Theravada robes

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Theravada robes

Postby chris98e » Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:31 am

It seems to me that Thervada Monks can only wear yellow, orange, brown, or red. Is that right?
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby cooran » Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:58 am

Hello chris98e,

These articles may be of assistance:

The Bhikkhus' Rules: FAQs by Bhikkhu Ariyesako
Q.1: Why does a monk wear the robe? Why do some wear brown robes and others wear yellowish brown?
A: The Lord Buddha gave this reflection about why a monk wears a robe:
Properly considering the robe, I use it: simply to ward off cold, to ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, simply for the purpose of covering the parts of the body which cause shame.
In the Lord Buddha's time, 2,500 years ago, clothing was made without complex machinery. (Although simple 'sewing-frames' are mentioned in the texts, which the monks would have used at robe-making - Ka.thina - time.) So the pattern of the robe is very simple and designed so that it can be made up out of patches of cloth, for discarded rags were often used after washing and dyeing. This 'yellow robe' is considered the banner of the arahant and emblem of Buddhism. For the ordinary Theravaadin bhikkhu it is a privilege to be able to wear this robe, continuing the tradition and practising to be worthy of it. There are rules as to the robes' size, colour, how they are sewn, type of cloth used, etc., and how bhikkhus can acquire them.
The colour of the robes depends on the dye used. Until very recently, this would have been natural vegetable dye found in the jungle from roots or trees. (In NE Thailand, for example, we used the heartwood of the jack-fruit tree.) Nowadays chemical dyes are more used and sometimes give that more vivid orange colour that one sees in Bangkok. The colour white is used by Buddhist devotees to show their commitment to keeping the Precepts -- usually the Eight Precepts -- on Observance Days. (White robes are also worn by the anagarika, or postulant before he becomes a monk.)
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebsut042.htm

Clothing – the Robe

The basic clothing that the Buddha originally suggested for a bhikkhu was made from discarded cloth ('rags') sewn together and dyed.[65] After sewing the pieces together, they were just large rectangular pieces of cloth worn wraparound style. In the beginning,[66] it seems that there were two robes: a sarong skirt-like robe (antaravaasaka) tied with a belt, and a robe to cover the upper part of the body (uttaraasa"nga). When the cold weather required more protection, the Buddha allowed a third robe, which was a double-thickness outer robe (sa"nghaa.ti).

Some rules limit the size of robes because cloth in India in those days was expensive due to the simple methods of spinning and weaving. Also, so that the robe would not be worth stealing, the cloth always had to be cut into panels that were then sewn together based on the design of paddy fields seen from a mountain:[67]

After having received an offering of white cloth and having properly cut and sewn the panels together, the bhikkhu must dye it to produce the 'yellow robe.' Traditionally, vegetable dyes were used in this process. Different plants and woods when boiled up will produce slightly different shades of dye color — the Paali text calls the standard color kaasaaya or kaasaava, translated as 'dun-colored dye-water'[68] — so there is some variety. When bhikkhus from different communities come together, their different shades of 'yellow'-dyed robes makes this very noticeable. (The destruction of the South East Asian forests has led to chemical dyes being used more frequently, so that cloth offered nowadays is often pre-dyed and brighter in color.)

Slightly varied styles of wearing the traditional set of three robes have developed over the years in different countries.[69] But basically, the rectangular shaped robe is put around the body and the two vertical edges are folded or rolled together. Then either it is tucked in and secured with a belt (for the skirt-robe) or, for the larger outer robes, the edge is 'thrown' or flicked over the left shoulder and pinched under the left arm so that it will not slip off. There are various techniques for this. (It needs some practice!)

In the Lord Buddha's time, it was a sign of respect to bare one's right shoulder. Therefore when in the monastery the bhikkhu will normally wear his outer robe with the right shoulder visible. On leaving the monastery for inhabited areas he must cover both shoulders.[70]

In addition to this required set of the 'triple robe,' which every bhikkhu must have and look after, there are extra cloths that can be used occasionally.[71]
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... l#clothing

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Re: Theravada robes

Postby gavesako » Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:06 pm

Another step in the domestication of the forest monks in Thailand.
It looks like monks will soon have to change the colour of their robes by order from Bangkok:
http://www.komchadluek.net/detail/20140 ... v-NqXZq0UR

The Dhammayut senior monks have decided that all monks should change the existing colour of their robes to be uniform, to replace the old dark-brown "kaen khanoon" (jackfruit) with a lighter orange colour, which is offered during royal ceremonies. When monks wear different shades of colour at formal ceremonies it is apparently not nice to look at. The northern Thai monks will also have to wear only golden yellow colour, not reddish colour.
See http://www.toodong.com/index.php?mo=30&cid=108742
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby Sokehi » Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:03 pm

seems official thai state sangha got no bigger problems to solve than robes colour :shock:

will this affect the western monasteries especially within the Ajahn Chah/Ajahn Sumedho Tradition as well?
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby gavesako » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:46 am

It is still not clear what this will mean or how it is going to be enforced, but I would not be surprised if the new Sangharaja (known to be close to Dhammakaya) was behind this policy aiming at greater uniformity of the Thai Sangha. Ajahn Chah was not part of the Dhammayut Nikaya so his monasteries would fall under the Mahanikaya administration, but being part of the forest tradition the monks have always been wearing the dark-brown jackfruit-dyed robes. It is also seen as a distinctive aspect of the whole lifestyle to learn how to make and dye such robes. So I doubt that this new rule can be enforced especially in the north-east of Thailand. It might just affect senior monks attending ceremonies.
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby gavesako » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:22 pm

