Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?

You prefer traductions of Thanissaro Bhikkhu or Bhikkhu Bodhi ?

Thanissaro Bhikkhu
17
39%
Bhikkhu Bodhi
27
61%
 
Total votes: 44

Sylvester
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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Sylvester » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:13 am

Cittasanto wrote:Hi Sylvester,
what is your point?

Hi again.

Perhaps I misunderstood the point you were trying to make. But when you posted -
I see Bodhi siding with the commentaries more in rendering or explaining a meaning, not the grammars which you seam to be referring to.
,I was under the impression that you were making an observation that BB applies the Comy explanation of connotation, instead of relying on the grammatical meanings. If I have not misunderstood this, then my point was to suggest that sometimes, the Comy readings may be preferable to the grammatical reading. I thus gave reasons why the Pali grammars do not account for all the morphologies in the Pali text.

Hope this clarifies.

danieLion
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by danieLion » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:33 am

They're not comparable in any significant way for several reasons. First, Bodhi tackles collections and is more comprehensive and systematic while Rev. T is all over the place (many here have theorized about why). Second, they agree with each other most of the time (I know because I've read all Rev. T's translations and always read Rev. T's Middle Length Discourses and Connected Discourses translations in tandem with Bodhi's; and I used Rev. T's translations of the Sutta Nipata--among a few others--when I was working my way through Bodhi's talks on it). Third, they borrow from each other (e.g., Bodhi says he followed Rev. T when translating sakkāya-ditthi as "identity view" and Bodhi thanks Rev. T for his consultations in the introductions to his translations of the Majjhimā Nikāya and Samyutta Nikāya--I don't have copies of Bodhi's Long Discourses or Numerical Discourses but I'm willing to bet Bodhi thanks him in those too). Fourth, they both prefer the Pāli and understand that their translations are organic.

Fifth...anyone?

danieLion
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by danieLion » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:49 am

Another reason contrasting them is petty: they're both sceptical of the commentarial tradition. Rev. T has been more consistent with his jabs here and there over the years; but in Bodhi's later talks on the Majjhimā Nikāya and the Sutta Nipata he comes right out and says several times that you can't trust everything in the commentaries.

I PREFER to use them both inductively/counterinductively. The more translations the better.

It would be ideal to know what they (Rev. T and Bodhi) think of each other.
Last edited by danieLion on Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Cittasanto
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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Cittasanto » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:55 am

Sylvester wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:Hi Sylvester,
what is your point?

Hi again.

Perhaps I misunderstood the point you were trying to make. But when you posted -
I see Bodhi siding with the commentaries more in rendering or explaining a meaning, not the grammars which you seam to be referring to.
,I was under the impression that you were making an observation that BB applies the Comy explanation of connotation, instead of relying on the grammatical meanings. If I have not misunderstood this, then my point was to suggest that sometimes, the Comy readings may be preferable to the grammatical reading. I thus gave reasons why the Pali grammars do not account for all the morphologies in the Pali text.

Hope this clarifies.
Please look at the thread name, then apply what I said in that context. you started this defence of Bikkhu bodhi before that, and I only mentioned the Grammars due to your comment above and did not men them in any way originally.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

Sylvester
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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Sylvester » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:47 am

Cittasanto wrote:Please look at the thread name, then apply what I said in that context. you started this defence of Bikkhu bodhi before that, and I only mentioned the Grammars due to your comment above and did not men them in any way originally.
Hi

If we revert to what you said earlier -
Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings to be better, and Bodhi sides with the commentaries more.
(assuming this is what you wish me to examine), might you be so kind as to give examples, so that I do not misunderstand you?

