Update: 2015-06-19 07:20 PM -0400


Introduction to Kachchayana's Grammar 

Kicsi Grammar {kic~sæÑ: þûd~da}
An Introduction (for 2015) by Eisel Mazard (馬大影)


From An Introduction (for 2015) by Eisel Mazard (馬大影)
265 pdf pages - PDF-EM 150609
Downloaded by U Kyaw Tun (UKT)(M.S., I.P.S.T., USA) and edited with additions by UKT and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL) . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL  Computing and Language Center, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net

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Contents of this page 

UKT 150610: Calling himself editor, Eisel Mazard (馬大影), has written the following pages under the caption An Introduction (for 2015) . The pages are all numbered in regular English numbers. There is no TOC. The TOC given below is mine.

Eisel Mazard's works
Delays in publication
EMazard's source
European model of presentation of Pali
Monastic-school education
Death of Pali
Changes to the original Mason's work


UKT notes
Eisel Mazard (馬大影)

Contents of this page

Mazard's Version of Mason's Pali Grammar.
Expanded and Revised from the work of Francis Mason, ca. 1868,
by Eisel Mazard, 2005, first distributed in 2015.

UKT 150612: EM (Eisel Mazard) has numbered his pages in regular English numbers. His p001 contains a TOC, followed by his Introduction beginning with the line "For many years now, ..." .

Eisel Mazard's works

For many years now, people have been downloading and using the versions I created of Pali textbooks by
(1) Narada Thera, (2) Lily de Silva and (3) Charles Duroiselle (all made available, originally, at
www.pali.pratyeka.org ).
No special argument is really necessary, therefore, to offer a fourth book in the series as "Mazard's version of" yet another Pali textbook, for the same small audience. However, in many ways, Mason's book has more human interest than the other three: it gives us a glimpse back at a lost world of traditional Pali learning and Buddhist scholarship, as the author struggled to make that tradition accessible to a western audience for the first time.

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Delays in publication

Mason shares with the reader his sense of excitement as the first translations of the edicts of Ashoka became known, as the first Pali-English dictionaries were produced, and as Europe discovered (or rediscovered) ancient Buddhist philosophy through the Theraváda tradition (and found it to be strikingly different from what had formerly been known through Chinese and Tibetan sources). Infused with the optimism of the era, and with scholarly anecdotes littered throughout, this is about as dramatic as a textbook on grammar (in a dead language) could reasonably be.

There might be some explanation required to explain why this text is only becoming available now (in 2015) and not ten years ago (2005) when my work on the manuscript was completed. The real story of how this book came into being, and of why I chose to educate myself in this peculiar way (that created various resources for others to use as by-products) will be left for another occasion.

The technology of the fonts and the underlying encoding (i.e., Unicode) evolved while I was working on the manuscript. I was educating myself as to the correct ligatures, etc., at the same time that I was providing feedback to the programmer to try get the Sinhalese, Burmese and Ashokan Brahmi scripts to all work properly (on what was then a much more crude version of the Mac operating system). Computer encodings developed last-of-all for languages such as Sinhalese and Burmese (that were not profitable for corporations to pursue); then, within each of these languages, there were combinations of letters that only occurred in the ancient language (never in the modern) that needed to be addressed --one by one-- to really make word-processing in Pali possible. In creating this new book out of Mason's old one, I was a direct participant in this development, thanks to the efforts of Ka'onohi Kai, a computational linguist and font-developer who corresponded with me for many years (and to whom I reported on stone inscriptions, hand-written manuscripts, and printed typography from various eras, along with the details of my own experience in struggling to get the software to work in typing out this same book). (EM-p002end)

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EMazard's source

UKT 150610: EM's source is a reprinted book which, undoubtedly, would be more legible than the reprint of F. Mason, 1868, printed in Toungoo, which I have downloaded from
http://books.google.com/books?... 110727, and the pdf pages: - PDF (link chk 150610)

The primary source that this book was created from is the following reprint of the 1868 original:
Francis Mason, D.D., Kachchayano's Pali Grammar with Chrestomathy & Vocabulary, 1984, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, India.

