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


If I understand you correctly, you are saying that Ajahn Brahmali does translate “Yā na gaccheyya, yathādhammo kāretabbo”ti” with “If she doesnʼt, she commits an offense of wrong conduct”? To my understanding, this is incorrect and should rather be “If she doesn’t, she should be dealt with according to the rule”.

If the same mistake appears in several successive instances this might be a copy & paste error.

As for the translation suggestions, I have to say that I mostly ignore them. Sometimes they can be helpful for determining the correct portion of translated text that belongs to a particular segment—or to detect errors like in your case. :wink: But I never use them to insert text.


@sabbamitta Yes, you understood my comment correctly. I have editted my earlier comment for clarity.


Well done! Thanks for spotting this. It’s absolutely an error and needs to be corrected, which I have now done. I presume the other three instances you mention are 20:19.1.4, 20:19.1.8, and 20:21.1.7, all of which are translated correctly.

It’s great that you find these faults. Sometimes the fault-finding mind comes in handy. If only it could be turned off when it is not useful!


Well, the interesting thing is that the lower robe both for monastics and for lay people was called nivāsana at the time of the Buddha. Yet the monastic nivāsana was plainer than that used by lay people. The monastic robes were, and are, restricted to certain colours and patterns, and they should have no frills. This is similar to the distinction between a sarong and a nivāsana/antaravāsaka in the present day. I like the word sarong precisely because it keeps this connection between the clothes of monastics and lay people. In addition, sarong is an Asian import into English, which perhaps makes it even more suitable.


Perhaps to make the meaning explicit, it could be differentiated as ‘monastic sarong’


Actually I still have “lower robe” as my translation. I’ll think about it a bit further.


This article on monastic robes states that

inner garment or waistcloth (antaravasaka), an upper robe (uttarsanga) and outer robe (sanghati) (Vin 1:94 289)


The article is not wrong, it is just that there are two words for lower robe: nivāsana and antaravāsaka. Both are used in the Vinaya to describe a monastic’s lower robe.


undergarment; clothing; dress. define: nivāsana - SuttaCentral

sorry, I can only access legacy suttacentral, at my work desktop!


The monks only had three robes, one of which was the nivāsana. It is clear from the Vinaya that it refers to the lower robe. If this is important to you, I shall happily provide references.


Oh, please do!

Indeed yes. The problem is one of the basic issues with pootle, that the database doesn’t get reliably updated and propagated. It’s a problem for the Translation Memory as you say, but also for just getting the texts out of Pootle, as well as updating any texts inside pootle, especially when you have to change the segmenting.

These problems will all be fixed with Bilara, which i am hoping to start actually using for translation next week!


Oh wow… exciting!


Kd 1 segment 2515

Pali: svākkhāto dhammo, carantu brahmacariyaṃ sammā dukkhassa antakiriyāyā’”ti.

English translation is lacking here. In both earlier and later instances it is there (so seems not to be left out for reasons of abbreviation).


I did it on purpose, I think. The same long phrase appears within the same story. To me it seems a bit laborious to repeat it. Further down, however, the same phrase occurs in a different story, relating to a different rule, and so I have chosen to restate it.

This is just what seemed best to me at the time, and actually it still seems right to me. But in the end there is no right or wrong with this sort of judgement call.


@sabbamitta, I’ve just had brief at look at your work with the Mahakkhandhaka. First of all, I am glad you are making such good progress with this longest of all the Khandhakas. It is almost twice as long as number two.

As I had a quick look at the text, however, I noticed one place where the segmentation of the Pali does not fit well with the English translation. You have tried your best to fit it in, but to my mind the result is not ideal. In fact it is impossible to fit my translation to the Pali segments as they stand. In such cases I would propose ticking the “needs work” box (which I have done). The case I have in mind is the sequence of segments 2591 to 2593, which has been segmented as follows:

2591: Jānaṃyeva āhaṃsu—‘
They deny

2592: na jānāmā’ti, passaṃyeva āhaṃsu—‘
knowing what they know

2593: na passāmā’ti.
and having seen what theyʼve seen.

Jānaṃyeva āhaṃsu actually means “knowing, they say:”
Na jānāmā’ti, passaṃyeva āhaṃsu means “‘we do not know’; seeing, they say:”
Na passāmā’ti means “we do not see.”

As you can see the match between the Pali and the English is poor. Here, as elsewhere, it would be preferable to merge the three Pali segments into a single segment. Only then is it really possible to get a good match with the English.


Yes, this doesn’t match well, in fact. Thanks for looking into it!


A minor point - among the many are materials that the very creative nuns used to give themselves a more shapely figure:

Dussapaṭṭena (translated as “strips of fabric”)
Coḷapaṭṭena (translated as “strips of cloth”)

As far as I know, there is not any difference between fabric and cloth. Is there a subtle difference in “dussa” versus “coḷa” to be captured here?


Thanks for bringing this up. I have had another look at the dictionary definitions. For coḷa DOP (Margaret Cone’s Dictionary of Pali) say: “cloth; a piece of cloth; a garment”. And for dussa it has “cloth; clothes”. Moreover, it defines dussapaṭṭa and coḷapaṭṭa in exactly the same way as “a strip of cloth”. On top of this the Abhidhānappadīpikā, the Pali-Pali dictionary of the commentaries, defines dussa in terms of coḷa. None of this is very helpful, except for making it clear that the words are synonyms or at the very least near synonyms.

So we need to turn to the commentary, which says: Dussapaṭṭenāti setavatthapaṭṭena … Coḷapaṭṭādīsu coḷakāsāvaṃ coḷanti veditabbaṃ, “a dussapaṭṭa is a white strip of cloth … a coḷapaṭṭa, etc., should be understood as a cloth which is an ocher cloth.”

I don’t find it particularly convincing that dussa must refer to a white cloth, but perhaps there is something to the idea that a coḷa is ocher in colour. I am thinking we might keep fabric for dussa, but render coḷa as “monastic cloth”. I’ll think about it a bit more.

One of the issues with this sort of problem is that we do not know why both dussa and coḷa are given in the text. It is tempting to think they are there because they have different meanings, but that is not necessarily the case. It could be, for instance, that a later editor added one of the two simply to make sure the text was exhaustive. Or it could be that slight variants in dialect or developments in the language after the Buddha passed away made it seem reasonable to use two words to express the same idea.

My impression is that the commentaries often try to find distinctions where it is hard to argue they exist. The commentaries’ position seems to be that the Canonical text is all the word of the Buddha and so every word and expression must be uniquely meaningful. In the present case, however, I doubt it, especially since the dictionaries treat them a synonyms. And DOP is mostly based on the Canonical vocabulary.

I have taken on board @sujato’s admonition not to over-determine the text we are translating, that is, trying to see meaning where in fact there is none. It is prudent to translate the text as it stands, so far as that is possible, without assuming hidden meaning. To sum up, I am reasonably satisfied with leaving the translation as it is, but I shall consider the issue a bit more.

But thanks again for your careful work!


Kd 1 segment 2909, in the note: “whoever violates an ordinary nun though one of three orifices”

through one of three orifices :white_check_mark:


Kd 1 segment 3006
“At one time there was a young brahmin had murdered his father.”

who had murdered his father. :white_check_mark:

Segment 3023:
“As they were traveling, they were attack by thieves.”

… they were attacked by thieves. :white_check_mark: