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Uposatha, Vassāvāsa, and Pavāraṇā of the Pāli Vinaya and the four-part Vinaya : a comparative study


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Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies


Iwamura, Jane N.
Chu, William
Long, Darui


The Vinaya offers a set of rules and disciplines for Buddhist monastics. It is a body of principles of conduct and practice that governs the life of monastics and lay supporters. And at the same time, it reveals the interrelationship between them. Different versions of the Vinaya have emerged in different cultural contexts throughout Buddhist history.

Although the Four-Part Vinaya (Dharmaguptaka Vinaya 四分律), Mahīśāsaka Vinaya 五分律, Daśa-bhāṇavāra Vinaya 十誦律, Pāli Vinaya, Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya 摩訶僧祇律, and Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya 根本說一切有部律 are available, the Pāli Vinaya and the Four-Part Vinaya are said to be the most complete Vinayas in the sense of being well preserved. Moreover, the Four-Part Vinaya and the Pāli Vinaya are the two main Vinayas that are the most observed. This dissertation examines these two practical Vinayas and compares the similarities and differences between the two versions – specifically focusing on three chapters: (1) the Biweekly Precept Ceremony (Uposatha or Poṣadha 布薩), (2) the Rains Retreat (Vassāvāsa/Varṣāvāsa 安居), and (3) the Retreat Closing Ceremony (Pavāraṇā or Pravāraṇa 自恣).

By considering the possible cultural, social, historical, and contextual nature of the transformation of the canonical text as well as the comparison, this dissertation shows the similarities and differences between the Four-Part Vinaya and the Pāli Vinaya. Moreover, although there is no strong evidence suggesting a gradual influence of Chinese and Indian culture over the Four-Part Vinaya and the Pāli Vinaya, this dissertation can speculate that there are possible connections between Chinese and Indian culture on these two Vinayas. These possible connections show that the Four-Part Vinaya and the Pāli Vinaya are similar and yet different from one another. Thus, this dissertation tries to provide a better understanding of how and why the Four-Part Vinaya is similar and different from its Pāli Vinaya counterpart.

Degree Granter

University of the West



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