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11/14/11
437 LESSON 15 11 2011 Lakkhana Sutta Characterized by Action
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437
LESSON 15 11 2011
Lakkhana
Sutta Characterized by Action

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A Guide to Learning the Pali Language

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 LESSON 437

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AN 3.2


PTS: A i 102


Lakkhana Sutta:
Characterized (by Action)


translated from the Pali
by


Thanissaro Bhikkhu


©
1997–2011


“Monks,
a fool is characterized by his/her actions. A wise person is characterized by
his/her actions. It is through the activities of one’s life that one’s
discernment shines.


“A
person endowed with three things is to be recognized as a fool. Which three?
Bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. A person endowed with
these three things is to be recognized as a fool.


“A
person endowed with three things is to be recognized as a wise person. Which
three? Good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, good mental conduct. A person
endowed with these three things is to be recognized as a wise person.


“Thus,
monks, you should train yourselves: ‘We will avoid the three things that,
endowed with which, one is to be recognized as a fool. We will undertake &
maintain the three things that, endowed with which, one is to be recognized as
a wise person.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.”

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A
Guide to Learning the Pali Language


by


John
T. Bullitt


© 2004–2011


Contents   



See
also “
Pali
Language Aids


How to learn
Pali   


It’s
not difficult to learn a little Pali through self-study, using a textbook or
two as a guide. Many people find it helpful to study with others, either in a
formal classroom setting or in a more relaxed Pali study group. For many of us,
the goal is not to become expert scholars and translators of the language, but
simply to become acquainted with enough of the basics of the language to enrich
our personal understanding of the suttas and the Buddha’s teachings. For
self-study, Warder’s
Introduction
to Pali

or de Silva’s
Pali
Primer

are the basic texts. Johansson’s
Pali
Buddhist Texts: An Introductory Reader and Grammar
is also immensely
helpful. See the list of
Pali
language textbooks

for more recommended titles.


Formal
classroom courses in Pali are offered at many universities with strong Eastern
Religions departments as well as at several Buddhist studies centers and
institutes (see the University of Minnesota’s list of
schools that teach less
commonly taught languages
, such as Pali). Some university-level Pali courses require
previous acquaintance with Sanskrit. If you are looking for a Pali teacher,
consider asking around at a university to see if there might be a graduate
student willing to tutor you or your study group, perhaps for a small fee. Some
professors may be willing to let you audit a course without going through the
official university registration process.


For
more information of interest to Pali students of all levels, see “
Pali Language Aids


Coping with Pali
diacritical marks   


Writing without an
alphabet


Pali
is a phonetic language with no written alphabet of its own. Students of the
language have therefore relied on their own native alphabets to read and write
Pali, ever since the 1st century BCE, when Sri Lankan scribes first
recorded the Tipitaka in the Sinhala alphabet. But the Europeans who began to
take an interest in South Asian languages in the 19th century
quickly discovered that their own roman alphabet was no match for the wide
range of phonemes (sounds) present in South Asian languages. European scholars
thus began representing the more problematic Pali phonemes by augmenting the
roman alphabet with a system of letter-pairs and diacritics, including the
macron (horizontal bar), dot-over, dot-under, and tilde:


Until
well into the mid-20th century, Pali typefaces using these
characters were used almost exclusively by specialty book publishers; a
scholar’s day-to-day duties of transcribing, translating, and editing had to be
laboriously carried out with typewriter, pen, and a steady hand with which to
apply the diacritics. Unfortunately, the first personal computers failed to address
the typographic challenge of diacritics, as they were designed around a very
limited character set (ASCII) that was only barely able to accommodate the
upper- and lower-case roman letters, ten digits, and a modest sprinkling of
punctuation marks. The extended-ASCII set, which soon followed, offered a suite
of additional special symbols, including many required for northern- and
eastern- European alphabets. But still no macrons or dot-unders. In the absence
of a universally accepted computer representation of non-ASCII characters,
students of non-European languages were left to invent their own stopgap
methods. These range from giving ordinary punctuation marks double-duty as
stand-ins for diacritics, to designing special diacritic fonts (all of which are
incompatible with each other), and everything in between.


