books for learning Pali
- Dear Susan and Charles and others new to this group
I recommend the following 3 books (in the order
1. Start with the Pali Primer by Lily de Silva. This
is a very accessible introduction to the language, and
provides lots of exercise sentences for translating
Pali to English and also English to Pali. It's
limitation is that it does not use examples from the
suttas in its exercises and it's presentation of
material in the later chapters lacks a little depth.
A big plus, of course, is that Yong Peng is
systematically leading us through this, and the
chapters you have missed are all on the web. And the
book is available for free download , as has already
2. "The New Course in Reading Pali" by Gair and
Karunatillake is an excellent book too, but I wouldn't
recommend it first off for someone with
no Pali experience at all. I have worked through
it entirely and found that having completed the Pali
Primer beforehand helped a lot. All the exercise
material is directly taken from the suttas, which is a
very good feature. My own answers for the exercises
have been posted to the list, and are maintained on
Yong Peng's web-site.
3. "Introduction to Pali" by A. K. Warder covers all
the basics in a very thorough way. The exercise
material is also right from the canon, and very useful
in that respect. As with the Gair, I am sending my
answers to this list for people to follow along as
they wish - and provide feedback and suggestions for
All these books are easy to find from online
bookstores - pariyatti.com is an excellent resource in
the US for Theravadan Buddhist material.
May you all be well, and may all of our Pali
- I haven't been checking the group as often as I have been so I may be repeating
what's been already said.
John's comments on the basic Pali textbooks are right on. He and I have been working
on Pali for a couple years, progressing through these three books in the order he
gives. In addition, I'd recommend getting the Venerable Bhuddadatta's "Concise Pali-
English Dictionary." While the entries under each word are far less extensive than in
other dictionaries, this one is the most user-friendly, especially for novices. I find that
I refer to it before the the vocabularies in the textbooks or the PTS dictionaries.
A book that is not so useful is "A Pali-English Glossary," form Sri Satguru Publications.
I ordered this after seeing it listed among Pali language books in an Indian vendors
catalog. It looks to be a computer-generated word list, with only one definition per
word and no indication of part of speech, gender, etc. I remember that one thing that
caught my eye was it's price, which was far less than one would expect a dictionary to