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How to translate SN 56.47 ???

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 4:01 am
by DooDoot
Dear Pali gurus

I always had a good impression of SN 56.47 although I am looking at the Pali for the first time today. My new impression is it might be a late genre of sutta, give it shares words (such as "manussattaṃ") & themes with suttas such as MN 129 & MN 135.

SN 56.47 as literally translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi is:
Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, puriso mahāsamudde ekacchiggaḷaṃ yugaṃ pakkhipeyya. Tatrāpissa kāṇo kacchapo. So vassasatassa vassasatassa accayena sakiṃ sakiṃ ummujjeyya. Taṃ kiṃ maññatha, bhikkhave, api nu kho kāṇo kacchapo vassasatassa vassasatassa accayena sakiṃ sakiṃ ummujjanto amusmiṃ ekacchiggaḷe yuge gīvaṃ paveseyyā”ti?

Bhikkhus, suppose a man would throw a yoke with a single hole into the great ocean, and there was a blind turtle which would come to the surface once every hundred years. What do you think, bhikkhus, would that blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole?

Yadi nūna, bhante, kadāci karahaci dīghassa addhuno accayenā

If it would ever do so, venerable sir, it would be only after a very long time.

Khippataraṃ kho so, bhikkhave, kāṇo kacchapo vassasatassa vassasatassa accayena sakiṃ sakiṃ ummujjanto amusmiṃ ekacchiggaḷe yuge gīvaṃ paveseyya, na tvevāhaṃ, bhikkhave, sakiṃ vinipātagatena bālena manussattaṃ vadāmi.

Sooner (khippataraṃ; more quickly), I say (vadāmi), would that blind turtle (kāṇo kacchapo), coming to the surface (ummujjanto) once every hundred years (vassasatassa vassasatassa accayena sakiṃ sakiṃ), insert (paveseyya) its neck (gīvaṃ) into that yoke (yuge) with a single hole (ekacchiggaḷe) than the fool (bālena) who has gone once to the nether world (sakiṃ vinipātagatena) [would regain] the human state (manussattaṃ).


For what reason? Because here, bhikkhus, there is no conduct guided by the Dhamma, no righteous conduct, no wholesome activity, no meritorious activity. Here there prevails mutual devouring, the devouring of the weak. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, they have not seen the Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering … the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

https://suttacentral.net/sn56.47/pli/ms
https://suttacentral.net/sn56.47/en/bodhi
It follows from above Bhikkhu Bodhi has added the words "would regain", which do not appear to exist in the Pali. The Pali appears literally:
sakiṃ (once) vinipātagatena (gone to nether worlds) bālena (the fool) manussattaṃ (human being, i.e., human state of mind)
Having read the Pali & sutta many times, I theorize a core word in SN 56.47 is "ummujjanto"; which is also used in AN 7.15 below:
AN 7.15 wrote:And what kind of person has risen up, crossed over, and gone beyond, a brahmin who stands on the shore?

Kathañca, bhikkhave, puggalo ummujjitvā tiṇṇo hoti pāraṅgato thale tiṭṭhati brāhmaṇo.

It’s the kind of person who, rising up, thinks: ‘It’s good to have faith, conscience, prudence, energy, and wisdom regarding skillful qualities.’

Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo ummujjati sādhu saddhā kusalesu dhammesu, sādhu hirī … pe

https://suttacentral.net/an7.15/en/sujato
"Ummujjanto" is also found in another (imo, late) sutta DN 1, as follows:
DN 1 wrote:All of these ascetics and brahmins who theorize about the past or the future are trapped in the net of these sixty-two grounds, so that wherever they emerge they are caught and trapped in this very net.

