Oi, a bolt-pin!

Question for Bhante @Sujato when you have a moment.

I noticed a couple of changes in MN 21 Kakacūpama. If I’m not mistaken, this segment used to be translated as “What the hell, Kāḷī!” and is now “Oi wench, Kāḷī!”

And previously I think that in this segment, Vedehikā hit her on the head with a rolling pin, but now it’s a bolt-pin.

It’s always interesting to know why a translator uses something different from the “standard” translation as well as when they change their translation. Obviously this doesn’t have any real Dhamma significance, but I’m still curious.

I’m also wondering on why MN 22 Alagaddūpama is now The Simile of the Cobra.

Edit: Oh, and I just found that in MN 25 Nivāpa you used to say “…a trapper doesn’t cast bait for deer thinking…” and now it is “…a sower does not sow seed for deer thinking…”

Other than to trap them, I can’t imagine why someone would sow seeds for deer.


I don’t know, but for a start, there was this:

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Ah, I see. I actually wanted to ask what a bolt-pin even was since google didn’t show anything that made sense. It’s a door bar, right? Like a bar that runs horizontally across a door to keep it from opening inward?


Maybe “bolt pin” and “Oi” needs to be glossed?
I’ve never seen these words.

An example in the wild. Or captivity as the case may be.


A sound to call animals?
Or to imitate an animal?

It’s a rude way to get someone’s attention. Very British/Aus/NZ. Never used in the US, which is maybe why you have never heard it.


It uses the upamā of an alagarda

Right, but all of the Pali dictionaries I have checked don’t call it a cobra.

Fortunately there’s a note on this:

The alagadda appears only here in early Pali. Sanskrit sources identify alagarda either as a water-snake—in which case, however, it is said to be non-venomous (Kṣīrasvāmin’s Amarakoṣodghāṭana 1.7.5)—or as a kind of cobra (darvīkāra, Suśrutasaṃhitā 5.4). | As to why the man was looking for a cobra, the commentary says he was looking to harvest the snake’s venom. But Candrakīrti, drawing on the pan-Indic legend that certain serpents have a “snake-gem” (nāgamaṇi) in their heads, says that a serpent captured with the proper herbs and incantations brings great riches, but should these fail it will turn deadly (Mūlamadhyamakavṛtti-prasannapadā, L. de La Vallée Poussin’s translation, page 497).

For our US friends just learning this “61st most beautiful word in the English language”, now you stand poised to triumph in Scrabble. You’re welcome!

“Oi” was added to the list of acceptable words in US Scrabble in 2006.

There’s also a note on this:

Aggaḷasūci is a “pin” (sūci) for fastening the door “bolt” (aggala). It is sometimes translated as “rolling pin”, but that would be Sanskrit vellana (Hindi belan).

The basic idea is you have a bolt or bar that closes the door, which is fastened by a “pin”. You don’t really see this design around these days. Something like this:

The “pin” would go through the latch, much like we’d use a padlock these days.

Sure, but the sense arises from context, not from the words themselves, which mean to “sow”.

This issue comes up a lot. Like consider the following sentence.

He killed him with a blow to the head with a hammer.

If I were translating, I would not translate this as:

He killed him with a blow to the head with the murder weapon.

Of course the hammer is the murder weapon. But the word “hammer” doesn’t mean “murder weapon”. So If I’m translating, I use the word for “hammer”, not the word for “murder weapon”. The sense arises from context. But if you pre-import the context into the words, you’re losing specificity, and no longer letting the context give rise to meaning. Meaning is lost, and it creates a less vivid image.

I feel like there should be a word for this, like “context transferal” or something. Like I said, it comes up a lot.


In New York we have a word, “Oy” which has the sense of ‘oh boy, not again…’.
Seems quite different.


That sound like a Yiddish word, right?


Yes, I think so. As in, “oy vey, again with the bolt pin…!”


Thanks so much for the belly laugh. :joy:


It could be fun translating so ancient Indians speak like this.

“Oy vey, you want I should have metta for you? Such chutzpah !”



Lol, pretty sure that’d be a hit in Brooklyn.


And I just noticed you have switched from “gentlemen who love themselves” to

There are three gentlemen staying here whose nature is to desire only the self.

in MN31. (Footnote is too big to fit on screen, btw)

I’m noticing that in the footnotes you are frequently referring to various Upanishads. Do you think that the writers of the commentaries would have been unaware of the points you are raising?

Definitely. The old story that Buddhaghosa was a brahmin is obviously incorrect, as as he, and the tradition he represents, lack all but cursory knowledge of Vedic traditions. This is in line with the observation that, after the EBTs, Buddhist texts don’t engage directly with non-Buddhists any more.


Well, he could have been by caste even if not by training, right? :pray:

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The PTS dict long ago pointed out that Buddhaghosa sometimes wrongly explains words, the example being vissa (IIRC), which is rare in Pali but obviously represents the common Sanskrit word viśva (“all”).

So it seems he wasn’t familiar with Sanskrit, nor with Vedic texts and rituals. As to the legend of him being a brahmin, here’s the story from Nyanamoli’s introduction to Path of Purification.

The composition of the second part (often called Cūlavaṁsa) of that historical poem is attributed to an Elder Dhammakitti, who lived in or about the thirteenth century. Here is a translation of the relevant passage:

“There was a Brahman student who was born near the site of the Enlightenment Tree. He was acquainted with the arts and accomplishments of the sciences and was qualified in the Vedas. He was well versed in what he knew and unhesitant over any phrase. Being interested in doctrines, he wandered over Jambudīpa (India) engaging in disputation. He came to a certain monastery, and there in the night he recited Pātañjali’s system with each phrase complete and well rounded.

The whole point of the story, composed maybe 700 years after his life, is to establish his proficiency in Vedic lore. It doesn’t have any historical basis other than that, and is obviously an example of a standard conversion story, modeled ultimately after similar accounts in the suttas.

So could he have been a brahmin by birth? I dunno, he could have been a Martian for all I know! :space_invader: