Notes on the segmentation of Pali Vinaya with Brahmali's translation


Yes, it’s the 20th Khandhaka. I have obviously copied and pasted a bit too much myself, without looking properly at the material. My apologies for confusing you! :anguished: Hopefully you won’t have too many such problems, but there are unfortunately no guarantees in this imperfect world of ours. On a more positive note, all three of you are doing a marvellous job! :grinning:


Kd 1 segment 1121

King Bimbisāra says: “Please accept me as a lay follower who have gone for refuge for life.”

Shoud be “… who has gone for refuge …” Fixed :white_check_mark:


This Pali text is split into two segments

Bhikkhuniyo na jānanti—

“evaṃ pātimokkhaṃ uddisitabban”ti.

The translation is: The nuns did not know how to recite it.

Should the break in that sentence be before or after “how”?

EDIT: on some further reflection, I think “evaṃ” corresponds to “how”. Is that correct?


You could argue that the “how” is equivalent to evaṃ. So yes, I would divide the segment just before the “how”. I am happy to see you are so careful with the segmentation. :grinning:


Since I have started listening to SC Voice, and mostly Pali—English segment by segment, I also consider the aspect of how it makes sense when listening to the English. In the suttas I have come across quite a number of cases where the breaking up was done equivalent to saying here, “The nuns did not know how / to recite it.” Then you would be left with the “how”, not knowing how it will continue. After the “how” you would then hear the next Pali segment before hearing the follow up for the English. This does sond very strange! (Reading, you could still scan with your eyes to the next segment and wouldn’t have to feel so lost; but listening, you can’t.)

This is something I feel very worthwhile to consider for the segment breaks, next to the exact meaning of the Pali. And in this case, both considerations would come to the same conclusion.


Yes, it is an interesting case. We probably won’t be able to solve such problems 100%, but it should definitely be taken into consideration.


It wonderful to see the effort being put into it!


Kd 1 segment 1514

“and he should give him his lower robe and then his other robe”

Shouldn’t it be “his outer robe”? (The Pali is saṅghāṭi.)—Possibly the same thing has already occurred on earlier occasions, but I didn’t really take notice of it.


Thanks for spotting these little details! :grinning:

This is an interesting case. It is actually not clear that “outer robe” is the best translation for saṅghāṭi in this particular instance. You will notice that he gives the “lower robe” and then the saṅghāṭi. It would seem, therefore, that saṅghāṭi in this case refers to the upper robe, the second of the three robes. I have discussed this with Bhante @Sujato before, and we concluded that in the suttas and the early vinaya saṅghāṭi can refer to any of the three robes. In other words, it seems to have meant something like a monastic robe, or perhaps a patched robe. It was only later, apparently, that saṅghāṭi got a narrower meaning, referring specifically to the third of the three robes. This is why in the present instance I have rendered it as “other robe”. But I am not sure if this is ideal and I am open to suggestions.


Thinking about it: saṅghāṭi is meant here to include everything that is not a lower robe. Right? So then “upper robe” would perhaps be good? In any case it is something that is worn around the shoulders, not around the hip. And that would apply both for what is later called “upper robe” as well as “outer robe”. :thinking:


Yes, in the present instance “upper robe” would work well. In a number of instances, however, it clearly means “outer robe”. I think there has been a historical development in the term, starting out as a general term for a monastic robe (or perhaps upper monastic robe) and then over time gaining the more specialised meaning of “outer robe”. If we are to use two different translations for saṅghāṭi, this presupposes that it is possible to distinguish from the context which meaning applies in each and every instance. Having looked at it, I don’t think this will be possible. Alternatively, one could perhaps assume that the earlier meaning of “upper robe” applies unless the context clearly requires “outer robe”. I am leaning towards the latter. @Sujato, I have noticed that you render saṅghāṭi as “outer robe”. Are you fully satisfied with that?


Less and less as I look at it.

