Pali and Sanskrit: some history

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Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:11 pm

(a recovered and edited E-Sangha post)

An approximate timeline:

1500 BC

OLD INDO-ARYAN

Vedic is the language of the Vedas, the earliest sacred texts of India. The earliest of the Vedas, the Rigveda, was composed in the 2nd millennium BC.

The Vedic is an early descendant of Proto-Indo-Iranian (spoken around 2000 BC), and still comparatively similar (being removed by maybe 1500 years) to the Proto-Indo-European language. Vedic is the oldest attested language of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. It is also still closely related to Avestan, the oldest preserved Iranian language.

600 BC

MIDDLE INDO-ARYAN

Vedic is preserved only in sacred recitation of Vedas. Many dialects have developed, including local dialects, like Magadhi (the language of Magadha region), and dialects of social groups, like Ardha-Magadhi (the language of upper castes in Magadha).

The Ardha-Magadhi is probably used as a ligua franca (language for cultural exchange, commerce and diplomacy) in a wide area of India beyond Magadha.
This language is preserved in Jain texts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism

Buddha probably uses Ardha-Magadhi for preaching.

"Pāli as a MIA language is different from Sanskrit not so much with regard to the time of its origin than as to its dialectal base, since a number of its morphological and lexical features betray the fact that it is not a direct continuation of Ṛgvedic Sanskrit; rather it descends from a dialect (or a number of dialects) which was (/were), despite many similarities, different from Ṛgvedic.[1] Some examples may help to illustrate this point [2]:..."

Pāli: A Grammar of the Language of the Theravāda Tipiṭaka
By Thomas Oberlies
page 6

http://books.google.com/books?id=zFc5_S ... frontcover

500 BC

Probaly the Indian Brahmanists feel the need to counteract the popularity of Buddha's teaching by propagating their knowledge. Indian grammarian Panini begins a project of resurrecting Vedic language (which he calls 'chandaso') in a form that can be widely used, and composes a grammar.

This new language later acquires a name "Sanskrit" ("refined"), and the vernaculars come to be called "Prakrits" ("natural").

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskrit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prakrit

Still Sanskrit is markedly different from Vedic in grammar and vocabulary.

200 BC

The development of Sanskrit allows to compose a big epic Mahabharata, and thus to propagate the traditional values among lower castes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata

Ardha-Magadhi is no longer spoken.
The language of Theravada canon comes to be known as 'Pali'.
Buddhist grammarians write down the rules of this language.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pali

100 CE

The wave of sanskritization reaches Buddhist scriptures, and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit develops

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_Hybrid_Sanskrit

The buddhist texts previously precerved in vernaculars are converted to Sanskrit.
Mahasanghika texts are an evidence of this stage, being written in partly sanskritized Prakrit.

However in Theravada the texts are preserved as much as possible in original form and not sanskritized.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:12 pm

Thomas Oberlies, 'Aśokan Prakrit and Pali', page 163:

1.1 The Middle Indo-Aryan languages

The Indo-Aryan languages are commonly assigned to three major groups - Old, Middle and New Indo-Aryan -, a linguistic and not strictly chronological classification as the MIA languages are not younger than ('Classical') Sanskrit. And a number of their morphophonological and lexical features betray the fact that they are not direct continuations of Ṛgvedic Sanskrit, the main base of 'Classical' Sanskrit; rather they descend from dialects which, despite many similarities, were different from Ṛgvedic and in some regards even more archaic.

MIA languages, though individually distinct, share features of phonology and morphology which characterize them as parallel descendants of Old Indo-Aryan. Various sound changes are typical of the MIA phonology:

(1) The vocalic liquids 'ṛ' and 'ḷ' are replaced by 'a', 'i' or 'u';
(2) the diptongs 'ai' and 'au' are monophthongized to 'e' and 'o';
(3) long vowels before two or more consonants are shortened;
(4) the three sibilants of OIA are reduced to one, either 'ś' or 's';
(5) the often complex consonant clusters of OIA are reduced to more readily pronounceable forms, either by assimilation or by splitting;
(6) single intervocalic stops are progressively weakened;
(7) dentals are palatalized by a following '-y-';
( 8 ) all final consonants except '-ṃ' are dropped unless they are retained in 'sandhi' junctions.

The most conspicious features of the morphological system of these languages are: loss of the dual; thematicization of consonantal stems; merger of the f. 'i-/u-' and 'ī-/ū-' in one 'ī-/ū-' inflexion, elimination of the dative, whose functions are taken over by the genitive, simultaneous use of different case-endings in one paradigm; employment of 'mahyaṃ' and 'tubhyaṃ' as genitives and 'me' and 'te' as instrumentals; gradual disappearance of the middle voice; coexistence of historical and new verbal forms based on the present stem; and use of active endings for the passive. In the vocabulary, the MIA languages are mostly dependent on Old Indo-Aryan, with addition of a few so-called 'deśī' words of (often) uncertain origin.

The most archaic of the MIA languages are the inscriptional Aśokan Prakrit on the one hand and Pāli and Ardhamāgadhī on the other, both literary languages.Two other stages of MIA may be distinguished, that of the Prakrits proper (excluding Ardhamāgadhī) and that of the Apabhraṃśa languages.

http://books.google.com/books?id=jPR2Ol ... #PPA163,M1
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:34 am

Sekha wrote:
Modern scholars suggest that Pali was probably never spoken by the Buddha himself.In the centuries after the Buddha's death, as Buddhism spread across India into regions that spoke different dialects, Buddhist monks increasingly depended on a common tongue for their discussions of Dhamma and their recitations of memorized texts. It was out of this necessity that the language we now know as Pali emerged.

http://www.peacehall.com/news/gb/englis ... 0400.shtml


viewtopic.php?f=29&t=4630#p73184

I have explored this popular opinion.

