A Guide to the Parsing of Pāḷi
by
Anandajoti Bhikkhu

 

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In parsing a sentence in Pāḷi we break it down into syllables.

1) In Pāḷi syllables are made with a vowel or a consonant followed by a vowel
2) There are open and closed syllables.
3) An open syllable is one in which the syllable ends in a vowel.
4) A closed syllable ends in either a consonant or a niggahīta (ṁ).

In what follows kh, gh, ch, jh, ṭh, ḍh, th, dh, ph, bh, ḷh, are aspirates and considered to be single consonants

When parsing Pāḷi sentences there are a few rules to abide by

1) a syllable followed by another vowel or by a single consonant is open and divided after the vowel, e.g. mā-tā-pi-tu-u-paṭ-ṭhā-naṁ, vi-ha-ra-ti
2) a syllable followed by a double consonant is closed and divided after the first consonant, e.g. -ña-ta-rā, sā-vat-thi-yaṁ
3) niggahīta (ṁ) is always joined to the previous vowel and the syllable is closed, e.g. taṁ, e-vaṁ, su-taṁ

 

Example Mahāmaṅgalasuttaṁ

 

evaṁ me sutaṁ
e-vaṁ me su-taṁ

ekaṁ samayaṁ bhagavā
e-kaṁ sa-ma-yaṁ bha-ga-vā

sāvatthiyaṁ viharati jetavane
sā-vat-thi-yaṁ vi-ha-ra-ti je-ta-va-ne

anāthapiṇḍikassa ārāme.
a-nā-tha-piṇ-ḍi-kas-sa ā-rā-me.

atha kho aññatarā devatā
a-tha kho añ-ña-ta-rā de-va-tā

abhikkantāya rattiyā,
a-bhik-kan-tā-ya rat-ti-yā,

abhikkantavaṇṇā kevalakappaṁ
a-bhik-kan-ta-vaṇ-ṇā ke-va-la-kap-paṁ

jetavanaṁ obhāsetvā, yena bhagavā
je-ta-va-naṁ o-bhā-se-tvā, ye-na bha-ga-vā

tenupasaṅkami, upasaṅkamitvā
te-nu-pa-saṅ-ka-mi, u-pa-saṅ-ka-mi-tvā

bhagavantaṁ abhivādetvā
bha-ga-van-taṁ a-bhi-vā-de-tvā

ekam-antaṁ aṭṭhāsi.
e-ka-man-taṁ aṭ-ṭhā-si.

ekam-antaṁ ṭhitā kho sā devatā
e-ka-man-taṁ ṭhi-tā kho sā de-va-tā

bhagavantaṁ gāthāya ajjhabhāsi
bha-ga-van-taṁ gā-thā-ya aj-jha-bhā-si

 

“bahū devā manussā ca
“ba-hū de-vā ma-nus-sā ca

maṅgalāni acintayuṁ
maṅ-ga-lā-ni a-cin-ta-yuṁ

ākaṅkhamānā sotthānaṁ
ā-kaṅ-kha-mā-nā sot-thā-naṁ

brūhi maṅgalam-uttamaṁ.” [1]
brū-hi maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.”

 

“asevanā ca bālānaṁ,
“a-se-va-nā ca bā-lā-naṁ,

paṇḍitānañ-ca sevanā
paṇ-ḍi-tā-nañ-ca se-va-nā

pūjā ca pūjanīyānaṁ
pū-jā ca pū-ja-nī-yā-naṁ

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [2]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

paṭirūpadesavāso ca,
pa-ṭi-rū-pa-de-sa-vā-so ca,

pubbe ca katapuññatā
pub-be ca ka-ta-puñ-ña-tā

attasammāpaṇidhi ca
at-ta-sam-mā-pa-ṇi-dhi ca

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [3]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

bāhusaccañ-ca sippañ-ca,
bā-hu-sac-cañ-ca sip-pañ-ca,

vinayo ca susikkhito,
vi-na-yo ca su-sik-khi-to,

subhāsitā ca yā vācā
su-bhā-si-tā ca yā vā-cā

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [4]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

mātāpitu-upaṭṭhānaṁ,
mā-tā-pi-tu-u-paṭ-ṭhā-naṁ,

puttadārassa saṅgaho,
put-ta-dā-ras-sa saṅ-ga-ho,

anākulā ca kammantā
a-nā-ku-lā ca kam-man-tā

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [5]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

dānañ-ca dhammacariyā ca,
dā-nañ-ca dham-ma-ca-ri-yā ca,

ñātakānañ-ca saṅgaho,
ñā-ta-kā-nañ-ca saṅ-ga-ho,

anavajjāni kammāni
a-na-vaj-jā-ni kam-mā-ni

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [6]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

ārati virati pāpā,
ā-ra-ti vi-ra-ti pā-pā,

majjapānā ca saññamo,
maj-ja-pā-nā ca sañ-ña-mo,

appamādo ca dhammesu
ap-pa-mā-do ca dham-me-su

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [7]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

gāravo ca nivāto ca,
gā-ra-vo ca ni-vā-to ca,

santuṭṭhī ca kataññutā,
san-tuṭ-ṭhī ca ka-tañ-ñu-tā,

kālena dhammasavaṇaṁ
kā-le-na dham-ma-sa-va-ṇaṁ

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [8]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

khantī ca sovacassatā,
khan-tī ca so-va-cas-sa-tā,

samaṇānañ-ca dassanaṁ,
sa-ma-ṇā-nañ-ca das-sa-naṁ,

kālena dhammasākacchā
kā-le-na dham-ma-sā-kac-chā

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [9]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

tapo ca brahmacariyañ-ca,
ta-po ca brah-ma-ca-ri-yañ-ca,

ariyasaccānadassanaṁ,
a-ri-ya-sac-cā-na-das-sa-naṁ,

nibbānasacchikiriyā ca
nib-bā-na-sac-chi-ki-ri-yā ca

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [10]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

phuṭṭhassa lokadhammehi,
phuṭ-ṭhas-sa lo-ka-dham-me-hi,

cittaṁ yassa na kampati,
cit-taṁ yas-sa na kam-pa-ti,

asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ
a-so-kaṁ vi-ra-jaṁ khe-maṁ

etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ. [11]
e-taṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-maṁ.

 

etādisāni katvāna,
e-tā-di-sā-ni kat-vā-na,

sabbattha-m-aparājitā,
sab-bat-tha-ma-pa-rā-ji-tā,

sabbattha sotthiṁ gacchanti
sab-bat-tha sot-thiṁ gac-chan-ti

taṁ tesaṁ maṅgalam-uttaman.”-ti [12]
taṁ te-saṁ maṅ-ga-la-mut-ta-man.”-ti