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Sanskrit and Pali?

Hey,
I was just going through this page.

Regarding point 8, historically, how did it come about that Theravada was transmitted in Pali, but Mahayana was transmitted in Sanskrit?

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    Different parts of the world?
    Different times?
    @Jason should be able to be very informative.
    he just knows all about these things..... :)
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited December 2010
    Although the roots of the Pali language existed in India, the Pali language of the Pali Canon is a specialist technical language devised especially for the transmission of the teachings so the teachings would be tamper proof.

    For example, the word vinnana is for consciousness. It has nanna within it, which means 'knowing'. Vinnana is basic sense awareness.

    Yet some take it to be something that is reborn, like a spirit or stream of substance.

    Or vipassana literally means 'clear direct seeing' (not thinking). Yet the pundits of Sanskrit (the Mahayana) regard vipassana as analytical reasoning or thinking (in Pali yonisomanasikara).

    Sankrit was the language of the Brahmins. The use of Sankrit in Buddhism correlates to certain changes in the teachings.

    As I said, the Pali language is tamper proof.

    Best wishes
    DD


    :)
  • i still prefer how (buddhist hybrid) samskrita sounds... påli is a simplification (in spelling) of language, samyak buddha chosed it because with that language he could teach much more people.
  • Federica, thanks, hopefully he'll check in.

    I think I see where I went wrong in my reasoning. I thought Pali was a language that originated in Asia (yes, I know India and Sri Lanka are in Asia, but you know what I mean). So, I found it strange that the older tradition used a language originated from a different region. Obviously, I was wrong in that assumption.
  • Hey,
    I was just going through this page.

    Regarding point 8, historically, how did it come about that Theravada was transmitted in Pali, but Mahayana was transmitted in Sanskrit?

    Don't forget the Buddha never heard of Pali, in speech or writing. This is a crucial thing to realise if one wishes to avoid scriptural dogma, which as buddhists we probably would be more "right" in avoiding:)

    namaste



  • @thickpaper, yet Buddha taught in the Magadha language, which is considered to be the closest language to Pali. It's closer to Pali than it is to Sanskrit, is it not?

    Either way, those languages are all fairly close to each other.
  • edited December 2010
    @Vincenzi, I believe it's a bit more complicated than that, if you've implied that Pali has evolved from Sanskrit, when in reality they are sister languages from an older Indo-Aryan language.

    As Dhamma Dhatu said, it is a devised language of the Prakrit language of Magadha. As Wiki says:

    Classification

    Pali is a literary language of the Prakrit language family. When the canonical texts were written down in Sri Lanka in the first century BCE, Pali stood close to a living language; this is not the case for the commentaries.[2] Despite excellent scholarship on this problem, 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 not so much with regard to the time of its origin as to its dialectal base, since a number of its morphological and lexical features betray the fact that it is not a direct continuation of Ṛgvedic Vedic Sanskrit; rather it descends from a dialect (or a number of dialects) that was, despite many similarities, different from Ṛgvedic.[3]
  • @thickpaper, yet Buddha taught in the Magadha language, which is considered to be the closest language to Pali. It's closer to Pali than it is to Sanskrit, is it not?

    Either way, those languages are all fairly close to each other.

    I don't think that is the point of my mention. I do not belittle the texts when I say they are not in the language they were spoken, which, simply, they were not.

    But it does mean that none of us can say with any certainty that the Buddha certainly said this, and certainly not that.

    :)

    namaste

  • I don't think that is the point of my mention. I do not belittle the texts when I say they are not in the language they were spoken, which, simply, they were not.

    But it does mean that none of us can say with any certainty that the Buddha certainly said this, and certainly not that.
    And after all, the Buddha often said "Look to the meaning, not the words".

  • And after all, the Buddha often said "Look to the meaning, not the words".
    Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. Either way, its a wise and dharmic statement:"Look to the meaning, not the words."

    Namaste
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited December 2010
    And after all, the Buddha often said "Look to the meaning, not the words".
    Karma

    Is there quote which shows the actually Buddha said what you say he said?

    The meaning is found in the words. This is the beauty of Pali. It is a literal tradition rather than an interpretative tradition.

    Best wishes

    DD

    :)

  • I'll find the quote when I have time this week. I am trying to understand what you are saying (and failing). Meaning is brought to a text by the reader, based on their own personal web of word meanings. If you ask the average Christian what yoniso-manasikara you will get a blank stare. All language activity is interpreted. We are not machines dealing with binary code.