Evaluating the methods   


A
good written phonetic representation of Pali — indeed, of any language — using
one’s native alphabet as a starting point should aspire to each of the
following ideals:


  1. It should be readable
    by a wide audience. It should introduce a minimum of special characters
    that are not already present in the alphabet. It is better to modify an
    existing letter with a small diacritic than to introduce an entirely new
    character that may look like an alien squiggle to the uninitiated. A
    newcomer to Pali, upon seeing a t with a dot-under, should be able
    to guess immediately that the letter stands for some variant of a t
    sound.
  2. It should be phonetically
    precise
    . The written text should precisely and accurately capture
    the phonetic content. Each phoneme (sound) should be unambiguously
    represented by a unique letter or combination of letters.
  3. It should be easy
    to type
    . Writing Pali should not be a cumbersome exercise in
    keyboard gymnastics. Typing an a-macron should not call for a long
    series of keystrokes (e.g., Alt-Ctl-Shift-Esc-a).
  4. It should be portable.
    If you hand me a book — or send me a text file by e-mail — it should
    appear to me exactly as it did to you. I should be able to sound out the
    text phonetically exactly as you intended.


No
single method simultaneously realizes all of these goals; no single method is
“best.” (I should note, however, that one system — Unicode — holds
exceptional promise — but not until its fonts and keyboard mappings become more
seamlessly and universally integrated into the mainstream of word processors,
HTML authoring software, and web and e-mail clients.) The choice of which
method to use therefore depends both on your particular needs (e.g., Do you
demand phonetic precision? Are you printing a book or dashing off a quick
e-mail?) and on the typing, printing, and computing resources you have at your disposal
(e.g., Do you have a Pali font? Does your PC support Unicode?).


In
what follows I’ve singled out some of the more common strategies that Pali
students have used in recent decades, running the gamut from ignoring
diacritics altogether to using Unicode fonts. I evaluate the success of each
strategy in achieving the above-mentioned goals, to help you decide which
method best suits your needs.


Method 1. Ignore the diacritics   


This
is certainly the simplest method. But the cost of that simplicity is heavy: the
irretrievable loss of crucial pronunciation details. This is the method I use
at Access to Insight. (I should add that I do make use of the palatal nasal ñ
because it is so easy to implement using HTML and because it is contained in
the extended-ASCII character set found on practically everyone’s computer
nowadays.)


Examples:

panatipata
veramani sikkha-padam samadiyami [1] (HTML: panatipata veramani
sikkha-padam samadiyami)

itihidam
ayasmato kondaññassa, añña-kondañño’tveva namam, ahositi [2] (HTML: itihidam ayasmato
kondaññassa,
añña-kondañño’tveva namam,
ahositi).

Readability:

Excellent

Phonetics:

Poor

Ease of use:

Excellent

Portability:

Excellent

Overall:

Fair.
Its phonetic imprecision renders it next to useless in substantive
discussions of Pali grammar

Uses:

Informal
correspondence, email. OK for low-budget print projects that don’t require
linguistic precision.


Method 2. Use capital letters   


Capitalized
letters represent letters with an accompanying diacritic. The method is simple,
but it has ambiguities: how, for example, would you distinguish between the
palatal and guttural n (n with a dot-under, and n with a dot-over)?


Examples:

pANAtipAtA
veramaNI sikkhA-padaM samAdiyAmi (HTML: pANAtipAtA veramaNI sikkhA-padaM
samAdiyAmi)

itihidaM
Ayasmato koNDaññassa, añña-koNDañño’tveva nAmaM, ahosIti (HTML: itihidaM
Ayasmato koNDaññassa,
añña-koNDañño’tveva nAmaM,
ahosIti)

Readability:

Poor.
The ever-shifting case is disturbing. When caps appear at the end of a word
it looks like mirror writing.

Phonetics:

Fair.
The palatal n and guttural n are indistinguishable.

Ease of use:

Good.
It may take time to get used to the shift key’s new significance.

Portability:

Excellent

Overall:

Fair.
The manic appearance of caps at random points is hard to bear.

