'parisuddhena cetasā pariyodātena' and 'citte parisuddhe pariyodāte'

In DN 2, we have

so imameva kāyaṃ parisuddhena cetasā pariyodātena pharitvā nisinno hoti

Bodhi translates this as:

He sits suffusing his body with a pure bright mind

Later we have:

So evaṃ samāhite citte parisuddhe pariyodāte

Bodhi translates this as:

When his mind is thus concentrated, pure and bright

Bodhi’s makes more sense to me in the second one, but in the first, I do not see where the function of the instrumental has gone with parisuddhena. Should it not be instrumentaling, so to speak?

Ānandajoti Bhikkhu translates the first as:

He sits suffusing his very own body with complete purity that comes from a cleansed mind,

That makes more sense to me. What do you think? Right understanding of the instrumental?

Also, since pharitvā is absolutive, should it not be having pervaded/ having suffused? Rather than suffusing?

Now, in the second, I am assuming all the words in bold to be in the locative, is that right? (Sorry my Pāli skills are very poor!)

So evaṃ samāhite citte parisuddhe pariyodāte

If parisuddh* was still instrumentaling in meaning here (thus agreeing with Ānandajoti’s translation), would we still expect the instrumental to be replaced with the locative? I.e., is Ānandajoti’s translation valid? He has it like this:

Then with a mind well-concentrated, and complete purity that comes from a cleansed mind

I find the meaning quite different between Ānandajoti’s version and Bodhi’s version, and it is interesting that they stick to their version on both passages. But does the differnece between the two passages help us eliminate variables and be more conclusive of what is being meant here, and whether Bodhi or Ānandajoti have managed to translate that meaning?

Many thanks for anyone who can help me to understand these two passages and what is really being expressed in the Pāli.


The instrumental is indicated by “with”. If you want a more literal translation I would say it like this

"He sits, having pervaded this very body with a mind that is very clean and very pure. "

In the phrase “parisuddhena cetasā pariyodātena” we have here a noun (cetas) and two adjectives. Both of the adjectives describe cetas, so translating one as describing the other is simply wrong. Furthermore parisuddha and pariyodāta are close synonyms (meaning “clean, pure, etc”. ) and both are included for emphasis - so Bodhi’s translation is also incorrect because he introduces a second concept “bright” where only one is conveyed, i.e. “clean/pure”.

So with all due respect, neither translator has done justice to the Pāḷi.

It is true that sometimes the instrumental can be used in an ablative sense at times in Paḷi. For example, in nouns in the plural and nouns not ending in -a. But with nouns in -a this is almost never the case. Since the ablative and the instrumental are routinely distinguished there is no good reason to assume that the ablative meaning was implied here. So no, this is not correct either.

In English the absolutive or gerund may be translated using an English gerund (having suffused etc) or with a present participle (suffusing). This is partly because word order determines sequence in English and the gerund is used to convey a sequence of actions.

The differences come about because both men are stretching and breaking the rules of Pāli grammar in different ways. If they had both stuck to the words on the page then they would not have produced such different translations.

It’s not clear to me what they were trying to achieve, but they seem to have understood the passage to mean something other than what the Pāli actually says. Perhaps one or both were influenced by Buddhaghosa’s commentary (Bodhi in particular tends to follow Buddhaghosa if there is any ambiguity, though this passage does not seem ambiguous to me).

With respect to “So evaṃ samāhite citte parisuddhe pariyodāte” it helps to add the main verbs, patient, and indirect object, ie. ñāṇadassanāya cittaṃ abhinīharati abhininnāmeti.

This passage is a locative absolute construction, where you have noun + participle both in the locative, it takes the sense of when or while the action of the participle occurs. Again parisuddhe and pariyodāte are adjectives. So this sentence means

“He, when his pure/clean mind is composed, turns and direct his mind to knowledge and vision.”

I find Ānandajoti’s translation here puzzling. He is usually a very solid and reliable translator. Maurice Walsh takes more straightforward approach than either of the bhikkhus and I suggest you consult his translation of this text.

Pāli often uses two adjectives or two verbs that are close or identical in meaning (as here) for emphasis. Although religious exegetes inevitably try to draw out two meanings, an impartial scholar can see that one idea is almost always conveyed. It is a quirk of Pāli idiom that has no semantic explanation. Or we say that it is a form of autocommentary. In the days before dictionaries and grammar books, this was one way to make sure everyone understood what was being said.

