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On the translation of upadinna in MN28

And just to clarify, the spelling is mattaṭṭhaka, not mattaṭṭaka. :pray:

I notice I’m also using “short-lived” for appāyuka, so I’ll change mattaṭṭhaka to “ephemeral”.

I also notice that in this sutta, we have the stock set of phrases such as:

ajjhattaṁ paccattaṁ tejo tejogataṁ upādinnaṁ

Here upādinna is literally “grasped, taken up”, but used in a specialized sense of “what is taken up or produced due to kamma”, i.e. “the organic body”. This is a usage familiar in the Abhidhamma, but somewhat rare in the Suttas.

Previously I had translated it interpretively as “organic”. However in this sutta, and this sutta alone it seems, it is used with a related phrase:

taṇhupādinnassa

Here it has the sense of “taken up by craving”. My translation previously had “produced” or “derived” inconsistently (oops!). However it is rather a shame to obscure this, perhaps the only passage in the Suttas that clarifies the sense of upādinna.

I’ll use “appropriated” in both cases.

Kiṁ panimassa mattaṭṭhakassa kāyassa taṇhupādinnassa
What then of this ephemeral body appropriated by craving?

Yaṁ ajjhattaṁ paccattaṁ tejo tejogataṁ upādinnaṁ
Anything that’s fire, fiery, and appropriated that’s internal, pertaining to an individual.

I think “appropriated” quite nicely keeps the sense that it is “not yours”!

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Hello @sujato,

The translation of upādinna as appropriated will be confusing without something akin to annotation, since it would not otherwise be clear what is being appropriated. That would presumably be a thread somewhere on this Discuss and Discover forum. I propose, therefore that the discussions on upādinna be moved to a different thread. There’s an existing thread for MN28 that would work.

I think Bhikkhu Bodhi would disagree with your analysis. See note 329 in the Bodhi/Ñaṇamoli translation.

Also I think that the image, which may occur to some readers, of the rebirth body being appropriated fits the doctrines of early Buddhism as I understand them.

David.

? It’s clear from the context.

Again, I’m not seeing anything there that differs in substance from my interpretation.

For other reasons, I dislike “clinging” for upadana, and in fact I think it reveals its weakness here: “clung-to” means “what someone has but won’t let go”, whereas “appropriated” means “what has been taken up”, which is more appropriate.

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Thank you so much, Bhante @sujato, for your reply.

I wasn’t clear. Sorry. You’re right. My mistake, I should have said , “It is unclear what in means to say that a body part is appropriated.”

If the body is, as you say as quoted below, “produced by kamma” and the translation is merely “appropriated”, then the reader unfamiliar with the comparatively late Abidhamma texts and the later commentarial tradition, will be left in confusion. The reader will naturally ask, “What does it mean to say that the body is appropriated?” A reader might conclude (e.g., with the help of the c. 1925 Pali English Dictionary - itself influenced by the later texts) that the process of the alleged appropriation occurs just prior to the death of a sentient body when the body parts allegedly appropriated do not exist yet and cannot be appropriated at that time. Therefore I find the term “appropriated” confusing.


In Ñaṇamoli & Bodhi’s version of MN28, we have the note:

[Note to Ñaṇamoli & Bodhi’s version of MN28] Upādinna, “clung-to,” is used in the Abhidhamma as a technical term applicable to bodily phenomena that are produced by kamma. Here, however, it is used in a more general sense as applicable to the entire body insofar as it is grasped as “mine” and misapprehended as a self.

You say, however,

These positions, as I understand them, are mutually contradictory. Presumably my understanding is faulty somehow. I would appreciate a more detailed explanation of how you understand upādinna.

I agree that “clinging” is not very accurate; but I don’t see why “appropriate” is appropriate.

Also, I don’t see any internal evidence in MN28 that the doctrine of production by kamma is being referred to.

Thanks,
David.

Oh okay. Well, I agree, but it is a matter of how much interpretation to apply to the text. It seems this is an advanced concept and, since it is not defined, was familiar already. Such contexts rely on intertexuality and it is not always obvious how far a translation should go to spell out the connections.

If you could explain what you find contradictory that would help me.

That’s true, it’s not internal evidence but intertextual. see eg. SN 12.37.

Webster’s 1928 says “To set apart for, or assign to a particular use, in exclusion of all other uses. To take to one’s self in exclusion of others; to claim or use as by an exclusive right”, which is pretty much exactly how upādinna is used here.

OK. In what follows, I boldface the points, as I interpret them, that I read as contradictory. Way back post 4, you said:

I took this to mean that upādinna is used in the sense of the Abhidhamma. (I know very little about the canonical Abhidhamma. What I do know of the Abhidhamma is through the lens of quite late texts.)

I read this to imply that upādinna is used in the sense of the Abhidhamma.

On the other hand, Bhikkhu Bodhi has:

[Note to Ñaṇamoli & Bodhi’s version of MN28] Upādinna, “clung-to,” is used in the Abhidhamma as a technical term applicable to bodily phenomena that are produced by kamma. Here, however, it is used in a more general sense as applicable to the entire body insofar as it is grasped as “mine” and misapprehended as a self.

I read ‘Here, however, it is used in a more general sense as applicable to the entire body insofar as it is grasped as “mine” and misapprehended as a self’ to mean that upādinna is not used in the sense of the Abhidhamma.

Okay, thanks for explaining.

The thing is, the two senses that Ven Bodhi mentions are not contradictory. The sutta usage is “more general”, the Abhidhamma sense more “technical”, but this is a normal feature of these two kinds of literature. The basic sense of the word is the same, it’s just applied a little differently. There’s no reason not to use the same rendering in both places.

Thanks so much for taking the time to clarify this. I now understand where you are coming from.

Perhaps the @moderators will consider moving the discussion on upādinna to a separate topic for future reference. Thanks.

David.

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