‘Evaṃ me sutaṃ’ is an opening phrase of most of the suttas (discourses of the Buddha). These words were uttered by Ven. Ānanda, at the First Council (544 B.C), when the teachings of the Buddha were compiled for the first time. Ven. Ānanda had been a personal attendant (upaṭṭhāka) of the Buddha for a long time and had memorised 84,000 teachings given by the Buddha and other senior monks.
Dvāsīti buddhato gaṇhiṃ, dve sahassāni bhikkhuto;
Caturāsītisahassāni, ye me dhammā pavattino.
I have received 82,000 teachings from the Buddha and 2,000 more from the monks.
84,000 are the teachings that I have set forth (recited).
—Ānandattheragāthā (KN 8.260)
He recited these 84,000 teachings before the council of senior monks, beginning the narration with - Evaṃ me sutaṃ (Thus I have heard).
This tradition of memorising and reciting the suttas has been kept alive by generations of monks for over 25 centuries. It is through their dedication and effort, that we now have an easy access to the words of the Buddha.
Let us begin our journey of learning Pali, with a deep sense of gratitude towards all those who helped keep the Sāsana (Buddha’s dispensation) alive.
About the course
Pāli is the language in which the Buddha's teachings were collected and maintained in the ‘Pāli Canon’. The Pāli Canon, or Tipiṭaka (ti = three + piṭaka = basket), consists of the Vinaya Piṭaka (discipline for the monks), the Sutta Piṭaka (discourses by the Buddha) and the Abhidhamma Piṭaka (higher teaching). Studying these texts is called pariyatti, applying the teaching to practice is called paṭipatti.
This Pali Language programme Evaṃ me sutaṃ is a ‘Language’ course which aims at enabling the participants to read, understand and appreciate the Suttas in their original form. As Pāli is not used as a language of communication in today’s age, it cannot be learnt directly by speaking and listening. Hence, we need to rely on its grammar as a learning tool. The present course is designed around important concepts in Pali grammar, which will go a long way in understanding and translating the Suttas.
However, this course is not about Pāli Grammar alone. As we move along various units, we will
- learn and practise pronunciation,
- develop our vocabulary,
- do multiple activities / assignments based on each grammar topic,
- get familiar with various resources & digital tools,
- read and translate inspiring verses / passages from the Suttas.
May this Pariyatti (study of scriptures) strengthen our Paṭipatti (Dhamma practice) and lead us to Paṭivedha (penetration, comprehension, realisation).
“I recommend that every student of Vipassana learns at least basic Pāli, the words spoken by the Buddha. I speak from my own experience. Every word of the Enlightened One is so inspiring, provided you continue your meditation practice. You have to make your own research of the truth inside, research about the interaction of mind and matter inside — how out of ignorance, one keeps on reacting, how in wisdom, one comes out of it. This is how the words of the Buddha can be used for your own liberation.”
—S. N. Goenka