Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

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Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Sheranne » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:06 am

Hello- could someone please explain the difference between these names--Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu. Most specifically why is one called Venerable Bhante so and so instead of Bhikkhu ____? Do the names connote higher authority, or do they have to do with where the monk trained?

Sher
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:37 am

Sheranne wrote:Hello- could someone please explain the difference between these names--Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu. Most specifically why is one called Venerable Bhante so and so instead of Bhikkhu ____? Do the names connote higher authority, or do they have to do with where the monk trained?

Sher


According to my understanding:

In short, "Ajahn" is the Thai form of the Pali word "acariya", which means "teacher / instructor". It is effectively used to refer to monastics who are of sufficient knowledge and wisdom to teach others.

"Bhante" is a Pali word which is a form of high honorific, meaning something like "venerable", "venerable sir". (Most commonly, but not exclusively, for monastics.) Was originally - during the buddha's time - used by lay people and junior monastics to refer to (senior) monastics, whereas "friend" (avuso) was used to refer to junior monastics. Nowadays, in practice, it is used to refer to almost any monastic, by both lay people and other monastics.

"Bhikkhu" is another Pali word. Though literally "beggar", it is very different from this English term which has very negative and lowly connotations. Rather, it implies the role of the religious samana (ascetic), who "begs" for alms food during alms-rounds (pindapat). It is thus effectively given high connotations. This term became the preferred term of the Buddhists from amongst a range of other terms for the same group of religious specialists, eg. samana, pabbajaka, etc. All of them refer to those who have "gone forth from the home" (pabbajaka), as opposed to those who are "house-holders" (gahapati).
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:45 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:In short, "Ajahn" is the Thai form of the Pali word "acariya", which means "teacher / instructor". It is effectively used to refer to monastics who are of sufficient knowledge and wisdom to teach others.

That's interesting, I didn't pick up the connection with the Pali word.

For monastics, in my experience, Thai people tend to only use it for monks with 10 rains, though this may vary.

However, Ajahn is also used for other teachers, such as University lecturers or martial arts instructors...

Mike
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:52 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:In short, "Ajahn" is the Thai form of the Pali word "acariya", which means "teacher / instructor". It is effectively used to refer to monastics who are of sufficient knowledge and wisdom to teach others.

That's interesting, I didn't pick up the connection with the Pali word.

For monastics, in my experience, Thai people tend to only use it for monks with 10 rains, though this may vary.

However, Ajahn is also used for non-secular teachers, such as University lecturers or martial arts instructors...

Mike


Thank, Mike.
Yeah, the 10 vassa is the standard to be a "teacher", ie. ordain others.
And again, you are right, "acariya" too is just a general word for "teacher".
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:13 am

Greetings Sher,

Sheranne wrote:Most specifically why is one called Venerable Bhante so and so instead of Bhikkhu ____?

To complement the excellent advice given above by venerable Paññāsikhara, the use of the term 'bhante' is only for when directly addressing the particular person in question. For example, when speaking to venerable Paññāsikhara, I might address him directly as 'bhante', but when speaking to you about him, I would not refer to him in our conversation as bhante Paññāsikhara.

That is what I have learned anyway - if what I've said is technically incorrect, I hope others will correct me.

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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:54 am

these things vary a bit between cultures too

also via
Bhikkhu Pesala
Burmese Buddhists use "Ashin" which is Burmese for "Venerable," Thais will use "Phra" or "Tan," and Sinhalese will use "Hamudru." The usage "Bhante" depends on Pali Grammar, but is rarely used by Burmese, Thai, or Sinhalese. I prefer it because it is the expression that the Buddha told us to use and is cross-cultural.
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby cooran » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:32 am

Hello all,

Ajahn is often used for Lay or Monastic teachers ~ male or female. For example, this flyer prepared by The World Fellowship of Buddhists about the female Thai Abhidhamma teacher:


http://www.wfb-hq.org/Aj_%20Sujin%202010April.html

Retro, the abbot of Dhammagiri is referred to as Ven. Dhammasiha or Bhante Dhammasiha. When people are referring to him in his presence, the term Bhante is used. When he is absent, the same term is used.

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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:36 am

Greetings Chris,

cooran wrote:Retro, the abbot of Dhammagiri is referred to as Ven. Dhammasiha or Bhante Dhammasiha. When people are referring to him in his presence, the term Bhante is used. When he is absent, the same term is used.

Is it "correct", though? I'm pretty sure I've read someone (and I think it was a bhikkhu, and it may even have been here or E-Sangha) explain that 'bhante' isn't actually supposed to be used in such a way. It will be interesting to see what any Pali specialists here have to say on the subject.

