Bhikkhu kalyāṇamitto hoti

I am wondering why Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhante Sujato translate

bhikkhu kalyāṇamitto hoti (e.g. AN 10.17)


a bhikkhu / mendicant has good friends

for this to be correct, it seems that the Pali should read:

bhikkhuno / bhikkhussa kalyāṇamitto hoti

with the word bhikkhu inflected in the dative case (bhikkhuno / bhikkhussa)

Here the word is clearly in the nominative, so it seems that the correct translation should be

a bhikkhu / mendicant is a good friend

in singular since mitto, sahāyo and sampavaṅko are also in singular

What am I getting wrong here?


This is because the word kalyanamitto is a bahuvrihi/bahubbihi compound in relation to bhikkhu, a thing the bhikkhu possesses.
It’s not an equational sentence.

Perhaps consider the phrase (sorry I can’t do diacritical marks here)
Ya yam tanha ponobhavika, nandiragasahagata…

The second compound is a type of tappurisa, and translated “is accompanied by desire and lust”. But the first is a bahubbihi, it’s not ‘it’s that craving which is renewed existence’, but rather ‘it’s that craving which leads to renewed existence’ , or ‘causing renewed existence’ , i.e., craving has that quality, it’s a possessive compound.

The compound name , bahuvrihi, bahubbihi is a bahubbihi itself, it describes one who ‘has much rice’ (one who is wealthy) not one who ‘is much rice’ !
In the (imaginary) sentence, ‘So bahubbihi (hoti)’, we would not translate, ‘He is a lot of rice’, but rather ‘He has a lot of rice’.


Kalyanamitto is sometimes used as a kammadharaya, but there are similar contexts where it is clearly used as a bahubbihi (e.g. MN 69 where it is clearly used as an adjective, juxtaposed to suvaco), and those contexts seem to be the majority.