The original text was of very great quality, although riddled with errors -- some of them typographical errors, some of them inevitable mistakes for a pioneering work of its era. More than just typing, creating this new edition was a process of error correction, and constant comparison of conflicting authorities. This was, for myself, an educational process that I valued at the time.

In Mason's Pali grammar we see an intermediate stage of development, when Europeans directly worked from classical Pali sources (in this case, Kaccáyana) to produce a westernized account of the language. Soon enough, this western model became the default for how the language was taught and thought of everywhere -- even in the most conservative monasteries. [UKT ¶]

It is difficult to describe the western model as "modern": 19th century Europeans had created an imitation of Latin textbooks to present Pali to a western audience (presuming western students of Pali to already have an education in Latin, Greek, or both). If this ever had been a good idea, it was evidently less and less useful as the knowledge of Latin and Greek declined in the 20th century. The teaching of Pali has not yet overcome this stage of development: compare any 21st century Pali manual to a 21st century textbook used to teach French, German, etc., and it will be obvious that the Pali textbook is only a few steps removed from a 19th century Latin grammar. I can remember discussing the prospect of creating a truly modern Pali textbook with the head of a Cambodian foundation, who seemed startled at the idea: why would language students need illustrations, exercises, questions, puzzles and such to learn Pali? The answer is: for the same reasons that they need them for any other language.

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European model of presentation of Pali

UKT 150610: Many do not know that Pal-Myan is a phonetic script - an Akshara or Abugida. The Europeans, used to English written in a non-phonetic Latin Alphabet have no idea that there can be a one-to-one correspondence between pronunciation (speech) and written script. In English you are told not to pronounce according to spelling. It is not so in Bur-Myan and Pal-Myan. Pronounce as it is spelled taking care of your POA (point of articulation) and MOA (mode of articulation). It is a sad fact that our scientific languages have been reduced to that of conveniently pronounced languages of the Americans (General American - GA) and the English (British pronunciation - RP).

The European model for how Pali was taught, studied and thought of (as a language) had a profound effect in Asia, but this effect is impossible to separate from the decline of traditional learning (and traditional livelihoods) under many other headings, in the same era. The disappearance of scribal employment (i.e., the creation of manuscripts, formerly offering an income to a considerable class of people) and the decline of monastic education (as a "ladder" of upward social mobility) were changes that came to Theraváda Asia many centuries later than they came to Europe, but when they finally did arrive, they came suddenly, with great implications. This is a pattern that can be observed in Theraváda nations with very different languages, cultures, and political histories (Sri Lanka as much as Cambodia, etc.).

The transition from locally-produced manuscripts to bound-and-printed volumes was, ipso facto, a transition to reliance upon  centralized authorities. Formerly, each tiny principality took pride in producing manuscripts after its own fashion, with distinctive orthography, making use of local (EM-p003end-EM-p004begin) dialect, etc., providing patronage for a diverse vernacular literature housed in the same monasteries (including comedy, adventure-stories, romances, etc., not limited to Buddhist themes). The local monastery had been the center of a system of education in local dialects, but it became, instead, the lowest rung in a centralized system of education, that (naturally enough) served economic interests, and pursued nationalistic goals, with very little use for Pali. The new media of the newspaper and the radio proceeded from one office, in a distant capital city, that and  that far-off place was both the center of prestige and also the locus of government control. It was a new era of government control over language, education and religion: monks did write articles in newspapers, and did make statements over the radio, but they did so only as instruments of a kind of authority that had not existed in the feudal, village system.

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Monastic-school education

In the modern era, the monastery-school became a second-rate substitute for national education, and subordinate to it. Students too poor to attend "a real school" could find food and shelter as boy-monks (or, much more rarely, girl-monks) with the vast majority of them wearing the robes only to prepare for secular career thereafter. As such, "monastic education" has come to be implicitly understood by all parties to be an attempt at secular education within monastic walls, even at the university level. [UKT ¶]

Without suggesting a simple cause-and-effect explanation as to why Buddhist learning declined, I would  merely observe that these were the general conditions that accompanied the decline. In the short term, the centralization of Buddhism created a new vitality at the center, but this soon had to fade due to the declining vitality around the periphery.

