Saturday, 6 November 2010

Introduction to Pabbajjavinicchaya (3)

The feature of pæ¹i construction
            The creation of a translation or English version of a Pali text entails a scholarly attempt to render the stories, situation and thoughts of people from ancient cultures who spoke ancient languages into a modern language that is spoken by people who live in very different, contemporary cultures. The Pæ¹i language is believed to be spoken language of the Buddha and formulated to record the Buddha’s teaching. A translation is an art rather than a precise science. The analysis of words, grammatical constructions, contexts, and other factors in translation is seldom straightforward, always requiring intellectual agility and sensitivity. Some words have a very limited range of function or meaning in a language, but most words have a wide range of meaning. Furthermore, the function of many words changes when they are combined in phrases with other words or when used to serve particular functions. For example, the word pa¥a³gama¼ðþka (Vinayæla³kæra¥økæ, vol. 1, p-236) is a combination of two words pa¥a³ga and ma¼ðþka. Pa¥a³ga means a grasshopper and ma¼ðþka means a frog. When the two words are combined together, the meaning of pa¥a³ga changes into a supporting word for ma¼ðþka; the meaning of pa¥a³gama¼ðþka is a frog whose mouth is wider.
            On the other hand, a word or phrase has a range of possible meaning according to context. For instance, the word gøvæ (Ibid, 232) can be rendered into two types of meanings: neck and debt. The majority of Pæ¹i learners have familiarity with the former one only, not the latter. In this context of disciplinary rule connected with debt, the latter meaning is, however, to be taken. Herein the word gøvæ (debt to be owed) and bha¼ðaggha (debt to be owed) has their own separate senses (Ibid). For example, a monk borrowed #100 (money) from one of his friend; then he has to owe #100 (money) to him; that is the sense of gøvæ. Nevertheless, a monk borrowed #100 (money) from one of his friends; then he has to owe something, such as, robes, books, etc, equivalent to #100 (not money) to him; that is the sense of bha¼ðaggha.
         Different interpreters are going to arrive at differing interpretations of the same texts. Such different views of different interpreters are known as samænavæda (view of similarity or agreeable view), kecivæda (view of some scholar), ekevæda (view of the one), aññevæda (view of other) and aparevæda (view of the some other) [Sølakkhandhavagga abhinava¥økæ, vol, 1, p-299]. Furthermore, the authors of commentaries or sub-commentaries occasionally describe their preferences on the work of writing. For instances, when the authors intend to emphasize their strong opinion, they generally describe the words: amhækaµ khanti (our view) [Ibid, 231], amhækaµ mati (our inference) and amhækaµ ruci (our preference). Moreover, in connection with quotations or references, the commentators including Buddhaghosa mainly refer to the old commentaries in Sinhalese language such as, Mahæa¥¥hakathæ, Mahæpaccarøa¥¥hakathæ and Kurundø a¥¥hakathæ.
         Each and every canonical text of Vinaya and Suttanta basket has its own genre feature or textual style at the commencement of first paragraph: all the Vinaya texts except Pariværa are always commenced with tena samayena buddho bhagavæ.. [while the Buddha was residing at..], while Suttanta texts are commenced with Evaµ me sutaµ.[thus have I heard]. Unlike canonical texts, all the commentaries and sub-commentaries of three baskets open by and large their writings with several verses by paying homage to the Buddha, Dhamma and Saµgha believing that by doing so, their pieces of writings would be successful smoothly and conveniently without any disturbances. In the conclusion of their writings, they compose normally quite a few verses in order to express the year of their works completed and aspiration for something depending on particular persons such as aspiration for deity, human or Budhha in the future existence (Vinayæla³kæra¥økæ,vol, 2,  p-434).
However, nowadays, the formal style of religious books and any other religious publications begin with Namotassa bhagavato arahato sammæsambuddhassa [I pay homage to the blessed one, exalted one and self-enlightened one] at top of the first page apart from the paragraph. This tradition has affiliated into the religious rites and rituals. In Myanmar every religious ceremony is always opened by reciting Namotassa bhagavato arahato sammæsambuddhassa three times. Even this tradition is habitually practiced by monks and novices who learn by heart the Pi¥aka literature with regular recitation of Namotassa bhagavato arahato sammæsambuddhassa before memorizing.

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