Pali has a rich vocabulary of words for speaking and the voice. Many of these are used so commonly that they can only be read in a generic sense. However, ghosa, while usually simply translated as “voice” or “speech”, is quite rare, and used in a limited set of contexts. I will collect the characteristic phrases here.
- MN 43, on the causes of right view:
- parato ca ghoso, yoniso ca manasikāro
- the ghosa of another and rational focus
- MN 84, on the sectarian claims of the brahmins:
- Ghosoyeva kho eso, mahārāja, lokasmiṃ
- Great king, that’s only a ghosa in the world
- SN 8.6, on Sāriputta’s teaching voice:
- Sāḷikāyiva nigghoso
- His nigghosa, like a myna bird,
- AN 3.80, on the Buddha’s manifesting of sound across the universe:
- Yadā te sattā taṃ ālokaṃ sañjāneyyuṃ, atha tathāgato ghosaṃ kareyya saddamanussāveyya
- When sentient beings saw the light, the Realized One would project his ghosa so that they’d hear the sound.
- AN 4.65:
- Rūpappamāṇo rūpappasanno, ghosappamāṇo ghosappasanno, lūkhappamāṇo lūkhappasanno, dhammappamāṇo dhammappasanno
- There are those whose estimation of and confidence in others is based on appearance, on ghosa, on mortification, and on principle.
- Thag 19.1:
- Greeting the thunder, Mahinda’s ghosa
That’s not all the occurrences in the suttas, but it’s most of them. It seems the use of ghosa is typically rather more potent than ordinary speech. It’s used in contexts that emphasize the persuasive quality of a voice, or its far-reaching power. While we might not be able to capture this exactly in English, perhaps “call” would be a step in the right direction. In MN 84 the sense comes close to “propaganda”.