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Re: Pali language generator?

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  • Jon Fernquest
    Dear Jim and Mahinda; Thank you so much for all these interesting tidbits that I will definitely follow up on. Pali literature as well as Burmese literature
    Message 1 of 11 , Mar 17, 2008
      Dear Jim and Mahinda;

      Thank you so much for all these interesting tidbits that I will definitely
      follow up on. Pali literature as well as Burmese literature has become
      richer for me.

      The complicated system of commentaries supporting, explicating, and
      empowering the main canon of texts, is certainly not something that one
      sees when one initially looks at and studies Theravadan Buddhism, at
      least not initially. Commentaries certainly seem to be at the root of
      Theravadin Buddhism.

      I wrote out a summary, because your comments make a nice to-do list:

      Jim's comments:

      1. The English translation (by Burlingame) of the Dhammapada
      commentary leaves out the word-by-word commentary on the verses
      as is also the case with Cowell's Jaataka translation except for the
      occasional footnote. [Thanks, I thought the narratives were the whole
      thing]

      2. You might try the English introductions to the commentaries published
      by PTS like the one for the Diighanikaayat. t.hakathaa- pura.na.tiikaa for
      a general introduction to .tiikaa-s. The Visuddhimagga is a commentary
      and ~Naa.namoli' s translation will give you some idea of what a
      commentary does. [That's interesting because my general impression of
      the Visuddhimagga was that it served as a sort of meditation manual. I
      guess commentaries have multiple functions. I found this to be the case
      with Abhidhamma texts recently when I learned that they also had
      astronomy and cosmology built into them also.]

      3. "...they [commentaries] do play a very important linguistic role in
      explaining the meaning of words and phrases in the Tipi.taka. And
      the .tiikaa-s explain the a.t.thakathaa- s. Instead of two layers of
      commentaries, there can also be three layers as with the
      Abhidhammapi. taka: a.t.thakathaa, muula.tiikaa, and anu.tiikaa. The
      amount of material available in Pali is enormous but most of it
      remain untranslated into English."

      [I noticed that Hinuber in his manual of Pali literature even classifies
      Burmese Nissaya (phrase by phrase glosses) as commentaries, and
      there are even Thai specific commentaries listed too, so maybe a
      commentary tradition defines a monastic intellectual lineage, branching
      off from the main cannonical Mahavira Theravadin lineage, BTW Peter
      Skilling's paper "Geographies of Intertextuality: Buddhist Literature in
      Pre-Modern Siam, Aseanie, 19, Juin 2007, pp. 91-112, talks about this
      sort of thing in Southeast Asia]


      Mahinda's comments on commentaries:

      1. The "word by word" commentary on the verses of Dhammapada has
      been translated by Carter and Palihawadana in a work on that text
      published by the Oxford University Press in 1987. It gives the reader an
      idea of the technique employed by the commentaries in explaining a text.

      2. The commentaries bear considerable similarity to the extremely
      numerous vyaakhyaas in Sanskrit literature.Dhammapa la the
      commetator who is next in importance to Buddhaghosa, was an
      extremely erudite Sanskrit scholar.

      3. BTW the a.t.thakathaas are not "word by word" commentariess. They
      comment only on words and concepts that they think are difficult or that
      deserve detailed explanation.

      4. Some of the modern writers on the A.t.thkathaa texts are E.W.
      Adikaram, Sodo Mori, Toshichi Endo and Friedgard Lottomoser.

      Thanks you very much for these notes.

      With metta, Jon
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