Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:25 pm

Bankei wrote:
As for the foreign interchange between monks, I don't think there was much influence on the Pali, but how do we really know?
Because it would require a vast multi-country, multi-generational conspiracy and a rewriting of such works as the Visuddhimagga.

As for Norman, his work is sound, but we are not talking about different languages from the Ardha-Magadhi that the Buddha likely spoke to the Pali; we are talking about dialects, patois maybe. We are talking about closely related prakrits.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:51 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Bankei wrote:
As for the foreign interchange between monks, I don't think there was much influence on the Pali, but how do we really know?
Because it would require a vast multi-country, multi-generational conspiracy and a rewriting of such works as the Visuddhimagga.

As for Norman, his work is sound, but we are not talking about different languages from the Ardha-Magadhi that the Buddha likely spoke to the Pali; we are talking about dialects, patois maybe. We are talking about closely related prakrits.


English is possibly the modern day equivelent here, in the UK alone there are two distinct main languages (the other being Scottish & not including the Gaelic variants.)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby seanpdx » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:39 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Here is a screen shot of a typical variant reading between different editions of the Pāli text of the Vinaya Piṭaka, Pārājikakaṇḍa. The tooltip shows the variant readings in the Singhalese (si) and Thai (sya) editions of the Pāli texts. The text being the Chatthasangayana Burmese edition.

In all variant readings that I have come across, the differences are trivial, different spellings, or a word or phrase missing here and there. Certainly nothing to cast doubt on the authenticity of the Pāli texts.


Sn1071-1072, pārāyanavagga, contains a reading of "vimutto" which is contrasted with a reading of "'dhimutto" in nidd2. Wynne argues the case that "'dhimutto" is the correct reading. If this is true, then it appears that the correct reading would have been entirely lost without the existence of the commentary. In how many other passages of the canon has this happened, of which we are unaware? This is not a trivial difference.
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:16 am

There is an interesting and related paper online at http://www.mb.mahidol.ac.th/bodhi/downl ... ritcle.pdf
Peter Skilling, "An impossible Task? The classical 'edition' and Thai Pali Literature."

He mainly talks about more recent Thai manuscripts, but the same would apply to earlier manuscripts.

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:20 am

Prof K. R. Norman has a new article out, "Sanskritisms or Orthographical Variants?" in the Indo Iranian Journal, Vol 52/2-3, 2010. It looks interesting, though I don't have access.

Abstract:
In Middle Indo-Aryan, Old Indo-Aryan consonant groups as a general rule assimilate to geminate groups or are resolved by a svarabhakti vowel. Some consonant groups in Pāli are neither assimilated nor resolved. Where they are identical with Sanskrit they are commonly called "Sanskritisms". Some are deliberate, e.g. brāhmana. Others are only apparent, and happen to have acquired in some way a shape which is identical with that expected in Sanskrit. Where they occur in verse, an analysis of the metre shows that the appearance of Sanskritisms may possibly be due to the reduction of the length of the svarabhakti vowel in an attempt to facilitate recitation. I would suggest that these are not attempts to make a text look more like Sanskrit. They are really examples of orthographic variation.
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:24 am

Bankei wrote:. . .
So, at this point in the thread, your point is?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:41 am

no point, just thought some may be interested.
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:47 am

Bankei wrote:no point, just thought some may be interested.

Rather speaking in general, has your question been answered?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:54 pm

no
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:24 am

Bankei wrote:no

That is really not helpful. So, none of the above answers has addressed your question in anyway.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Nibbida » Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:49 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Bankei wrote:
Don't forget there was a great deal of exchange between monks in the pre-modern era. Theravada monks in Tibet, Tibetan monks in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankans in India and Indonesia and the Chinese travelling monks, Faxian etc. They are the ones we know about, how many more where there? This is another facinating topic.
As for the Tibetan monks; certainly unlikely that they hasd any influence on the Pali suttas, given that the canon was settled long before Buddhism went to Tibet, and Tibetan monks did not - do not - have a complete set of the Agamas.

As for the travelling Chinese monks, there is no evidence that they had any influence on the Pali texts.



As an aside, I heard a talk by Guy Armstrong on the history of Buddhism in India (see below). He stated that the Tibetans have the Sarvastivadin canon is in Sanskrit. While similar to the Theravadan Pali canon, with much overlap, it is not complete.

Part 1: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/talk/3293/
Part 2: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/talk/3295/
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:08 am

Nibbida wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: As an aside, I heard a talk by Guy Armstrong on the history of Buddhism in India (see below). He stated that the Tibetans have the Sarvastivadin canon is in Sanskrit. While similar to the Theravadan Pali canon, with much overlap, it is not complete.

Part 1: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/talk/3293/
Part 2: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/talk/3295/
It is not complete is because it is "hinayana," and was not worth the time and effort to translate i from Sanskrit into Tibetan.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:49 am

if i remember correctly its pretty small isnt it?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:19 am

jcsuperstar wrote:if i remember correctly its pretty small isnt it?
It is not very much, which is really too bad given the care that was used in the translations done by the Tibetans.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:25 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Bankei wrote:no

That is really not helpful. So, none of the above answers has addressed your question in anyway.


