Sāmasera ten precepts


Ten precepts, ten defeats (pārājikā)/ten expulsions, ten punishments, seventy-five rules of conduct (sekhiyā) and assigned duties constitute sāmanera morality. As stated in “Sukka vissaiihi ādi lokavajja sikkhāpadesu ca sāmacerehi vattitabban”, precepts meant for bhikkhūs such as sukkavissaiihi, sanghādisēsa also must be followed by the sāmaceras. Their transgression is not an offence for sāmaceras, but they become liable for punishment.

“Anujāmī bhikkhave, sāmauerānan dasasikkhā padāni, tesu ca sāmauerehi sikkhutun.

Pāuātipā veramauī Adinnādānā veramauī Abrahmacariyā veramauī Musāvādā veramauī

Surāmeraya majjapamādaIIhānā veramanī Vikālabhojanā veramauī

Nacca gīta vādita visūka dassanā veramauī Mālāgandha vilepana dhāraua maudana vibhūsanaIIhānā veramauī

Uccāsayana mahāsayanā  veramauī Jāta rūpa rajata paIiggahauā veramauī

Anujāmī bhikkhave, sāmauerānan imāni dasa sikkhāpadāni, imesu ca sāmauerehi vattitun”.

The Tathāgata prescribed the above ten precepts for the sāmacera. The details of the ten precepts are as follows.

  1. Pāuātipātā veramauī:

 Pānātipātā veramacī is refraining from scheming and killing of living beings or scheming and getting others to kill. To transgress (break) this precept five conditions of, being an animal, knowing that it is an animal, volition (intention) to kill, strategizing and employing the strategy to kill must be satisfied.

No transgression will occur by attacking an object with the intention “I shall kill” if the said object is not a living being.

Causing death by treading on or running over an animal, believing it to be some other object and without any intention to kill does not break the precept.

If an animal dies during an activity such as tilling the ground, no transgression will take place, as there is no knowledge of there being an animal or an intention to hurt.

No transgression will occur if an animal dies due to a blow struck to frighten it, as there is no intention to hurt.

If the animal does not die from the particular strategy adopted for the killing, the precept will not be broken. If the animal dies even after several years, from a blow struck with the intention to kill, the precept will be broken effective from the very instant of striking.

There are many other strategies to kill than attacking with clubs and weapons. Digging pits, setting traps, giving poison, black magic, frightening, causing each other to fight, praising suicide, supply of drugs for abortion, placing poison where people with suicidal tendencies can find them and the supply of weapons are also strategies to kill. Killing by any strategy breaks the precept.


  1. Adinnādānā veramauī

 Refraining from taking or causing to be taken with intent to steal any property that belongs to another which is not given willingly by the owner is Adinnādānā veramacī.

There are five factors to be fulfilled for adinnādānā to be complete. That is, it must be the property of another, knowledge that it belongs to another, intention to steal, strategy to steal and employing the strategy to steal.

The precept is not broken by taking something discarded by the owner, as there is no owner even if the intention to steal was present.

The precept is not broken by taking something, believing it to be yours or with the belief that there is no owner.

The precept is not broken by taking something with the intention of returning same or with the belief that there will be no objection to it being taken.

If any property is taken, with the intention to steal, the precept is broken instantly. Returning it does not correct the position. If the item is lifted from the place where it is kept, the precept is broken. Placing it back does not preserve the precept. Theft can take place in many ways. The books on discipline give twenty-five ways in which stealing can be effected. The precept regarding theft is very subtle. Some break the precept due to stealing with ignorance and thinking, that “no theft occurs”. A bhikkhu must be especially careful about others property. Twenty- five methods of stealing must be studied. This can easily be found in our book Bauddhayāgē atpota (Hand -book of the Bhuddhist).

The precept is broken not only by taking something in a manner that the owner will not get to know. The precept is also broken by making the owner part with his property by trickery. The precept is also broken due to the following reasons, that is, taking with threats, taking loans with no intention of returning, taking more by excessive weights and measures, charging money for short weights and measures, charging money at the rates for new goods for the supply of old repaired goods, charging rates of quality goods for damaged and spoilt goods, selling as gold, silver, pearls, and gems; items that are not gold, silver, pearls, and gems, charging money for bogus medicines, charging money for false occult practices and knowingly tendering counterfeit money for the goods purchased.

Some people attempt to take others property in revenge for alleged wrongful taking of things from them, losses caused to them, and cheating. There is no freedom to take others property because a loss had been caused to you. It must be considered that, if anything not given by the owner is taken, for whatever reason it will result in the precept being broken.

Bhikkhūs should be careful about using once used postage stamps, re-using train tickets, travelling in a higher class with tickets valid for a lower class, travelling by train without tickets and using radios and motor vehicles without paying the relevant taxes.

  1. Abbrahmcariyā veramauī

 Refraining from the lay people’s natural practice of sexual intercourse is Abbrahmcariyā veramacī. The precept is broken by entering one’s sexual organ even a distance the size of a sesame seed into the vagina, anus or mouth with the intention of having sex. The intention to have sex and the actual entry are two factors here. If you do not tolerate when another enters by force the precept is not broken. If tolerated it is broken. The precept is not broken by abnormal sex. A sāmacera becomes punishable by it.

