Bhante Sujato Pali Course 2023: lesson 4

Thread for discussing chapter 4 of Warder for the class on August 22.

Meeting ID: 869 8997 6290
Passcode: 2023


Question 1

Dear Bhante (or anyone here),

Who is the person doing the ‘Learn Pali’ Youtube channel? I’m much impressed with his presentations.

Thank you :slight_smile:

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Question 2 :slight_smile:

When we use the DPD dictionary, we start with the stem, and we go to conjugation (a good way to avoid memorising all the conjugated forms).

However, the conjugated forms provided is not a complete set. It doesn’t include the aorist forms. If we want to know the aorist forms, we have to start with the third person singular form in the aorist tense (which I’m likely unable to figure out).

So, this means that we have to remember at least two forms of a verb: present and aorist forms for the third person singular?

Please help correct me if I’m wrong. (I do hope I’m wrong as I want to remember only one form of a verb!)

Question 3: verb to approach

I must have missed something about Pali’s ‘lovely’ rules…

Why is the ‘verb to approach’ spelled with ‘ṃ’ in aorist (upasaṃkami) but ṅ in present (upasaṅkamati)?

Question 4: paridevesi

Stem ‘dev’ (= to lament, with the prefix pari, meaning “round”, “around”)

  • Question 4.1: When I looked up the word ‘paridevesi’ in DPD, the column ‘root family’ shows two forms of the present tense: paridevati and paridevayati. Is it correct?

  • Question 4.2: rājā Disampati paridevesi. Can I translate “rājā Disampati paridevesi” as “King Disampati was filled with grief.”?

Question 5: āmantesi

The word ‘āmantesi’ can be the aorist form of āmanteti (= to address, to say, to advise) AND the present form to mean to invite, to call and to summon.

  • Question 5.1 How can we tell which it means?

  • Question 5.2 Are there many words like this, which could cause comprehension/translation issues?

Question 6: How to use ca

“Reṇu ca rājaputto Jotipālo ca māṇavo”

At first glance, I wanted to translate it as Reṇu and Prince Jotipālo. But it was not in accordance with what was mentioned earlier. And then, we have ca māṇavo… Please kindly explain how to use ‘ca’.

Question 7: abhāsi

When I consulted DPD, its ‘Grammar’ says that it is the “aor of ābhāti”, which is incorrect?

Question 8: The fortunate one

The fortunate one entered the village = bhagavā gāmaṃ pāvisi

Bhagavanto is also correct?

Question 9: The nobles approached the prince

Aj Brahmali provides two answers: khattiyā rājaputtaṃ upasaṃkamiṃsu and khattiyā yena rājaputto tena upasaṃkamiṃsu.

Could you please explain how to use ‘yena’ and ‘tena’ here?

Question 10: kumara

There are two definitions: young boy and prince. How can we choose the right meaning? Also, can it be interpreted as a young prince?

Question 11: evaṃ tadā āsi

Could you kindly provide an Aussie colloquialism equivalent to the above phrase?

Hope my questions are not too trivial?

Sadhu (Thai meaning) for being so patient with me! :pray:

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I have a question about the translation of this phrase (and other similar ones): “Reṇu nāma Kumāro putto ahosi”.
In the exercise, I had translated it quite literally as: “There was (ahosi) a son (putto) who was a prince (kumaro) named (nāma) Reṇu”.

But John Kelly translated it in a more fluid way, connecting it to the previous phrase as “The prince named Renu was his son”. There are many other instances in this same translation in which John Kelly added a possessive pronoun, but it is not present in the pali. Are there no possessive pronouns in pali? If there are no possessive pronouns, how can I know for example if Jotipalo is Disampati’s or Govinda’s son?

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Sorry I forgot his name, but he’s been around these parts, maybe a search will help.

In the DPD, you can go from say upasaṅkamati (present tense) to the aorist: open root family then you’ll see the aorist there, it is clickable, and from there the full aorist conjugation is displayed.

This is a meaningless distinction, manuscripts have both forms so don’t worry. It’s nothing more than editorial inconsistency.

Hmm, paridevayati is a causative form (which in fact never occurs in the Pali canon). It would mean “make someone cry”.

It’s not wrong to say that it’s “present” tense, but it is a bit confusing. It seems this is the convention of the DPD, though.

Indeed, that’s a nice translation. Normally in English we wouldn’t say “he grieved”.

