bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

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acinteyyo
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bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:06 pm

Hi,

I visited a quite new Wat about 70km far from my hometown. I had a conversation with a bhikkhu, who was formerly ordained as a Mahayana monk and reordained later in Theravadatradition. Someway we came to the concept of "bodhisattvas". He told me then, that the Sanskrit-word "bodhisattva" (enlightenment being) is a wrong interpretation of the Pali-word "bodhisatto" and the correct Sanskrit-word would be "bodhisakta" which means "one seeking awakening".
When the Buddha was talking about himself as a "bodhisatta" (Pali), he said, the Buddha would not have meant that he was an "enlightenment being" (bodhisattva) but "one seeking awakening" (bodhisakta).

That sounds to me like the whole Tibetan "bodhisattva" ideal would then just be wrong, wouldn't it?
Because the "bodhisattva" (bodhisakta) would then be in fact just "one who's seeking awakening", like me for example.

I'm not familiar with Sanskrit and such things like which Sanskrit-term is the correct counterpart to the Pali-term and so on.

Thoughts?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:30 pm

No idea about the etymology but it's intriguing to be sure. Such a redefinition of the term seems to align more closely with the actual teachings of the Lord Buddha. Metta. :anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by Dmytro » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:14 pm

Hi Acinteyyo,

Peter Harvey writes:

the term bodhisatta ... was originally equivalent to Sanskrit bodhisakta, meaning ‘one bound for awakening’ or ‘one seeking awakening’, though in time it came to be Sanskritised as bodhisattva, a ‘being (for) awakening’.

http://www.sunderland.ac.uk/buddhist/originaleob.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Lance Cousins writes:

sutta in Pali is probably from suukta (su+ukta) and its Sanskritization to sutra is unhistorical, while bodhisatta in early sources is probably not equivalent to bodhisattva, but to bodhisakta 'one seeking awakening '.

http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0041-977X(1996" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)59%3A1%3C173%3AOUBEOT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-W

Steven Collins in "A Pali Grammar for Sutudents" writes:

"This word has traditionally been analyzed as bodhi + sattva, enlightenment-being, which makes no grammatical sense. What seems to have happened is that the Pali (or related MIA) word satta has been re-Sanskritized as sattva. This is possible correspondence, but satta in Pali can be equivalent to two other words in Sanskrit, both of which make better sense than sattva. From √sañj, to adhere to, be intent on, the past participle is sakta which → satta in Pali. From √śak, to be able to, be capable of, the past passive participle is śakta, which also → satta in Pali.
Intent on enlighment or capable of enlightment are both more à propos than enlightment-being, so it is likely one of these two sense of bodhisatta was the original".

I've opened a topic about Pali and Sanskrit:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=3215" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta, Dmytro
Last edited by Dmytro on Sat Jan 09, 2010 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

Freawaru
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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by Freawaru » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:11 pm

acinteyyo wrote:Hi,

I visited a quite new Wat about 70km far from my hometown. I had a conversation with a bhikkhu, who was formerly ordained as a Mahayana monk and reordained later in Theravadatradition. Someway we came to the concept of "bodhisattvas". He told me then, that the Sanskrit-word "bodhisattva" (enlightenment being) is a wrong interpretation of the Pali-word "bodhisatto" and the correct Sanskrit-word would be "bodhisakta" which means "one seeking awakening".
When the Buddha was talking about himself as a "bodhisatta" (Pali), he said, the Buddha would not have meant that he was an "enlightenment being" (bodhisattva) but "one seeking awakening" (bodhisakta).

That sounds to me like the whole Tibetan "bodhisattva" ideal would then just be wrong, wouldn't it?
Because the "bodhisattva" (bodhisakta) would then be in fact just "one who's seeking awakening", like me for example.

I'm not familiar with Sanskrit and such things like which Sanskrit-term is the correct counterpart to the Pali-term and so on.

Thoughts?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Hi,

The Tibetan concept of bodhisattva is not a Buddha but "just" one bound for Buddhahood. There are several interpretations as far as I know, ranging from someone who takes a vow to become enlightened for the benefit of all beings to someone who attains nirvana but decides to "leave" it again to reach the full Buddhahood: a sammasambuddha who teaches and helps sentient beings to attain Liberation. It seems to me there are several similarities to the Theravadan concept of aryan (someone who has already experienced nibbana, is develloping bodhicitta and all that) but they are not identical.

