Singular/Plural and Male/Female Words in Pali

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    • #16409
      Tobias G

      How works plural/singular in Pali language (deva/devas or sankhara/sankharas)?

      What is the male/female form of words like deva or manussa?

      Devas do have a gender. Brahmas don’t, right? But devas would have sex with each other. Do they have kids?

    • #16411

      Sounds are important in Pāli:

      Plural of dēva is dēvā; plural of sankhāra is sankhārā.

      Feminine of dēva is dēvi; Manussa is huaman: feminine of purisa (male) is itthi (female).

      Yes. Dēva belong to kāma loka, and they engage in sex. However, children are born instantaneously (ōpapātika). It is said that equivalent of of a human 16-year-old appears in the lap of a dēvi/dēva. They don’t show aging like humans, but when it close to the end of the lifetime “aging shows”, and it becomes apparent that they are close to death. 

      Brahma realms are above the realms of the kāma loka (including human and dēva realms).

      Brahmās (actually the plural of brahma is brahmā), are born there because they have seen the adeenava (unfruitfulness) in sense pleasures. So, there are no sense pleasures (smell, taste, and touch including sex) in brahma realms.

      Therefore, there are no male/female brahmā. They don’t have sex organs, and are born ōpapātika. Of course, they do not have dense bodies at all. Dēvā have “physical bodies”, even though much finer than ours. But brahmā do not have any type of “physical bodies”, i.e., no karaja kaya.

      Those who attain various levels of Ariya/anariya jhāna are born in brahma realms. The following phrase always appears in suttās (actually the plural of sutta is suttā) describing jhāna: “vivicca kāmēhi, vivicca akusala dhammēhi..” or “one gets to a jhāna by “abandoning kāma rāga and akusala kamma“”.

      Now this “abandonment” is just “SUPPRESSION” for anariya jhānā; those with anariya jhāna  still have “kāma rāga anusaya“. Therefore, they will come back to the human realm, and could be born in the apayās later on. But those who cultivated Ariya jhānā do not come back, since kāma rāga anusaya is removed; in terms of the recent post,”Kanha (Dark) and Sukka (Bright) Kamma and Kammakkhaya“, the “hook for kāma rāga” has been removed.

    • #16414
      y not

      ‘Yes. Dēva belong to kāma loka, and they engage in sex. However, children are born instantaneously (ōpapātika’

      That the jati of beings taking on a bhava there is instantaneous is unequivocal enough. But the children of the devas – are they these same ones who take on a jati there from other realms – pulled in there, as it were, into the ‘lap of the devi’through their intercourse, of whatever nature that may be. I think it must be so.

      Since devis do not menstruate (this makes sense) there is no ‘fine material’ zygote that the ‘baby deva’ may enter(also because the deva is already formed) so there would appear to be no equivalent there to the ‘material shell’ provided by parents in the human realm. I wonder,could this be the origin of the term ‘sons of will and yoga’ mentioned in the book of Dzyan for beings ‘born’ through the opapatika method? Getting a bit into it, the ‘will’ would correspond to the ‘gathi’ of the new arrival, and the yoga to the union of the devi with a deva. Just my impression. But that is of course assuming that the terms for both words in the original do mean what I understand by them.

      This is one more instance where Dhamma sheds light (as I see, of course) on notions or tenets I had come across before from various sources. I have come to see that many of these are excerpts or fragments, in cases distorted to such an extent that they become unintelligible. In others, as here, a connection may be there. I am reminded of a comment of Lal’s (if others have not come across it yet) that vedic texts( and by extension, other so called esoteric teachings) are remnants of the sasana of the Buddha Kassapa. Something to reflect on.

      y not

    • #16415

      y not said: “But the children of the devas – are they these same ones who take on a jati there from other realms – pulled in there, as it were, into the ‘lap of the devi’through their intercourse, of whatever nature that may be.”

      There is a danger in trying to analyze phenomena in other realms in terms of what happens in the human realm. We don’t need to, and we cannot ever, figure out such details. Furthermore, that does not help with stopping future suffering.
      – For example, since a zygote is not involved in the birth of a deva, we cannot say even intercourse plays any role in births there. Actually, I inadvertently said “appearing on the lap of a devi“, but it could be the “lap of a deva” too. So, I myself got thinking along the lines of the human realm. These may be interesting and intriguing, but it is a waste of time to try to analyze in detail. As I did in this case, there is a danger in saying something incorrect. I revised my above post to say “devi/deva“.

    • #16416
      y not

      Thank you Lal:

      The whole exercise in itself is pointless, yes.

      I sensed that ‘we cannot say even intercourse plays any role in births there’.that is why I added, ‘intercourse (in the widest and most’innocent’sense of the word)of whatever nature it may be’.

      It is that I am going through intense mental and emotional suffering that goes back many years, only now it looks like forewarning something all-determining, drastic, final. Am reminded of ‘tears amounting to more than the waters of the four great oceans’

      I latched onto Tobias’s post to escape for a while. That is all. Excuse me for it.

      ever grateful

      y not

    • #45399

      Is  kāmā the plural word of “kāma”? 

      I understand “kāma” to be sankappa raga, but not exactly sure what kāmā would exactly mean. 

      Do they mean the exact same thing or “kāmā” can also have different meanings? 


    • #45400

      Yes. “kāma” is sankappa rāga.

      • “kāma rāga” means cravings for sensual pleasures enjoyed with the five physical senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching mind-pleasing things.
      • Thus “kāma rāga” is reserved explicitly for pleasurable experiences with “close contact”: smell, taste, and touch. Brahmas do not have kāma rāga. 
      • Rupavacara Brahmas don’t have “kāma rāga”; they have “rupa rāga” (sights/sounds), and arupavacara Brahmas have “arupa rāga” (only thoughts about “memories”)

      See “What is “Kāma”? It is not Just Sex” and “Kāma Guṇa – Origin of Attachment (Tanhā).”

    • #45404

      TGS had asked: “Is  kāmā the plural word of “kāma”? “

      • It could be. If you give an example, I may be able to see what it means.
    • #45406

      You may try this tool for

      Pali noun/adjective Declension Table Calculator

      to check out the Pali word “kāma”.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #45413
      For the past day or so I have been trying to figure out or see if there’s any difference in meaning between the words kāma & kāmā when used in the sutta’s. From reading and learning from the PD posts, I understand that kāma & kāmā would mean the same thing, the desiring and relishing of the 5 sense objects or kama assada, sankappa raga and so on.  

      Taking that to the test on the sutta’s, I initially thought there might’ve been a different meaning assigned to kāmā in the sutta’s. Because in Pali dictionary or a search online, it would bring up a singular and plural definition. 

      1. (mostly in sg.) wish, desire, pleasure; 

      2. (in pl.the objects of sensual pleasure viz. rūpa, sadda, gandha, rasa, phoṭṭhabba,
      I’ve taken kāmā the plural form meaning as the objects of sensual pleasures and applied it to some sutta’s, but don’t always end up with a consistent interpretation or explanation. While using the interpretation of the desiring and relishing of the 5 sense objects or kama assada for whenever the words kāma & kāmā is used showed more of a consistent interpretation / translation.  
      What I have learned and realized for myself through investigating is that kāma & kāmā, the singular and plural meaning giving by dictionaries and by combining both together actually gives the definition / meaning for kāma & kāmā! 
      And that is in singular form: wish, desire, pleasure for (in plural form) the objects of sensual pleasure viz. rūpa, sadda, gandha, rasa, phoṭṭhabba.
      Or the wishing, desiring, relishing (sankappa raga) for the 5 sense objects which is rūpa, sadda, gandha, rasa, phoṭṭhabba. 
      But regardless of Pali grammar play, I believe I  just came across a Pali source that states what “kāmā” is or I believe anyways. Basically it’s what’s been taught in some PD posts here, sankappa raga, kama raga and others. 
      “Vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehī”ti tattha katame kāmā? Chando kāmo, rāgo kāmo, chandarāgo kāmo, saṅkappo kāmo, rāgo kāmo, saṅkapparāgo kāmo—ime vuccanti “kāmā”.
    • #45419

      Yes. The last verse explains it. “Kāmā” is used in plural there.

      • Pali (starting with Magadhi) is an ancient language. Those days, there was no written form for any language.
      • Thus, there were no formal “grammar rules.” 
      • That is why Pali does not have an alphabet. I believe the Sinhala language was formulated based on Pali, and its alphabet was designed” for Pali sounds. In any Pali grammar book, the alphabet (primary sounds) shown there is the same as the Sinhala alphabet. See, for example, “A New Course in Reading Pali” by J. W. Gair and W. S. Karunatillake” (2009), p. xiii. As we know, the Pali Tipitaka was written in the Sinhala script 2000 years ago.
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    • #45884
      Tobias G

      Can anyone suggest a good Pali book for beginners? I would like to learn how to read Pali.

    • #45885

      The following are two good books to start:

      • “Pali – Buddha’s language,” by Kurt Schmidt
      • “Pali Primer,” by  Lily De Silva

      Following are two more resources online:

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