Are Malas a form of garland?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Alobha » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:04 am

Hi everyone,

I undertake to abstain from singing, dancing, playing music, attending entertainment performances, wearing perfume, and using cosmetics and garlands


Are Malas considered to fall under this precepts or can Malas be worn without breaking this precept?

Thanks for your input :smile:
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby daverupa » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:36 pm

It comes down to intent; is the intent to beautify the body, or to increase presence of mind? Does the mala have to be "pretty", and will you not wear an "ugly" one? Is it a piece of flair which you hope will broadcast the identity "I am a Buddhist"? And so forth...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:56 pm

Alobha wrote:Hi everyone,

I undertake to abstain from singing, dancing, playing music, attending entertainment performances, wearing perfume, and using cosmetics and garlands


Are Malas considered to fall under this precepts or can Malas be worn without breaking this precept?

Thanks for your input :smile:

YES look at the pali
7. Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana MALA-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Alobha » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:18 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Alobha wrote:Hi everyone,

I undertake to abstain from singing, dancing, playing music, attending entertainment performances, wearing perfume, and using cosmetics and garlands


Are Malas considered to fall under this precepts or can Malas be worn without breaking this precept?

Thanks for your input :smile:

YES look at the pali
7. Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana MALA-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami


Yes to: "Malas fall under this precept" or to "Malas can be worn without breaking this precept?"
I can't read whole sentences in Pali.
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:28 pm

I wear my malas not with the intent to beautify but as reminders and tools. I'm usually a stickler but I truly don't believe these are the types of malas meant (although I do give it thought every uposatha day when reciting the attha-sila). Mettaya and happy uposatha (I'm wearing my mala now :tongue: )
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:26 pm

Alobha wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:YES look at the pali
7. Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana MALA-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami


Yes to: "Malas fall under this precept" or to "Malas can be worn without breaking this precept?"
I can't read whole sentences in Pali.

It is the seventh precept in pali.
so yes to the former, they do break the precept.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Bakmoon » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:18 am

Khalil Bodhi wrote:I wear my malas not with the intent to beautify but as reminders and tools. I'm usually a stickler but I truly don't believe these are the types of malas meant (although I do give it thought every uposatha day when reciting the attha-sila). Mettaya and happy uposatha (I'm wearing my mala now :tongue: )


Cool! By the way, how can Malas be used as part of Theravadin practice?
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:34 am

Bakmoon wrote:
Khalil Bodhi wrote:I wear my malas not with the intent to beautify but as reminders and tools. I'm usually a stickler but I truly don't believe these are the types of malas meant (although I do give it thought every uposatha day when reciting the attha-sila). Mettaya and happy uposatha (I'm wearing my mala now :tongue: )


Cool! By the way, how can Malas be used as part of Theravadin practice?

I can not answer for Kalil,
However, I use them when I am reciting a specific recollection.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:56 am

" Yes to: "Malas fall under this precept" or to "Malas can be worn without breaking this precept?"
I can't read whole sentences in Pali.[/quote]
It is the seventh precept in pali.
so yes to the former, they do break the precept.[/quote]"


I recently did a Vipassana retreat with a disciple of Webu Sayadaw. The main teacher wore a mala which she had been given by the Sayadaw. On the wall was a photograph of him wearing the same mala.
Are you saying that the teacher and Webu Sayadaw were breaking the precept ?
I think perhaps we need a Pali scholar able to distinguish between a flower garland and a japa-mala.
I am sure they exist on the forum.
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:46 pm

gendun wrote:I recently did a Vipassana retreat with a disciple of Webu Sayadaw. The main teacher wore a mala which she had been given by the Sayadaw. On the wall was a photograph of him wearing the same mala.
Are you saying that the teacher and Webu Sayadaw were breaking the precept ?
I think perhaps we need a Pali scholar able to distinguish between a flower garland and a japa-mala.
I am sure they exist on the forum.

A Mala is not necessarily a "flower" garland, and the rule does not specify it is made out of flowers. hence the name japa-mala (recitation garland) still applies even though they are not made of flowers. that is no more than trying to get around what they are. do note I did not say wearing malas always break the precept.

Different groups understand what is included here in different ways. For instance the male side at Amaravati don't wear malas as a keeping of the precept, yet the women don't necessarily follow this understanding. the same is true for watches where some monks don't wear them due to this rule, yet others do.

You need to understand that violating the precept and something being included are not the same thing. Something that serves a practical purpose does not necessarily break the precept yet can be something which is understood as advised against within the precept. a case in point is the watch scenario.

