Dharmaniyānatā & Idappaccayatā in SA 296


In this case, the dharma is dharma as paticcasamupada, and not dharmas as paticcasamuppanas.

ध dha (or √ dhā) - √ मन् man - somewhat meaning a “performed & established “thinking”” (dharma) [धर्मन् dharmán]
Paṭiccasamuppāda being one of these dharmán.

There are, monks, other dhammas…
Atthi, bhikkhave, aññeva dhammā…
(DN 1 -DA 21)

Meaning, there are other “performed & established” thinkings, than paticcasamuppada’s dharmán.
In this case, the plural applies to dharmáns.


There is a discussion of these terms inLamotte’s translation of the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-upadeśa (English translation by Ani Migme). Scroll down to UNDERSTANDING DHARMATĀ AND ITS SYNONYMS.

It is also quoted in the Laṅkavatāra Sūtra. One thing is clear: idappaccayatā only occurs in Theravāda texts. We can conclude from this, I think, that it was interpolated by some later monk in Sri Lanka or South India. This sort of thing is why I am not a textual fundamentalists like so many readers of SC.

As far as I can see the original text must have only had two synonyms: dhammaṭṭhitatā and dhammaniyāmatā. But the latter is rare and was translated into Chinese differently each time.

The Mahāvyutpatti (a 9th C lexicon of translation terms compiled in Tibet has the following relevant entries

  1. tathātā 真性; 真如
  2. avitathātā 空性; 不差自性
  3. ananyatathātā 不他自性

1714.dharmaniyāmatā 不顛倒性; 法不變性 chos mi 'gyur ba nyid

  1. dharmasthititā 住於法; 法長久

Also note that tathatā, avitathatā, and anaññathatā all mean pretty much the sae thing. In the vernacular: it is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t, and no other than that.

OK. You have a hypothesis. Now you need some relevant evidence. The example you do give is unrelated. Give us some examples from the Saṃyuktāgama (with vol, page, panel, and line nos from the Taishō) and the Pāli parallel (with PTS nikāya, vol. and page). And if you find counterexamples, be sure to include those. That way we can all assess the claim rationally.

And note that since Bodhi translates the Pāli as “the Dhamma”, and Choong the Chinese as “the Dharma” you will be going against the mainstream.

I think you may be correct, but I want to see the evidence.


Yes. The context (in both P. and C.) argues for the plural reading. I do agree. Note that the first words in Pāḷi are

paṭiccasamuppādañca vo, bhikkhave, desessāmi paṭiccasamuppanne ca dhamme. (SN II.25)

Monks, I will teach you dependent arising and dependently arisen dhammas (plural).

So ostensibly the subject of the sutta is dhammā (plural) not Dhamma (singular). Though, again, mainstream translators (Bodhi, Choong) have all opted for the singular. Note, however, that Buddhaghosa’s commentary (cited in English translation by Bodhi in his notes) also argues for reading the plural.

I’ve been through the first 12 of the 94 times that 此法 occurs in Guṇabhadra’s SA (T99) and in every case it unequivocally is used in the singular, usually “this teaching”. There are not always Pāli counterparts. When there are the passages are often absent. When there are counterpart passages they don’t always include the word dhamma. E.g.

T99.10c.14 此法 ~ SN III.65 imasmiṃ dhammavinaye?
T99.30c.04 此法 ~ SN III.132 bhagavato sāsanaṃ?

On this incomplete survey, I think this means that Guṇabhadra also interpreted this as singular, despite the context.

The question then is, why do skilled and knowledgeable translators ignore the context when translating and thus come up with incorrect translations?


The Blessed One Teaching (bhagavato sāsanaṃ) [about paticcasamuppada, the dharma (dharmán)] .

So I see no riddle into this all matter.
Dharma as Teaching about the Dharma as dharmán; and dhammas as paticcasamuppanas.

Simple ! (but no simpler).

