Very interesting find - translating atthaṅgama as "setting down" definition does indeed lead to a less definitive outcome... it feels
to have similar connotations to unbind, release etc.
A broader survey of translations however gives a somewhat different feel...
- Nyanasatta translates it as "passing away" in his translation of Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10) - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nysa.html
- Tzungkuen Wen also translates it as "passing away" in "A Study of Sukkhavipassaka in Pāli Buddhism" - http://tkwen.theravada-chinese.org/A%20 ... _final.pdf
- Piya Tan translates it as "ending" here in his translation of Ca Dhamma Samādāna Sutta - http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 5-piya.pdf
- Nanamoli &/or Bodhi translate it is "disappearance" here - http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh390-u.html
- "Decay" here - https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct= ... NvlymWgVJg
- according to Google's search results, but the site is presently down
- A condensed transcript of an S.N. Goenka Sattipathana course discourse translates it as "eradicated" at one point and "annihilation, disappearance" at another - http://zencohen.us/?p=456
Finally, the Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary says... http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... 1:539.pali
Attha2 (nt.) [Vedic asta, of uncertain etym.] home, primarily as place of rest & shelter, but in P. phraseology abstracted from the "going home", i. e. setting of the sun, as disappearance, going out of existence, annihilation, extinction. Only in acc. and as ˚ -- in foll phrases: atthangacchati to disappear, to go out of existence, to vanish Dh 226 (= vināsaŋ natthibhāvaŋ gacchati DhA iii.324), 384 (= parikkhayaŋ gacchati); pp. atthangata gone home, gone to rest, gone, disappeared; of the sun (= set): J i.175 (atthangate suriye at sunset); PvA 55 (id.) 216 (anatthangate s. before sunset) fig. Sn 472 (atthagata). 475 (id.); 1075 (= niruddha ucchinṇa vinaṭṭha anupādi -- sesāya nibbāna -- dhātuyā nibbuta); It 58; Dhs 1038; Vbh 195. -- atthagatatta (nt. abstr.) disappearance SnA 409. -- atthangama (atthagama passim) annihilation, disappearance; opposed to samudaya (coming into existence) and synonymous with nirodha (destruction) D i.34, 37, 183; S iv.327; A iii.326; Ps ii.4, 6, 39; Pug 52; Dhs 165, 265, 501, 579; Vbh 105. -- atthagamana (nt.) setting (of the sun) J i.101 (suriyass' atthagamanā at sunset) DA i.95 (= ogamana). -- attha -- gāmin, in phrase udayɔ atthagāmin leading to birth and death (of paññā): see udaya. -- atthaŋ paleti = atthangacchati (fig.) Sn 1074 (= atthangameti nirujjhati Nd2 28). -- Also atthamita (pp. of i) set (of the sun) in phrase anatthamite suriye before sunset (with anatthangamite as v. l. at both pass.) DhA i.86; iii.127. -- Cp. also abbhattha.
Since the PTS Dictionary is correct in that it is juxtaposed against samudaya, it made sense also to look up its opposite... http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... li.1852640
Samudaya [saŋ+udaya] 1. rise, origin D i.17; ii.33, 308; iii.227; A i.263 (kamma˚); Vin i.10; Sn p. 135; It 16 (samuddaya metri causa) etc. dukkha˚ the origin of ill, the second ariya -- sacca, e. g. D iii.136; A i.177; Vism 495 (where samudaya is expld in its parts as sam+ u+aya); VbhA 124. -- 2. bursting forth, effulgence (pabhā˚) J i.83. -- 3. produce, revenue D i.227.
Anyway, your discovery also prompted me to do some further digging on the other sutta upon which this perspective primarily resides.
AN 3.47-3.48 wrote:"Monks, these three are fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated. Which three? Arising is discernible, passing away is discernible, alteration (literally, other-ness) while staying is discernible.
"These are three fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated.
"Now these three are unfabricated characteristics of what is unfabricated. Which three? No arising is discernible, no passing away is discernible, no alteration while staying is discernible.
"These are three unfabricated characteristics of what is unfabricated."
‘‘Tīṇimāni, bhikkhave, saṅkhatassa saṅkhatalakkhaṇāni. Katamāni tīṇi? Uppādo paññāyati, vayo paññāyati, ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ paññāyati. Imāni kho, bhikkhave, tīṇi saṅkhatassa saṅkhatalakkhaṇānī’’ti. Sattamaṃ.
‘Tīṇimāni, bhikkhave, asaṅkhatassa asaṅkhatalakkhaṇāni. Katamāni tīṇi? Na uppādo paññāyati, na vayo paññāyati, na ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ paññāyati. Imāni kho, bhikkhave, tīṇi asaṅkhatassa asaṅkhatalakkhaṇānī’’ti. Aṭṭhamaṃ.
Regarding this, I came across the following... http://www.nibbanam.com/nibbana_sermon2e.htm
Nanananda, in Nibbana Sermons wrote:In the Section-of-the-Threes in the Aṅguttara Nikāya the three characteristics of a saṅkhata are explained in this order: Uppādo paññāyati, vayo paññāyati, ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ paññāyati, "an arising is manifest, a passing away is manifest and an otherwise-ness in the persisting is manifest."
This implies that the persistence is only apparent and that is why it is mentioned last. There is an otherwise-ness even in this apparently persistent. But later scholars preferred to speak of three stages as uppāda, ṭhiti, bhaṅga, "arising, persistence and breaking up". However the law of impermanence could be sufficiently understood even with the help of two words, itthabhāva and aññathābhāva, this-ness and otherwise-ness. Very often we find the Buddha summing up the law of impermanence in the two words samudaya and vaya, "arising" and "passing away".
There is an apparent contradiction in the phrase ṭhitassa aññathatta, but it reminds us of the fact that what the world takes as static or persisting is actually not so. The so-called `static' is from beginning to end an otherwise-ness. Now if we are to relate this to the two links jāti and jarāmaraṇaṃ in paṭicca samuppāda, we may say that as soon as one is born the process of otherwise-ness sets in.
[i] A I 152, Saïkhatalakkhaõasutta.
 E.g. at Ps IV 88.
 E.g. at M I 56, Satipaññhànasutta.