Best Wishes


Are you talking about “an ablative sense” because of Ānandajoti’s use of the word ‘from’? Sorry I had got confused and muddled. But in the first passage, cetasā is ablative, right? Sorry for my muddle above - is Ānandajoti getting the ‘that comes from a cleansed mind’ from the instrumental parisuddhena, (in the sense that the cleansed mind is the agent/instrument (=instrumental), thus ‘from’ having the same sense as ‘by’, but choosing smoother English?

Or is it from the ablative cetasā?
I have to say that I struggled to understand the ablative sense of cetasā.

Are we sure about that? Ānandajoti seems to disagree.
If both adjectives describe cetas, then why are they either side of cetas? If that not unusual? And is it not the rule that qualifier precedes qualified? How are you explaining the word order?

And what is to stop the adjective pariyodātena acting as a noun, ‘complete purity’, and thus being in the instrumental, becoming ‘with complete purity’, as Ānandajoti has put? Is that not in keeping with the way an adjective can act in Pāli?

Thanks! So does that mean that here it could mean either?

And thanks for your other comments. I will try to absorb the info…

Oh and yes I found that part especially strange. It was that that made me look at the Pāli, and find nothing there at all about brightness! That make me want to try to work out what the Pāli really did say. I appreciate continung help with this :slight_smile:

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I can’t say for sure exactly what the pali is saying, but if you compare to iddhi pada formula, in SN 51.12, the development of light perception aloka-sanna,the standard formula in AN 4.41 adn AN 6.29, and then triangulate with the 4th jhana simile (AN 5.28, DN 2, etc), then it becomes absolutely clear the white cloth is a simile for the bright visual white light that appears all the time easily, day or night, a prerequisite for a working and accurate divine eye. The “brightness” is not just a simile for clear mind, it’s literally talking about a visual light perceivable by the meditator, and sometimes even to observers of the meditator who see them glow or even emit luminosity like fireflies, etc.

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Thanks @frankk. Though, there appears to be no mention of brightness or any kind of light in either of these two passages. So it would seem very strange to include that in their translation.

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I don’t think it’s quite as clear cut as that. It seems to me that the idiom parisuddha pariyodāta, which is found in a number of places, together expresses a range of meaning a little different than simply “cleansed”. It refers to a person’s facial complexion, for example, which we might describe as “clear” or “bright”, but not really as “clean”. It’s also applied to ripe fruit, or a polished dish. And of course the root is from odāta meaning “white”. So a semantic range of “bright, clean, shiny, polished, clear” seems reasonable. It’s not really a matter of treating parisuddha and pariyodāta as words with distinct meanings, but of trying to capture the semantic range of the phrase.


Great, thanks @sujato, that really helps. What’s your take on the ablative cetasā? And Ānandajoti’s translation being so different from Bodhi’s:

It’s instrumental, in agreement with the -ena ending in parisuddhena cetasā pariyodātena. Given that parisuddha pariyodāta commonly appear next to each each other, I would take the fact that they’re separated here as a mere stylistic choice, not affecting the sense.

Like Jayarava, I find it a puzzling choice. Perhaps he has a good reason; but then, even the best scholars make mistakes sometimes!


Ah, sorry for my mistake! I had taken the ā ending to mean ablative. Now I see in the dictionary under ceto “Only the gen. cetaso & the instr. cetasā are in use”.

Is it common for a word to have an adjective either side of it, acting on it from both left and right? I had thought the adjective is meant to be on the left.

Or could it be that parisuddhena cetasā is one thing, and pariyodātena another? I mean, grammaticaly? If it can but if we eliminate Ānandajoti’s ‘that comes from a cleansed mind’ if that is thought to be a mistake. And be left with:

He sits suffusing his very own body with a cleansed mind and complete purity

Does the grammar allow for the ‘and’?
And for pariyodātena to be acting as a noun, as Ānandajoti has it being ‘complete purity’?
Or does pariyodātena have to be acting adjectivally on cetasā, even though it is on cetasā’s right?

Interesting. For reference:

“Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the basis for spiritual power that possesses concentration due to desire and volitional formations of striving, thinking: ‘Thus my desire will be neither too slack nor too tense; and it will be neither constricted internally nor distracted externally.’ And he dwells perceiving after and before: ‘As before, so after; as after, so before; as below, so above; as above, so below; as by day, so at night; as at night, so by day.’ Thus, with a mind that is open and unenveloped, he develops the mind imbued with luminosity.

“He develops the basis for spiritual power that possesses concentration due to energy … concentration due to mind … concentration due to investigation … he develops the mind imbued with luminosity.