Ye hi keci, bhikkhave, samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā pubbantakappikā vā aparantakappikā vā pubbantāparantakappikā vā pubbantāparantānudiṭṭhino pubbantāparantaṃ ārabbha anekavihitāni adhimuttipadāni abhivadanti, sabbe te imeheva dvāsaṭṭhiyā vatthūhi antojālīkatā, ettha sitāva ummujjamānā ummujjanti, ettha pariyāpannā antojālīkatāva ummujjamānā ummujjanti.

https://suttacentral.net/dn1/en/sujato
Therefore, I guess the literal message & translation of SN 56.47 is:
More quickly (khippataraṃ), I say (vadāmi), would that blind turtle (kāṇo kacchapo), coming to the surface (ummujjanto) once every hundred years (vassasatassa vassasatassa accayena sakiṃ sakiṃ), insert (paveseyya) its neck (gīvaṃ) into that yoke (yuge) with a single hole (ekacchiggaḷe). Not the same (na tvevāhaṃ), I say (vadāmi) , is the the human being (manussattaṃ) that is a fool (bālena) who has gone once to the nether world (sakiṃ vinipātagatena) [as likely to rise up/ummujjanto to the human state].
It appears my translation is similar to Bhikkhu Bodhi, it that it emphasises the unlikeliness of "regaining" the "human state" without knowing the Four Noble Truths. However, I have emphasised ummujjanto, which I think Bhikkhu Bodhi has not. Also, if it was "human fool", i guess this would be a compound. What do we think of the Pali in SN 56.47? How would we translate the passage I have highlighted?

Thank you :smile:

Re: How to translate SN 56.47 ???

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 7:17 am
by Volo
I think VBB's translation is fine. Only few remarks:

1. vassasatassa vassasatassa accayena sakiṃ sakiṃ I'm not sure why there is repetition. Maybe I would translate it as "only once after many hundreds (repetition for multiplicity) of years".

2. tvevāhaṃ I believe is "te (dat Sg of pronoun tvaṃ "to you") eva (emphatic) ahaṃ": I say (vadāmi) to you, bhikkhus.

3. There is indeed verb omission in the end of the sentence, but I don't think ummujjati is presupposed grammatically, but the meaning is similar.

4. vinipātagatena bālena is in Ins due to comparison (turtle is sooner... than...), therefore it's better to have one sentence, not two as you've suggested.

5. Na is probably not "not" but:
PED wrote:Na1 [Sk. na (in cana) & nā (in nānā, vi -- nā) Idg. pron. base *no, cp. Gr. ;nh/, nai/; Lat. nē, nae surely, also encl. in ego -- ne & in question utruṁne, nam; fuller form *eno as in Sk. anā (adv.) anena, anayā (instr. pron. 3rd) Gr. e)/nh "that day"; Lat. enim] expletive -- emphatic particle, often used in comparative -- indefinite sense just so, like this, as if, as (see cana & canaŋ) J ;v.339 (Com. cttha na -- kāro upamāne). Also as naŋ (cp. cana> canaŋ) Vin ii.81, 186 (kathaŋ naŋ=kathaŋ nu); J ii.416; v.302; vi.213 (Com. p. 216: ettha eko na -- karo pucchanattho hoti); Th 1, 1204; Miln 177. Perhaps at Sn 148 (kattha -- ci naŋ, v. l. BB na; but Com. KhA 247 etaŋ). To this na belongs na3; see also nu & nanu.;

Re: How to translate SN 56.47 ???

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 8:59 am
by Dhammanando
DooDoot wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 4:01 am
It follows from above Bhikkhu Bodhi has added the words "would regain", which do not appear to exist in the Pali. The Pali appears literally:

sakiṃ (once) vinipātagatena (gone to nether worlds) bālena (the fool) manussattaṃ (human being, i.e., human state of mind)
"Sakiṃ vinipātagatena bālena manussattaṃ" is an example of a Pali clause that has no finite verb. To translate such a clause in a manner that will make sense in English one must do one of three things:

1. Treat the clause as containing an unstated copula (i.e., a verb like "to be" or "to become"). E.g., vedanā aniccā: "Feeling [is] impermanent."

2. Treat the clause as an elliptic construction. This will require one to assume that some finite verb in either an earlier or a later clause applies also to the subject of the present clause.

3. In some rhetorically rich contexts one may treat the clause as a zeugmatic or sylleptic construction. This is basically the same as #2 except that the verb is to be understood as bearing different meanings in the different clauses.

