Photo: Venerable Wajira, lecturer of the Pali language at Peradeniya University


At WDS Meditation and Development Center, Karnapi tee 10 

Objective: to teach Pali grammar and syntax enabling students to be competent in translating from Estonia/English into Pali and from Pali into Estonia/English.

Course Content: Passages will be selected for discussion in class from different strata of Pali literature in order to familiarize students with the development of the Pali language. Exercises in translation will be conducted regularly. Conjunction, combinations, syntax, participles, and verbs will be studied in detail using both traditional grammatical texts and historical grammar.

Pali is the language used to preserve the Buddhist canon of the Theravada Buddhist tradition, which is regarded as the oldest complete collection of Buddhist texts surviving in an Indian language. Pali is closely related to Sanskrit, but its grammar and structure are simpler.

Traditional Theravadins regard Pali as the language spoken by the Buddha himself, but in the opinion of some linguistic scholars, Pali was probably a synthetic language created from several vernaculars to make the Buddhist texts comprehensible to Buddhist monks living in different parts of northern India.

Pali is rooted in the Prakrits, the vernacular languages, used in northern India during the Middle period of Indian linguistic evolution. As Theravada Buddhism spread to other parts of southern Asia, the use of Pali as the language of the texts spread along with it, and thus Pali became a sacred language in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Pali has been used almost exclusively for Buddhist teachings, although many religious and literary works related to Buddhism were written in Pali at a time when it was already forgotten in India.

This course is designed to help you to learn the basics of Pali grammar and vocabulary through direct study of selections from the Buddha’s discourses. It thus aims to enable you to read the Buddha’s discourses in the original as quickly as possible. The textbook for the course is A New Course in Reading Pali: Entering the Word of the Buddha by James Gair and W.S. Karunatilleke (1998, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, India. ISBN 81-208-1440-1). The Pali grammatical tables were designed by Bhikkhu Nyanatusita. All necessary study materials provided by the teacher.


Estonian Theravada Sangha Summer School

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Eesti theravaada sangha estonian theravada sangha andrus kahn thitanano bhikkhu Ṭhitañāṇo bhikkhu Head of Estonian Sangha