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Paṃsukūlī, °ino, °ikā

A sect of ascetics in Sri Lanka, whose particular observance was probably the use of rag-robes (paṃsukūla). Their early origin is not known, Mānavamma is said to have built for them a multi-storeyed dwelling (pāsāda) in the Thūpārāma (Cv.xlvii.66). They also occupied the Rājamātika-vihāra and enjoyed the special favour of both Aggabodhi V and of Aggabodhi VII (Ibid., xlviii.4, 16, 73). Vajira, the general (senāpati) of Aggabodhi IX, built for them the Kacchavāla-vihāra (Ibid., xlix.80). Sena I established for them headquarters on the Arittha pabbata and also made special provision for them at Pulatthipura (Ibid., l.63, 76).

They seem to have originally belonged to the congregation of the Abhayagiri-vihāra, and continued to do so up to the reign of Sena II, when they separated off and formed special groups (Ibid., li.52). Later, Sena Iḷaṅga, general of Kassapa IV, built the Samuddagiri-pariveṇa, in the Mahāvihāra for their use, and it is said that he dispensed rice and clothing to the mothers of the Paṃsukūlikā (Ibid., Iii.21).

In the time of Udaya III various officials of the court fled to the Tapovana occupied by the Paṃsukūlikā, but were pursued there by the king and his viceroy and beheaded. Incensed by this act, the Paṃsukūlikā left the Tapovana, which stood on land granted by the king, and went to Rohaṇa. The people rose in rebellion, and those who had perpetrated the crime in the Tapovana visited the Paṃsukūlikā in Rohaṇa, asked their forgiveness, and persuaded them to return (Ibid., Iiii.14 ff., 21 ff). Mahinda IV also showed them great honour (Ibid., liv.18, 24 f). We hear of them last in the reign of Vikkamabāhu II, when that king deprived them of their lands, and they, in anger, retired again to Rohaṇa (Ibid., lxi.59 f). Thenceforth we hear no more of the sect, and it probably ceased to exist.

It is mentioned in the Aṅguttara Commentary (AA.i.52 f ) that, after the depredations of the Caṇḍālatissa-mahābhaya, when the religion was at a very low ebb, a discussion arose between the Paṃsukūlikā and the Dhammakathīkā as to which was the more important aspect of the religion (sāsana), study (pariyatti) or practice (paṭipatti). The Paṃsukūlikā voted for practice (paṭipatti), but were defeated by the others.

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