[DPPN additions] Proposals for entries for Saccaka, Dhānañjāni, Todeyya, & Gopaka Moggallāna

I’m going to be working to add people to the Sutta Central version of the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. I’d love to hear from anyone who has suggestions on the following entries below.

The constraint of the entries is that the people and information in the entries should all be found in the EBTs.

When you have time, Bhante @Sujato, I’d like to hear any guidelines you have for what should be included. I’m also wondering if the boundaries could be pushed a little bit to include things like “According to the commentaries he was the youngest brother of Sāriputta”. I realize it is a slippery slope, but I think it would be helpful for users if uncontroversial family relations could be included with the statement that it comes from the commentaries.

Thoughts, @chaz ?

Proposed new entries:

Saccaka

A follower of the Niganthas who had two interviews with the Buddha, as recorded in the Cūla Saccaka Sutta (MN.i.227) and Mahā Saccaka Sutta(MN.1.237). He is addressed as Aggivessana, that being his gotta name (the Agnivesyāyanas).

When Saccaka was defeated by the Buddha as stated in the Cūla-Saccaka Sutta, one of the Licchavis, Dummukha, compared him to a crab in a pool, its claws being smashed one after the other and unable to return to the pool. Saccaka, owned defeat, and begged the Buddha to take a meal at his house. The Buddha agreed, and Saccaka became his follower (MN.i.234f).

Dhānañjāni

Alternate: Dhanañjāni

A brahmin of Taṇḍulapāladvāra in Rājagaha. He was a minister of the king and oppressed the people in order to get rich. Sāriputta, hearing of his fall from the ways of earnestness—after the death of his first pious wife and his marriage to another—visited Dhānañjāni and pointed out to him that if he departed from equity and righteousness he could not hope to be excused on the plea that his fall was due to force of circumstances. Dhānañjāni profited by the discourse, and later, when he was ill, he sent word to Sāriputta. Sāriputta taught how union with Brahmā could be attained. Soon after, Dhānañjāni died, and the Buddha said that he was born in one of the lower Brahma worlds. (MN.ii.184ff)

Todeyya

A Mahāsāla brahmin, mentioned in a list of eminent brahmins gathered together at Icchanankala and Manasākata (D.i.235; Sn., p.115). He was, very probably, the father of Subha.

Gopaka Moggallāna

Translation: Moggallāna the Guardian

A brahmin minister of Ajātasattu, in charge of some defence works in Rājagaha (M.iii.7).

Soon after the Buddha’s death, Ananda, on his way to Rājagaha for alms, visits the place where Gopaka Moggallāna was strengthening the city’s defences. Moggallāna asks him if there were any monk in every way like the Buddha, and receives a negative answer. Vassakāra arrives and, on being told the topic of conversation, asks the same question and is told by Ānanda that the monks regard the Dhamma as their protector. It is true, however, that there are monks whom they hold in great esteem and reverence, and Ananda enumerates the qualities which win for them such homage. M.iii.7ff

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I would replace the PTS references with suttas and add more explicit sutta sources.

For example

Todeyya

A Mahāsāla brahmin, mentioned in a list of eminent brahmins gathered together at Icchanankala and Manasākata (MN 98, MN 99, DN 13, Snp 3.9). He was the father of Subha (MN 99, DN 10) and had a direct conversation with the Buddha (Snp 5.9). He also showed respect for Rāmaputta, who was an early teacher of Bodhisatta Gotama (AN 4.187).

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There’s no hard and fast rules there, but just keep it as little as possible. When it comes to things like family relations, you’ll find that even the most obvious things seem to vary wildly between traditions. Of course ultimately it would be great to take these variations into account, but we’re not there yet.

If any info from comms is to be included, then make sure it is in the very last paragraph of the entry and begins, as you had, “According to the commentaries …” or the like. Even put it in a <small> tag so it’s obviously different.

One of the problems is that the mind is not very good at critically distinguishing this kind of detail. We just tend to absorb it and let it mloonge around in our brain-soup. You, as a learned expert, are perfectly clear what these things mean, but readers are not.

Bear in mind, 90+% of readers will have absolutely no idea what a commentary is. Still fewer have a realistic concept of the reliability or otherwise of commentarial information. Of those who do know what a commentary is, half will assume it is 100% wrong just because it is a commentary, half will assume it is 100% right just because it is a commentary, half will think maybe it’s right and maybe it’s wrong, and half will fail to grasp the elements of basic arithmetic.

And frankly, why should they know how to assess a commentary? They just want to know what the Suttas say. So that bit just gets dropped and all they know is, “he is the youngest brother of Sāriputta.” Now, maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. But if that fact is not present in early texts, is it really necessary? Why is it our job to fill in such details?

These references are now there under the hood in the links.

The problem is, there is only an approximate relation between PTS v/p and the SC references. It often happens that the exact sutta breaks over a page, so it cannot be 100% resolved without individually checking the reference. Currently we have a “good enough” solution: the original text remains to the v/p reference, while the link takes the reader to the sutta, or one either side at worst case. If the link takes you to the wrong place, you still have the original to check.

To change this would require either:

  • manually check each one of the 140,000 references in our dictionaries.
  • have an inconsistent system, some entries with v/p reference, some with SC.

Neither of which sound hugely appealing.

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