Bhante Sujato Pali Course 2023: Warder lesson 6

Hello Ven Khemarato. Yes, it’s quite confusing because Warder has chopped up a longer passage from DN 19 to create this exercise. Below is the whole passage from that sutta. And Stephen is right, the present tense anusāsati is the “historical present” used for relating stories from the past. The missing ‘ti’ you refer to is lost in Warder’s ellipsis.

jotipālaṁ māṇavaṁ rājā disampati etadavoca: “anusāsatu no bhavaṁ jotipālo, mā no bhavaṁ jotipālo anusāsaniyā paccabyāhāsi. Pettike taṁ ṭhāne ṭhapessāmi, govindiye abhisiñcissāmī”ti.
“Evaṁ, bho”ti kho, bho, so jotipālo māṇavo disampatissa rañño paccassosi.
Atha kho, bho, rājā disampati jotipālaṁ māṇavaṁ govindiye abhisiñci, taṁ pettike ṭhāne ṭhapesi. Abhisitto jotipālo māṇavo govindiye pettike ṭhāne ṭhapito yepissa pitā atthe anusāsi tepi atthe anusāsati, yepissa pitā atthe nānusāsi tepi atthe anusāsati;


ok here goes!

It can, but in the sense of “get out of this dilemma”, not “get out of jail”.

Hmm, I feel like the imperative is unidiomatic here?

Indeed. It makes it clear that it is a prohibition. I’m not sure exactly the force that Na bhavaṁ Govindo pabbajatu would have, but I think it would be “It is not that honourable Govinda should go forth” rather than “honourable Govinda should not go forth”. If there is a difference!

That is correct.

Indeed, thanks. This is a bug in DPD, note that it has a handy “report mistake” button, you can use it in such cases. It’s not a difficult fix, just give both forms.

Yes indeed, this is an ambiguity in English. I’ve noticed this before, that sometimes these constructions are obvious to native speakers but hard to parse out for non-native speakers.

The use of “let” in an imperative sense is probably slightly archaic.

One way to understand it is in the context of English politeness. They like to avoid conflict, so say things indirectly. Ven Vimala, who is Dutch, explained how hard this is for Dutch speakers. In English, we say, “Well, if you wouldn’t mind, there is something that would be good if you could do.” They’re just like, tell us what to do!

So “let” is a way of making an imperative without sounding like you’re making an imperative. Very English!

Idiomatically, we’d say “please sit down”.

Depends on context. If it’s a historical narrative (which it is) then “advised” is the normal English idiom. If it’s current or timeless events, then present tense.


Thankfully, in a few weeks we’ll be able to read more complete passages.


Dear Bhante and everyone,

Question 1: Imperative for third persons

English: Imperatives are most commonly used in the active and in the second person, i.e. implying you. They are occasionally used in the first and third persons, with the help of the auxiliary let.

Latin: The third person imperative is used “in laws, legal documents, and treaties, and also in impressive general rules and maxims.” Latin 309 - Imperative Mood

Pali: Warder (Page 35) says: The third person imperative used with the title or name of the person addressed, or the polite pronoun, expressed a polite invitation.

Q 1.1: If you address someone, that person is the ‘second’ person, not the third, in my humble pool of knowledge.

Q 1.2: The polite pronoun here, is it the polite second pronoun (bhavant, for instance)? If so, again in my humble pool of knowledge, it is not the ‘third person’ though Warder says that in this case bhavant will take the third person verb.

For my humble brain cells, would it be accurate to say that a polite imperative to express invitation employs a polite second pronoun form with the third person verb?

In the Thai culture, we use nouns as first and second pronouns to express politeness or close relationships. For instance, I would say to you: “Will Ajahn come to Melbourne next week? Dheerayupa (usually a nickname, not an official name) will tell hubby to collect Ajahn at the airport.”

In the above case, we don’t consider the nouns as third person nouns. We simply indicate that nouns can be used as pronouns.

Apologies if my attempt to understand this grammatical point seems like I wanted to argue with how Warder and other scholars label/establish grammatical rules.

Pali has a way of addressing people in the 3rd person to express politeness. As Warder explains, when the imperative is used in the 3rd person it is a polite invitation.

‘May the Blessed One instruct us on this matter.’
Here, addressing the Buddha in the 3rd person (as opposed to the 2nd person ‘you’) could use the imperative. (May the Blessed One instruct)

Consider- ‘could you tell me where Times Square is?’
‘Could Dheerayupa tell me where Times Square is?’

