A twelve week course on Pali for serious students by Bhante Sujato

Course aims

To provide a solid foundation in Pali grammar, syntax, and vocabulary for serious students of early Buddhism, especially those interested in translation or research.

Timing (AEST)

  • Weekly classes every Tuesday
  • Vassa 2023: Tuesday 1 August through to Tuesday 24 Oct.
  • One hour per class.
  • 8:00pm AEST
  • Sydney: Tuesday, 8:00 pm
  • Colombo: Tuesday, 3:30 pm
  • New York: Tuesday, 6:00 am
  • Vienna: Tuesday, 12:00 am

Course resources

The textbook will be AK Warder’s Introduction to Pali. Students need a copy, preferably in paper. Here is a digital copy together with an answer key.

Here is a supplementary set of notes on Warder by Justin Meiland; thanks to Ven Sunyo for sharing these.

Meiland - Warder additions (2010, archive.org).pdf (1.8 MB)

If students need more resources, I recommend listening to the relevant classes on the excellent “Learn Pali” channel.

Preliminaries—before the course starts

All students must have a fundamental grasp of grammar and how it works. If you don’t know what “participle”, “conjugation”, and “declension” mean, then you need to study a book on basic grammatical theory before the class starts.

Students must be familiar with the Pali suttas and have read them extensively in translation.

Students must read through and study the passages of Rune Johansson’s Pali Buddhist Texts Explained to the Beginner.

Students must read the introduction to Warder (pp. 1–9) before the start of the course.

Course outline

Each week will cover one chapter of Warder. Each week before the class, students are required to:

  • read the relevant chapter
  • complete the exercises
  • grade their own results with the answer key

In the one-hour class I will briefly summarize the chapter and discuss issues raised with the students. I will not be providing assessments; it is up to each student to do their own assessment and let me know where their problems lie.

Course extension

The basic course will cover the first 12 (or thirteen) chapters of Warder. The way Warder is structured, the fundamental content is in the first 16 chapters, plus more advanced topics afterwards.

My initial proposal was for the 12 weeks, as that is what I can guarantee during the rains retreat. Thanks to the generous offer of John Kelly, we can now offer an extended course for students who wish to keep going. We’ll assess the details later, but John has offered to take over the classes, and if I am around I might be able to join as well.

Depending on interest, we might also work together on offering a further advanced Pali series, covering difficult translation issues, verses, and so on.

Course requirements

Students must make a written commitment to complete the course, and to complete all homework and preliminaries before classes as required. Students must attend all classes.

If a student finds they have to skip more than one or two classes or to complete homework, this course is not for them and they should drop out. There are plenty of other resources that might suit them.


  • Classes conducted over Zoom.
  • Classes will not be recorded for publishing, but students attending can record them for later revision if they like.
    • Since the classes will be mostly discussion of issues encountered by the students, there is little point in making them freely available. In any case, the excellent Learn Pali series has this covered.

Between classes, students can connect myself or each other using a private thread on this Discourse platform.

Registering for the course

Course registration has closed. 60 people successfully registered!


OMG im so freaking excited!!! :slight_smile:

1900 hours is better for me :slight_smile:


Polling is closed, ultimately I chose to do it at 8pm AEST, which hopefully means we can include folks in Europe and US east coast as well as Oz and Asia.

I am happy to run the classes at Sydney time (AEST) either 12:30 pm or 7:00 pm. Here’s how the timing plays out in a few places. Note these are based on current times and don’t account for changes in daylight saving, etc.

  • Sydney: Tuesday, 12:30 pm
  • Colombo: Tuesday, 8:00 am
  • Los Angeles: Monday, 7:30 pm
  • Vienna: Tuesday, 4:30 am

  • Sydney: Tuesday, 7:00 pm
  • Colombo: Tuesday, 2:30 pm
  • Los Angeles: Tuesday, 2:00 am
  • Vienna: Tuesday, 11:00 am

The earlier time is probably better for folks in the US, while the later time might suit folks in Oz and Asia better. I’ll use this poll to get an idea of what is wanted, but note, I’m not necessarily going to choose the majority time!

  • 12:30 pm
  • 7:00 pm
0 voters

Hopefully this doesn’t start two weeks ago! :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for this, Bhante.