Second person is usually in direct speech. Then you usually know the tense from the narrative frame.

Of course, otherwise translation would be easy! As a rule, Pali is more articulated than say Thai, so there are often multiple indicators that say the same thing, for example, both noun and verb are plural. That means you have a degree of redundancy; things are overly determined (which is why over time languages tend to lose these features).

Ca (like , pi) is enclitic, meaning that in theory it occurs with each of the items. This is not always adhered to though.

If the items are one word it appears after each item, nāmañca rūpañca. In the case you cite, the items are two words and the ca appears in the middle. You could have Reṇu rājaputto ca Jotipālo māṇavo ca or Reṇu rājaputto Jotipālo māṇavo ca and the meaning wouldn’t be changed.

Consider a phrase from the third jhana formula:

pītiyā ca virāgā
upekkhako ca viharati
sato ca sampajāno,
sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṁvedeti

Note that the ca appears inside the items even when they include verbs. We can consider this is the idiomatic style of spoken Pali.

But then from MN 111:

sukhañca sati ca sampajaññañca cittekaggatā ca, phasso vedanā saññā cetanā cittaṁ chando adhimokkho vīriyaṁ sati upekkhā manasikāro

The first few items have ca, the rest lack them: this is a clear sign that two lists have different origins and have been stuck together. The list without ca has more of a technical, abhidhamma feel, just words listed one after the other without concern for syntactical niceties. But the meaning is unchanged. I tried to capture this with my translation:

bliss and mindfulness and awareness and unification of mind; contact, feeling, perception, intention, mind, enthusiasm, decision, energy, mindfulness, equanimity, and application of mind

A lot of particles in Pali (also atha, pana, etc.) have this sort of use; they have a functional purpose, but also an aesthetic purpose, easing or smoothing the diction. A Thai monk once told me that to understand Thai, how it works is you make everything really short so you can say what you mean very concisely; but then it sounds too abrupt so you have to add a whole lot of particles back in to sweeten it. A bit like that!

But to return to your question, this is much clearer in context: we know who these people are.

Ha ha, you’re really looking closely! :mag:

It’s not quite incorrect. Technically it’s the aorist of bhāti. But ābhāti is used more commonly and has the same meaning, so.

(If you tried to make this aorist from ābhāti you’d have ā + a + bhāsi, and the initial vowels would combine (law of morae) to make just ā again, so it would be ābhāsi, which would be confused with the present second person. So it’s more convenient to just drop the prefix ā and treat abhāti as an aorist of ābhāti. :person_shrugging: )

Ahh … well according to DPD it is, although I just quickly checked the Pali canon and it seems to always be plural. Maybe the form is used in later literature. Anyway stick with bhagavā for the singular.

I don’t think we’ve covered them yet, but this is the more idiomatic way to say it.

These are pronouns, for which we can think of them as corresponding to the English “wh-” vs “th-” pronouns (which stem from the same PIE form).

In this case:

khattiyā yena rājaputto tena upasaṃkamiṃsu
The warriors where the prince (was), there they approached

It’s an idiomatic expression, the pronouns are technically in instrumental and the sentence passive, so the object of a passive sentence is nominative. Don’t worry about it, we’ll do passive constructions later!

This is not an easy one at all. If it’s outside a royal context then it’s ok, but when translating, say, texts about the young bodhisatta do we say “prince” or “boy”?

I guess so, an adult prince might be rājaputta?

Ahh … lol not sure. It means “that’s how it was”, but it’s not very colloquial. Do you have a better one?

Sure, that’s fine.

Possession is more generally handled as a case of nouns (genitive), of which pronouns are a subset. We’ll deal with this in later lessons. But it’s handy to remember that the English ’s is a worn-down remnant of the same possessive sense as the Pali genitive case ending -ssa.

The actual text from the sutta makes this clear:

Disampatissa rañño reṇu nāma kumāro putto ahosi
Of King Disampati, the prince named Renu was the son.

(rañño is the genitive form of rājā.)


It reminds me of the Thai phrase used by monks at the end of the dhamma talks in the old days: “เอวัง ก็มีด้วยประการฉะนี้”

For modern English, this phrase’s come to my mind: “That’s all, folks!”

Is it correct?

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Reminded me of the end of the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta: Evam-etaṁ bhūtapubbanti

Very cute Pāli → English exercise this week!

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Sorry, Venerable. Don’t know what it means.

