense and who committed it but still requests the assembly to place the issue on hold, they are again to tell him to speak up immediately. In this case, the Invitation may not proceed until the matter is settled. If the assembly proceeds with the Invitation without having settled the matter, they cannot later reopen the case. Anyone who tries to reopen it incurs a pācittiya under Pc 63. The same holds true for X if he knows both the individual and the offense before the Invitation but does not speak up about it at all.
The Commentary insists that this pācittiya is only for cases where the Community has looked into the matter and settled it before the Invitation was made, but this seems to miss the point: The fact that the Invitation was allowed to proceed without a hitch is supposed to mean that the issue is settled. The Canon's ruling here, however, places a special responsibility on X if he knows that Y has committed an offense but feels that he may get into trouble with Y's cohorts in the assembly if he tries to press the issue. In essence, the Canon requires X to sacrifice his own immediate comfort for the sake of the Vinaya and of the Saṅgha as a whole. He should at least speak up about the matter, even if he anticipates that the assembly will not deal with the accusation in line with the Dhamma. If he later wants to bring the matter up in a more favorable assembly, he has the advantage: He can legitimately claim that he already broached the issue but that he was unjustly ignored. If he lets the matter slide now, Y will have the advantage in any future assembly: He can legitimately question why X had not brought up the matter before when explicitly invited to do so.
One exception to the requirement that accusations be settled before proceeding with the Invitation is when, on the Invitation day, either the accused or the accuser is ill. The accuser may bring up the issue, but the Community should authorize a delay of the interrogation on the grounds that an ill person — whether accuser or accused — is not up to being interrogated. If either the accuser or the accused refuses to go along with the delay, he incurs a pācittiya under Pc 54. Once the delay has been authorized, the Invitation may proceed.
Special cases: two groups. There are four situations in which not all of the bhikkhus present can participate in the Invitation: Some have broken their Rains, some were ordained during the Rains, some are observing the second Rains while the others have observed the first, or some observed the first Rains while the others are finishing the second.
The Canon does not discuss these situations, but the Commentary to Mv.IV.13.3 sets out the following pattern for how the Invitation should be handled in the last two cases. This pattern may also be applied to the first two. The basic rule is that two separate motions should not be made in the same day in the same territory, for that would resemble a schism. Therefore:
On the full-moon day at the end of the first Rains, if the number of bhikkhus observing the first Rains is at least five and is equal to or larger than the number of bhikkhus observing the second Rains, the first group should hold a Community Invitation, complete with a motion. When they have finished inviting, the second group should declare their purity in their presence.
If the first group isn't enough for a Community motion, the members of the second group should not be included to make up the lack. In other words, the first group should hold a mutual Invitation.
If there is one bhikkhu in the first group and one in the second, the first bhikkhu should invite the second; the second bhikkhu should declare his purity in the presence of the first.
If the second group is larger, the second group should recite the Pāṭimokkha and then the first group should invite in their presence, using the formula for a mutual Invitation without a motion.
On the day before the end of the second Rains, if the group observing the second Rains is equal to or larger than the group who observed the first, they should invite, after which the first group should declare their purity in their presence.
If the group who observed the first Rains is larger than the group who observed the second, they should recite the Pāṭimokkha. Then the second group should invite in their presence, using the formula for a mutual Invitation without a motion.
Special cases: delayed Invitation. If the Community has decided to delay its Invitation but any of its members wishes to leave, he may go ahead and invite on the day that the Community is holding its uposatha. If, while he is inviting, any of the other bhikkhus cancels his invitation, the Community must look into the matter and settle it. He, however, cannot cancel the invitation of any of the other bhikkhus. If, after completing his business, he returns before the Community holds its Invitation, then on their Invitation day he may cancel the invitation of any of the other bhikkhus, but they may not retroactively cancel his.
Special cases: hostile neighbors. If a group of well-behaved bhikkhus knows that a group of trouble-making bhikkhus living in a nearby territory plans to join in their Invitation to make groundless accusations and create strife, the first group may try to elude the second in the following ways:
Other issues. The individuals excluded from sitting in the assembly for the Invitation are the same as those excluded from sitting in the assembly for the uposatha. For some reason, the rule against conducting an uposatha with a lay person in the assembly has no parallel in the Invitation Khandhaka, but this seems to be an oversight. With novices excluded from the assembly, there is no reason why lay people should be allowed in.
The rules concerning traveling and the special cases involving unity are the same for Invitation as they are for uposatha. See the preceding chapter for details.