Here's what the modern scholars actually suggest.

Oskar von Hinüber writes in detail about the supposed absolutive endings and other hypothetical earlier Pali forms, which would conform to general phonetic pattern of Middle Indo-Aryan:

Pāli as an Artificial Language

http://www.indologica.com/volumes/vol10 ... inuber.pdf

Pāli: How Do We See It Eighty Years After Geiger’s Grammar?

http://books.google.com/books?id=dQTawXTc6vcC&pg=PA459

pp. 459-469

Pāli and Paiśācī as Variants of Buddhist Middle Indic

http://books.google.com/books?id=dQTawXTc6vcC&pg=PA505

pp. 505-521

Daniel Boucher quotes Norman and Bechert:

"K. R. Norman, for example, has argued: "It cannot be emphasized too much that all the versions of canonical Hinayana Buddhist texts which we possess are translations, and even the earliest we possess are translations of some still earlier version, now lost."(123) Heinz Bechert, on the other hand, has suggested that translation - a linguistic transfer between mutually unintelligible languages or dialects - is too strong a characterization of this process:
Some scholars believed that this transformation was a real "translation" of texts which at that time already existed as written literary texts. Others think - and I agree with them - that the transposition was no formalized translation. It was another kind of transformation from one dialect into another dialect, that took place in the course of a tradition, which was still an oral tradition, but had already entered the process of being formalized linguistically . . . .(124)

However, these positions are not necessarily as sharply opposed as they might first appear. Norman has shown that these "translations" were often carried out by scribes who applied certain phonetic rules mechanically.(125)"

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-EPT/daniel.htm

So essentially, scholars are talking about a probable "transposition" of certain consonant clusters - mostly the conversion of -(t)tā or -ṭṭha absolutive endings to -tvā and -svā.

In practice, this would mean minor differences in some words, and the supposed earlier form of Pali would be similar to the language of Hathigumpha inscription, as Kenneth Norman writes:

"It has been claimed in the case of Pali that as there are resemblances between it and the Girnar dialect of the Asokan inscriptions, and also between it and the language of the Hathigumpha inscriptions, Pali must have been the language of one or other of these two areas. A careful examination of the language of these inscriptions shows that Pali is not identical with either of them, and there is, moreover, some doubt about the language of the Girnar version of the Asokan inscriptions, since it is possible that it represents, in part at least, the scribe's attempt to convert the Eastern dialect he must have received from Pataliputra into what he thought was appropriate to the region in which the edict was being promulgated, rather than the actual dialect of that region. The language of the Hathigumpha inscription, although it agrees with Pali in the retention of most intervocalic consonants and in the nominative singular in -o, nevertheless differs in that the absolutive ending is -(t)tā, and with two doubtful exceptions there are no consonant groups containing -r-.

While it is not impossible that there existed in India in the third century B. C. an unattested dialect of Middle Indo-Aryan which had all the features of Pali, the fact that some of the consonant clusters found in Pali are unhistoric and must therefore represent incorrect attempts at backformation, e.g. disvā (which cannot be from dṛṣṭva) and atraja (which cannot be from ātmaja), makes it more likely that by the third century B.C. the dialect of the canonical texts of the Theravadins conformed to the general pattern of Middle Indo-Aryan dialects of that time, and all consonant clusters had either been assimilated or resolved. It is probable that this represented the form of the language of the Theravadin canon at the time of the reign of Asoka, which was perhaps the lingua franca of the Buddhists of Eastern India, and not very different from the language of the Hathigumpha inscriptions."

http://ahandfulofleaves.files.wordpress ... n_1983.pdf p. 5

For more details about the Hathigumpha inscription see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hathigumpha_inscription
http://gujaratisbs.webs.com/Abstracts%2 ... 20More.pdf
http://orissa.gov.in/e-magazine/Journal ... f/9-10.pdf
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:36 pm

Dmytro wrote:For more details about the Hathigumpha inscription see:

http://gujaratisbs.webs.com/Abstracts%2 ... 20More.pdf


For ease of reading, I've converted the inscription citations from Devanagari to IAST:

http://dhamma.ru/paali/MrGautamMore.html

As for the Asokan inscriptions, the theories that connect Pali with some of them, don't have a solid foundation.

Lance Cousins writes:

"If von Hinuber's work has a bias, it lies perhaps in a certain tendency to neglect or undervalue the results of English-language scholarship. Of course, in many ways this only redresses the balance, since English-language writing has all too often neglected work done in German! But it does have the result that this account is oddly conservative in places, sometimes to my mind unacceptably so. One example of this is von Hinuber's acceptance of the old claim that the inscriptions of the Emperor Asoka can be used to 'draw a very rough linguistic map of northern India' and that Pali is therefore 'rooted in a language spoken in western India far away from the homeland of Buddhism' (§ 7). Quite apart from the fact that we are here talking of minor differences of dialect, rather than the difference between distinct languages, it is clear that the variations between the inscriptions of Asoka in different parts of India (excluding the case of the North-West) may often be better accounted for by different scribal or epigraphic practices i.e. the degree to which it was felt necessary to adopt a more 'literary' form. Since Pali itself is a more literary form of Middle Indian, such practices can sometimes produce a result closer to Pali, but this may be nothing to do with geography."

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/di ... id=3672772

Richard Salomon writes about the inscriptions:

All in all, the Aśokan inscriptions give a broad view of the dialect spectrum of MIA vernaculars in the third century B.C. But it must also be understood that they do not provide anything like a real dialectal map of the time. For the geographical distribution of the dialects - especially of the eastern dialect - can hardly correspond with linguistic reality; the eastern dialect was obviously not the mother tongue of residents of the far north and the central south, though it was used for inscriptions (Kālsī, Eṛṛaguḍi, etc.) in those regions. Moreover, the languages as they are presented in the inscriptions are surely not exact renditions of the contemporary vernaculars.