Question 2: bhavantaṃ Jotipālaṃ māṇavaṃ

What is the best translation to embrace all the meaning in the source text, please? I don’t like Warder’s. I’m thinking Venerable young priest Jotipāla.

etu bhagavā
= Let the Fortunate One come.

Is this one ok? Would the Blessed One please come?

What I’m trying to do here is to convey into English the meaning as well as the register of the source text. This doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘literal’ translation is respected.

ayaṃ samaṇo Gotamo āgacchati
= This is the philosopher Gotama coming.

Is this one ok? The Ascetic Gotama is arriving.

nibbeṭhehi sace pahosi
= Rebut (it) if you can.

Is this one ok? (You singular) Get out if able

pivatha khādathā ti
= (You singular) Drink! Eat!

Is this one ok? “Drink and eat”

abhikkama mahārāja
= Go forward, Great King.

Is this one ok? Dear Great King, please proceed.

etha tumhe
= You come/go.

What is the real meaning of this sentence in both Pali and English? As a standalone, it doesn’t make any sense. DPD offers the translation (which makes sense to me): “idiom. Come you all! You all should go." But there is an ✗ mark at the end to indicate that this proposed translation is incorrect.

You all (2nd person plural pronoun) come. (Verb eti in 2nd person plural. )

Come here y’all !

My humble response is that it helps to separate the semantics from the grammar. Semantic roles like Agent, Patient, Addressee can’t change. You’re either addressing someone, or you are not. eg

Gillian is addressing Dheerayupa: Agent – Patient & Subject – Object.
Dheerayupa is being addressed by Gillian: Patient & Subject – Object
(These two not relevant to your question, but may help set a broader context. Ignore them if they don’t help! I include them as a reminder of a well-known example that pulls semantic roles and grammatical roles apart.)

Now, translate into Pali:

  1. “Listen to me!” Use 2nd person imperative ending.
  2. “May Deerayupa listen to me.” Use 3rd person imperative ending.
  3. “May you listen to me.” Use 3rd person imperative ending with correct pronoun.*
  4. “May you listen to me.” Use 3rd person imperative ending with no pronoun.

The semantic roles haven’t changed (I still want you to listen), but the grammatical person changes because the social tone has shifted to being a bit more polite (technically this is part of the pragmatics).

I’m not even sure if #3 is possible in Pali, & I won’t risk causing confusion by doing the translations incorrectly, but rather ask @stephen or @johnk or @sujato for help. Hopefully you can see what’s going on just in the English. :slight_smile:

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In Australian “Youse come here!” or “Youse come here, the lot of ya!”

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I though ‘youse’ was New York, but maybe that’s ‘youse guys’.

What youse guys doin’ ??

(For polite address in Pali, use 3rd person. See my post above. ‘What are the good gentlemen doing?:face_with_raised_eyebrow: )

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Why don’t they use “imperative” if it means “Come here, you all”?

Perhaps Dheerayupa has noticed that the second person plural imperative ending, -tha, is the same as the second person plural present indicative ending.
So, it can be said to be ambiguous.
But ‘come here’ does sound like a command.

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Dear Bhante,
Warmest greetings!

Usually kāya iti = kayā 'ti for any short vowel immediate preceeding “ti” is lengthened.
Can you please kindly explain why kāyo ti (Intro to Pali, p.36).
Likewise, an example given by Ajahn Brahmali: gedhaṃ brūmi mahogho 'ti.

Thank you.

Because imperative is a grammatical category, that only thinks about the form of the verb.

EDIT: but what Stephen was writing at the same time as me:

New Yorkers are allowed to copy us Aussies, I suppose. :rofl:

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May the light of Gillian shine upon us!
(Wait till you get to that kind of construction…)

Re the end quote marker, the vowel ‘o’ only has one written value. There is no ō.


PS. It occurs to me that the way this phrase is used in the suttas (at least sometimes, like the Kalama sutta) is less ‘come here’, but rather a more philosophical ‘consider this’ ‘come now’’ or ‘now look here’.


I think I didn’t make myself clear.

My problem is my inability to understand Warder’s English translation for the exercise.

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I did a quick search and Ajahn @sujato translated it as ‘come now’, like you said. And it totally makes sense! SuttaCentral

Another place, Ajahn just translated it as ‘please’.

So, my point is that when a phrase or a sentence is out of context, various versions of translation should be offered. The most important thing is to really understand the source text, and thus getting literal translation correct doesn’t show that a student really understands the source text.

Am I being more confusing?


Your confusion is understandable, since what your textbook gives is an ‘idiomatic phrase’, the meaning is different from the literal translation.

Every language has its idioms, I’m sure, so it’s ultimately just another part of learning the language.
You dig??

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You like jazz? :grin: