is pāḷi a sacred language?

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Dhammarakkhito
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is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Mon May 07, 2018 12:05 am

i have held the belief that pali may embody auspicious worldly conditions that allowed a tathāgata to arise. and india is not just where gotama buddha lived but where kassapa buddha also lived (MN 81)
you also dont lose precious cultural references and various nuances in meaning
the buddha allowed translation of the dhamma-vinaya but made no comment TMK one way or another
hearing pali chanting may call to memory hearing the dhamma in a previous life.
me i like to read the pali even tho i dont know immediately what it says in case of a bad translation
while english has been very valuable to me i see it as a lesser vehicle and look forward to hopefully learning pali
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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by DNS » Mon May 07, 2018 1:36 am

No, because the Buddha didn't speak Pali. He spoke some dialect or language similar to Magadhi.

I allow you, O Bhikkhus, to learn the word of the Buddhas each in his own dialect.” Cullavaga, Vinaya

However, it is still good to learn Pali for those of with the interest and time to do so. That is what the Tipitaka was written in and it is the oldest Buddhist scriptures that we have. Most of us rely on translations, so we are basically putting our trust in these scholars to give us an accurate translation, unless we learn Pali ourselves.

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Mon May 07, 2018 2:08 am

"It is widely accepted that the Pali texts have been standardized from an earlier version (or versions) in Magadhan."
http://qr.ae/TUTvtR
allowable does not by itself imply that pali isnt superior
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by Vimalayaka » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:41 am

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Mon May 07, 2018 2:08 am
"It is widely accepted that the Pali texts have been standardized from an earlier version (or versions) in Magadhan."
http://qr.ae/TUTvtR
allowable does not by itself imply that pali isnt superior
I think we can't make this argument until we find the older Magadhi to compare Pali to. For now Pali is all we got, and everything else is based on it, and that's why it is "superior".

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:01 am

A Sri Lankan monk once told me that Pali was a special superior language which had the effect of improving the mental state of whoever used it or even listened to it, and the evidence for this was that it was impossible to swear or be abusive in Pali. He challenged me to find any evidence of "dirty talk" or "low talk" in the Canon.

This might be true, of course, but the lack of "dirty talk" says more about the mental states of those who are historically recorded as using it than the language itself.

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:27 am

Hmm, sounds familiar. I have an Irish friend who claims there are no swear words in Irish. He does his swearing in English... :tongue:

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by WorldTraveller » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:04 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:01 am
A Sri Lankan monk once told me that Pali was a special superior language which had the effect of improving the mental state of whoever used it or even listened to it...
Deja Vu! A Sri Lankan monk once told me that the Pali is the root language of all languages. And, a baby will speak Pali if he was raised in a silent room since birth, avoiding any possibility of external sound!

Then the initial infantile vocal reflexes--baby language--must be Pali! ;)
“Kālāmas, do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a canonical tradition, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think: ‘The ascetic is our guru.’”
- Buddha

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:40 am

WorldTraveller wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:04 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:01 am
A Sri Lankan monk once told me that Pali was a special superior language which had the effect of improving the mental state of whoever used it or even listened to it...
Deja Vu! A Sri Lankan monk once told me that the Pali is the root language of all languages. And, a baby will speak Pali if he was raised in a silent room since birth, avoiding any possibility of external sound!

Then the initial infantile vocal reflexes--baby language--must be Pali! ;)
Apparently several different experiments have been done on this:
James IV of Scotland was said to have sent two children to be raised by a mute woman isolated on the island of Inchkeith, to determine if language was learned or innate.[6] The children were reported to have spoken good Hebrew, but historians were skeptical of these claims soon after they were made.[7][8] This experiment was later repeated by the Mughal emperor Akbar, who held that speech arose from hearing, thus children raised without hearing human speech would become mute.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_ ... xperiments

I love the "Hebrew" bit! Presumably observers were thinking of the language which God imprinted into Adam and Eve...

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:47 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:27 am
Hmm, sounds familiar. I have an Irish friend who claims there are no swear words in Irish. He does his swearing in English... :tongue:

Mike
If he is a Buddhist, he may want to reflect on the wonderful double meaning of the Gaelic curse Imeacht gan teacht ort: "May you leave and never return"!

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:25 am

Ha, I'll have to remember that. Unfortunately, he's not Buddhist...

:heart:
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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by cjmacie » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:31 pm

Contents:
1: a direct answer, according to one source and in one sense;
2: documentation as to the relationship between Pali and the Buddha's "language";
3: some reflections on regional dialects.

1: From the 1st paragraph of the (rather elaborate) Wikipedia article on Pali:
Pali ... is the sacred language of some religious texts of Hinduism and all texts of Theravāda Buddhism.

2:
DNS wrote:
Mon May 07, 2018 1:36 am
No, because the Buddha didn't speak Pali.
This idea is a commonly held conceit these days. It's at least an over-simplification of the situation. (See below quotations from the Wikipedia article.)
DNS wrote:
Mon May 07, 2018 1:36 am
He spoke some dialect or language similar to Magadhi.
This statement is probably more accurate. From the following further quotations from the Wikipedia article, it is likely that Pali shares much with the dialect(s) that the historical Buddha used in speech. Probably a wider range of dialects (i.e. beyond that of his birthplace) were intelligible to him from his travels. It's arguably Pali would have been also intelligible to him, to a large degree. (It's also arguable that the Buddha, having been raised in an upper-class environment, would have been conversant, to some degree, with Sanskrit dialects.)

