SuttaCentral

SN With Channa passage


#1

Bhante @sujato
To me BB’s translation is clear that the following statement is from Buddha.

Your translation:
“The mendicant Channa did indeed have such families. But this is not enough for me to call someone ‘blameworthy’. When someone lays down this body and takes up another body, I call them ‘blameworthy’. But the mendicant Channa did no such thing.

You should remember this: ‘The mendicant Channa slit his wrists blamelessly.’”

Ven. BB’s translation:
“The Venerable Channa did indeed have these friendly families, Sāriputta, intimate families, hospitable families; but I do not say that to this extent one is blameworthy. Sāriputta, when one lays down this body and takes up another body, then I say one is blameworthy. This did not happen in the case of the bhikkhu Channa. The bhikkhu Channa used the knife blamelessly. Thus, Sāriputta, should you remember it.”


Please report any errors or typos!
#2

Bhante Sujato’s translation is also clear to me in that the preceding line declares that the Buddha is speaking for all following lines. I personally prefer the terseness of Bhante’s translation:

Sāriputta, didn’t the mendicant Channa declare his blamelessness to you personally?”


#3

We are talking about two Bhante’s here?
Bhante Sujato or Bhante Bodhi?

By the way pali contains the name Sratiputta.
Do you think pali wrirters and BB are superfluous?


Please report any errors or typos!
#4

The translations by either Bhante are fine by me–my understanding of the sutta does not change. I understand that Sariputta is being addressed by the Buddha.

I also think that modern English usage does not repeat the name of the person being addressed as often as Pali does. For example, in our conversations with each other, we are not inserting Sarath or Karl as frequently as we would talking in Pali.

Therefore, I’d say that the inclusion or non-inclusion of “Sariputta” in the translations is a personal choice of the translators.


#5

Please note, these posts have been moved from the ‘Typos and errors’ thread. As they are translation discussions.


#6

This is an interesting issue: how to translate from idiomatic Pali to idiomatic English?

I think this is important to note. My Thai is not great, but I notice that when my Thai friends are talking to each other they mention names frequently in ways that would seem odd in English. Here’s a completely made-up example where A is talking to B:
A: “B should be more careful.”
whereas in English we would say:
A: “You should be more careful.”
or
A:“Be more careful.”

The frequent repetition of Sariputta in the Pali passage is a little different from my example, but I think that it is clear that in my example we would probably drop the name when translating.

:heart:


#7

I agree.
In this case I would say, it would have better if translate mention “Sariputta” at least once.
Otherwise the reader may think that Sariputta is still talking not Buddha.
How I found this error (in my opinion) is due to this.


#8

Isn’t it clear from the quotation marks?

Bhikku Sujato:

Then Sāriputta went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him, “Sir, Venerable Channa has slit his wrists. Where has he been reborn in his next life?”

Sāriputta, didn’t the mendicant Channa declare his blamelessness to you personally?”

“Sir, there is a Vajjian village named Pubbavijjhana where Channa had families with whom he was friendly, intimate, and familiar.”

“The mendicant Channa did indeed have such families. But this is not enough for me to call someone ‘blameworthy’. When someone lays down this body and takes up another body, I call them ‘blameworthy’. But the mendicant Channa did no such thing.
You should remember this: ‘The mendicant Channa slit his wrists blamelessly.’”

Bhikkhu Bodhi:

Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: “Venerable sir, the Venerable Channa has used the knife. What is his destination, what is his future bourn?”

Sāriputta, didn’t the bhikkhu Channa declare his blameless-ness right in your presence?”

“Venerable sir, there is a Vajjian village named Pubbavijjhana. There the Venerable Channa had friendly families, intimate families, hospitable families.”

“The Venerable Channa did indeed have these friendly families, Sāriputta, intimate families, hospitable families; but I do not say that to this extent one is blameworthy. Sāriputta, when one lays down this body and takes up another body, then I say one is blameworthy. This did not happen in the case of the bhikkhu Channa. The bhikkhu Channa used the knife blamelessly. Thus, Sāriputta, should you remember it.”


#9

Then why we can’t eliminate “Sariputta” here as well?


#10

Using the name there establishes who is speaking. If that one was omitted it might be less clear.

Personally, I would have left one of the “Sariputtas” in the final paragraph, but I don’t have any problem understanding who is speaking as it is.


#11

With regards to the meaning of the passage itself; does this mean that one can commit suicide ‘blamelessly’ if one has passed beyond rebirth ie is an Arahat and has finished all work?


#12

As a general rule I try to use the vocatives no more than necessary, in accordance with modern English idiom as pointed out by Karl. I haven’t studied this point in detail, but I believe you’ll find that most English translations leave some vocatives out, though perhaps not as many as I.

Nevertheless, if it is the case in a specific instance that the omission creates an ambiguity, then it should be restored. I agree that in this case it would be clearer, so I’ll put it in. Thanks!


#13

That is my reading of the sutta. I also recall from my Zen Roshi that one can simply relinquish life while meditating. For me, this makes me a personally a bit cautious about studying breathless absorption and I have deferred deeper practice till this part of my life without dependents. I understand that concern may be quite unfounded per Ajahn Brahm’s book and other sources. Interestingly, the Channa passage does provide confidence with regard to my concern, since it would seem that Channa could not simply pass away on his own.


#14

It’s tricky, because many people would mistakenly believe they are enlightened. How can we know for certain.


#15

But that isn’t the point. People are unwise, mistaken and ignorant, and therefore in some cultures, are generally cautioned against ‘risky’ behaviour, in order to protect them from consequences they may not be able to see. This is actually disempowering people (in order to protect them). Often in societies where life is viewed as ‘sacred’ the dignity of choice and risk is removed from individuals. This is a purely cultural and conditioned attitude, and a completely different topic.

But I don’t believe the Buddha would have shared in this attitude - it is trying to save people from their own ignorance by imposing control - making life the most important goal. But all that is not the point…

The point is that, if one is beyond rebirth - then - suicide > is not blameworthy. (As pointed out by Karl below - this is only the case where the conditions are compelling AND one is an Arahant).


#16

Yes, it appears that Channa did not have supernormal powers.


#17

Does that mean Arahant can kill womeone else without commiting kamma?


#18

I think Channa might be the one exception to:

A mendicant with defilements ended can’t deliberately take the life of a living creature --DN33


#19

What is the basis?


#20

The basis of Channa’s problem is that he was very well aware that in killing himself he would be deliberately taking the life of a living creature. Yet he was experiencing great pain that would increasingly become a burden to himself and others:

I’m not keeping well, I’m not alright. The pain is terrible and growing, not fading; its growing is evident, not its fading.

This proposed taking of life disturbed the senior monks, who protested and objected. Yet Channa still slit his wrists.

Later, it took the Buddha himself to declare:

When someone lays down this body and takes up another body, I call them ‘blameworthy’.
But the mendicant Channa did no such thing.

And Channa did not return.

This sets quite the high bar for euthanasia.