Did the Buddha Know Pali?

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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby Dmytro » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:50 am

Hi Pulga,

pulga wrote:Pali does seem to be quite close to the Jain Prakrit of the Acaranga Sutta. Do the Jains believe that Mahavira, the Buddha's contemporary, spoke Magadhi as well?


Yes, they call it Arsha or Ardha-Magadhi.

The first extant inscription in a language very similar to Pali has been made by a Jain:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hathigumpha_inscription
http://books.google.com.ua/books?id=QYx ... 9&lpg=PA19
http://orissa.gov.in/e-magazine/Journal ... f/9-10.pdf
http://gujaratisbs.webs.com/Abstracts%2 ... 20More.pdf

A known scholar of Pali, Wilhelm Geiger wrote in the introduction to his book
"Pali Literature and Language":

"A consensus of opinion regarding the home of the dialect on which Pali is based has therefore not been achieved. Windish therefore falls back on the old tradition - and I am also inclined to do the same - according to which Pali should be regarded as a form of Magadhi, the language in which Buddha himself had preached. This language of Buddha was however surely no purely popular dialect, but a language of the higher and cultured classes which had been brought into being already in pre-Buddhistic times through the needs of intercommunication in India. Such a lingua franca naturally contained elements of all dialects, but was surely free from the most obtrusive dialectical characteristics. It was surely not altogether homogeneous. A man from Magadha country must have spoken it in one way, and a man from the districts of Kosala and Avanti in another, just as in Germany the high German of a cultured person from Wurttemberg, Saxony or Hamburg shows in each case peculiar characteristic features. Now, as Buddha, although he was no Magadhan himself, displayed his activities mainly in Magadha and the neighbouring countries, the Magadhi dialect might have imprinted on his language its own characteristic stamp. This language could have therefore been called Magadhi even if it avoided the grossest dialectical peculiarities of this language. As Windish has rightly pointed out, after the death of the master, a new artificial language must have been evolved out of the language of the Buddha. Attempts were made to retain the teachings of the Buddha in authentic form, and to impose this form also upon those portions which, although derived from the monastic from the monastic organizations in various provinces, were gradually incorporated in the canon. In connection with the designation of the canonical language as Magadhi, Windish also refers to Aar.sa, the language of the Jaina-suttas. It is called Ardha-Magadhi, i.e. "half-Magadhi". Now it is surely significant that the Ardha-Magadhi differs from Magadhi proper on similar points as Pali. For Ardha-Magadhi too does not change the r into l, and in the noun inflexion it shows the ending -o instead of Magadhic -e at least in many metrical pieces. On the other hand, as I believe to have myself observed, there are many remarkable analogies precisely between Aar.sa and Pali in vocabulary and morphology. Pali therefore might be regarded as a kind of Ardha-Magadhi. I am unable to endorse the view, which has apparently gained much currency at present, that the Pali canon is translated from some other dialect (according to Luders, from old Ardha-Magadhi). The peculiarities of its language may be fully explained on the hypothesis of (a) a gradual development and integration of various elements from different parts of India, (b) a long oral tradition extending over several centuries, and (c) the fact that the texts were written down in a different country.

I consider it wiser not to hastily reject the tradition altogether but rather to understand it to mean that Pali was indeed no pure Magadhi, but was yet a form of the popular speech which was based on Magadhi and which was used bu Buddha himself. it would appear therefore that the Pali canon represents an effort to reflect the Buddhavacanam in its original form. This theory would have been refuted if it could be proved that the Pali canon must have been translated from some other dialect. Sylvain Levi has tried to prove this. He points out a number of termini such as ekodi, sa.mghaadisesa, etc., in which a sonant appears in the place of a surd. From these data he infers the existence of a pre-canonical language in which the softening of intervocalic surds was the rule. I do not consider Levi's arguments to be convincing. Firstly, because all these etymologies given by Levi are uncertain. Secondly, because the softening of the surds takes place not only in the "termini" but also in a large number of other words. Moreover, in my opinion, no special case should be made out of this phonological phenomenon. For they merely represent one of the various dialectical peculiarities which are also met with in Pali. Thus, for instance, we find equally frequent cases of the opposite process (hardening of a sonant) as well as various other features which considered together prove the mixed character of tha Pali language.