  1. Musāvādā veramauī

 Refraining from lying is Musāvādā veramacī. What is uttered being an untruth, the intention to mislead another, indicating a falsehood to the other by word of mouth or writing or signs with hands and feet, the others understanding the message are the four conditions required to break this precept. If the listener does not understand, what is said due to not being heard properly or not knowing the language, the precept is not broken. If any amount of lies are uttered in Sinhala [English] to a person, who does not know Sinhala [English] the precept is not broken, as he will not understand what is said. Falsehoods uttered with no intention of lying do not break the precept. Even if a lie is uttered for fun, the precept will be broken and the sāmacera become defeated. Very often sāmaceras get defeated due to the breaking of this precept. Some have got used to lying. They lie for fun. Lies are uttered with no purpose. Fun and satisfaction derived from lying is shameful. Sāmaceras who have not shed the habit of lying will always have to live immoral lives. It is very dangerous. Truthfulness is a great quality to be developed by monks. Monks must make special effort to cultivate this quality. Consciously taking care not to lie over a period will get one used to live without telling lies.

  1. Surāmeraya majjapamādaIIhānā veramauī

 Refraining from taking substances, which cause madaya (intoxication/conceit), and pamādaya (heedlessness) is Surāmeraya majjapamādaiihānā veramacī. The four conditions required for breaking this precept are, it is a substance that causes intoxication and heedlessness, the intention to drink it, attempt to drink it and the intoxicant entering the body.

Here madaya is conceit associated with powerful delusion. Pamādaya is living with attachment to five sensual pleasures committing sins performed by body, word and mind. Heedlessness occurs due to the presence of conceit/intoxication. Drinking even a quantity as small as a dewdrop of intoxicants (toddy, arrack in Sri Lanka) that cause conceit and heedlessness will result in the precept being broken. Taking materials such as marijuana that cause conceit and heedlessness also belong to surāmeraya. It will result in an offence for an upasampanna (higher ordained) bhikkhu even if intoxicants are taken unwittingly. Sāmacera precepts will be broken only if intoxicants are taken with awareness and intent to drink. Areconut and tobacco have a tendency to intoxicate. Their effect is limited to faintish feeling of the body. They do not bring about conceit and heedlessness mentioned above. Therefore, consuming them does not result in the precept to be broken. Taking medicines, which contain alcohol, will not break the precept if they do not have the smell or taste of alcohol. Taking concoctions, which smell of alcohol, but do not cause conceit and heedlessness, for the purpose of curing a sickness is not harmful.

  1. Vikāla bhojanā veramauī

 Refraining from the consumption of yāvakālika (allowed only in the morning) food such as rice, vegetables, sweetmeats and fruits after noon is Vikālabhojanā veramacī. Buddha and Sangha consume food only between dawn and noon. Any time outside this period is considered vikālaya (disallowed time/after noon). According to vinaya, all food and drink are divided into four categories, that is, yāvakālika, yāmakālika,(allowed all day), sattāhakālika (allowed for seven days), and yāvajīvikālika (allowed for life). This precept is broken by swallowing an yāvakālika food during vikālaya. There are three aspects regarding vikālabhojanā. They are, being vikāla, being a yāvakālika food and swallowing it. To follow this precept it is necessary to know what dawn and noon means. Dawn is the reddish light seen in the eastern sky before sunrise. Surfacing of this light is called the rising of dawn. According to vinaya, the day begins at dawn. There are various opinions of teachers regarding the rising of dawn. It is difficult to fix it in exact hours and minutes. Generally, it is suitable for bhikkhus, and lay people observing eight precepts to consume food between the time of arrival of dawn, which is 5.00 to 5.30 A.M. and noon. The precept is broken by eating before dawn. Arrival of dawn must be ascertained by looking at the sky in the morning. 12 noon is generally considered as mid- day. However, 12 noon should not be taken as mid- day on all days. The length of the day and night changes from day to day. At certain times of the year, daytime is less than twelve hours. During some periods, it is more than twelve hours. The Pañcānga almanac gives the times of sunrise and sunset. The length of the day must be worked out from it and the time of mid- day determined. Mid day comes a few minutes before twelve on particular days and a few minutes after twelve on certain other days. Those who observe the precept of vikāla bhojanā must finish eating before mid- day. Consumption of even a single grain of rice after mid-day will break the precept.

This precept is one of the distinguishing aspects between a bhikkhu and a layperson. Therefore, it must not be taken lightly and must be observed lovingly. The status of a bhikkhu who does not refrain from vikāla bhojanā is very low.

  1. Nacca gīta vādita visūka dassanā veramauī

 Refraining from dancing,making others dance,watching dancing, singing, making others sing, listening to songs, playing drums and other musical instruments,causing them to be played, listening to them and causing to be heard, watching and organising activities contrary to sāsana such as wrestling, bullfighting horse racing and running is what is meant here. The precept is not broken by seeing or hearing of dancing singing or music, from the place where you stay. The precept is broken by going to another place  to see or hear. If you dance or cause another to dance, the precept is broken. The precept is also broken by singing, playing music yourself or causing another to do the same. If you go to another place and watch even a peacock dance, the precept will be broken. The precept is not broken by seeing dances or hearing music while you are travelling for some other purpose.

