“At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha at the squirrel’s sanctuary in the Bamboo grove. On that occasion this topic of conversation arose in the king’s court: “Money ¹ is allowable for the monks, for the sons of the Sakyan. The monks consent to and accept money.”
Then the village headman (gāmaṇi), Maṇicūḷaka, said this: “Friends, do not speak thus. Money is not allowable for the monks, for the sons of the Sakyan. They do not consent to money, nor do they accept it. The monks have given up jewels (maṇi) and gold (suvaṇṇa), they are free from the stain of using money (apetajātarūparajatā).” However, Maṇicūḷaka was unable to convince that assembly.²
The headman Maṇicūḷaka thus approached the Blessed One, and have paid homage, sat down at one side. Sitting there, the headman Maṇicūḷaka said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, this topic of conversation arose in the king’s court: ‘Is money allowable for the monks, for the sons of the Sakyan? Do the monks consent to and accept money?’ When this was said, venerable sir, I said to the assembly: ‘Friends, do not speak thus. Money is not allowable for the monks, for the sons of the Sakyan. They do not consent to money, nor do they accept it. The monks have given up jewels and gold, they are free from the stain of using money.’ However, venerable sir, I was unable to convince that assembly. Speaking in that way, venerable sir, was I speaking truthfully in accordance with what you have said and not slandering the Blessed One with falsehoods, such that there may be grounds for criticism.”
“Speaking thus, headman, you surely speak truthfully in accordance with what I have said, and do not slander me with falsehoods. Indeed, headman, money is not allowable for the monks, for the sons of the Sakyan, they do not consent to it, nor accept it. The monks, the sons of the Sakyan, have given up jewels and gold, they are free from the stain of using money. Whoever, headman, for whom money is allowable the five strands of sensual pleasure are also allowable. Whoever, headman, for whom the five strands of sensual pleasure are allowable, money is also allowable. If the five strands of sensual pleasure are allowable for anyone, you can definitely know that he lacks the characteristics of a monk, of a son of the Sakyan. I say, headman, that whoever has need of thatch (tiṇa) may seek for thatch, whoever has need of wood (dāru) may seek for wood, whoever has need of a wagon (sakaṭaṃ) may seek for a wagon, whoever has need of a workman (purisa) may seek for a workman. However, headman, I do not say that in any way money may be consented to or sought for.” (S.iv.325)
1. Money (jātarūparajataṃ) may be coins of gold, silver, copper, lacquer, or (nowadays) paper money. It refers to any medium that can be freely exchanged for goods. Direct exchange of otherwise allowable goods such as robes for almsfood, or almsfood for building materials is covered by the training rules on bartering (Nissaggiya Pācittiya 19-20) rather than the offence involving confession with forfeiture for accepting money (Nissaggiya Pācittiya 18). Allowable requisites that have been acquired by unallowable means may be returned to the offending monk and used by him if he wishes. However, money that has been accepted must be forfeited to a Saṅgha (at least four bhikkhus). If a lay steward is present, he can take the money and use it to buy allowable requisites for all but the offending monk. If no lay steward is available, the Saṅgha must appoint a trustworthy monk to dispose of the money, who must then throw it away outside of the monastery compound taking no notice of where it falls. Gifts of money to monks are therefore a significant inconvenience for the Saṅgha. Cash donations should be given directly to a lay steward, who can then provide the needs of a monk or monks. The rule on the use of funds given to a lay steward (Nissaggiya Pācittiya 10) is the longest in the Pātimokkha. It makes it abundantly clear that the donated money does not belong to the monk, nor to the Saṅgha, nor to the steward. It still belongs to the donor who should be advised to recover his donation if the steward does not provide any requisites with the funds even after repeated reminders.
2. This discourse is cited in the Vinaya Cūḷavagga, Vin.ii.296-297, to refute the tenth of the ten points practised by the Vajjian monks who had deviated from the true practice of monks. This was the reason for the convening of the Second Buddhist Council of seven hundred monks. For more details please refer to Money Makes the World Go Round.