...

After the Mauryan period there is a major shift in the linguistic features of the inscriptional Prakrits. The predominance of the eastern dialect of the Aśokan and other inscriptions of the Mauryan period ends abruptly; in fact, not a single inscriptional record in eastern dialect has been found from the post-Mauryan era. The dominant role in all regions except the northwest and Sri Lanka falls hereafter to a variety of Prakrit which most resembles, among the Aśokan dialects, the western dialect of the Girnār rock edicts, and which among literary languages has the most in common with Pāli and archaic forms of Śauraseni. In other words, this dialect partakes of the typical characteristics of the western and central MIA languages: nominative singular masculine in -o, retention of Sanskrit r and l, predominance of the sibilant s, and so on. Like the Aśokan Prakrits, this central-western epigraphic Prakrit is still relatively archaic, with only occasional intervocalic voicing of unvoiced stops and elision of voiced stops. But unlike some of the Aśokan inscriptions, consonant groups from Sanskrit are nearly always assimilated.

The causes of the abrupt dialectal shift from east to west undoubtedly lie in political and historical developments, that is, the decline of Magadha as the center of power in northern India after the collapse of the Mauryan empire and the movement of the center of political power in the following centuries toward the west and northwest. Like the eastern dialect under Aśoka, the central-western dialect of the post-Mauryan era was used far beyond what must have been its original homeland. Thus we find inscriptions in this standard epigraphic Prakrit as far afield as Orissa in the east, for instance, in the Hāthīgumphā inscription (SI 1.213-21), while in the south it is abundantly attested in inscriptions from such sites as Nāgārjunakoṇḍa and Amarāvatī. This central-western MIA dialect was, in fact, virtually the sole language in epigraphic use in the period in question, and therefore seems, like Pāli, to have developed into something like a northern Indian lingua franca, at least for epigraphic purposes, in the last two centuries B.C.

This is not to say that the inscriptions in this dialect, which Senart called "Monumental Prakrit", are totally devoid of local variations. ... But all in all, the standard epigraphic or "Monumental" Prakrit can be treated as essentially a single language whose use spread far beyond its place of origin, and which should not be taken to represent the local vernacular of every region and period where it appears.

R. Salomon - Indian Epigraphy: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the other Indo-Aryan Languages

So it turns out that Magadhi (Pali) as a lingua franca, in a somewhat modified form, encompassed as well many other regions of India, as evidenced by many inscriptions (including one in Hathigumpha).

Evidently the evolution of Magadhi as a state-supported lingua franca went through the following stages:
- Magadhi of Buddha's lifetime, preserved in the Pali texts - Haryanka dynasty;
- language of the Shishunaga and Nanda dynasties - not preserved;
- Magadhi of Asoka's edicts - Maurya dynasty;
- language of inscriptions from the dissolution of Maurya empire until the sanskritization - Satavahana and Mahameghavana dynasties. The latest of these inscriptions are dated by 3rd-4th centuries CE.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Qianxi » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:44 pm

Thanks, that's very interesting.

Dmytro wrote:Evidently the evolution of Magadhi as a state-supported lingua franca went through the following stages:
1 - Magadhi of Buddha's lifetime, preserved in the Pali texts - Haryanka dynasty;
2 - language of the Shishunaga and Nanda dynasties - not preserved;
3 - Magadhi of Asoka's edicts - Maurya dynasty;
4 - language of inscriptions from the dissolution of Maurya empire until the sanskritization - Satavahana and Mahameghavana dynasties. The latest of these inscriptions are dated by 3rd-4th centuries CE.


What is it that links Pali to stage 1 rather than just to stage 4?
The final extract from Salomon seems to associate Pali with the rise of western dialects after the fall of the Mauryan empire. The first summary you post suggests that the Buddha would have spoken Ardha-Magadhi for preaching, which I suppose would be an eastern dialect.

I wonder if we would expect the language of orally recited scripture to change as the language develops, or to preserve archaic forms.

How does Gandhari fit into this picture? Presumably the Gandhari texts we have come from period 4, during the use of Western Pali-like dialect as lingua franca. Gandhari is also part of that western dialect group I suppose?
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Wed Apr 02, 2014 4:11 am

Qianxi wrote:What is it that links Pali to stage 1 rather than just to stage 4?


These links are the Theravadin commentarial statements that Pali is Magadhi, and the similarity of Pali with the Arsha, the language of early Jain (Nigantha) canon, composed during the Buddha's lifetime by Mahavira. As Wilhelm Geiger wrote in the introduction to his book
"Pali Literature and Language":

