ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

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frank k
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ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

Post by frank k »

AN 10.84 (bodhi)
84 (4) Declaration

635There the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna addressed the bhikkhus: “Friends, bhikkhus!”

636“Friend,” those bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Mahāmoggallāna said this:

637“Here, friends, a bhikkhu declares final knowledge thus: ‘I understand: “Destroyed is birth, the spiritual life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming back to any state of being.”’ The Tathāgata [156] or his disciple who is a jhāna-attainer—skilled in attainment, skilled in others’ minds, skilled in the ways of others’ minds—questions him, interrogates him, and cross-examines him. When he is being questioned, interrogated, and cross-examined by the Tathāgata or his disciple, he comes to an impasse and is flustered. He meets with calamity, meets with disaster, meets with calamity and disaster.
byākaraṇasuttaṃ (AN 10.84)
♦ 84. tatra kho āyasmā mahāmoggallāno bhikkhū āmantesi — “āvuso bhikkhave”ti. “āvuso”ti kho te bhikkhū āyasmato mahāmoggallānassa paccassosuṃ. āyasmā mahāmoggallāno etadavoca —

♦ “idhāvuso, bhikkhu aññaṃ byākaroti — ‘khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyāti pajānāmī’ti. tamenaṃ tathāgato vā tathāgatasāvako vā jhāyī samāpattikusalo paracittakusalo paracittapariyāyakusalo samanuyuñjati samanuggāhati samanubhāsati. so tathāgatena vā tathāgatasāvakena vā jhāyinā samāpattikusalena paracittakusalena paracittapariyāyakusalena samanuyuñjiyamāno samanuggāhiyamāno samanubhāsiyamāno irīṇaṃ āpajjati vicinaṃ VAR āpajjati anayaṃ āpajjati byasanaṃ āpajjati anayabyasanaṃ āpajjati.
B.Bodhi seems to render "ariyasavako" as noble-disciple all the time, or almost all of the time. Thanissaro usually renders it disciple of the noble ones. In Context of different passages, sometimes it seems it can only be noble-disciple. I asked Ajahn Brahmali once, he believes it's always "noble disciple".

In the passage quoted above, with tathagata-savako, unlike ariya-savako, bodhi renders this as "disciple of tathagata". Can someone explain please? Are both types of renderings grammatically legal, and we need context to determine which one fits?
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binocular
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Re: ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

Post by binocular »

Excellent question! I hope it will receive an answer.
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santa100
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Re: ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

Post by santa100 »

It'd be safe to go with the specific context. Ven. Bodhi's note from "Numerical Discourses":
The Nikayas often set up a contrast between the "uninstructed worldling" (assutava puthujjana), the common person of the world who lacks training in the Buddha's teaching, and the instructed noble disciple (sutava ariya savaka), who has learned the teaching and undertaken the training. More broadly, a puthujjana is anyone who has not yet reached the path of stream-entry (sotapatti). An ariyasavaka is not necessarily a "noble one" in the technical sense, but any disciple, monastic or layperson, who has learned the teaching and earnestly takes up the practice.
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Assaji
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Re: ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

Post by Assaji »

Hi Frank,
frank k wrote: Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:20 pm Are both types of renderings grammatically legal, and we need context to determine which one fits?
Yes.

It's 'noble disciple'.

Some Atthakatha glosses:

ariyasāvakoti atthi ariyo na sāvako, seyyathāpi buddhā ceva paccekabuddhā ca; atthi sāvako na ariyo, seyyathāpi gihī anāgataphalo; atthi neva ariyo na sāvako seyyathāpi puthutitthiyā. atthi ariyoceva sāvako ca, seyyathāpi samaṇā sakyaputtiyā āgataphalā viññātasāsanā. idha pana gihī vā hotu pabbajito vā, yo koci sutavāti ettha vuttassa atthassa vasena sutasampanno, ayaṃ ariyasāvakoti veditabbo.

AN-a 1, 6. accharāsaṅghātavaggavaṇṇanā, para. 11

catutthe ariyāti ariyasāvakaparisā. anariyāti puthujjanaparisā.

AN-a 2, 1. paṭhamapaṇṇāsakaṃ, 5. parisavaggavaṇṇanā, para. 4

paccanīkato ca sabbākārena ariyadhammassa akovidāvinītapaccanīkato ayaṃ “sutavā ariyasāvako ariyadhammassa kovido ariyadhamme suvinīto”ti veditabbo. apica kho sikhāpattavipassanato pabhuti yāva gotrabhu, tāva tadanurūpena atthena ayaṃ ariyasāvakoti veditabbo.

MN-a 1, (paṭhamo bhāgo), 1. mūlapariyāyavaggo, 2. sabbāsavasuttavaṇṇanā, dassanāpahātabbāasavavaṇṇanā, para. 23

imasmiṃ sutte ariyasāvakoti sotāpanno.

SN-a 4, 2. vedanāsaṃyuttaṃ, 1. sagāthāvaggo, 4. pātālasuttavaṇṇanā, para. 3

idha pana gihī vā hotu pabbajito vā, yo koci sutavāti ettha vuttassa atthassa vasena sutasampanno, ayaṃ ariyasāvakoti veditabbo.

