Reply To: Relating to Pāli Words – Writing and Pronunciation Post


Thank you, TGS.

To quote: “Pali vyākaraṇa never became a courtly discipline in reform-era Sri Lanka, though it did develop associations with political power within the Saṅgha’s own monastic hierarchy.16 During the reform era, for instance, all the monks to hold the high office of ‘grandmaster’ were grammarians.17 The forest-monk and Sanskrit grammarian, Diṁbulāgala Kassapa, held the position of leader of the Saṅgha during the 1165 reforms, though he was not referred to as grandmaster.18 Sāriputta, his pupil, was the first to be acknowledged officially with this title and early in his career authored a Sanskrit grammatical commentary, the Cāndrapañcikālaṅkāra (‘Ornament to the extensive commentary on Candra’s grammar’).19 Our Pali grammarian Moggallāna subsequently attained the position of grandmaster, presumably after Sāriputta’s death.20 Saṅgharakkhita then ascended to the role in the reign of Vijayabāhu III (1232–6), administered monastic reforms and composed a commentary on Moggallāna’s grammar during his tenure too.21 His pupil, Medhaṅkara, author of a grammatical handbook, the Payogasiddhi (‘Practical construction’), and a member of the Diṁbulāgala forest fraternity, succeeded him in turn and led further monastic reforms during the reign of Parākramabāhu II in 1266.22

  • Sanskrit heavily influenced Theravada from the rise of Mahayana just 500 years after the Buddha. Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga around 450 CE was also a critical influence. 
  • It is unbelievable that those bhikkhus completely ignored Buddha’s advice, not even to translate the Tipitaka into Sanskrit. May be they were unaware of the passages in the Vinaya Pitaka making that prohibition. See #13 of “Misinterpretation of Anicca and Anatta by Early European Scholars.”
  • Even the Sinhala language has been heavily altered with Sanskrit words. It is a miracle that the Tipitaka survived in its pure form. Even though relatively few in number, there were enough dedicated bhikkhus who kept rewriting the Tipitaka on ola leaves every hundred years. It must have been a continuous writing process since it is not easy to prepare and write on those leaves, and they degrade within a hundred years or so. See #5 of “Preservation of the Dhamma.”