Bhante Sujato Pali Course 2023: lesson 3

Thread for discussing chapter 3 of Warder for the class on August 15.

Meeting ID: 869 8997 6290
Passcode: 2023


No one has started asking questions yet …

I’ve finished the exercise a bit early this week. :crazy_face:

Question 1: rājānaṃ vañcesi = You are deceiving the king.

Why did Ajahn Brahmali interpret it as Present Progressive? Would it be ok to translate it as “You (singular) deceive the king” to mean that you have been doing this forever?

Question 2: upāsakaṃ brāhmānaṃ dhāreti = He accepts the priest as a lay disciple.

I interpreted ‘dhāreti’ as ‘to remember’, so I translated it as “He remembers the male lay disciple as a man of the Brahman caste)”. Would it be plausible?

Question 3: rājā purise āmanteti = The king addresses the men.

Can we translate purise here as ‘people’? → The king addresses people.

Question 4: brāhmaṇo brahmānaṃ passati = The priest sees God.

Would this be ok? → The man of the Brahman caste meets with/sees the holy man.

Question 5: brāhmaṇā rājānaṃ vadanti = The priests say to the king

Would it be possible to interpret the verb ‘vadanti’ as others than ‘say’? → The men of the Brahman caste advises/argues with the king.

Question 6: puriso bhāraṃ chaḍḍeti = The man throws away the load

Can we interpret the word ‘bhāraṃ’ as burden or duty? → The man discards his burden/his duty.

Question 7: evaṃ kathenti = So they relate (tell)

Can it be: So they say / They speak thus / They answer thus

Question 8: kālaṃ paccayaṃ paññāpenti = They declare time the condition

Can we make the translation clearer? → They declare that time is the cause/condition. Or, will it change the meaning?

Question 9: The priest who is minister speaks thus to the fortunate one = brāhmaṇo mahāmatto bhagavantaṃ evaṃ bhāsati

Can we use ‘vadeti’ instead of ‘bhāsati’? And does evaṃ always come immediately before the verb? (object + evaṃ + verb)?

Question 10: Existence (is) the condition = bhavo paccayo

Would it be wrong if we add ‘hoti’ at the end?

Question 11: He remembers the meaning = atthaṃ dhāreti

Could we use ‘sareti’, too?

Hope there is no such a thing as ‘too many questions’? :smile: :smile: :smile:


You ask really good questions. I seem to recall Ajahn Brahmali was explaining this by referencing Warder (I can’t remember which page though).

Something about the fact that the person can’t be deceiving the king when that statement was being made (assuming the person is listening and not talking at the same time) so the sense of the sentence is that it is something the person has been doing in the immediate past and may continue to do if not stopped.

Personally I think “You deceive the king” is an acceptable answer but then I am very relaxed about these things :slight_smile:


Warder gives the word Brahman as a masculine noun ending in -an, but the digital pali dictionary has it as brahma (masculine noun ending in -a). The declensions seem to follow the pattern for masculine nouns ending in -an.

Is it simply that God is irregular? Or is there something else going on that I am missing?

Thanks so much! :grinning:

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:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


:grin: :laughing: :joy: :rofl:

I seem to recall Warder tends to introduce words in the nominative form (1st case), whereas some dictionaries (eg. DPD) prefer to use “stem” form.

There is a theory that “stem” form does not truly exist in Pali, that it’s an “invention” created by the earliest English linguists and grammarians - there is no Pali term for the stem form of a word (as far as I can find - please someone correct me if I am wrong).

In Pali, words start with the root, which undergo a series of transformations (called vibhatti, although there are other transformations as well such as affixes and internal sandhi when roots are combined with prefixes). The end result is a word “declined” by gender, number and case.

Traditionally, the Pali purest or “canonical form” of a word is in singular 1st case (nominative) - this is how words are represented when quoted using the ti particle. Warder follows this pattern.

What the dictionary calls the stem form is actually the 1st case form but with the case ending elided. This is the usage when the word is used in a vocative sense, ie. to address someone, but from my current understanding the stem is almost never used in any other occasion, so it’s not a “real” (ie. standalone) form of the word.

Same thing with verbs, they are supposed to be conjugated directly from the root, there is no “pure” verb stem and the 3rd person present is used as the “canonical” form. Again, someone please correct me if I am wrong.

In your specific example, this could be an error in Warder because the singular 1st case form of the word is brahmā so Warder should have used that. It does have irregular declension patterns, as Warder indicated. Nothing is perfect, not even God! I love how the Japanese deliberately introduce tiny imperfections in temple decorations so that when we spot them we realise that there is no such thing as perfection.


Not sure, but yeah, it means “you deceive the king”.

Indeed. The suttas use exactly this construction when someone has taken refuge, “may you remember me as one who has taken refuge”, or else in the Vinaya sanghakamma, at the end we always say evam’evam dhārayāmi, “I shall remember it just like this”.

Yes, in fact normally I would translate it as “people”, unless there is a reason to think only men are present.

No, notice the difference in the initial vowel. Brahmā = “god”, Brāhmaṇa = “follower of god” (cf. Jina vs Jaina, Buddha vs Bauddha, etc.)

The same process of lengthening initial vowel also distinguishes a place from its people: Vedeha = person from Videha (“Videhan”), etc.

Indeed yes, this would normally be clear from context.


That seems fine.

Probably, depends on context.

Hmm, don’t think so. What about evam me sutam, it comes before the pronoun.

No, that’s fine.