Haha, thanks, fixed now.


Hey thanks to everyone who voted, it’s currently 62% in favor of 7:00pm, so let’s do that. Sorry to our American friends!

WE will put up a booking very soon for you to register. Please note that to register you will be required to:

  1. Make a commitment to complete the course.
  2. Answer three questions based on the content of the course outline posted above.

So if you are interested, start doing the Preliminary reading now!


Dear Bhante,

You wrote:

Which passages are you referring to? Do you mean the whole book?


any recommendations in this area bhante?

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Just the passages it seems. :smiley:

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Does the original announcement mean that the classes will be on Tuesdays? Or the day hasn’t been decided, just the time frame of Vassa?

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Different learners learn effectively in different ways. This means that they gain the most from different teachers and from different textbooks.

I just want to bow to the feet of Rune Johansson!!! His Pali Buddhist Texts Explained to the Beginner is the Pali text I have been looking for and thought I’d never meet!!!

He seems to have been an interesting guy.


I’m totally going for it! I’ve already ordered books and started learning basic grammar stuff that Bhante Sujato mentioned. Waiting for the registration. Thank you Bhante Sujato. :pray: It is a great opportunity to finally learn some pali and in consequence, to get closer to words of the Buddha! :slight_smile:

Luckily, I’ve got time to attend all classes and to learn in between them. :slight_smile:


Thank you so much for this oppurtunity Bhante! Your announcement reads like a really severe and serious oppurtunity to learn Pali. I would be happy and greatful to partake in this course. :pray: :muscle:

Since answering the questions reads to be like a test for participation it would be nice If you could tell us how and when this will take place, so that we do not find out only one day before the start of the course whether we are allowed to participate.

I think he refers to this course posted above:

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Bhante, could you summarize briefly what the weekly meetings will contribute beyond clarifying details and mistakes from the textbook?

In other words, what/how will the course provide additional information geared to translation and study of the EBTs beyond someone working through the book solo and doing lots of translations? Just trying to get a sense. :pray:



Just to double check that I’m understanding this correctly: since this is a 13 week course, that means we’ll be getting through lesson 13 (~page 85) in Warder only and thus won’t cover e.g. the locative declension which isn’t introduced until lesson 16. Is that correct?


I’m thrilled, thank you Bhante,
12:30 AEST works for me cuz I am in Miami and thats 10 30 pm here and I can work with that.

Thank youu

The vote was for 7:00 pm Sydney time, @mariocesar.


Hi everyone, just a quick update. I’m travelling ATM so it’s a little erratic, but still on course!

If you are interested, please review the original post and focus on getting the preliminaries under your belt. For some of you that’s a reasonable bit of work, I know for myself the most difficult part was just working around the basic grammatical concepts. But anyway, it will stand you in good stead!

We are setting up the registration process and will share it with you very soon. But don’t fret about registering: better to spend a few more days revising the background. Why? Because the registration will be tested. We’re going to have three questions, all of which are referenced in the original post, and can be answered if you do the preliminaries. I want to make sure we get only committed students. So do the homework and you’ll pass the test!

That’s basically it. They will be for feedback and discussion, with a minimum of didactic content. I’ll never do an online presentation better than the Learn Pali course!

yes, I’ll bring that perspective, I can hardly not. But at the same time, the main focus will be on the fundamentals of grammar which underlie any translation approach.

Interesting idea though, perhaps we could do a subsequent course focusing specifically on translation methods?

Yes, unless we accelerate there will be a few lessons missing. Hopefully by that time students will be able to proceed on their own, but in addition, I’ll make myself available as best I can. As you know, post-vassa is a very uncertain time for monastics, so I can’t commit to a schedule as such, but let’s see as the time gets closer, perhaps we can do some continuing meetings. Or maybe run the classes themselves? Or at least contact here.

I just checked the times again, and it turns out, if I do it at 8pm Sydney time, that will be 6am on the US east coast. So i’ll change the time, hopefully you can make it early morning!


Thank you, Bhante.
I am also interested in this course. I have read a lot about Pali and I was looking for a course to praticipate in.

I am in Vietnam, i.e. 3 hours behind Australia. Both times given suit me, so I will leave the decision to those who might have issues with one of both.


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