Metta,
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If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:37 am

cooran wrote:Hello all,

Ajahn is often used for Lay or Monastic teachers ~ male or female. For example, this flyer prepared by The World Fellowship of Buddhists about the female Thai Abhidhamma teacher:



true, i was ajahn james when i taught in thailand
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:46 am

Bhadanta (Bhaddanta)

Bhadanta (Bhaddanta) [a secondary adj. formation from address bhaddaŋ (=bhadraŋ) te "hail to thee," cp. "bhaddaŋ vo" under bhadda 1] venerable, reverend, mostly in voc. as address "Sir, holy father" etc., to men of the Order. voc. sg. bhadante S i.216 (v. l. bhaddante); voc. pl. bhadantā DhA iii.414. -- A contracted form of bhadante is bhante (q. v.). Note. In case of bhadanta being the corresp. of Sk. *bhavanta (for bhavān) we would suppose the change v>d and account for dd on grounds of pop. analogy after bhadda. See bhante. The pl. nom. from bhadantā is formed after bhadante, which was felt as a voc. of an a -- stem with -- e for -- a as in Prk. Māgadhī.

http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... li.1737171
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Kare » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:51 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:"Bhante" is a Pali word which is a form of high honorific, meaning something like "venerable", "venerable sir". (Most commonly, but not exclusively, for monastics.) Was originally - during the buddha's time - used by lay people and junior monastics to refer to (senior) monastics, whereas "friend" (avuso) was used to refer to junior monastics.


Avuso is often translated as "friend" - which is convenient, but not entirely correct. "Avuso" is a dialect variation of "ayasma" - "one who has age", so the original meaning may have been something like "venerable", but you are right about how this word was used at the Buddha's time.

The problem with translating "avuso" as "friend" becomes rather acute when the Buddha said that he should not be adressed as "avuso". If we translate this as "friend", it looks like the Buddha did not want to be adressed as a friend, and this is rather misleading, as far as I can see, since he later pointed out to Ananda that not half the brahmacariya, but the whole brahmacariya consisted of friendship.

So it would be better to find some other translation for "avuso", since it really has nothing to do with "friend" or "friendship".
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:01 am

Kare wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:"Bhante" is a Pali word which is a form of high honorific, meaning something like "venerable", "venerable sir". (Most commonly, but not exclusively, for monastics.) Was originally - during the buddha's time - used by lay people and junior monastics to refer to (senior) monastics, whereas "friend" (avuso) was used to refer to junior monastics.


Avuso is often translated as "friend" - which is convenient, but not entirely correct. "Avuso" is a dialect variation of "ayasma" - "one who has age", so the original meaning may have been something like "venerable", but you are right about how this word was used at the Buddha's time.

The problem with translating "avuso" as "friend" becomes rather acute when the Buddha said that he should not be adressed as "avuso". If we translate this as "friend", it looks like the Buddha did not want to be adressed as a friend, and this is rather misleading, as far as I can see, since he later pointed out to Ananda that not half the brahmacariya, but the whole brahmacariya consisted of friendship.

So it would be better to find some other translation for "avuso", since it really has nothing to do with "friend" or "friendship".


Thanks for this!

You know, the Chinese also had a really hard time finding a good translation for "ayusman", too. But that's another story...
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:14 am

Kare wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:"Bhante" is a Pali word which is a form of high honorific, meaning something like "venerable", "venerable sir". (Most commonly, but not exclusively, for monastics.) Was originally - during the buddha's time - used by lay people and junior monastics to refer to (senior) monastics, whereas "friend" (avuso) was used to refer to junior monastics.


Avuso is often translated as "friend" - which is convenient, but not entirely correct. "Avuso" is a dialect variation of "ayasma" - "one who has age", so the original meaning may have been something like "venerable", but you are right about how this word was used at the Buddha's time.

The problem with translating "avuso" as "friend" becomes rather acute when the Buddha said that he should not be adressed as "avuso". If we translate this as "friend", it looks like the Buddha did not want to be adressed as a friend, and this is rather misleading, as far as I can see, since he later pointed out to Ananda that not half the brahmacariya, but the whole brahmacariya consisted of friendship.

So it would be better to find some other translation for "avuso", since it really has nothing to do with "friend" or "friendship".

I think that the fact that the Buddha asked not to be addressed as " friend " does not indicate any diminishing of the concept of friendship.. it was because he was reinforcing his own unique status as the Awakened.
He did not share our current preoccupation with egalitarianism.
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:31 am

Along with Kare, I am reminded of the story where the Buddha sneezes, and the bhikkuni Mahapajapati says something to the effect of "may you live long!", kind of equivalent of "bless you!" in modern English. The Buddha responds by asking whether or not, by merely so wishing, will one live long? Of course not, she replies, and the Buddha agrees.

