*Arthapada Sūtra Translation

Greetings to All:

I’m starting this thread because, in connection other threads wherein possible connections between Snp 4.11, the Kalahavivāda Sutta, and DN 15, the Mahānidāna Sutta, were discussed, it seemed desirable, and possibly helpful, to get a working translation of Snp 4.11’s Chinese parallel,《異學角飛經》Yixue jiaofei jing, tenth sūtra in T 198《佛說義足經》Foshuo yizu jing (*Arthapada Sūtra), going. I say “translation,” but this is honestly probably more of a “reading” because, despite a heroic effort at translation by the eminent scholar of Buddhism from the last century, P. V. Bapat (found here), the text is still as difficult as it ever was, and remains (criminally, in my opinion) understudied.

I’m tagging @kaccayanagotta and @cdpatton simply because we three had discussed starting this thread beforehand, but, of course, everyone is invited to contribute. I only ask that peripheral subjects not directly concerned with furthering the translation be kept to a minimum. The *Arthapada is indeed a fascinating subject, both doctrinally as well as from a literary standpoint, and, as I alluded to earlier, it is severely understudied. Obviously, more discussion about is desperately needed; I just don’t know if this particular thread would be the place for that. Aside from the subtlety of the content, the Chinese in many places is just really rough, probably corrupt. Bapat has indeed done much of the foundational work, and his translation should probably be kept close at hand for consultation purposes; there is, however, still much room for debate concerning how accurate some of his renderings are. I hope we can get engage with some of that here.

That all out of the way, I’m going to start with the first two stanzas, putting up some of my ideas. Anyone who’s familiar with Snp 4.11 knows that the stanzas run in pairs, questions raised in the first stanzas being answered in the next. For the most part, in the Pāli, these answers are near-verbatim repetitions of that which preceded it. The Chinese, while nowhere near as neat, hints that its source-text adhered to a similar pattern. As such, taking the stanzas two at a time and reading the two in juxtaposition seems a good way to go. I invite critiques, comments, ideas from whosoever sees fit to contribute. Thank you.



憂 Piya(可愛)

Here are the first two stanzas as they appear on CBETA’s site (I’m not ready to procure a more critical reading than this right now) with whatever textual notes they provide, for which Bapat gives the following reading:

“Quarrels and dispute—from where do they arise,
Along with grief and lamentation and mutual jealousy as well?
False words and words of slander that are mutually exchanged—
From what source do they arise, I beg of the Buddha to say.”

“When there are things beloved there arise quarrels and fights,
Griefs and lamentations as well as jealousies that are mutual,
Words of slander that are exchanged and words that are false.
[So] from mutual slander do originate quarrels and disputes.”

My thoughts are:

  • 變, “change, transformation,” in both stanzas, could quite possibly be a misreading for the homophonous 辯, “argue, debate,” as, in my opinion, this better suits the context; though it should be mentioned that 變 does have as an extended meaning “an unexpected, calamitous event.” In fact, this is its most common vernacular usage in contemporary Japanese.

  • CBETA lists 嫉, “jealousy, envy” as an variant reading of the near-homograph 疾, “disease, affliction.” 嫉 would appear to be the preferred reading, and Bapat seems to take this reading. However, it should be mentioned that 疾 is recognized as a loan-word for 嫉 in dictionaries, implying that 疾 is acceptable and amending to 嫉 is superfluous. (Also, 疾 itself can signify feeling hatred towards something–though this is a rarer usage, I think.)

  • For 坐憂可 at the start of the second stanza, I would suggest possibly 從可愛. I don’t see what 坐 could mean here, and I would guess that a confusion arose between near-homographs 坐 and 從. Moreover, 從 xy in the first sentence of the second stanza pairs with y 何從起?in the first sentence of the first. Finally, while CBETA’s suggestion that 憂 should stand for the Pāli piya could be argued for, 愛 not only corresponds much more closely to piya, it also appears in the third and fourth stanzas as the cause for the subsequent link in the chain. Again, Bapat seems to concur.

  • I also wonder about 轉 and 欲 in 轉相毁/欲相毁 in the first and second stanzas, respectively. Should there be a consistency there?


Re: 變.

