Difference between maraṇa & maccu

This is a Pali question. Both of the terms maraṇa & maccu (or Sanskrit maraṇa and mṛtyu) come from the root * mṛ* - yet somehow they must have been derived differently. What is the grammatical difference between the two? (leaving the semantic difference aside…)


I have nothing constructive to add; but I’ll randomly mention:
memento mori


The PTS dictionary gives maraṇa as (nt) -a stem neuter, and doesn’t assign gender to maccu, so I assume it’d be -u stem masculine. That accounts for the grammatical difference; it would be nice to know about the derivational processes between each word and mṛ *.
(@SCMatt the SOED shows murder tracking back through the northern Germanic route and moribid, mortuary, mori through the southern Latin route.)


Marananussati - contemplation of dying
Mruta [sinhala] adj - dead …

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I found an explanation in the (excellent) 1895 work of Ernst Windisch “Māra und Buddha” (translated by Boyd ‘Satan and Māra’, 1973):

Etymologicatly the term māra is related to the Pali maccu and the Sanskrit mṛtyu, which mean “death.” More specifically, whereas maccu (Skt. mṛtyu) indicates “death itself” Māra is the nomen actoris to the causative mārayati; Māra therefore means the one who kills or causes death.


Maccu seems a proper noun, the god of death, from V. Skt. mṛtyu.
maraṇa is also from the root √mṛ, ‘death’, related to the verbs marati and causative māreti. (the figure Māra is related to this)
macca is originally an -ya absolutive form of marati (probably martya --> macca, perhaps lit. ‘dying’) and means, ‘mortal’, adjective or noun.


Thanks for that, also for bringing macca to my awareness. It’s interesting that it invariably means ‘human’ in the suttas, and makes me wonder if transcending maccu also had the implication to overcome the human state and not (only) ‘mortality’.


Appamado amatapadam
Pamado maccuno padam
Appamatta na miyanti
Ye pamatta yatha matha

Heedfulness leads to immortality.Heedfulness leads to death.The heedful are immortal.The heedless,though living,are like the dead.(APPAMADA VAGGA)

Interestingly, for the above Dhammapada verse, the second line is literally, ‘heedlessness is the place of death.’ As ‘maccuno’ is the genitive case of maccu.

KR Norman renders the first two lines:
“Carefullness is the place of the death-free; carelessness is the place of death.”

there is no verb ‘lead to’ here.


Still, do you have an idea how maccu is formed grammatically?

Does this help?

we easily find texts saying that mrtyu is semantically different from marana, but the grammar of it is not really elucidated.

That mara seems to come from a causative went in the right direction…

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drawing parallels…

kṛ = root … karaṇa = the doing/deed … kṛtya = to be done … kaccu/kṛtyu (-) … kāra = maker

mṛ = root … maraṇa = the dying/death … macca = to die/mortal … maccu = death? … māra = killer

kṛ is such a versatile root, and still it didn’t develop a kṛtyu or kaccu --> maccu is strange