The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

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The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

Postby starter » Thu May 15, 2014 12:40 am

Hi can someone help me with a word by word breakdown translation of Dhammapada Verse 97, Sariputtatthera Vatthu:

Assaddho akatannu ca
sandhicchedo ca yo naro
hatavakaso vantaso1
sa ve uttamaporiso.

Is my following understanding close enough to the original meaning of this verse:

Beyond faith*,
the Unmade known,
a "housebreaker" ("burglar"),
with kammas cut and craving shed (who "eats vomit"),
is indeed the noblest of all men (i.e., an arahat).

[*An arahant has realized the truth by himself, so he becomes "faithless" -- "faith" just doesn't fit him anymore; I don't agree with the translation of "without blind faith".]

Please note that this verse belongs to:
Dhp VII PTS: Dhp 90-99
Arahantavagga: Arahants

It's a verse describing arahants.

Thanks and metta! :anjali:
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Re: The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

Postby Kim OHara » Thu May 15, 2014 2:20 am

If you go to http://suttacentral.net/pi/dhp90-99 and enable the Pali-English dictionary which floats in the sidebar, hovering over any word of the Pali shows you the dictionary definition (cool, huh!).
I'm not sure it will help you much, though - that first word is indeed "faithless, unbelieving".
I can see what you're getting at with, 'An arahant has realized the truth by himself, so he becomes "faithless" -- "faith" just doesn't fit him anymore; I don't agree with the translation of "without blind faith",' and I think I agree. Maybe, "no longer needing faith because he has knowledge" ? Something like that, anyway.
The whole issue of faith versus knowledge is a tricky one, IMO. The more I look at it, the more I think they are like black and white, opposite ends of a continuum with lots of different greys in between and most of us, really, living our whole lives thinking that greys are either black or white.

:namaste:
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Re: The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu May 15, 2014 4:07 am

Have you seen the notes at An Excellent Man is Not Credulous?
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Re: The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

Postby bharadwaja » Thu May 15, 2014 1:09 pm

Word by word:

Assaddho -- "unbeliever"
akatannu ca -- not knower of right action, and
sandhicchedo ca yo naro -- breaker of relationships, and, who, man
hatavakaso vantaso -- killer of possibility, vomit-eater
sa ve uttamaporiso -- he, indeed, highest man

The ordinary interpretation:
An unbeliever, and not a knower of right action,
and a man who breaks relationships
a killer of possibilities, a vomit-eater
he indeed, is the highest man.

The Buddha's redefined interpretation:
One who is beyond beliefs (thus beyond doubt), and a knower of the unmade
and a man who has cut off his fetters
and has destroyed even the possibility of rebirth, and eats only leftover food (i.e. has no desires at all, even to eat well)
He indeed is the highest man.

Perhaps the last line in the ordinary interpretation may have been a question originally ("can such a man claim to be the highest") to which the Buddha replied so.
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Re: The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

Postby beeblebrox » Thu May 15, 2014 4:10 pm

Assaddho akataññū ca,


"Non-believer and no obligation,"

sandhicchedo ca yo naro;


"cuts off connection with any man;"

Hatāvakāso vantāso,


"Killer of opportunities, who pukes vomit,"

sa ve uttamaporiso.


"this one must be a great man."

Check Ven. Pesala's link for the commentary.

:anjali:
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Re: The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

Postby starter » Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:54 am

Hi Bhante Pesala, kim, beeblebrox, and bharadwaja,

Thanks for your help. The translation of "akataññū" seems to be quite varied. I agree with Bhante that it's a double-meaning word, and means "one who knows (aññū) that which is not created (akata)."

Metta to all!

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Re: The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:44 am

Hi starter

If your library has Norman's "Collected Papers" (Vol 2, pp 187 - 193), you will see how the good professor artfully explains the bizarre language of Dh 97. Failing which, take a look at this paper which summarises Norman, as well as examine some of the Agama parallels to the Pali - http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... e-piya.pdf

Piya also discusses an even more extreme example from Dh 294. Hmm, one wonder's if the Zen "Kill the Buddha" might be an application of pun.

:anjali:
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Re: The translation of Dhammapada Verse 97

Postby starter » Fri Jun 06, 2014 2:18 pm

Hello Sylvester,

Thanks for your very helpful information. I like Piya Tan's translation of "hatâvakāsa" as “one who has destroyed the occasions (for quarrels or rebirth)”.

I also like the ancient Chinese translations of this verse:

"棄欲無著 缺三界障 望意已絕 是謂上人" [
9 Arahanta Vagga, 羅漢品 第十五 (十章) (Taish 210 vol 1, p 564n ll 11-12)36
"He who has given up craving and is detached
Who has broken the hindrances of the three spheres,
And whose desires are annihilated
—Is indeed a superior man. (Tr KL Dhammajoti, 1990:65)"

“無信無反復 穿牆而盜竊 彼(无)希望意 是名為勇士” [from Chinese Udāna,varga (出曜經)]
(Taish no 212, vol 1, p 759c ll 4-5)38
He is without faith and without repetition (sic),
breaks through walls as a burglar*,
having no desire*,
is called a valiant man. (*changed by me from the translations cited by Piya Tan)

Just to share with the friends. Metta to all!

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