If Pali is the form of Magadhi used by the Buddha, then the Pali canon would have to be regarded as the most authentic form of the Buddhavacanam, even though the teachings of the master might have been preached and learnt from the very beginning in the various provinces of India in the respective local dialects. The conclusion has been drawn -- wrongly, in my opinion, -- from Culavagga V.33.1 = Vin II.139. Here it is related, how two Bhikkhus complained to the master that the members of the order were of various origins, and that they distorted the words of Buddha by their own dialect (sakaaya niruttiyaa). They therefore proposed that the words of Buddha should be translated into Sanskrit verses (chandaso). Buddha however refused to grant the request and added: anujaanaami bhikkhave sakaaya niruttiyaa buddhavacanam pariyaapu.nitum. Rhys-Davids and Oldenberg translate this passage by 'I allow you, oh brethren, to learn the words of the Buddha each in his own dialect.' This interpretation however is not in harmony with that of Buddhaghosa, according to whom it has to be translated by "I ordain the words of Buddha to be learnt in _his_ own language (i.e.Magadhi, the language used by Buddha himself)." After repeated examination of this passage I have come to the conclusion that we have to stick to the explanation given by Buddhaghosa. Neither the two monks or the Buddha himself could have thought of preaching in different cases in different dialects. Here the question is merely whether the words of Buddha migth be translated into Sanskrit or not. This is however clearly forbidden by the Master, at first negatively and then positively by the injunction beginning with 'anujaanaami'. The real meaning of this injunction is, as is also best in consonance with Indian spirit, that there can be no other form of the words of Buddha than in which the Master himself had preached. Thus even in the life-time of Buddha people were concerned about the way in which the teaching might be handed down as accurately as possible, both in form and in content. How much more must have been the anxiety of the disciples after his death! The external form was however Magadhi, thought according to tradition it is Pali."


Professor Rhys Davids in the introduction to his Pali-English Dictionary says:
"the Pali of the canonical books is based on that standard Kosala vernacular as spoken in the 6th and 7th century BC..... That vernacular was the mother tongue of the Buddha".


Even K.R. Norman admits that:

"is is not impossible that there existed in India in the third century B.C. an unattested dialect of Middle Indo-Aryan that had all the features of Pali"

http://books.google.com.ua/books?id=XdC ... A5&lpg=PA5


Research by Dr Meena Talim shows that the language of Asokan edicts was very close to Pali:

http://www.exoticindia.ru.com/book/deta ... on-IHF006/
http://www.aryanbooks.co.in/product.asp?pro_id=65


The prose parts of the Suttas are somewhat stylised for the ease of oral transmission, but the verses, for example, of Sutta-Nipata preserve the original live language, with its sometimes irregular forms.
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:09 pm

danieLion wrote:Did the Buddha know Pali?


Maybe, along with other dialects. I also believe that he knew early Sanskrit because He knew quite well their teachings (which I believe were taught in early Sanskrit). Gotama seemed to be familiar with vedas which, as I understand it, were recited in early Sanskrit.

Of course Pāli Canon has translations from other dialect into pāli. No doubt about that. I can't believe that if Gotama traveled in India (which consisted of many republics) and spoke to Kings and poor people - that he or they always spoke in pāli rather than their dialects.

With all this in mind, I question debating, hair splitting and overly analyzing some pāli words as unquestionable truth set in stone. Pāli is dead language today, and I strongly doubt that non-native speakers living 2,500 years later in another country and culture could know every possible shade of meaning. This gets even worse if that pāli word is already translation from another dialect.
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby danieLion » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:57 pm

If the preservation of the Buddha's teachings are exemplified in the Pali texts, why do we have no record of the Buddha saying his teachings would or should be preserved in such (or any) way?

It's clear Pali was close to the language(s) of the Buddha, but what's not clear is if the Buddha himself actually cared to have his teaching preserved, and if he did, in what form. To wit, (from Dmytro's excerpt):

After the death of the master, a new artificial language must have been evolved out of the language of the Buddha. Attempts were made to retain the teachings of the Buddha in authentic form, and to impose this form also upon those portions which, although derived from the monastic from the monastic organizations in various provinces, were gradually incorporated in the canon.


So even if the Buddha knew Pali, we have no idea if the program that ensued post-mortem was approved of by the Buddha or even on his radar.

