Paṭicodessaṁ and ārocessa”nti in bhikkhuni parajika 6

Hello again. Inching my way through my patimokkha notes.

So, on bhikkhuni parajika 6:
Yā pana bhikkhunī jānaṁ pārājikaṁ dhammaṁ ajjhāpannaṁ bhikkhuniṁ
nevattanā paṭicodeyya, na gaṇassa āroceyya, yadā ca sā
ṭhitā vā assa cutā vā nāsitā vā avassaṭā vā, sā pacchā
evaṁ vadeyya “pubbevāhaṁ, ayye, aññāsiṁ etaṁ
bhikkhuniṁ ‘evarūpā ca evarūpā ca sā bhaginī’ti, no ca
kho attanā paṭicodessaṁ, na gaṇassa ārocessa”nti,
ayampi pārājikā hoti asaṁvāsā vajjappaṭicchādikā.

This is from the Mahāsaṅgīti version of the Dvemātikāpāḷi, also used here on SC. I am wondering if, egads, these are ‘typos’: paṭicodessaṁ and ārocessa”nti

PTS version has “paṭicodeyyaṁ” and “āroceyyaṁ” [Note: these particular variant readings are not included in the ‘variant readings’ pop-up menu in Sutta Central’s bhikkhuni vibhanga page for this rule. Should they be added?]

PTS’s version would seem to align better with the normal 1st person singular forms for the optative.

are ‘paṭicodessaṁ’ and ‘ārocessaṁ’ legitimate, albeit less common, alternatives for 1st person singular optative? Or is this just a textual error?

thanks again in advance, pali experts!

wait, on second thought, perhaps those words are possibly supposed to be aorist not optative.

like, if aññāsiṁ seems to mean “I knew” and thus is likely an aorist (of what verb?does someone know?), then it follows that the other verbs in the same sentence should also be aorist, ie. “I didn’t reprove her myself and I didn’t inform the group”.

So could it be that paṭicodessaṁ and ārocessa”nti/ ārocessaṁ should really be
paṭicodesiṃ (1 sg aorist of paṭicodeti) and ārocesiṃ (1 sg aorist of āroceti)?

Digital pali dictionary is showing both paṭicodessaṁ and ārocessaṁ under future first person, reflexive singular.

See screenshot

I hope this is helpful

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It corresponds to sanskrit ajñāsiṣam which is aorist first person singular of the dhātu (verb root) jñā, meaning “to know”.

However neither paṭicodessaṁ (Sanskrit praticodayiṣye) nor ārocessaṁ (Sanskrit ārocayiṣye) are aorists, they are future first-person reflexive singular forms, as mentioned by Pasanna above.


Thanks Pasanna and SrKris for your helpful responses. Great, there it is in a neat table!

SrKris - yes, i was aware that neither paṭicodessaṁ nor ārocessaṁ are aorists, I was just speculating whether it is possible that because they sound quite similar to the ear to the aorist forms (paṭicodesiṃ and ārocesiṃ), that in the process of oral transmission cum written form, that some mistake occurred and what was originally mean to be aorist became, as you have kindly identified,
future first person, reflexive singular.

Because it just seems that in the context of the sentence, a past tense verb would be more natural than a future tense - what is being referred to are actions that the bhikkhuni didn’t do in the past.

Another question is whether the word attanā in the phrase "attanā paṭicodessaṁ , na gaṇassa ārocessa”nti already expresses the reflexive sense of “I myself…” so why would the verbs have to be in the reflexive voice? Especially as in the earlier phrase where attanā is also used (“nevattanā paṭicodeyya, na gaṇassa āroceyya” the verb forms are not in the reflexive voice).

Lastly, because I actually don’t know much about the reflexive voice, I just wanted to clarify how it works. These are snippets from Duroiselle:

"Reflective - designating/expressing a grammatical relation in which a verb’s subject and an object in the sentence refer to the same person or thing, serving to indicate that the action of the verb is directed back to the subject. Ex. “Gary hurt himself.” “Jane threw a party for herself.”

The Reflective Voice or attanopada is used when the fruit or the consequence expressed by the verb accrues to no one else but to the agent."

But in" no ca kho attanā paṭicodessaṁ , na gaṇassa ārocessa”nti", the object/consequence bearer of the verb seems to be different from the subject:
I (subject) will not reprove her (object)
I (subject) will not inform the group (object)

so why would the reflexive voice be appropriate here?

Sorry so many questions. If anyone would be able to respond to any, I’d be grateful.


There are certain verb roots that can be conjugated only with active-voice endings. There are other verb roots that can only be conjugated with reflexive-voice endings. There are yet other verb roots that can be conjugated with both endings.

To complicate it further there are some verb roots that take active endings in some tenses/moods and reflexive endings in other tenses/moods.

So it is not upto the person to decide whether to use active/reflexive - it usually is a given, except the verb roots that can take both endings and therefore presents a choice. That choice is guided by whether the action’s (verb action’s) result is intended to benefit the doer (i.e. reflect back to the doer). For example in English there is a single verb ‘cook’ regardless of whether one cooks for oneself or for someone else.

