Grammar Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṁ

MN 131 reads: Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṁ.
Yo being nominative of ya, right? But if dhammaṁ is accusative, shouldn’t ya follow in case thus reading yaṁ?

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My grammatical analysis of this is as follows (the symbols are explained in my Pali textbook):
:restroom:①⨀(paccuppanna) :arrow_up_small:(ca) :mens:①⨀(ya) :restroom:①⨀(dhamma)
presently existing | and | whoever/whatever/whichever | nature/characteristic

I think dhammaṁ in this case is used as an adjective to Paccuppannaṁ, and hence nominative (at least, according to the DPD).

My translation would be something like “… and whatever is the nature/characteristic of current existence” (alternatively “and whatever naturally presently existing”) in the context of the sutta.

Another approach, which takes into account the next line Tattha tattha vipassati, is to regard dhammaṁ as the accusative of the verb vipassati. In which case the phrase could be read as “And whatever presently existing sees clearly the dhamma in that regard.” but I find this translation problematic and doesn’t fit well with the context of the sutta. Also it’s unclear what dhamma means - it could mean nature/characteristic, but also teaching, principle/law etc.

I will be interested to see other opinions. I think @sujato 's translation as “and phenomena in the present” makes sense.

PS: thank you for introducing this sutta to me. It’s a delightful read, and quite inspirational.

The -aṁ ending can also be nominative for neuter nouns in -a such as dhamma :blush:

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Yes, but if neuter here why isn’t it matched with ‘yam’ ?
(Still scratching my head over this one…)

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Yo could be the subject of the verse. The yogi. “Whoever perceives [this…], being wise, should foster that.” In which case, dhammaṁ is accusative after all.

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Here is the translation by Ven Bodhi, it takes ‘paccuppanam dhammam’ as accusative, and ‘ca’ as’instead’. (It offen has that sense in verse)

“Instead with insight let him see
Each presently arisen state;
Let him know that and be sure of it”

Yes! Here it seems the ‘yo’ would be the practitioner.

Here is Ven Ñanananada’s translation. (He wrote a whole book on this sutta!)

“But that which is present he discerns-
With insight as and when it comes.
The Immovable- the non-irritable.
In that state should the wise one grow”

Hmm- a rather different word order….


I like this a lot, so it kind of means “Instead whoever sees clearly the Dhamma in the Present” or similar … that also makes a lot of sense in the sutta.

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The yo in that verse is a relative masc. pronoun and acts as an adjective of the subject ‘vidvāṃ’.

yo vidvāṃ = a man who is enlightened/intelligent
vipassati = who discerns/perceives
taṃ paccuppannaṃ dhammaṃ = the present (currently existing) reality
tattha tattha ca = here and everywhere
asaṃhīraṃ = incorruptibility (not being-led-astray)
asaṃkuppaṃ = non-agitation (or non-anger)
anubrūhaye = let him cultivate

paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ, tattha tattha vipassati,
asaṃhīraṃ asaṃkuppaṃ, taṃ vidvām-anubrūhaye

The full meaning of the verse is:

The intelligent man/person who discerns/perceives clearly the reality as it exists in the present moment,
here and there (i.e. everywhere),
Let him cultivate/develop (in himself, the qualities of) incorruptibility and non-agitation.

The current translation of the verse (found in MN131, as below) does not make much sense to me:
and phenomena in the present
are clearly seen in every case.
Knowing this, foster it—
unfaltering, unshakable.


Thank you for this explanation.

So, the subject ‘vidvām’ is the nominative masculine present participle form of the verb vindati.

Thanks - your translation is very persuasive! The only issue I have is where does the “m” fit in? You place it as part of vidvā but I am not seeing it as a valid case ending.

suttacentral places it as part of anubrūhaye (vidvā manubrūhaye) which doesn’t quite make sense either. Is this a prohibition ie. ma anubrūhaye?

All correct, except the verb isn’t vindati (to find/obtain) but vedeti (to know/understand)

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The sanskrit form is vidvān. The pali has converted the final n into a ṃ (which when immediately followed by a vowel is converted due to sandhi into m). There is no prohibitory ‘mā’ there as the anubrūhaye starts with a short a (i.e. not a long ā)

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Thanks. That makes sense. I always get tripped up by sandhi!

There is still the issue that vidvāṁ is still not a valid case ending for vidvā - the closest I can find is vidvantaṃ

See my post just above re vidvāṁ

I did see the post, but neither vidvām nor vidvāṁ come up as valid case endings. At least according to DPD.

The verse may not have been originally composed in our Pāli.

So the ending ṃ/m (standing in place of an original ‘n’) has evidently been left in-situ (grammatical irregularity notwithstanding) to prevent the ā of vidvā from merging with the a of anubrūhaye (sandhi) and thus making the meter defective due to reduction in syllable count that would have ensued.

The verb-form anubrūhaye is a third person causative optative singular (Sanskrit: anubṛṃhayet)

What does your dictionary give you as masculine singular present participle case endings for vedeti?

According to CPED, the present participle is vediyamāna - the masc nom sng form is vediyamāno

Thanks - that kind of makes sense.

That would be for the the vediy- base.

Have a look at the PED entry for vindati, which includes mention of the causative vedeti.