Question to those who knows Pali regarding SN1.1

Hi guys! Glad to register here! use suttacentral every eeeveryday. and hope to contribute to the understanding and clarification of Dhamma discussing it here:-)

So my question is on sutta sn 1.1

Just few words seem to be confusing to me:

  1. Oghamatarī, oghamatarin - according to the textbook i have and my own observations - it is a noun, not a verb. “One who’ve crossed the flood”, but it’s translated as “to cross the flood”
  2. and the second question: in what tense are these words? according to the textbook it’s 1st person present tense not the 1st past tense .
    santiṭṭhāmi - “i’m standing still”, not “I stood still”
    saṁsīdāmi - etc

Textbook that i mentioned if russian translation of “A New Course in Reading Pali: Entering the Word of Buddha by James W. Gair, W.S. Karunatillake”)

Please clarify why it is so or advise a book or some studying material where i can get Pali rules based on which translators came to their desisions that

Oghamatarī, Oghamatarin - is a verb not a noun
and saṁsīdāmi and 3 more verbs listed above - are in the past tense, but not in the present tense.

Thank you guys!
With metta


That’s correct.

Taraṇa is “crossing” and tarin is “one who crosses”.

In my translation I rendered the question as “how did you cross the flood?”. This is purely because it’s more idiomatic English. Literally it would be “How are you a flood-crosser?”

When translating, we don’t try to literally represent every grammatical nuance, since this kind of issue crops up all the time.

With santiṭṭhāmi, you are quite right, it is a present tense. However, the present tense is commonly used in Pali in a “historical present”. For example, the Buddha is said to “reside” at Sāvatthī, where viharati is present tense third person. Obviously it doesn’t mean he’s still there!

In this case the sentence begins with yadā “when” which situates the passage in time. What time? Well, clearly the Buddha is speaking of the past when he was practicing for awakening. This framing is confirmed in, for example, the use of the past participle in a present perfect sense in the last line of the verse: tiṇṇam “crossed over”. The Buddha, now, is speaking of past events (yadā) in the historical present tense (santiṭṭhāmi).

Confusing, I know!

That should be fine, I’m not really familiar with the different grammars, still less with those in Russian translation. But generally speaking they’ll all cover the same ground, it’s just a matter of what you find easy to use.


Oh wow. Dear Ven. Sujato it’s a great honor :pray::pray::pray: thank you so much for

It’s trully an everyday resource for me​:hugs::pray::hugs::pray::hugs::raised_hands::raised_hands::raised_hands:

And of course thank you for your response.

It’s has opened new point of view to me.

Regarding the tenses i guess it really sounds weird in english: Buddha is in Savathi

But! In Russian it starts sound veeery very nice. I skipped the intro usually and didn’t pay attention to present tense there.

But it starts to sound in Russian like: on one occasion. Buddha is in Jetavana.

And it’s completely normal way to tell stories. This present tense makes suttas even more alive and vivid :pray::grin::pray::grin: wooow. I read them almost 10 years but always missed that point, because 90+% of all translations in Russian are made from English translations. Thank you so much for this insight. I guess Pali language had the same option regarding storytelling in present tense.

And regarding the present tense in Buddha’s reply I guess it’s the direct speech so it seems to be fine when someone says: When I’m A then I’m B, etc.

And the past tense at the end of the verse is also feels in place. Because the devata understood that Buddha is a real Saint and really crossed the flood.

Ps thank you so much once again for all your activities, dear Ven. Sujato.

Greetings from Kazakhstan :pray::pray::pray:
With metta


We use the historical present tense in English to, as in the first and last lines here:

"It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armoured space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…."



Welcome to the forum. :pray:t4:

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Hello Ven. @sujato,

Now I am confused. What you say, quoted below, does not explain why there are two forms:

  1. oghamatarī”ti, and
  2. oghamatarin”ti.