"A consensus of opinion regarding the home of the dialect on which Pali is based has therefore not been achieved. Windish therefore falls back on the old tradition - and I am also inclined to do the same - according to which Pali should be regarded as a form of Magadhi, the language in which Buddha himself had preached. This language of Buddha was however surely no purely popular dialect, but a language of the higher and cultured classes which had been brought into being already in pre-Buddhistic times through the needs of intercommunication in India. Such a lingua franca naturally contained elements of all dialects, but was surely free from the most obtrusive dialectical characteristics. It was surely not altogether homogeneous. A man from Magadha country must have spoken it in one way, and a man from the districts of Kosala and Avanti in another, just as in Germany the high German of a cultured person from Wurttemberg, Saxony or Hamburg shows in each case peculiar characteristic features. Now, as Buddha, although he was no Magadhan himself, displayed his activities mainly in Magadha and the neighbouring countries, the Magadhi dialect might have imprinted on his language its own characteristic stamp. This language could have therefore been called Magadhi even if it avoided the grossest dialectical peculiarities of this language. As Windish has rightly pointed out, after the death of the master, a new artificial language must have been evolved out of the language of the Buddha. Attempts were made to retain the teachings of the Buddha in authentic form, and to impose this form also upon those portions which, although derived from the monastic from the monastic organizations in various provinces, were gradually incorporated in the canon. In connection with the designation of the canonical language as Magadhi, Windish also refers to Aar.sa, the language of the Jaina-suttas. It is called Ardha-Magadhi, i.e. "half-Magadhi". Now it is surely significant that the Ardha-Magadhi differs from Magadhi proper on similar points as Pali. For Ardha-Magadhi too does not change the r into l, and in the noun inflexion it shows the ending -o instead of Magadhic -e at least in many metrical pieces. On the other hand, as I believe to have myself observed, there are many remarkable analogies precisely between Aar.sa and Pali in vocabulary and morphology. Pali therefore might be regarded as a kind of Ardha-Magadhi. I am unable to endorse the view, which has apparently gained much currency at present, that the Pali canon is translated from some other dialect (according to Luders, from old Ardha-Magadhi). The peculiarities of its language may be fully explained on the hypothesis of (a) a gradual development and integration of various elements from different parts of India, (b) a long oral tradition extending over several centuries, and (c) the fact that the texts were written down in a different country.

I consider it wiser not to hastily reject the tradition altogether but rather to understand it to mean that Pali was indeed no pure Magadhi, but was yet a form of the popular speech which was based on Magadhi and which was used bu Buddha himself. it would appear therefore that the Pali canon represents an effort to reflect the Buddhavacanam in its original form. This theory would have been refuted if it could be proved that the Pali canon must have been translated from some other dialect. Sylvain Levi has tried to prove this. He points out a number of termini such as ekodi, sa.mghaadisesa, etc., in which a sonant appears in the place of a surd. From these data he infers the existence of a pre-canonical language in which the softening of intervocalic surds was the rule. I do not consider Levi's arguments to be convincing. Firstly, because all these etymologies given by Levi are uncertain. Secondly, because the softening of the surds takes place not only in the "termini" but also in a large number of other words. Moreover, in my opinion, no special case should be made out of this phonological phenomenon. For they merely represent one of the various dialectical peculiarities which are also met with in Pali. Thus, for instance, we find equally frequent cases of the opposite process (hardening of a sonant) as well as various other features which considered together prove the mixed character of tha Pali language.

If Pali is the form of Magadhi used by the Buddha, then the Pali canon would have to be regarded as the most authentic form of the Buddhavacanam, even though the teachings of the master might have been preached and learnt from the very beginning in the various provinces of India in the respective local dialects. The conclusion has been drawn -- wrongly, in my opinion, -- from Culavagga V.33.1 = Vin II.139. Here it is related, how two Bhikkhus complained to the master that the members of the order were of various origins, and that they distorted the words of Buddha by their own dialect (sakaaya niruttiyaa). They therefore proposed that the words of Buddha should be translated into Sanskrit verses (chandaso). Buddha however refused to grant the request and added: anujaanaami bhikkhave sakaaya niruttiyaa buddhavacanam pariyaapu.nitum. Rhys-Davids and Oldenberg translate this passage by 'I allow you, oh brethren, to learn the words of the Buddha each in his own dialect.' This interpretation however is not in harmony with that of Buddhaghosa, according to whom it has to be translated by "I ordain the words of Buddha to be learnt in _his_ own language (i.e.Magadhi, the language used by Buddha himself)." After repeated examination of this passage I have come to the conclusion that we have to stick to the explanation given by Buddhaghosa. Neither the two monks or the Buddha himself could have thought of preaching in different cases in different dialects. Here the question is merely whether the words of Buddha migth be translated into Sanskrit or not. This is however clearly forbidden by the Master, at first negatively and then positively by the injunction beginning with 'anujaanaami'. The real meaning of this injunction is, as is also best in consonance with Indian spirit, that there can be no other form of the words of Buddha than in which the Master himself had preached. Thus even in the life-time of Buddha people were concerned about the way in which the teaching might be handed down as accurately as possible, both in form and in content. How much more must have been the anxiety of the disciples after his death! The external form was however Magadhi, thought according to tradition it is Pali."

Also it's noteworthy that the Hathigumpha inscription, which is the closest to Pali as we know it, has been made by the Jain emperor of Mahameghavana dynasty. This also confirms the link of Pali with Arsha.

The final extract from Salomon seems to associate Pali with the rise of western dialects after the fall of the Mauryan empire. The first summary you post suggests that the Buddha would have spoken Ardha-Magadhi for preaching, which I suppose would be an eastern dialect.


Salomon writes that the Aśokan inscriptions do not provide anything like a real dialectal map of the time. The inscriptions represent not real dialects, but the state-supported lingua franca. That's why with the change of dynasties, the language of inscriptions abruptly changes. As Salomon writes:

"After the Mauryan period there is a major shift in the linguistic features of the inscriptional Prakrits. The predominance of the eastern dialect of the Aśokan and other inscriptions of the Mauryan period ends abruptly; in fact, not a single inscriptional record in eastern dialect has been found from the post-Mauryan era."

I wonder if we would expect the language of orally recited scripture to change as the language develops, or to preserve archaic forms.


Evidently, Pali, as a language of recited scripture, underwent a transition to standardized word forms and formulas. I call this "stylization".
Magadhi, as a live state-supported lingua franca, went a way of slow natural evolution.

How does Gandhari fit into this picture? Presumably the Gandhari texts we have come from period 4, during the use of Western Pali-like dialect as lingua franca. Gandhari is also part of that western dialect group I suppose?


