Pali Term: Dhamma

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Pali Term: Dhamma

Postby Dmytro » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:24 am

A good place to start here is a comprehensive article:

Traditional definitions of the term dhamma
By John Ross Carter

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/carter.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Pali commentaries give four main meanings of the word 'dhamma':

gu.na - moral quality or action;
desanaa - preaching & instruction;
pariyatti - 9-fold collection of Buddhist scriptures;
nissatta, nijjiiva -- three aruupa-khandhaa: vedanaa, sa~n~naa,
sa'nkhaara (which constitute citta).

Dhammaati gu.na-desanaa-pariyatti-nissattanijjiivavasena cattaaro dhammaa naama.
Tesu- "Na hi dhammo adhammo ca, ubho samavipaakino; adhammo niraya.m neti, dhammo paapeti suggatin"ti. (theragaa. 304; jaa. 1.15.386)- Aya.m gu.nadhammo naama.
"Dhamma.m vo, bhikkhave, desessaami aadikalyaa.nan"ti (ma. ni. 3.420) aya.m desanaadhammo naama.
"Idha pana, bhikkhave, ekacce kulaputtaa dhamma.m pariyaapu.nanti sutta.m geyyan"ti (ma. ni. 1.239) aya.m pariyattidhammo naama.
"Tasmi.m kho pana samaye dhammaa honti, khandhaa hontii"ti (dha. sa. 121) aya.m nissattadhammo naama, nijjiivadhammotipi eso eva. Tesu imasmi.m .thaane nissattanijjiivadhammo adhippeto. So atthato tayo aruupino khandhaa vedanaakkhandho sa~n~naakkhandho sa'nkhaarakkhandhoti.

Dhammapada-Atthakatha 1.22

Mr. Rhys-Davids also mentions these four in his dictionary entry on dhamma, yet the fourth meaning remains unclear. Yet according to the commentaries, this is the meaning associated with the fourth frame of reference.

Mr. Rhys-Davids writes that it is (4) nissatta-nijiivataa, or "the phenomenal" as opposed to "the substantial", "the noumenal", "animistic entity". What does it mean in the context of fourth frame of reference?

In the third frame of reference the practitioner explores the states of mind as a whole, but in the fourth frame of reference he explores the internal dynamics of the constituent parts of the mind, rise and fall of particular mental factors and phenomena.

Therefore in my opinion the translation 'internal processes of the mind' would be to the point.

Another option is 'mental qualities', since in the context of the fourth frame of reference "dhamma" refers first and foremost to the seven
factors of awakening and five hindrances. In most authoritative Vibhanga 199 only these seven plus five are mentioned in the Dhammaanupassanaaniddeso.

In my opinion calling these factors and hindrances "states" isn't correct, since they can be present simultaneously, and can be manifested only in specific occasions. A person with greed doesn't walk around in a "state" of greed: greed is manifested in specific occasions.

Secondly, calling these "mind-objects" is too wide a definition, since here we are talking exactly about factors of Awakening and hindrances.

Even when we read the fourth tetrad of Anapanasati sutta, dealing with the fourth frame of reference, there is again a clear connection with abandoning greed and distress through equanimity, which also can be classified as hindrances and factors of Awakening.

Metta, Dmytro
Last edited by Dmytro on Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pali Term: Dhamma

Postby Dmytro » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:25 am

Nina van Gorkom writes:


To recapitulate: the first meaning is gu.na, virtue or good quality. In different commentaries this is explained as kusala kamma different from akusala kamma. Kusala kamma is denoted as dhamma and akusala kamma is denoted as adhamma. We read in the Atthasaalinii, 38:

"Na hi dhammo adhammo ca, ubho samavipaakino;
dhamma, adhamma bear no equal fruit:

adhammo niraya.m neti, dhammo paapeti suggatin"ti.
adhamma leads to hell, dhamma causes one to reach heaven.
(theragaa. 304; jaa. 1.15.386)-

The second meaning given of dhamma is pariyatti: the wording of the teachings as contained in the Tipitaka. We read in the "Dhammapada Atthakataa 1.22:

Dhamma.m vo, bhikkhave, desessaami aadikalyaa.nan"ti (ma. ni. 3.420)
aya.m desanaadhammo naama.
I shall teach you, monks, Dhamma that is beautiful in the beginning (middle
and end), this is the dhamma of teaching.