I agree that it’s equivalent to 辯 in these verses. In EMC, they rhyme (變 = pian, 辯 = bian). There are a couple passages in other texts that also treat 變訟 as equivalent to 辯訟, which means arguing and debating. It may have been the close pronunciation that caused it. It’s pretty rare (I only see a few occurrences in CBETA), but it happened:

T323.25a24-25: 懷來牢獄、瞋諍、無和、變訟、罵詈*,是名居家;
“… angry fighting, lack of peace, debating, criticizing …”
T624.359a20: 道;二十七者、若有鬪[11]諍變訟,若諍錢財、若諍
“… if there’s fighting and arguing …”

The alternate reading in the second passage transposes 諍 and 變. Searching for 鬪變 brings up a couple other passages that show that 變 could be interchangeable with words like 鬪, 諍, and 訟. So, I think we can consider this proven.


:wave: Greetings!

I thought I’d add in the Pāli just in case it is useful in comparing or deciphering the stanzas for translation here.

1.1a. “Where do quarrels and disputes come from?
Kutopahūtā kalahā vivādā,
1.2a. And lamentation and sorrow, and stinginess? Paridevasokā sahamaccharā ca;
1.3a. What of conceit and arrogance, and slander too—Mānātimānā sahapesuṇā ca,
1.4a. tell me please, where do they come from?” Kutopahūtā te tadiṅgha brūhi.
1.1b. “Quarrels and disputes come from what we hold dear,
Piyappahūtā kalahā vivādā,
1.2b. as do lamentation and sorrow, stinginess, Paridevasokā sahamaccharā ca;
1.3b. [and] conceit and arrogance.
Mānātimānā sahapesuṇā ca,
1.4b. Quarrels and disputes are linked to stinginess, Maccherayuttā kalahā vivādā;
1.5b. and when disputes have arisen there is slander.”
Vivādajātesu ca pesuṇāni.

One difference that stood out already is that the Chinese seems to be leaning towards something close to ‘jealousy’ in place of Pāli macchara/macchariya which means ‘stinginess’ or ‘avarice’. What’s interesting is that in the PTS dictionary, there is a note saying “Vedic matsara & matsarin enjoyable; later period also “envious,” cp. maccharin.” Considering the close parallel to the Pāli so far (as far as I can tell), I’d say it makes sense to say that the original Prakrit word was a reflex of macchara. Somebody may know more though. I’m not sure if that would influence the translation itself as much as how we think of what it is meant to be translating. If this is too off-topic for the thread though let me know :slight_smile:


First, what resources, if any, are you using in that regard? I currently have nothing, nor have I ever had anything. I’m not formally trained in that area; I just have very much a layman’s acquaintance with ancient pronunciations. Can you recommend something? (preferably, something online)

I never thought to use CBETA. Thanks for the tip.

Any thoughts, @cdpatton, on any of the other points?

I would like to add that, in addition to the other circumstantial hints, the 憂 in the first sentence, second stanza as a rendering of piya–which I propose should rather be 愛–would, in this case, have likely crept in as a copyist’s error from the 憂 in the second sentences of both stanzas. Also, it looks as if I neglected to mention that the CBETA editorial team also hints at 憂 for (可)愛.

(I should also mention that I see 世 [the world, *loka], paired with 愛 [*piya] in the third stanza, as another possible copyist’s error for 坐 on the basis of similar appearances–although, in the Pāli, “the world” doesn’t appear until the third stanza.)

Can we find any examples of such a usage?

I don’t follow you here.

Not at all. Please understand that guideline as referring to long, tangential, philosophical detours that end up taking a life of their own.

I don’t think we should go into the third and fourth stanzas just yet, as they have a whole host of their own translation issues which are not nearly as straightforward as what we’ve seen so far. If no one has any objections, let’s settle any questions on these stanzas first, before proceeding.


You’ll need to find one to work with the pronunciations properly. I’m using the Japanese Gakken Kanwa Dai Jiten dictionary, which very helpfully lists old, early middle, late middle, early Mandarin, and modern Pinyin pronunciations (in IPA) for the Chinese. (Believe me, I treat that dictionary like it’s made of gold. It’s quite good as a classical Chinese dictionary, but it’s in Japanese.) I believe Pulleyblank is another authority often cited for EMC pronunciations. I don’t recall the exact reference offhand, but there’s one by him out there.

