In AN 10.72 , is jhānā singular or plural?

b.bodhi has

“Good, good, bhikkhus! Those great disciples spoke rightly when they said that I have called noise a thorn to the jhānas.
(which looks plural to me)

‘sadda-kaṇṭakā kho pana jhānā’

DPR conjugation chart show jhānā as a-declension, singular ablative as the only option.

Ven. Bodhi has it as plural. So my question really is, did the Buddha mean to say first jhana is the only jhana for which noise is a thorn, or all four jhanas?

What’s conspicuously absent from the 10 thorns are the 4 formless attainments, and note the 9th attainment IS present. I’m inclined to think all four jhanas are included as “thorn-able”.

10 thorns
“dasay-ime, bhikkhave, kaṇṭakā.
“[There are] ten-(of)-these, *********, thorns.
katame dasa?
Which ten?
(1) pa-vivek-ārāmassa
(1) (for one who) enjoys-seclusion,
saṅgaṇik-ārāmatā kaṇṭako,
enjoyment-of-society (is a) thorn,

(2) a-subha-nimitt-ānu-yogaṃ
(2) (in the) {pursuit-of}-(the)-un-attractive-sign;
(for the) pursuer,
subha-nimitt-ānu-yogo kaṇṭako,
{pursuit-of}-(the)-attractive-sign (is a) thorn,

(3) indriyesu
(3) (the) sense-faculties;
(for one) guarding-(the)-doors [of that],
visūka-dassanaṃ kaṇṭako,
{viewing an}-unsuitable-show (is a) thorn,

(4) brahma-cariyassa
(4) (for the) celibate-life,
mātugām-ūpacāro kaṇṭako,
association-with-women (is a) thorn,

(5) paṭhamassa jhānassa
(5) (for the) first jhāna,
saddo kaṇṭako,
noise (is a) thorn,

(6) dutiyassa jhānassa
(6) (for the) second jhāna,
vitakka-vicārā kaṇṭakā,
thought and evaluation (is a) thorn,

(7) tatiyassa jhānassa
(7) (for the) third jhāna,
pīti kaṇṭako,
Rapture (is a) thorn,

(8) catutthassa jhānassa
(8) (for the) fourth jhāna,
assāsa-passāso kaṇṭako,
In-(and)-out breathing (is a) thorn,

(9) saññā-vedayita-nirodha-samāpattiyā
(9) (for) perception-(and)-feelings’-cessation-attainment,
saññā ca vedanā ca kaṇṭako
perception and feeling (is a) thorn,

(10) rāgo kaṇṭako
(10) Lust (is a) thorn,
doso kaṇṭako
hatred (is a) thorn,
moho kaṇṭako.
delusion (is a) thorn.

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It’s definitely plural.

Surely the sense is that sound is an obstacle to the first jhana specifically, and if you can’t get the first jhana, then you can’t get the rest, either. In the same way, you might say, sensual desire is an obstacle to jhanas. It doesn’t mean you can experience sensual desire in any jhana. It means that if you don’t let go of sensual desire, you can’t even get in first jhana, still less the rest.


As footnote, Duroiselle’s Practical Grammar of the Pali Language (pp. 27-28) does allow for the neuter nominative plural to take the declension. The treatment there appears a bit fuller than the relatively straightforward remark on p. 41 of Warder’s Introduction to Pali that omits the allowance. It may be that the book expands on it elsewhere.

I’d be curious to know the design decisions that went into that conjugation module of the DPR but just glancing at the case of the neuter rūpa, though we find it nominatively plural in all over the place eg via the kāmaguṇa pericope, the module similarly omits it.

what’s the exact grammar case of samāpattiyā?

obviously in samadhi attaiment #9 nirodha, it can not have perception of sound. Upon emerging from it, most sutta passages explicitly say destruction of asavas. And for meditative attainments #8 and #9, those have no possible dynamic qualities of the earlier attainments, one can only enter those and emerge after a predetermined time.

The way I interpret the full sentence for thorn #9, is that it’s in the act of TRYING to attain that attainment, that sounds are a thorn.

That’s why I’m trying to ascertain the possible grammatical cases for samāpattiyā.