Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

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Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Sekha » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:29 am

This sutta has been largely overlooked by the various buddhist traditions: the Buddha explains why he does not allow the bhikkhus to perform any melodic chanting. You can explore the meaning word by word:

http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 5-209.html

this sutta is actually an excerpt from the Cūḷavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka (Cv 249), where a certain group of six bhikkhus performs such a chanting and householders are described to have been annoyed in those terms (it is quite frequent in the Vinaya to find lay people criticizing monks for enjoying sensual pleasures). Having been reported the matter, the Buddha utters this sutta and then declares that doing so anyway would constitute a dukkaṭa offense (ie. of wrong-doing, a light offense). The Cūḷavagga then cites a case in which the Buddha states that he nevertheless allows recitation with an intonation (sara·bhañña).
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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:54 am

I think your rendering of the sutta needs re-working. You seem to have translated the word bhaṅga twice.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Sekha » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:12 am

oops, gross mistake. This error occurred precisely because I re-worked the translation but forgot to cross-read afterward, as I was quite time-constricted. It has been fixed now.

Anumodami for the report, Bhante!

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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby DAWN » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:07 pm

Suttas are chanted?
Musicaly it seems more to some kind of reciting, like a rap, that is not chanted but spoken. I can mistake.
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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Sekha » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:11 pm

It may depend on the tradition. If it is only an intonation as you seem to describe, then it is OK. But some traditions clearly use melodic chanting.
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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:23 pm

This is a significant issue — many Buddhists are missing the meaning of the paritta suttas, some use them like background music, and many monks are just following in the footsteps of their elders who also recite wrongly.

The Gītassara Sutta has been on my web site for a long time.
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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Sekha » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:41 pm

sadhu sadhu bhante

I remark that the translation on aimwell is based on Sister Upalavanna's, and that 'laugh at it' has been duly corrected in 'are annoyed, saying', but 'the concentration of those who do not like musical notes gets destroyed' is obviously mistaken, as there is no negative predicate in the Pali sentence (sarakuttim·pi nikāmayamānassa samādhissa bhaṅgo hoti). I think Woodward's rendering is more accurate: 'as he strives after purity of sound, there is a break in concentration'.

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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby DAWN » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:01 pm

DN 33 Sañgîti Sutta : The Chanting Together

In this Sutta after words : "So we should all recite together ... for the benefit, welfare and hapiness of devas and humans." (M.Walshe) there is some verses of chanting/recitation
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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Mr Man » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:39 pm

Is this the kind of chanting you feel the Buddha would object to?



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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:38 pm

"Chant" is a European concept:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chant
Chant (from French chanter) is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures, often including a great deal of repetition of musical subphrases, such as Great Responsories and Offertories of Gregorian chant. Chant may be considered speech, music, or a heightened or stylized form of speech. In the later Middle Ages some religious chant evolved into song (forming one of the roots of later Western music).

Traditional Pali chants certainly use rhythm.

See: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #pronounce
Scanning

The meters of Pāli poetry consists of various patterns of full-length syllables alternating with half-length syllables.
....

There are some variations that I am aware of:

1. The native language of the speaker has an effect. For example, Thai speakers read Pali transliterated into Thai script, and they generally use the appropriate tone, just as they would if speaking Thai... This could hardly be criticised, it's just the way the language works, but it means that they sound different from Burmese or Sri Lankan reciters.

2. The western Ajahn Chah sangha has developed a style for English chanting that sound to me like an adaption of Gregorian chanting http://forestsanghapublications.org/vie ... 26&ref=deb using tone marks to give a three-tone system. They also use the tone marks on the Pali, which at a quick glance, is based on the most obvious Thai tonal inflections. Western Ajahn Chah Sangha recording that I've listened to (and sometimes followed along with at meditation groups) seem to emphasise the tonal aspects more, and the rhythmic aspects less, than the Thai monastics I chant with. However, the variation between Thai and Western Ajahn Chah chanting is smaller than Thai to Burmese, for example.

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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:11 pm

This is the kind of chanting that the Buddha would approve of:

Dhammacakka Sutta recited by Dhammaruwan.

Dhammaruwan Story:

Dhammaruwan was born in a small village near Kandy , Sri Lanka in November, 1968. From the age of about two, before he could read or write , he spontaneously started to chant the ancient Buddhist scriptures in the original Pali language , known only to a few scholar monks.

Each day, somewhere around two o'clock in the morning, after sitting in meditation with his adopted and devoted Buddhist foster father for about twenty to forty minutes, he would spontaneously start to chant Pali suttas. On the Poya or lunar Observance day, he would sometimes chant for two hours.

Dhammaruwan's foster father started making amateur recording of the chanting and invited prominent scholar monk to listen. The monk verified that it was indeed the ancient Pali language and the boy were chanting it in an ancient style which no longer existed in world.
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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Mr Man » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:28 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:This is the kind of chanting that the Buddha would approve of:

Why do you think that bhante? It certainly sounds "melodic". I think with Dhammaruwan it would be easy to get caught up with the story rather than the meaning.
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Re: Melodic chanting prohibited for monks!

Postby Sekha » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:54 pm

the creterion to decide whether a particular way of chanting is to be approved of or not are the ones mentioned in the sutta:

1) does it induce attachment?
2) does it make lay people angry?
3) is it a hindrance for the reciters' concentration?
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