"Idha pana, bhikkhave, ekacce kulaputtaa dhamma.m pariyaapu.nanti sutta.m
geyyan"ti (ma. ni. 1.239)
Here, monks, some young men of good family learn thoroughly the dhamma: sutta,
geyya, etc.

aya.m pariyattidhammo naama.
This is the dhamma which is the wording of the teachings.

My remarks:The word of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Vinaya as taught by
him, consists of nine divisions which are: Sutta, Geyya, Veyyaakarana, Gaathaa, Udaana, Itivuttaka, Jaataka, Abbhuta and Vedalla.

See the "Expositor", Atthasaalinii, Introductory Discourse, 26. The teachings as compiled (not yet written) literature are thus enumerated in the scriptures as nine divisions, for example in the "Middle Length Sayings"
I, no. 22.

Sutta includes all Discourses, such as the "Mangala sutta" ("Good Omen Discourse", Minor Readings, V), and also the Vinaya Pitaka and the Niddesa. In this classification the Vinaya is in the section of Sutta. The "Atthasaalinaa" mentions in this section on Sutta the Sutta-Vibhanga and Parivaara, which belong to the Vinaya.

Geyya includes all suttas with verses (gaathaa), such as the Sagaathaa-vagga of the Sa.myutta Nikaaya or "Kindred Sayings".

Veyyaakarana or "Exposition" includes the Abhidhamma Pi.taka, the suttas without verses, and the words of the Buddha which are not included in the other eight divisions.

Gaathaa or "Verses", include the Dhammapada, Theragaathaa, Therígaathaa (Psalms of the Brothers and Sisters) and those parts of the Sutta-Nipaata not called Sutta and entirely in verse.

Udaana or "Verses of Uplift" include eighty two suttas connected with verses recited by the Buddha, inspired by knowledge and joy.

Itivuttaka or "As it was said" includes hundred and ten suttas beginning with "Thus it was said by the Blessed One".

Jaataka or Birth Stories include five hundred and fifty stories of the past lives of the Buddha and his disciples, beginning with the "Apannaka Jaataka".

Abbhuta, "Marvellous", includes suttas connected with wonderful and marvellous things (dhammas with extraordinary qualities, which are amazing). Vedalla includes suttas with questions and answers which have as result understanding and delight, such as the "Cullavedallasutta".

As we have seen, pariyattidhammo includes the ninefold (nine limbs or a"ngas) classification of the teachings (sutta, geyya, etc.) which is a classification according to literary styles, and not according to given texts or books (See Nyanaponika's dictionary under sasana).

In the "Baahiranidaana" (Introductory chapter of the Commentary to the Vinaya, by Buddhaghosa), it is explained that the teachings as a whole have been laid down as, "This is the Dhamma and this is the Vinaya, these are the first, intermediate and final sayings of the Buddha, these are the Vinaya, Sutta and Abhidhamma Pi.takas, these are the Nikaayas from Diigha to Khuddaka, these are the nine A'ngas commencing with Sutta and these are the eighty-four thousand Units of the Dhamma, was rehearsed together by the assembly of self-controlled monks with Mahaakassapa as their leader verily observing this distinction."

Remark: thus, whenever the Dhamma and the Vinaya are referred to, the Abhidhamma is included in "Dhamma".

The following meaning of dhamma explained in the Dhammapada-Atthakatha, is dhamma as an entity without a living soul (nissatta, nijjiva):
"Tasmi.m khopana samaye dhammaa honti, khandhaa hontii"ti (dha. sa. 121)
Then, at that time dhammas occur, aggregates occur.

aya.mnissattadhammo naama, nijjiivadhammotipi eso eva.
this is dhamma without living being (non-substantial), it is also truly dhamma without life.

Tesu imasmi.m .thaane nissattanijjiivadhammo adhippeto.
As to these, dhamma without a living soul is meant in this case.

So atthato tayo aruupino khandhaa vedanaakkhandho sa~n~naakkhandho
sa'nkhaarakkhandhoti.
As to the meaning of this, there are the three mental aggregates of feeling, remembrance and formations (all cetasikas apart from feeling and remembrance).

N: Remark: the text quoted from the Dhammasangani (first Book of the Abhidhamma) states: "At the time of consciousness coming into existence, there occur dhammas." Thus, the aggregate of consciousness (vi~n`naa.nakkhandha) which is also a mental aggregate, is mentioned first, and then the other three mental aggregates denoted as dhammas are explained.

If we do not see the whole context we may not understand why three mental aggregates are mentioned separately.


