Nandī dukkhassa mūlan’ti (MN1)

From SC we have nandi as as the hook of:

joy, pleasure, delight.
a drum announcing or accompanying proclamations.

From SC we also have Nandī dukkhassa mūlan’ti as:

194.26 Because he has understood that relishing is the root of suffering

I marvel at the terse expressiveness of Pali. I had previously thought English terse, and yet we have three Pali words turned into eleven English words. Pali is manifold in meaning and tnslation is difficult.

Please help me understand the nuances of translation here. For example, “delight” and “relishing” have quite different meanings (i.e., “i relish the delight of chocolate” or the “relishing aside, the delight of a butterfly’s flight cannot be separated from the suffering of the plant eaten by the caterpillar”). I do not understand dukkha vs dukkhasa, etc.

I apologize for not posting this in translation category. I have left it here in discussions because it relates to my personal practice and I’m a bit stuck here seeking wisdom


dukkhassa is the genitive of dukkha, so is translated as “of suffering”.

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Of the meanings shown at , I would pick the third (cause of, condition for), but it gives a synonym of “hetu” which is often translated as “root”

The 'ti on the end is the Pali method of quotation. The translator has apparently expanded that out into “he has understood that”.

This Pali sentence is using a compact form where two adjacent nouns (or noun phrases) in nominative case have an implicit copulative “is”.

Pali doesn’t have explicit words for “a”, “the”, so the appropriate one has to be guessed and added into the English.

That’s my grammatical understanding of it (I’m no expert, just learning).


Thank you for the detailed explanation. I’m having difficulty finding good ways to learn Pali. The nuances you posted are tremendously useful. :pray:

Now all my confusion simply rests on delight vs. relishing. I am struggling to understand this phrase thoroughly but am tripping up on the semantic difference. And I keep settling on delight vs relishing since delight precedes relishing. I do mistrust delight myself. I would therefore understand the preference of relishing over delight when delight was the natural translation.

It can also be, I think, “taking pleasure”, the aorist in the opening.

I think it can also be “taking pleasure is suffering’s root”.

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Well, don’t forget this is MN1, which ends with “But the mendicants were not happy with what the Buddha said.” :thinking:


This conclusion is indeed eye-opening. This is quite a rare outcome in the Dhamma. And we can suppose that some monks were simply confused at the unexpected proclamation and therefore were not delighted.

However, we can also propose that some monks did indeed understand. And these monks, in their clear and present understanding, would have understood the sutta to be a warning to be heedful and wary about delight. We cannot be happy and carefree with a tiger in the forest. But we can be mindful of the danger.

I would like to extend deep thanks to @LXNDR, who kindly pointed me to an alternate translation of MN1 having:

Delight is the root of suffering

The ready availability on SC of sutta translations by different authors deepens our practice.

sadhu sadhu sadhu!

Thank you all for settling my doubts.


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Nandi is a synonym for taṇhā (= “craving”) in the four noble truths. However it also has the sense of “delight, enjoy”. So it covers both the experience of joy and the craving for that, a bit similar to the English idiom “to take pleasure in”.

“Delight” has been the stock Nyanamoli/Bodhi rendering for a long time, but I tried to get away from it, to try to emphasize the “craving” aspect more. Also, I feel that “delight”, when overused, is not very idiomatic. However, “relishing” isn’t very good, either, and I wish I had something better!


Bhante Sujato, in this modern world of endless disposable delights, I fear we suffer from relishing that endless stream of delights. Such relishing does indeed bring on a certain unease. Will it end? When will the next delight arise from Apple/Google/wherever? My only recourse has been to look directly at each rising delight. No thank you. No thank you.

At first I thought this wariness was just in me, but when I told people that delight is the root of suffering, they would invariably respond with “What!?!” and stop completely, looking at me in disbelief. The one exception was my wife, who rolled her eyes and laughed at me. “Of course,” she said, and turned on the TV.

Thank you for your explanation. I did not know about taṇhā.


I can’t think of anything but I thought relish did bring out the wanting aspect out more: ‘I relish what I am eating’ vs ‘I am taking delight in what I am eating’. I also thought about where it’s felt- relishing is more in the mind (as is craving) while feeling (‘vedana’) is at projected to the sense base itself. Pleasant taste vs relished taste.

Understanding that delight itself is dangerous (MN1 Bodhi) has helped me disassemble the delusion that “relishing is bad, but delight is fine.” If relishing is bad and delight is fine, then an endless sampling of delights seems fine. But an endless sample of delights is just Mara’s buffet. Taste this and that, move on and taste some more. That endless sampling of delights without relishing is also suffering. We crave new delights. This is why emperors have pastry chefs. Always a new delight. All delightful. None relished. All sampled and ignored. That is not equanimity. If it were equanimity, a plain roll would be just as delightful as a doughnut. Bhante Sujato would probably just laugh at all this thinking, “Oh but, you are just relishing delights.” And he would be completely right.

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Delight is a problem: but the real problem is the delusion behind the delight (this taste is permanent, permanently satisfying and I am eating it- it is mine).

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Yes, the real problem is the delusion behind the delight.
The delight is just a blinking sign saying “Uh-oh, delusion in the neighborhood! Warning!”

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What if practicing Buddhism brings you delight

Oh dear :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Don’t get stuck on the raft :rowing_man:! :rofl: