Pali Term: Dukkha

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Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby Dmytro » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:06 pm

Hello Pali friends,

To interpret this key term, it's worthwhile to investigate the context where another word is used in place of 'dukkha', Bhara sutta:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

This parallel with 'bhāra' (burdern, load) helps to understand "dukkha" as something diffucult to bear, a hardship. This is also an etymological origin of this word, where "du" refers to "difficult, hard", and "kha" to "bear, endure".

An article from Monier-Willams dictionary:

1 duHkha 1 mfn. (according to grammarians properly written %{duS-kha} and said to be from %{dus} and %{kha} [cf. %{su-kha4}] ; but more probably a Pra1kritized form for %{duH-stha} q.v.) uneasy , uncomfortable , unpleasant , difficult R. Hariv. (compar. %{-tara} MBh. R.) ; n. (ifc. f. %{A}) uneasiness , pain , sorrow , trouble , difficulty S3Br. xiv , 7 , 2 , 15 Mn. MBh. &c. (personified as the son of Naraka and Vedana1 VP.) ; (%{am}) ind. with difficulty , scarcely , hardly (also %{at} and %{ena}) MBh. R. ; impers. it is difficult to or to be (inf.with an acc. or nom. R. vii , 6 , 38 Bhag. v , 6) ; %{duHkham} - %{as} , to be sad or uneasy Ratn. iv , 19/20 ; - %{kR} , to cause or feel pain Ya1jn5. ii , 218 MBh. xii , 5298.
2 duHkha 2 Nom. P. %{-khati} , to pain SaddhP.

http://webapps.uni-koeln.de/tamil/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukkha

Theare are also other contexts where "bhāra"is equated with "dukkha":

Bhāra [fr. bhṛ, Vedic bhāra; cp. bhara] 1. anything to carry, a load Vin iii.278 (Bdhgh; dāru˚ a load of wood). bhāraŋ vahati to carry a load A i.84; VvA 23. -- garu˚ a heavy load, as "adj." "carrying a heavy load" J v.439 (of a woman,=pregnant). -- bhāratara (adj.<-> compar.) forming a heavier load Miln 155. -- Cp. ati˚, sam˚. -- 2. a load, cartload (as measure of quantity) VvA 12 (saṭṭhi -- sakaṭa˚ -- parimāṇa); PvA 102 (aneka˚parimāṇa). -- 3. (fig.) a difficult thing, a burden or duty, i. e. a charge, business, office, task, affair Vism. 375; J i.292; ii.399; iv.427; vi.413; DhA i.6, 111. Several bhārā or great tasks are mentioned exemplifying the meaning of "gambhīra" & "duddasa" (saccāni) at VbhA 141, viz. mahā -- samuddaŋ manthetvā ojāya nīharaṇaŋ; Sineru -- pādato vālikāya uddharaṇaŋ; pabbataŋ pīḷetvā rasassa nīharaṇaŋ. -- 4. (fig.) in metaphors for the burden of (the factors of renewed) existence (the khandhas and similar agents). Esp. in phrase panna -- bhāra "one whose load (or burden) has been laid down," one who has attained Arahantship M i.139; A iii.84; S i.233; Dh 402 (=ohita -- khandha -- bhāra DhA iv.168); Sn 626 (same expln at SnA 467), 914 (expld as patita -- bhāra, oropita˚, nikkhitta˚ Nd1 334, where 3 bhāras in this sense are distinguished, viz. khandha˚, kilesa˚, abhisankhāra˚); Th 1, 1021. So at Vism 512 with ref. to the ariya -- saccāni, viz. bhāro= dukkha -- saccaŋ, bhār' ādānaŋ=samuda -- saccaŋ, bhāranikkhepanaŋ=nirodha -- s., bhāra -- nikkhepan'upāya = magga.

http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :3550.pali

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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby son of dhamma » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:01 pm

Dukkha is also referred to in the Pali Canon as aging, sickness, death, sorrow :weep: , grief :embarassed: , woe, lamentation :cry: , and despair :o ; in other words that which arises dependently of birth (dependent origination). Dukkha is our immediate experience of suffering. (1st Noble Truth)
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby frank k » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:03 pm

Did the term dukkhā have common usage among regular folks before the Buddha adopted it as a noble truth?
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:10 pm

frank k wrote:Did the term dukkhā have common usage among regular folks before the Buddha adopted it as a noble truth?