Languages like Pali (and Sanskrit) on the other hand, may have both active and reflexive endings for the same verb-root (in this case the root pac “to cook”) to show this distinction. Adding attanā there is just to make it clearer or to emphasize the same.

I think the quote from Duroiselle is partly wrong/misleading when he says the verb’s subject and object are the same when the reflexive voice is used - that is not the case.

For example “I cook food for myself” - the food is the object, I dont become the object of the verb. The result of the verb comes back to the doer but the object of the verb is not the subject.

If a Bhikkhuni B knows that Bhikkhuni-A has committed an offence for which she (Bhikkhuni A) is likely to be expelled from the sangha – and Bhikkhuni B thereafter does not reprove her herself nor declare what she knew to the group, thinking “I will neither reprove her myself nor inform the group of her behaviour” - then Bhikkhuni B too should be expelled.

Here the phrase “I will neither reprove her myself nor inform the group of her behaviour” naturally uses future tense - so not sure what the doubt is about.

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Thank you for your response, Srkris.

This example actually seems quite similar to one of the examples Duroiselle gave - “Jane threw a party for herself”. Perhaps I didn’t capture his message accurately, but I think he was trying to say the same thing you did: “The result of the verb (threw/cook) comes back to the doer”, even though the object of the verb (party/food) is not the subject.

In this case, the result of the verb ‘reprove’ goes to the ‘reproved’ (Bhikkhuni A) not the ‘reprover’ (the sentence’s subject, Bhikkhuni B)

the result of the verb ‘inform’ goes to the ‘group’ (Bhikkhuni A) not the ‘informer’ (subject, Bhikkhuni B)

so it doesn’t match the pattern in the explanation of ‘reflexive’.

Unless what you mean by ‘result of the verb’ is the ultimate result of the whole sentence, which is that the result of a parajika offence accrues to Bhikkhuni B.

Is that what you meant?

Some translators like Ajahn Thanissaro have translated the phrase in the past tense, which also makes sense as it matches the previous verb aññāsiṁ which is aorist.

“pubbevāhaṁ, ayye, aññāsiṁ etaṁ
bhikkhuniṁ ‘evarūpā ca evarūpā ca sā bhaginī’ti, no ca
kho attanā paṭicodessaṁ , na gaṇassa ārocessa”nti

“Even before, ladies, I knew of this bhikkhunī that ‘This sister is of such-and-such a sort,’ and I didn’t accuse her myself nor did I inform the group,”

If one were to translate so that those verbs are in the future tense as you suggested, one can just read it as if there is a word “thinking” implied, and that the phrase constitutes a thought bubble? Is this common in Pali? I suppose it’s true there are cases in the other Patimokkha rules where a speech bubble is implied without any actual word indicating “speaking” being in the rule itself.

Thanks again!

Hi Venerable, a few comments!

The reflexive or middle conjugation is usually just an alternative to the “active” conjugation. (“Active” is confusing because it suggests a contrast with “passive”, not “reflexive”. Anyway …) The reflexive meaning has been largely lost in Pali. The appelation “reflexive” is really just a hangover from Sanskrit grammar. And so, yes, the obvious solution here is that these two verbs are middle voice futures.

First of all, translators are not bound to follow the tense of the original text. Translators should render meaning, which often means deviating from the grammar of the source text.

Second, I think AT’s rendering misses the point. The point here is that the bhikkhunī gives up on her duty, and this can only be expressed by the future tense. Yes, she may not have reproved the other nun in the past, but as long as she has not given up on the idea, she would not be pārājika. (I dont’ have AT’s rendering in front of me, and so I am guessing a bit here.)

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Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

Thank you very much for your response.

Hmm. This does sound like quite reasonable grounds to translate in the future tense. And when I first read your post I was almost convinced. And yet, on second thought I think it’s still possible to translate in the past tense and have it work. Because if you look at the anapatti clause, there is the quite broad exception nacchādetukāmā nāroceti,
“if she does not tell, but not because she wants to conceal” (your translation).

So, the idea that the offence actually only falls if the bhikkhuni has cast off her duty can still be conveyed via recourse to the anapatti clause.

Rendering in the future tense just gives the benefit that this idea is directly expressed in the rule itself.

I looked up how the Thai translators dealt with this, and in both of the mainstream translations, from 1. Mahamakut and 2. Mahachula Sangha Universities, for whatever reason, the translators opted to render that phrase in the past tense. (The two are slightly different ways of expressing the past tense in Thai. You can try to plug it into to googletranslate, which will give you somewhat wonky translations for the words themselves but accurate translations for the verb tense.)

  1. ดิฉันไม่โจทด้วยตน ไม่บอกแก่คณะ
  2. ดิฉันไม่ได้โจทด้วยตนเอง ไม่ได้บอกแก่คณะ

At the end of the day I don’t think it amounts to a huge practical difference either way.

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It can. Yet the anāpatti clause is commonly regarded as the latest part of the rule. It seems required that the idea of giving up of one’s duty would have been part of the rule from the beginning.

Moreover, reading it as past tense requires a fault in the transmission, whereby the single s has somehow morphed into a double. I don’t think it is a good idea to see flaws in the transmission unless absolutely necessary.