Given the diverse economic and political transformations that we group together with this one word modernization, in looking back at last 200 years, it is certainly easy to ignore the decline of Pali learning as one relatively trivial feature of this process. Whether we are speaking of the recent history of Burma, Sri Lanka or Cambodia, we think first of civil wars, the rise and fall of European colonialism, etc., long before any thought is given to the status of classical languages, literature and philosophy in these countries. However, around the world, other countries were able to modernize while maintaining patronage for classical learning (e.g., Greek, Latin, classical Chinese, perhaps lately Irish Gaelic, etc.) -- and so the name of modernity itself does not fully explain why the Theraváda countries of Southeast Asia have failed to do so.

Pali education in Sri Lanka

The Pali tradition of teaching Pali in Pali (i.e., using Pali grammatical concepts to explain Pali) has now gone extinct. I met one senior monk in Sri Lanka who had been the pupil of the last living master of the indigenous system of grammar (i.e., the Kaccáyana system, that the reader will learn about in this volume) when he was only 8 years old; his master had been roughly one hundred years old at the time, and died soon after, leaving no successor to carry on his teaching. I remember the expression on the monk's face as he made the effort to remember the few rules of Kaccáyana's (EM-p004end-EM-p005begin) grammar he had memorized as a child, and reflected on how cryptic they were (without extensive commentarial explanation).

Pali education in Thailand

In North-Eastern Thailand, I visited a temple that was partly a shrine to the memory of the last monk there who had --allegedly -- learned the Pali language using the old (Kaccáyana) system, still within living memory. As the knowledge of the language had become locally extinct, this one monk had, reportedly, struggled to put together a complete manuscript of Kaccáyana's grammar rules from the imperfect fragments still available (this part of the story, certainly, is believable). There was a huge, painted portrait of the man hanging on the wall, and lacquer boxes containing various aspects of his legacy were set out in a sort of museum. I was told by a professor that the local people called the monks who had followed him "the stone  pillow school", as the monks were so hard-working that they took naps with their heads on stone between lessons. In looking at the manuscript evidence left behind by this school, I was given the impression that, in fact, the attempt to return to the roots of the ancient language there had failed (i.e., no such revival of ancient learning as they'd aspired to actually happened) however, that small chapter in history (and the shrine that was created to immortalize its memory) demonstrated that local people (in those the villages of Isan) were keenly aware that in the past monks had gained reading-comprehension of the ancient philosophy of the Buddha (in Pali), whereas the monks of more recent times did not. Even if the whole story of the stone pillow school were fiction, it would be a story that problematized modern monastic education. There was a cultural awareness that the old system of learning (i.e., Kaccáyana's grammar) was a hallmark of real ability in the language, whereas the new (central Thai) system that replaced it was just a kluge of mispronounced loan-words that allowed monks to make up homilies, but that definitely did not equip them to read the philosophy in the ancient language, as monks had done in ancient times.

The pedagogy surrounding the language has changed radically in the last century. Not even the most conservative monk alive today can claim that he learned to read the Buddhist scriptures in the same way that monks learned it just 200 years ago, let alone 500 or 1,000 years ago. If anyone were sincerely interested in knowing "How did monks learn Pali prior to European influence?", the answer would have to begin with the grammar of Kaccáyana, and it could begin here, with a casual reading of Mason's textbook.

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The Death of Pali

UKT 150610: See also an interview given by
- https://medium.com/morning-light/interview-the-death-of-pali-9df3f5f826e4 150610

Asian monks and Asian academics alike have become dependent upon western learning; it is now via western grammars, western pedagogy and western dictionaries that they access their own ancient traditions. More often than not, the translations (and even untranslated Pali editions) are dependent upon western sources also (and readers may not even realize that they are looking at a western interpretation, if they encounter it after it has been translated back into their own language). (EM-p005end-EM-p006begin )

Pali in Laos

When I was in Laos, the official textbook in use for the monks at the higher academy (i.e., the monastic university, for lack of a better term) was written during the French colonial period by a certain Mr. Louis Finot. I had the impression that most of the monks mistakenly assumed that the Lao translator (whose name was more prominent on the cover) was the book's author. Finot was a western author, working from western sources, defining Buddhism for an audience of Buddhist monks, who would proceed to give sermons on this basis. I will forever remember the expression on Richard Gombrich's face when I shared this anecdote with him, years later, in England.

