pali noble truth | Four Noble Truths | Dukkha
'The inclination to dogmatise'.2 Their designation as saccani led to the introduction of the word-sacca into each item: ...
I want in this paper to examine the grammar and syntax of something which although fundamental to buddhist doctrine has never been satisfactorily explained at the linguistic level. I refer to the statement, in Pali, of the four noble truths =(Nts). This This statement occurs occurs in the dhammacakka-ppav dhammacakka-ppa vattana-sutta attana-sutta (Vin (Vi n I 10 foil. foi l. - SV 420 foil.),1 which which is traditionally the first sermon preached by the Buddha after his enlightenment, in the following form: idam ida m kho pana bhikkhave bhikkhave dukkham ariya- -saccam idem id em kho pana bhikkhave bhikkhave du kkha samudayam samudayam ariy ari ya-saccam, idam i dam kho pana pa na bhikkave dukkha-nirodham dukkha-nirodham ariya-saccam, idam i dam kho pana bhikkave dukkha-nirodha-gamini patipada ariya-saccam. I shall refer to this as the introduction set.2 1.3 It is clear that there is something strange about the grammar and syntax here. The most recent statement that I have seen made about this is that of Johansson, who says "syntactically, these expressions are somewhat loosely formulated and of different types. Note that that samudaya and and nirodha are masculine masculine and therefore must must be acc. a cc. sg. if the compounds are not of the the possessi po ssessiv ve type and therefore therefore adjectivl ad jectivly y adopted to saccam:patip s accam:patipada ada can only only be nom. sg.....probably sg.....prob ably dukkham and patipad pati pada a whic which h should be unders understood tood as nom and and translated " truth which is pain"===="truth about pain";dukkha-samudayam and dukkha-nirodham are probably possessive posses sive compoun co mpounds ds adjectively related related to saccam sa ccam and a nd therefore nom, sg.nt.... sg.nt......l ..literally iterally "pain"pai noriginatin origi nating g truth", truth", ie i e "tru " truth th about the the origi o rigin n of pain", "tru " truth th about the the cessation ces sation of pain". p ain". There There are other possibilitie possib ilities s dukkham may also be adj and so the same type of attribute as Dukkha-samudayam Dukkha-samudayam taken as poss.compoun po ss.compound:it d:it may also be taken as acc.sg acc .sg of the noun because acc, is i s sometimes someti mes used as a case ca se of reference, although although the the loc. is i s more common in this this funct function: ion: dukkha-samudayam dukkha-samudayam and dukkha-nirodham dukkha-nirodham could also be b e understood as acc. of reference. On the the oth o ther er hand pati-pada pati -pada is certainly nom..,if nom..,if it shou s hould ld not simply be combined combi ned with ariya-saccam to form one long compound. 1.4 Johan Jo hansson sson did di d not quote and a nd possibly possi bly was was unaware of weller's suggestion that the the statement s tatement of the four NTs in pali is based upon n earlier version in an eastern dialect,where the nom.sg of both masc. and a nd nt. nt. nouns nouns was in -e.In that dialect dia lect accordi acc ording ng to weller the the 2nd and 3rd 3r d NTs NTs would have have had the form dukkha-samudaye dukkha-samudaye ariyasaace and dukkha-nirodhe dukkha-nirodhe ariya-saacce, and by a faulty faulty piece of 'translating' 'translating' on the the part of the Pali redactor reda ctor,, -samudaye -samudaye -sacce and -nirodhe- sacce were changed changed to -samudayam -saccam and -nirodham -saccam instead i nstead of the correct -samudayo saccam and -nirodho -saccam. 1.5. It seems that others, too, believed that the correct form of the statement should be -samudayo saccam and -nirodho -saccam, for there is a vl -samudayo at .D II 308,1 and M III 250,32*, and a vl nirodho at D II 310,4, while while Weller We ller quotes the the comment of the editors edi tors of the siamese sia mese editi e dition, on, who who reads -samudayo -samudayo -saccam -sac cam and -nirodho -nirodho -saccam agai a gainst nst their their manuscripts,on manuscripts,on the grounds grounds that that samudaya and nirodha are masculine nouns.6 The general tendency of the manuscripts, however, to read -samudayam -samudayam and -nirodham indicates indica tes that this this is what what the Pali tradition traditio n felt was was correct, co rrect, and consequently consequently refrained refrained from 'correcting' 'correcti ng' . 