Thus Burma possesses two kinds of literature, Pali and Burmese.
5 Childers, Pali Diet.
It would seem that up to the 4th century of our era the Sinhalese had written exclusively in their own tongue; that is to say that for six centuries they had studied and understood Pali as a dead language without using it as a means of literary expression.
In Burma, on the other hand, where Pali was probably introduced from Ceylon, no writings in Pali can be dated before the nth century of our era.
There have been good Pali scholars there since late medieval times.
- Texts: Pali Text Society (63 vols., 1882-1908); H.
Pali, though only a form of Hindu literature, has a separate history, for it died in India and was preserved in Ceylon, whence it was imported to Burma and Siam as the language of religion.
PALI, the language used in daily intercourse between cultured people in the north of India from the 7th century B.C. It continued to be used throughout India and its confines as a literary language for about a thousand years, and is still, though in a continually decreasing degree, the literary language of Burma, Siam, and Ceylon.
Two factors combined to give Pali its importance as one of the few great literary languages of the world: the one political, the other religious.
The etymology of the word Pali is uncertain.
But when Pali first became known to Europeans it was already used also, by those who wrote in Pali, of the language of the later writings, which bear the same relation to the standard literary Pali of the canonical texts as medieval does to classical Latin.
A further extension of the meaning in which the word Pali was used followed in a very suggestive way.
The first book edited by a European in Pali was the Mahazamsa, or Great Chronicle of Ceylon, published there in 18 37 by Tumour, then colonial secretary in the island.
The resemblance was so close that Prinsep called the alphabet he was deciphering the Pali alphabet, and the language expressed in it he called the Pali language.
The name here used by the chronicler for Pali is "the Magadhi tongue," by which expression is meant, not exactly the language spoken in Magadha, but the language in use at the court of Asoka, king of Kosala and Magadha.
The question of Pali becomes therefore threefold: Pali before the canon, the canon, and the writings subsequent the canon.
The present writer has suggested that the word Pali should be reserved for the language of the canon, and other words used for the earlier and later forms of it; 1 but the usage generally followed is so convenient that there is little likelihood of the suggestion being followed.
For the history of Pali before the canonical books were composed we have no direct evidence.
His list of such forms is much more complete than that given by Childers in the introduction to his Dictionary of the Pali Language.
The whole of the Pali inscriptions so far discovered might fill somewhat more than a hundred pages of text.
Westergaard, Ober den altesten Zeitraum der indischen Geschichte, p. 87; Rhys Davids, Transactions of the Philological Society (1875), p. 70; Kuhn, Beitrage zur Pali Grammatik, 7-9.
These have now nearly all, mainly through the work of the Pali Text Society, been published in Pali.
The four principal ones have been published for the Pali Text Society, and some volumes have been translated into English or German.
Of these, eleven volumes had by 1910 been edited for the Pali Text Society by various scholars, the Jatakas and two other treatises had appeared elsewhere, and two works (one a selection of lives of distinguished early Buddhists, and the other an ancient commentary), were still in MS.
Of the seven treatises contained in the Abhidhamma Pitaka five, and one-third of the sixth, had by 1910 been published by the Pali Text Society; and one, the Dhamma Sangani, had been translated by Mrs Rhys Davids.
Of classical Pali in northern India subsequent to the canon there is but little evidence.
Hardy for the Pali Text Society in 1902; and the Petaka Upadesa.
At p. 66 of the Gandha Vamsa, a modern catalogue of Pali books and authors, written in Pali, there is given a list of ten authors who wrote Pali books in India, probably southern India.
Three of these have been published by the Pali Text Society; and Professor E.
The whole of these Pali books composed in India have been lost there.
They have beer_ preserved for us by the unbroken succession of Pali scholars in Ceylon and Burma.
These scholars (most of them members of the Buddhist Order, but many of them laymen) not only copied and recopied the Indian Pali books, but wrote a very large number themselves.
Franke in two articles in the Journal of the Pali Text Society for 1903, and in his Geschichte and Kritik der einheimischen Pali Grammatik.
Dr Forchhammer in his Jardine Prize Essay, and Dr Mabel Bode in the introduction to her edition of the Sasana-vamsa, have collected many details as to the Pali literature in Burma.
Two volumes only of these, out of about twenty still extant in MS., have been edited for the Pali Text Society.
About a century before this the Dipa-vamsa, or Island Chronicle, had been composed in Pali verse so indifferent that it is apparently the work of a beginner in Pali composition.
No work written in Pali in Ceylon at a date older than this has been discovered yet.
Of the history of Pali in Siam very little is known.
C. Childers, Dictionary of the Pali Language (London, 1872-1875); Ernst Kuhn, Beitrage zur Pali Grammatik (Berlin; 18 75); E.
Miller, Pali Grammar (London, 1884); R O.
Franke, Geschichte and Kritik der einheimischen Pali-Grammatik and Lexicographic, and Pali and Sanskrit (Strassburg, 1902); D.
The languages of the south are Dravidian, not Sanskritic. The letters of both classes of languages, which also vary considerably, are all modifications of the ancient Pali, and probably derived from the Dravidians, not from the Aryans.
The chief original literatures are Chinese, Sanskrit, Pali, Arabic and Persian.
The Pali versions of Buddha's discourses are among the most remarkable products of Asia.
The thirteen words, in a local dialect of Pali, are written in very ancient characters, and are the oldest inscription as yet discovered in India.
It is first mentioned in a very ancient Pali ballad preserved in the Sutta Nipata (verse 583).
All later Buddhist accounts, whether Pali or Sanskrit, repeat the same story.
The stone was split into two portions, apparently by lightning, and was inscribed with Pali characters as used in the time of Asoka.
Fansboll (London Pali Text Society, 1884); Katha Vatthu, ed.
To the S.E., and the Nuuanu Pali, a lofty and picturesque precipice 6 m.
The Burmese alphabet is borrowed from the Aryan Sanskrit through the Pali of Upper India.
The Pali is by far the more ancient, including as it does the Buddhist scriptures that originally found their way to Burma from Ceylon and southern India.
A Patamabyan examination for marks in the Pali language was first instituted in 1896 and is held annually.
It is probable that Burma is the Chryse Regio of Ptolemy, a name parallel in meaning to Sonaparanta, the classic Pali title assigned to the country round the capital in Burmese documents.
BODHI VAMSA, a prose poem in elaborate Sanskritized Pali, composed by Upatissa in the reign of Mahinda IV.
Edition in Pali for the Pali Text Society by S.
Some of the priests are learned in the Buddhist scriptures, and most of the Pali scholarship in Siam is to be found in monasteries, but there is no learning of a secular nature.
A very excellent edition of the twentyseven canonical books has been recently printed there, and there exist in our European libraries a number of Pali MSS.
The Pali books written in Ceylon, Burma and Siam will be our best and oldest, and in many respects our only, authorities for the sociology and politics, the literature and the religion, of their respective countries.