As #1 wouldn't result in any meaningful sentence, one must opt for #2 or #3, which means looking for a finite verb. The only available candidate is paveseyya, defined in the PED as:
Paveseti [Caus. of pavisati] 1. to make enter, allow to enter, usher in M i.79; J i.150 (miga-gaṇaṃ uyyānaṃ), 291; vi.179; Vism 39; PvA 38, 44, 61 (gehaṃ), 141 (id.); DhA i.397. —2. to furnish, provide, introduce, procure, apply to (acc. or loc.) J iii.52 (rajjukaṃ gīvāya); vi.383 (siriṃ); Miln 39 (gehe padīpaṃ), 360 (udakaṃ); DA i.218. Perhaps at ThA 203 for pavedheti. — Caus. II. pavesāpeti J i.294 (mātugāmaṃ aggiṃ). —
As the context is a rhetorically rich one, it's not unreasonable to take paveseyya sylleptically, i.e., as bearing the meaning "to cause [his neck] to enter into [the yoke]" in the first clause, and "to procure/obtain [the human state]" in the second clause. Bhikkhu Bodhi's rendering is a little freer than this, but not misleadingly so.

Re: How to translate SN 56.47 ???

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 11:06 am
by DooDoot
Volo wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 7:17 am
1. vassasatassa vassasatassa accayena sakiṃ sakiṃ I'm not sure why there is repetition. Maybe I would translate it as "only once after many hundreds (repetition for multiplicity) of years".
Thank you Volo. I noticed this, also.
Volo wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 7:17 am
2. tvevāhaṃ I believe is "te (dat Sg of pronoun tvaṃ "to you") eva (emphatic) ahaṃ": I say (vadāmi) to you, bhikkhus.
I was just guessing above. On the internet, I found tvevā = eva.
Volo wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 7:17 am
3. There is indeed verb omission in the end of the sentence, but I don't think ummujjati is presupposed grammatically...
Please explain, further? Thank you.
Dhammanando wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:59 am
As the context is a rhetorically rich one, it's not unreasonable to take paveseyya sylleptically, i.e., as bearing the meaning "to cause [his neck] to enter into [the yoke]" in the first clause, and "to procure/obtain [the human state]" in the second clause. Bhikkhu Bodhi's rendering is a little freer than this, but not misleadingly so.
Thank you Venerable Dhammanando. At least I was on the right track. Why not ummujjanto? I find it the most compelling verb (I assume it is a verb); particularly given it is used auspiciously in AN 7.15. Thank you.

:smile:

Re: How to translate SN 56.47 ???

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 11:38 am
by Dhammanando
DooDoot wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 11:06 am

Why not ummujjanto? I find it the most compelling verb (I assume it is a verb); particularly given it is used auspiciously in AN 7.15.
The predicate of a clause has to include (or to be) a finite verb, but ummujjanto is a participle.
A finite verb is a form of a verb that has a subject (expressed or implied) and can function as the root of an independent clause; an independent clause can, in turn, stand alone as a complete sentence. In many languages, finite verbs are the locus of grammatical information of gender, person, number, tense, aspect, mood, and voice. Finite verbs are distinguished from non-finite verbs, such as infinitives, participles, gerunds etc., which generally mark these grammatical categories to a lesser degree or not at all, and which appear below the finite verb in the hierarchy of syntactic structure.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clause
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finite_verb
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonfinite_verb

Re: How to translate SN 56.47 ???

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 11:43 am
by DooDoot
Dhammanando wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 11:38 am
The predicate of a clause has to include (or to be) a finite verb, but ummujjanto is a participle.
Thank you Venerable Dhammanando and Volo. I will accept your conclusion (since my brain would explode into seven pieces reading those links). Thank you kindly, again.

:bow: :smile:

Re: How to translate SN 56.47 ???

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 12:41 pm
by Volo
DooDoot wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 11:06 am
Volo wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 7:17 am
3. There is indeed verb omission in the end of the sentence, but I don't think ummujjati is presupposed grammatically...
Please explain, further? Thank you.
I agree with Ven Dhammanando. I think it would be the same in English, for example:

A turtle reaching the surface would penetrate the yoke sooner than a man human state.

You can either understand that a man would penetrate the state of human or invent some other verb so that the sentence makes sense (e.g. "regain human state"). Of course you can say "than a man would reach human state", but this "reach" is not presupposed by the first "reaching".