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Lol! My guess: ka is an ancient Egyptian word for something like a soul. So the theory is probably: rittaka = absence of the soul.

It was also the title of one of my favorite books on Indian mythology, by Roberto Calasso. Calasso, perhaps punning on his last name, typically titles his books using the syllable ka in there somewhere, and Ka made this explicit. It’s an interrogative pronoun meaning “who?” And so the book is about the search for identity, a search which, as Calasso suggested, the Buddha came to make an end of.

Anyway, the ending -ka in rittaka has nothing to do with any of that. It is merely a grammatical flourish known as a “secondary suffix” which in this context simply adds a diminutive sense to ritta “empty, void”.

Appropriately enough, the word itself recursively describes the very act of trolling, eg. in DN 13:

Tesamidaṃ tevijjānaṃ brāhmaṇānaṃ bhāsitaṃ hassakaññeva sampajjati, nāmakaññeva sampajjati, rittakaññeva sampajjati, tucchakaññeva sampajjati.
Their statement turns out to be a joke—mere words, void (rittaka) and hollow.


I mean, it’s sad, but not really surprising that a random internet denizen comes up with silly ideas. Getting things wrong is part of the path towards getting them right. But what I find disheartening is when people have had the benefit of good teachers and a good education, and every opportunity to learn and practice real Dhamma, and they still jump on these silly theories at the first chance, as if there’s some great secret that’s been unearthed. :woman_shrugging:


:popcorn: :movie_camera: :see_no_evil:


Ahh, that makes perfect sense now. It is indeed a shame that 2500 years of Buddhists have all been complete and utter dolts, unable to comprehend even the basics of the religion they follow. We are so lucky to have such unique, fearless minds to lead us into the light! </obligatory-end-sarcasm-tag>


When I saw the title of this post I immediately thought about the Egyptian “Ka” but I never expected to actually find any reference to it here!!

Ka was not the whole soul, but only what we would call “viññana”! Quite interestingly, the Egyptians clearly understood that the “self” was made of various composite forces, Ka being one such force, but they did not hold any non-self view. Instead they taught (and wrote) that some of these forces were responsible for determining one’s destination after death, and that these forces were entirety conditioned by one’s sīla before death! They taught 40 non-harm precepts to be followed by all! This text is 2000 years before the rising of the Buddha. Very unfortunately many important sections of it, though well preserved, yet very obscure and difficult to understand.


They’re not.

When ka is used of the gods, as noted above, it is an interrogative pronoun, “who?”, which might be used in a mystical way to refer to god, just as we might say, eg. “the Almighty”. There’s an interesting passage on this by Max Muller:

6. KA? WHO?
The authors of the Brāhmanas had so completely broken with the past, that, forgetful of the poetical character of the hymns (of the Vedas), and the yearning of the poets after the unknown god, they exalted the interrogative pronoun itself into a deity, and acknowledged a god, Ka? or ‘Who?’ In the ‘Taittiriya Brāhmana,’ in the ‘Kanshītaki Brāhmana,’ in the ‘Tāndya Brāhmana,’ and in the ‘Satapatha Brāhmana,’ wherever interrogative verses occur, the author states that Ka is Prajāpati, or the lord of creatures. Nor did they stop here. Some of the hymns in which the interrogative pronoun occurred were called Kadvat, i.e., having kad or quid. But soon a new adjective was formed, and not only the hymns, but the sacrifices also, offered to the god, were called Kāya, or ‘Who-ish.’ At the time of Pānini (the great grammarian), this word had acquired such legitimacy as to call for a separate rule explaining its formation. The commentator here explains Ka by Brāhman. After this, we can hardly wonder that in the later Sanskrit literature of the Purānas, Ka appears as a recognized god, with a genealogy of his own, perhaps even a wife; and that in the laws of Manu one of the recognized forms of marriage, genet ally known by the name of the Prajāpati [p. 481] marriage, occurs under the monstrous title of Kāya." In the Mahābhārata Ka is identified with Daksha, and in the “Bhāgavata Purāna” it is applied to Kasyapa, probably on account of their similarity to Prajāpati.

So the idea that ka itself is the name of a God is an anti-historical retcon in the usual mythic style. The actual referent is the central subject of all true myth: the god who is dead and gone. The connection with the form kāya is a religio-linguistic invention of the grammarians, referenced only in later literature, and has nothing to do with the word kāya in Pali and other Buddhist texts.

No, he is not. As I pointed out, here the ending -ka is a simple diminutive. This can be ascertained in a few seconds by a trivial search on the early Pali. The term appears only three times in the early prose texts. The first time I have quoted above, where it refers to a saying that is nonsensical. The second is in a simile with reference to the five khandhas at SN 22.95:

“Mendicants, suppose this Ganges river was carrying along a big lump of foam. And a person with good eyesight would see it and contemplate it, examining it carefully. And it would appear to them as completely void (rittaka), hollow (tucchaka), and insubstantial (asāraka).

The third is at SN 35.258:

He’d see an empty village. But whatever house he’d enter is vacant (rittaka), deserted, and empty. And whatever vessel he touches is vacant (rittaka), hollow, and empty.

None of this has anything to do with any Vedic deities. The thesis is nonsense, and doesn’t deserve serious attention.

No it isn’t, it is from the root ci via reduplication. The Vedic ka as a term for deity is unknown in Pali.

This is the most absurd in a list of absurdities. Without question, Indic linguistic science is one of humanity’s greatest intellectual achievements. Pāṇini, whose work formed the basis of all later linguistics, including the Buddhists, should be acknowledged alongside Socrates, Aristotle, Newton, and Einstein as one of the great geniuses of all humanity. His work is still valid today, and in terms of pure linguistic analysis, has not been improved upon, merely expanded and explained.

From Wikipedia:

Pāṇini’s theory of morphological analysis was more advanced than any equivalent Western theory before the 20th century. His treatise is generative and descriptive, and has been compared to the Turing machine wherein the logical structure of any computing device has been reduced to its essentials using an idealized mathematical model.

Pāṇini’s grammar is the world’s first formal system, developed well before the 19th century innovations of Gottlob Frege and the subsequent development of mathematical logic. In designing his grammar, Pāṇini used the method of “auxiliary symbols”, in which new affixes are designated to mark syntactic categories and the control of grammatical derivations. This technique, rediscovered by the logician Emil Post, became a standard method in the design of computer programming languages. Sanskritists now accept that Pāṇini’s linguistic apparatus is well-described as an “applied” Post system. Considerable evidence shows ancient mastery of context-sensitive grammars, and a general ability to solve many complex problems. Frits Staal has written that “Panini is the Indian Euclid.”