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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:48 pm

Freawaru wrote:
Hi,

The Tibetan concept of bodhisattva is not a Buddha but "just" one bound for Buddhahood. There are several interpretations as far as I know, ranging from someone who takes a vow to become enlightened for the benefit of all beings to someone who attains nirvana but decides to "leave" it again to reach the full Buddhahood: a sammasambuddha who teaches and helps sentient beings to attain Liberation. It seems to me there are several similarities to the Theravadan concept of aryan (someone who has already experienced nibbana, is develloping bodhicitta and all that) but they are not identical.
This really does not address the question.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by cooran » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:57 pm

Hello all,

This might add some information:

THE BODHISATTVA IDEAL IN THERAVAADA BUDDHIST THEORY AND PRACTICE: A REEVALUATION OF THE BODHISATTVA-`SRAAVAKA OPPOSITION
By Jeffrey Samuels Philosophy East and West Volume 47, Number 3 July 1997 P.399-415 (C) by University of Hawai'i Press
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/jeffrey2.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Chris
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acinteyyo
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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:29 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:No idea about the etymology but it's intriguing to be sure. Such a redefinition of the term seems to align more closely with the actual teachings of the Lord Buddha. Metta. :anjali:
If, what the venerable bhikkhu told me turns out to be true, I would also say it would align perfectly with the teachings of the Buddha.
Freawaru wrote:The Tibetan concept of bodhisattva is not a Buddha but "just" one bound for Buddhahood. There are several interpretations as far as I know, ranging from someone who takes a vow to become enlightened for the benefit of all beings to someone who attains nirvana but decides to "leave" it again to reach the full Buddhahood: a sammasambuddha who teaches and helps sentient beings to attain Liberation. It seems to me there are several similarities to the Theravadan concept of aryan (someone who has already experienced nibbana, is develloping bodhicitta and all that) but they are not identical.
tiltbillings wrote:This really does not address the question.
I'm not interested in the concept of a "bodhisattva". What I want to know is, whether the mistake I explained in the OP is true or not. Because, if the correct sanskrit counterpart of the pali-term "bodhisatta" is "bodhisakta" instead of "bodhisattva", then this means that there is no "bodhisattva concept" at all, due to the fact that there is no "bodhisattva", actually never was.
This would make the whole mahayana "bodhisattva" concept kind of meaningless! Don't you think?
During my searchings on the internet I found that even the sanskrit-term "nirvana" is supposed to be a wrong transcription of the pali-term "nibbana". Here is a pdf I found, take a look on page 6.
I'm aware of the fact that this is just an assumption, therefore I ask for clarification. I really wonder why I've never heard of anything like that before. :shrug:
I don't want to be disrespectful, I'm just interested, because I think it's kind of odd.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:46 pm

Acinteyyo,

Interesting stuff. I checked the link you provided regarding the etymology of nibbana and found that what is being said has been a frequently covered topic by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. See here:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... bbana.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... index.html

Tell me what you think when you get a chance. Mettaya.

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:49 pm

acinteyyo wrote: This would make the whole mahayana "bodhisattva" concept kind of meaningless! Don't you think?
Basically what it means is that when things were being Sansritized on the mainland of India, those who did it, did not quite get the translation right. There are other bases for criticizing the Mahayana bodhisattva doctrine.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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acinteyyo
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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:02 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
acinteyyo wrote: This would make the whole mahayana "bodhisattva" concept kind of meaningless! Don't you think?
Basically what it means is that when things were being Sansritized on the mainland of India, those who did it, did not quite get the translation right. There are other bases for criticizing the Mahayana bodhisattva doctrine.
You are right, what I have in mind is, wouldn't a concept build on a wrong translation completely loose its grounding? (regardless whether there may or may not be other bases for criticizing)
Primary I'm not interested in criticizing the Mahayana bodhisattva doctrine, but wouldn't it be a direct consequence of it?
Such an assumption seems to be justified and would explain, let's say some "inconsistencies".
As I said, I ask for clarification.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by piotr » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:09 pm