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Re: Pali Term: Dhamma

Postby Dmytro » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:27 am

Pali sources:

Dhammapada-Atthakatha 1.22

Dhammaati gu.na-desanaa-pariyatti-nissattanijjiivavasena cattaaro
dhammaa naama. Tesu-
"Na hi dhammo adhammo ca, ubho samavipaakino;
adhammo niraya.m neti, dhammo paapeti suggatin"ti.
(theragaa. 304; jaa. 1.15.386)-
Aya.m gu.nadhammo naama. "Dhamma.m vo, bhikkhave, desessaami
aadikalyaa.nan"ti (ma. ni. 3.420) aya.m desanaadhammo naama. "Idha
pana, bhikkhave, ekacce kulaputtaa dhamma.m pariyaapu.nanti sutta.m
geyyan"ti (ma. ni. 1.239) aya.m pariyattidhammo naama. "Tasmi.m kho
pana samaye dhammaa honti, khandhaa hontii"ti (dha. sa. 121) aya.m
nissattadhammo naama, nijjiivadhammotipi eso eva. Tesu imasmi.m
.thaane nissattanijjiivadhammo adhippeto. So atthato tayo aruupino
khandhaa vedanaakkhandho sa~n~naakkhandho sa'nkhaarakkhandhoti.

Siilakkhandhavagga-Atthakatha 1.99

28. Eva.m brahmadattena vuttava.n.nassa anusandhivasena tividha.m
siila.m vitthaaretvaa idaani bhikkhusa'nghena vuttava.n.nassa
anusandhivasena- "atthi, bhikkhave, a~n~neva dhammaa gambhiiraa
duddasaa"ti-aadinaa nayena su~n~nataapakaasana.m aarabhi. tattha
dhammaati gu.ne, desanaaya.m, pariyattiya.m, nissatteti evamaadiisu
dhammasaddo vattati.
"Na hi dhammo adhammo ca, ubho samavipaakino;
adhammo niraya.m neti, dhammo paapeti suggatin"ti. (theragaa. 304);

Aadiisu hi gu.ne dhammasaddo. "dhamma.m, vo bhikkhave, desessaami
aadikalyaa.nan"ti-aadiisu (ma. ni. 3.420) desanaaya.m. "idha bhikkhu
dhamma.m pariyaapu.naati sutta.m, geyyan"ti-aadiisu (a. ni. 5.73)
pariyattiya.m. "tasmi.m kho pana samaye dhammaa honti, khandhaa
hontii"ti-aadiisu (dha. sa. 121) nissatte. idha pana gu.ne vattati.
tasmaa atthi, bhikkhave, a~n~neva tathaagatassa gu.naati evamettha
attho da.t.thabbo.

Dhammasangani-Atthakatha .38

Dhammasaddo panaaya.m pariyatti-hetu-gu.na-nissatta-nijjiivata-adiisu
dissati. Aya~nhi "dhamma.m pariyaapu.naati sutta.m geyyan"ti-aadiisu
(a. ni. 4.102) pariyattiya.m dissati. "Hetumhi ~naa.na.m dhamma
pa.tisambhidaa"ti-aadiisu (vibha. 720) hetumhi.

"Na hi dhammo adhammo ca, ubho samavipaakino;
adhammo niraya.m neti, dhammo paapeti suggatin"ti.
(theragaa. 304; jaa. 1.15.386)-

Aadiisu gu.ne. "Tasmi.m kho pana samaye dhammaa honti" (dha. sa. 121),
"dhammesu dhammaanupassii viharatii"ti-aadiisu (dii. ni. 2.373)
nissattanijjiivataaya.m. Svaayamidhaapi nissattanijjiivataayameva
va.t.tati.

Saddanitippakarana (Dhatumala) .339

Dhammasaddo pariyatti-hetu-gu.na-nissatta-nijjiivata-adiisu dissati.
Aya~nhi "dhamma.m pariyaapu.naati sutta.m geyyan"ti-aadiisu
pariyattiya.m dissati. "Hetumhi ~naa.na.m
dhammapa.tisambhidaa"ti-aadiisu hetumhi.

"Na hi dhammo adhammo ca, ubho samavipaakino;
adhammo niraya.m neti, dhammo paapeti suggatin"ti

Aadiisu gu.ne. "Tasmi.m kho pana samaye dhammaa honti. Dhammesu
dhammaanupassii viharatii"ti-aadiisu nissattanijjiivataaya.m.