There are no “eternal” dhammas as paticcasamuppanas. Not even as a Sarvastivadian’s view.
(Quite late added stuff, if applies).


Are you sure that this is proof, though?

此法 has neither plurality nor singularity. Just because it is used for translations of “dharma” in the sense of “the law”, that doesn’t actually mean that that is its usage here.

It can still say “these dharmāḥ”. Whether it does or not is another matter.


I can’t really offer evidence, tbh, but I can offer the suggestion that treating it as a plural makes less assumptions about the text than the somewhat doctrinal translations that want to try to make it comply to its parallels more directly.

We are given a 此法. This either means “this dharma” or “these dharmāḥ”.

But what is “this” dharma? There is no “pratītyasamutpāda dharma” described or listed in the text.

We see 此法 again, but once again, we are unsure which or what 法 the 此 might be in reference to.

We have a more detailed account with the 此等諸法. This is an expansion or a filling out of the earlier 此法.

It then lists the 法 that 此法 refers to throughout.


Presuming that I am following the conversation rightly, no one is suggesting this. But there is the suggestion that the Chinese text may be saying this, based on the idea that the text might have Sarvāstivāda sectarian influence.

This you will have to take up with mainstream consensus regarding Sarvāstivāda doctrine.

Consider the Jānussoṇyaisarvāstisūtra 生聞一切有經 SA 320, this text is often said to be a sectarian text, because it contains the phrase “all exists”, sarvāsti, 一切有.

Close inspection IMO reveals that it is just the Sabbasutta. No need for a sectarian connection.

So the alternative always has to be considered when speculating as to possible sectarian influence.



Yes, this “All” thing has been much of a discussion in years of old, on somewhat Theravada forums. And the issue has been settled to represent salayatana. I suppose that the Sarvastivadian’s crowd hasn’t yet accepted the evidence.

Anyway, the problem is that we should not discuss about what has been added later by each school, as their own syncretism. But instead, we should only discuss the commonalities.

Red herring.


Sophistic or not, a text says what a text says.


Let me reformulate that:

no one is suggesting this. But there is the suggestion that…



IMO, idaṃ- is 是. After all, it means “this thing”, essentially, in addition to serving as an existential quantifier.

是因緣 --> “[there is] this causality”

有佛無佛 | 是因緣法相續常在世間
there’s buddha [or] no buddha | this causality[,] dharmatā[, is] continually long-lasting worldly

IMO the above, how to parse it.

I should ask @frankk & @Sylvester to see if I have silly ideas or reasonable ones, vis-a-vis this parsing of the Chinese.


是因緣 as idaṃpaccayatā? Interesting idea.

In order for us to take this seriously we would need to see Chinese and Indic parallels.

From DDB
No entry for 是因緣
以是因緣: by these causes and conditions
由是因緣: for this reason
非是因緣: not by causes and conditions

The phrase 是因緣 occurs +9000 times in CBETA It’s tricky. For example the phrase occurs in Kj’s T223 at T8.221c07. The last para of Chp 2. This should correspond to Chp 1 of Pañc in Sanskrit, but the Nepalese mss don’t have the phrase idaṃpratyāyatā in them - at all. Nor does Chp 1 of Gilgit Ms. There are about 100 more occurrences to check in T223 alone. But since the Sanskrit phrase never occurs, there is no point in looking at any of them.

The phrase does not seem to occur in Karashima’s glossaries either.

So where is the evidence of this usage?


Whether or not it corresponds to an Indic idaṃpratyayatā, it likely means “this causality” , which is idaṃpratyayatā. So its anyone’s guess as to what the original Indic manuscript had that this was translated from.

After all, there is hardly even consensus as to which Indic language in particular these Chinese texts are from.


It’s good to compare these against Nepalese texts, but, there is no guarantee this is the same general recension of Buddhavacana. The original of the Chinese text could have had idaṃpratyayatā (or “this (idaṃ) hetupratyayatā” if such a thing exists, and I can’t begin to imagine what the sandhi would be), there is no way to know for sure, alas.

