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śīlavrataparāmarśa (P. sīlabbataparāmāsa; T. tshul khrims dang brtul zhugs mchog 'dzin ཚུལ་ཁྲིམས་དང་བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་མཆོག་འཛིན་; C. jiejinqu jian; 戒禁取見), is translated at "attachment to rites and rituals," "grasping at precepts and practices," "holding discipline and ritual to be paramount," "holding bad rules and practices as supreme," etc.

Śīlavrataparāmarśa is identified as:


As one of the ten fetters

The following descriptions are given in the context of one of the ten fetters.

A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma states:

"Adherence to rites and ceremonies” is the belief that the performance of rituals constitutes the means to liberation.[1]

Buddhist Dictionary states:

What is the clinging to mere rules and ritual? The holding firmly to the view that through mere rules and ritual one may reach purification: this is called the clinging to mere rules and ritual.[2]

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism states:

This specific type of attachment constitutes the wrong view (dṛṣṭi) that certain purificatory rites, such as bathing in the Ganges River or performing ritual sacrifices, can free a person from the consequences of unmeritorious action (akuśala-karman). Attachment to rites and rituals thus often constitutes either a belief in non-Buddhist religious systems, or a clinging to those elements of non-Buddhist systems that run contrary to Buddhist doctrine.[3]

The Library of Wisdom and Compassion (Vol 3) states:

View of rules and practices clings to mistaken codes of ethics and mistaken practices as virtuous and as the path to awakening – for example, holding extreme aesthetic practices of self mortification, such as fasting for weeks or sitting in fire to be virtuous, or holding perfectly performed Brahminic rituals to be the path.[4]

As one of the four types of clinging

The fetter of sīlabbata-parāmāsa is equivalent to "clinging to rites and ceremonies" (śīlavratopādāna), which is one of the four types of clinging (upādāna).[2]

As one of the five types of wrong view

The five types of wrong view are emphasized in the Sanskrit tradition. In this context, the following explanation is given.

The Library of Wisdom and Compassion (Vol 3) states:

The view holding bad rules and practices as supreme is a corrupt intelligence that believes purification of mental defilements is possible by ascetic practice and inferior ethical codes that are inspired by erroneous views. It causes us to engage in useless actions that make us exhausted but bring no spiritual benefit.
View of rules and practices thinks that what are not causes for higher rebirth and liberation or causes for them and what is not the path to liberation is the path. Under its influence people engage in non-virtue, believing it to be virtue, and follow a path they believe will lead to liberation that leads instead to unfortunate rebirths. Examples of erroneous views include thinking that killing in the name of one's religion will bring rebirth in a heavenly realm and that animal sacrifice pleases the gods and brings good fortune. Other instances are believing that the perfect performance of a ritual alone, without any mental transformation, is the path to liberation; that negativities can be purified by bathing in or drinking holy water; and that attachment is abandoned by extreme asceticism, such as fasting for days on end, walking through fire, or laying on a bed of nails. Although these people aspire for a liberation, their aspiration remains unfulfilled.[4]


With regards to the Pali term (sīlabbataparāmāsa):

  • sīla refers to "moral conduct," "discipline," etc.
  • vata (or bata) to "religious duty, observance, rite, practice, custom,"[5]
  • parāmāsa to "being attached to" or "a contagion" and has the connotation of "mishandling" the Dhamma.[6]

Hence, sīlabbata-parāmāsa is translated as "clinging to rules and ritual," etc.

Alternate translations

  • clinging to ideologies regarding ethical behavior and compulsive performance (Guenther, Mind in Buddhist Psychology)