Translation of AN 8.81, "shame and fear for sin"

Hello everyone,

I’d like to ask about the translation of AN 8.81, SuttaCentral. In Ven. Bodhi’s translation there’s a mention of lack of “shame and fear for sin” (hirottappaṃ). However, Ven. Sujato translates is as “conscience and prudence”. Why so? Looks like pretty different translations. One of them must be right, but hardly both. :slight_smile:

Thank you.


Thanks for the reference!

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“Fear of sin” is too interpretative to me, but I don’t know Pali.

I’ve read later texts that give the two terms the nuance of social vs. personal sense of wrong-doing. So, in one case you only feel bad because other people are shaming you. Maybe you didn’t actually do anything wrong, or maybe you just don’t get it. In the other case, you recognize something as having been a wrong thing to do, regardless of whether anyone knows about it.

It may be, though, that the two terms originally weren’t so well defined. In Chinese, the translation is for two synonyms for sense of shame & embarrassment. The positive form of shameless can be misconstrued as actually feeling shame, rather than just being capable of shame and thus being guided by that sense. That’s what the term really refers to in the sutras as a moral guide.

So, my translation is shame and conscience, or sense of shame and conscience to be more precise.


I think the problem with “shame” is that it has shifted in meaning. Perhaps earlier in the 20th century the sense was closer to that of hiri. Consider the definition on Merriam-Webster:

The first sense is similar to hiri, but “a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute” is definitely not. And I feel that the tendency over time is shifting to the latter sense.