The Nidana is the introduction to and first part of the Patimokkha ("Words of Disburdenment").
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The Nidana is the opening of the Patimokkha, a collection of rules governing a Sangha (Buddhist community) that is found in the Sutthavibhanga. It, as most good introductions do, paves the way for the remainder of the text to follow.
The text was translated by T. W. Rhys Davids and Hermann Oldenberg in 1881; the translation is in the public domain. It was taken from http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe13/index.htm. Text in [square brackets] (and all pipelinks) was added and does not appear in the translation; text in (parentheses) does appear in the translation.
May the Chapter, reverend Sirs, hear me!
Today is the sacred day (of the full, or new, moon), the fifteenth day of the half-month. If it be convenient to the Chapter, let the Chapter hold Uposatha, let it repeat the Patimokkha. How is it with respect to the necessary preliminaries to a meeting of the Order? Let the reverend brethren announce their purity, and I will rehearse the Patimokkha! We all gladly give ear and do attend!
Whosoever have incurred a fault, let him declare it! If no fault have been incurred it is meet to keep silence!
Now, venerable Sirs, it is by your silence, that I shall know whether you are pure. As to each one question put there must be an answer, so, in such a meeting as this, each question is put as many as three times. Then if any Bhikkhu, when it has been three times put, knowingly omit [sic] to declare a fault incurred, he is guilty of uttering a conscious lie. Venerable Sirs, the uttering of a deliberate lie has been declared by the Blessed One to be a condition hurtful (to spiritual progress). Therefore a fault, if there be one, should be declared by that Bhikkhu who remembers it, and desires to be cleansed therefrom. For a fault, when declared, shall be light to him.
Venerable Sirs, the Introduction is now recited.
Thus do I question you, venerable Sirs, 'Are you pure in this matter?'
A second time do I question you, 'Are you pure in this matter?'
A third time do I question you, 'Are you pure in this matter?'
The venerable ones are pure herein. Therefore do they keep silence. Thus I understand.
Here endeth the recitation of the Introduction.