A curious but frequent grammatical construction in DN 22: uppajjamānā uppajjati

Hello all,

In our study group tonight with @johnk, we were working our way through the Mahāsa­tipa­ṭ­ṭhāna­sutta, and we noticed that an interesting construction occurs several times:

Sā kho panesā, bhikkhave, taṇhā kattha uppajjamānā uppajjati, kattha nivisamānā nivisati?
Whatever in the world seems nice and pleasant, it is there that craving arises and settles.

So we have uppajjamānā, a present participle, followed by uppajjati, a present third-person indicative, in sequence. In the same sentence we see nivisamānā nivisati, literally something like “settling, it settles”. There are other instances of the construction in this text:

Sā kho panesā, bhikkhave, taṇhā kattha pahīyamānā pahīyati, kattha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati?
Whatever in the world seems nice and pleasant, it is there that craving is given up and ceases.

For lack of a better term, is this construction “a thing”? Does anyone have any insight into the work that that the repetition is doing? Is it perhaps just functioning as a kind of emphasis, or is there more going on here?

Thanks in advance. :pray:


FWIW, we see this type of construction in the Sinhala language too, which is heavily influenced by Pali—so I’d say it is indeed a thing.

The question form would be “[when] arising, where does it arise?”, and the answer would be “[when] arising, it arises there”.


Very common to have the present participle and finite verb side by side.
where/when arising it arises…

I’ve always regarded it as a linguistic turn of phrase rather than having a more philosophical meaning. English translations often streamline it.

It is addressed in Ven. Bodhi’s Reading the Buddha’s Discourses in Pāli, Chapter 4, Sammasanasutta (SN 12:66)


Thank you @stephen this is very helpful. I’m looking forward to reading what Bhikkhu Bodhi has to say as well.

In case anyone is interested, I found the relevant extract from Bhikkhu Bodhi’s text:

[4. Exploring craving]
Tanha panayam kattha uppajjamana uppajjati, kattha nivisamānā nivisati.
When this craving is arising, where does it arise? When it is settling
down, where does it settle?" Panayam is a sandhi of pana and ayam. Kattha is an interrogative of location. As is common in Pāli, the present participle and the finite verb are cognates of the same verb, with the present participle, uppajjamānā, here agreeing in gender and case with tanha. The two verbs, it seems, indicate two stages in the manifestation of craving, uppajjati its initial arising and nivisati its habitual recurrence.

(Sorry for the missing diacritics, I will add them when I am on my laptop.)


in the mahasatipatthana sutta or any sutta the buddha is taking the listeners on the experiential journey from anariya to ariya - from bondage to liberation in REAL TIME.

read all suttas in slow-motion! every paragraph & every line of a paragraph & every word in every line is arranged in a chronological pattern of happening of things (or in olariko to sukhuma to sukhuma’ti pattern). no one except the Enlightened One can talk like this extempore!

now re: mahasatipatthana words that you quoted:

simple! see it real time as if in a slow motion time graph…

uppajjamānā uppajjati = “arises” and “completely arises”

nivisamānā nivisati = “is established” and “gets completely established”.

…and similarly for the eradication part.