Music in the Vinaya

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
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Music in the Vinaya

Post by Sherlock » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:25 pm

Could anyone tell me more about why music is forbidden for monks in the vinaya? What was the story that accompanied this rule?

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Re: Music in the Vinaya

Post by plwk » Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:24 pm
6 2. Now at that time there was a festival on the mountain-top at Râgagaha; and the Khabbaggiya Bhikkhus went to see it.
The people murmured, were annoyed, and became indignant, saying, 'How can the Sakyaputtiya Samanas go to see dancing, and singing, and music, like those who are still enjoying the pleasures of the world?' And they told this matter to the Blessed One.
'You are not, O Bhikkhus, to go to see dancing, or singing, or music. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata.' ... .ch10.html
Violations of the eight precepts.
The bhikkhus in the origin story to Cv.V.36 ate at the wrong time, drank strong drink, wore garlands, scents, and cosmetics; they danced, they sang, they played instruments, they directed (§). (According to the Commentary, to Sg 13, this last word means that, "Having gotten up, floating as if in rapture, they get a dramatic dancer to dance; they give the revaka." The Sub-commentary states that revaka, which is found nowhere in the Canon and nowhere else in the Commentary, means that they demonstrated expressive or dramatic gestures (abhinaya): "Having declared their intent, 'This is how to dance,' they get up first and demonstrate the motions of the dance." The Thai translator of the Commentary suggests instead that revaka might mean the musical beat. Under either interpretation, conducting a musical performance at present would also come under this term.) They danced while a woman danced, sang while she danced, played instruments while she danced, directed while she danced. They danced ... sang ... played instruments ... directed while she sang. They danced ... sang ... played instruments ... directed while she played instruments. They danced ... sang ... played instruments ... directed while she directed... Having spread out their outer robes as a stage, they said to a dancing girl, "Dance here, sister." They applauded her (according to the Commentary, they placed their fingers first on their own foreheads, then on her forehead, saying "Good, good!" This, however, would seem to be a violation of Sg 2).

There is a dukkaṭa for going to see dancing, singing, or music.
According to the Commentary, dancing includes going to see even peacocks dancing. It also includes dancing oneself and getting others to dance. (The Roṇa Sutta — AN III.103 — notes that, in the discipline of the noble ones, dancing counts as insanity.) Singing includes drama music as well as "sādhu music," which the Commentary to Bhikkhunī Pc 10 defines as songs sung "at the time of the total Unbinding of a noble one, connected with the virtues of the Triple Gem." The Sub-commentary to Cv.V.36 defines it as music dealing with Dhamma themes such as impermanence. Other religious music would come under this prohibition as well. The Commentary adds that singing also includes singing oneself and getting others to sing. The same holds true for "playing music." (The Roṇa Sutta also notes that, in the discipline of the noble ones, singing counts as wailing.) However, there is no offense in snapping one's fingers or clapping one's hands in irritation or exasperation. There is also no offense if, within the monastery, one happens to see/hear dancing, singing, or music, but if one goes from one dwelling to another with the intention to see/hear, one incurs a dukkaṭa. The same holds true for getting up from one's seat with the intention to see/hear; or if, while standing in a road, one turns one's neck to see. ... .than.html
The Intermediate Section on Virtue
"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to watching shows such as these — dancing, singing, instrumental music, plays, ballad recitations, hand-clapping, cymbals and drums, magic lantern scenes, acrobatic and conjuring tricks, elephant fights, horse fights, buffalo fights, bull fights, goat fights, ram fights, cock fights, quail fights; fighting with staves, boxing, wrestling, war-games, roll calls, battle arrays, and regimental reviews — he abstains from watching shows such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.
A parallel issue here... ... ggo-e.html
9. Gãtassarasuttaü Ý Musical sounds
Bhikkhus, these five are the dangers for reciting the teaching in a musical tone. What five?
Oneself gets attached to the tone, others too get attached to the tone, householders laugh at it: In the manner that we sing, the sons of the recluse Gotama sing, the concentration of those who do not like musical notes gets destroyed. The later generation copy it.
Bhikkhus, these five are the dangers for reciting the teaching in a musical tone.
A parallel discussion here

Maybe someone can also add in references from the Dharmaguptaka & Mulasarvastivadin Vinaya sources too?

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