Which Dhammapada translation(s)?

Gil Frondal’s 2006 translation is also very good and most of the verses have some poetic nuance without straying from the Pali. Published by Shambala.

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I’m currently reading through Gil Fronsdal’s translation, and I really appreciate the endnotes where he discusses why he made particular translation choices and what other translations might also be applicable. It’s quite nice to read through as poetry and then read through again paying close attention to the notes.

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I bought Gil Fronsdal’s Dhammapada about 10 years ago, have referred to it countless times and really loved it. However, in recent years, in light of what I’ve discovered about some of his views on Buddhism, I’m a bit wary about how he might translate things. I do not know to what extent he knows Pali.

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Would you have a link to an article or resource that might explain this further? I’m interested in understanding what you mean as I’m finding his translation enjoyable, but I am not knowledgeable enough to judge the quality of any one particular translation versus another.

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I share @Adutiya’s wariness in regards to Gil Fronsdal’s translations. For me, the reason is his dismissal of rebirth as an essential teaching. Bhante Sujato responded to one of Gil’s essays here: Should you believe in rebirth? Whatever!.

Of course, it doesn’t mean he can’t be an excellent translator. But it raises concerns about the extent to which his interpretations are in line with the EBTs.

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Ah, I don’t think I was aware of that, thank you for the link, I’ll look forward to reading what Bhante Sujato has to say. :pray:

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Two things stand out to me About Gil Fronsdal: his dismissal of rebirth and his assertion that the Four Noble Truths might be a good teaching, but only appears in the suttas about 5 times so it’s likely not the Buddha’s teaching. That’s not to say that Gil doesn’t have wise and good things to say and teach about Buddhism, but when it comes to translating the dhamma and publishing it, that’s another level.

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I always had the DHAMMAPADA, translated by Dr Friedrich Max Mueller and published by Watkins Publishing, London.
It states that this translation was first published in a volume of “Sacred Wisdom of the East” in 1870.
I like it because it’s small, handy and goes with me on every journey - Hopefully not the wrong reason to choose an edition :blush:

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I think most people prefer the version above and posted in this thread. There is not much of a reason to buy the Dhammapada anymore, unless you like printed books. There are many versions available for free that are good and it is recommended to read multiple versions of the same text to see the different flavors of how it is interpreted. Ven Narada has a free version too with small summaries of the stories included. Buddhist Legends has the complete stories behind the poetic verses and it is has been recently edited below:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Buddhist-Legends/

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It’s certainly not a bad reason! But I hope you’re aware that some regard it as a poor translation:

I’m not qualified to comment on whether/why this is so. I’m only bringing it up just in case.

With metta,
:pray:

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It seems the two I was going to suggest have already been suggested! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Greetings!
I am memorizing the Dhammapada in Pāḷi with an understanding of the text. The most accurate translation available online at SC is that of Dr. Peter Feldmeier. Most translators render the underlying Pāḷi too freely I find, oftentimes translating actual verbs with nouns and the like. The sense is oftentimes not lost, but it is inaccurate; nevertheless, sometimes it is distorted and parts are even left out altogether. So, I recommend Dr. Feldmeier’s translation for being most faithful to actual Pāḷi grammar and the commentarial explanations. Mettā!

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From suggestions in this post, here are various translations of the first two verses:

Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā,
manoseṭṭhā manomayā;
Manasā ce paduṭṭhena,
bhāsati vā karoti vā;
Tato naṁ dukkhamanveti,
cakkaṁva vahato padaṁ.

Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā,
manoseṭṭhā manomayā;
Manasā ce pasannena,
bhāsati vā karoti vā;
Tato naṁ sukhamanveti,
chāyāva anapāyinī.

Bhikkhu Sujato
Intention shapes experiences;
intention is first, they’re made by intention.
If with corrupt intent
you speak or act,
suffering follows you,
like a wheel, the ox’s foot.

Intention shapes experiences;
intention is first, they’re made by intention.
If with pure intent
you speak or act,
happiness follows you
like a shadow that never leaves.

Acharya Buddharakkhita (1996)
Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts, suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.

Peter Feldmeier
All phenomena are preceded by the mind,
Created by the mind,
And have the mind as their master.
If one speaks or acts from a corrupted mind,
Suffering follows as the cart-wheel follows the ox’s
foot.

All phenomena are preceded by the mind,
Created by the mind,
And have the mind as their master.
If one speaks or acts with a pure mind,
Happiness follows as an ever-present shadow.

John Ross Carter, Mahinda Palihawadana
Preceded by perception are mental states,
For them is perception supreme,
From perception have they sprung.
If, with perception polluted,* one speaks or acts,
Thence suffering follows
As a wheel the draught ox’s foot.

Preceded by perception are mental states,
For them is perception supreme,
From perception have they sprung.
If, with tranquil perception, one speaks or acts,
Thence ease follows
As a shadow that never departs.

