Sati and asati question in SN 12.4 (Vipassīsutta)

I am currently working my way through SN 12.4 and have a question regarding the word sati which I’m currently interpreting as remembered or mindfulness etc. Where the text is regarding the causal links then it is sati, but when the text gets down to the stopping of the links at para 14 it changes to asati in the same place in the sentence. The only Pali definition for asati I can find is eat. But in this context I’d expect asati to be the negative of sati as both words appear in corresponding places. In the Skt online dictionary sati means something like faithful women and asati un-faithful women.

I’m only down to para 14 so will continue over the next few days and see if later on the text sheds more light on this. At this stage looking at the context, could sati mean something like ‘being present’ and then asati mean something like ‘being un-present’, as in the cause is not present? But that doesn’t answer my question regarding the current Pali definition of asati being eat?

With metta Orgyen

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Might you be referring the the occurrence of sati, in for example -

vedanāya kho sati taṇhā hoti, vedanāpaccayā taṇhā’ti.

This is tricky and you will find dictionaries to be hopeless in this query. You’ll need a grammar textbook for this.

Sati here is not a substantive noun or adjective, but a participle. Sati is the locative inflection of santa (existing). Santa is the present participle of atthi (it exists).

So far, @Gabriel has noticed that this sati has only occurred on its own in MN 22. In all other cases, it forms the one half of a grammatical construct called the locative absolute. A locative absolute looks like this -

Loc of noun + loc of participle.

It’s one grammatical unit and you cannot break it apart.

So, in the example given above, you can translate it like this -

vedanāya kho sati taṇhā hoti, vedanāpaccayā taṇhā’ti.

If feeling exists, craving comes to be; from feelings as condition, craving (comes to be).

Vedanāya = locative of vedanā
Sati = locative of santa

Have fun! :smile_cat:


Thanks Sylvester for your clear explanation and answer. :slight_smile:

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