Apparently so:

Sargeant, et. al. (2009: p. 303) provides the etymology of the Sanskrit words sukha and duḥkha:

It is perhaps amusing to note the etymology of the words sukha (pleasure, comfort, bliss) and duḥkha (misery, unhappiness, pain). The ancient Aryans who brought the Sanskrit language to India were a nomadic, horse- and cattle-breeding people who travelled in horse- or ox-drawn vehicles. Su and dus are prefixes indicating good or bad. The word kha, in later Sanskrit meaning "sky," "ether," or "space," was originally the word for "hole," particularly an axle hole of one of the Aryan's vehicles. Thus sukha … meant, originally, "having a good axle hole," while duhkha meant "having a poor axle hole," leading to discomfort.[2]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukkha#Etymology
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby frank k » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:16 pm

I listened to a dhamma talk recently where Ven. Dhammadipa gave the etymology of dukkhā as "being born under a bad sky". I assumed it was a common term predating the Buddha, as well as nibbana, arahant, etc.
-Frank

David N. Snyder wrote:
frank k wrote:Did the term dukkhā have common usage among regular folks before the Buddha adopted it as a noble truth?


Apparently so:

Sargeant, et. al. (2009: p. 303) provides the etymology of the Sanskrit words sukha and duḥkha:

It is perhaps amusing to note the etymology of the words sukha (pleasure, comfort, bliss) and duḥkha (misery, unhappiness, pain). The ancient Aryans who brought the Sanskrit language to India were a nomadic, horse- and cattle-breeding people who travelled in horse- or ox-drawn vehicles. Su and dus are prefixes indicating good or bad. The word kha, in later Sanskrit meaning "sky," "ether," or "space," was originally the word for "hole," particularly an axle hole of one of the Aryan's vehicles. Thus sukha … meant, originally, "having a good axle hole," while duhkha meant "having a poor axle hole," leading to discomfort.[2]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukkha#Etymology
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:24 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Sargeant, et. al. (2009: p. 303) provides the etymology of the Sanskrit words sukha and duḥkha:

It is perhaps amusing to note the etymology of the words sukha (pleasure, comfort, bliss) and duḥkha (misery, unhappiness, pain). The ancient Aryans who brought the Sanskrit language to India were a nomadic, horse- and cattle-breeding people who travelled in horse- or ox-drawn vehicles. Su and dus are prefixes indicating good or bad. The word kha, in later Sanskrit meaning "sky," "ether," or "space," was originally the word for "hole," particularly an axle hole of one of the Aryan's vehicles. Thus sukha … meant, originally, "having a good axle hole," while duhkha meant "having a poor axle hole," leading to discomfort.[2]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukkha#Etymology

Interestingly, this very quote is being discussed over on ZFI:
http://www.zenforuminternational.org//p ... =6&p=79342
Huifeng wrote:So, despite the claims of this definition of the ill-fitting wheel, still no credible Buddhist source for it at this point in the thread.

A few pointers at dictionaries, however, and a reference to an annotated translation of the Bhagavad Gita here which is still uncited and unreferenced. (None of the classic commentaries on this verse of the Gita make any mention of such an etymology.)

Later he comments:
Huifeng wrote:I have only seen this definition online. I've never encountered it in any Buddhist written material, be it classical or modern.
As for the number of hits, there is a very standard notion in scholarship that says "sources are weighed, not counted". This is especially important in the internet age. I'm not a fan of "consensus reality", or "democratic epistemology", in the sense of "lots of people say it, so it must be true".

Interesting, since this meaning does seem to be part of the folklore of modern Buddhism...

However, since this is the Pali Forum, does anyone have any evidence for the "ill fitting wheel" meaning based on the ancient Buddhist texts?

:anjali:
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby cooran » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:02 pm

Hello all,

My teacher, Patrick Kearney, has discussed this during a Retreat and said that this term literally translates as a badly fitting axle in a wheel. The sense of a “difficult
grind” helps to provide meaning to this translation.

