Transmittance of quotes

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Transmittance of quotes

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:07 am

Hi all,

I wanted to ask this in another topic, but thought it would lead us astray. So here is a question for you all:

I wonder how were the quotes in the suttas transmitted and then written down? The suttas often quote different speakers one by one, without introducing who is talking every time, like:
"blabla"
-"hoho"
"tada"

Now, in the written down versions we can see who is talking by the quotes. But how was it back when there was no written language and the suttas were transmitted orally? And did the earliest written version of the suttas already have these quotes or were they added later?

I mean, it could also be:
"blabla, hoho"
- "tada"

Often it is obvious who says what, but as a background: This came up because of DN 11 and MN 49. There the Buddha and Brahma talk together and I know that in one of these suttas in some of the versions of the Pali canon the infamous "featureless consciousness / consciousness without surface" is attributed to the Brahma instead of the Buddha, which to me makes much more sense. Venerable Sujato discussed this on his blog. So I wanted to investigate where the versions of the canon departed in their quotations and if this may change the way the suttas should be read.

Thanks for anything you can add,

Reflection
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Re: Transmittance of quotes

Postby cooran » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:09 am

Hello reflection, all,

This previous thread may be of use:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10099&p=154397

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Re: Transmittance of quotes

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:38 am

Thank you cooran.

Now I found out the written texts that survived are much more recent than the original versions - the oldest surviving transcripts are from around 1500. We will never know what exactly what happened in 1500 years. We probably won't know what the first written down version was like, but perhaps other texts from that time can say something? Also maybe something is known about how a oral transmittance was written down.

Or were the quotes even later? I wonder whether the 1500's transcripts already had quotes in them.

Wikipedia says:
In Early Modern English, quotation marks were used only to denote pithy comments. They first began to quote direct speech in 1714. By 1749, single quotation marks, or inverted commas, were commonly used to denote direct speech.[5]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark


But that's about English, and of course there are other ways to indicate who says what. So what about the 1500's versions? For that I don't know enough and I hope someone can help. Was such a system used?

For now it seems to me: It seems at some point in time somebody decided to attribute quotes to certain speakers. It could have been at the writing down of the suttas, or it could be (much) later. So if we read the suttas, ideally we should be careful of this and read difficult passages as if the quotation marks aren't there.
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Re: Transmittance of quotes

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:39 am

Just to clarify the background a bit:

The only other time in the Suttas that the ‘non-manifest consciousness’ is mentioned is in MN 49 Brahmanimantanika. There, according to Analayo, the Sri Lankan, Thai, and English editions of the Pali attribute the phrase to Brahma, not the Buddha, while only the Burmese attributes it to the Buddha. (The commentary attributes it to the Buddha and says it refers to Nibbana; Burmese texts are notorious for incorporating ‘corrected’ readings from the commentary.)
http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/ ... E1%B9%87a/


So while the Burmese says:
Buddha: "'Having directly known the all as the all,[8] and having directly known the extent of what has not been experienced through the allness of the all, I wasn't the all, I wasn't in the all, I wasn't coming forth from the all, I wasn't "The all is mine." I didn't affirm the all. Thus I am not your mere equal in terms of direct knowing, so how could I be inferior? I am actually superior to you.'

Brahma: "'If, good sir, you have directly known the extent of what has not been experienced through the allness of the all, may it not turn out to be actually vain and void for you.'

Buddha: "'Consciousness without surface,
endless, radiant all around,
has not been experienced through the earthness of earth ... the liquidity of liquid ... the fieriness of fire ... the windiness of wind ... the allness of the all.'[9]

Brahma: "'Well then, good sir, I will disappear from you.'

Buddha: "'Well then, brahma, disappear from me if you can.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


But the Thai, English and Sri Lankan say (based on PTS edition as I see it):
Buddha: "'Having directly known the all as the all,[8] and having directly known the extent of what has not been experienced through the allness of the all, I wasn't the all, I wasn't in the all, I wasn't coming forth from the all, I wasn't "The all is mine." I didn't affirm the all. Thus I am not your mere equal in terms of direct knowing, so how could I be inferior? I am actually superior to you.'

Brahma: "'If, good sir, you have directly known the extent of what has not been experienced through the allness of the all, may it not turn out to be actually vain and void for you.'

'Consciousness without surface,
endless, radiant all around,
has not been experienced through the earthness of earth ... the liquidity of liquid ... the fieriness of fire ... the windiness of wind ... the allness of the all.'[9]

'Well then, good sir, I will disappear from you.'

Buddha: "'Well then, brahma, disappear from me if you can.'


So where did this difference come from? How old is the use of quotations? The fact that versions of the canon are different already implies those quotes are not really reliable, but perhaps we can find out a bit more.

(I don't want to directly talk about "consciousness without surface" here, this is just what made me come up with the questions. But there may well be more cases like this.)

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Re: Transmittance of quotes

Postby Sylvester » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:32 am

Hi reflection

If your query is directed towards the stuff encased in quotation marks in the suttas, here are some thoughts. The quotation marks are known as "iti" clitics. They are found only at the end of the quote.

In Middle Indo Aryan eg Pali, they have 2 principal functions. The most common would be reporting speech or thoughts. They are also used as subject or object complementisers that are equivalent to the function played by "that". You can see this in the anapanasati instructions. A rarer usage is to report sacca or truths, eg in the First Sermon.

The usage of speech reports is not limited to the Pali suttas. Their Chinese parallels are also replete with speech reports. This should go quite some way in proving that the Indic materials had a common stock of reported speech.

If you look at the Commentaries, it is also packed with iti clitics. What's quoted there are the sutta words or phrases.

Finally, as to the age of quotes, there is nothing late or original in the suttas' use of iti clitics to report speech. Check out the pre-Buddhist Upanisads. The conversations are also reported with the aid of iti markers.
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Re: Transmittance of quotes

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:38 am

Ah, so that's what the iti or 'ti does. Thanks Sylvester. So they could be as old as when the oral suttas were first compiled. As you notice my pali knowledge is not so big. (I should do a course one day) In case of the example it means that some versions of the canon have iti and others don't, apparently.

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Re: Transmittance of quotes

Postby Sylvester » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:49 am

I suspect that the misplacements of the iti clitics became more pronounced when the suttas were put into manuscript.

When it was still transmitted orally, the reciters may have been able to divide the speech parts among themselves.. but by and large, you probably will not notice the misplaced iti markers. This only becomes obvious when you are a field researcher looking at original MSS. If you are consulting critical editions, the editors would have exercised judgment to correct the iti placements.
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Re: Transmittance of quotes

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:47 pm

Thanks, this clarifies a lot.

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