AN-a 1, 6. accharāsaṅghātavaggavaṇṇanā, para. 11

ariyasāvakoti sukkhavipassako ariyasāvako.

MN-a 3, 1. devadahavaggo, 6. āneñjasappāyasuttavaṇṇanā, para. 18

diṭṭhisampannoti maggadiṭṭhiyā sampanno sotāpanno ariyasāvako.

MN-a 3, 2. anupadavaggo, 5. bahudhātukasuttavaṇṇanā, para. 12

ariyasāvakassāti idha sotāpanno adhippeto, itarepi pana tayo avāritāyevāti.

SN-a 2, 1. nidānasaṃyuttaṃ, 2. āhāravaggo, 10. paccayasuttavaṇṇanā, para. 6
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frank k
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Re: ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

Post by frank k »

santa100 wrote: Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:01 pm It'd be safe to go with the specific context. Ven. Bodhi's note from "Numerical Discourses":
The Nikayas often set up a contrast between the "uninstructed worldling" (assutava puthujjana), the common person of the world who lacks training in the Buddha's teaching, and the instructed noble disciple (sutava ariya savaka), who has learned the teaching and undertaken the training. More broadly, a puthujjana is anyone who has not yet reached the path of stream-entry (sotapatti). An ariyasavaka is not necessarily a "noble one" in the technical sense, but any disciple, monastic or layperson, who has learned the teaching and earnestly takes up the practice.
The way I interpret Bodhi's explanation above, he believes there are contexts where ariya savaka should be 'noble one',
and there are other contexts where ariya savaka should be 'disciple of noble one (not a noble one himself)'.

Ajahn Brahmali, and Theravada commentary, believe ariya-savaka is always a noble one (at least a stream enterer).
That I don't agree with.

Thanissaro's approach, which is to translate and interpret ariya savaka as 'disciple of noble one (not necessarily a stream enterer)' works everywhere, is a much cleaner translation choice in my opinion, so I'm going to follow him in my translations.
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Re: ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

Post by frank k »

Assaji wrote: Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:34 pm Hi Frank,
frank k wrote: Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:20 pm Are both types of renderings grammatically legal, and we need context to determine which one fits?
Yes.

It's 'noble disciple'.

Some Atthakatha glosses:
...
So to be clear, does Tv commentary say ariya savaka means noble disciple (at least stream enterer) anywhere it occurs in the suttas, or just in those cases where they clarify that in commentary? Bodhi translates differently according to context.

Unlike ariya savaka, sekha does appear to mean 'at least stream enterer' everywhere. At least there are a few passages that support that. I haven't exhaustively checked every sutta reference to 'sekha' to see if there are any passages that suggest otherwise (that like 'ariya savaka' doesn't imply at least stream entry).

http://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/20 ... sekha.html
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Re: ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

Post by Assaji »

Hi Frank,
frank k wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 4:20 pm So to be clear, does Tv commentary say ariya savaka means noble disciple (at least stream enterer) anywhere it occurs in the suttas, or just in those cases where they clarify that in commentary?
The Commentary explains the meaning of the word in the current context. In rare cases, it explains a range of meanings for the word in question, in corresponding contexts. I don't recall a single case where the Commentary would state that the given explanation applies "anywhere" or "just in these cases".

Regarding "ariyasāvaka", the commentarial explanations vary somewhat, but there's a strongly prevailing theme of "at least stream-entry".

I don't find a single commentarial explanation of this compound as "a disciple of the Noble Ones", so this translation seems to be an invention of English translators, - similarly to "Noble Truths".
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frank k
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Re: ariya savako: noble disciple, or disciple of noble ones?

Post by frank k »

Thanks Assaji.
I'll keep that in mind as I re-read suttas. I'm still agnostic, but translating ariyasavaka as "noble disciple (at least stream enterer)" in most passages reads really strange to me, and Thanissaro's "disciple of the noble ones" just makes better sense in most cases.

What is the distinction then between sutava (educated/learned) ariyasavako and the not sutava ariyasavako?

This problem I'm having with the term may be similar (or related) to the meaning of having right view. Does that mean one is at least a stream enterer as well?

One thing that occurs to me, often the suttas seem constructed to prefer using stock formulas in their most common form, rather than inflecting them according to context (past tense, desired future result, stream enterer or total newbie, single person or plural). This seems in order to make memorizing easier, rather than trying to go for grammatical precision all the time. In other words, I suspect often we spend too much time trying to parse the grammatical details to get answers, where ambivalence was intentional to aid easy memorization.
Assaji wrote: Wed Apr 13, 2022 5:11 pm Hi Frank,
frank k wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 4:20 pm So to be clear, does Tv commentary say ariya savaka means noble disciple (at least stream enterer) anywhere it occurs in the suttas, or just in those cases where they clarify that in commentary?
The Commentary explains the meaning of the word in the current context. In rare cases, it explains a range of meanings for the word in question, in corresponding contexts. I don't recall a single case where the Commentary would state that the given explanation applies "anywhere" or "just in these cases".

Regarding "ariyasāvaka", the commentarial explanations vary somewhat, but there's a strongly prevailing theme of "at least stream-entry".

I don't find a single commentarial explanation of this compound as "a disciple of the Noble Ones", so this translation seems to be an invention of English translators, - similarly to "Noble Truths".
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