Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:39 pm

Dhamma is a Pali word but Pali does not have a script of its own. It uses the script of various languages where the Dhamma is being taught. The Tipitaka was an oral tradition and written down in the first century BCE in Pali. But several hundred years before that, King Ashoka had many edicts written in Pali using the Brahmi script. Listed below is the word Dhamma written in ten major scripts. Notice that the Brahmi script has the first character which makes the "Dha" sound and is almost identical to our letter "D."

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:38 am

Thanks David!
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:35 am

I tried to learn Devanagari (particularly the sanskrit language) for a couple of weeks but it was just SO hard for my feeble western-conditioned mind. I love the Brahmi script!

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby appicchato » Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:26 am

TheDhamma wrote:1. ...Pali does not have a script of its own.
2....written down in the first century BCE in Pali.


So, which is it?... :smile:

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby Kare » Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:43 pm

The Sinhalese seems to be wrong. The first character is an "E", not a "dh". And the "m" should be doubled.

Maybe someone also could add the Thai, Burmese and Khmer versions?
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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:15 pm

appicchato wrote:
TheDhamma wrote:1. ...Pali does not have a script of its own.
2....written down in the first century BCE in Pali.


So, which is it?... :smile:


Hi Bhante,

What I meant was that there is an oral language of Pali, but with no script of its own. The Tipitaka was written down in the first century BCE in the oral Pali language and using the Sinhalese script.

It would be sort of like writing the Arabic word for peace using Roman letters, such as, "salaam." The language is Arabic, but the script writing it is Roman in this example. Of course there is a script for Arabic, but if there were not the language could have been written using another script, such as the Roman letters.

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:20 pm

Kare wrote:The Sinhalese seems to be wrong. The first character is an "E", not a "dh". And the "m" should be doubled.


Hi Kare,

You're probably right. I should check with a Sri Lankan monk. I retrieved those letters from:

http://www.ancientscripts.com/sinhala.html

If you look at the characters on that site, the first one shows it as a dha with an accent mark under the d and the second character shows the ma sound. Perhaps the character below that making the dha sound without the accent mark is the correct one?

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby Kare » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:34 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
Kare wrote:The Sinhalese seems to be wrong. The first character is an "E", not a "dh". And the "m" should be doubled.


Hi Kare,

You're probably right. I should check with a Sri Lankan monk. I retrieved those letters from:

http://www.ancientscripts.com/sinhala.html

If you look at the characters on that site, the first one shows it as a dha with an accent mark under the d and the second character shows the ma sound. Perhaps the character below that making the dha sound without the accent mark is the correct one?


Yes, I was mistaken. The first character is not an "E", but a ".dha", with the point below the "d". Sorry (I have not read texts in Sinhalese characters for quite a while - I usually read Pali in either Roman or Thai characters). But for the word "dhamma" we need the "dha" without the point below. And for doubling the "m" to get "mma" it is usual to put two "m" characters close together and split the upward "tail" of the first of the two "m" characters.
Mettāya,
Kåre

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:41 pm

Kare wrote:Yes, I was mistaken. The first character is not an "E", but a ".dha", with the point below the "d". Sorry (I have not read texts in Sinhalese characters for quite a while - I usually read Pali in either Roman or Thai characters). But for the word "dhamma" we need the "dha" without the point below. And for doubling the "m" to get "mma" it is usual to put two "m" characters close together and split the upward "tail" of the first of the two "m" characters.


Okay, thanks for that information!

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:45 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote: I love the Brahmi script!


Me too! I love how the D is the same as our D. Brahmi script from one of Ashoka's edicts:

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:40 pm

Kare wrote:And for doubling the "m" to get "mma" it is usual to put two "m" characters close together and split the upward "tail" of the first of the two "m" characters.


I have tentatively updated the image so that it has the double-m, but have an e-mail out to a Sri Lankan friend so that I can accurately find out how to display the tail you are referring to.

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby vitellius » Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:00 pm

Hi,

Cyrillic variant is missing one "m". Here's correct one: "Дхамма".

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby Kare » Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:35 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
Kare wrote:And for doubling the "m" to get "mma" it is usual to put two "m" characters close together and split the upward "tail" of the first of the two "m" characters.


I have tentatively updated the image so that it has the double-m, but have an e-mail out to a Sri Lankan friend so that I can accurately find out how to display the tail you are referring to.


