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Pabbajja And Upasampada Ceremony in Buddhism

Buddhist System of Education


  • Pabbajja was an acquired ceremony of the Buddhist monasteries.
  • Pabbajja means going out'.
  • According to this ceremony the student after being admitted to a monastery had to reject all his worldly and family relationship.
  • A person belonging to any caste of the society could be admitted to a monastery and after being admitted he did not belong to any of his caste.
  • After admission he had to change all his old clothes and all his old ways and manners of living.
  • For the Pabbajja ceremony the minimum age required was 8 years.
  • After the Pabbajja ceremony education process continued for 12 years.
  • When the student attained twenty years of age, i.e., when he received education for 12 years he had to undergo the Upasampada ceremony.
  • The Upasampada ceremony authorized a student for full-matured membership of the monastery.

  • For the Pabbajja ceremony the individual had to get his head fully shaved and put on yellow clothes.
  • In this way, he was presented before the presiding Bhikshu.
  • On presentation this individual would pray for admission to the monastery.
  • On his prayer the head Bhiksha would administer three basic suggestions which were as below:


1. I take refuge with Buddha.

2. I take refuge with religion.

3. I take refuge with the order.

  • The candidate for admission used to pronounce these advices very distinctly. Then his admission was permitted.
  • On being admitted the individual was called a Shraman.
  • That Shraman was given ten suggestions to follow. They were as below:

1. Shun violence and practise non-violence.

2. Speak truth.

3. Do not steal

4. Do not collect

5. Observe celibacy.

6. Give up luxury

7. Renounce wealth and do not touch females.

8. Do not use fragrant things.

9. Do not eat anything untimely.

10. Do not use soft and very comfortable bed to sleep and rest.

  • A child could be admitted only on the explicit consent of his parents.
  • Children suspected of tuberculosis, leprosy and other bad diseases were not admitted in a monastery.
  • Military men, State employees and slaves also were debarred from admission to a monastery.
  • It was necessary for a Shraman to follow the above ten suggestions.



  • After Pabbajja the Buddhist monk had to undergo the Upasampada ceremony.
  • This ceremony was different from Pabbajja.
  • It was after receiving education for twelve years, that is at the age of twenty, that Upasampada ceremony was performed.
  • This ceremony was democratic in nature.
  • The Shraman had to present himself before all other monks (Bhikshuks) of the monastery.
  • One could be admitted for the Upasampada ceremony only when the decision of majority of the monks voted in favour of the same.
  • After the Upasampada ceremony completed, the Shraman was regarded as a full-matured member of the monastery.
  • On this process all his worldly and family relationship ended.

In the Vedic age the student was given education upto 25 years of age and after that he was permitted to go home and lead the life of a householder (Grihastha).

Quite contrary to this, in the Buddhist system after having received education the student never came back to his parents' place for leading the life of a householder.

He remained a monk for good and cut off his worldly relationships for ever.