Max Müller
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.
If a man speaks or act with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.
If a man speaks or act with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu
Phenomena are
preceded by the heart,
ruled by the heart,
made of the heart.
If you speak or act
with a corrupted heart,
then suffering follows you –
as the wheel of the cart,
the track of the ox
that pulls it.

Phenomena are
preceded by the heart,
ruled by the heart,
made of the heart.
If you speak or act
with a calm, bright heart,
then happiness follows you,
like a shadow
that never leaves.

Allan R. Bomhard
All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner;
they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made.
If one speaks or acts with evil intentions,
suffering will follow, just as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that pull it along.

All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner;
they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made.
If one speaks or acts with pure intentions,
happiness will follow, like a shadow that never leaves one’s side.

Glenn Wallis
Preceded by mind are phenomena,
led by mind, formed by mind.
If with mind polluted one speaks or acts, then pain follows,
as a wheel follows as a wheel follows the draft ox’s foot.

Preceded by mind are phenomena,
led by mind, formed by mind.
If with mind pure one speaks or acts, then ease follows,
as an ever-present shadow.

Gil Fronsdal
All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind. Speak or act with a corrupted mind and suffering follows as the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind. Speak or act with a peaceful mind and happiness follows like a never-departing shadow.

Bhikkhu Varado and Samanera Bodhesako
Mind precedes created things; mind is their chief, from mind they spring.
With tainted mind who speaks or acts, pain trails that man like the wheel trails ox-tracks.

Mind precedes created things; mind is their chief, from mind they spring.
Who speaks or acts with purified mind, joy trails that man, like his shadow, behind.

Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
Mind precedes thoughts, mind is their chief, their quality is made by mind,
if with a base mind one speaks or acts,
through that suffering follows him like a wheel follows the ox’s foot.

Mind precedes thoughts, mind is their chief, their quality is made by mind,
if with pure mind one speaks or acts,
through that happiness follows him like a shadow which does not depart.

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/BDLM/en/lesson/pali/lesson_pali3.htm
All mental phenomena are preceded by mind,
Mind is their master, they are produced by mind.
If somebody speaks or acts
With a corrupted mind,
Hence suffering follows him,
Like the wheel the foot of the bearing animal.

All things are preceded by mind,
Mind is their master, they are produced by mind.
If somebody speaks or acts
With a purified mind,
Hence happiness follows him,
Like never departing shadow.

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The last one is a very interesting website.
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/BDLM/en/lesson/pali/lesson_pali3.htm

Here is the breakdown of the translation of the first verse:
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/BDLM/lesson/pali/reading/gatha1.htm**

Thanks to @Thitamedha for the link!

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@Ficus @Jake @seniya @khagga and other interested
Re: I like Glen Wallis’ translation, as well as some others, such as Ven Buddharakkhita’s and Dr. Peter Feldmeier’s; I tend to l prefer some things about one translation, some things about another… I’ve not compared Wallis’ translation line by line to the Pāli. And unfortunatley the book does not have the Pāli, but it does have the chapter titles in Pāli in the Devanagari script (I guess a little artistic flourish).

Here is a quoted passage from his comments on the transaltion:
“I have attempted to follow the Buddha’s dictum of seeing the middle way between extremes. Thus, I have sought to produce an English rendering that is neither too loose nor too tight. By “too loose” I mean a translation that strays from the original language. The reader can be confident that the English says what the Pāli says. By the same token, I have produced a work in English. To do this, I have to deal with some features of the Pāli language that work against English usages.” He then goes on to give some of the solutions he has chosen. Here are a couple verses:

chapter 14, verse 183
“The refraining from all that is harmful,
the undertaking of what is skillful,
the cleansing of one’s mind–
this is the teaching of the awakened.”

chpater 2, verse 31
“A practitioner delighting in diligence,
seeing dread in negligence,
advances as a fire–
every fetter, coarse and subtle, burns”

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Dear @Adutiya,

There is a translation by K.R. Norman too, which according to Bhante Dhammika’s review above is accurate word by word:

If you want a 100% word-for-word accurate translation of the Dhammapada get K. R. Norman’s The Words of the Doctrine with its 174 pages of notes on grammar, syntax, consonant groups, variant readings, the eastern form of am , etc, and do your best to keep awake.

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The Four Noble Truths are described in sooo many Suttas—and so many Suttas conclude by describing the ending of suffering as the goal (fourth truth).

There are different formulations of the Four Noble Truths, of which if this is what Fronsdal says, would seem to be what the issue is with the incorrect interpretation.

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Does anyone know the reasoning behind Bhante Sujato’s translation of the two first lines?

Intention shapes experiences;
intention is first, they’re made by intention.

i.e. why he chose the words “intention” and “experiences” which seems quite different from other translations.

Hi @ erlendne

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Thanks Mike, I also found some relevant information here.

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