Reply To: Proposed Tipitaka Conservation Bill in Sri Lanka


Thanks, Ravi.

Yes. The incorrect interpretation of anicca as impermanence and anatta as no-self resulted due to equating anicca and anatta in Pali to anitya and anatma in Sanskrit.
– Unfortunately, those two Sanskrit words have been incorporated into the Sinhala language over the past 2000 years.

Therefore, the damage was done before the Europeans made those incorrect translations worldwide by using the newly discovered printing press. I may need to revise the post, “Misinterpretation of Anicca and Anatta by Early European Scholars” a bit to emphasize that point.
– That is because ALL Sanskrit sutras always use anitya and anatma.
– It is those Mahayana sutras that spread to many countries and influenced even Sri Lanka (Abhayagiri sector) well before the arrival of Europeans. Even the Mahavihara Theravadins adopted these two words over the years, and that is what I was taught growing up (anitya and anatma).
– Early European scholars (in the 1800s) made it well-established using the printing press (of course, that was a genuine mistake). Especially in the West, that is all people have access to (English translations with “impermanence” and “no-self”). It is mostly the website that tries to point out this big problem to the English-speaking audience.
– It is appalling to see this “Sanskritization” has so much influence in Sri Lanka.