So it connects ‘the mind imbued with luminosity’ with concentration. Though not specifically jhāna.

For reference, AN 4.41:

“Monks, these are the four developments of concentration. Which four?
“And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to a pleasant abiding in the here & now? There is the case where a monk—quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities—enters & remains in the first jhana…the fourth jhana

“And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the attainment of knowledge & vision? There is the case where a monk attends to the perception of light and is resolved on the perception of daytime [at any hour of the day]. Day [for him] is the same as night, night is the same as day. By means of an awareness open & unhampered, he develops a brightened mind. This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the attainment of knowledge & vision.

“And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness? There is the case where feelings are known to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Perceptions … Thoughts…

“And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents? There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: ‘Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception… Such are fabrications… Such is consciousness

So here we have ‘the perception of light’ connected to concentration. However, here it may imply that this is not talking about jhāna. Since it specifically gives jhāna as one of the other 4.

This is the part that we have been discussing here. So here it is from AN 5.28:

He sits pervading this body with a pure bright mind, so that there is no part of his whole body that is not pervaded by the pure bright mind. Just as a man might be sitting covered from the head down with a white cloth, so that there would be no part of his whole body that is not pervaded by the white cloth; so too, the bhikkhu sits pervading this body with a pure bright mind, so that there is no part of his whole body that is not pervaded by the pure bright mind. This is the fourth development of noble five-factored right concentration

Now, I have always found that part strange - “pervaded by the white cloth”. It does not make any sense in English. How can a cloth ‘pervade’ a body?!

And even if we consider it to be referring to ‘light’ in regard to the white cloth, how is light from a white cloth meant to pervade a body? I cannot even see a poet using this type of imagery! If we ask an average group of people to imagine a body with a white cloth over it, are they going to think that that is referring to light? And that light from the cloth ‘pervading’ the body? I highly doubt that. Do you see this as making any good sense? Because I can’t.

However, the dictionary gives this for apphuṭa:
untouched, unpervaded, not penetrated.

It seems to me that a far better translation would be:
so that there would be no part of his whole body that is not untouched by the white cloth

For your reference, the passage is:

nāssa kiñci sabbāvato kāyassa parisuddhena cetasā pariyodātena apphuṭaṃ hoti

So if it can mean pure in some places, and clear/bright in other senses, I would perhaps favour the word clear. Since the meanings seem to be connected to purity, which clear is still connected to, as is white. But light, not in terms of light and dark/shades, but of the activeness of light, the production or emission or generation of light, which is emits light - that would seem rather specific, and so far I can’t see where it means that type of light in any example.

I still think that the white cloth simile is strange. But maybe it is being used to show specifically that it covers (/permeates) the whole body. I.e. the simile is important because of the body.

Could perhaps be referring to the pure nature of a shiny surface, or the fact that the plate is so clean that it shines?

That seems strange to me and the meaning not obvious. But, I wonder if it could be referring to the kind of ripe fruit we (? apparently they think so anyway) want to see in a supermarket - with no blemishes?

I’ve given this point some more thought. The dictionary says:

(Apphuṭa [Sk. *ā-sphṛta for a-sphārita pp. of sphar, cp. phurati; phuṭa & also phusati] untouched, unpervaded, not penetrated. D I.74 = M I.276 (pītisukhena).

Could this be a kind of wordplay? Like to say, pervade all of the body just like the cloth touches all of the body? But using apphuṭa in the sense of phusati, since a cloth cannot pervade a body but can touch it. But, adding to the simile by referencing the double meaning of apphuṭa, linking it into the pharitvā of the jhāna experience?

Does that seem reasonable? The resultant English would make a lot more sense to me.

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I haven’t paid attention to this particular feature, but I suspect it’s something you’d find from time to time. Generally speaking word order in Pali is more for style and emphasis than determining meaning, so I wouldn’t make anything of it. But I may be missing something!

Me too, except it sometimes appears with vippasanna also translated as “clear”. :woman_shrugging:

Not directly. Ripe fruit—or at least the kinds that were referred to in the simile—are shiny, bright, lustrous.

Like bright shiny skin:


Or a shiny polished dish:

That’s what the phrase means, not just “clean”.

Good point, I’ll look more closely into this when I get the chance.


Yes, this is standard Pali word order, see A.K. Warder p.61.


While they may have been so, do we have evidence that the idiom ‘parisuddha pariyodāta’ is specifically expressing that luminous aspect of the fruit? For example, is ‘that man is jealous’, and he happens to be French, the word ‘jealous’ is not telling us which country he comes from. And the same goes even if I say ‘jealous French man’.