Gendun, a plea to authority fallacy is no more than a fallacy.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:32 pm

Well as my Vajrayana teacher says "the "appeal to authority fallacy" is itself a fallacy in regards to the Buddha's Dharma ". :smile:
But in any case I was not making any such appeal.
I am new to the Theravada. The retreat I mentioned above sparked my interest in the Theravada.
I am clueless concerning the Theravada application of the precepts.
I was merely pointing out what appears to be anomaly between the absolutist view you gave above, ( which you are now modifying ) and what I encountered in a real life situation with experienced Theravada teachers.
Last edited by gendun on Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:37 pm

7. Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana MALA-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
[/quote]

Yes to: "Malas fall under this precept" or to "Malas can be worn without breaking this precept?"
I can't read whole sentences in Pali.[/quote]
It is the seventh precept in pali.
so yes to the former, they do break the precept.[/quote]


HERE is the post I refer to. There seems to be no qualifiers here regarding different groups .
You state quite clearly that they ( malas ) " do break the precept ".
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Billymac29 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:09 pm

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html#scents
"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to scents, cosmetics, and means of beautification such as these — rubbing powders into the body, massaging with oils, bathing in perfumed water, kneading the limbs, using mirrors, ointments, garlands, scents, creams, face-powders, mascara, bracelets, head-bands, decorated walking sticks, ornamented water-bottles, swords, fancy sunshades, decorated sandals, turbans, gems, yak-tail whisks, long-fringed white robes — he abstains from using scents, cosmetics, and means of beautification such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.


I believe intention is the main thing to consider here. If you are wearing them, not as a means to beautify yourself, but to help with practice, then it seems to me that it is ok... If your intent is to wear just as costume, then that would be breaking the precept.

may all be well
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:21 pm

Thank you Billymac thats pretty much what I figured to be the actual Theravada position.
As far as the Vajrayana goes of course, malas are virtually compulsory ! :smile:
Many of us are given one by a teacher and expected to use it for its intended purpose.
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:45 pm

gendun wrote:Well as my Vajrayana teacher says "the "appeal to authority fallacy" is itself a fallacy in regards to the Buddha's Dharma ". :smile:
But in any case I was not making any such appeal.
I am new to the Theravada. The retreat I mentioned above sparked my interest in the Theravada.
I am clueless concerning the Theravada application of the precepts.
I was merely pointing out what appears to be anomaly between the absolutist view you gave above, ( which you are now modifying ) and what I encountered in a real life situation with experienced Theravada teachers.

Well fallacies can still (and do) happen. What some anonymous Vajrayana teacher has to say about them is not really relevant.
You were making such an appeal here by calling for someone who “knows” what they are talking about to clarify without knowing my background with pali or monastic settings, while pointing out what you thought was a difference between mala in the pali and malas being discussed.
I think perhaps we need a Pali scholar able to distinguish between a flower garland and a japa-mala.
I am sure they exist on the forum.


Providing further information is not modifying anything. As the question stood to malas being included in the precept they clearly do, hence it breeches the precept. This is a matter of fact regarding their inclusion. Not dealing with the interpretations some may or may not have.

But what does your real life experience mean here?

gendun wrote:HERE is the post I refer to. There seems to be no qualifiers here regarding different groups .
You state quite clearly that they ( malas ) " do break the precept ".

I knew what post you were referring to as you quoted it earlier.
I am solely dealing with the rule not interpretation.
Last edited by Cittasanto on Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:52 pm

Billymac29 wrote:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html#scents
"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to scents, cosmetics, and means of beautification such as these — rubbing powders into the body, massaging with oils, bathing in perfumed water, kneading the limbs, using mirrors, ointments, garlands, scents, creams, face-powders, mascara, bracelets, head-bands, decorated walking sticks, ornamented water-bottles, swords, fancy sunshades, decorated sandals, turbans, gems, yak-tail whisks, long-fringed white robes — he abstains from using scents, cosmetics, and means of beautification such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.


I believe intention is the main thing to consider here. If you are wearing them, not as a means to beautify yourself, but to help with practice, then it seems to me that it is ok... If your intent is to wear just as costume, then that would be breaking the precept.

may all be well

Where do you get intention being a factor which makes it a moot issue?
as you are quoting the monastic practice you should be aware that intention does not always cancel out an action, and sometimes it isn't even a factor.
if you look at the actual rule from the vinaya
Cv.V.2.1 -
Cv.V.2.1 - my rendering wrote:For one who wears an ear ornaments, chains, necklaces, ornaments for the waist, ornamental girdles, armlets, bracelets, & finger rings should not be worn, An offence of wrongdoing

the wearing itself is the fault, and intention does not negate the matter.

and another rendering of the passage
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe20/sbe20017.htm wrote:1. Now at that time the Khabbaggiya Bhikkhus

p. 69

used to wear ear-rings 1, and ear-drops 2, and strings of beads for the throat, and girdles of beads 3, and bangles 4, and necklaces 5, and bracelets, and rings.