The dialects of the first three periods have not been preserved. Asokan edicts represent the state-supported lingua franca of Maurya dynasty.
Gandhari is perhaps the earliest preserved local language. But the country where this language was spoken, Gandhara, lies far to the North, in modern-day northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. During the Buddha's lifetime, Gandhara has been governed by king Pushkarasakti, and then taken over by Iranian Achaemenid Empire.

So Gandhari is just a local language, which evidently is akin to the languages of area where Buddha preached.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Qianxi » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:42 am

Wilhelm Geiger wrote:The conclusion has been drawn -- wrongly, in my opinion, -- from Culavagga V.33.1 = Vin II.139. Here it is related, how two Bhikkhus complained to the master that the members of the order were of various origins, and that they distorted the words of Buddha by their own dialect (sakaaya niruttiyaa). They therefore proposed that the words of Buddha should be translated into Sanskrit verses (chandaso). Buddha however refused to grant the request and added: anujaanaami bhikkhave sakaaya niruttiyaa buddhavacanam pariyaapu.nitum. Rhys-Davids and Oldenberg translate this passage by 'I allow you, oh brethren, to learn the words of the Buddha each in his own dialect.' This interpretation however is not in harmony with that of Buddhaghosa, according to whom it has to be translated by "I ordain the words of Buddha to be learnt in _his_ own language (i.e.Magadhi, the language used by Buddha himself)." After repeated examination of this passage I have come to the conclusion that we have to stick to the explanation given by Buddhaghosa. Neither the two monks or the Buddha himself could have thought of preaching in different cases in different dialects. Here the question is merely whether the words of Buddha migth be translated into Sanskrit or not. This is however clearly forbidden by the Master, at first negatively and then positively by the injunction beginning with 'anujaanaami'. The real meaning of this injunction is, as is also best in consonance with Indian spirit, that there can be no other form of the words of Buddha than in which the Master himself had preached.


Here are some parallels to this story preserved in Chinese. Obviously, the historical layers in texts preserved in Chinese are even more complex than those in Pali texts. Nevertheless, I think it's interesting to compare. Some of the versions (eg. the Haimavata Vinaya mātikā) agree with the Rhys-Davids/Oldenberg interpretation, others I suppose could be read as supporting the Buddhaghosa/Geiger interpretation. These texts are also interesting as little historical snapshots of the relationship between Vedic and/or Sanskrit and the language of Buddhist recitation at various times and places. (Sometimes the texts refer to Vedic, sometimes to Chandaso, sometimes to 'refined language', Sanskrit.)

 《毗尼母经》卷四:

  有二婆罗门比丘,一字乌嗟呵,二字散摩陀,往到佛所,白世尊言:“佛弟子中,有种种姓,种种国土人,种种郡县人,言音不同,语既不正,皆坏佛正义。唯愿世尊听我等依阐陀至持论,撰集佛经,次比文句,使言音辩了,义亦得显。”佛告比丘:“吾佛法中不与美言为是。但使义理不失,是吾意也。随诸众生应与何音而得受悟,应为说之。”是故名为随国应作。

In the Haimavata Vinaya mātikā

There were two Brahman Bhikkhus, named Usaha and Samadha, who went to the Buddha and said to him, "The disciples of the Buddha come from different castes of different places in different countries. Their language is not the same and their pronunciation is incorrect, and thus they distorted the right teachings of the Buddha. May the Blessed One allow us to carry out debates and compile the scriptures according to the Chandas way, so that the sentences may be arranged in order and the pronunciations corrected, in order to unveil the teachings of the Buddha." The Buddha told the Bhikkhus, saying, "In my teachings emphasis is not laid on rhetoric. What I mean is that the doctrines should not be misunderstood. They should be taught in any language which is understood by the people, according to their suitability." Therefore, his teachings were taught according to the circumstances of the land.

  《四分律》卷五十二:

  时有比丘字勇猛,婆罗门出家,往世尊所,头面礼足,却坐一面,白世尊言:“大德,此诸比丘众姓出家,名字亦异,破佛经义。愿世尊听我等以世间好言论修理佛经。”佛言:“汝等痴人,此乃是毁损,以外道言论而欲杂糅佛经。”佛言:“听随国俗言音所解,诵习佛经。

In the Dharmagupta-vinaya, Vol. LII:

There was a Bhikkhu named Bravery, who was the descendant of a Brahman family. He came to the presence of the Buddha, and after having worshipped him, he sat aside and said to the Blessed One, "Venerable Sir, the Bhikkhus come from different castes and have different names. They misinterpreted the teachings of the Buddha. May the Blessed One permit us to rearrange the Buddhist scriptures in Sanskrit." The Buddha said, "You are fools! That would be a defacement to mix the Buddhist scriptures with a heretical language." He further said, "Recite the scriptures in the language of the country according to the custom of the people."

  《五分律》卷二十六:

  有婆罗门兄弟二人,诵阐陀鞞陀书,后于正法出家。闻诸比丘诵经不正,讥呵言:“诸大德久出家,而不知男女语、一语多语、现在过去未来语、长短音、轻重音,乃作如此诵读佛经。”比丘闻羞耻。二比丘往至佛所,具以白佛。佛言:“听随国音诵读,但不得违失佛意,不听以佛语作外书语,犯者偷兰遮。”

In the Mahisasaka-vinaya, Vol. XXVI:

There were two Brahman brothers who were versed in the Chandas-veda and later became monks in the Buddhist Order. They heard that the Bhikkhus were reciting the scriptures in an improper way, and said to them scornfully, "You venerable sirs have become monks for a long time, and yet you don't know the masculine and feminine genders, the singular and plural numbers, the present, past and futrue tenses, the long and short vowels, and the heavy and light acents. In such a way you are reciting the scriptures!" The Bhikkhus were ashamed to hear this remark, and the brothers went to the Buddha and reported the case to him. The Buddha said, "They are allowed to recite the scriptures in their own native tongue, only that they should not misunderstand the Buddha's meaning. No one is allowed to mix the Buddha's word with a heretical language. One who acted contrarily would be considered as having committed the offence sthulatyaya."