Yes, you need that extra marking on the first "m". As it stands now, it can rather be read "dhamama".
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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:57 pm

Oleksandr wrote:Hi,
Cyrillic variant is missing one "m". Here's correct one: "Дхамма".


Okay, thanks. I'll update that when I also update the Sinhalese version.

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:00 pm

Kare wrote:Yes, you need that extra marking on the first "m". As it stands now, it can rather be read "dhamama".


:D

That sounds sort of like dhamma-mama. :tongue:

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby zavk » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:21 am

Hmmmm..... it never occurred to me that Dhamma in Chinese is 正 法. That's very interesting. I've only known of Buddhism in Chinese as 佛 教 --- the first character signifies 'Buddha' or 'Bodhi' whilst the second character signifies 'teaching' or 'religion'. So 佛 教 really connotes something like 'Bodhi teaching' or the 'Buddha religion'. Read in this manner, 佛 教 has a certain specificity--and some might say, an institutionalism--about it.

正 法 on the other hand is much broader, like the word Dhamma (as opposed to Buddhism). The first character signifies: 'just (right); main; upright; straight; correct; principle'.

The Chinese script is pictorial in nature, and uses ideograms. So unlike English and other alphabet-based languages, ideograms are often combinations of different characters and can convey multiple meanings, often in poetic ways.

So looking at the character we can speculate on why it signifies 'just, upright, principle,' and so forth. It is is composed of five straight lines, each at a right angle to one another. There is a certain symmetry to the character. It reminds me of mandala patterns.

The second character signifies: 'law; method; way'.

is made up of two components. On the left are three strokes. These three strokes do not stand alone as a character themselves. But they are usually added to other characters as a kind of 'modification' to shift the meaning. The three strokes signify an association with water (although the three strokes themselves do not form the character for 'water'). When added to characters they suggest connotations of fluidity or smoothness.

To the right of the three strokes is which signifies: 'to go; to leave; to remove'. I'm trying to speculate on why this character signifies 'to go' and so forth. It occurred to me that it looks like the outline of a boat: it has a broad base and with a vertical line at the top that resembles a mast. So might connote a sense of being 'ferried across water' or 'that which moves fluidly'.

But this character when combined with other characters signify things as diverse as 'sleeve opening', 'to exercise', 'a pen (that which surrounds)'. So my reading of it as symbolizing a boat could be totally wrong.

Therefore we could say that 正 法 means something like 'the upright/principled/correct way (or law or method)'. And following my speculations about the character as connoting 'fluid ferrying', 正 法 then coincides with the Buddha's simile of the raft, which describes the Dhamma as the 'right teaching that takes one across the river, and which removes one from the shore of suffering and brings them to the shore of awakening.'

India and China are both ancient civilizations. It is likely that the word Dhamma and the Chinese characters that are later used to express Dhamma developed separately. If so, it is fascinating how when the Buddha's teaching eventually reached China, the languages (and thus modes of thinking) so readily support one another.

(BTW, I'm not an expert with the Chinese language. I am, in fact, pretty bad at it. But it is my cultural ancestry and I do have a decent grasp of these basic words. I am NOT trained in Chinese linguistics; these are just speculations on what little I know. Because of my interest in Chan/Zen, I've been curious about how Chinese characters can uniquely express the Dhamma in ways that the English language is unable to. Hopefully, you find this interesting too. :smile: )

EDIT: Just realised this is the Pali forum. This is not quite Pali... sorry.
Last edited by zavk on Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
With metta,
zavk

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby Jechbi » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:33 am

Don't forget "hammaday."

translation from here
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:43 am

zavk wrote:(BTW, I'm not an expert with the Chinese language. I am, in fact, pretty bad at it. But it is my cultural ancestry and I do have a decent grasp of these basic words. I am NOT trained in Chinese linguistics; these are just speculations on what little I know. Because of my interest in Chan/Zen, I've been curious about how Chinese characters can uniquely express the Dhamma in ways that the English language is unable to. Hopefully, you find this interesting too. :smile: )


Yes, very interesting! I'm not a linguistics expert either, but it does fascinate me. :ugeek: Maybe because I lived in the Middle East for a few years and had to learn the languages.

Good comments and food for thought.

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:44 am

Jechbi wrote:Don't forget "hammaday."


I think I'll skip that one for my list. It sounds like eating a ham a day. :D

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Postby Jechbi » Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:38 am

Just for fun, from here:
TOP.gif
TOP.gif (12.8 KiB) Viewed 3726 times
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.


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