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Talk:Pali Canon/Draft

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 Definition the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism [d] [e]
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Hey Peter--

Nice work on this article; I think it's coming along nicely. Despite having done Sanskrit for a few years (and some Pali in there too) I'm really not qualified to comment on the content of this article. I did have a few comments about style and presentation.

1. I think it would be helpful to have a footnote expanding on the "three approaches" in the 'Authorship and Date' section-- just giving the names of some major scholars and works. A statement in the body of the text about which approach-- if any-- prevails would be helpful as well. (There are a few other points where you refer to unnamed scholars; I think it would be helpful to flesh these references out.)

2. There are a few points where you refer to things a bit too allusively for the general reader. I think the 'Canon' section could use some clarification to explain why these different canonical lists are important, or what importance each is accorded. As it is, you just jump in with a list of the different lists of canonical works. Similarly, the 'Role' section is interesting, but is also a bit compressed.

Hope this helps! I look forward to reading more. Brian P. Long 20:24, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

  1. OK, I've added a note on the 3 approaches. Is that the sort of thing you're thinking of? I can't actually say for sure which prevails, though I suspect the 3rd, the middle of the road. (Which itself contains a wide variety of detailed views.) Which other references were you saying should be added?
  2. I probably can't add much on the canon. Scholars just don't seem to have bothered studying the point much. I've already stretched about as far as I can go without original research (and even that would add only a bit of speculation; it really needs research into some rather obscure sources I haven't got access to). I'll have to think about the Role section. I can no doubt add more detail here if appropriate.
Peter Jackson 10:19, 7 September 2011 (UTC)


Just had occasion to look at this policy, and I seem to have broken it: the paper cited in note 7 is mine.

Also, the meaning of "associated" in the context of websites is not explained. I'm a member of the Pali Text Society, and do work for them, though only on a freelance basis, not as an employee (though I live in hope). I've no connexion with the website as such. Peter Jackson 10:49, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

OK, I've rewritten to remove the citation. It's now somewhat less informative, but still useful. Peter Jackson 18:25, 10 March 2014 (UTC)


Peter, I wanted you to know that I've consulted this page several times in recent years, as I began plowing through some of the modern translations of the Pali Canon (esp. those by Maurice Walshe and Bhikku Bodhi). Thanks for how much you've put into this article. I'd like to spend more time with it, if I could ever get the time.Pat Palmer (talk) 01:09, 3 July 2020 (UTC)

Can I tinker with presentation of names?

Would it be okay if I tinkered with the presentation of names in the article? Possible examples:

  • Dīghanikāya could be shown as Dīgha Nikāya (Long Discourses)
  • Majjhimanikāya could be shown as Majjhima Nikāya (Middle Length Discourses)
  • Saṃyuttanikāya could be shown as Saṃyutta Nikāya (Connected Discourses)
  • Aṅguttaranikāya could be shown as Aṅguttara Nikāya (Numerical Discourses)

Please let me know. I don't want to trample on the good work already done, more interested in prettifying for readability.Pat Palmer (talk) 15:23, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

Well obviously, I couldn't wait to get started. But let me know if you don't welcome that.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:21, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

I think we should be consistent. I remember discussing this on WP many years ago. I couldn't find much consistency either in WP articles or in Google searches. The way you've done it is pitaka hyphen lc, nikaya space cap. I don't know whether you have any particular reason for the distinction. There's also the question of diacritics. What I eventually did over there was to use unpointed forms most of the time, but give the pointed form parenthetically after first occurrence, and maybe other important places. We're supposed to be a scholarly site, so I tended to use pointed forms here more. I'm not sure whether you're changing that. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:38, 28 August 2020 (UTC)

Hi Peter. I have only two concerns about naming, which are consistency and best readability for people who (like me, probably) have mild dyslexia. Having one big concatenated phrase, with no italics or bold for the names, is a little harder for me personally to read. It's your call though. If you decide you want them a certain way, which requires any transition, I'd be glad to help with the mechanics of that. Including, if it be the case, reverting the experimental changes I did make. I'm fine with it.Pat Palmer (talk) 10:59, 28 August 2020 (UTC)
OK, what do you think of how I've done it now? Peter Jackson (talk) 09:45, 7 September 2020 (UTC)
Sutta Pitaka is perfectly readable. If everyone always includes "Pitaka" in the actual title, one of Sutta-Pitaka, or Sutta Pitaka, or Sutta Pitaka might be even better. Pat Palmer (talk) 14:32, 7 September 2020 (UTC)
I'm not going to worry about typefaces. I'm just concerning myself with slightly more substantial matters: capitals, spaces, hyphens, diacritical points. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:26, 11 September 2020 (UTC)

Philosophy/purpose of the article?

I noticed this sentence in particular at the bottom of the contents section: "Professor Freiberger argues that Western scholars have projected a Western paradigm of a "canon" onto Theravada, but it does not fit.[29]" This struck me as something that we might emphasize elsewhere, and earlier, in the article. When I first started reading from the Pali Canon, I was trying to find out just what the heck it is, and I ran across (in notes of various translations) these discussions about how the lessons should be, could be, or originally were, organized and grouped. And it is not just a trivial topic. I'm wondering here about how to emphasize this a little more in the article. My vision of what's growing here is something that would help a newby like I was (and still am) to find their way into the literature. I wanted to read whatever I could get (in English) that was as close to what the Buddha had said, with less interpretation by middle persons, and it seems like the Pali Canon was the earliest written account of the Buddha's teachings. If you would care to discuss this offline with me, please email pgpalmer AT gmail.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:21, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

My German is very rusty so I haven't attempted to plough through Freiberger's paper properly. Putting it my way, scholars are tending to follow a modern Western concept of canon. In ancient and mediaeval times the Bible was fuzzy, as it still is in the East, but printing and the Reformation resulted in a situation in the West where each denomination has a clearly defined canon (see Books of the Bible for more). Western scholars seem to be projecting this picture eastwards. Turnour came across somewhere a list of books in the Pali Canon (though he didn't use that name then) and published it in 1833 as the contents of "the" Canon. He doesn't give any source, nor does any subsequent scholar as far as I've been able to discover. They simply assume there's just one Canon in spite of ever increasing evidence to the contrary. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:47, 28 August 2020 (UTC)
Have you read my article at [1]? That might be the sort of thing you're looking for. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:49, 28 August 2020 (UTC)
Thanks much for this link. Will try to read it soon!Pat Palmer (talk) 11:01, 28 August 2020 (UTC)
For your amusement only, I came across this photo of "a complete Tipiṭaka" that someone in Thailand had/has in their home: Just like Christians in the U.S. usually have a Bible lying around, but about 100 times larger, he he. Well, it hit my funny bone, anyway.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:49, 28 August 2020 (UTC)