Literal meaning and application of 'dheyya'

Dear Pali cracks,
I’m struggling to understand the word or rather composite-part ‘dheyya’.
It appears as

  • ‘realm’, e.g. of death: maccudheyya or māradheyya
  • ‘giving’, e.g. name-giving: nāmadheyya

and in some other words like ‘vidheyya’, but I can’t figure out the common idea behind it. Do they all come from ‘dha’, or ‘dhe’? Do they come from different roots?
The Skt ‘dheya’ with its composites is equally vague or versatile. So maybe one of you can help…


In many occasions there’s non! :slight_smile:

But the PTS dictionary gives a somewhat common idea of it if you check “dahati”:
[Sk. dadhāti to put down, set up;]… to put, place; take for (acc. or abl.), assume, claim, consider D i.92.

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It’s from dha = dahati = dhāra “to bear”.

Nāmadheyya doesn’t mean “giving of name”. It just means “name”, being a rare idiom.

The root has a wide range of senses, and in this suffixed form it is highly idiomatic and should simply be read per context.

Vidheyya, though from the same root, is a different word with a more specialized sense. It is gerundive of vidahati, literally “manageable”.


May I ask more specifically how you’d translate maccudheyya and māradheyya?
Is it the ‘set-up’ of Mara, some other gerund, or basically an idiomatic guess-work relying on the context solely?

Mara’s domain, or Mara’s realm, etc.

I see that this is the common translation, I just don’t see where the ‘realmy-ness’ of dheyya comes from - from the context of the word-root…

Yeah, it’s just an idiom, best not to overthink it. There’s probably a linguistic explanation somewhere! I guess the original sense is “area where (tax) is owed to the landlord”, cf. Sanskrit bhāgadheya “the share of a king, tax, impost”.

In application to Mara or Death, it’s like the Greek idea of the ferryman over the river Styx: everyone owes him a coin. In fact it may be connected to the same myth, since the idea is almost always connected with the notion of “crossing over, getting past”.