In the 19th century, the British Orientalist Robert Caesar Childers argued that the true or geographical name of the Pali language was Magadhi Prakrit, ... However, modern scholarship has regarded Pali as a mix of several Prakrit languages from around the 3rd century BCE, combined together and partially Sanskritized.
...
There is persistent confusion as to the relation of Pāḷi to the vernacular spoken in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, which was located around modern-day Bihār.
...
Pali, as a Middle Indo-Aryan language, is different from Sanskrit more with regard to its dialectal base than the time of its origin. A number of its morphological and lexical features show that it is not a direct continuation of Ṛgvedic Vedic Sanskrit. Instead it descends from one or more dialects that were, despite many similarities, different from Ṛgvedic.[8]
However, this view is not shared by all scholars. Some, like A.C. Woolner, believe that Pali is derived from Vedic Sanskrit, but not necessarily from Classical Sanskrit.
...
Many Theravada sources refer to the Pali language as "Magadhan" or the "language of Magadha". This identification first appears in the commentaries, and may have been an attempt by Buddhists to associate themselves more closely with the Maurya Empire. But the four most important places in his life are all outside of it. It is likely that he taught in several closely related dialects of Middle Indo-Aryan, which had a high degree of mutual intelligibility. There is no attested dialect of Middle Indo-Aryan with all the features of Pali. Pali has some commonalities with both the western Ashokan Edicts at Girnar in Saurashtra, and the Central-Western Prakrit found in the eastern Hathigumpha inscription.
...
Bhikkhu Bodhi, summarizing the current state of scholarship, states that the language is "closely related to the language (or, more likely, the various regional dialects) that the Buddha himself spoke"
...
Emperor Ashoka erected a number of pillars with his edicts in at least three regional Prakrit languages in Brahmi script,[23] all of which are quite similar to Pali.


3: Reflections on regional dialects


The world of human beings today, as throughout their history, exhibits a web of linguistic dialects, and many people – more so among those who travel – are able to more or less readily manage to communicate in situations other than their native language and dialect.

(Incidental joke: "There are people who are 'tri-lingual' [as perhaps many Swiss]; and there are people who are 'bi-lingual' [as perhaps residents in Alsace-Lorraine, which has been bandied about between the Germans and the French for centuries]; and then there are Americans!" This keys on the post-WWII situation, when many less than broadly educated Americans, as victors in the war, traveled widely but commonly expected to converse in their own (and only) language.)

See the graphic "Dialects Spoken in Alsace-Lorraine in the 19th Century" in the Wikipedia article on that region for a hint of the complexity if the issue, and illustrative of my point in the following anecdotal account.

I once spent some time hearing to the teachings of a Native American "story teller", whose American name was Ron Evans. He described a voyage he once took through much of Europe. Beginning somewhere in Ireland, he would hang out with local elders, e.g. at pubs, and exchange stories with them. With his background in (American) English, together with his broad knowledge of Native American dialects, he was able in short order to establish effective communication with the Irish geezers. He would then move on through nearby villages, doing the same, and eventually crossing Ireland; likewise through Scotland, England, then across the Channel through parts of the Continent.

What he noted, and I found most interesting, was a virtual continuity of gradually differentiated linguistic dialects throughout those journeys. In particular, in places near national (modern) "borders", he found a similar continuity. I.e. the similarities between how people (traditionally) spoke in one town and in the next town, some kilometers away but across the border, was considerably less than the differences. It was relatively easy for him to gradually adapt to each situation and successfully establish communication with the locals (at least the old geezers).

I found a similar situation when I lived in Europe, based in Germany, in the 1970s-1980s. For instance, in the mid-sized (population ca. 30,000) town where I lived – Mettmann, ca. 10 km east of Duesseldorf – the locals (of all ages) were conversant with "Mettmanner platt Deutsch", a dialect (and customs, such as wooden clog shoes) surprisingly similar in some ways to places in the Netherlands, 70 or so km to the North-East. There were, for instance, word pronunciations "incorrect" in terms of "high German", and "wrong" usages of dative and accusative forms of personal pronouns. Curiously, people there often thought, from my accent and kinds of "errors", that I might be from somewhere in Scandinavia.

I suspect any of the readers here, who's ever spent time "away from home", even if just in the same "nation", would be familiar with similar phenomena.

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Re: is pāḷi a sacred language?

Post by Vimalayaka » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:30 am

WorldTraveller wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:04 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:01 am
A Sri Lankan monk once told me that Pali was a special superior language which had the effect of improving the mental state of whoever used it or even listened to it...
Deja Vu! A Sri Lankan monk once told me that the Pali is the root language of all languages. And, a baby will speak Pali if he was raised in a silent room since birth, avoiding any possibility of external sound!

Then the initial infantile vocal reflexes--baby language--must be Pali! ;)
Buddhaghosa is the originator of all this, believing Magadhi is same as Pali, calling it "mūlabhāsāya", the "root language" of all languages because it was the speech of Buddha.

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