It seems to me that the term "avuso" / "ayusman", is thus, in a similar manner, perhaps actually a kind of blessing if you will. And perhaps this was the reason why the Buddha was not so keen on it. In a similar way the post-sneeze blessing from the Venerable Mahapajapati.

Just my thoughts...
:focus:
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby cooran » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:12 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Along with Kare, I am reminded of the story where the Buddha sneezes, and the bhikkuni Mahapajapati says something to the effect of "may you live long!", kind of equivalent of "bless you!" in modern English. The Buddha responds by asking whether or not, by merely so wishing, will one live long? Of course not, she replies, and the Buddha agrees.

It seems to me that the term "avuso" / "ayusman", is thus, in a similar manner, perhaps actually a kind of blessing if you will. And perhaps this was the reason why the Buddha was not so keen on it. In a similar way the post-sneeze blessing from the Venerable Mahapajapati.

Just my thoughts...
:focus:

It was a direct instruction from the Buddha, one of the very last instructions he gave before passing ~ and can be found in the Digha Nikaya, Sutta 16, Verse 6.2 Mahaparinibbana Sutta:

6.2 "And whereas the monks are in the habit of addressing one another as "friend", this custom is to be abrogated after my passing. Senior monks shall address more junior monks by their name, their cland or as "friend" (note 447), whereas more junior monks are to address their seniors either as "Lord" (note 448) or as "Venerable Sir" (note 449)

Note 447: Avuso'

Note 448: Bhante. Rendered here as 'Lord', but in modern usage the normal form of address to monks, rendered 'Venerable Sir', Wester Buddhists should note that it is a vocative i.e. used in direct address, and not as a kind of pronoun denoting 'the Venerable So-and-so'.

Note 449: Ayasma: the regular prefix as in 'the Venerable Ananda', etc.

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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:14 am

Greetings,

cooran wrote:Note 448: Bhante. Rendered here as 'Lord', but in modern usage the normal form of address to monks, rendered 'Venerable Sir', Wester Buddhists should note that it is a vocative i.e. used in direct address, and not as a kind of pronoun denoting 'the Venerable So-and-so'.

Ahh... maybe that's where I read it - thanks Chris.

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If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:04 am

Thanks Cooran. Thanks for citing that and making the distinction clear. So much for my musings!! :tongue:
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby Kare » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:10 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:
Kare wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:"Bhante" is a Pali word which is a form of high honorific, meaning something like "venerable", "venerable sir". (Most commonly, but not exclusively, for monastics.) Was originally - during the buddha's time - used by lay people and junior monastics to refer to (senior) monastics, whereas "friend" (avuso) was used to refer to junior monastics.


Avuso is often translated as "friend" - which is convenient, but not entirely correct. "Avuso" is a dialect variation of "ayasma" - "one who has age", so the original meaning may have been something like "venerable", but you are right about how this word was used at the Buddha's time.

The problem with translating "avuso" as "friend" becomes rather acute when the Buddha said that he should not be adressed as "avuso". If we translate this as "friend", it looks like the Buddha did not want to be adressed as a friend, and this is rather misleading, as far as I can see, since he later pointed out to Ananda that not half the brahmacariya, but the whole brahmacariya consisted of friendship.

So it would be better to find some other translation for "avuso", since it really has nothing to do with "friend" or "friendship".

I think that the fact that the Buddha asked not to be addressed as " friend " does not indicate any diminishing of the concept of friendship.. it was because he was reinforcing his own unique status as the Awakened.
He did not share our current preoccupation with egalitarianism.


Buddha did not want to be addressed as "avuso". And since "avuso" in fact does not mean "friend", I feel we create some unnecessary misunderstandings if we say that he did not want to be addressed as "friend". He did not say that. So what would be a better translation of "avuso"? I am not sure. We should perhaps search for a word that conveys some kind of informality, familiarity or equal standing. Maybe "colleague" or "mate" is a little closer to the meaning of "avuso" the way it was used at the Buddha's time? But I am sure that those of you who have English as first language, can come up with some better suggestions.
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby hummingbird » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:51 am

I am wondering if it would be correct to address a monk as Bhikkhu, or is Bhante preferred. Thank you
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Re: Definition Ajahn, Bhante, and Bhikkhu

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:38 pm

hummingbird wrote:I am wondering if it would be correct to address a monk as Bhikkhu, or is Bhante preferred. Thank you

bhante is preferred if youre talking to him directly, also if you see my post above different countries refer to their monks differently, i.e. i attend Thai temples so i just refer to the monks as ajahn, phra ajahn if i'm feeling more formal and its an abbot or what have you
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