Add to this the transmissional, political, and historical challenges presented to the preservation/authenticity claim (Cf., e.g., the Tricycle article Tilt linked to) and we have even more reason to be sceptical that the teachings of the Buddha were preserved in Pali.

Add to this the comparative scholarship of Reverend Analayo et al we have even more reason to be sceptical.

For clarity: I don't believe scepticism is necessarily contrary to faith, and I don't officially subscribe to positivism.
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby danieLion » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:08 pm

Dmytro wrote:The prose parts of the Suttas are somewhat stylised for the ease of oral transmission, but the verses, for example, of Sutta-Nipata preserve the original live language, with its sometimes irregular forms.

Can we clearly distinguish where the live language ends and the imposed form begins?

And doesn't an attempt to preserve--make static, consistent, formal--a live language imply a denigration of the original message?
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:11 pm

danieLion wrote:
Add to this the transmissional, political, and historical challenges presented to the preservation/authenticity claim (Cf., e.g., the Tricycle article Tilt linked to) and we have even more reason to be sceptical that the teachings of the Buddha were preserved in Pali.
Just for the record, I share Richard Gombrich's observation: "I have the greatest difficulty in accepting that the main edifice [of the Pali suttas] is not the work of one genius."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby danieLion » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:19 pm

Alex123 wrote:With all this in mind, I question debating, hair splitting and overly analyzing some pāli words as unquestionable truth set in stone. Pāli is dead language today, and I strongly doubt that non-native speakers living 2,500 years later in another country and culture could know every possible shade of meaning. This gets even worse if that pāli word is already translation from another dialect.

Is there a Pali word or words for our words "define, definition" etc...?

I don't see the Buddha engaging in definitionalism (formal, permanent proclamations of the permenent, static meanings of words) in the suttas like we're want to do as moderns.

Plus, I'm not sure Pali is as "dead" as we wish it to be.
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby danieLion » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:21 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Add to this the transmissional, political, and historical challenges presented to the preservation/authenticity claim (Cf., e.g., the Tricycle article Tilt linked to) and we have even more reason to be sceptical that the teachings of the Buddha were preserved in Pali.
Just for the record, I share Richard Gombrich's observation: "I have the greatest difficulty in accepting that the main edifice [of the Pali suttas] is not the work of one genius."

Cool reference. Thanks. Would you mind citing the source?
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby Kamran » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:55 pm

Fortunately, the main teachings are repeated over and over again in the texts, so I just concern myself with the central claim of the Buddha's teachings, and take the rest with a grain of salt :)
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:42 am

danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Add to this the transmissional, political, and historical challenges presented to the preservation/authenticity claim (Cf., e.g., the Tricycle article Tilt linked to) and we have even more reason to be sceptical that the teachings of the Buddha were preserved in Pali.
Just for the record, I share Richard Gombrich's observation: "I have the greatest difficulty in accepting that the main edifice [of the Pali suttas] is not the work of one genius."

Cool reference. Thanks. Would you mind citing the source?
Now, I shall haveto reread a number of his essays that I have xeroxed to see if I can find it.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby Sylvester » Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:57 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Add to this the transmissional, political, and historical challenges presented to the preservation/authenticity claim (Cf., e.g., the Tricycle article Tilt linked to) and we have even more reason to be sceptical that the teachings of the Buddha were preserved in Pali.
Just for the record, I share Richard Gombrich's observation: "I have the greatest difficulty in accepting that the main edifice [of the Pali suttas] is not the work of one genius."



This looks very familiar. Probably from "What the Buddha Thought", in the bit where he disputes Schopen (and the other denialist-heretics) without naming them.
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby danieLion » Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:42 am

tiltbillings wrote:Now, I shall haveto reread a number of his essays that I have xeroxed to see if I can find it.

Thanks. I'll try to do the same, starting with Sylvester's tip (I think have parts of WTBT xeroxed).
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby danieLion » Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:42 am

Sylvester wrote:This looks very familiar. Probably from "What the Buddha Thought", in the bit where he disputes Schopen (and the other denialist-heretics) without naming them.
Much obliged.
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:58 pm

danieLion wrote:I don't see the Buddha engaging in definitionalism (formal, permanent proclamations of the permenent, static meanings of words) in the suttas like we're want to do as moderns.


