Nagasena's wrong speech?

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Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Individual » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:32 pm

Just noticed something.

From the Brahmajala Sutta

Or he might say: Whereas some recluses and Brahmans, while living on food provided by the faithful, continue addicted to the use of wrangling phrases [61] such as
...

"Disentangle yourself if you can." [67]

The 67th footnote reads:
So the author of Milinda in making his hero Nàgasena use just such a phrase (Mil. P. 27) is making him commit a breach of propriety.


By this, I think they mean when on the Milinda-Panda, Nagasena says:

"Now let You Majesty get out of that if you can!"

Would you agree that this is a "breach of propriety"? And also, why should we assume, as the translator of the above sutta does, that the author is misquoting Nagasena, rather than us merely misinterpreting Nagasena's words?

Consider the context of Nagasena's words, leading up to his "breach of propriety."

Are we to understand the "wrangling phrases" as literal or contextual? :)
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Re: Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:16 am

Hi Individual,

"Now let You Majesty get out of that if you can!"


“Idāni kho tvaṃ, mahārāja, sakkonto bhāsassa!”

I.B. Horner translates it much more literally: Now do you, sire, speak if you can!”

But the phrase is spoken by the five hundred Yonakas (Bactrians), not by Nāgasena. Even if it had been spoken by Nāgasena, it is not the mere speaking of such phrases that is disapproved in the Brahmajāla Sutta, but rather "dwelling addicted" (anuyutta viharati) to doing so.

The Brahmajāla Sutta's phrase, “untangle yourself if you can!” (nibbeṭhehi vā sace pahosi) is occasionally used by the Buddha himself, for example in his debate with Saccaka.

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    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
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Re: Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:10 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Individual,

"Now let You Majesty get out of that if you can!"


“Idāni kho tvaṃ, mahārāja, sakkonto bhāsassa!”

I.B. Horner translates it much more literally: Now do you, sire, speak if you can!”

But the phrase is spoken by the five hundred Yonakas (Bactrians), not by Nāgasena. Even if it had been spoken by Nāgasena, it is not the mere speaking of such phrases that is disapproved in the Brahmajāla Sutta, but rather "dwelling addicted" (anuyutta viharati) to doing so.

The Brahmajāla Sutta's phrase, “untangle yourself if you can!” (nibbeṭhehi vā sace pahosi) is occasionally used by the Buddha himself, for example in his debate with Saccaka.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Thanks. :)
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Re: Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:41 am

Dhammanando wrote:But the phrase is spoken by the five hundred Yonakas (Bactrians), not by Nāgasena. Even if it had been spoken by Nāgasena, it is not the mere speaking of such phrases that is disapproved in the Brahmajāla Sutta, but rather "dwelling addicted" (anuyutta viharati) to doing so.


How do you mean dwelling addicted?
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Re: Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:45 am

Hi Manapa,

Manapa wrote:How do you mean dwelling addicted?


I take the Buddha to mean that the recluses and brahmins in question are subject to a recurring psychological compulsion to engage in disputation, thereby diverting and distracting themselves from the pursuits that are more proper to their station.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:22 pm

Hmm. I see to have misread the Malinda-Panha.

The 500 Greeks thereupon applauded the Venerable Nagasena and said to King Milinda: "Now let You Majesty get out of that if you can!"

Based on that, now I can't even figure out what the footnote above is even talking about.
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Re: Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:35 pm

Hi Bhante

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Manapa,

Manapa wrote:How do you mean dwelling addicted?


I take the Buddha to mean that the recluses and brahmins in question are subject to a recurring psychological compulsion to engage in disputation, thereby diverting and distracting themselves from the pursuits that are more proper to their station.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


I see.
I suppose you could also call it an addiction to a certain behaviour which distracts from the task at hand? your words reminded me of a psychological term but besides OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) I can not think what it is, I know I am not imagining it but will re-reply if I remember later
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Re: Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:42 pm

Hi Individual,

Individual wrote:Based on that, now I can't even figure out what the footnote above is even talking about.


I can't either, but the passage you cited is the only one on page 27 of the PTS romanized Milinda that is even remotely related to the behaviour disapproved in the Brahmajāla. Perhaps the translator was just having a bad hair day.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Nagasena's wrong speech?

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:50 pm

Hi Manapa,

Manapa wrote:I suppose you could also call it an addiction to a certain behaviour which distracts from the task at hand?


It does do that, but it causes a great many other akusala states too. The Atthakavagga (Octet Chapter) of the Suttanipata is an important source of Suttas dealing with the issues of addiction to disputation and attachment to views, and the harm that ensues from this:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/index.html

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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