Bikkhu, also known as Bikshu in sanskrit comes from the Pali word, which means wandering homeless one or one who lives on alms. It also literally means “beggar” or one who lives by alms. In Buddhism, Bikkhu means one who has renounced worldly life and joined the mendicant and contemplative community. The founder of Buddhism-Gautam Buddha was himself a Bikkhu, who abandoned a life of pleasure and status, lived as an alms mendicant as a part of his sramana lifestyle.
The life of a Bikkhu is one of simplicity and devotion to his beliefs, two concepts that are often at odds with modern society. These monks live out their lives in service to their religion and are respected by many Buddhists around the world as being some of the most devoted followers of Buddha’s teachings. Read on this blog post to learn more about the life of a Bikkhu in Nepal, where they’ve had to deal with challenges that go beyond the spiritual realm.
What Is A Bikkhu In Buddhism?
Bikkhu (Buddhist monk) are men and women who leave their homes to devote themselves fully to Buddha-Dhamma (the teachings of the Buddha). In order to do this, they live in viharas or monasteries with other monks. A vihara may be a small one-room structure or it may be large complex that can house hundreds of people. These monks follow an extremely strict schedule, dedicating much of their time to intensive study and meditation, as well as carrying out many physical tasks such as gardening and cleaning the grounds surrounding the monastery.
Meaning Of Bikkhu
Bikkhu, meaning beggar in Pali, are Buddhist monks who choose to live lives of extreme simplicity and devotion. A bikkhu vows to live by certain rules and guidelines, called the Vinaya, that dictate how he lives his life from day to day. These strict rules of conduct are thought to bring a sense of purity to the monk’s lifestyle, allowing him to focus entirely on spiritual matters without having to worry about materialistic or worldly concerns like food or shelter.
Life Of Bikkhus
The life of all Bikkhus in Buddhist monastics are governed by the set of rules called the pratimoksha or patimokkha. The lifestyle of bikkhus are shaped to support their spritual practices, to live a simple life, and to meditative life and attend Nirvana. Traditionally, Buddhist monks have been ascetics, meaning they’ve tried to eliminate all worldly desires. In recent years, however, more monks are choosing to live a much simpler life that still allows them to seek enlightenment.
Bikkhus have their head and face always shaved. They wear three garments-an upper and lower robe and a stole-made of cast off rags dyed with saffron. Bikkhus (male monks) generally follow four rules while living in seclusion:
- They don’t kill living things.
- They don’t steal or lie.
- They don’t engage in sexual activity.
- They don’t claim regarding one’s spiritual attainments, powers, or degree of enlightenment.
The bhikku begs daily for his food; the donation of food by the laity is viewed as meritorious. Many also choose to abstain from eating after noon, which is when most people eat their largest meal of the day. When bikkhus do eat, they usually only consume one meal per day and try not to waste any food by using leftovers for other meals throughout the week.
They typically sleep on a mat on top of wooden boards called kuṭīs with nothing but for possessions like their robes and stole, a girdle, an alms bowl, a razor, a needle and thread for mending, and a strainer to prevent their harming the small insects that might otherwise enter their drinking water.
The Daily Routine Of Bikkhu
The most obvious question most people may ask when they hear someone is a bhikkhu is, Where do they get their food? The answer is that they don’t get their food; rather, they take alms—which often comes to them as food.
In return for their alms, they provide spiritual teachings to those who give it (and sometimes physical labor). But how does one go about getting alms? They follow an ancient path called pindapata, which means food obtained by going from house to house.
First thing in the morning, they walk around town ringing a bell—this signals to laypeople that they are looking for alms. If people want to give them food or money, people open their doors and invite them inside their homes. They sit on low stools or cushions while eating whatever has been offered to them—typically rice and lentil soup with vegetables or fruit juice.
What Are The Benefits Of Becoming A Monk?
The word monk is derived from monachos, which means solitary. Monks are also known as Bikku or Bhikkhu (the female equivalent). These men take vows to live lives of simplicity, devotion, and austerity in Buddhist traditions across Asia.
If you want to become a monk you will have to cut ties with friends and family; only your fellow monks will be able to visit from time to time. But what’s life like for these religious devotees? And what do they gain by living such simple lives?
Here we explore some of their key beliefs and practices. In order to qualify as a monk you must adhere to a strict set of rules that guide your daily routine. In Buddhism there are two types of people who can become monks – novice monks and fully ordained monks. Novice monks must follow five basic precepts including abstaining from killing any living creature, stealing, sexual activity, lying about spiritual attainments and consuming intoxicants.
Common Misconceptions About Bikkhu/Monks
Bikkhus are one of those things people think they know about but actually don’t. Misconceptions abound, so here’s some straight talk about what life is really like for these religious men who devote their lives to simplicity and devotion.
First off, let’s get something out of the way: there aren’t any nuns. Sorry to disappoint! This isn’t to say that women can’t be devoted Buddhists—it just means that they tend not to see women taking vows as full-time religious practitioners. The term nun refers only to female monastics who take vows as part of an established order or congregation.
Second misconception about Bikkhu is that most people think people of any age can be Bikkhu. A person under the age of 20 can’t be ordained as Bikkhu in Buddhism.
Challenges Of Being A Monk/Bikkhu
Despite its reputation for austerity, being a monk is not an easy life. I had no idea what lay ahead of me when I became a Bikkhu, but I quickly discovered that I needed to learn how to live with some rather challenging things if I was going to be happy in my new lifestyle. Here are three challenges that you’ll face when becoming or living as a Bikkhu monk:
- Material goods do not matter anymore: One of the first realizations I had about my life as a monk was that material goods really don’t matter anymore; in fact, they can become very burdensome if you try to hold on too tightly. While it may seem strange at first, many monks spend their lives without owning anything more than their robes and a few simple possessions like meditation cushions.
- You will always have less than others: When you choose to live your life as a monk, there will always be someone who has more than you. This might sound depressing at first, but it doesn’t have to be—it just means that you need to focus on your own path instead of comparing yourself to others all the time.
- People won’t understand why you live your life as a monk: If you decide to give up most of what society values in order to pursue a simpler way of life, people will often find it difficult to understand why you made such choices.
Despite having all these challenges in life, Bikkhus are living very simple, peaceful, and spritual life.
Monks are encouraged to live lives based on simplicity and devotion, thus freeing them from worldly distractions. They don’t need much to be happy, just a few basic items necessary for their day-to-day survival.
For example, food must be consumed in moderation (roughly once every six hours) since monks follow a strict diet filled with mostly fruits, vegetables, rice, and other grains. Additionally, monks are not allowed to spend any money on unnecessary items like entertainment.
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