About this Book
[From the Preface:] This Reader has three related goals. First, it aims to encourage the study of Buddhist canonical literature in Pali (pāḷi). While there are, of course, several canonical languages – Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, and Sanskrit–the Pali canon is exceptional. It is the repository of what I would like to call Classical Buddhism: the basic teachings, as far as we can determine, of Siddhattha Gotama (c. 480–400 BCE), the man we call the Buddha.
What the Critics Say
Glenn Wallis has compiled a comprehensive Pali reader intended to enable the earnest student to move directly into reading the Pali Nikayas...Those students who require fuller grammatical explanations may find that this approach demands a greater intuitive capacity for understanding a foreign language than they are endowed with. But those who have this intuitive gift will find that by the time they complete this book, they will be able to read virtually any sutta in the Nikayas. —Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bodhi Monastery
Glenn Wallis's latest book, Buddhavacana: A Pali Reader, is a wonderful addition to the library of any Pāli language enthusiast. Anyone who has studied the vocabulary, sentence structure and word conjugation of the Pāli language and then gone directly to the full Pāli Canon to do translation work knows how daunting this effort can be. Dictionaries such as The Pali Text Society Pāli-English Dictionary are not only enormous in size, but one must find his or her way through the original Pāli alphabetical scheme to uncover the sought after Pāli terms.
Once the word is found, it is generally in a different form/conjugation than is reflected in the Sutta itself. Wallis has created a bridge for the Pāli student to make this leap of translation considerably less intimidating. By combining customized indices for each of 16 important Suttas, he has made the process of translation much more accessible. The translation experience with this arrangement is made easier by simplifying and explaining the complexities of the conjugated words within the Sutta combined with a clear and relevant English translation. Additionally, the book is written in a workbook format, allowing the student to make their notes and translations directly opposite the original Pāli.
Direct Pāli translation can be a very satisfying undertaking. There are nuances within the Pāli language that are not directly translatable into English. The sincere student who combines the practices taught by the Buddha with the words as spoken in their original form, will gain an insight into the teachings that is not otherwise directly accessible.
Glenn Wallis has given us a direct tool towards developing this deeper understanding of the words of the Buddha. I would highly recommend this to anyone that has an interest in learning the Pāli language, particularly if the student has the desire to eventually tackle their own translations of the broad array of other Suttas in the Pāli Canon.
Incite Seminars are held at CultureWorks, 1315 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Coming up:
* "The Culture of Revolt." AK Thompson. February 23, Saturday, 10am-2pm.