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Three robes

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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three robes
三衣 (Jpn sanne )

    Three kinds of garments worn by a monk according to the time or the occasion. Together with a mendicant's bowl, or begging bowl, these were the only possessions permitted a monk in India. Originally, the three robes were made only from discarded rags, symbolizing a life of humble asceticism free from secular attachments.One robe was called samghati in Sanskrit and "great robe" in China. A monk wore this robe when visiting a royal palace, going out to beg for alms, or conferring precepts. Made from nine to twenty-five pieces of cloth, it was also called the nine-patch robe. Another was called uttarasanga and "outer robe." An ordinary robe worn by monks when attending Buddhist lectures or performing rites and practices such as reciting a sutra, it was also called the seven-patch robe because it was made from seven pieces of cloth. A third robe was called antarvasa and "inner robe." It was a working garment or undergarment worn by monks while engaged in daily duties or while resting. It was also called the five-patch robe because it was made from five pieces of cloth. In India these three robes were the only garments considered proper for monks, while in China and Japan the concept and significance of the three robes gradually changed. The priests of some schools even came to wear robes of silk, brocade, or other fine fabrics, with priests of higher ranks wearing more expensive or elaborate robes. At present, Buddhist schools have their own rules concerning priestly dress.

Source

www.sgilibrary.org