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/3 ... range-garb

Sanitsuda Ekachai wrote this article in Bangkok Post. If you ever go to a forest monastery, you will see that not two monks have exactly the same colour of robe. This is because the robes get dyed and washed every week or two weeks, and depending on the strength of the natural dye and how old the robe is, it will take the dye differently. So it has always been one of the skills of the forest monk to learn how to make chips from jackfruit wood, boil the water, filter it, and then wash the robe in it by hand. It is a nice communal activity which the junior monks also do as an act of service for the teacher. In contrast, the city monks just throw their orange nylon robe into the washing machine and it is done (they usually have more than one set as well). So this new rule is going to lead to even greater domestication of the forest monks and will cut them off from their connection to the natural environment which they live in. It is certainly driven by the Mahathera Samakhom's emphasis on uniformity and suppression of regional differences. The northern (Mahanikaya) monks will also be forced to give up their reddish robes and will have to wear the standard golden-yellow colour (like the Dhammakaya monks).
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby gavesako » Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:08 pm

Update: After some protests from the forest monks, the administrative head of Dhammayut in Bangkok relaxed the new rule. Apparently it will only apply to the town-dwelling (gamavasi) monks and the forest monks can continue to wear dark-brown robes dyed in jackfruit dye following the customs of their masters.
:thumbsup:
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:10 am

gavesako wrote:Update: After some protests from the forest monks, the administrative head of Dhammayut in Bangkok relaxed the new rule. Apparently it will only apply to the town-dwelling (gamavasi) monks and the forest monks can continue to wear dark-brown robes dyed in jackfruit dye following the customs of their masters.
:thumbsup:

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Re: Theravada robes

Postby gavesako » Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:20 pm

Dissent over monks' robes by Sanitsuda Ekachai

http://m.bangkokpost.com/opinion/396176

... Originally, the monks — as mendicants — used old clothes from corpses and dyed them with dung and yellow clay. Later the Buddha allowed dyeing from trees and plants which produced different shades of browns, from reddish to yellowish.

Needless to say, the different shades of the robes — which also reflect local diversity stemming from different local materials — was never a problem in Buddha's eyes. If anything, the controversial order epitomises what is wrong with the clergy.

At at a time when decentralisation and democracy are the spirit of the time, the clergy still insists on central control within a feudal hierarchy, although it is against the egalitarian monastic system set by the Buddha.

Its definition of harmony is also superficial at best. The elders argue a uniform robe colour shows harmony within the clergy. But this argument only shows the clergy's obsession with form and disregard for reality.
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:16 am

Posts about government control of the Thai Sangha split off here: State control of the Sangha

:anjali:
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby suriyopama » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:57 am

The dark brown colour of the forest monks is in harmony with the natural colour of the earth. They are nicely mimetized in the environment of the forest. I am glad that they will keep it as that.

The bright golden yellow tone is rarely found in the forest (except in some small butterflies or flowers), and It is rather mimetized with monks buying hi-tech gear at Pantip Plaza. ;)

I’ve just come from spending some days at Wat Pa Ratanawam and I’ve learnt from the lay sangha that they are not happy with this decision from the new Sankhara. They are very concerned about the Dhammakaya trying to gain more control and power.
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby suriyopama » Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:42 am

I have found this comment at the Bangkok Post article

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/3 ... range-garb

luangtom United States Posted: 19 | 18 Feb 2014 at 03.51

This sort of edict is exactly why many monks took to the forests years ago. They did not wish to be governed, politically, by the Sangha in Bangkok Ajahn Sao, Ajahn Mun and their disciples fled the rigors of political life in Bangkok to follow simplicity and the Path to Enlightenment via mediation, not scholastic governance. It is a sad day when the color of the robes needs to be dictated within the Sangha. It is not about uniformity. It is about control. When I first arrived in Thailand, it was a learning experience to hear family that I married into say, "Those are town-monks, money-monks. Those are forest-monks, not rich. Color is key".

Please credit and share this article with others using this link:http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/395505/brown-robed-forest-monks-disdain-change-to-orange-garb. View our policies at http://goo.gl/9HgTd and http://goo.gl/ou6Ip. © Post Publishing PCL. All rights reserved.
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby appicchato » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:03 am

...It is rather mimetized with monks buying hi-tech gear at Pantip Plaza.


Oh please...the robes you mention (yellow?) were introduced in honor of the king when he ordained sixty years ago...
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby suriyopama » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:07 am

I mean no disrespect. That is why I used the ;)
It's just because that colour is always spotted at places like MBK, Pantip Plaza, or the IT malls. It is an association of colour/place that my mind has made, not intended to be a generalization.
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby gavesako » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:13 pm

The bright yellow robes would actually seem to be forbidden by the Vinaya. But modern synthetic materials often have these unnatural colours.
The "rajaniyom" colour that the city-Dhammayut monks are supposed to wear from now on is a kind of brownish orange (darker shade).
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Re: Theravada robes

Postby appicchato » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:30 pm

...modern synthetic materials often have these unnatural colours.


International Orange?...

robes.jpeg
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