I mean, compare the Nepalese Lotus with Ven Kumarajiva’s. They are only vaguely the same on a line-by-line basis often.

And it’s not like Ven Dharmaraksa follows something like the Nepalese manuscript any closer. If anything it is more like Ven Kumarajiva’s.

This is less off-topic, now, but on the subject of odd Chinese recensions of Buddhavacana, the Tibetan Buddhāvataṃsakasūtra doesn’t mention Indra’s Net. Not once. At all. Back to topic.

So the Sanskrit & Chinese texts can’t always be used to evaluate one another. Particularly with the later literature.

We’re dealing here with Mahāprajñāpāramitōpadeśa here. A text whose various “originals”, likely in already-diverse lines of recension from the Indic strata before Chinese and later Sanskritizations, are very mysterious. The situation is very much the same with conjecturing at to the various recensions that Ven Kumarajiva et al surveyed when making their translations of the Lotus Sūtra.

The end of the Tathāgatāyuṣpramāṇaparivartaḥ alone attests to this. Look at the Sanskrit. Look at any of the Chineses at all, even predating Ven Kumarajiva. They are quite different.

At this point, I might inquire, what is the significant difference between idaṃpratyaya(tā) & etaṃpratyaya(tā)?

As I see it, by your metrics, 是因緣 may already be “proven” to mean etaṃpratyaya(tā), according to those above dictionary entries.

I am so unscholarly and unbeholden to peer review, as well as amateur enough at Sanskrit to be daring beyond my abilities, that I can suggest things like

(ity) utpādād (vā) tathāgatānām anutpādād

(vā) idaṃpratyayatā dharmatā [some Sanskrit here we can just imagine] lokadhātvām [just to pick a case, for the sake of it, apparently this word doesn’t even exist]

Or etaṃ pratyayatā for 是因緣 if the difference is that significant.

Things in the above might not make sense. My Sanskrit isn’t that good. But the main point was the idaṃpratyayatā dharmatā sequence for 是因緣法相


this interdependent origination (dhamma)


常在always present

世間in the world


常在世間Translate as a whole ,
Always (present) in the world.

常在Always present
在世间In the world


It’s actually in the Sanskrit, its just much later:

ity utpādād vā tathāgatānām anutpādād vā sthitā eveyaṃ dharmatā dharmasthitaye dhātuḥ|
taṃ tathāgataḥ svayam abhijñāyābhisaṃbuddhyākhyāti prajñapayati prasthāpayati vibhajati vivaraty uttānīkaroti deśayati saṃprakāśayati yaduta jātipratyayaṃ jarāmaraṇam

iti yātra dharmatā dharmasthititā dharmaniyāmatā dharmayathātathā avitathatā ananyathā bhūtaṃ satyatā tattvatā yāthātathā aviparītatā aviparyastatā idaṃpratyayatā pratītyasamutpādānulomatā ayam ucyate pratītyasamutpādaḥ

It’s all the way down in the next chunk of text.

Venerable Guṇabhadra translated the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra. Idaṃpratyayatā occurs twice in the Sanskrit of that text. Finding it will be difficult. Ven Dharmarakṣa also translated it. (It seems these may be partial translations).

This is from Ven Xuánzàng, though:

tatra caritaviśodhanam ālambanaṃ katamat tadyathā aśubhā maitrī idaṃpratyayatā pratītyasamutpādaḥ dhātuprabhedaḥ ānāpānasmṛtiś ca


idaṃpratyayatā pratītyasamutpādaḥ = 緣性緣起


This recension of the Chinese Pratītyasūtra, marked Saṃyuktāgama 296, looks very different, it has an insertion, maybe editorial?:


Notice the 此緣性, idaṃpratyayatā?


It’s easy to get lost in words and ignore the meaning they were pointing to, to sometimes find another word.