The first in the second person question and the second in the first person reply. Nor does it explain the a before the t. Isn’t the a an aorist augment? I would have thought that the first term is the 2nd person aorist of tarati and the second form its first person aorist? We would then have

oghaṁ + atari + iti > ogham atarīti, written ogamatarī"ti, and
oghaṁ + atariṁ+ iti > ogham atarinti, written oghamatarin"ti


Thank you :pray::hugs::pray:
Hope that we will gain and bring more understanding of the truth here

Oh yes. Thats exactly the same what I meant :pray:

Thank you

1 Like

Hi David :pray:

Can it be a+tari
And a + tarin

Not the aorist but just the negative of tarati in the different meaning. That’ll fix the non aorist ending.

So it’ll be something like

“One who is not pushed by flood”

  1. Tarati, 2 (tvarate, pp. tvarita; also turati, turayati from *ter to turn round, move quickly, perhaps identical with the *ter of tarati1; cp. Ohg. dweran=E. twirl; Gr. toru/nh=Lat. trua=Ger. quirl twirling-stick, also Lat. torqueo & turba & perhaps Ger. stūren, zerstören; E. storm, see Walde, Lat. Wtb. under trua) to be in a hurry, to make haste Th. 1, 291; ppr. taramāna in °rūpa (adj.) quickly, hurriedly Sn. 417; Pv. II, 62; PvA. 181 (=turita) & ataramāna Vin. I, 248; grd. taraṇīya Th. 1, 293.—See also tura, turita, turiya. (Page 298)

Hi @dhammagift,

I’m not a Pali expert yet but I’ll try to explain my understanding.

It not so much that there is a “non aorist ending”, as you suggest, below. What is happening, I think, is that the aorist endings are hidden by the rules of sandhi/assimilation by the ti which follows the endings. So the endings are iṃ (first person) and i (second and third person, but here second person). In the English version of Gair and Karunatillake these forms are described in Section 7.2. Because of the ti the becomes n and the i is lengthened to ī (although it might have been long to begin with).

Note that, even if there is a noun atarin = a (not) + tarin, there would still be the problem that the form (without the ti) would be the accusative atariṃ. But, as far as I can see, the nominative would be required.

There could conceivably be something going on here due to poetic metre, but I don’t understand the metres well enough to comment.


Thanks so much @JDavid

I think I finally got the idea and understanding about aorist in this sentence.

But still the present tense in this part is not clear to me.

“Yadāsvāhaṁ, āvuso, santiṭṭhāmi tadāssu saṁsīdāmi; yadāsvāhaṁ, āvuso, āyūhāmi tadāssu nibbuyhāmi. Evaṁ khvāhaṁ, āvuso, appatiṭṭhaṁ anāyūhaṁ oghamatarin”ti.

I can’t find proper rule to interpret present tense of

saṁsīdāmi etc

as past tense. I remember ven. @sujato mentioned about cases like “viharati” in the beginning of the suttas. But using it in direct speech seems weird to me. Especially after figuring out that present tense in cases like:

ekaṁ samayaṁ bhagavā sāvatthiyaṁ viharati

Is completly normal for English, Russian as we can see Pali as well.

May be it is described somewhere in textbooks?

“Yadāsvāhaṁ, āvuso, santiṭṭhāmi tadāssu saṁsīdāmi; yadāsvāhaṁ, āvuso, āyūhāmi tadāssu nibbuyhāmi."
“When I came to a standstill, friend, then I sank; but when I struggled, then I got swept away. "

It is certainly true that the 4 verbs here are in the present tense 1st person singular. But since the speaker is describing an event that has surely taken place before the telling of the story, they are interpreted to be in the past.

In fact, the adverb “tadā” is usually translated in English as “then”, or “at that time”, i.e. an event in the past. (It completes the ‘yadā’)

This is a very common way of telling a story in English. For instance, “So there I am, driving down the road and I see a young child standing in the middle of the road…”

also see here: