Looking at the translation of the Malasutta (AN 8.15) –
Not reciting is the stain of hymns.
Asajjhāyamalā, bhikkhave, mantā;
Neglect is the stain of houses.
anuṭṭhānamalā, bhikkhave, gharā;
Laziness is the stain of beauty.
malaṃ, bhikkhave, vaṇṇassa kosajjaṃ;
Negligence is a guard’s stain.
pamādo, bhikkhave, rakkhato malaṃ;
Misconduct is a woman’s stain.
malaṃ, bhikkhave, itthiyā duccaritaṃ;
Stinginess is a giver’s stain.
maccheraṃ, bhikkhave, dadato malaṃ;
Is it correct to imply that the woman is stained, that the stain belongs to the woman? If so, why?
Other people’s translations are similar.
But it seems to me that a better, more likely, message is something like,
- You may be stained by not reciting the hymns
- You may be stained by neglecting a house
- You may be stained by laziness when you perceive beauty
- You may be stained by negligence when you should be guarding
- You may be stained by misconduct when you’re with a woman
- You may be stained by stinginess when you’re giving
In other words, I think the potential stain is yours (i.e. the audience’s, the reader’s) … and not “a woman’s” (and people shouldn’t read/use this passage as censuring women for their misconduct).
Isn’t my suggested interpretation more likely? Is there a reason why it’s wrong?
What would you infer from the grammar of the Pali?
There’s similar text in verse 242 of the Dhammapada.
(Or, instead of “stained by neglecting a house”, it might be something like, “you may be stained by neglect of your spiritual duties because you have a house”.)
(And “Not reciting is the stain of hymns” seems questionable to me too. More likely, “hymns or incantations are associated with the stain of no-studying”, i.e. maybe something in the “rites and rituals” category, hymns instead of actually studying)