An online reference is one of my wish-I-had-time-to-get-enough-done-to-publish projects. I’m slowly copying the Gakken readings into an html file as I look characters up because I quickly got tired looking the same ones up over and over. And I know other people could really use a handy reference.

I’ll try to get back to it in a few days. I’m trying to get a couple translations fully edited and released this week. I started to try to sort out that line with 坐 in it, but I didn’t have time to reach any conclusions. Overall, your notes look like a good starting place. The text does look to have some inconsistencies.


Thanks for the tips! I’ll be looking into these. A few questions: I’m not in Japan at the moment; I’ll be there soon. I know we have at least one (more than one?) Kanwa Dai Jiten: does it have to be Gakken, though? And, as far as Pulleyblank, would that be the “Lexicon of reconstructed pronunciation in early Middle Chinese, late Middle Chinese, and early Mandarin”?

Take your time; this is not a rush job.

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It looks like ‘macchara’ has a related/variant(?) form ‘maccharin’ which simply means this. This entry has some information and examples, though a more experienced Pāḷi scholar familiar with the evolution of terminology may be able to shed light on some of the usages with more detail.

I was just saying that reconstructing the original Prakrit reflex may not influence the actual translation of the Chinese, but it may influence how we think about the deeper meaning that the Chinese was translating. If the Chinese word means ‘envious,’ that’s the translation. But if the original word was a reflex of ‘macchara’ which seems to imply something closer to stinginess in our Indic parallels of the sutra, then that may influence how we look at the Chinese in comparative study.



Oh no, I looked up and found that entry as soon as you mentioned it the first time. What I was asking was if we had sutta examples of maccharin meaning “envious.”

Ahh… Gotcha! Yes, you’re right. And, in fact, that’s why I’m asking about sutta examples above. Because, if I understood you correctly, that maccharin usage referred to a Vedic context, and the argument for the influence of that meaning on this Chinese translation might be that much weaker for it. But, of course, then again, maybe not.


Re: Gakken, I’m not sure. The pronunciations may be standard practice in Japanese dictionaries. I just have the Gakken dictionary because Charles Muller uses it as one of his main sources for his online Chinese-English dictionary, so I figured it must be the good one.

Re: Pulleyblank, yes that must be it.


Just going to drop this here, a partial Arthapada translation and discussion by Kevin Hush Anderson. I’m not sure if he’s done this sutta, but there are some good discussions here.


Thank you, Bhante. I’ve known about this site for maybe 2-3 years now, back when he was adding ne content regularly. Unfortunately, I have no idea why, he just stopped translating one day.

And, even more unfortunate is that, no, this is not one of the sūtras he translated.

Bhante, if you’re still here can I ask you your view on how connected this sūtra or its Pāli parallel is to the rest of either of their respective collections? I know there are many scholars who do not see the entire 16 as a whole, and each groups the verses together according to theme: non-clinging to views, eradication of desire, etc. This sutta, in my view, doesn’t seem to fit so neatly into any of those categories: it seems to be a bit of an outlier. Is that what you found? Or do you feel differently? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Well it’s a bit unusual in that it deals with deep meditation, which is not addressed in most of the Atthakavagga. There are some similarities with Snp 5.15, which similarly speaks of someone who “perceives the disappearance of form” (vibhūtarūpasaññissa) and who has “entirely given up the body” (sabbakāyappahāyino).

But I haven’t drawn any particular conclusions from this. Generally, collections aren’t uniform: they include a majority of a type and a minority against that type. Scholars are sometimes too quick to assume that if something is different it must be later or whatever, but difference is normal.


@sujato and @knotty36 ,

Snp 4.11 and Snp 5.2 have some similarities. The questioners ask a series of question where the Buddha eventually explains how name and form cease. They differ in that Snp 4.11 leaves a residue of a kind of perception

and Snp 5.2 has no residue.

Snp 4.11 seems to refer to Snp 5.2 a little further down.

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After looking into this, I’m thinking it’s even more complicated.