  《十诵律》卷三十八:

  佛在舍卫国。有二婆罗门,一名瞿婆,二名夜婆,于佛法中笃信出家。本诵外道四围陀书。出家已,以是音声诵佛经。时一人死,一人独在,所诵佛经,忘不通利。更求伴不得,心愁不乐,是事白佛。佛言:“从今以外书音声诵佛经者,突吉罗。

In the Sarvāstivāda-vinaya, Vol. XXXVIII:

Once the Buddha was in Sravasti. There were two Brahmans, one being names Gopa and the other one, Yapa, who had a devout faith in Buddhism and become Buddhist monks. They had formerly learned the heretical four Vedas, and after having become monks they recited the Buddhist scriptures with Vedic intonations. Then one of them died, and the one who was alive forgot some passages of the scriptures and could not recite them fluently. He could not find a companion and was unhappy of it. Thus he told it to the Buddha, who said to the monks, "From now onwards anyone who recites the Buddhist scriptures with a heretical intonation will be considered as having committed the offence of Dukkata."

  《根本说一切有部毗奈耶杂事》卷六:

  缘处同前。时尊者舍利子与二婆罗门子而为出家,一名牛授,二号牛生。二人悉教读诵经教。后时此二人共游人间,至一聚落,多获利养,便住此村。时彼二人先学婆罗门歌咏声法。由串习故,今时诵读作本音辞。时彼一人遇病,忽然身死。其现存者既溺忧心,经多废忘。即便还诣室罗伐城,入逝多林。既停息已,便诣尊者憍陈如所。礼敬事毕,白言:“尊者,可共温经。”答言:“善哉!我为汝诵。”既诵少多,报言:“尊者所诵经典,文皆谬误,声韵不长,致有所阙。”答言:“子我从先来如是习诵。”即便辞礼,更别往诣马胜、跋陀罗、大名、婆涩波、名称、晡律拿、牛主、毗摩罗、善臂、罗怙罗。既至彼已,白言:“尊者,共我温经。”答曰:“善哉!我为汝诵。”既诵少多,广如前说,乃至辞礼,遂诣尊者舍利子所。既礼敬已,白言:“邬波驮耶,可共温经。”答曰:“善哉!我为汝诵。”同诵之时,长引声韵。其舍利子声更倍长。白言:“大师,自余尊老,诵习皆谬。唯独亲教,音句无差。”报言:“汝愚痴人,自为谬误,谤余智者,不善诵经。彼诸大德,咸非谬误。”既被挫折,默尔无言。时诸苾刍以缘白佛。佛作是念:“苾刍诵经,长牵音韵,作歌咏声。有如是过。由是苾刍不应歌咏引声而诵经法。若苾刍作阐陀声诵经典者,得越法罪。若方国言音,须引声者,作时无犯。”

In the Mūlasarvāstivāda-nikāya-vinaya-samyuktavastu, Vol VI:

Once the Buddha was in Sravasti. At that time the Ven. Sāriputra ordained two Brahmans into the Order. One of them was called Ox-given and the other one, Ox-born. Both of them studied the recitation of Buddhist scriptures. Afterwards they travelled about and came to a village, where they obtained many offerings and took up their lodgings there. Now these two persons had formerly learned the pronunciation method of Brahmanic hymns. So when they recited the Buddhist scriptures, they habitually followed their old method. Then one of them suddenly died of illness. The one who was living was grieved by the death of his friend, and forgot most of the scriptures through negligence. Thus he returned to Srāvasti and came to the Jetavana Grove. After having taken rest, he went to see the Ven. Kaundinya, to whom he paid his respect and said, "Venerable Sir, let us review the scriptures together." "Very well, I shall recite them for you," was the reply. After the elder had recited some passages of the scriptures, the monk said to him, "Venerable Sir, your recitation of the scriptures is mistaken. The vowels are not pronounced as long ones, and so there is something missing." The elder said in reply, "I have always recited the scriptures in this way." Thus the monk took his leave and went to see Asvajit, Bhadra, Mahānāma, Vasas, Yaśas, Pārna, Gavāmpati, Vimala, Subāhu and Rāhula, to each of whom he said, "Venerable Sir, let us review the scriptures together." "Very well, I shall recite the scriptures for you," was the reply. After the elder had recited some passages, etc. etc., the monk took his leave and went to see the Ven. Sāriputra, to whom he paid his respect and said, "Upādhyāya, let us review the scriptures together." While they were reciting the scriptures together the monk elongated the vowels, and Sāriputra pronounced them with double length. The monk said, "Venerable teacher, all the other elders are mistaken in their recitation. Only you, Venerable teacher, are correct in pronunciation and grammar." Sāriputra said to him, "You are a fool. You are mistaken yourself, and yet you slander those wise men, saying that they do not know how to recite the scriptures. None of the elders is mistaken in the recitation." Having been rebuked, the monk remained silent. Then the monks reported this to the Buddha, who thought in his mind, "All this trouble is caused by the elongation of vowels in the way of singing hymns when the monks recite the scriptures. Therefore the monks should not elongate the vowels in the way of singing hymns when they recite the scriptures. Any monk who recites the scriptures in the Chandas way shall be considered as committing a transgression. But one is not considered so, if the vowels are elongated according to his own dialect."


