Pāli Case Question

Hello :slight_smile: For those knowledgable and experienced in Pāli:

I’m not quite understanding how the cases parse out in this construction:

mettāya cetovimuttiyā āsevitāya bhāvitāya bahulīkatāya yānīkatāya vatthukatāya anuṭṭhitāya paricitāya susamāraddhāya ekādasānisaṁsā pāṭikaṅkhā.

Could someone explain?

I’m not sure if mettāya cetovimuttiyā is in a different case (say, feminine genitive) than the other nominalized verbs? Or are they all in the same case?

I thought this may be a case of the dative, as in, “For one who has trained in, developed, … the heart’s release by love, these eleven benefits can be expected.’ But maybe it’s a feminine locative [of time?] and the words are agreeing with cetovimuttiyā?

Thank you.

If you look at the Sutta Central translations of AN11.15, you will see that the great majority of translators have taken both cetovimuttiyā and the eight words starting with āsevitāya to be in the same case: either the genitive or locative singular, with expression of time as their case-function. It doesn’t really matter which of these two cases we opt for, since both yield the same translation: “if…” or “when…”.

So, according to this construal the full analysis would go:

ekādasānisaṁsā pāṭikaṅkhā: nominative plural.

“Eleven benefits are to be expected.”

mettāya cetovimuttiyā: either (1) mettāya is instrumental singular and cetovimuttiyā genitive or locative singular, or, (2) both are genitive or locative singular. And so we get two possible translations:

“When the liberation of mind by lovingkindness…”

“When the liberation of mind that is lovingkindness…”

Then the eight words from āsevitāya to susamāraddhāya are participial adjectives inflected to agree with cetovimuttiyā.

And so on this construal, a form-equivalent rendering would go something like:

“Bhikkhus, when the liberation of the mind by loving-kindness has been pursued, when it has been developed, when it has been cultivated, when it has been made a vehicle, when it has been made a basis, when it has been carried out, when it has been consolidated, when it has been properly undertaken, eleven benefits are to be expected.”

Ajahn Thanissaro in his translation of AN11.15 and Ven. Brahmali in his translation of the parallel passage in the Vinaya’s Parivāra seem to have entertained a similar thought, both treating āsevitāya, etc., as participial masculine nouns in the dative singular case. But I don’t believe this is tenable for then we should expect cetovimutti to be in the accusative case, which it clearly isn’t.

Another dissenting construal can be seen in the Lithuanian translation of Sayalay Piyadassi. This is the same as the majority opinion insofar as it treats the participles as adjectives rather than nouns, but differs in treating their case as ablative. Something like:

“Bhikkhus, because the liberation of the mind by loving-kindness has been pursued, because it has been developed… etc.”

This construal seems grammatically tenable but not very likely, for when we examine other pāṭikaṅkhā passages in which the accompanying participles are masculine singular (and therefore free of the morphological ambiguity that always attends feminine nouns in the singular oblique cases) we consistently find them to be either genitive or locative.


These are all in instrumental case here. mettāya and cetovimuttiyā are genitive.

Meaning of the whole sentence: By the practice, development, cultivation, growth, familiarity, establishment, performance, nurture and adoption of mettā and cetovimutti, 11 beneficial things are expected (to happen).

Were this the intended meaning, the phrasing would be sevanāya, bhāvanāya, bahulīkammena not āsevitāya, bhāvitāya, bahulīkatāya.

As in the Sedakasutta SN47.19:

Kathañca, bhikkhave, attānaṁ rakkhanto paraṁ rakkhati? Āsevanāya, bhāvanāya, bahulīkammena—evaṁ kho, bhikkhave, attānaṁ rakkhanto paraṁ rakkhati.

“And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation [of the four establishments of mindfulness]. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.”


You’re right, thanks.
So the translation should be slightly modified to:
By having practiced, developed, cultivated… etc.

bahulīkaraṇa would be the participal form that corresponds to bhāvanā and āsevanā


That’s a subtle yet distinctive difference. It’s uplifting to see your knowledge applied so skillfully, Bhante.


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Thank you, bhante. Very helpful! :pray: