Tuesday, September 15, 2015


POST- 1.  P. K. Sasidharan
(theme-note draft)
16-30 December, 2015.


The idea of this course programme stems from the deliberations on Buddhist cultures, which took place in the workshop on cultural Buddhism conducted recently by the department of philosophy. There had many presentations attempting to trace the vestiges and continued presence of Buddhist elements in the south Indian cultures. Exploration in tune to the specific topic of the workshop; ‘Buddhist-Matters of Kerala and Elsewhere: Learning(s) From Cultural Legacies’, it seems to have succeeded to impress upon the participants about the nature of future course of academics in this connection. Many presentations were found employing a kind of linguistic archeological analysis for suggesting to the plausible Buddhist connections of different social institutions and cultural practices in south India. Buddhist connections are often attempted to establish by tracing the Pali etymological roots of many words that are seemingly integral to the prevailing cultures. This has sounded wider scope for linguistic explorations in order to have a better understanding of those cultural expressions that are otherwise accounted as belonging to cultural traditions other than Buddhist. As it has been surfaced in the deliberations, there is an urgent need of getting a familiarity with the phenomenon of Pali language as such. The factor of pervasiveness or admixture of Pali words, especially in Malayalam (the language of present Kerala) and Tamil languages seems to widen the scope of critical academics on cultural history of the region. It might provide substantial resource for challenging the received history of the region in general as well as the history of Buddhism of the region. Since the idea of cultural Buddhism has been considered by underlining the plurality of Buddhist cultures as against its perceptions as monolithic slab, visitations to the Pali sources of Buddhism also assume profound significance. To be able to equip for all these, a wider access to the Pali language needs to be created.

POST- 2. P. K. Sasidharan

Significance: (draft)

It may be for the first time that a training programme in Pali language is being conducted in Kerala (perhaps in south India itself). Pali and Prakrit were some of the ancient languages spoken widely by the people of Indian subcontinent. Kosala and Magadha (present-day Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar regions) are considered to be the heartland of Pali. However, it has been observed that larger presence of Pali words still remain to exist in the south Indian languages, especially in Tamil and Malayalam. That means it is in south India that Pali continues to remain, at least, as a partial living language. At the same time, grammatically the Pali and Prakrit are more akin to the Sanskrit. Such a unique linguistic phenomenon seems to open up wider scope for research in different areas. The historical and cultural conditions in which Pali is found to be a constitutive factor of the south Indian languages are yet to be explored.

For the study of Buddhism and Jainism, Pali texts are considered as more ancient and authentic sources. Ancient inscriptions, which are found to be in Brahmi scripts bear the legacy of Pali. Many Sanskrit literatures are also found carrying portions conveyed the Pali within the devanagari script.

As far as the derivation or meaning of the word ‘Pali’ is concerned, scholars hold different opinions. Preaching of Buddha (Buddhavachana), Tripitaka canons, the language of Buddhist canons, doctrine of dharma, etc. are some of the meanings attribute to it. There are different views regarding its derivation. For some, it is derived from the word ‘palli’ (village), which signifies that Pali was the language of village people. For some others, it is derivation of the Sanskrit ‘padd’ (text). It is also related to the word ‘padaliputra’.

The above matters would suggest that a study programme of the Pali language could not be confined simply to its grammatical aspects. It has to be accomplished a through familiarization of different aspects enshrined in the language. Therefore, the present workshop proposes to include, besides the training in grammatical and scriptural aspects, some scholarly lectures on subject matters that are enshrined in the Pali language.


POST- 3. Prof. Yojana Bhagat: (Chief  Pali Resource Person)

Introduction: Pali is one of the ancient languages of India and is the MOTHER of most of the languages spoken in India today.
The importance of the Pali language lies in the fact that ‘Pali has protected the buddhavacana- that is the words of the Buddha’- and hence it is called Pali. The name Pali is given to the language in the 5th CE by acariya Buddhaghosa thera, prior to that Pali was known by the name of Magadhi.

As we all know that Buddha used the lingua franca the local language of the people to give the dhamma- the teachings, so that it reaches all.

We have references in the Pali literature where Buddha admonished his disciples who wanted to translate the teachings in the Chandas language, Chandas being the name of Sanskrit prior to its modification by Panini. We thus understand that learning Pali or the original words of the Buddha is more relevant to know the dhamma than the gist of the dhamma through translation.

The traditional learning of Pali is with Pariyatti, Patipatti and Pativedhana, where Pariyatti is listening to the dhamma, reading the books, discussions on the subject and so on, the Patipatti means genuine efforts to walk on the path of the dhamma, that is following the precepts, being aware of oneself through meditational practices and so on and the last is the Pativedhana- which means the experiential knowledge of the teachings of the Buddha, which develops your insight- the Panna.

Each and every word of the Buddha can be experienced and that is the beauty of the teachings of the Buddha.

We donot learn Pali through translation, because no language of the world has the richness or the strength of the words to hold or carry the meanings or experience which the Pali words carry. That is the reason the most of thebuddhavacana cannot be translated in any other language and remains the same in Pali as the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha- the Vipassana and so on.

Learning Pali is very important today because- Pali has the teachings of the Buddha and whatever written on the teachings of the Buddha for 2500 years. Pali has the Dhamma- and the characteristic of the dhamma is it isakaliko- that is not bound by time.

The teachings of the Buddha were true 2500 years ago, are true today and will be true 2500 years henceforth. That is the reason; the scholars all over the world are learning Pali to find answers to the contemporary issues faced by the society today. The problem could be personal or social; the answer is in the teachings of the Buddha.

Buddha is called the Management guru, who gave the principles of Management which still governs the Sangha after 2500 years, Buddha is called the Mahabhessajja guru- the greatest doctor, who not only cured the illness, but showed the path to eradicate completely the suffering, Buddha is called the greatest psychotherapist who explained that Mind is the sixth sense, Buddha is the greatest leader who showed the right path to the millions and gave the principles of democracy and equality. Buddha is the greatest teacher the world has ever seen.
Thus when one learns Pali, it is not just the language- it is the way of life.

Introduction to the Pali Language and Literature 
 Recitation of the Pali suttas
Workshop on Brahmi Script and Pali Language
Relation of Pali language and Buddhist Art and Architecture
Places of Buddhist interest and Buddhist Pilgrimage
Contemporary Issues and the Teachings of the Buddha
Decline and Revival of Buddhism in India
Flower Arrangement and the Teachings of the Buddha.
Buddhist Education and Culture
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Buddhism



POST- 4. K. Sugathan:

Pali is basically a language belonging to Indo-European family. But it has borrowed freely from Moola Dravida language as well as Austric languages.  Sanskrit was made "pure" by removing Dravida and Austric elements. Once Prof. Sukumar Azheekode said, the language of Indian Culture is Pali and not Sanskrit. It is difficult to read Pali in Roman script. Brahmi script is quite simple  and easy to learn.

POST- 5. K. G. Krishna Kumar:

It is very important to see the reality that it is the Pali language, which made possible the present day Malayalam. Among the Dravidian languages, the Malayalam has certain uniqueness due to its influence by the Pali. Unfortunately  our linguists do not show any interest towards the Pali or give any attention to the influence Pali had on our language. For a proper understanding of the development of Malayalam language and the culture of Kerala requires familiarity with the Pali. Hope the workshop on Pali would help our people to rediscover its cultural roots.

POST-  6. Ajay Sekher:

   The Pali Workshop is academically and politically significant in the current conjecture. It is also a desirable follow up to the cultural buddhism workshop.  As the scholar behind the Prakrit-Malayalam dictionary we also need to include Prof T Pavithran's class on Brahmi script and Vattezhutu towards the end of the Pali workshop to link it to our own cultural contexts. He could  introduce Brahmi scripts in 2 days. That would be a further enabling and liberating break for all of us who wants to read ancient Pali texts and Tamil texts or inscriptions  in Brahmi scripts found all over south India.
POST- 7. K. Sugathan:

A study of Pali will help us to understand many things
(1) We got hundreds of words of Magadhi through the people who came to Kerala to propagate Buddhism
(2) The word 'amma' is not a thalbhavam of sanscrit word 'amba'
(3) Members of the Viswakarma community are Buddhists who came from Bihar.
(4) Sanskrit is an artificial language .

POST- 8. Rajasree. S

The study of Pali language and Brahmi script is essential for the study of Buddhist culture in India. The degradation of real values and the consequent revival of meaningless rituals are the grave problems faced by all present day religions in the world. The reconstruction of Buddhist ideas matching to the requirements of liberation from the sufferings seems to a possible way out.  For this,the recovery of Pali language is a must. But it should not be linked to the purpose of any power plitics.

POST- 9. Ajay Sekher:

It is a liberating break to learn Pali through the Brahmi script that was introduced in South India in BC third century by Asokan missionaries.  Prof T Pavithran who has deciphered so many Pali inscriptions from Idakal to Pattanamwould be a vital contributor in this academic event by Prof Yojana Bhagat. The Brahmi inscriptions and the Brahmi script in particular form the still surviving concrete and material link of South India with Pali apart from the vocabulary and usages that exist in disguised ways in Malayalam and other
South Indian languages.
POST- 10. M. Dasan:

There was no period in the history of India when only one system of philosophy one culture only were n vogue. in fact various cultures languages, and  epistemology existed  simultaneously. Then how comes Sanskrit became the  language and HIndu/Brahminic culture became the culture of India? Let us explore . In order to understand  how the dominant discourse interpolated , translated the original Pali in which Buddha expressed his dhamma ( also insisted not to use Chandas/sanskrit)a knowledge of Pali is essential. Any attempt to learn Pali language would also be an attempt to learn the way of life Buddha had shown.

POST- 11 . T. Mini:

A study of Pali is essential to understand Buddhist culture. Early literature of Buddhism is stored through the medium of Pali. Hence to know Buddhism  from the early period [that is from period of Buddha to  1st or Second century of common era] a working knowledge in Pali becomes essential.We are now studying and interpreting Buddhism mainly based on translations.We learn  Sanskrit Buddhist texts of later period also through translations from Chinese,  English or other languages. Hence to be familiar with the original Pali texts is  imperative to  understand Buddhist cultures. It is highly appreciable that such an attempt is being undertaken.There are courses in some North Indian  Institutions to teach Pali and Prakrt.

POST- 12. P. Madhu:

What matters is not the identity of language vis a vis that of the other but the semiotic/collective assemblage making that language - which determines usage of sense making with the language. Collective assemblage that effectuate & construct the language in question determines it's enunciative capabilities. If we
project Pali as language of 'good' Buddhists vis a vis bad Brahmins and trace a conspiracy in the 'elimination' of Pali influence from Malayalam then that would result in impoverished historiography and poor understanding of languages in the making. I wish the best for the workshop. A strong pull towards identity fetishism however may spoil it too.
POST- 13. P. K.Sasidharan:

Of course, assertions of cultural rights need not be yet another instance of perpetrating violation or injustice. It may be self defeating. Such provocations might be leading to  misdirect the target. We can very image a situation that the region of Kerala soon witnessing the demise of the Malayalam language and script. Can the possibility of it becoming another linguistic grave yard of the Malayalam be considered as natural and evolutionary?  Who will be the beneficiaries and losers of  such a situation? 
POST- 14. P. Madhu:

Problematizing milieus constituting enunciative practices culminating in languages and their signifiers and thereby hierarchising the social world unjustly can be the orientation. That will problematize processes instead playing a identitarian blame games and provocations.

15. P. K. Sasidharan:

The concerns conveyed by the above questions are to be addressed. Conspiracy may not be the apt term to characterize the forces working to the creation of such situation.  Interests of social and cultural domination are apparently there. They may be in force through economic and political structures.  

POST- 16. P. Madhu:

Do you presuppose some conspirators villains work behind the screen consistently for Millenniums to deliberately sabotage goodness of good languages? It is wonderful to study languages and the enunciative struggles or context making,  breaking, diminishing or enhancing them - but a conspiratory presuppositions muddled with current concerns of identity claims spoil the brat. That linearises and flattens history to unjustifiable ideological claims that are methodologically vacuous.

POST- 17. P. K. Sasidharan:

 Question of purity of language may not be the present concern. Why do we go after some dead languages and scripts? Why do we struggle to decipher the Indus script? Why the Pali and Prakrit are considered to so valuable? How the recovery Hebru became liberative? There are many factors and conditions which made the demise of languages. Some may be natural and evolutionary.  Others may be created or pressurized. There is a socializing process going on   whereby some tongues are made silent and some others are being made  louder. How could we think of such situations are encouraging? 

Activism seems to spring from the space of some common cause that are to be achieved. It may happen in such a way keeping both justice and cruelty in view. In this scheme,  the activism for the recovery of Pali has to be placed in the former side. Pali cannot be the sake of Pali alone

POST- 18. P. Madhu:

1.assuming languages to be pure monads & positioning them as oppressed and oppressor is problematic 
2.conspitatory claims of someone deliberately making  forgetful of somebody else's ancestry does not go well with the understanding of the discursive production of language. 
3.languages are flows in response to ethologically triggered necessities. No language can remain statically true to its ancestry- because ethological conditions and enunciative necessities don't remain same.
About activism: engineering action against other with claims of justice - I think can't  be authentic activism.

POST- 19. P. K. Sasidharan:

An activism for the recovery of Pali language seems to convey many things. It embodies a cultural politics that emerges from the awareness on historical wars of oppression and marginalization fought by means of language.  Primarily, it has to seek an explanation on why certain people are made forgetful of the tongue in which their ancestors were negotiating with natural and cultural environments for survival of them, including the progenies to come. The present day Kerala had been a region where the tongue Tamil was prevailed for a long time in the history of human civilization. That means, Keralites were too Tamilians as the people of the present Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately, Keralites consider Tamilians are different or rather culturally inferior. If we go further in the history of the sub-continent, we might be able to see a same model of cultural metamorphosis happened to the Dravidian India that is known now in hearsay only.  If Pali and Prakrit were popular tongues, what caused their demise? Asking such questions of cultural and historical justice cannot be branded as identity fanaticism.

POST- 20. P. Madhu:

Except by politics no language can be presented in its purity. Destabilizing it's unity is a welcome 'minority politics'. Speaking in terms of 'minority politics' is genuinely radical than what lobbies of various identity positions market.....
The enunciative pressures upon the making (variating) languages is worth problematized than associating them with purity of languages or their associative good or badness.


POST- 21. Rajasree.  S:

According to Alexander Cunningham, Pali is the refined form of Sanskrit. But unfortunately Buddhists themselves discarded Pali and  accepted Sanskrit.So the effort to revive Pali can be considered as a historic mission.

POST- 22. P. K. Sasidharan:
 The remark on Cunningham's view regarding Pali has to be cross chequed. Are sure he said the same way you wrote?  Can you get me details of that statement?

POST- 23. Rajasree. S:

I got that information from a book named "Nalanda" by UmayanalloorBalakrishnaPilla published in 1963. I am searching for that book from my collection . That old book contains rare collection of facts.

POST- 24. P. K. Sasidharan:

 Please verify whether Cunningham has said the same way or other way around

POST- 25. Rajasree. S:

I went through the pages once again.Cunningham's opinion is that the introduction of "thantrayana" and the importance given to Sanskrit by Guptha rulers accounts for the deterioration of "Pali, which was the refined version of Sanskrit" .

POST- 26. P. K. Sasidharan:

I still find something confused somewhere.  If Pali was deteriorated with the introduction of Sanskrit, how comes pali be a refined form of Sanskrit? It should be a case other way around. We have to find out more details.

POST-27. Rajasree. S:

Whatever is abandoned or ignored, may lose its quality. As Pali was the most popular and rich language, and the language used by the Buddhists, those who want to finish it off might have purposely discouraged Pali.Sanskrit must have been projected as a competitor to Pali. We know the role of Alexander Cunningham in excavating Nalanda.The sole credit goes to him. We can't expect a wrong statement from him.But we have to confirm it first from his own writings.

POST- 28. P. K. Sasidharan

yes, Cunningham has a book, Corpus Inscriptionum, related to the study of the Pali. I think, he and many others find Pali as an independent language. If the Sanskrit is, by the very conception of sophistication or purity signified by the word Sanskrit, a well regimented or stylised language, how could it be anterior to the Pali, which was a popular tongue and unsophisticated, primitive or Prakrit?

POST- 29. Rajasree. S:
When I discussed this issue with a scholar in Sanskrit, he too opined in the same way. He said that Pali is Prakrit and Sanskrit, the most purified. But why did Cunningham make such a remark..? I don't know anybody who knows Pali. It would be better, if you discuss the problem with the resource person who has agreed to teach us Pali.
POST- 30. P. K. Sasidharan:
There are Sankritists who argue that the Sankrit is the mother of all lnguages, especiall of Indian languages. For the all indian languages are derivatives or apabramsams from the Skt. Sanskrit, being part of the Indo-European family of languages, it is all likely that Cunningha had a disposition to high light Sanskrit's superiority. Chattambi swamikal had already argued that the Tamil has all the features of being an adibhasha, since it is the simplest language. in the evolutionary history, laguages have evolved from simple to complex. he had also showed sanskrit was developed from the tamil. though swamikal was very much appreciated by the Hinduists in general, they never consider him for his argument for Tamil.


POST- 31. Prof. Yojana Bhagat: (Chief Pali Resource Person)

From the above responses i can see that people are eager and ready to know more about the language and literature of Buddhism.

thus taking into consideration the interests of the people in general we should conduct the workshop accordingly.
more of different information, exploration of different ideas of how Buddhism and Pali language was prevalent in south India specially Kerala. 

we would be needing simple Pali grammar books for the basic study. i am also preparing the basic information notes which we can give the students in photocopies.

PPTs should be prepared to give information on Buddhist archaeological sites of India. Papers on the topics of contribution of south India to Buddhism is necessary for better understanding.

i am working on these areas. kindly let me know any topic you think would be of interest to the people, to create more interest in Pali and Buddhist studies.

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