1.6 Neither Johansson's nor Weller's explanation is entirely satisfactory.As we shall see (2.2) the four NT NT s also occur oc cur in pali in i n a set where where -samudayo -sa mudayo and -niro -nirodho dho are found and Weller's suggestion does not explain why the two compounds should appear to have different genders in different contexts. Johansson's explanation does not take account of the fact that we should expect the grammar and syntax of each of the four NTs to be the same and therefore the explanation must be the same for all four 1.7. It could also be suggested that in the statement of the four NTs the gender of samudaya and nirodha is genuinely neuter, but this does not meet the objection which has been levelled against Weller's solution, that in other sets the two words have the expected masculine gender.It would be possible
to suggest that -samudayo and -nirodho were changed to -samudayam and -nirodham on the analogy of dukkham in the 1st NT, and then the expected form of the pronoun ayam was changed to idam to agree with samudayam and nirodham.This does not however explain why we also have idam in the 4th NT although patipada is feminine. 2. Other statements of the four Noble Truths in Pali 2.1. Later in the Dhammacakka-ppavattana-sutta we find the four NTs stated again in two sets (Vin I 11,1 foil. = SV 422,3 foil.)', idam dukkham ariya-saccan ti me bhikkhave ... aloko udapadi. tarn kho pan ' idam dukkham ariya-saccam parinneyyam...parinnatam..idam dukkha-samudayam ariyasaccan ti me bhikkhave' . . . aloko udapadi. tarn kho pan' idam dukkha samudayam ariya saccam pahatabbam...pahinam....idam dukkha nirodham ariya saccan ti me bhikkhave..aloko udapadi....tam kho pan' idam dukkha nirodham gamini patipada ariya saccan ti 2.4 it would appear that in mnemonic set (c) the pali tradition takes dukkham,dukkha--samudayam etc as being in apposition to ariya saccam so that when the latter is in an oblique case so too is the former eg dukkham ariya saccam....dukkha samudayam dukkha nirodham dukkha nirodha gamini patipadam ariya saccam pucchanti(M II 10,21 foll) 2.7 A comparable translation is given for the introduction set (1.2) and the pronoun idam which occurs in each NT is taken as agreeing with -saccam, so that the translation is usually given in the form "This is the NT of pain, 3.2 Where the pali version of the dhammacakka-ppvattana-sutta has the introduction set(1.2),Mvu and La1 have the 'mnemonic' set (c): CPS has neither the 'introduction' set nor the mnenomic set, although it includes the mnemonic set later(3.4).The equivalent of the pali 'enlightenment' set (2.1) occurs in the following versions: idam duhkham iti bhiksavah . . . alokam pradurabhusi; ayam duhkha-samudayo ti ... alokam pradurabhusi; ayam duhkha-nirodho ti ... aloko pradurabhusi; iyam aa duhkha-nirodha-gamini pratipadd iti ... aloko' pradurabhusi (Mvu ...III 332,13 foil.): duhkam iti me bhiksavah....alokah pradurbhutah;ayam duhkha-samudaya iti.......alokah pradurbhutah; ayam duhkha nirodha iti....alokah pradurbhutah iyam duhkha-nirodha-gamini pratipad iti . . . alokah pradurbhutah (Lai 417,15 foll.):idam dukham arya -satyam iti me bhisavah..buddhir udapadi;ayam duhkha samudayo yam duhha nirodha iyam duhkha nirodha gamini pratipad arya satyam iti...buddhir udapadi(CPS 12.2-3).For the omission of the word arya-satyam in the 2nd and 3rd NTs we can compare the similar omission in 'mnemonic' set (c) in the same text (3.4) 3.3. The BHS versions of the 'gerundival' set are as follows: tarn khalu punar imam duhkham aryasatyam parijneyam ... tena khalu punar ayam duhkha-samudayo arya-satyo prahatavyo . . . atha khalu punar ayam duhkha-nirodho arya satyo saketkrto..... sa khalu punar iyam dukha-nirodhagamini pratipad arya-satya bhavita(mvu III 333.3 foll):yat khalu idam dukkham parijneyam.....sa khlu ayam duhkha samudayah prahatavya(h)...sa khalv ayam duhkha-nirodhah sSksStkartavyafh) ... sa khalv iyam