(from an article by Ji Xianlin (English) http://www.tuninst.net/LANG-RELIG/Lang- ... m#fn13-01b
(Chinese) http://www.guoxue.com/xzcq/ddxz/jixianlin/ysfjdyywt.htm )

The obvious possible bias is that these are texts taken from India to Central Asia then translated to Chinese. Of course they will try to interpret them as saying that the Buddha encouraged translation. Nevertheless I think lots of interesting Indian historical details have survived in these passages. Which precise time and place in history those details belong to is another question!
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:01 pm

Thank you, very interesting. Indeed, translators are inclined to think that translation is commended.

Here's an article by Jayarava regarding the link of Pali and Magadhi:

Asoka, Pāli, and some red herrings
http://jayarava.blogspot.ru/2009/02/aso ... gs_13.html
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Kare » Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:25 pm

To me it is baffling to see that none of the respected scholars quoted here seem to be aware of the problem of Magadha/Magadhi.

None of them ask these questions:

What was Magadha/Magadhi at the time of the Buddha?
What was Magadha/Magadhi at the time of Asoka?
What did the Sri Lankans regard as Magadha/Magadhi at the time of the arrival of the Pali texts in Sri Lanka?
What was Magadha/Magadhi at the time of the commentaries?
What was Magadha/Magadhi at the time of the literary Prakrits?

I have suggested a scenario that may be the reply to these questions. My scenario may be wrong, but I have not seen anyone else discuss this topic or suggest another scenarios. Everyone seems to take it for a fact that Magadha/Magadhi was a fixed and unchangeable unit, and do not see how this may be problematic.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:02 pm

Thank you, Kare, your valuable contributions:

viewtopic.php?f=29&t=4630&p=284570#p284570
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=9686&p=148914#p148914
viewtopic.php?f=29&t=4630&p=70785#p70785

complement what I would like to emphasize: that Magadhi, identified with Pali, is not a local language, but rather a lingua franca of an extensive territory.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby bharadwaja » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:29 pm

What was Magadha/Magadhi at the time of the Buddha?

Magadha was a kingdom, however the canon (or indeed any other literature originating in pre-christian era India) do not refer to a national language either of Magadha, or of Kosala or of any other specific kingdom. The name Pali appears to be wholly unknown. The dialects of Old-Indic had not yet been standardized by the grammar of Panini.

The -dha suffix of the name Magadha seems to be unstable and was sometimes dropped, and the m was sometimes pronounced as a v (both being labial consonants and interchangeable) or dropped altogether - thus giving us three names of the same country - Magadha, Vanga & Anga (the medial nasal also seems to be unstable). Magadha seems to be an old name, Anga is also relatively old but not as old, Vanga replaced both. The Magadha country was invaded by the Macedonians under Alexander, its capital Patala/Patali was sacked by Alexander (who establishes an "Alexandria" on his way to Kosala and Magadha i.e. now called Kandahar), and apparently a large population transfer took place to the east. In later times, both the names Magadha and Anga were lost, and the population that moved east reconstituted themselves as the new Vanga kingdom (now called Banga i.e. the region of Bengal and Bangladesh).

What was Magadha/Magadhi at the time of Asoka?


I am not certain about this, but in Ashoka's time, there seems to be the old western Magadha (corresponding to the modern states of Gujarat, southern Rajasthan and southern Sindh) and another Magadha to the east (parts of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa) which is not still recognized as the real Magadha, but speaks almost the same language as the western Magadha. The Buddhists leaving to Sri Lanka leave from the western Magadha initially but in later times (i.e. in the common era), there seems to be a lot of population transfer from the eastern Magadha as well.

Even in Ashoka's time, there is no language called Magadhi in evidence i.e. Magadha does not have a national language.

What did the Sri Lankans regard as Magadha/Magadhi at the time of the arrival of the Pali texts in Sri Lanka?


The people who migrated from Magadha (the western one) took the canon with them, but they dont call their language magadhi. However in the later Sri Lankan tradition, which remembered their ancestors as being immigrants from Magadha, called their language Magadhi. In the Indian mainland however, there was no language called Magadhi.

What was Magadha/Magadhi at the time of the commentaries?


At this time, the spread of Buddhism (and more specifically the invention and spread of writing for which Buddhist monks were well known) causes the language of the canon to acquire a distinct identity, it now gets a name called Paisachi in India (and Pali-bhasa in Lanka). The derivatives of Paisachi are called the Prakrits, and are frequently contrasted with the Old-Indic grammatical standard of Panini (which comes to be called Sanskrit). Pali/Paisachi itself (although grouped with the Prakrits with whom it shares some features) is not usually used in literature or called a prakrit on its own. It continues to have a distinct (and uniquely Buddhist) identity. The language of the Jains which was originally identical to that of the Buddhists also contributes to the development of the Prakrits but (similar to Pali) is not used in any other literature. The prakrits are divided into 3 regional groups - Maharashtri (the southern dialect), Sauraseni (the prakrit of the north-west and north-central regions) and Magadhi (the prakrit of the new Magadha i.e. north-eastern Vanga)

What was Magadha/Magadhi at the time of the literary Prakrits?


This is the same as the time of the commentaries i.e. mid to late 1st millenium CE.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:39 am

arhat wrote:The -dha suffix of the name Magadha seems to be unstable and was sometimes dropped, and the m was sometimes pronounced as a v (both being labial consonants and interchangeable) or dropped altogether - thus giving us three names of the same country - Magadha, Vanga & Anga (the medial nasal also seems to be unstable).


That's untrue. See:
http://www.aimwell.org/DPPN/anga.htm
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby bharadwaja » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:38 pm

Dmytro wrote:
arhat wrote:The -dha suffix of the name Magadha seems to be unstable and was sometimes dropped, and the m was sometimes pronounced as a v (both being labial consonants and interchangeable) or dropped altogether - thus giving us three names of the same country - Magadha, Vanga & Anga (the medial nasal also seems to be unstable).