I'll see if I can get any more detailed references to the origin.

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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:04 am

Hi Chris,

Yes, Patrick is one of the many who mention that entymology. The question, in the context of the Pali Forum, is whether there are sound references for that derivation, or whether it is an idea that has become popular. Since I'm not expert on Pali I can't comment one way or the other.

I can't see it mentioned in the PDS dictionary: http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :2483.pali

I did find this reference:
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/atta/ad03.htm
In Sanskrit, the word duḥkham is derived from a prefix duḥ plus ka meaning wheel with an ill-sorted hub and spokes[13], thus duḥkha (adj) means unharmonious or conflicting, ill-functioning or distressful.

[13] [13] Prof. Kalupahana: “A History of Buddhist Philosophy”, University of Hawaii Press 1992; Delhi 1994. P. 95

Unfortunately, the Google Books preview doesn't include that page: http://books.google.nl/books?id=SlDArya ... &q&f=false

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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby cooran » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:11 am

Thanks Mike.

Unfortunately I can't check with Patrick for some considerable time as he is on Retreat in Malaysia until early March. :tongue:

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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:37 pm

Anything wrong with translating dukkha as "frustration"?

Merriam-Webster wrote:Frsutration: a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/frustration
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby Dmytro » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:24 am

Hi Buckwheat,

Buckwheat wrote:Anything wrong with translating dukkha as "frustration"?


This refers just to the mental part, while dukkha is of two kinds: one originated from the contact of 'mano', and one originated from the contact of other five sense doors.


Katamañca bhikkhave dukkhaṃ: yaṃ kho bhikkhave kāyikaṃ dukkhaṃ kāyikaṃ asātaṃ kāyasamphassajaṃ dukkhaṃ asātaṃ vedayitaṃ, idaṃ vuccati bhikkhave dukkhaṃ.

Katamañca bhikkhave domanassaṃ: yaṃ kho bhikkhave cetasikaṃ dukkhaṃ cetasikaṃ asātaṃ manosamphassajaṃ dukkhaṃ asātaṃ vedayitaṃ, idaṃ vuccati bhikkhave domanassaṃ.


"And what is pain? Whatever is experienced as bodily pain, bodily discomfort, pain or discomfort born of bodily contact, that is called pain.

"And what is distress? Whatever is experienced as mental pain, mental discomfort, pain or discomfort born of mental contact, that is called distress.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby piotr » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:49 am

Hi,

mikenz66 wrote:
In Sanskrit, the word duḥkham is derived from a prefix duḥ plus ka meaning wheel with an ill-sorted hub and spokes[13], thus duḥkha (adj) means unharmonious or conflicting, ill-functioning or distressful.

[13] [13] Prof. Kalupahana: “A History of Buddhist Philosophy”, University of Hawaii Press 1992; Delhi 1994. P. 95

Unfortunately, the Google Books preview doesn't include that page: http://books.google.nl/books?id=SlDArya ... &q&f=false


Here's the quote:

    The term for happiness is sukha (etymologically explained as su-kha, meaning “having a good axle-hole,” that is, a vehicle moving smoothly without constraints).

    — David J. Kalupahana, A history of Buddhist philosophy : continuities and discontinuities, p.95
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby Dmytro » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:28 pm

Hi,

piotr wrote:[list]The term for happiness is sukha (etymologically explained as su-kha, meaning “having a good axle-hole,” that is, a vehicle moving smoothly without constraints).


This is one of two explanations from Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary:

sukh/a [L=245611] mfn. (said to be fr. 5. su + 3. kha , and to mean originally " having a good axle-hole " ; possibly a Prakrit form of su-stha q.v. ; cf. duHkha) running swiftly or easily (only applied to cars or chariots , superl. sukh/a-tama) , easy RV.

duHkh/a 1 [p= 483,2] [L=93403] mfn. (according to grammarians properly written duSh-kha and said to be from dus and kha [cf. su-kh/a] ; but more probably a Prakritized form for duH-stha q.v.) uneasy , uncomfortable , unpleasant , difficult R. Hariv. (compar. -tara MBh. R. )

duHstha

duH--stha [p= 483,2] [L=93370] mfn. " standing badly " , unsteady , disquieted (lit. and fig.)
uneasy , unhappy , poor , miserable Pur. Ra1jat.
ignorant , unwise , a fool L.
covetous W.
duH--stham [L=93374] ind. badly , ill
with √sthaa , to be unwell Amar. 29.

http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier/

I also think that the explanation "duH-stha" - 'hard to stand (endure)' - is more probable.

