Two translations appear in Pali biographical texts. One translation speaks of the “great understanding” of āḷāra kālāma and udaka rāmaputta, the Buddha’s teachers. The other speaks of their “great loss” in dying before they could be taught the new Buddhadhamma.
Both translations appear in the words of I. B. Horner: the first in her translation of the Vinaya, and the second in her later translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Horner attributed the later translation to “Ven. A. P. Buddhadatta for this interpretation of jāni=hāni, loss.” Modern translations follow Ms. Horner’s position. But I don’t understand the reasoning behind this.
The words “jāni” and “hāni” can be taken to mean “loss”. A possible form of “jāni” is “jāniyo”. However that would make “jāniyo” both feminine and plural, and therefore it would not accord with the given “āḷāro kālāmo” and “udako rāmaputto”, both nominative, masculine and singular.
There is “jāniya” which could be taken to be is a gerund meaning “understanding”. That is, presumably the reason for the first translation, above. However, gerunds are indeclinable. Therefore, that would not account for the “o”
But I must ask: what is the grammatical explanation of the second translation?