How to find text in ellipses

Apologies this is a newbie question, and maybe answered already…

I keep running into text with ellipses, and have no idea how to find what the actual text represented by the ellipses is. If it’s helpful to answer this using an example, right now I’m curious about SN 46.1.
(SuttaCentral version)

Is there some sort of system to figure out where to find the text that’s left out?

Thank you in advance!

1 Like

Hi Lily,

As far as I know, it’s usually a matter of common sense.

If you look at your example with English and Pali side-by-side SuttaCentral it’s easy to see how to expand the English. The Pali will follow the same pattern:

It’s when a mendicant develops the awakening factor of mindfulness, which relies on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripens as letting go.

They develop the awakening factor of investigation of principles …
[, which relies on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripens as letting go.]

In the Pali it would be adding:

vivekanissitaṁ virāganissitaṁ nirodhanissitaṁ vossaggapariṇāmiṁ;

to each line.

1 Like

Sometimes the pāli doesn’t give an example for very common descriptions, but I don’t think it happened in their sutta.

The solution would be to do a search for the first part of the description and then find a sutta where it’s full.

The original texts have these ellipses - called “peyyāla”, showed as “…pe…” in the original text or … in the translation. See SuttaCentral A Reader’s Guide to the Pali Suttas - Elements of Structure - Abbreviation which explains some various ways the abbreviations are done in the original text. Bhante explains they’re either internal to the sutta or pointing to something in another sutta, external. Sometimes, the translator does only give the repetition once and the rest is expanded in the same way as the first example given even without any peyyāla in the original. Sometimes it is a reference to an earlier well-known sutta, another sutta in the chapter, or a well-known list (external).

In SN46.1 I’d say each of the awakening factors are listed and the … just means “which relies on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripens as letting go.” just like @mikenz66 has said above but it’s not explicit in the text.


Many many thanks to you all for these explanations – very helpful!


No problem with newbie questions. It has been talked about before.

I’m going to be fussy and disagree. It takes some amount of experience with the texts to fill in even basic elisions. So with a little bit of experience it becomes common sense, but then by definition it’s not common, :grin:

There are also many cases where it is difficult to find an exact fill in for an elision. And there are some cases where it is impossible to determine exactly how a text should be completed. This is one of the reasons that there hasn’t been a greater effort to produce a version of the canon with all of the missing bits filled in.

For example, in this daily sutta selection I wasn’t able to find a version of the missing text that was spoken by the Buddha. Also, it would appear that in the Buddha’s quotation, he only says “I know” and not “I practice like this”. I tried to flesh it all out but I found that I was making too much up to feel comfortable publishing it.