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Cittasanto
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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Cittasanto » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:15 pm

Sylvester wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:Please look at the thread name, then apply what I said in that context. you started this defence of Bikkhu bodhi before that, and I only mentioned the Grammars due to your comment above and did not men them in any way originally.
Hi

If we revert to what you said earlier -
Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings to be better, and Bodhi sides with the commentaries more.
(assuming this is what you wish me to examine), might you be so kind as to give examples, so that I do not misunderstand you?
Why?
I am not asking you to examine anything, I am asking you to read in context. The Thread is about preference btw
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

pulga
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by pulga » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:41 pm

I imagine Ven. Bodhi must have honed his skill in translating Pali from the earlier translations of Ven. Ñanamoli. Though Ven. Ñanamoli's translations can be a bit wordy, they're extraordinarily accurate grammatically which make them ideal when learning Pali.

But a distinction must be drawn between Ven. Ñanamoli's personal translations and those he meant for publication.

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daverupa
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by daverupa » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:25 pm

pulga wrote:I imagine Ven. Bodhi must have honed his skill in translating Pali from the earlier translations of Ven. Ñanamoli. Though Ven. Ñanamoli's translations can be a bit wordy, they're extraordinarily accurate grammatically which make them ideal when learning Pali.

But a distinction must be drawn between Ven. Ñanamoli's personal translations and those he meant for publication.
On that note:
Although Bhikkhu Bodhi claims that it was the PTS edition that was used by Ñanamoli for his original translation, this seems unlikely. In various places the translation actually follows one of the earlier Sinhalese (?) script editions and it seems likely that this was often Ñanamoli's source. Of course, it is impossible to be sure of this, since no indication is normally given as to what readings are actually being followed. The other major defect is a lack of use of more recent scholarship. Bhikkhu Bodhi does sometimes adopt renderings from I.B. Horner's translation and makes some use of the work of other scholars (e.g., in CPD) but overall there is some tendency to perpetuate old mistakes and even to reinstate them where Ñanamoli has corrected them in his draft or in his other works.

...In general he moves away from Ñanamoli's rather literal renderings (appropriate to a first draft), although he does also sometimes fail to appreciate the subtleties of Ñanamoli's precision.
___

With respect to
Cittasanto wrote:I see Bodhi siding with the commentaries more in rendering or explaining a meaning
the review notes in Bhikkhu Bodhi
a tendency to accept the interpretation of the commentaries a little uncritically.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

pulga
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by pulga » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:07 pm

On that note
Thanks for the link.

cittaanurakkho
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by cittaanurakkho » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:16 pm

For me, the choice is not only a matter of whose translation I prefer, but also what is available. Ven. Bodhi did a complete English translation of Majjhima, Samyutta, and soon Anguttara while Ven. Thanissaro only did an anthology. So, for the sutta that Ven. Thanissaro didn’t translate, by default, I like Ven. Bodhi translation better. Also in the mid 90’s the realistic choices for me are either PTS or Ven. Bodhi. Ven. Thanissaro translations at the ATI website was too limited.

As I was beginning to meditate solo, I looked for an alternative translation to Ven. Bodhi for guidance. In this respect, I like Ven. Thanissaro translation better because again it is the only extensive translation available written from the prespective of an experience meditation practitioner. To me, one value of Ven. Thanissaro translation is not only about his perspective of the words of Buddha. But indirectly through his translations and his various self guided study, I kind of get the feels of how he practices, how he structure his practices. From that I learn to structure my own practice. I think this is a kind of knowledge transfer that occurs naturally between a teacher and a deciple who interacted through direct transmission. But in this age where many disciples meditate solo and many learn through reading sutta, translations of sutta from many more experience mediation practitioners would be really helpful.

Walshe did a good job with the Digha. But now that Ven. Bodhi has completed the Anguttara, I think it would round up a great tetralogy if he translated the Digha. This way, there is a complete set of reference to the four major nikayas with a consistent terminology and smooth flow throughout. Digha is so short, shouldn’t take more than a few nights for such a prolific writer.

I am so grateful to both translators for the works they have done. These quality works were not available as short as 20+ years ago. May they get a lof of merit.

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:26 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:30 am
Greetings,
Cittasanto wrote:This is true, however I feel some of Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings to be better, and Bodhi sides with the commentaries more.
Agreed.

The best feature of Bodhi's work is his fluency of language (and I think he gets away with more than he should, on account of it).

