On the rare term paravediya

Paravediya, to be resolved “other-knowable”, occurs three times in the EBTs, so far as I know. All the passages are in verse; here they are, with the best available translations.

DN 19
Pucchāmi brahmānaṃ sanaṅkumāraṃ,
Kaṅkhī akaṅkhiṃ paravediyesu;
Rhy Davids
I ask the Brahma, the Eternal Youth,
Him past all doubt I, doubting, ask about
The things that others would fain know about.

Ud 5.7
Yā kāci kaṅkhā idha vā huraṃ vā,
Sakavediyā vā paravediyā vā
Whatever doubts there are about here or hereafter,
Understandable by oneself, or understandable by another

Snp 3.4#479
Āsaṃ anissāya vivekadassī,
Paravediyaṃ diṭṭhi­mu­pātivatto
Not dependent on desire, seeing separation,
gone beyond the view which can be known by others.

As you can see, all agree that it means “what can be known by others” (i.e. parena vediya). But I fail to see what this actually means. The contexts are fairly consistent, about overcoming doubts and clarifying views, but what do we care about what others can know?

Elsewhere, the term para is used in a similar context, with a much better defined meaning. There are said to be two conditions for the arising of right view: the words of another (parato ghoso), and rational reflection (yoniso manisikāra). These refer to the two aspects of growing wisdom: there are some things we can learn from external sources, but they only ripen into wisdom when we apply them to our own situation. The duality of self/other, while implicit in the very mention of para, is made explicit in the Udāna passage.

I propose that we revise our understanding of these passages in this light, and read the phrase as “knowable from another” (parato vediya). Thus:

DN 19
I am in doubt, so I ask Brahmā—who is free of doubt—
about things one may learn from another.

Ud 5.7
Whatever doubts there are about here or hereafter,
that one may learn about by oneself or from another

Snp 3.4#479
Not relying on hope, seeing seclusion,
gone beyond views that may be learned from others


Sounds very reasonable! And makes better sense of the passages you quoted.

Could you give any reference - I am interested about this. Is it that one can be considered as having ‘right view’ from merely the words of another?

I hear some people who seem to believe that right view is a very profound thing, something that even comes as a result of the path. But it was my impression that, on the Noble Eightfold Path, right view is a fairly simple thing, grasping the basics intellectually, so you know the teachings about the 4 Noble Truths and therefore have a place to start from, i.e. an informed view of what the situation is. From there you can start to train in ethics, which helps the mind become less fragmented. Then once things are in order enough, can proceed to the more subtle mental tasks of regulating emotions, training in non-distraction, tranquility and so on.

If right view can arise from the words of another in the sense of gaining information, that would seem to support my view above.

Unless of course they are talking about the kind of words of another that result in ‘pointing out the nature of mind’ (as they say in the Tibetan tradition), or the talking someone to stream entry that you might find in Advaita, which the Buddha seemed to have also done. Is it that kind of thing this arising of right view is about? Or just the intellectual view, for example of the Four Noble Truths?

I wonder if the association with doubt and right view suggests a deeper role for paravediya. Maybe it means something along the line of ‘other’s realization’?

with metta

Both, not either.

The passage is at MN 43 and AN 2.125.


Oh ok. I am surprised it wouldn’t be able to arise without having to hear it as words from another. The Buddha came to it himself, so maybe that is the exception. So anyway let’s say you need both, then does my idea still apply:

That is to say, not necessarily a deep transformation, but more a cognitive understanding? That would still make sense and even seems to be implied, by what you wrote above - that you hear someone explain it but don’t necessarily get it (just like many of us may not have got all our maths, physics or history teachers taught us at school) but then reflecting on it, it can be understood. And specifically rationally reflected upon.

So this seems to me to be a purely cognitive thing. Is that right? I.e. not some deeper wisdom that coes as the result of the path, which some people seem to talk about, as if the path were not chronological. Not that realisation can’t improve our cognitive understanding of the teachings, but I am talking about the view that ‘right view’ is not some advanced thing resulting from deep wisdom, but an intellectual understanding of the ‘road map’. Is that right?

Actually he didn’t come to the Dhamma himself, there’s a sutta -MN81 - which hints that he got “doomed” to awaken by hearing the Dhamma from Buddha Kassapa in a previous birth.

It’s only in the mythical suttas of DN that we see the argument that to previous past Buddhas awakening occurred out of nothing.

Maybe the way of contagion hinted at MN81 is the way The exception of awakening manifests as a rule amidst the suffering-doomed samsara.

Is there any scholarship into such sources claiming about interaction with a past Buddha, regarding whether this is from the earliest layer of the texts or not? I would assume that such an idea was made up by the community quite some time after the Buddha died.

1 Like

I am not sure and am as curious as you about the subject!

1 Like