This just complicates things such as, what exactly is meant by: sati, vitakka (in context of Jhāna, for example), etc.
Modern academic opinion could be technically correct but not what Buddha has meant in 5th century BC speaking to poor uneducated farmers.

danieLion wrote:Plus, I'm not sure Pali is as "dead" as we wish it to be.


As I understand, there are no native speakers of it and it is literary language.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pali
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby pulga » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:05 am

Dmytro wrote:Yes, they call it Arsha or Ardha-Magadhi....


Thanks for all the information, Dmytro. I just checked Google Books and they've got Jacobi's edition of the Acaranga Sutta online. Even if you don't have the time to work through the text, his comparison between Pali and Jain Prakrit in the introduction might interest you.

http://books.google.com/books?id=eg8pAA ... CC0Q6AEwAA
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby Dmytro » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:52 pm

pulga wrote:Thanks for all the information, Dmytro. I just checked Google Books and they've got Jacobi's edition of the Acaranga Sutta online. Even if you don't have the time to work through the text, his comparison between Pali and Jain Prakrit in the introduction might interest you.


Thank you, Pulga, I have found it at:

But we can fix the date of the Gaina literature between still narrower limits by means of the metres employed in the sacred books. I am of opinion that the first book of the Âkârâṅga Sûtra and that of the Sûtrakritâṅga Sûtra may be reckoned among the most ancient parts of the Siddhânta; the style of both works appears to me to prove the correctness of this assumption. Now a whole lesson of the Sûtrakritâṅga Sûtra is written in the Vaitâlîya metre. The same metre is used in the Dhammapadam and other sacred books of the Southern Buddhists. But the Pâli verses represent an older stage in the development of the Vaitâlîya than those in the Sûtrakritâṅga, as I shall prove in a paper on the post-Vedic metres soon to be published in the Journal of the German Oriental Society. Compared with the common Vaitâlîya verses of Sanskrit literature, a small number of which occur already in the Lalita Vistara, the Vaitâlîya of the Sûtrakritâṅga must be considered to represent an earlier form of the metre. Again, ancient Pâli works seem to contain no verses in the Âryâ metre; at least there is none in the Dhammapadam, nor have I found one in other works. But both the Âkârâṅga and Sûtrakritâṅga contain each a whole lecture in Âryâ verses of a form which is decidedly older than, and probably the parent of the common Âryâ. The latter is found in the younger parts of the Siddhânta, in the Brahmanical literature, both in Prâkrit and in Sanskrit, and in the works of the Northern Buddhists, e. g. the Lalita Vistara, &c. The form of the Trishtubh metre in ancient Gaina works is younger than that in the Pâli literature and older than that in the Lalita Vistara. Finally the great variety of artificial metres in which the greater number of the Gâthâs in the Lalita Vistara, &c., is composed and which are wanting in the Gaina Siddhânta, seems to prove that the literary taste of the Gainas was fixed before the composition of the latter works. From all these facts we must conclude that the chronological position of the oldest parts of the Gaina literature is intermediate between the Pâli literature and the composition of the Lalita Vistara. Now the Pâli Pitakas were written in books in the time of Vatta Gâmani, who began to reign 88 B.C. But they were in existence already some centuries before that time. Professor Max Müller sums up his discussion on that point by saying: 'We must be satisfied therefore, so far as I can see, at present with fixing the date, and the latest date, of a Buddhist canon at the time of the Second Council, 377 B.C. 1' Additions and alterations may have been made in the sacred texts after that time; but as our argument is not based on a single passage, or even a part of the Dhammapada, but on the metrical laws of a variety of metres in this and other Pâli books, the admission of alterations and additions in these books will not materially influence our conclusion, viz. that the whole of the Gaina Siddhânta was composed after the fourth century B.C.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/jai/sbe22/s ... tm#page_ix
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby danieLion » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:12 am

Dmytro wrote:
pulga wrote:Thanks for all the information, Dmytro. I just checked Google Books and they've got Jacobi's edition of the Acaranga Sutta online. Even if you don't have the time to work through the text, his comparison between Pali and Jain Prakrit in the introduction might interest you.


