How is "karoto karīyati pāpaṃ" parsed?

Hi all,

The phrase “karoto karīyati pāpaṃ” (AN 3.65) is quite a mystery to me. As far as I can tell, the words “karīyati pāpaṃ” are correctly identified by the SuttaCentral lookup facility. But “karoto” does not appear to be, as the lookup suggests, not a form of the verb “karoti”. It looks like the nominative of a masculine a-stem, “karota”, but no such word appears in the dictionaries I’m aware of. So I have no idea how the translation “If it turns out that bad things happen to people who do bad things” is related to “Sace kho pana karoto karīyati pāpaṃ” to which it appears to correspond.


AN 3.65

karīyati is the verb karoti in the passive present, third person, singular.

karīyati pāpaṃ: “evil is done”.

karoto is the dative singular of the present participle karonta. But here it’s being used as a noun: “to the one doing”, “to the doer”.

sace kho pana karoto karīyati pāpaṃ…

lit. “If then evil is done to the one doing [evil] …”

“If it turns out that bad things happen to people who do bad things…”
(Ven. Sujāto)

“Suppose evil comes to one who does evil…”
(Bhikkhu Bodhi)

“Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer…”
(Rev. Soma)

Most English translations are like those above. One dissenter is Ajahn Thanissaro, who appears to treat karoto as a dative form with an instrumental meaning:

“If evil is done through acting…”


Hey thanks, I was just about to answer this one!

Note that Cone “Dictionary of Pali” mentions both of these specific forms.


Thanks so much Ven. @Dhammanando. Clearly I need more work on the pres. part. and I missed the second understood occurrence of “pāpaṃ”. The dative seems right to me.