duhkha-nirodha-gamini pratipad bhavayitavy(a) ... tat khalv idam duhkham parijnatam...sa khalv ayam duhkha samudayah prahina(h)...sa khalv ayam duhkja nirodhah saksatkrta(h)....sa khalv iyam duhkha-nirodha-gamini pratipad bhavita (La1 418.1 foll)" tat khalu duhkham arya-satyam....parijnatavyam....tat khalu duhkha samudayam arya -satyam....prahatavyam . . . tat khalu duhkha-nirodham arya-satyam ... saksikartavyam ... tat khalu duhkha-nirodha-gamini pratipad arya-satyam ....bhava-yitavya.....tat khalu duhkham arya-satyam...praijnatam....tat khalu duhkha samudayam arya satyam...prahinam...tat khalu duhkha nirodham arya satyam...saksikrtam,,,tat khalu duhkha nirodha gamini pratipad arya satyam....bhavitam(CPS 12.411).There is a version of the basic set in the introduction to CPS;idam duhkham arya-satyam iti yathabhutam prajanati; ayam duhkha-samudayah; ayam duhkha-nirodhah; iyam duhkha-nirodhagamini pratipad arya-satyam iti yathabhutam prajanati (CPS E.24).For the omission of the word arya satyam in the 2nd and 3rd items we can compare the similar omission in mnemonic set (C) in CPS 3.4
3.4 versions of the mnemonic set occur as follows: catvari.......arya-satyani seyyathidam dukham arya-satyam ,dukha-samudayo arya-satyam, dukha-nirodho arya-satyam,dukha nirodha gamini pratipad arya -satyam (Mvu III 331,17 foll): catvari....arya-satyani-----dukham dukha -samudayo dukha -nirodho dukha-nirodha -gamini pratipat (LA1 417.2) catvari ... aryasatyani — duhkham aryasatyam duhkhasarnudayo duhkha-nirodho duhkha-nirodha-gamint pratipad aryasatyam (CPS 14.2-3). The omission of the word aryasatyam in the 2nd and 3rd NTs in the CPS version has already been noted in the 'enlightenment' and 'basic' sets (§3.2-3). We find a different form of the 2nd and 3rd NTs at Mvu II 138,4 foil.duhkhasamudayam aryasatyam duhkha-nirodham aryasatyam 3.5. It would appear that in the 'mnemonic' set at Mvu III 331,17 foil. (§3.4) the words duhkham, etc are in apposition to aryasatyam, although it would be possible to take the 4th NT as a compound, since pratipad has the same form whether it is nom.sg. or the stem form. If it is a compound, however 3.7 Nor do the BHS versions of the gerundival set help with the interpretation of the pali version of that set.In place of the pronoun tam which introduces each item in the pali version(2.1).MVu has tam, tena, ath and sa . The first three of these suggest that pali tam is the adverbial use of the pronoun in the sense of 'then, 'therefore' ,but sa in the 4th item goes against this, as do yat/tat, sa, sa and sa in the Lai version agrees with Pali in having tat in each item, but it omits the pronouns idam, ayam , ayam and iyam. These differences present too great a problem to be solved in this short paper. 4. The problem reconsidered 4.1 If we consider the form of the 'enlightenment' set in pali (2.1) and the other tradition(3.2),we note that pali has ariya saccam in each item (with -samudayam and -nirodham in the 2nd and 3rd Nts):Mvu and La1 omit arya-satyam in all four items(with -samudayo/-nirodho and samu- daya(h) /-nirodha(h) respectively);CPS omits arya-satyam from the 2nd and 3rd items (with -samudayo and nirodha(h)).In the gerundivial set the pali version has ariya saccam in each item ( with -samudayam and -nirodham): Mvu (3.3) has arya-satya in each item but makes -satya agree with gender of dukkham,-samudayo etc: La1 omits arya satyam from each item; CPS has arya-satyam in each item (with -samudayam and -nirodham). In the 'basic' set the Pali version (§2.2) omits ariya-saccam from each item; CPS omits arya-satyam from the 2nd and 3rd items (with -samudayah and nirodhah) 4.2. If we examine the form of 'mnemonic' set (c) in Pali (§ 2.3) we find ariya-saccam in each item (with -samudayam and -nirodham); Mvu (§ 3.4) has arya-satyam in each item (with -samudayo and nirodho in one version, and -samudayam and nirodham in the other); LaI omits arya satyam from all four items;CPS omits arya satyam in the 2nd and 3rd items (with -samudayo and -nirodho). 