"I allow that bhikkhus who have come out of the Rains invite (one another) with respect to three things: what is seen, what is heard, and what is suspected. That will be for your mutual conformity (§), for your arising out of offenses, for your esteem (§) for the Vinaya." — Mv.IV.1.13
"These are the two Invitations: on the fourteenth and on the fifteenth." — Mv.IV.3.1
"And one should not invite on a non-Invitation day unless it is for unity in the Community." — Mv.IV.14.4
"I allow that an Invitation-delay be made." — Mv.IV.18.2
Transaction statement — Mv.IV.18.3-4
Four Invitation transactions: factional, not in accordance with the Dhamma; united, not in accordance with the Dhamma; factional, in accordance with the Dhamma; united, in accordance with the Dhamma. Of the first three: "This sort of Invitation transaction is not to be done and has not been allowed by me." Of the last: "This sort of Invitation transaction may be done and has been allowed by me. Therefore, bhikkhus, 'We will do this sort of Invitation transaction, i.e., united, in accordance with the Dhamma': That is how you should train yourselves." — Mv.IV.3.2
"I allow that an ill bhikkhu give his invitation." — Mv.IV.3.3
Mv.IV.3.4-5 = Mv.II.22.3-4 (Giving and conveying invitation)
"I allow that, on the Invitation day, when an invitation is given, that consent be given as well when the Community has something to be done (§)." — Mv.IV.3.5
"The (Community) should not be invited with a 'stale' giving of invitation (§) unless the gathering has not gotten up from its seats." — Mv.IV.14.4
Mv.IV.4.3 = Mv.II.24.1-3 (People seize a bhikkhu)
Mv.IV.7-13 = Mv.II.28-35 (Unexpected and expected late-comers, incoming bhikkhus, questions of separate and common affiliations)
Mv.IV.14.1-3 = Mv.II.36.1-3 (Excluded individuals)
"I allow that the Community invite when there are five." — Mv.IV.5.1
Transaction statement — Mv.IV.1.14
"I allow that the Invitation be made by two statements ... by one statement." ... "I allow those of the same Rains (in seniority) to invite in unison (§)." — Mv.IV.15.1
Motions to be made in cases where there is not enough time for a three-statement invitation (§) — Mv.IV.15.3-7
"One should not remain seated while senior bhikkhus, kneeling, are stating their invitation. Whoever should remain seated: an offense of wrong doing. I allow that the invitation be made while all are kneeling." — Mv.IV.2.1 "I allow that one remain kneeling until stating his invitation and then to sit down." — Mv.IV.2.2
"I allow mutual Invitation when there are four." — Mv.IV.5.2 Procedure — Mv.IV.5.3
"I allow mutual Invitation when there are three." Procedure — Mv.IV.5.4
"I allow mutual Invitation when there are two." — Mv.IV.5.5 Procedure — Mv.IV.5.6
"There is the case where a bhikkhu is staying alone in a residence when the Invitation day comes. Having swept the place where the bhikkhus gather — an attendance hall, a pavilion, or the root of a tree — having set out drinking water and washing water, having made seats ready, having lit a light, he should sit down. If other bhikkhus arrive, he is to invite together with them. If not, he should determine: 'Today is my Invitation.' If he does not determined (this): an offense of wrong doing." — Mv.IV.5.8
"Where five bhikkhus are staying, a Community of four is not to invite, having brought the invitation of one. Whoever should invite: an offense of wrong doing. Where four bhikkhus are staying, mutual Invitation is not to be done by three after having brought the invitation of one. If they should do it: an offense of wrong doing. Where three bhikkhus are staying, mutual Invitation is not to be done by two after having brought the invitation of one. If they should do it: an offense of wrong doing. Where two bhikkhus are staying, (the Invitation) is not to be determined by one after having brought the invitation of the other. If he should determine it: an offense of wrong doing." — Mv.IV.5.9
"One who has an offense should not invite. Whoever should invite: an offense of wrong doing. I allow when one with an offense is inviting that, having gotten him to give leave (§), one accuse him of the offense." — Mv.IV.16.1
Mv.IV.6.1 = Mv.II.27.2 (doubt about an offense)
Mv.IV.6.2-3 = Mv.II.27.4-5 (one remembers or becomes doubtful while the Invitation is in progress)
"I allow, when one does not give leave, that the Invitation be canceled (§)." Procedure. — Mv.IV.16.2
"One should not cancel, without grounds, without reason, the invitation of pure bhikkhus who are not offenders. Whoever should cancel it: an offense of wrong doing. And one should not cancel the invitation of those who have already made an invitation. Whoever should cancel it: an offense of wrong doing." — Mv.IV.16.3
Proper and improper cancellation of an invitation — Mv.IV.16.4-5
How to treat a case where one bhikkhu has canceled another's invitation:
Disputes over an offense committed by a bhikkhu and how they should be settled — Mv.IV.16.19-22
Case of either an unknown offense or unknown offender, request that it be shelved: must be settled before the Invitation can proceed — Mv.IV.16.23-24
Case in which both offense and offender are known, request that it be shelved: must be settled before the Invitation can proceed — Mv.IV.16.25
"If the matter is known before the Invitation, but the individual afterward, it is proper to speak up. If the individual is known before the Invitation, but the matter afterward, it is proper to speak up. If both the matter and the individual are known before the Invitation, and if one opens (the issue) up after the Invitation is done, then there is a pācittiya for opening up (Pc 63)." — Mv.IV.16.26
Delaying the issue if an ill bhikkhu cancels another's invitation, or an ill bhikkhu's invitation is canceled (if either one refuses to delay, a pācittiya for disrespect — Pc 54) — Mv.IV.17.7-9
"If, while the bhikkhus are inviting, a bhikkhu who is not ill cancels the invitation of a bhikkhu who is not ill, then when both have been questioned, interrogated, and dealt with in accordance with the rule by the Community, then the Community may invite." — Mv.IV.17.10
What to do if a bhikkhu wants to leave before the delayed Invitation — Mv.IV.18.5
If he returns in time for the delayed Invitation — Mv.IV.18.6
Strategies to follow when neighboring bhikkhus want to open up strife and quarrels with your well-behaved group on an Invitation day — Mv.IV.17.1-6