The people murmured, &c. . . . . The Bhikkhus heard, &c. . . . . They told the, Blessed One (&c., as in II, 1, 1, down to) he addressed the Bhikkhus, and said:

'You are not, O Bhikkhus, to wear any of these things. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata.'
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:09 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
gendun wrote:Well as my Vajrayana teacher says "the "appeal to authority fallacy" is itself a fallacy in regards to the Buddha's Dharma ". :smile:
But in any case I was not making any such appeal.
I am new to the Theravada. The retreat I mentioned above sparked my interest in the Theravada.
I am clueless concerning the Theravada application of the precepts.
I was merely pointing out what appears to be anomaly between the absolutist view you gave above, ( which you are now modifying ) and what I encountered in a real life situation with experienced Theravada teachers.

Well fallacies can still (and do) happen. What some anonymous Vajrayana teacher has to say about them is not really relevant.
You were making such an appeal here by calling for someone who “knows” what they are talking about to clarify without knowing my background with pali or monastic settings, while pointing out what you thought was a difference between mala in the pali and malas being discussed.
I think perhaps we need a Pali scholar able to distinguish between a flower garland and a japa-mala.
I am sure they exist on the forum.


Providing further information is not modifying anything. As the question stood to malas being included in the precept they clearly do, hence it breeches the precept. This is a matter of fact regarding their inclusion. Not dealing with the interpretations some may or may not have.

But what does your real life experience mean here?

gendun wrote:HERE is the post I refer to. There seems to be no qualifiers here regarding different groups .
You state quite clearly that they ( malas ) " do break the precept ".

I knew what post you were referring to as you quoted it earlier.
I am solely dealing with the rule not interpretation.


Thank you for your efforts .Unfortunately I am none the wiser about what constitutes the Theravada position.
No worries. It dont take a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:50 pm

gendun wrote:Thank you for your efforts .Unfortunately I am none the wiser about what constitutes the Theravada position.
No worries. It dont take a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.

unfortunately I wasn't trying to tell you which way the wind blows, and as you had your own preconditions you werent actually interested in what the rules actually said.
I have only been dealing with the rules as they are, no additions.

the Dhamma maybe visible in the here and now, but it takes wisdom to put aside personal preferences.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:12 pm

I am baffled by your negative tone.
I see nothing in the OP to suggest that the poster was asking about the Bhikkhu Vinaya.
In my case I noted that you were suggesting that the wearing of malas for any reason was a breach of precept.
That puzzled me and still does.
For the reason I outlined. That I have seen a photograph of a highly respected Bhikku wearing a mala.
And a lay person of many years experience who daily takes the 8 precepts and leads others in so doing wearing the same mala.

Incidentally the "fallacy of appealing to authority" is one of a series of possible failures of logic in defending a position.
I was merely asking for clarification about a matter about which I have little knowledge . And I asked a simple question in good faith.
I find your dismissive and defensive response both disappointing and frankly very odd.
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Re: Are Malas a form of garland?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:49 pm

gendun wrote:I am baffled by your negative tone.
I see nothing in the OP to suggest that the poster was asking about the Bhikkhu Vinaya.
In my case I noted that you were suggesting that the wearing of malas for any reason was a breach of precept.
That puzzled me and still does.
For the reason I outlined. That I have seen a photograph of a highly respected Bhikku wearing a mala.
And a lay person of many years experience who daily takes the 8 precepts and leads others in so doing wearing the same mala.

Incidentally the "fallacy of appealing to authority" is one of a series of possible failures of logic in defending a position.
I was merely asking for clarification about a matter about which I have little knowledge . And I asked a simple question in good faith.
I find your dismissive and defensive response both disappointing and frankly very odd.

Without getting involved here, I'd just like to point out that "mala" in Pali can mean a lot of different things, and in this case it is pretty clear that the reference is to decorative accessories and beautifying agents. Malas worn for religious purposes would not, in my opinion, fall under this, although many Bhikkhus do avoid them just to make sure no one gets the wrong idea about why they are wearing them. Malas are not used nearly as often in Theravada, so whereas a Karma Kagyu would see a llama with a mala and say, "Oh, he's using that for meditation or recitation", it would be easy for a Theravadin student to see a Bhikkhu with one around his neck and say, "Wow, why is he wearing that necklace?"

Either way, I think most would agree that it is allowed but not necessarily the wisest in many cases.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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