Atha vaa dhammasaddo
sabhaava-pa~n~naa-pu~n~na-pa~n~natti-aapatti-pariyatti-nissatta-nijjiivataa-vika\
ara-gu.na
paccaya-paccayuppanna-adiisu dissati. Aya~nhi "kusalaa dhammaa
akusalaa dhammaa abyaakataa dhammaa"ti-aadiisu sabhaave dissati.

Yassete caturo dhammaa, saddhassa gharamesino;
sacca.m dhammo dhiti caago, sa ve pecca na socatii"ti

Aadiisu pa~n~naaya.m.
"Na hi dhammo adhammo ca, ubho samavipaakino;
adhammo niraya.m neti, dhammo paapeti suggatin"ti-aadiisu

Pu~n~ne. "Pa~n~nattidhammaa, niruttidhammaa,
adhivacanaadhammaa"ti-aadiisu pa~n~nattiya.m. "Paaraajikaa dhammaa,
sa'nghaadisesaa dhammaa"ti-aadiisu aapattiya.m. "Idha bhikkhu dhamma.m
jaanaati sutta.m geyya.m veyyaakara.nan"ti-aadiisu pariyattiya.m.
"Tasmi.m kho pana samaye dhammaa honti. Dhammesu dhammaanupassii
viharatii"ti-aadiisu nissattanijjiivataaya.m. "Jaatidhammaa
jaraadhammaa mara.nadhammaa"ti-aadiisu vikaare. "Channa.m
buddhadhammaanan"ti-aadiisu gu.ne. "Hetumhi ~naa.na.m
dhammapa.tisambhidaa"ti-aadiisu paccaye. ".Thitaavasaa dhaatu
dhamma.t.thitataa dhammaniyaamataa"ti-aadiisu paccayuppanne.

Atha vaa dhammasaddo
pariyatti-sacca-samaadhi-pa~n~naa-pakati-pu~n~na-apatti-~neyya-adiisu
bahuusu atthesu di.t.thappayogo. Tathaa hi "idha bhikkhu dhamma.m
pariyaapu.naatii"ti-aadiisu pariyattiya.m dissati. "Di.t.thadhammo
pattadhammo"ti-aadiisu sacce. "Eva.mdhammaa te bhagavanto
ahesun"ti-aadiisu samaadhimhi. "Sacca.m dhammo dhiti caago"ti
evamaadiisu pa~n~naaya.m. "Jaatidhammaana.m bhikkhave sattaanan"ti
evamaadiisu pakatiya.m. "Dhammo have rakkhati dhammacaarin"ti
evamaadiisu pu~n~ne. "Cattaaro paaraajikaa dhammaa"ti-aadiisu
aapattiya.m. "Kusalaa dhammaa"ti-aadiisu ~neyye. Eva.m
dhammasaddappavattivisayaa vividhaa a.t.thakathaacariyehi dassitaa,
tattha tattha pana aadisaddena yuttivisayaadayo ca atthaa gahetabbaa.
Tathaa hi dhammasaddo-

"Nesa dhammo mahaaraaja, ya.m tva.m gaccheyya ekako;
ahampi tena gacchaami, yena gacchasi khattiyaa"ti

Aadiisu yuttiya.m vattati. "Mana~nca pa.ticca dhamme ca uppajjati
manovi~n~naa.nan"ti-aadiisu visaye. "Sata~nca dhammo na jara.m
upetii"ti ettha nibbaane vattati. Tatra yaa nissattataa, saa eva
nijjiivataa. Yo ca hetu, so eva paccayo.

Icceva.m-
Pariyattipaccayesu, gu.ne nissattataaya ca;
sabhaave ceva pa~n~naaya.m, pu~n~ne pa~n~nattiyampi ca.
Aapattiya.m vikaare ca, paccayuppannakepi ca;
saccasamaadhipakati-~neyyesu yuttiyampi ca;
visaye ceva nibbaane, dhammasaddo pavattati.
Keci pana dhammasaddassa pavattivisayaana.m dasadhaava pariccheda.m vadanti.

Сeyyamagge ca nibbaane, sabhaave atha jaatiya.m;
mane visayapu~n~nesu, bhaave paavacanepi ca;
imesu dasasvatthesu, dhammasaddo pavattati.

