Almsbowl

Alms-bowl a vessel used by the priests of Buddha for the purpose of receiving the food presented as alms by the faithful. These priests are strictly forbidden to eat any food not given as alms, except it be water or some substance used to clean the teeth; and when in health, the food that a priest eats must be procured by his own exertions in carrying the alms-bowl from house to house in the village or city near which he resides. When going to receive alms, his bowl is slung across his shoulder; and is usually covered by the outer robe. It may be made either of iron or of clay, but of no other material. It must first be received by a chapter, and then be officially delivered to a priest whose bowl is found, on examination, to be in the worst condition. No priest is allowed to procure a new bowl so long as his old one has not been bound with five ligatures to prevent it from falling to pieces. When a priest visits a house with the alms-bowl, he must not do anything to attract the attention of the inmates, but remain silent until he is observed; then if anything is given, he receives it, otherwise he passes on. Buddha says, "The wise priest never asks for anything; he disdains to beg; it is a proper object for which he carries the alms-bowl; and this is his only mode of solicitation." The priest is forbidden to pass by any house, when going with the bowl to receive alms, on account of its meanness or inferiority. When he visits a village, house, or street three successive days without receiving anything, he is not required to go to the same place again; but if he receives only the least particle, it must be visited regularly. When his bowl is sufficiently filled, he is to return to his dwelling and eat the food he has received, of whatever kind it may be. The bowl is also carried by the priestesses, or chief female recluses, who go from door to door in the same manner as the priests, receiving the contributions of the faithful. See Hardy, Eastern Monachism.

 
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