They have a slightly different nuance of meaning. Sareti is to “recall”, as in to “I recalled that I had a class on Tuesday.” Dhāreti is to “remember, bear in mind” as in “I shall remember that class on Tuesday.” The root of dhāreti has essentially the same meaning as har (“carry”) and means to wear, uphold, bear, carry. So to dhāreti is to carry something in your mind, to “keep” it there.



I need a new pair of glasses? Or, I need to have my cataract surgery? :smiley: I’ll be more careful, next time. :slight_smile:

Could you also please tell us the difference in meaning and usage between these two words?

Would you please kindly explain how to use evaṃ in details — here or in class (but if in class you have to speak slowly so that I have time to take notes. Last time I took notes in class was 30+ years ago! :laughing:)

Syntax is not too hard to grasp (not easy, but once one gets it, one gets it), but idiosyncrasy of lexical items is the hardest for non-native speakers…

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“you deceive” / “you are deceiving” both represent the Present tense. the former is the Present Simple tense, the latter is Present Continuous (Progressive) tense.

to my understanding, pali doesn’t differentiate between the two (neither does latin which is my background), so both are equally correct.

your own sentence there answers your own question. You have used the Present Perfect tense there: “you have been deceiving”. It’s a different verb form to the Present Tense, used to indicate exactly what you are referring to - a past action that has present consequences.

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Bhante, on tuesday morning I’ll be travelling and won’t have access to stable internet connection during the time of the lesson. May I send the link to a friend who could record the lesson so that I can watch it later? The host of the zoom session (I guess it would be you) would need to allow the participants to record for that to be possible.

In Lesson 3 we were introduced to verbs of the 7th conjugation. These groups of verbs (of the 7 conjugations) are divided so that all verbs in a particular conjugation have the same endings? (ati, asi, ama… and so on? Is this the only criteria or is there more to it?

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Fun fact, in Thailand the monks don’t give the full weight to the extra-long initial syllable of brāhmaṇa but just pronounce it like any other long syllable. In Sri Lanka, however, they get this detail right!

Generally we can say that vadati is “say” and bhāsati is “speak”, but in practice they are often interchangeable (eg. buddhabhāsita and buddhavacana).

Don’t worry about it. It always takes the same form, and you’ll soon get used to the ways it is used. The structure of the sentence is defined by the nouns and verbs, and the context makes it clear how evaṁ and other indeclinables apply.

Normally “you are deceiving” would be represented by the present participle, which we haven’t covered yet (an example would be gacchamāna “one is going”).


Okay, I’ll look for the setting.

The basic difference between these verbs and the ones covered previously is that, while they used a to form the stem, these ones use e. The stem vowel appears as the vowel before the actual inflection. Thus gacchati and deseti are both third person singular present tense.

As long as you can recognize the grammatical inflection, knowing the conjugation is irrelevant. The only practical use it has is to disambiguate certain fairly rare cases where the inflection may be read in different ways.


Dear Bhante @sujato ,

To achieve my purpose (you know what it is) while taking into account my aging brain and workload (a few dhamma book drafting /translation projects and some paid work), I reckon that I should not attempt to overload my brain’s workload with remembering all the conjugated and declension forms as I could consult the dictionaries. Is this a practical approach, in your opinion?

Second question is: what aspects/rules/etc. do I ‘need’ to remember regarding lexicon? (For syntax, I need to understand/remember everything, I think.)

Indeed, remember some of the main forms, especially third person singular (-ti) and plural (-nti) and first person singular (-āmi) and that’s a good start. Especially on GoldenDict it is super easy to look up declensions.

For now, go over the lessons a couple of times, do the exercises, and look at the supplementary material (Meiland and if you want Learn Pali on Youtube) and you’ll be fine. Maybe also listen to some Sri Lankan chanting to get familiar with the Indic pronunciation.


At the moment, to prepare for your lesson, I watch Learn Pali, read the book, listen to Ajahn Brahmali, then do the exercise, then check the answer provided by Ajahn Brahmali.

I’ll now include Meiland, too. :slight_smile:

As for the chanting… Would it be possible for you to give me a link to a ‘good’ chanter? I’d love to listen to Mangala Sutta and Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. :slight_smile:

Thank you for all your guidance on this path. :pray:

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I am looking for “good” chanter from Sri Lanka too. It seems that their pronunciation is a bit different from Warder’s audio tape, is that correct? Is that what you meant by “Indic pronunciation”?

EDIT: I found this Youtube video from (Bhante Indarathana Thero)

By the way, just small questions ahead of lesson 3 tomorrow: Why Warder didn’t include the plural column for brahman and rajān? How do we say something like “You deceive the kings” or “The priest sees Gods” or “The kings abandon the burden” or “The Gods salute the Buddha”?

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A little bit.

I just mean that folks from India and Sri Lanka usually pronounce Pali pretty well, with a few quirks.

Well, thanks to Clarity’s suggestion, I’ve now discovered Bhante Indarathana, who has a whole channel of lovely chanting.

Then of course there is the GOAT:

That’s lovely!

Not sure, for the record the masculine plurals are:

  • nom: rājāno, brahmā
  • acc: rājāno, brahmāno
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… Why goat? :goat:

PS Meiland gives the plural column for brahman and rajān on p30.

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Greatest of all time.

Not my favorite acronym in the world.

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I have updated the sample sentences in the Resources with upāsakaṃ brāhmānaṃ dhāreti since that was a good example of a bi-transitive verb.

If anyone has any other suggestions for sample sentences (from Warder) that is worthy of inclusion, let me know.

I will try and include sample snetences from Lesson 4 after next week’s session.