Ud 5.5 - gradual all the way, or not?

A bit of a slow response, here, I wanted to get some time to look at it more closely.

I agree, this is likely. I had “vocal arrangement” here, but I will change it to “melody”, which is more natural. It’s also more natural to read nikāmeti as “enjoys” rather than “strives after”.

I’m struggling to follow the reasoning here. It seems like a stretch (ha ha, no Pali pun intended!)

The Malay borrowing nikmati would confirm this.

For the other bit, I’m afraid as a non-musicologist I can’t really do more than to speculate. I’m thinking along the lines that melody have appropriate stasis and pauses. Yet, these serve the musical structure more than they serve the spoken word. A sutta text (assuming the Buddha laid down the rule in relation to the early mnemonic passages for memorisation) would require precision in enunciation and emphasis. If a musical structure is to prevail over a spoken structure, would the individual words still be recognisable? I’m guessing a melodious chant would not accommodate this, if the melody is not punctuated with stops and pauses to reflect the spoken word but drones along.

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I get the point, and obviously the “musicality” of it is in some sense the issue. But simply having a rhythm and metre isn’t going to make it incomprehensible; if anything, it makes memorizing easier. Bad rhythm can of course be harmful to the sense, but I don’t think that’s the issue. On the other hand elaborate, drawn-out chanting, which is quite characteristic of many Asian vocal styles, certainly does impede comprehension.


It reminds me of one of Ven Analayo’s observations in his MN study. He opines that the Vedic material was successfully memorized but the suttas were not organised for memorization per se but the drawing out of the implications. Perhaps comprehensibility was more important for the suttas.


Bhikkhu @Sujato,
I guess my post above was quite long, and I do not expect you to respond to it all. But I was wondering if you might be interested to reply to this last part or it? No worries if not:

It may do, yes. Given that this issue was one of the questions that divided the early community, it is quite possible that such differences may be felt here and there in the suttas. However I have not studied this question in detail so at the moment I would regard it as no more than a possibility.


Very interesting. Thank you @sujato, and that possibility does make a lot of sense. I wonder if anyone has looked into this more deeply - it would seem like a worthwhile research project!

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