Uses:

Informal
correspondence, email. Not suitable for print.


Method 3. The Velthuis scheme: double
the vowels, punctuate the consonants   


In
the
Velthuis
scheme

two basic rules are observed:


  1. Long vowels
    (those usually typeset with a macron (bar) above them) are doubled: aa
    ii uu
  2. For consonants,
    the diacritic mark precedes the letter it affects. Thus, the retroflex
    (cerebral) consonants (usually typeset with a dot underneath) are: .t
    .th .d .dh .n .l
    . The pure nasal (niggahiita) m, also typeset with a
    dot underneath, is .m. The guttural nasal (n with a dot
    above) is represented as “n . The palatal nasal (n with
    a tilde) is ~n.


Of
the plain-ASCII methods, this one is the most precise, as it carefully
preserves the significance of each special character. To the uninitiated,
however, the sight of all those doubled vowels and misplaced periods is utterly
bewildering, perhaps leaving them to wonder if someone’s keyboard is broken.


Examples:

paa.naatipaataa
verama.nii sikkhaa-pada.m samaadiyaami (HTML: paa.naatipaataa verama.nii
sikkhaa-pada.m samaadiyaami)

itihida.m
aayasmato ko.n.daññassa, añña-ko.n.dañño’tveva naama.m, ahosiiti (HTML:
itihida.m aayasmato ko.n.daññassa,
añña-ko.n.dañño’tveva naama.m,
ahosiiti)

Readability:

Fair.
Text looks like it has been sprinkled with typos.

Phonetics:

Excellent.

Ease of use:

Good.
Requires learning the dual significance of the period and double-quote keys.

Portability:

Excellent

Overall:

Good.

Uses:

Formal
scholarly correspondence, email. Not suitable for print (except low-budget
short-run projects that require scholarly precision).


Method 4. Use a little HTML   


HTML
has access to the extended ASCII character set, which includes many accented
non-English European vowels (umlaut, circumflex, etc.), some of which can serve
as reasonable stand-ins for the long Pali vowels (ä ï ü; à ì ù;
or â î û etc.). The palatal n is straightforward: ñ.
Whatever type of accent you adopt, use it consistently.


Examples:

pâ.nâtipâtâ
verama.nî sikkhâ-pada.m samâdiyâmi (HTML:
pâ.nâtipâtâ verama.nî
sikkhâ-pada.m samâdiyâmi)

itihidam
âyasmato kondaññassa, añña-kondañño’tveva nâmam, ahosîti (HTML: itihidam
âyasmato kondaññassa,
añña-kondañño’tveva
nâmam, ahosîti)

Readability:

Very
good.

Phonetics:

Fair.
The consonantal diacritics are missing.

Ease of use:

Good.
Easy to produce using most HTML authoring tools.

Portability:

Good.
Limited to web browsers and other HTML-savvy software.

Overall:

Fair-Good.
Improves upon the
capital
letter method
,
but doesn’t capture the consonantal diacritics.

Uses:

Informal
correspondence, email, print.


Method 5. Mixed Velthuis/HTML   


This
method attempts to clear up the stuttering of
Method 3’s doubled vowels, by
using a little HTML (
Method 4).


Examples:

pâ.nâtipâtâ
verama.nî sikkhâ-pada.m samâdiyâmi (HTML:
pâ.nâtipâtâ verama.nî
sikkhâ-pada.m samâdiyâmi)

itihida.m
âyasmato ko.n.daññassa, añña-ko.n.dañño’tveva nâma.m, ahosîti (HTML:
itihida.m âyasmato ko.n.daññassa,
añña-ko.n.dañño’tveva
nâma.m, ahosîti)

Readability:

Fair.
It looks like it has typos, although perhaps not quite as many as pure
Velthuis.

Phonetics:

Excellent.

Ease of use:

Fair.
More complex than Velthuis, since it requires a combination of special
punctuation and the use of special HTML characters.

Portability:

Good.
Limited to web browsers and other HTML-savvy software.

Overall:

Fair.
Although this hybrid does slightly improve the appearance of Velthuis, it
still looks like an error-filled jumble.

