danieLion wrote:So, are the (Chinese) Agamas inferior to the Pali manuscripts because the latter are "closer" to the language(s) the Buddha spoke?
Didn't the Buddha tell his followers that when they encountered other cultures to teach the dhamma in their language?
Do we have any records of the Buddha making any rules about which language his teachings should be preserved in?
1) I think the Chinese Agamas are very useful for sutta comparisons, gauging the authenticity of certain suttas, learning about early buddhism, but I do think more of the intended meaning of the discourses of the Buddha will be preserved in the Pali than in Chinese in virtue of the fact that Chinese is built upon a conceptual framework further removed from the one that the Buddha was working with when he taught dhamma.
2) Yes he did and I think that's very important, I certainly wouldn't know anything about the dhamma otherwise.
3) Not that I know of, and I think having english (or whatever language one speaks) translations is very important but that doesn't mean I think we should get rid of the Pali, because I think the Pali language can help inform us as to what the Buddha actually meant.
Once again, I'm not saying knowing Pali is necessary just that it could be helpful at times to understood the meaning of certain Pali words that have no english equivalent and that would require multiple words or paragraphs to explain in english due to the differences in the conceptual frameworks that the languages are based upon. For example, sankhara is a term that doing some research on can be helpful instead of just looking at the word fabrications and thinking that you know exactly what the Buddha meant when he used the word.
Further, one reason Pali can be helpful is because it provides umbrella terms that one can understand in relationship to multiple english words so that, for example, my use of the word sankhara will encompass the words fabrication, formation, construction, determination, arisen phenomena, impermanent, putting together, making, activities, conditions, conditioned things/phenomena, volitional formations, etc. So this is another reason that knowing Pali can be helpful.
I think I need to emphasize to you though that I am not saying that learning Pali is necessary at all to understand what the Buddha taught enough so that one could become a noble disciple. I'm just saying it can be helpful in gaining a deeper understanding than just reading english translations. Just as reading two english translations can be more helpful than reading one, reading the Pali translation on top of the two english translations can be more helpful than reading just the two english translations.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."
"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."