Why Do You Study Pali?

Seems like quite a few of us here have studied Pali. I’d love to hear what motivates you to study Pali and/or what benefits you’ve received from such study. I’m looking for additional motivation and inspiration to study Pali further.

With gratitude and metta,


I study Pali because it is one of the more complete rafts. The translations are accessible rafts leading to the larger rafts which point to the Dhamma. Here is an example.

Bhante Sujato DN33, accessible raft:

Right Freedom (i.e., sammāvimutti)

Pali canon, the more complete raft:

asekkhā sammāvimutti

Is the omission of asekkhā important (it defines Arahant state)? I would say not. When one is suffering, any end of suffering will suffice. Along the way, one learns about Stream Enterers, etc. Those terms become important later, when one challenges one’s own understanding to find gaps that complacency would let lie. Sariputta does exhort that we should endeavor:

To never be content with skillful qualities, and to never stop trying. –DN33

Perhaps beyond Pali, one would then study Chinese, and so on…

I would also like to thank Bhante Sujato for having the courage and wisdom to speak quite plainly in his translations, without resorting to masses of Abhidhammic footnotes and meandering academic talk.


Thanks, Karl. That’s what I was hoping to find by studying Pali: more signs and indicators pointing to the Dhamma and what the Buddha taught. So, that’s affirming. I also tend to find hidden wisdom in contemplating the etymology and roots of words in English. I assume the same will be true in Pali.


I have a lot of admiration for anyone who studies a primary-source language in order to engage with the textual traditions associated with the Dhamma.

My own Pali is very rusty: I studied it as part of my undergraduate degree which had Sanskrit as its focus. That was quite a long time ago though, and I ultimately went on to specialise in another linguistic branch of the Indo-European tree.

I was extremely fortunate to have a Pali teacher who was not only deeply knowledgable of the language and texts, but also had a profound experiential understanding of the Dhamma. He taught with humour, compassion and insight.

To those who undertake the study of Pali by themselves, :pray:


I’ve begun studying Pāli because I do find that there is value in going over the EBTs in their primary language, because there is some degree of nuance that gets lost in translation. And I am extremely grateful for this site, both for the side-by-side translations with original text as well as the rich discussions from which I have learned so much.


I was forced to studdy some verses from Dhammapada when I did my middle school.
I found that knowledge was somehow help me when I had some difficult question which was not easy to understand using English.
English translation could be confusing sometimes as diffrent translators use diffrent words for the same Pali word. Unfortunately there is no standards.
So best thing any person can do is to learn from the source.
The attched video series is very helpful.

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Thanks for the link Sarath. Looks like there are multiple helpful resources there:-)

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