BOOKS ON PALI LANGUAGE & LITERATURE

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FAQs


Q1. Which literature is written in the Pali language?


The Pali language is one of the earliest known languages and is spoken by the followers of Theravada Buddhism. It is believed that it was spoken by Buddha Himself as well. The most important Pali literature is the Pali Tipitaka, also known as Pali Canon. It is the main scripture of the Theravada school. The Pali Canon mentions the teachings of the Buddha and his immediate disciples or early followers. The word “Tripitaka” means “three baskets”. The three Pitakas are Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline basket), Sutta Pitaka (Sutra/Sayings basket), and Abhidhamma Pitaka (Systematic Philosophy basket).


Q2. Is Buddhist literature written in Pali?


Yes, most of the literature of Buddhism is written in the Pali language. It is believed that the Buddha delivered his discourses in Pali and as a result, early Buddhist literature was written in Pali. The main and most important scripture of Theravada Buddhism, the Pali Canon (also known as Tipitaka) is written in the Pali language that mentions the discipline and regulations for monks and nuns in their monastic lives, teachings of Buddha, and systemization of monks’ teaching and scholarly work.


Q3. Which religion used the Pali language?

 

Pali is the well-known ancient language of the Theravada Buddhist scriptures such as the Pali Canon or Tipitaka. The Pali language is seen as closely related to Sanskrit but is not directly related to it. The Buddhist scriptures were passed down in oral tradition until the Pali Canon was written in the Pali language. It is a composite language that draws on various Middle Indic languages.


Q4. Which book is written in the Pali language?

 

The central religious book or scripture Tripitaka (also known as the Pali Canon) of Theravada Buddhism is written in the Pali language. It demonstrates the teachings of Buddha, the path to Nirvana (liberation from the cycle of birth and death), and the rules and discipline of the Sangha (association). Linguists identify Pali as being more closely related to the Prakrit languages of western India. The Buddha taught three Pitakas (baskets) in the Pali Canon: Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline basket), Sutta Pitaka (Sutra basket), and Abhidhamma Pitaka (Systematic philosophy basket). Formerly, the Pali Canon was transmitted orally, and therefore all the disciples of the Buddha memorized it and passed it to other followers. Later, it was written down in the Pali language.

 

Q5. What is Pali called in English?

 

Pali is a sacred and ancient language of the main scripture of Theravada Buddhism called the Pali Canon or Tipitaka. It is closely related to many Middle Indic languages and has been written in various scripts such as Brahmi, Devanagari, and other Indic scripts. The term Pali means “line” or “canonical text”. Linguists identify the Pali language as a combination of various Middle Indo-Aryan (Prakrit) languages.

 

Q6. What is the importance of the Pali language?

 

The word “Pali” is the language of the sacred book of Theravada Buddhism (the Pali Canon or Tipitaka). For the followers of Theravada Buddhism, this language is considered very important to learn in order to understand the philosophy of the Tipitaka deeply and thoroughly. Some prayers are also sung in this language in a ritual context in Buddhist temples and monasteries. The great centers of learning the Pali language continue to be found in Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.

 

Q7. How many books are there in Pali Canon?

 

The Pali Canon, the sacred scripture in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, is preserved in the Pali language. It is revered as the Word of the Buddha (Buddhavacana) and it is believed by the Buddhists that most of the Pali Canon originated from the Buddha and his immediate followers. The first printed edition of the Canon was published in 1900 in 38 volumes and later in 1927 in 57 volumes. The Pali Canon, also known as Tipitaka (three baskets), consists of three Pitakas; Vinaya Pitaka (concerned with the rules of the Sangha), Sutta or Suttanta Pitaka (mentions the Buddha’s teachings), and Abhidhamma Pitaka (deals with Buddha’s doctrines about the mind). There are seven books in the Abhidhamma Pitaka.