That's untrue. See:
http://www.aimwell.org/DPPN/anga.htm

I am aware of DPPN's entry for Anga, having read it earlier. I still disagree with it's author's speculations (he was a Sri Lankan who probably didnt know much about ancient India or its linguistic history), for etymologically speaking --- Anga, Vanga and Magadha are to me the same name spelt differently by different people and at different times - like Espana vs Spain.

DPPN says of Anga -
"In the Buddha's time it was subject to Magadha, whose king Bimbisāra was, we are told, held in esteem also by the people of Anga" and
"We never hear of its having regained its former independence" and also
"The people of Anga and Magadha are generally mentioned together, so we may gather that by the Buddha's time they had become one people".

So what the DPPN is speculating is that though Anga and Magadha were one country in the Buddha's time, and Anga never evidently became independent of Magadha later, it may have been independent of Magadha before the time of the Buddha (although we know nothing about the pre-Buddhist history of Anga from the canon). So these speculations of Anga being different from Magadha in the DPPN, contradict the evidence that the DPPN itself puts forward.

Another similar case is the name of the country Vamsa (= Vatsa/Vaccha = Matsya). Yet another one is Vajji (=Licchavi). Etymologically, these are the same names, although to a person who isn't well up on Indian historical linguistics, these would be hard to understand or agree with.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:26 pm

Hello Kare,

Kare wrote:To me it is baffling to see that none of the respected scholars quoted here seem to be aware of the problem of Magadha/Magadhi.


Are you familar with a a book:

Greater Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India, by Johannes Bronkhorst

"Greater Magadha, roughly the eastern part of the Gangetic plain of northern India, has so far been looked upon as deeply indebted to Brahmanical culture. Religions such as Buddhism and Jainism are thought of as derived, in one way or another, from Vedic religion. This belief is defective in various respects. This book argues for the importance and independence of Greater Magadha as a cultural area until a date close to the beginning of the Common Era. In order to correct the incorrect notions, two types of questions are dealt with: questions pertaining to cultural and religious dependencies, and questions relating to chronology. As a result a modified picture arises that also has a bearing on the further development of Indian culture."

https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=31537
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Kare » Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:01 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hello Kare,

Kare wrote:To me it is baffling to see that none of the respected scholars quoted here seem to be aware of the problem of Magadha/Magadhi.


Are you familar with a a book:

Greater Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India, by Johannes Bronkhorst


It looks quite interesting. Up till now I have resisted the temptation to buy it, since it is a bit expensive, but I have been sorely tempted. Now the question is: Shall I continue to resist this temptation, in the best Dhammic spirit? Or shall I just fall and order it? :)
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby manjughosamani » Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:41 pm

Hi Kare,

You can read the majority, if not all, of the text online here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/207362992/Bronkhorst-J-Greater-Magadha-Studies-in-the-Culture-of-Early-India

All the best.
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Atha nibbindati dukkhe esa maggo visuddhiyā.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Kare » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:49 pm

manjughosamani wrote:Hi Kare,

You can read the majority, if not all, of the text online here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/207362992/Bronkhorst-J-Greater-Magadha-Studies-in-the-Culture-of-Early-India

All the best.


Thank you very much, manjughosamani! :anjali:
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Kare » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:11 pm

I am reading Bronkhorst's book now. It is interesting, but from what I till now have seen, it does not address the questions I specified. Bronkhorst has a different focus for his writing.
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Dmytro » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:32 pm

Lance Cousins writes:

"The standard epigraphical language used in the Gangetic plain and beyond in the last centuries B.C. and a little after was a form of Middle Indian rather close to Pali. We have no reason to believe that any other written language existed in that area at that time. Like Pali it is eclectic with word-forms originally from different dialectics and also with no standardized spelling (as was probably originally the case for Pali). So the first Buddhist texts written down in that area should have been in that form. Since the enlarged kingdom of Magadha eventually extended over nearly the whole Gangetic plain, that language was probably called the language of Magadha, if it had a name. And that of course is the correct name of the Pali language.

Pali is essentially a standardized and slightly Sanskritized version of that language. Māgadhī is a language described by the Prakrit grammarians and refers to a written dialect that developed later (early centuries A.D. ?) from the spoken dialect in some part of 'Greater Magadha'.

In effect, then, Pali is the closest we can get to the language spoken by the Buddha. And it cannot have been very different — we are talking about dialect diferences here, not radically distinct languages."

http://www.buddha-l.org/archives/2013-May/018487.html
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Re: Pali and Sanskrit: some history

Postby Kare » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:17 pm

Dmytro wrote:Lance Cousins writes:

"The standard epigraphical language used in the Gangetic plain and beyond in the last centuries B.C. and a little after was a form of Middle Indian rather close to Pali. We have no reason to believe that any other written language existed in that area at that time. Like Pali it is eclectic with word-forms originally from different dialectics and also with no standardized spelling (as was probably originally the case for Pali). So the first Buddhist texts written down in that area should have been in that form. Since the enlarged kingdom of Magadha eventually extended over nearly the whole Gangetic plain, that language was probably called the language of Magadha, if it had a name. And that of course is the correct name of the Pali language.

Pali is essentially a standardized and slightly Sanskritized version of that language. Māgadhī is a language described by the Prakrit grammarians and refers to a written dialect that developed later (early centuries A.D. ?) from the spoken dialect in some part of 'Greater Magadha'.

In effect, then, Pali is the closest we can get to the language spoken by the Buddha. And it cannot have been very different — we are talking about dialect diferences here, not radically distinct languages."

http://www.buddha-l.org/archives/2013-May/018487.html


Thank you. It is interesting to see that Lance Cousins has the same general idea of the Pali/Magadhi question as I have.
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