4.3. Woodward made a very perspicacious remark about the Pali version of the 'gerundival' set (§2.1). With reference to the statement that the second NT should be given up (pa- hatabbam) , he noted that the word ariya-saccam should be omitted,since what the Buddha meant was that the origin of pain should be given up, not the truth about it.1 as we have seen, in the Lal version (§ 3.3) the word arya-satyam is omitted from all four items, and consideration shows that this must be correct. What the buddha said was that pain should be known,its origin given up,its cessation realised ,and the path to its cessation practised. Woodward did not,therefore go far enough. He should have suggested the removal of the word ariya-saccam from all four items in the 'gerundival' set.1 F.L. Woodward, The Book of the Kindred Sayings, Part V, London 1930, p. 358, note 1. 4.4. Further consideration shows that in other contexts,too,the word ariya saccam should be omitted.Following the statement of the 'basic' set at D II 304.26 foll..there is a series of questions about them,e.g. katamam dukkham aryia-saccam,etc( DII 305,1 foll.).This is normally translated 'What is the NT of pain ?', but since the answer is jati dukkham, again without ariya-saccam, it is clear that the original form of the question must have been katamam dukkham — 'What is pain ?'
Mvu (III 332,1 foll.) and CPS (14.4^10) agree with the Pali version in having arya satyam in each question.although in these two text they come after a statement of 'mnemonic' set(c). which includes the word arya-satyam in each item. The version in Lal (417,4 foll.) has tatra katamad dukham etc, without arya-satyam.A version of the questions without ariya-saccam occurs in Pali at M I 48,29 foll. 5. A proposed solution 5.1. I suggest that the original form of the 'enlightenment set' was the "basic" set: idam dukkham ,ayam dukkha-samudayo,ayam dukkha nirodho,ayam dukkha-nirodha-gamini patipada( to quote in it Pali version,without prejudice as to the actual dialect or language in which it was first uttered), as found at M I 23,14 foll. This is supported by the Mvu and Lal versions. The earliest form of the 'mnemonic' set was the four words dukkham samudayo nirodho maggo, without any reference to sacca, e.g. e.g. yd buddhanam . . . dhamma-desana tam pakasesi dukkham samudayam nirodham maggam (Vin I 16,3). When these items became known as 'truths', they were so designated,cattari arya-saccam-dukkham samudayo maggo nirodho( th 492). 5.2 Their designation as saccani led to the introduction of the word-sacca into each item: cattari saccani-- dukkha-saccam,samudaya-saccam nirodha saccam magga saccam(PP 2.1-3) Although these items are usually translated as though they were dependent (tatpurusa) compounds ($2.6),they should rather be taken as descriptive(karmadharya) compounds: 'The truth "pain" etc.cf.uposatha-saddo 'The word "uposatha". They might even be taken as abbreviated forms of syntactical compounds:*'"' *idamdukkhasacaam, etc., 'The truth (that) "This is pain", etc.', cf. idamsaccabhinivesa 'The inclination (to say) "This is true'", i.e. 'The inclination to dogmatise'. 5.3 When the truth became known as ariya saccani then this word was added to the mnemonic sets.It was added to the simplest form in apposition to the four items:ya sa buddhanam....dharmadesana tadyatha duhkham samudayo nirodho margah catvary arya satyani...samprakasayati (CPS 16:13). The introduction of the word ariya into mnemonic set (b) gave a set --Dukkha-ariya-saccam etc.I suggest that the hiatus between dukkha--, etc and -ariya-saccam was avoided by the insertion of a sandhi -m-, producing dukkha-m-ariya-saccam etc, wrong word division led to this being taken as dukkham-ariya-saccam ie as two words in apposition. This was probably helped by the fact that dukkham could be taken as an adjective in agreement with ariyasacaam. The same wrong division of dukkhasamudaya-m-ariyasacaam and dukkhanirodha-m-ariyasaccam led to the appearance of dukkha-samudayam and dukkha-nirodham. Despite the fact that these two words were felt to have an independent existence so that they could be declined in apposition to ariyasacca (§2.4), nevertheless the Pali tradition, with the few exceptions noted above (1.5) 5.5 Of the BHS versions of the mnemonic set, that in La1 omits the word arya satyam and so the problem of hiatus does not arise there. At Mvu II 138,4 (3.4) we find dukham