Uses:

Informal
correspondence (scholars who demand precision are bound to prefer good old
pure Velthuis). Not generally suitable for e-mail or print.


Method 6. Special Pali fonts   


For
high-quality print projects, nothing beats a well-designed Pali font. For an
extensive review of available Pali and Sanskrit fonts, see
Transliteration and
Devanagari Fonts for Sanskrit
, by Ulrich Stiehl. The Association for
Insight Meditation’s
Pali Font
Resources page

offers several ANSI and Unicode fonts suitable for working with Pali.


Example (in “Normyn” font):


Readability:

Excellent.

Phonetics:

Excellent.

Ease of use:

Variable
— it depends on the keyboard mappings used by a particular font.

Portability:

Poor.
These fonts don’t all share the same coding standards; they are not
interchangeable. If I send you a text document that I formatted with font X,
and you display it with font Y, the Pali characters may not show up properly.

Overall:

Excellent
— but only for documents that are to be shared in print (hard copy) form or
as PDF files or GIF images.

Uses:

Printing.
Not suitable for e-mail or the web, except when embedded in PDF files or GIF
images.


Method 7. Unicode and Unicode fonts
  


Unicode
has emerged in recent years as the international standard for representing
characters from most of the world’s alphabets. All the special characters we
need for Pali transliteration may be found in Unicode’s
Latin Extended-A, and Latin Extended Additional code charts. They
can therefore be easily generated using HTML, provided that your web browser
uses a Unicode-savvy font.


There
are many Unicode fonts available that contain the characters needed for Pali.
Two useful sources are the Association of Insight Meditation’s ” Pali
Font Resources
” and BuddaSasana’s ”
Unicode Fonts for Romanized
Viet-Pali-Sanskrit


The
following table lists the HTML Unicode entities required to generate each of
the special Pali characters. If your web browser supports Unicode, the
characters appearing in the last column of the table should resemble those
appearing the shaded column. If they do not match, then you may have to upgrade
your web browser, install Unicode fonts on your computer, or both. For details
about configuring your computer and browser to use Unicode, see the
Unicode
website
.


Pali letter

Velthuis

HTML

Rendered on your browser as[3]

A macron

A big macron

AA

Ā

Ā

A small macron

aa

ā

ā

I macron

I big macron

II

Ī

Ī

I small macron

ii

ī

ī

U macron

U big macron

UU

Ū

Ū

U small macron

uu

ū

ū

N dot-over

N big dotover

“N

N small dotover

“n

M dot-under

M big dotunder

.M

M small dotunder

.m

N tilde

N big tilde

~N

Ñ

Ñ

N small tilde

~n

ñ

ñ

T dot-under

T big dotunder

.T

T small dotunder

.t

D dot-under

D big dotunder

.D

D small dotunder

.d

N dot-under

N big dotunder

.N

N small dotunder

.n

L dot-under

L big dotunder

.L

L small dotunder

.l


 


Examples:

pānātipātā
verama
ī sikkhā-pada
sam
ādiyāmi
(HTML: pānātipātā
veramaṅī sikkhā-padaṁ
samādiyāmi)

itihida
āyasmato Koṇḍaññassa,
añña-ko
ṇḍañño’tveva nāma,
ahos
īti
(HTML: itihidaṁ āyasmato
Koṇḍaññassa, añña-koṇḍañño’tveva
nāmaṁ, ahosīti)

Readability:

Excellent

Phonetics:

Excellent

Ease of use:

Poor-Good,
depending on the particular software you use (HTML authoring program, word
processor, e-mail client, etc.).

Portability:

Good-Excellent.
Requires the installation of at least a basic set of Unicode fonts.

Overall:

Good.
Still a little cumbersome to use in some software apps, a shortcoming that
will probably fade in the next few years.

Uses:

Web,
email (if email client permits easy typing of Pali characters), print (with
well-crafted Unicode fonts).