Actually I’m thinking it may be better to do away with the “outer-” vs. “upper-” robe distinction entirely and just use “cloak” for sanghati. It’s distinctive enough to make it stand out, not too far from the meaning, and remains flexible in application.


Perhaps we should aim to use quite specific English words for all three monastic robes, not just the general term “robe”. The nivāsana/antaravāsaka could be rendered as “sarong”, which is the word used among monastics in Thailand (sabong). Sarong is certainly more descriptive than “lower robe”.

This leaves the uttarāsaṅga, which I notice you have rendered simply as “robe”. I have reserved “robe”/“robe-cloth” for cīvara, which is the most generic term for a monastic’s clothes. It even includes robe-cloth. (But in this case, too, I suspect a historical evolution in the meaning of the term. It seems to me that it originally just referred to robes and gradually came to include all robe-cloth.) I am not sure if there are any good words for the uttarāsaṅga in English. If I keep “robe” for cīvara, perhaps I need to stick to “upper robe”?

If I were to follow your suggestion of “cloak”, this still leaves a number of instances where saṅghāṭi is found in the plural, referring to both the upper and the outer robe. It seems a bit strange to me to use the plural “cloaks”, since this would mean that you put on two cloaks. In these cases I might have to use “upper robes”. There are also a few instances where the saṅghāṭi clearly refers to the upper robe, not the outer robe. So using the word “cloak” doesn’t really solve the problem of the overlap in meaning. I am leaning towards using both “outer robe”/“cloak” and “upper robe” for saṅghāṭi, distinguishing the two meanings by context. Where context is of no use, I will assume “upper robe” is preferable, since this seems to me to be the earlier meaning.

There is a general problem here of how to translate a text that has clearly evolved over time. When words change meaning, should this be reflected in the translation? To do so can be awkward because the same word may be used in slightly different meanings within the same paragraph or sometimes even the same sentence. A typical example is the word analysis in the vinaya, where the term and the gloss may have different nuances.

When meaning changes over time, usually the earlier meaning gets lost and all we are left with is the evolved meaning, often even the commentarial understanding. This is a shame, especially since the idea of early Buddhism is the guiding principle of this entire translation project. I therefore feel we should try to reflect the evolution in meaning in translation, thereby giving the reader an insight into what is going on. Otherwise it is too easy to be blind to this interesting and important phenomenon. And yes, this is more of a problem in the vinaya than for the suttas.


Is this English? I am not a native speaker, and I wouldn’t understand the meaning of “sarong” or “sabong” without being a bit familiar with a monastic context.


My understanding is that sarong is quite commonly understood by native English speakers. Occasionally it is used in mass media.


Okay, I’m not consuming mass media so much… :wink:


The innermost robe of monks have more meaning than the sarong of the layity, so do think again. I offered a robe and was told it was only an andanaya suggesting it was an inadequate offering! If people went about giving sarongs to the sangha…


Now my confusion is perfect! :+1:


Allow me to vent about Pootle a little bit. The suggested texts include, often as the first hint, translations that have been changed or deleted. So for example, when “Bhagavato etamatthaṃ ārocesuṃ.” appears, the first suggestion is “You should fasten it at the corners.” It’s not a big deal, since we rarely, if ever use the suggested texts directly, but it becomes annoying after to 100th time of seeing this.

I will now mindfully sit with my annoyance …


Yā na gaccheyya, yathādhammo kāretabbo”ti.

Ajahn Brahmali’s translation is
" If she doesnʼt, she commits an offense of wrong conduct.”

(usually used for the Pali “Yā na dadeyya, āpatti dukkaṭassā”)

while the “similar translation” suggests it should be
“If she doesn’t, she should be dealt with according to the rule.”

It is the first of four such passages in this section (that use “yathādhammo kāretabbo”). I see that the same translation is used in those cases as well. So this appears to be intentional rather than an oversight. But I just wanted to check to make sure I understand fully.