So this fruit that you say is ‘shiny, bright, lustrous’ - I assume that there are words which are specifically denoting that meaning other than ‘parisuddha pariyodāta’ - and that ‘parisuddha pariyodāta’ is also used to refer to them - is it like that? Or is it actually in an explanation of the term ‘parisuddha pariyodāta’? Or… I mean, what is the evidence that ‘parisuddha pariyodāta’ has the specific implication of the luminous quality, such that we know it was not referring to some other quality in connection to purity/cleanness (such as lack of blemishes, for example)?

I just thought of another expression which may be able to express the shiney-ness without being explicitely luminous, if that is useful - crystal clear.


Ah, thank you very much! So it seems that Ānandajoti’s translation was quite off in this case.

I have tried altering Bodhi’s translation to take into account this discussion. I have changed things in bold, and added ‘completely’ to take account of the ‘pari’ of those two adjectives, which I felt is important. What do you think about that? I think it helps the English meaning, that this is not some kind of normal mind like about mundane clean morality or something… so I thought maybe the pari is significant in Pāli and English.

“He sits pervading his body with a completely pure clear mind, so that there is no part of his whole body that is not pervaded by the completely pure clear mind. Just as a man might be sitting covered from the head down with a white cloth, so that there would be no part of his whole body that is not untouched by the white cloth; so too, the bhikkhu sits pervading this body with a completely pure bright mind, so that there is no part of his whole body that is not pervaded by the pure clear mind.

I have also just noticed your translation @sujato - oh I’m so excited the new site is up! Really looking foreward to your translations!

But, I couldn’t help noticing your version of this passage:

They sit spreading their body through with pure bright mind. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with pure bright mind.

To me this seems very odd - the expression of spreading your body. It makes me imagine that the body is peanut butter and it is being spread on a surface, such that a steam roller might spread a person on a pavement.

I much prefer Bodhi’s ‘pervade’. Or even Ānandajoti’s ‘suffuse’. I ended up choosing ‘pervade’ since ‘suffuse’ may imply slowness, though I did like the word almost as much as pervade. I know the word is also connected to spreading, but I feel the resultant English using the word ‘spread’ here is extremely awkward and non-English. What’s wrong with ‘pervade’ - isn’t it in accord with the Pāli? And as English it seems to make a lot more sense, no?

Using Bhante Sujato’s translation, how about:

“They sit spreading pure bright mind throughout their body. There is no part of their body that has not been spread with pure bright mind.”

I have changed things in bold, and added ‘completely’ to take account of the ‘pari’ of those two adjectives, which I felt is important. What do you think about that?

I think that’s acceptable. It’s good, however, to be cautious with the prefixes. Sometimes they are almost void of meaning. In these cases it is the context or the grammatical function of the word that decides whether a prefex is used or not. At other times the prefex changes the meaning in a way that is not simply prefex + stem. In the present case I would personally prefer to leave out the “completely”, but I think your translation may be acceptable.

I am much more concerned about translating kāya as body. The Pali idiom allows a range of meaning for kāya, something that does not come out in the word “body.” In the present context “body” will very likely lead to a misunderstanding of what is going on.

Thank you for this info. Could you explain why in this case you feel the pari is not adding meaning? Or, like, why it would not mean ‘completely’ here?

What would you translate it as here?

I am getting the feeling that there are important mentions of kāya that I am feeling are important as deliberate references to the body. I don’t want to say precisely the physical body. But kind of bodily-type experiences. I really mean to say, affect - in the psychological sense of the word. That is to say, ‘felt experience’. I have a rather strong feeling that the Buddha was specifically referring to affect in many cases where he is talking about the body, and I am feeling that this is one of those cases.

What do you think about that?

Yeah, cetasā is a Sanskrit form that has crept into Pāli. Pāḷi does some random things with Sanskrit nouns that end in consonants (cetas, manas, attan, etc).

Completely normal. Word order is very flexible in Pāḷi and Sanskrit. They don’t even have to be next to each other and often aren’t (especially in verse).

Not that way. The two adjectives both apply to the noun. “Clean and pure mind”

BTW part of the reason that some Theravādins find “bright” a plausible meeting is no doubt because, at one point, Buddhaghosa defines it as pabhassarā (AA V.74). I don’t find Sujato’s arguments for this meaning convincing and I would not change my suggested translation of the passage we are discussing. Even if we did stipulate that his argument was right about the general meaning, “bright” doesn’t seem to apply in this context, in this sentence.