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Dhamma written in ten different scripts - Dhamma Wheel

Dhamma written in ten different scripts

Explore the ancient language of the Tipitaka and Theravāda commentaries

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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!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

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


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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

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

Mettāya,
Kåre

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

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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

Mettāya,
Kåre

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

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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 . That's very interesting. I've only known of Buddhism in Chinese as --- the first character signifies 'Buddha' or 'Bodhi' whilst the second character signifies 'teaching' or 'religion'. So really connotes something like 'Bodhi teaching' or the 'Buddha religion'. Read in this manner, has a certain specificity--and some might say, an institutionalism--about it.

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 means something like 'the upright/principled/correct way (or law or method)'. And following my speculations about the character as connoting 'fluid ferrying', 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.
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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

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

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Re: Dhamma written in ten different scripts

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

Just for fun, from :
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