Sabban antarārāme ihītassa passato anāpatti. Passissāmīti vihārato vihāran gacchantassa āpatti.” Vinaya commentaries state that seeing dances at the ārāma (abode of sangha) will not result in an offence but going from vihāra to vihara to watch dancing will result in an offence. The precept will be broken by reciting even the Buddha’s teachings as a song in a distorted musical manner. In the Buddha sāsana, there are particular ways to pronounce sutta, jātaka and gātā. Destroying them and pronouncing in an excessively dragging manner should not be done. Dragging is distortion by taking a longer metre than is required by each letter. There is a specific pleasing way in which to conduct Dhamma desanā (talk) known as sarabhañña. It is suitable for bhikkhus. Dhamma desanā must be delivered by dwelling on each letter for the correct period of time and not swallowing some letters. Commentaries state that there are thirty-two methods of pronunciation. There is no book available at present, which gives details of these methods.

  1. Mālāgandha vilepana dhāraua mandaua vibhūsanaIIhānā veramauī.

 Meaning of this precept: – Refraining from decorating, filling gaps and beautifying the body with flowers, scents and cosmetics. Decorating the body with garlands and ornaments made of gold, silver will result in the precept to being broken. The precept will break by wearing even a thread as an ornament. Wearing a pāritta thread for protection will not break the precept. The application of perfumes, ointments and powders for medicinal purposes to cure an ailment does not break the precept.

  1. Uccāsayana mahāsayanā veramauī

 Refraning from the use of disallowed furniture (chairs, beds) which are of a height greater than specified and luxurious in nature is uccāsayana mahāsayanā veramacī.

 Furniture with legs higher than eighteen inches are uccāsayana (high seats). Furniture which are very comfortable, very beautiful and very expensive is mahāsayana (great seats). In the vinaya, uccāsayana and mahāsayana are specified according to the items utilized by the people during Buddha’s time. What is available today are very different.The furniture used by people today, should be calssified as mahāsayana or otherwise by considering the features of the items Buddha had decreed as mahāsayana.

“Na bhikkhave, uccāsayana mahāsayanāni dhāre tabbāni. Seyyathidan? Āsandi pallanko gonako cittakā paiikā paialikā tūlikā vikatikā uddalomi ekantalomi kaiihissan

koseyyan kuntakan assasttharan  hatthatharan ajinappaveci         kadalimigapavarapaccattharacan sauttaracchadan ubhatolohitakūpadhānan yo dhāreyya āpatti dukkaiassa”.

Asandi in this paragraph means furniture with legs higher than a particular measure. They belong to uccāsayana. Other nineteen types are mahāsayana. Pallanka are furniture with legs depicting ferocious animals. Gonaka is  a carpet with fur longer than a finger’s breadth. Cittaka  Are goat hair spreads (bed sheets) decorated with gems. Patikā is a white wool spread. Patalikā are goat hair spreads with a thick layer of flowers. Tulikā are mattresses filled with cotton/kapok wool. Vikatikā is a goat hair  spread decorated with pictures of lions and tigers. Uddalomi is a spread with fur on one side. Ekantalomi is a spread with fur on both sides. KaIIhissa is a silk spread inter-woven with gold thread. Koseyya is a silk spread decorated with gems. Kuntaka is a spread on which sixteen dancers can perform. Hatthatthara is a spread used on an elephant back. Assatthara is a spread used on a horse back. Ajinappaveni is a leopard skin spread made to the size of a bed. Kadalimigapavarapaccattharaua is a high-class spread made of deerskin. Sauttaracchada is a seat with a red canopy. Ubhatolohitakūpadhāna is a bed with red pillows for the head and feet.

Buddha has allowed the use of all mahāsayana in the village and dānasālā (refactory) when offered by lay people, except asandi (high chairs or bed), cotton/kapok mattresses, and pallanka (with legs depicting ferrocious animals), similarly sitting on beds and chairs cushioned with cotton/kapok is allowed. When delivering a Dhammatalk all the normally disallowed items are acceptable. Such mahāsayana prepared by the lay are only for sitting on. Even if prepared by the lay they should not be used for sleeping.

  1. Jāta rūpa rajata paIiggahanā veramauī

 Here jāta rūpa means gold. Rajata means any other form of valid money. Refrain from accepting them. Here accepting does not merely mean taking into the hand. When someone offers money saying that, it is for you and keeps in front of you, if you do not reject it but accept it in the mind by remaining silent, you will break the precept. Touching the money donated for some temple activity or money belonging to another, without acceptance will not break the precept. As money is considered an untouchable item, it is good for sāmaceras not even to touch money, as it is a disallowed item. It is not an offence to pick up and hold money for safekeeping, with intent to return to the owner any money dropped or forgotten at a temple.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *