Upatissasutta (SN 21.2)

(1) “Tathā hi panāyasmato sāriputtassa dīgharattaṁ ahaṅkāramamaṅkāramānānusayā susamūhatā. Tasmā āyasmato sāriputtassa satthupi vipariṇāmaññathābhāvā nuppajjeyyuṁ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā”ti.”

(2) “That must be because Venerable Sāriputta has long ago totally eradicated ego, possessiveness, and the underlying tendency to conceit. So even if the Teacher were to decay and perish, it wouldn’t give rise to sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress in him.”

(1) is the last paragraph of this sutta, and (2) is Bhante Sujato’s translation. What is the Pali word for ‘ego’ or ‘conceit’? I used to think it was ‘papañca’ but do not see the word in (1).

I would appreciate your help.

The word I believe you’re referring to in the sutta is ahaṅkāramamaṅkāramānānusayā.
It’s a compund word with ahaṅkāra meaning selfishness and pointing to self-identity or I-making, mamaṅkāra meaning attachment to self or my-making, and mānānusayā pointing to a person.

At least, these are the general imports of the words. AFAIK there is no direct word in Pāli for “ego” as is commonly used in english.


Just in case you aren’t aware, you can click on the “parallels” icon to see if there are other translations of the same sutta. Doing this we find one by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

“It must be because I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit have been thoroughly uprooted in the Venerable Sāriputta for a long time that even if the Teacher himself were to undergo change and alteration, still sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair would not arise in him.”

I believe that Bhante Sujato tries to avoid “Buddhist Hybrid English” (i.e. made up words that have no meaning outside Buddhism) and I-making and mine-making are clearly that.

Ajahn Thanissaro uses the same term as Bhikkhu Bodhi:

“Surely,” (said Ven. Ānanda,) “it’s because Ven. Sāriputta’s I-making & mine-making and obsession with conceit have long been well uprooted that even if there were change & alteration in the Teacher, there would arise within him no sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair.”


Then how are
‘ahaṅkāramamaṅkāramānānusayā’ and ‘papanca’ different?

Papañca is one of those words in Pāli for which there is no simple and clear meaning. Without getting into technicalities, we might say ‘ahaṅkāramamaṅkāramānānusayā’ is a form of papañca, with the latter being a more general term for “proliferations” and mental obstacles to prgressing on the Path, of which *ahaṅkāramamaṅkāramānānusayā is a particular form.

At the same time, the I, me, mine illusions are more deeply rooted than papañca, stemming from the deep roots of avijjā, tanha and the āsavas.