    Can you explain how it is that you think words have any literal meaning outside of the definitions of a given reader?
  • And after all, the Buddha often said "Look to the meaning, not the words".


    Karma

    Is there quote which shows the actually Buddha said what you say he said?
    This is the first part of the Four Reliances. You will find it in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra and the Catuhpratisarana Sutra, among other places. It is usually translated as:


    "First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings, not on the words;
    Second, rely on the teachings, not on the personality of the teacher;
    Third, rely on real wisdom, not superficial interpretation;
    And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind, not on judgmental perceptions."
  • different birthdays. Migratino.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited December 2010
    Hey,
    I was just going through this page.

    Regarding point 8, historically, how did it come about that Theravada was transmitted in Pali, but Mahayana was transmitted in Sanskrit?
    I'm not an expert on the subject, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt; but from what I understand, it's mainly due to the combination of where and when each set of texts were initially composed, and when and where they were eventually transmitted.

    Pali (an early form of Prakrit related to Hindi and Sanskrit) is thought to be a composite of several dialectal forms and expressions that's most likely based on the language the Buddha himself taught in, which is generally held to be a dialect of Magadhi Prakrit; although there's still a great deal of debate among scholars as to the exact dates and place of origin of Pali itself.

    The commentarial tradition of Theravada holds that Pali is identical to Magadhi, but as the introduction to A New Course in Reading Pali: Entering the Word of the Buddha notes, it doesn't share many of the distinctive characteristics found in Magadhan inscriptions, primarily from the time of Asoka. Nevertheless, it's considered by many scholars, such as Wilhelm Geiger and Walpola Rahula, to at least be closely related to Magadhi, especially in the sense of being a type of popular speech.

    Whatever the case, it's believe that at the time of the Buddha (approximately 400 BCE), many of the great wandering ascetics (samana) in the northern area of India known as Magadha, like the Buddha and his contemporary Mahavira (Nigantha Nataputta) taught in the popular vernacular of the people, used for general communication and commerce, as opposed to Vedic Sanskrit, the sacred language of Vedas used by brahmins. This was not only done because they rejected the authority of the Vedas, but because they wanted to make their teachings widely available. The use of Vedic Sanskrit also appears to be in decline by this time.

    Not long afterwards, however, Sanskrit made a serious come back as a literary and religious language thanks to the great Indian scholar and grammarian, Panini. By the time the early Mahayana sutras were being composed, Panini's Sanskrit had already become the standard.

    Early Buddhist texts underwent various degrees of Sanskritization, while newer texts were being composed in what's now termed 'Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit' or even classical Sanskrit itself. The former were transmitted via Asoka to places like Sri Lanka, where they survived the decline of Buddhism in India and Central Asia, while the latter found a safe home in places like China.
  • Jason, that makes sense and seems to be consistent with what I've read so far. Thanks for the info.


  • Not long afterwards, however, Sanskrit made a serious come back as a literary and religious language thanks to the great Indian scholar and grammarian, Panini. By the time the early Mahayana sutras were being composed, Panini's Sanskrit had already become the standard.

    Early Buddhist texts underwent various degrees of Sanskritization, while newer texts were being composed in what's now termed 'Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit' or even classical Sanskrit itself. The former were transmitted via Asoka to places like Sri Lanka, where they survived the decline of Buddhism in India and Central Asia, while the latter found a safe home in places like China.
    Shramana Paramiti smuggled The Shurangama Sutra from India to China in Tang Dynasty. As the Director of Translation, he stood at the head of more than five hundred Dharma masters who had assembled to work on the translation. The work was done at Chih Chih Monastery, a large monastery in the City of Quangzhou.

    Bodhiruchi 572-727 A.D.
    studied many non-Buddhist religions, but took refuge in Buddhism in the age of 60.
    Thorough understanding of all Buddhist scriptures in 5 years.
    Translated 53 scriptures in 110 fascicles in 17 years, including
    Maharatnakuta Sutra, i.e. Sutra of the Great Accumulation of Treasures 120 fascicles in 713 A.D.
    Samdhinirochana Sutra, i.e. Sutra of Profound and Mysterious Emancipation 5 fascicles in 580-535 A.D.
    Died in the age of 156
    http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/bdoor/archive/nutshell/teach51.htm
    :thumbsup:
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