During the time of the Buddha, it was customary for lay Buddhists to donate robes to the Sangha at the conclusion of the summer rains retreat. This relationship was strengthened when the Sangha formally receives the robe of merit, or kathina robe, the topic of the present chapter. By receiving the robe of merit, the resident Sangha enjoys temporary exemption from several precepts regarding robes and meals. This allowed the monastics to accept extra robes and share meals with lay donors without inconvenience. These exemptions normally last for five months, although individual monks or nuns would forfeit their privileges if they moved away from the monastery or committed other specified acts.
First published: 7/3/2015