Hi,
acinteyyo wrote:During my searchings on the internet I found that even the sanskrit-term "nirvana" is supposed to be a wrong transcription of the pali-term "nibbana". Here is a pdf I found, take a look on page 6.
I think that you misunderstood this text: It says that nirvana/nibbana doesn't mean blowing off idea of self, but blowing out fires of greed, hatred and delusion.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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acinteyyo
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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:19 pm

piotr wrote:Hi,
acinteyyo wrote:During my searchings on the internet I found that even the sanskrit-term "nirvana" is supposed to be a wrong transcription of the pali-term "nibbana". Here is a pdf I found, take a look on page 6.
I think that you misunderstood this text: It says that nirvana/nibbana doesn't mean blowing off idea of self, but blowing out fires of greed, hatred and delusion.
oh yes, you're right. here it's not the sanskrit/pali which is a wrong transcription it's only the a misunderstanding of its meaning. thanks for that hint ;)

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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piotr
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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by piotr » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:21 pm

Hi,

No problem. :smile: Interesting topic, BTW. :thumbsup:
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Sat Jan 09, 2010 2:53 am

acinteyyo wrote:Hi,

I visited a quite new Wat about 70km far from my hometown. I had a conversation with a bhikkhu, who was formerly ordained as a Mahayana monk and reordained later in Theravadatradition. Someway we came to the concept of "bodhisattvas". He told me then, that the Sanskrit-word "bodhisattva" (enlightenment being) is a wrong interpretation of the Pali-word "bodhisatto" and the correct Sanskrit-word would be "bodhisakta" which means "one seeking awakening".
"is a wrong interpretation of the Pali-word" - is a very telling statement in this whole argument, right?

Now, what exactly is a "pali-word"?
Are we going to say that "Pali" is a language, Pali-bhasa? If so, this idea only came about well over 1000 yrs after the event you are describing.
Are we going to say that "Pali" is just the text itself? If so, then it doesn't say much, does it?

One must first acknowledge that there were a range of different Prakrits being used at that time. One of those Prakrits was the form that was taken to Sri Lanka, and now gets called "Pali" as a language.

To assume that this "Pali" is the form that all the traditions took, and that then somebody made a "wrong interpretation" into Sanskrit, is a very shaky argument.

All one can really say, is that the term "sattva" in "bodhisattva" is not necessarily from Prakrit "satta". It may come from Sanskrit "sakta", Prakritized as "satta", and then later wrongly back translated into "sattva". Maybe.

Where is the evidence? Where do we actually have cases of the Sanskrit word "bodhi-sakta" in the first place? We need some evidence otherwise it is an untried hypothesis.
When the Buddha was talking about himself as a "bodhisatta" (Pali), he said, the Buddha would not have meant that he was an "enlightenment being" (bodhisattva) but "one seeking awakening" (bodhisakta).
Only if the above assumption is correct.
That sounds to me like the whole Tibetan "bodhisattva" ideal would then just be wrong, wouldn't it?
Because the "bodhisattva" (bodhisakta) would then be in fact just "one who's seeking awakening", like me for example.
Only if the above assumption is correct.
I'm not familiar with Sanskrit and such things like which Sanskrit-term is the correct counterpart to the Pali-term and so on.

Thoughts?

best wishes, acinteyyo
For this sort of argument, one will certainly have to known both Sanskrit and the Prakrits. That won't be enough, however, and you'll also need to know how various traditions understood the word "bodhisatta" / "bodhisattva". Etymological definitions that fly in the face of actual linguistic usage but are used for such claims about whether a tradition is "wrong", can be quite misleading.

The meaning of the term "bodhisattva", and also related "mahasattva" is complex, you may wish to check out:

Dayal, H (1932): The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature, Motilal Banarsidass: New Delhi.
Kajiyama Yuichi 梶山雄一 (1982): “On the Meanings of the Words Bodhisattva and Mahāsattva in Prajñāpāramitā Literature”, pp. 253-270, in Y. Kajiyama, Studies in Buddhist Philosophy (Selected Papers), ed. Katsumi Mimaki et al. Rinsen Book Co.: Kyoto. 1989.

But even these studies are not exhaustive.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: bodhisakta not bodhisattva?

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:03 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
The meaning of the term "bodhisattva", and also related "mahasattva" is complex, you may wish to check out:

Dayal, H (1932): The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature, Motilal Banarsidass: New Delhi.
Kajiyama Yuichi 梶山雄一 (1982): “On the Meanings of the Words Bodhisattva and Mahāsattva in Prajñāpāramitā Literature”, pp. 253-270, in Y. Kajiyama, Studies in Buddhist Philosophy (Selected Papers), ed. Katsumi Mimaki et al. Rinsen Book Co.: Kyoto. 1989.

But even these studies are not exhaustive.
Ven Spoil-sport, Things should be simple, black and white, not infinitely complicated.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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