Pali in Cambodia

The pattern is still ongoing: when I was living in Phnom Penh, I was horrified to see that Ian Harris's 2008 book on Cambodian Buddhism had been translated from English into Khmer, and was (apparently) being used as a textbook to teach Cambodian monks what their own religion was supposed to be in the monastic universities. Years ago, I published a review of Harris's work that was perhaps too polite and too brief in complaining that the text was full of absurd errors that only a charlatan could make, in (evidently) muddling through French sources with neither any knowledge of Pali nor any comprehension of Khmer, nor any expertise in Theraváda Buddhism. However, as shameful as Ian Harris's contribution to the field may be, from my perspective, there was nobody who could scrutinize the quality of his work in the employ of Cambodia's Buddhist Institute when they received the Cambodian translation from him. The expertise of Europeans arrives in a complete package, with the imprimatur of some famous university stamped on the cover, and backed up by research-grant-money beyond the wildest dreams of third-world countries. [UKT ¶]

UKT 150610: The use of epithet "third-world countries" is objectionable in the light of what the people from the "capitalist countries" usually mean. From the American president down to the man on the street use the term "third-world" to means "third-rated countries" very much below the status of the "first-world or the capitalist countries", and even below that of the "second-world or the communist countries". However, by the "third-world" we mean those countries who tried to be beyond the influence of the greedy capitalists, and the cruel dictatorships. We are neutral countries, and Myanmarpré is one of the founders of the "neutral block" when the Americans and their allies had tried to influence Myanmar government into the SEATO block. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Asia_Treaty_Organization 150610
When they could not force the successive Myanmar governments, they started employing the "economic sanctions" the remnants of which are still in operation today - 2015 May.
I learned what the Westerners mean when the use the term "third-world", as an editorial writer for North Renfrew Times in Canada in 1990s.

In this way, a book that was intended for a western audience comes to be regarded as definitive by the very people it was attempting to describe; authors become teachers to the very people they should, instead, be learning from. We will have the pattern of Louis Finot all over again, in the absence of colonial occupation. 

What the Theraváda countries of Asia now have is a second-rate imitation of European systems of education, and the content of what gets taught about Buddhism is generally a second-rate recapitulation of western ideas about Buddhism. [UKT ¶]

In the case of Pali education it is a second-rate imitation of something that was second-rate to begin with (perhaps leaving us at fourth-rate?). I do not say this with any intent to glorify the irretrievable past, but the current situation is so dire that it seems absurd to even speak of "Pali education", as such a thing barely exists. [UKT ¶]

When I was only a beginner in Pali myself, I showed my hand-written Pali work (in Sinhalese, Burmese and other scripts) to the professors at Sri Lanka's greatest university department for such things, and the assembled professors immediately explained that I was already too advanced to enroll in any of their classes (they encouraged me to instead enroll in some special program of independent study, etc.). It took me quite a while to really accept the truth of what they were telling me, as this was supposedly the last bastion of Pali education at an advanced/elite level, but they were in fact muddling through with the western method, and not doing much better than the overt disasters of Cambodian (p006end-p007begin) academia, Thai academia, and so on. [UKT ¶]

Western education is marvelous for many things: I do not think that the countries of Asia should be ashamed (e.g.) if their modes of teaching dentistry or electrical engineering are imitations of western models. However, Pali is one area of research where the western world cannot (and should not) provide any such model for imitation; in this case, those who go from west to east should be the ones asking questions, not providing the answers.

So, in reading Mason's grammar, we look back to a much more optimistic moment in the history of Buddhist scholarship. Francis Mason was a witness to the transformation of eastern learning, and he was himself an agent of that change. As I discuss in the appendix ("Who was Francis Mason?") he was a Christian Missionary, and a despicable character in various ways, but his book glows with the eagerness and optimism of an era when wisdom was expanding -- rather than contracting -- in this field of studies.

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Changes to the original Mason's work

The most obvious improvement I have made to the original has been to expand it to provide all Pali text (and tables) in parallel Sinhalese and Bur-Myan scripts, and also to bring the system of Romanization into conformity with modern expectations, such as the distinction between c  {sa.} and ch {hsa.}, rendering the sound /ny/ as ñ {ña.}, and so on. Direct reprints of the original would deter most beginners for just this reason (nobody wants to get their ch spellings mixed up -- especially not when they're just starting on the language, etc.).

UKT 150611: The reader should note that Eisel Mazard in speaking about "the distinction between c  {sa.} and ch {hsa.}, rendering the sound /ny/ as ñ {ña.}", is referring to row #2 of the Akshara matrix, the Palatal plosive-stops. These consonants have some sort of fricative sounds. They usually got mixed up with the Dental-alveolar fricatives {sha.}, {Sa.}, {þa.}, when Bur-Myan sounds and script are rendered into Eng-Lat. This is simply the result of rendering Tibeto-Burman languages such as Bur-Myan and Pal-Myan to English which belongs to IE (Indo-European)-language group. To help me understand the problem more, and to provide a solution, I am studying four spoken languages, Burmese, English, Pali, & Sanskrit together. The acronym BEPS stands for "Burmese, English, Pali, & Sanskrit, written in Myanmar, IPA-Latin, & Devanagari scripts". Sounds of Sinhalese of Sri Lanka and of Mon-Myan stand in the middle of Burmese and English. To solve the problem of transcription as well as transliteration, you need to refer to the tables given below.

Look into Maheswara Sutras formulated by Panini in Sanskrit grammar.


The reader should note that I have to invent some new glyphs for both initial consonants and coda consonants. Remember, Pali is written in Akshara in which the basic unit is the syllable, CVÇ (initial-nucleus-coda). Pali does not show virama explicitly. Nevertheless the virama {a.þût} is there as the top glyph of the vertical conjunct {paaHT-hsing.} (e.g. {k~ka.}), and the first half-glyph in the horizontal conjunct (e.g. {þ~þa.}).

Palatal plosive-stop:       {sa.}/ {c}
Dental fricative husher:  {sha.}/ {sh}
Dental fricative hisser:   {Sa.}/ {S}
Dental fricative thibilant: {þa.}/ {þ}

I have made the following discoveries:

1. {ña.} is the true occupier of cell r2c5 with the nasal sound /.


The method of stating changes between words as an equation (very frequent in chapters 2 & 7) is my own addition to the text. There are substantial additions of both new tables and new explanations here and there, normally with a sentence indicating that I've added them (before or after they appear); one that will be immediately useful to beginners is the overview of grammatical terminology, starting at §86.

The footnotes and endnotes are all my own additions, and parenthetical notes (marked with my initials, E.M.) warn the reader about most of the other changes. In just a few cases I omitted examples provided by Mason entirely, where I thought they were misleading. The addition of Pali grammatical terminology in the headings (and in parentheses throughout the text) is my own work, and is often supplemented by end-notes elaborating on the relationship between the English terms, Kaccáyana's terms, and later Pali nomenclature, as best I was able to research the matters in that earlier period of my life, circa 2005.

From the same era as Mason's work, and partly based upon it, is M.E. Senart's edition of Kaccáyana. I will always remember Ole Pind's dismissive remarks about this edition; it is famous, but, perhaps, its fame is not very well-deserved. (EM-p007end-EM-p008begin)

M.E. Senart, Kaccâyana et la Littérature Grammaticale du Pâli, 1871,
L'Imprimerie Nationale, Paris, France. See: http://www.eyrolles.com/Loisirs/Livre/kaccayana-et-la-litterature-grammaticale-du-pali-1ere-partie-grammaire-palie-de-kaccayana-sutras-et-commentaire-publies-avec-une-traduction-et-des-notes-par-m-e-senart-edition-de-1871-8264736080879 150612

