Translate "jināti" consistently

In my book What You Might Not Know about Jhāna & Samādhi, I gave readers this exercise:

(T)ranslate jināti here consistently…:

Sabbadānaṁ dhammadānaṁ jināti
Sabbaṁ rasaṁ dhammaraso jināti
Sabbaṁ ratiṁ dhammaratī jināti
Taṇhakkhayo sabbadukkhaṁ jināti

So far, no one has contacted me with any answer. Anyone here like to try?

Update: Try to be as finicky as you can, meeting these requirements:

  1. Pragmatic, fulfilling the purpose of the audience
  2. Most likely for the audience to understand correctly
  3. Most semantically congruent to the source
  4. Most metaphorically congruent to the source
  5. Most possible to translate consistently
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Valerie Roebuck (Penguin) translates it as ‘conquers’. Her translation reads very well.

Thank you for your reply.

She also translates ‘sabbābhibhū’ in 353 as ‘all-conquering’.

In her note to 354, she notes that the verb jināti is used in two different senses in the verse.
‘Surpasses’ in lines 1-3, ‘destroys’ in line 4.

There are several fine translations of the Dhammapada in English. I would also recommend the one by Glen Wallace.

You think ‘conquers’ can mean 'surpasses’?

Most certainly.
“She conquered all challengers in the race. “

One dictionary entry has “get on top of; deal with successfully”. Synonym : ‘surmount’.

(There is a bit of poetry in this verse, no? The verb is deliberately used in different senses for dramatic effect. )

It works here, but doesn’t it sound weird to say “Dhamma-giving conquers all giving”?

I would take ‘danam’ as a neuter noun ‘gift’ rather than a present participle.

Roebuck has for this line,
“The gift of Dhamma conquers all gifts”

Yes, the verb ‘jināti’ is odd in this context, it seems to sound just as strange in Pali as it does in English.
As I mentioned above, it’s a poetic usage, playing on the idea of ‘sabbābhibhū’ in the previous verse.

If you are working on your own translation of 354, maybe post what you have so far.
Translating poetry is an art form.

Interestingly, translating “jināti” to Chinese works perfectly for all the four lines. No weirdness at all. And it’s through that that I found an English translation that works well.

I used “beats”. It works, though it is a little …rough.

The gift of the teaching beats all other gifts;
the taste of the teaching beats all other tastes;
the joy of the teaching beats all other joys;
one who has ended craving beats all suffering.


:smiley: That’s very cute, bhante.

So, for the first 3, “beat” takes the meaning of “be superior to or better than” and the last " defeat or subdue". Yeah, it works though, as you say, a little rough, due to its many other rough meanings.

I think “wins over” would make sense

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“Wins over” can have two meanings. The meaning “to convince” wouldn’t fit here. Otherwise I like it.

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Yes, it’s pretty good, except a bit lacking in semantic congruence.

What about “surmounts”?

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I’ve checked some dictionaries. It works well for the last line, as it has the meaning of “To overcome (an obstacle, for example); conquer”. It also has the meaning of “To surpass or exceed in quality, attainment or amount”, which works for the first three. The only weakness is that this particular meaning is now considered obsolete.

Oh, quite liking surmouts, it’s definitely more elegant.

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My translation:

Sabbadānaṁ dhammadānaṁ jināti

The gift of Dhamma triumphs over all gifts.

Sabbaṁ rasaṁ dhammaraso jināti

The taste of Dhamma triumphs over all tastes.

Sabbaṁ ratiṁ dhammaratī jināti

The pleasure of Dhamma triumphs over all pleasures.

Taṇhakkhayo sabbadukkhaṁ jināti

The exhaustion of craving triumphs over all suffering.

That seems good, similar to the original ‘conquers’.
‘Exhaustion’ for khaya seems strange, particularly here, which looks a bit like craving causes exhaustion, weariness, fatigue.

A bit like, ‘the exhaustion of travel’.

‘The destruction of craving surmounts all suffering’ reads better.

I avoid “conquer” because it’s not so semantically congruent to jināti.

I’ve to consider how khaya is used elsewhere too, for consistency sake. “Exhaustion” seems to cover all meanings of khaya well.