Thank you, Pulga, I have found it at:

But we can fix the date of the Gaina literature between still narrower limits by means of the metres employed in the sacred books. I am of opinion that the first book of the Âkârâṅga Sûtra and that of the Sûtrakritâṅga Sûtra may be reckoned among the most ancient parts of the Siddhânta; the style of both works appears to me to prove the correctness of this assumption. Now a whole lesson of the Sûtrakritâṅga Sûtra is written in the Vaitâlîya metre. The same metre is used in the Dhammapadam and other sacred books of the Southern Buddhists. But the Pâli verses represent an older stage in the development of the Vaitâlîya than those in the Sûtrakritâṅga, as I shall prove in a paper on the post-Vedic metres soon to be published in the Journal of the German Oriental Society. Compared with the common Vaitâlîya verses of Sanskrit literature, a small number of which occur already in the Lalita Vistara, the Vaitâlîya of the Sûtrakritâṅga must be considered to represent an earlier form of the metre. Again, ancient Pâli works seem to contain no verses in the Âryâ metre; at least there is none in the Dhammapadam, nor have I found one in other works. But both the Âkârâṅga and Sûtrakritâṅga contain each a whole lecture in Âryâ verses of a form which is decidedly older than, and probably the parent of the common Âryâ. The latter is found in the younger parts of the Siddhânta, in the Brahmanical literature, both in Prâkrit and in Sanskrit, and in the works of the Northern Buddhists, e. g. the Lalita Vistara, &c. The form of the Trishtubh metre in ancient Gaina works is younger than that in the Pâli literature and older than that in the Lalita Vistara. Finally the great variety of artificial metres in which the greater number of the Gâthâs in the Lalita Vistara, &c., is composed and which are wanting in the Gaina Siddhânta, seems to prove that the literary taste of the Gainas was fixed before the composition of the latter works. From all these facts we must conclude that the chronological position of the oldest parts of the Gaina literature is intermediate between the Pâli literature and the composition of the Lalita Vistara. Now the Pâli Pitakas were written in books in the time of Vatta Gâmani, who began to reign 88 B.C. But they were in existence already some centuries before that time. Professor Max Müller sums up his discussion on that point by saying: 'We must be satisfied therefore, so far as I can see, at present with fixing the date, and the latest date, of a Buddhist canon at the time of the Second Council, 377 B.C. 1' Additions and alterations may have been made in the sacred texts after that time; but as our argument is not based on a single passage, or even a part of the Dhammapada, but on the metrical laws of a variety of metres in this and other Pâli books, the admission of alterations and additions in these books will not materially influence our conclusion, viz. that the whole of the Gaina Siddhânta was composed after the fourth century B.C.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/jai/sbe22/s ... tm#page_ix

Which part of this (and your other posts) show that the Buddha knew Pali and that his words were preserved in the Pali "canon"?
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby danieLion » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:35 am

danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Now, I shall haveto reread a number of his essays that I have xeroxed to see if I can find it.

Thanks. I'll try to do the same, starting with Sylvester's tip (I think have parts of WTBT xeroxed).

No luck.

But these passages from WTBT seemed quite relevant.

The Buddha's attitude to the use of language was pragmatic: his purpose was purely to convey meaning, and anything that might impede communication was to be discarded (p. 148).


Why has the unusual English word 'mindfulness' come to be preferred to 'awareness' as the standard translation for sati? Another attempt to make the East more mysterious (p. 223, Fn 30 [ref. p. 170])?
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby Dmytro » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:44 am

Hi Pulga,

Some more parallels:

"For instance, a stanza of the Uttaradhyana (9.44), viz.

Mase mase tu jo balo kusaggenam tu bhunjae

Na so sukkha adhammasa kalam agghai solasim.

has a very close resemblance to the stanza of the Dhammapada (70), viz.

"Māse māse kusaggena, bālo bhuñjeyya bhojanaṃ;

Na so saṅkhātadhammānaṃ, kalaṃ agghati soḷasiṃ."

Month after month the fool might eat only a tip-of-grass measure of food,
but he wouldn't be worth one sixteenth of those who've fathomed the Dhamma.

http://jainfriends.tripod.com/books/jib ... ature.html
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Re: Did the Buddha Know Pali?

Postby pulga » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:44 pm

Dmytro wrote:Some more parallels:...


Thanks, Dmytro.
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