Metta,
Retro. :)
hi, will you explain your meaning here

anyway, for me i dislike that bhikkhu bodhi or his monastery charges for translations. dhamma should always be free and it was freely given.
there is supposedly a serious issue with ven bodhi's trans of this sutta, viewtopic.php?t=19658
i have heard negative things about bodhis translations and i would like to know if it is true and i should not read his edition of nanamoli's majjhima nikaya. i am concerned bodhi's political tendencies may influence his work
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DooDoot
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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by DooDoot » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:16 pm

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:26 pm
there is supposedly a serious issue with ven bodhi's trans of this sutta, viewtopic.php?t=19658
Exactly what is the issue? Thanks
Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:26 pm
i have heard negative things about bodhis translations and i would like to know if it is true and i should not read his edition of nanamoli's majjhima nikaya. i am concerned bodhi's political tendencies may influence his work
While I often disagree with VBBs footnotes & commentaries (which are often sectarian), for me, VBBs translations are the best available (although not perfect); translated with the most intregity & lack of ulterior sectarian agenda; far superior to Thanissaro or Sujato. Thanissaro's translations are characterised by a Zen bent towards non-conceptualisation as Nibbana (eg. in MN 1) plus include other weird stuff (such as the translation 'clinging-aggregates'). As for the MN, it provides no scope for political tendencies to influence the translation. The flaws I personally percieve in VVB's translations I attribute to ignorance &/or adherence to historical linguistic norms rather than to any intentional sectarianism.
rightviewftw wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:02 pm
I have to go with Venerable Thanissaro because it is my personal opinion that he is consistently reliable
Since my view is complete opposite, what grounds or evidence can be offered that Venerable Thanissaro is consistently reliable?

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mikenz66
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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:39 am

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:16 pm
While I often disagree with VBBs footnotes & commentaries (which are often sectarian), for me, VBBs translations are the best available (although not perfect); translated with the most intregity & lack of ulterior sectarian agenda; far superior to Thanissaro or Sujato.
I tend to agree. Actually Bhante Sujato has also described Ven Bodhi's translations as the best available. I think that if they were freely available he wouldn't have felt such a strong need for his own translations. However, It's very useful to now have two complete translations of the first four Nikayas (Walsh/Nanamoli/Bodhi and Sujato), and selections from Ven Thanissaro to compare. And also Piya Tan's http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/ analyses, which are probably at least as comprehensive as Thanissaro's.

What I like about Ven Bodhi's translations (and the numerous talks he has given on the MN in particular) is that he generally makes clear what is his opinion, what is the opinion of the commentators, and what is the opinion of others. So even where you might differ from his opinion, or that of the commentators, you have access to the information.

Bhante Sujato has a rather different approach with his translation project - to provide accessible, easy to read, unfootnoted, translations.
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/wh ... notes/3169
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/te ... tions/8310

Since Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations with extensive footnotes and cross-referencing are available for those interested in such details, this seems like a good approach - no point in reinventing the wheel...

:heart:
Mike

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DooDoot
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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by DooDoot » Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:04 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:39 am
So even where you might differ from his opinion, or that of the commentators, you have access to the information.
I agree. VBB had made some (but very few) deliberate dodgy translations but generally footnotes these and provides what he regards should be the literal translation (eg MN footnote 897). Or he has the honesty to bracket words that are not in the Pali, such as "into the womb" in SN 12.2:
And what, bhikkhus, is birth? The birth of the various beings into the various orders of beings, their being born, descent [into the womb], production, the manifestation of the aggregates, the obtaining of the sense bases. This is called birth.

SN 12.2
This said, his translation of 'kamabhava' (sensual existence) is plainly wrong and difficult to understand both him doing this and his lack of explanation:
Katamo ca, bhikkhave, bhavo? Tayome, bhikkhave, bhavā — kāmabhavo, rūpabhavo, arūpabhavo. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, bhavo

And what, bhikkhus, is existence? There are these three kinds of existence: sense-sphere existence, form-sphere existence, formless-sphere existence. This is called existence.

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