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Re: Pali Term: Dhamma

Postby piotr » Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:31 am

Hi,

It's interesting that in conversations with Jains dhamma is substituted with nijjarā (for example <AN i 221>, <AN ii 198>, <SN iv 339>).
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Pali Term: Dhamma

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:19 pm

The Six qualities of the Dhamma:

1. Svakkhato: The Dhamma is not a speculative philosophy, but is the Universal Law found through enlightenment and is preached precisely. Therefore it is Excellent in the beginning (Sila — Moral principles), Excellent in the middle (Samadhi — Concentration) and Excellent in the end (Panna — Wisdom),

2. Samditthiko: The Dhamma is testable by practice and known by direct experience,

3. Akaliko: The Dhamma is able to bestow timeless and immediate results here and now, for which there is no need to wait until the future or next existence.

4. Ehipassiko: The Dhamma welcomes all beings to put it to the test and to experience it for themselves.

5. Opaneyiko: The Dhamma is capable of being entered upon and therefore it is worthy to be followed as a part of one's life.

6. Paccattam veditabbo vinnunhi: The Dhamma may be perfectly realized only by the noble disciples who have matured and enlightened enough in supreme wisdom.

(from Anguttara Nikaya 11.12)

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Re: Pali Term: Dhamma

Postby Dmytro » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:11 pm

From Bhikkhu Bodhi's introduction to the SN: http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/connecte ... troduction

Dhamma

Rather than embark on the quest for a single English rendering that can capture all the meanings of this polyvalent Pāli word, I have settled for the more pragmatic approach of using different renderings intended to match its different applications. When the word denotes the Buddha’s teaching, I have retained the Pāli “Dhamma,” for even “teaching” fails to convey the idea that what the Buddha teaches as the Dhamma is not a system of thought original to himself but the fundamental principles of truth, virtue, and liberation discovered and taught by all Buddhas throughout beginningless time. This is the Dhamma venerated by the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, which they look upon as their own standard and guide (see 6:2). From an internal “emic” point of view, the Dhamma is thus more than a particular religious teaching that has appeared at a particular epoch of human history. It is the timeless law in which reality, truth, and righteousness are merged in a seamless unity, and also the conceptual expression of this law in a body of spiritual and ethical teachings leading to the highest goal, Nibbāna, which is likewise comprised by the Dhamma. The word “Dhamma,” however, can also signify teachings that deviate from the truth, including the erroneous doctrines of the “outside” teachers. Thus the Jain teacher Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta is said to “teach the Dhamma to his disciples” (IV 317,25)—certainly not the Buddha’s teaching.

In one passage I render Dhamma as “righteousness” (at the Se counterpart of IV 303,21). This is in the epithet dhammarājā used for a universal monarch, where “king of righteousness” fits better than “king of the Dhamma,” the significance the epithet has relative to the Buddha. The corresponding adjective, dhammika, is “righteous.”

When dhamma occurs as a general term of reference, often in the plural, I usually render it “things.” As such, the word does not bear the narrow sense of concrete material objects but includes literally every-thing, such as qualities, practices, acts, and relationships. Thus the four factors of stream-entry are, as dhammas, things; so too are the twelve factors of dependent origination, the five aggregates, the six pairs of sense bases, and the diverse practices leading to enlightenment. Used in the plural, dhammā can also mean teachings, and so I render it at III 225,9 foll., though the exact sense there is ambiguous and the word might also mean the things that are taught rather than the teachings about them. One expression occurring in two suttas (II 58,3–4; IV 328,21–22), iminā dhammena, can be most satisfactorily rendered “by this principle,” though here dhamma points to the Dhamma as the essential teaching. Again, at I 167,9 (= I 168,25, 173,10), we have dhamme sati, “when this principle exists,” a rule of conduct followed by the Buddha.

When plural dhammā acquires a more technical nuance, in contexts with ontological overtones, I render it “phenomena.” For instance, paṭicca-samuppannā dhammā are “dependently arisen phenomena” (II 26,7), and each of the five aggregates is loke lokadhamma, “a world-phenomenon in the world” that the Buddha has penetrated and taught (III 139,22 foll.). When the word takes on a more psychological hue, I render it “states.” The most common example of this is in the familiar pair kusalā dhammā, wholesome states, and akusalā dhammā, unwholesome states (found, for example, in the formula for right effort; V 9,17–27). The enlightenment factor dhammavicaya-sambojjhaṅga is said to be nurtured by giving careful attention to pairs of contrasting mental states (among them wholesome and unwholesome states; V 66,18), and thus I render it “the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states.” But since the dhammas investigated can also be the four objective supports of mindfulness (V 331–32), dhammavicaya might have been translated “discrimination of phenomena.” Sometimes dhammā signifies traits of character more persistent than transient mental states; in this context I render it “qualities,” e.g., Mahākassapa complains that the bhikkhus “have qualities which make them difficult to admonish” (II 204,3–4).

