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The first five disciples of the Buddha with the Dharmachakra , a symbolic representation of the teaching
Ordination of new monks
Thai monks doing binthabat ( Thai บิณฑบาต , "alms-giving")

Bhikkhu ( Pali भिक्खु Bhikkhu "beggar or someone who alms begging"; Sanskrit भिक्षु Bhiksu "Bhikshu" in female form Bhikkhuni ) denotes especially in those countries where the Theravada - Buddhism is widespread ( Sri Lanka , Myanmar , Thailand , Laos and Cambodia ), Buddhist monks .

At the time of the historical Buddha Siddhartha Gautama , this term was not limited to members of the Sangha , but was used for all practitioners of asceticism . Buddha himself called his first five disciples (Kondannya, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji) bhikkhu even before he founded the order.

Bhikkhu lead a life according to the rules of Buddhist monasticism laid down in the Vinayapitaka . This obligation does not have to be a lifelong one. In many places it is common for young men on the threshold of growing up, sometimes sooner or later, to enter a monastery for a while to live as monks and to study the Buddha's teachings, the Dharma .

Since bhikkus are only allowed to have very few personal possessions (e.g. certain items of clothing, an alms bowl), they are dependent on the support of the population for food ( upāsaka ). The monks can only be compared with western (Christian) mendicant orders to a limited extent . The morning alms round - the last meal must be taken before noon - is subject to strict rules. The monks are not allowed to draw attention to themselves by making noises, calling or singing. They walk calm and focused and accept whatever people put in the alms bowls. The ritual of collecting and giving alms also means that the monks do not thank for the gifts, but conversely that the givers are grateful to be able to do a good work in this way and thus to collect merit in the sense of karma .


  • Hans Dieter Evers: Monks, Priests and Peasants: A Study of Buddhism and Social Structure in Central Ceylon (= Monographs and theoretical studies in sociology and anthropology in honor of Nels Anderson , Bd. 1): BRILL, Leiden 1972.
  • Sukumar Dutt: Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Their Contribution to Indian Culture . Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1988, ISBN 8120804988 , pp. 82 & 174.

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