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away …
Use the evaṃ, Luke!

@sujato :pray: Given that word order in Pali isn’t really fixed other than the verb going at the end, are all the following sentences possible? Are there detectable changes of meaning or emphasis?

Reṇu nāma kumāro putto ahosi

Reṇu nāma putto kumāro ahosi

putto Reṇu nāma kumāro ahosi

kumāro Reṇu nāma putto ahosi

Reṇu kumāro nāma putto ahosi

Reṇu putto nāma kumāro ahosi

Reṇu kumāro putto nāma ahosi

(My hunch: they become increasingly unlikely, but if it were poetry anything would go, even shifting the verb?)

Not quite, these phrases wrap up a teaching, whereas evaṁ tadā āsi indicates that there has been a story or account of events of the past.


Ha ha, but better:

iddhiṁ, lūkha, paccanubhava!

(Lūkha means “rough” so it is fitting for a farm boy!)

Let’s see:

  • The prince named Reṇu was the son
  • The son named Reṇu was a prince
  • The son named Reṇu was a prince.
  • The prince named Reṇu was the son.
  • The one named prince Reṇu was the son.
  • The one named “Reṇu the son” was a prince.
  • He was named Reṇu the prince, the son.

(Notice, “the” son but “a” prince. Not everyone is a prince, so identifying him as a prince is meaningful. But everyone is a child, so saying he is “a” son is meaningless; the sentence would only make sense in the context where the son is identified in a particular context: he is the son. Of course context would shape this.)

Now my brain hurts, I’ll have to go on piṇḍapāta!


Meiland has this correction to Warder. Just to clarify - does this mean that aorist conjugations for paridevi follow the first form?
i.e. sā paridevi, tā parideviṃsu, ahaṃ parideviṃ, mayaṃ paridevimhā, tvaṃ paridevi, tumhe paridevittha


Dear Bhante, Warmest greetings!
Can you give an example for this : “If the persons conflict, the 2nd takes precedence over the 3rd & the 1st over both” (Intro to Pali, Lesson 4, p.26)


So, would it keep the meaning while making it more meaningful if we say:

“So, that is how it was.”


I just added ‘so’ to maintain the structure of the source text.

Thank you for these fascinating translations

And to think that I thought I’d produced some nonsense sentences!
I’ve since noticed the bit where Warder says of nama “(used after the name)”, so that constrains things a bit and makes more meanings possible.

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That’s correct per the DPD, although many of these forms don’t actually occur.

And to you too! :pray:

To be honest, I can’t think of examples from the canon. But it might be something like:

It usually agrees with the sum of the agents and is plural:

  • puriso ca putto ca gacchanti
    person and child go

It may agree with the nearest agent only:

  • purisā ca putto ca gacchati
    persons and child go

Or with the agents taken as a collective, being singular:

  • puriso ca puttā ca gacchati
    person and children go

Indeed yes.

You’ll have to work harder than that to create true nonsense! But most of these probably wouldn’t actually occur, not without some other context to clarify them.

Indeed yes.

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:pray: Thank you for the examples. It’s clear now.

I realize I didn’t directly answer this question, so let me give a few more examples. Warder is extremely terse here, so I am really guessing what he means.

the 2nd takes precedence over the 3rd

  • tvaṁ ca te ca gacchati
    you and they go
    (Even though the third person pronoun te is in plural, the verb is in singular because the second person is singular and it takes precedence.)

the 1st over both

  • ahaṁ ca tumhe ca gacchati
    I and y’all go.

  • ahaṁ ca te ca gacchati
    I and they go.

  • ahaṁ ca tumhe ca te ca gacchati. [see corrections below]
    I, y’all, and they go.

I assume these kinds of cases occur, but TBH I can’t recall them.

Ooooh, glad to know these.
But, when " tvaṁ ca te ca gacchati" not gacchasi? (the 2nd takes precedence over the 3rd)
" ahaṁ ca tumhe ca gacchati" not gacchāmi? (the 1st over both)


Sorry, you’re right, I wrote these too quickly, and I was only looking at the number.

  • tvaṁ ca te ca gacchasi
    you and they go

  • ahaṁ ca tumhe ca gacchāmi
    I and y’all go.

  • ahaṁ ca te ca gacchāmi
    I and they go.

  • ahaṁ ca tumhe ca te ca gacchāmi
    I, y’all, and they go.