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Etymology of 'dukkha'

Postby LinLin64 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 2:46 pm

I was listening to The Enlightened Brain' by Rick Hanson (a series of CDs) in which he says that the pali word dukkha is composed of

Du - meaning not good
Kha - meaning where the hub of a wheel meets an axle.

He offers an understanding of dukkha that is a wobbliness, an unsatisfactory-ness.

Is that the correct translation of the roots of the word? I find it an interesting and helpful translation, but would like to know if it is indeed correct.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Etymology of 'dukkha'

Postby rowboat » Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:53 pm

LinLin64 wrote:I was listening to The Enlightened Brain' by Rick Hanson (a series of CDs) in which he says that the pali word dukkha is composed of

Du - meaning not good
Kha - meaning where the hub of a wheel meets an axle.

He offers an understanding of dukkha that is a wobbliness, an unsatisfactory-ness.

Is that the correct translation of the roots of the word? I find it an interesting and helpful translation, but would like to know if it is indeed correct.

Thanks in advance.


Yes, that is correct. I would prefer to discard the 'wobbliness' interpretation and emphasize that a poorly set axle will wear and grind against its casing. If you imagine the thing you can almost hear it. Also, experientially, after deep meditation, that is how dukkha feels. So there is a just so quality to the word dukkha.

Here is a previous thread on the etymology of the word dukkha: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6077

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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby Kumara » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:29 am

Dmytro wrote:Hello Pali friends,

To interpret this key term, it's worthwhile to investigate the context where another word is used in place of 'dukkha', Bhara sutta:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This parallel with 'bhāra' (burdern, load) helps to understand "dukkha" as something diffucult to bear, a hardship. This is also an etymological origin of this word, where "du" refers to "difficult, hard", and "kha" to "bear, endure".

Thanks. I've been wondering about this of late. If kha is "bear, endure" (which we can relate with khamati), how would sukha fit in? Easy to bear?
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby bharadwaja » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:55 am

A very interesting question. Sukha/Dukkha distinction seems to be related to the axle-wheel of an ox-cart.

When the axle is in place, the cart moves smoothly (with sukha/equanimity). Else it rattles/wobbles (with dukkha/flux).

These words are probably so old i.e. going back to Proto-Indo-European times that they may have meant other things at other times.
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby Dmytro » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:48 am

Kumara wrote:Thanks. I've been wondering about this of late. If kha is "bear, endure" (which we can relate with khamati), how would sukha fit in? Easy to bear?


According to Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary:

sukh/a [L=245611] mfn. (said to be fr. 5. su + 3. kha , and to mean originally " having a good axle-hole " ; possibly a Prakrit form of su-stha q.v. ; cf. duHkha) running swiftly or easily (only applied to cars or chariots , superl. sukh/a-tama) , easy RV.
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby binocular » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:25 am

Ven. Thanissaro mentioned once that explaining "dukkha" with the axle of a wheel analogy can give rise to the idea that the key to happiness is to have a well-fitting and greased axle; that the key to happiness is to make sure that the wheel runs smoothly on the axle. As opposed to doing away with the cycling altogether.
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Re: Pali Term: Dukkha

Postby Dmytro » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:09 am

binocular wrote:Ven. Thanissaro mentioned once that explaining "dukkha" with the axle of a wheel analogy can give rise to the idea that the key to happiness is to have a well-fitting and greased axle; that the key to happiness is to make sure that the wheel runs smoothly on the axle. As opposed to doing away with the cycling altogether.


Peace and tranquility in the eye of a hurricane.

Seems like "dukkha" and 'sukha" are homonyms with two very different meanings: one originates from the "kha" - "axle-hole", and another from "stha" - "standing , staying , abiding , being situated in , existing or being in or on or among".
The first meaning is having a bad or good axle-hole, and the second is suffering or happiness.
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