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Re: [Pali] Pali archery terms [was Sithilahanu]

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  • Bryan Levman
    Dear Jayarava, I ve read your very detailed entry on this passage and it is very impressive! I too agree that (as they say in architecture) God is in the
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 3 7:25 AM
      Dear Jayarava,

      I've read your very detailed entry on this passage and it is very impressive! I too agree that (as they say in architecture) "God is in the details." All we have is the words, so it is imperative that we understand them properly and preserve their meanings. As Norman says, our first job is to understand what the words mean, and why they mean what they mean.

      A few comments:

      1) sallakattam; the only phonological explanation for the -tt- is if the geminate replaced an original conjunct consonant. The only one that would be contextually relevant is the noun karta which means "hole, cavity." It is an old Rig Vedic word; if this is the -katta in sallakatta, it would mean "hole of the arrow," but this still does not make sense grammatically as object of upaṭṭhapeyyuṃ (unless we treat it as a bahubbīhi - yassa katto sallena atthi- "whose hole (wound) is by an arrow."

      That also assumes upaṭṭhapeyyuṃ can take two objects. "They summoned the doctor to the one whose wound was (made by) an arrow.

       In the Concise Pali-English Dictionary, Buddhadatta gives sallakatta as "surgeon" which, if correct, would then be in apposition to bhisakkaṃ (physician). He does not give any etymology. In this case the meaning would simply be "They summoned a physician, a surgeon." In  any case, if sallakatta really does carry the meaning "surgeon," it is probably a metaphor for the original meaning of "arrow-wound;" meaning "he who looks after arrow-wounds."

      2) kodaṇḍa is not a cross-bow, but a native bow as used by the indigenous peoples whom the Aryan in-migrants encountered when they entered India. It is believed to be a word of Munda origin (one of the indigenous peoples of north-eastern, sub-Himalayan India which spoke an Austro-Asiatic, not an Aryan, language). ko- is a well-known Munda prefix.
      For details on the word see F. B. J. Kuiper, Proto-Munda Words in Sanskrit (Amsterdam: N.V. Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij, 1948), page 78 and Michael Witzel, "Substrate Languages in Old Indo-Aryan (Ṛgvedic, Middle and Late Vedic)", Electronic Journal for Vedic Studies, 5 (1999), 16. Even Mayrhofer (who  tries hard to find Aryan etymologies in all Old Indic words), calls daṇḍa "a contested, still undecided etymological problem." However, many of these Vedic words with the -ṇḍa- component are believed to be of non-Indo-Aryan origin, as Indo Aryan did not originally contain retroflex consonants but borrowed them from either Munda or Dravidian.  See Also Alfred C. Woolner, "Prakritic and non-Aryan Strata in the Vocabulary of Sanskrit",  Sir Asutosh Memorial Volume (Patna, 1926-1928): 65-71.

      3) On the Chinese translations. Many of these are not translations, but transliterations; obviously the translator did not know the meaning of the word or did not have a translation for it (as it was an Indian indigenous species with no native Chinese equivalent) so he/she transliterated the original Prakrit. Enough studies have been done now, so that we know the original language was a Prakrit, and one which preserved the original palatal and retroflex sibilants, as you pointed out with respect ot śala. For a recent study on what the source language is (and whether it is Gāndhārī which a lot of scholars beleive) see Boucher, Daniel. 1998. "Gāndhārī and the early
      Chinese Buddhist translations reconsidered: the case of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra." Journal of the American Oriental Society 118, no.4: 471-506. In order to decode the Chinese one needs to know what the phonetic value of Middle Chinese is (the recipient language into which the Prakrit was translated). For this I use Edwin G. Pulleyblank, Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1991). duō luó wood, for example, (多羅木) is the tala (palmyra) tree, duo = ta in Middle Chinese phonetics and luo = la, which you can find in Pulleyblank's book.  Shě luó wood 舍羅木 (pronounced sha-la in Middle Chinese) is probably the bamboo (Skt. śalākā). You may be able to resolve some of the other mysteries by referring to this helpful work.

      Hope the above helps in your studies. Keep up the fascinating (and valuable!) work,

      Metta, Bryan

      From: jayarava <jayarava@...>
      To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, June 1, 2012 4:22:35 AM
      Subject: [Pali] Pali archery terms [was Sithilahanu]

      I've published my blog in which I explore a passage from the Culamalunkya Sutta (M 63)--this is the one where the man won't be treated for his arrow wound without knowing all the details of the archer and his equipment. It was the details that caught my attention (yes, I know...)


      Puzzled by the available translations I started to dissect the Pali, both mula and attakatha, and discovered a number of oddities.

      Earlier I asked about the word 'sithilahanu' and it's connection with the 'stork'. My conclusion is that the connection is a fallacy perpetuated by some rather well known scholars. Sadly I think this one of word is lost to us, as is 'semhaara'. But I think I might have resurrected a couple of words from obscurity, by thinking in terms of archery instead of the metaphysics (though to be fair the main point of the sutta is metaphysical).

      Following Bryan Levman's suggestion I went through the parallel Chinese text and picked out the key words for comparison, though in this case it wasn't much help since the Chinese appear largely to have substituted familiar materials for the unfamiliar Indian ones. I've included all my notes on comparisons with the Pali terminology, for anyone who might be interested.


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • jayarava
      Thanks so much for these insights Bryan. I could wish that Yahoo did Unicode, but I think most of it is clear. I ll edit the article tomorrow to reflect your
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 5 2:10 PM
        Thanks so much for these insights Bryan. I could wish that Yahoo did Unicode, but I think most of it is clear. I'll edit the article tomorrow to reflect your input.

        Best Wishes
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