arya-satyam dukhasamudayam arya -satyam dukha -nirodham arya -satyam dukha nirodha-gamini-pratipad arya satyam which in the light of the discussion in the previous paragraph can all be taken as compounds with sandhi -m- in the first three items. In the 4th NT pratipad, which can be either nom.sg. or stem form, creates no hiatus.At Mvu III 331 17 foil., however, we find duhkhasamudayo arya-satyam and duhkha- -nirodho arya-satyam. It would seem most likely that these forms represent later attempts to 'correct' what was thought to be faulty grammar when wrong word division led to the appearance of the anomalous forms -samudayam and -nirodham, just as we have seen occasionally in the pali tradition(1.5).The CpS version omits arya-satyam from the 2nd and 3rd items, where we find -samudayo and -nirodho. 5.6 As suggested above the word ariya sacca is not appropriate in the 'enlightenment' (5.1) or the
gerundivial (4.3) sets,but its presence in the mnemonic set doubtless led to its introduction there by analogy, Theoretically its introduction should have led to syntactical compounds--idam-dukkha-mariya-saccam,ayam-dukkha-samudaya-m-ariya-saccam,ayam-dukkha-nirodha-m-ariya-saccam, ayam-dukkha-nirodha-gamini--patipada-ariya-saccam--but just as a misunderstanding of the structure of compounds in the mnemonic set led to a faulty word division, so another misunderstanding led to the separation of the pronouns from the beginning of the compound Since in the first item in the pali version idam seemed to agree with saccam, the other three pronouns were changed to idam to agree in same way 5.7 la1 does not include the word arya satyam in either the 'enlightenment' or the 'gerundival' set (§4.1). Mvu does not include the word in the 'enlightenment' set, and that it is an addition to the 'gerundival' set is clearly shown by the ..fact that the syntactical problem of fitting it into each item was solved by making -satya agree in gender with dukkham, -samudayo etc.THe cps version of the enlightenment set omits arya-satyam in the 2nd and 3rd items as it does in the mnemonic set and has -samudayo and -nirodah as in the same set. The CPS version of the gerundival set has aryasatyam in each item,with -samudayam and -nirodham in the 2nd and 3rd items. It is not obvious why CPS sometimes includes arya satyam in the 2nd and 3rd items, and sometimes omits the word.It is however clear that when arya satyam 6.3 The grammatical form of the four Nts when the word ariya-saccam is included is a syntactical compound.This was not understood by the tradition, with the result that faulty division of the compounds led to the apparent production of nom.sg. forms -samudayam and -nirodham.The belief that in the 1st NT idam was an independent pronoun agreeing with-saccam led to the pronouns in the other three Nts being changed to idam. 6.4 The earliest forms of the 'enlightenment' and 'gerund- ival' sets did not include the word ariyasaccam. Since the 'introduction' set is an addition to the Dhammacakka-ppavattana- -sutta, we may conclude that the earliest form of this sutta did not include the word ariya-saccam. 6.5 Nevertheless as John Brough stated in his note on pamado/*pamado these readings are so well entrenched in the pali tradition that even if agreement could be reached upon the original forms of the four Nts,no editor would think of inserting an emendation of them into his text. and the fact that is is replaced in the Mvu and Lai versions by the mnemonic set sugests that it is not an original feature of the sutta,it is possible that in the earliest verson there was no set of four Nts as the beginning og this portion of the narrative at all.When the idea of the NTs became more widespread and the word ariya -saccam was inserted into the 'basic set' which is suggested above (§ 5.1), was the original form of the 'enlightenment' set, a statement of the four NTs was prefixed to ... Dukkham ariya saccam, dukkha samudayam ariya saccam, dukkha-nirodham ariya saccam, dukkha nirodha gamini patipada ariya saccam.The 4th NT also occurs in the form dukkha niordha gamini patipada ariya saccam(Vism 494.4) where gamini probably represents an attempt to write the stem form of gamini in a compound,