Re: [Pali] Hello, i'm new to this group and would like to ask afew questions.
Thank you for your insightful answer, which I really enjoyed reading and agree with.
Robert Eddison wrote:
> Samatha Savaka wrote:
> > Hello everyone, i'm new to this mailing list, i don't know Pali or
> >Sanskrit or Chinese, even though i have a few friends who do.
> >i was inclined to join this e-group because of some inquiries i have
> >regarding translations from the Nikayas.
> >Also, english is not native languange, spanish is, so excuse me if my
> >grammar is not proper.
> >Here are the questions i'd like to ask:
> Welcome to the list.
> >1. if a Jain can use Attan to mean Soul, how come a Buddhist can only
> >use Attan as himself, herself, oneself, etc... ?
> In fact both usages are found in Buddhist texts. The only difference is
> that when it is used in Buddhist texts to mean soul it will generally be
> part of some passage in which soul theories are rejected, whereas in a Jain
> text the soul's existence will be asserted. (By the way, although a few of
> the older Jain texts use aya -- a Prakrit cognate of attaa -- for the soul,
> the vast majority always use jiiva).
> As for the use of attaa for the reflexive pronoun, this is not limited to
> Pali Buddhist texts. You will find exactly the same usage in texts written
> in other Indian Sanskritic and Prakritic dialects, no matter whether their
> authors are Buddhist, Hindu or Jain.
> Even in a Hindu text that does propound a soul theory, if the text in
> question has a lot of narrative content (e.g. the Bhagavad Gita,
> Ramayana, Avadhut Gita and suchlike), you will find that the Sanskrit
> "aatman" more often functions as a reflexive pronoun than as a word for the
> Siitaa-devii praaptaprasavavedanam AATMAANAM atidu.hkhasa.mvegaad
> Gan.gaa-pravaahe nik.siptavatii
> "Queen Sita, when the pangs of childbirth were upon her, in the extremity
> of her suffering, threw *herself* into the Ganges."
> >2. When the nikayas were recorded using Pali, was there an agreement
> >on the cognitive level of the times which dictated that if you were
> >Buddhist and said the word Attan that that meant something else
> >besides Soul and that if you were a Jain Attan was indeed Soul?
> I wouldn't put it like that. The word attaa/aatman must have had some
> generally accepted denotations, else it would have been impossible for
> Buddhists, brahmins and Jains to talk to each other on the subject. On the
> other hand each sectarian group had its own take on what precisely the soul
> was, or on whether such a thing existed.
> >3. In spanish, when i say Espiritu (Spiritus, Spirit), the word's
> >meaning remains the same regardless of wether or not i believe in a
> >Espiritu. How come in Pali is different?
> In English when I say 'spirit' I might well be referring to gin, whiskey,
> vodka and suchlike. Strangely, when Germans say 'Geist' (spirit) they never
> mean anything of the sort. How come German is different?
> What exactly are you asking here? How come Pali isn't the same as Spanish?
> And are you seriously suggesting that in Spanish each word has only one
> meaning? I find it hard to believe the language could be that impoverished.
> In the case of espiritu does it not also mean espectro, ánimo, alma,
> respiración.... ?
> The point to note is that Pali, Sanskrit and related languages didn't have
> any words that corresponded exactly to reflexives such as 'myself',
> 'himself', 'oneself' etc. So in order to convey the idea of reflexivity (of
> an action falling back upon the agent) some other method had to be
> employed. One was to use the indeclinable particle saya.m ('by oneself').
> The other, much more common way, was to use attaa.
> >4. Is there any possibility that such strange characteristics of the
> >Pali languague regarding the word Attan arise due to sectarian
> >interpretations and that are not instrinstical problems of the
> >languague itself?
> As noted above, it is not a strange characteristic of Pali, but a shared
> feature of Aryan languages in the Indic group. It is very rare that
> sectarian concerns determine the everyday conventions of usage in any
> >5. How come many Pali translators, like Bodhi, or Nyanatiloka, use
> >Anatta as if to describe what the Attan is not?
> Firstly because this is linguistically correct. Secondly because both of
> the above translators subscribe to the mainstream Buddhist interpretation
> of anattaa, and not to any of the heterodox variants (e.g. those of the
> Puggalavadin schools in bygone days, or of Rhys Davids, George Grimm and
> Ven. Thanissaro in more recent times).
> >What use would there be to state what the Attan is not if all the word
> >Attan meant was: himelf, oneself, herself, etc... within the Buddhist
> But whoever made such a claim? Though "himelf, oneself, herself, etc" are
> probably the most common meanings of attaa in narrative passages, they
> don't by any means exhaust the range of applications this word has in Pali.
> >What use would there be to say that the 5 skandhas are Anatta if
> >there was no Attan at all?
> Because worldlings don't know that there's no attaa at all and this
> non-knowing leads them into suffering.
> Best wishes,
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