As a sense base and element, the dhammāyatana and dhammadhātu are the counterparts of the manāyatana, the mind base, and the manoviññāṇadhātu, the mind-consciousness element. The appropriate sense here would seem to be that of ideas and mental images, but the commentaries understand dhammas in these contexts to include not only the objects of consciousness but its concomitants as well. Thus I translate it “mental phenomena,” which is wide enough to encompass both these aspects of experience. As the fourth satipaṭṭhāna, objective base of mindfulness, dhammā is often translated “mind-objects.” So I rendered it in MLDB, but in retrospect this seems to me unsatisfactory. Of course, any existent can become an object of mind, and thus all dhammas in the fourth satipaṭṭhāna are necessarily mind-objects; but the latter term puts the focus in the wrong place. I now understand dhammas to be phenomena in general, but phenomena arranged in accordance with the categories of the Dhamma, the teaching, in such a way as to lead to a realization of the essential Dhamma embodied in the Four Noble Truths.

Finally, -dhamma as a suffix has the meaning “is subject to” or “has the nature of.” Thus all dependently arisen phenomena are “subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation” (khayadhamma, vayadhamma, virāgadhamma, nirodhadhamma; II 26,9 foll.). The five aggregates are “of impermanent nature, of painful nature, of selfless nature” (aniccadhammadukkhadhammaanattadhamma; III 195–96).



From the introduction to the MN: http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/middle-l ... troduction

Dhamma

In his later translations Ven. Ñāṇamoli appears to have set himself two goals: to render virtually every Pali word into English (arahant and bodhisatta are rare exceptions); and to do so in obedience to a very rigorous standard of consistency. In effect the principle that guided his work was: one Pali word, one corresponding English word. This principle he also applied to his treatment of the multiplex word dhamma, of which he wrote elsewhere that “the need for unity in the rendering is so great as to be almost desperate” (Minor Readings and Illustrator, p. 331). He chose as his root rendering the word “idea,” which he attempted to deploy for the Pali word in all its diverse occurrences. Even when dhamma is used in the suttas to signify the Buddha’s teaching, he still remained faithful to his choice by translating it “the True Idea.”

Needless to say, this experiment was not successful. Recognising this, Ven. Khantipālo, in his edition of the ninety suttas, opted instead to retain the Pali word in most of its occurrences. This decision, however, seems to have been unnecessary when the relinquishment of the demand for strict consistency allows for smooth and reliable translation without loss of meaning. While the many different uses of the Pali word dhamma may originally have had some underlying connection of meaning, by the time of the Pali Canon such connection had already receded so far into the background as to be virtually irrelevant to the understanding of the texts. The commentaries ascribe at least ten different contextual meanings to the word as it occurs in the Canon and they do not try to read any philosophical significance into this variability of application. The goal of lucid translation therefore seems to require that the word be rendered differently according to its context, which generally makes the intended meaning clear.

In revising Ven. Ñāṇamoli’s translation I have retained the Pali word Dhamma only when it refers to the Buddha’s teaching, or in several cases to a rival teaching with which the Buddha’s is contrasted (as at MN 11.13 and MN 104.2). In its other uses the context has been allowed to decide the rendering. Thus when dhamma occurs in the plural as a general ontological reference term it has been rendered “things” (as at MN 1.2 and MN 2.5). When it acquires a more technical nuance, in the sense either of the phenomena of existence or of mental constituents, it has been rendered “states” (as at MN 64.9 and MN 111.4). This term, however, must be divested of its overtone of staticity, dhammas being events within a dynamic process, and it must also not be taken to refer to some persisting entity that undergoes the states, entities themselves being nothing but connected series of dhammas. The last two meanings of dhamma are not always separable in the texts and sometimes naturalness of English diction had to be used as the factor for deciding which should be selected.

As the fourth foundation of mindfulness and as the sixth external sense base (āyatana), dhamma has been rendered “mind-objects” (even here “ideas” is too narrow). In still other contexts it has been rendered as qualities (MN 15.3, MN 48.6) and teachings (MN 46.2, MN 47.3). When used as a suffix it acquires the idiomatic sense of “to be subject to” and so it has been translated, e.g., vipariṇāmadhamma as “subject to change.”


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