Re: Gandhabba, Gandharva
- Bhante Sujato,
<!-- mo -->Are you saying that if I am inventing a system or
<!-- bs -->I am not quite sure what this is implying: are you
the Buddha invented a system or a language? In either case i would
deny that the Buddha did that: he adapted language, not invented it;
and the system-builders came long after the Buddha.
<!-- mo -->Actually I was trying to avoid stating anything while
trying to determine what you had implied by your statement. I was
trying to understand the basis in logic you used to arrive at the
conclusions you come to and present with apparent conviction.
Here you state as absolutes the idea that the Buddha neither invented
a language nor a system.
What is one to say in response to this?
I have put forward a theory (which I have mentioned elsewhere here
and to you personally) which I have never seen responded to or
debated (but I have seen it ignored in favour of reliance on
commentary and reasoned analysis) that explains away a number of the
issues with regard to 'Pali' as a language.
Briefly I hold that of the words available to him at the time Gotama
chose those words whose roots went back to the origins of language.
He did this because of the nature of those early words as being built
on onomatopoea, animal sounds and primitive situations and activities
(sex, eating, bodily functions, hunting, farming). These words were
chosen because they have greater universality and timelessness than
the other later words available at the time.
I hold, therefore, that this collection of words which (I say) for
convenience we call 'Pali', pre-dates Vedic.
I would hold then that in every case the etymology of the words found
in the Pali texts should be saught not in other writings (earlier,
later or contemporary) but only in it's uses in the Pali (suttas) and
in the meanings of the syllables as though Pali was invented
afresh, for that is how I see the language being used, that is,
according to the original meanings found in the syllables.
Since the meaning of the word 'etymology' is to trace a word to it's
essence in it's roots, I see no need (while not denying that such is
useful on occasion) for 'history' which as we can see from the
history that is being written today in our world, is never written
without an adgenda.
Now whether or not one buys this method/theory, it needs to be taken
into consideration as a possibility, and to not do so, and to rely on
the 'history as "science"' of etymology to dictate our understanding
of this matter is to go against the advice of the Buddha not to rely
on authority, and deeper than that it goes against the notion of the
succesful practitioner being able to 'see and know', it negates at
least one understanding of the recollection of past lives, and it
does not consider the idea of omnicience...all, need I remind us?
goals of the system and attributes of the Buddha.
As to the second statement, that the system was invented later is
incomprehensible to me. We must be speaking about two different
notions of 'system'. The exposition of the four truths is the
exposition of a system.
In conclusion, I find it impossible to consider that a man of such
intelligence and wisdom as was Gotama would not have worked out the
precise vocabulary to be used when presenting the Four Truths or any
of the other 'Dhammas' of his system. That this 'working out of a
precise vocabulary' amounts to inventing a language. And that by such
invention and deliberate choice etymology as history is not
I also hold that the Buddha was capable of seeing and did in fact
anticipate virtually every issue that would come up concerning
authenticating the system and that the solutions to every problem of
meaning are readily available in the suttas without need for recourse
to any outside commentary.
I see what I consider a real tragedy happening here in the mechanism
being used to resolve all sorts of 'unexplained' issues emerging from
sutta study: the insistant reliance on authority over experience, and
that not as 'a source' of possible solutions but as 'the truth.' But
all this is doing is proliferating errors.
There is another way: put the system into practice. Meditate. One of
the benefits of practice is insight, stripping away of blindness,
seeing, knowing, omnicience [in the Buddhist sense of being able to
know what one wishes to know whenever one wishes to know it...as such
available to students as a temporary phenomena], recollection of past
lives (both one's own and the past lives of others). The ability to
see how things came to be as they actually happened. This entire side
of research is being largely dismissed by those who are clearly the
most motivated in Dhamma research, the students of Pali...and that
with prejudice! And this being the case, what is the point of
studying the Pali at all? We can get a biased account of the meaning
of the Dhamma that confirms what we want confirmed and denies what we
want denied from the commentaries or from a half million modern texts
explaining what the Buddha taught. We do not need to sweat the Pali
for such a thing. The current practice is genuinely the blind leading
It's like a man setting out with his axe on a quest for heart-wood
and he comes up on a great, stable and pithy tree which he cuts down
and then stripping off and taking the leaves he walks off thinking to
himself that he has found the heart-wood.
Thank you for the remainder of your post which was interesting and
informative and because restricted to gathering context (over
conclusions) a reasonable investigative technique.