Pali language
textbooks   


There
are quite a few Pali books out there, but so far none surpasses the breadth and
depth of A.K. Warder’s superb Introduction to Pali. de Silva’s Pali
Primer,
a relative newcomer to the Pali textbook scene, offers a light and
refreshing complement to the high-density Warder. If you’re trying to learn
Pali on your own, it can be helpful to have several books to turn to, as each
offers its unique perspective on the language.



The companion CD is well worth purchasing, as it gives the
student a good idea of what “real” spoken Pali should sound like.


Although each chapter contains numerous exercises or
passages for reading and translation, the latest edition contains answers to
only the first seven exercises. Several independently prepared answer keys are
currently available:


  • Pali
    Primer
    , by Lily de
    Silva
    Igatpuri, India: Vipassana Research Institute, 1994
    154pp.
    Vipassana Research Institute
    Dhammagiri
    Igatpuri 422403
    Maharashtra, India
    Available by mail order via the
    Pariyatti
    Book Service
    .
    This is a nice first book for those who think they’re not ready yet for
    Warder. Each chapter
    focuses on a single concept of Pali grammar, and contains numerous
    exercises. I found, though, that there comes a point in the book
    (somewhere around Lesson 11) when the brief grammatical introductions in
    the beginning of the lessons begin to fall short. In particular, there is
    no explanation of word order in Pali sentences. At this point,
    Warder can come to the
    rescue. An Appendix to the book, containing solutions to the exercises, is
    reportedly forthcoming from the publisher.
  • Pali
    Buddhist Texts: An Introductory Reader and Grammar
    (formerly titled: Pali
    Buddhist Texts Explained to the Beginner
    ), by Rune E.A. Johansson
    Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph Series, No. 14. London:
    Routledge/Curzon, 1998
    160pp.
    This book consists of 52 short chapters, each consisting of a brief
    passage from the Pali canon along with a word-for-word grammatical
    analysis and translation. Useful to the student with some prior grasp of
    the fundamentals of Pali, or when used in parallel with Warder (above). It
    also stands well on its own for newcomers who wish to develop a
    “feel” for the language. An excellent 25-page summary of Pali
    grammar appears in the back of the book. The book has been difficult to
    find in the US lately, although it has surfaced in bookshops in Britain
    and Asia. If you can’t find it, write to the publisher: Scandinavian
    Institute of Asian Studies, Kejsergade 2, DK-1155 Copenhagen K.
  • A New Course in
    Reading Pali: Entering the Word of the Buddha

    New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1998
    207pp. ISBN 81-208-1440-1 cloth, 81-208-1441-x paper. About $20.
    I haven’t seen this one yet, although I’ve heard several favorable reports
    about it. From the dust jacket (courtesy of Henry Grossi):

  • This book is intended to serve as an introduction to the
    reading of Pali texts. For that purpose it uses authentic readings especially
    compiled for the purpose drawn largely from Theravada canonical works, both
    prose and poetry. The readings are in Roman script, and carefully graded for
    difficulty, but they have also been selected so that each of them is a
    meaningful and complete reading in itself, so as to introduce some basic
    concepts and ways of thought of Theravada Buddhism. This book thus offers an opportunity
    to become acquainted with the ways in which the teachings of the Buddha are
    embodied in the language; a sense that is impossible to determine from English
    translations. The book contains 12 lessons. Each of them has three parts: (1) a
    set of basic readings and an accompanying glossary, (2) grammatical notes on
    the forms of the lesson, and (3) a set of further readings with its own
    glossary. The further readings introduce no new grammatical points, but
    reinforce ones already presented and give further practice in them. The work
    concludes, fittingly, with the Buddha’s first sermon, The Dhammacakkappavattana
    Sutta. A cumulative glossary and index to the grammar is also provided.



    Pali language
    reference books   



    Notes   


    1.


    The first of the five
    precepts
    :
    “I undertake the precept to refrain from taking life.”


    2.


    The last line of the
    Buddha’s first sermon (
    SN 56.11): “And that is
    how Ven. Kondañña acquired the name Añña-Kondañña — Kondañña who knows.”


    3.


    These characters will
    display properly only when your browser is set with a default font that
    contains appropriate Pali Unicode characters.


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