It's hard to understand aññatrāyogena aññatrācariyakena

Five times (dn9:24.3, dn24:2.21.11, dn25:7.15, mn72:18.3, mn80:14.6) we have a passage where the Buddha, in conversation with someone from another sect, warns them that it is hard for them to understand the Dhamma. This is usually understood by the commentaries, dictionaries, and translations as such:

Dujjānaṁ kho etaṁ, poṭṭhapāda, tayā aññadiṭṭhikena aññakhantikena aññarucikena aññatrāyogena aññatrācariyakena
It’s hard for you to understand this, since you have a different view, creed, preference, practice, and tradition.

Bhikkhu Bodhi has a similar rendering:

hold another view, accept another teaching, approve of another teaching, pursue a different training, and follow a different teacher.

There are a few variant readings, but none that affect the sense (aññatraaññattha, āyogayoga, pāyoga).

The problem is that the list switches the initial word of the compound from añña (“other, different”) to aññatra (“apart from, except”). Yet so far as I know everyone (including myself) treats the change in wording as meaningless, as if this is merely an unusual sense of aññatra. What if we’re all wrong?

The first three terms are all synonyms: diṭṭhi, khanti, and ruci. These are all commonly used in the sense that they appear here, as one’s “beliefs” or “opinions”. The Buddha is saying that it is hard to understand the Dhamma so long as one adheres to such beliefs.

But does this not strike you as somewhat incomplete, and unusually negative for the Buddha? Surely it is more in character for him to say, “Well it is hard to understand with those beliefs, unless you do the work?”

The last two terms in the list have a somewhat different meaning: āyoga means “effort, striving, application to meditation practice”, while ācariyaka means “that which comes from a teacher, i.e. a tradition, teacher’s lineage or community”. This is implicitly acknowledged in the commentary, which treat these terms differently, essentially explaining aññatra as añña.

If we were to retain the normal sense of aññatra we might translate:

It’s hard for you to understand this, since you have a different view, creed, preference, without dedication to practice and the guidance of a tradition.

Now the Buddha’s message is more constructive. He’s not telling them they can’t do it, just letting them know what it will take.

I’d feel better about adopting this reading if I found even a single source who agreed with me!


I actually find the Buddha to often be quite negative as far as this kind of thing goes. :grin:

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Yeah… The Pāli is beyond me, but:

The English you propose just means that they need dedication to some practice and the guidance of some tradition, which is (obviously?) not what is meant.

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I honestly don’t think your proposed translation is an improvement, please forgive me if it sounds any rude.

Just a theory: Maybe aññatra is just an annoyance of the Pali language? Because diṭṭhi , khanti , and ruci go along with another verb while yogena and cariyakena go along with another different verb so it’s necessary in Pali language to mark this difference by using aññatra?

Please feel free to shoot down the above silly theory. :sweat_smile:

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Thanks, Bhante, for looking at this interesting tidbit.
Would it be possible, in an effort to capture the difference between añña and aññatra to make a (very loose) translation like,

‘It’s hard for you to understand this, P, with your view, acceptance, and approval of something else, and without my/this training and guidance.”

It seems the person addressed is not necessarily without a dedicated practice or tradition, but he follows a different one, the wrong one.

Interesting. I remember translating this series in DA a couple times last year not knowing the underlying Indic. Now that I go back and look at it in both DA and MA, it looks like the three versions agree on the first item, obviously, and two or three in the middle, but the last two are all seem different. They all have five items, though.

The Chinese translators say “different” for all five items, for what it’s worth. But in DA, the last item is “relying on a different dharma,” so there’s an added word in that case.

Well, I don’t feel so bad now. I’m not sure how to translate some of those terms still unless I can find closer parallels in Sanskrit or Gandhari somewhere.

Below are a couple examples of the parallels:

Pali DA 28 MA 209
aññadiṭṭhi 異見 different view (-diṭṭhi) 異見 different view (-diṭṭhi)
aññakhanti 異習 different training (-āyoga?) 異忍 different tolerance (-khanti)
aññaruci 異忍 different tolerance (-khanti) 異樂 different enjoyment (-ruci?)
aññatrāyoga 異受 different acceptance (?) 異欲 different desire (?)
aññatrācariya 依異法 relying on different teaching (-dharma) 異意 different thinking (?)

Pretty much the same point and yes, the Pali doesn’t specify “my” practice; if it did of course then there’d be no translation issue.

It just feels wrong to me. If you look in Cone, she gives this sense in aññatra, but if you look at the details, she only quotes this passage, with the commentarial justification. That’s always a bit of a red flag.

Ha ha nice try, but no (and BTW, both those words begin with ā-.)

aññatra is normally used with the instrumental or ablative, and in this case it’s instrumental, so that is standard.


In DA 28, I think you’re right, it looks like āyoga has been shifted, then the next two would be ruci and khanti, which are basically synonyms in this sense. This is the sense of khanti meaning “aceeptance (of a belief or view)”, but it is I think often translated as “tolerance”.

ācariyaka basically means the same thing as a “dhamma” in the sense of “religious path and doctrine”, so that tracks.

In MA 209, "enjoyment would be ruci, “liking”, although that’s not really the sense here. The last two almost work, but not exact.

FWIW the most famous use of āyoga is in the Ovadapatimokkha (adhicitte ca āyogo) so you might compare with the translations of that (which are included in all the Chinese patimokkhas).