I suppose the most widely available English translation of Kaccāyana is still the 1901 edition by Vidyabhusana, opened with a pugnacious "proem" by Dhammapala. This translation was partly derived from the earlier work of Senart, just as Senart made use of Mason before him. The Pali is entirely typeset in Devanagari, reflecting Vidyabhusana's background as a Sanskritist, and also reflecting the Maha Bodhi Society's stated purpose of leading a Buddhist revival on the Indian mainland at the time:

Satis Chandra Acharyya Vidyabhusana, M.A.,
Kaccayana's Pali Grammar, 1901, Maha Bodhi Society, Calcutta, India.

I was fortunate to obtain a copy of Dharmakirti Sri Dharmarama's edition of Kaccāyana from 1904. The text is wholly typeset in Sinhalese script, aside from a single-page introduction in English, and a dedication to "His Excellency" Sir Henry Arthur Blake, then the colonial governor of Ceylon:

Kaccayana Maha Thera, Sanghanandi Maha Thera, & Dharmakirti Sri Dharmarama (editor),
Kaccāyana Vutti: the Standard Grammar of the Pali Language, 1904,
Frederick Perera Abayasinha Appuhamy at the Satyasamuccaya Press

Piyaratana's edition of some 90 years later also presents the Pali in Sinhalese script, with the addition of a vernacular Sinhalese translation. The copy I used was kindly sent to me by Bhante Anandajoti of Chetiya Giriya Arañña, Pallepola, Sri Lanka, and I would here thank him for his generosity. Neither the cover nor the publication data within is Romanized, so those  who would seek it out must check for numerous possible spelling variations in their library catalogue:

Vügama Piyaratana Himi, Kaccāyana Vyākaraṇaya, 1995,
Goḍagē Saha Sahōdarayō, Koḷamba ("Colombo"), Sri Lanka.

I was able to acquire a Thai-script edition of Kaccáyana (transcribed from Burmese sources) from the monks at Wat Tamaoh, in Lampang. My copy of the first edition was put into my hands by Bhante Ganthasarabhivamsa, during a trip I made to Lampang for the express purpose of acquiring the text; I would here thank all the monks of that temple for their generosity. This provides notes on the (EM-p008end-EM-p009begin) variations to be found when comparing the root text with different expressions of the same rules in later grammatical works (i.e., works paraphrasing Kaccáyana):

กมจหจาวาทยนยมาลหยามเถหเารจนฬาวลรงจกตร, ณรกาจชจวาทยนาผลยยาจกดรพณม, พเกผรยงแเพทรพมคหรางนทคร๑,พอ.ภศธ.รรม๒โ๕๔ช๐ต.กะวทยาลย
[Author stated as:] Kaccāyanamahātherena Viracitaṃ, Kaccāyana-byākaraṇaṃ, Abhidhamma Jotikavidyālaya Rājavidyālaya, Bangkok, [Thailand], First Edition, B.E. 2540 ≅ 1997.

The sources I consulted were relatively few; this is because I could carry only a few books with me as I migrated around Asia during the composition of this text (my work commenced in Hong Kong, and ended in Vientiane, I believe, with relocations to Taiwan and Thailand in-between). For many years, I really had access only to the books that I carried along with me, from one train to the next, from Bangkok to Vientiane.

— Eisel Mazard, Victoria, Canada, Dec. 2014


UKT 150612: EM-p009 is the end of Eisel Mazard's An Introduction (for 2015) .
Next comes the Preface of Rev. Mason beginning with the line
"The declensions and conjugations in Pali are very simple ...".

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UKT notes

Eisel Mazard

UKT 150610. Eisel Mazard is a Pāli scholar who has travelled extensively through Southeast Asia. He found that Yunnan, the Chinese region contains an Indic language written in Laotian, Burmese, and Thai fashions, all influenced by Cambodian script. In his version of Mason's work, I am finding many parallels between Asokan and Bur-Myan script.

Go back EMazard-note-b

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