For example, there’s a homophone/homograph expression 侳懮, which means “calm, peaceful, leisurely.”

On top of that 坐 has idiomatic meanings according to my Gakken dictionary “not doing anything” → “having leisure time” → “being punished as an accomplice because of knowing and not doing anything”.

Another possibility is that 坐 may refer to a two-character word like 坐致 (which refers to Zhuangzi passage about doing things without hardship) by dropping the second character because of limited space. It’s more of a stretch, though, as I don’t see any that fit the line. I think a possibility might be that it should read 致憂(痛). I’m not sure what 致 translates, but the Pali does imply that sorrow and lamentation cause disputes, just obliquely. What’s dear to us causes sorrow and lamentation when it’s threatened or lost.

This is the trouble with these early translations. They aren’t using Chinese in the narrow meanings that developed in later Buddhist Hybrid Chinese that became systematic in matching Chinese to Indic words. They are proper classical Chinese and have all of these complicated references and idiomatic meanings, not to mention characters being used interchangeable because they sound alike or are written a little differently.

So, I think rewriting the line altogether may be a bit hasty, but I’m also still unsure about it. I think the Indic original may have read differently. The Taisho note isn’t suggesting we change it, they are just glossing piya in Chinese. It seems like the Taisho editors spent some time comparing this text to Pali and were sharing what the Pali says for their readers.


Interesting. Can you tell what led you to this conclusion?

No, and I don’t think we would expect them to. It’s not really their place to make suggestions or recommendations like that. But, there’s a bit more to it than just glossing the Chinese with the Pāli: as 愛 below appears exactly where piya should appear (following a syntactically and semantically parallel pattern), and with Taisho perhaps subscribing to the same logic I’m following regarding the nearness of 憂, it makes sense to at least consider piya for 憂–especially since, like 愛 in the following stanza, this sentence fits right in with the Pāli explanation of piya (piyappahutā kalahavivādā). That’s why I’m so interested to hear why you think the Indic may have read differently.

I admit that the argument for 從 for 坐 is not as strong, but it would mirror the 從可愛 below in a sūtra which is quite rigidly formulaic, more so than anything else in the collection.

Actually, taking to heart your admonition to minimize rewriting, I’m wondering if 愛可 might not even require any resolving: 可愛 could be more of a coordinated compound at this stage in Chinese history, as opposed to something closer to the modern subordinate compound 可愛, in which case 可愛 or 愛可 really wouldn’t matter.

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Well, when I looked at the verse for @kaccayanagotta in the other thread, the pattern was that in every line, there was at least one word that was different than the Pali. But it was clearer, too. That line could well be simply mangled by someone, as you suggest. I can’t really find a possibility that seems to outweigh any other. My general philosophy though is to amend passages like that only after exhaust all possibilities. It’s to avoid getting into the habit of changing the text to fit my preconceptions. But there are times when it’s just a typo.

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I’m sorry, can you please refresh me here? I don’t recall what message that was.

Wow, it’s been a month now. I had to go scrolling through notifications to find the thread. It’s this post: Snp 5.7: the questions of Upasīva - #13 by cdpatton

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Ah, thank you. Yes, I remember looking in on it a bit, but I was never really a part of that thread. Nevertheless, I reviewed the translation and commentary you gave there. You’re right: the relationship between the three texts (Chinese and two Indic originals) is assuredly very complex.

I spent some more time on the Arthapada tonight, setting Chinese against Pali and looking at the vocabulary used in T198. I think I’ve solved the problem of 坐 in the line 坐憂可起變訟.

I searched for 坐 in the entire text and discovered that it often is placed at the beginning of verse lines, which means it isn’t a typo. It’s just an obscure usage. A little more research uncovered that apparently in literary Chinese, it can mean “because, in consequence of”.

My Gakken dictionary doesn’t list it, but the Chinese Wiktionary page does (here), and Karashima noticed the same usage in the early Prajnaparamita Sutra translations (see the DDB 坐 entry and look at the second reading from Karashima’s glossary at the bottom).

So, that line I think is intended to read something like “On account of sorrow, disputes can arise/ Which change to jealousy (hate?) that causes sorrow and pain.”