Pali name "Natthiko"

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Sam Vara
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Pali name "Natthiko"

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:29 am

A while ago I knew a monk (in Ajahn Chah's forest Tradition) called Natthiko. An excellent teacher of meditation and Dhamma topics - I liked him a lot. He has since disrobed, but has retained and incorporated his Pali name:

https://www.youtube.com/user/natthiko61

https://twitter.com/natthiko?lang=en

Having taken my first baby steps in learning Pali, it seems to me that this name "Natthiko" means something like "Nihilist", in the heretical sense. Here is the term in SN 3.21:
Samaṇe brāhmaṇe vāpi,
aññe vāpi vanibbake;
Akkosati paribhāsati,
natthiko hoti rosako.
https://suttacentral.net/pi/sn3.21


Have I got this completely wrong, and it means something else entirely? All of the other monastics' names seem to refer to positive qualities, so you can probably understand my puzzlement here.

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Dhammanando
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Re: Pali name "Natthiko"

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:27 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:29 am
Have I got this completely wrong, and it means something else entirely? All of the other monastics' names seem to refer to positive qualities, so you can probably understand my puzzlement here.
You are right that it's not a regular name for bhikkhus and that it refers to a person professing the wrong view: "There is nothing given... etc."

I've no idea why Björn was given this name. I was once told by the Aussie monk Ajahn Ñāṇadhammo that at one time the Thai monk who was responsible for choosing the Pali names for Ajahn Chah's Western disciples was a bit of a prankster who liked to make up silly names for them. But this was well before Natthiko's time.

One possibility that occurred to me was that it could be an allusion to the dialogue with a brahmin in the Verañjā Sutta:
“I have heard, Master Gotama, ‘the ascetic Gotama is an annihilationist’.”

“There is, brahmin, a way in which one could rightly say of me: ‘The ascetic Gotama is an annihilationist.’ For I assert the annihilation of lust, hatred, and delusion; I assert the annihilation of the numerous kinds of bad unwholesome qualities. It is in this way that one could rightly say of me: ‘The ascetic Gotama is an annihilationist.’ But you did not speak with reference to this.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/an8.11
But if so, then they used the wrong word, for the 'annihilationism' here translates ucchedavāda not natthikavāda.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Pali name "Natthiko"

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:00 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:27 pm
...
Bhante, many thanks for this. I'm glad that I was not completely awry with the Pali, but the mystery remains. Bjorn has been sighted at Cittaviveka on a couple of occasions since his disrobing, so maybe I'll be able to ask the man himself one day.

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