I would like to try to find something in more detail, and more scholarly. Thanks
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby nathan » Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:46 am

Well, the suttas aren't 'new' either. Eleventh century paperwork isn't old enough? I'm imagining someone with something like a wine cellar for toilet paper. "Ah yes, a '77, a particularly fine year for bum wipe." Some parts of copies of parts of the Tipitaka I have had have been so pawed over by me that I have had to replace them several times already. Personally, I can't afford to buy books just to put them into some kind of time capsule.

I've seen questions like this raised a few times. It appears to be something suggested by people who haven't actually read the whole Tipitaka. Have you read it? Have the authors quoted read it? I've read it over, a few times now, to the extent that it is possible for me. Overall, this is not the sort of message that lends itself to being mucked around with. The results of doing so would be like introducing gross errors to our collections of fundamental engineering texts. Planes would start falling out of the sky, buildings would fall over, etc.. Things would stop working.

Given that the Buddha's teaching is no less relevant today. Given that these teachings and this understanding are no less practicable and verifiable today, suggesting that the Buddha's message has been tampered with must then necessarily lead one to conclude that the universe has likewise been tampered with to accord with the suggested textual changes. Otherwise, the Buddha's message would no longer accord faithfully to the observable realities of today. Given that the instructions are still efficacious and the truths remain no less testable and continue to be consistently observable it is much more likely that there have been few if any modifications of any significance.

So, in addition to reading the Tipitaka, one might ask such questioners, have you applied it? Such an approach will resolve these kinds of issues far more completely and expediently than any amount of speculation about any lost artifacts of the past ever could.

Unless I've misunderstood the intention of the Buddha's life work and he was not interested in the promotion of our liberation from samsara but rather in the advancement of our enslavement to trivia and mediocrity.

:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:31 am

Hi Nathan

No I haven't read the whole Tipitaka. You are one of the few that claims to have done so.

Which tipitaka do you take as authentic and why?

I think my question is a legitimate one.

Maybe I could refine my question now. We know that the Pali Tipitaka is ancient. But how do we know that the version we have now is the same as the version in the 1st century AD?

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:33 am

Bankei wrote: But how do we know that the version we have now is the same as the version in the 1st century AD?

Bankei
Why wouldn't it be? Answers to your question on Buddha-l not enough?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Bankei wrote: But how do we know that the version we have now is the same as the version in the 1st century AD?

Bankei
Why wouldn't it be? Answers to your question on Buddha-l not enough?


Because of the passage of time. (Maybe I should ask why would you expect it to do the same?)
You seem to think that this is a question which can be solved by a few internet posts - but it is far more complex than that.

An interesting comparison can be made with the Chinese text the Daodejing (DDJ). The DDJ was composed around the time of the Buddha and has survived to this day. In the last few decades there have been some important discoveries with at least two tombs unearthed containing copies of manuscripts of the DDJ. The tombs are the Guodian 郭店 and Mawangdui 馬王堆. These tombs can be dated 100 to 300 BC.

What was found that the text of the DDJ as it stood in 100BC is very different to the received text of the DDJ as we have it today. There was substantial agreements between the texts, but also many major variances with a complete different order of the chapters of the texts and many differences in characters used. Some of these indicate that the meaning has become distorted over time.

Imagine if we could find some texts in a tomb from the 1st century in Sri Lanka. Would they differ? how would they differ? Would they be in Pali?

I take a view that the Tipitaka is substantially what the Buddha preached, but not the exact words of the Buddha. Some things have been added, taken away and distorted. This is not necessarily deliberate, but is just what happens to a text over time. Also similar to the view of Richard Gombrich, I think the Theravadins have sometimes misunderstood parts of the texts of their own tradition. Overtime meanings of words are lost or meanings change slightly, this in turn leads to different interpretations.

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:47 pm

Bankei wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Bankei wrote: But how do we know that the version we have now is the same as the version in the 1st century AD?

Bankei
Why wouldn't it be? Answers to your question on Buddha-l not enough?


Because of the passage of time.
Well, you do seem to pretty much ignore everything everyone says to you about anything. For you the passage of time means that we could not possibly have the original just because there has been a passage of time. The question is: What do you mean by the original, which is something you have yet to define?

You seem to think that this is a question which can be solved by a few internet posts - but it is far more complex than that.
And you seem to think otherwise, whatever information is given you.

An interesting comparison can be made with the Chinese text the Daodejing (DDJ). The DDJ was composed around the time of the Buddha and has survived to this day. In the last few decades there have been some important discoveries with at least two tombs unearthed containing copies of manuscripts of the DDJ. The tombs are the Guodian 郭店 and Mawangdui 馬王堆. These tombs can be dated 100 to 300 BC.
And was the DOJ recired by groups of monks dedicated to keeping it alive and accurate?

Imagine if we could find some texts in a tomb from the 1st century in Sri Lanka. Would they differ? how would they differ? Would they be in Pali?
Now, they would be in Irish. K.R. Norman suggest otherwise?

I take a view that the Tipitaka is substantially what the Buddha preached, but not the exact words of the Buddha.
How would you know they were not in the exact words of the Buddha? Based upon what?

Some things have been added, taken away and distorted. This is not necessarily deliberate, but is just what happens to a text over time. Also similar to the view of Richard Gombrich, I think the Theravadins have sometimes misunderstood parts of the texts of their own tradition. Overtime meanings of words are lost or meanings change slightly, this in turn leads to different interpretations.
Yes, and this points to a very strong likelihood that the Theravadin did vey little editing at all to make the suttas conform to the Theravada doctrine.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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