Let us translate a few Pali sentences, adopted from the Suttas, which contain various conjugated forms of verbs in the Imperative Mood.

1. Ovadantu maṃ āyasmanto therā, anusāsantu maṃ āyasmanto therā, karontu me āyasmanto therā dhammiṃ kathaṃ.

ovadantu (imp, third per, p of ovadati) = let / may they advise / exhort,
maṃ = (to) me,
āyasmanto therā = the venerable elders,
anusāsantu (imp, third per, p of anusāsati) = let / may they instruct,
karontu (imp, third per, p of karoti) = let / may they do,
me = to me,
dhammī kathā = Dhamma talk,
dhammiṃ kathaṃ karoti (acc. s of dhammī kathā) = gives a Dhamma talk

Translation : Let / may the venerable elders advise / exhort me, may they instruct me, may they give me a Dhamma talk.

2. Desetu, bhante, bhagavā dhammaṃ, desetu sugato dhammaṃ.

desetu (imp, third per, s of deseti) = let / may he teach,
bhagavā = the Blessed One,
sugata = Well-fared, the Buddha

Translation : Venerable Sir! Let / may the Blessed One teach the Dhamma, may the Buddha teach the Dhamma.

Note : This is a stock phrase used in the Suttas, when someone requests the Buddha for a Dhamma teaching.

3. “Tena saccena sotthi te hotu, sotthi gabbhassā”ti.

tena saccena = by that / this truth,
sotthi = well-being, safety;
te = of you, to you;
hotu (imp, third per, s of hoti) = let / may it be, may there be;
gabbhassā”ti = gabbhassa + (i)ti
gabbha = womb, embryo (here it refers to the infant that the mother is giving birth to)

Translation : By this truth, may you be well and may your infant be well / safe.

Note : The above sentence is a saccakiriyā – an act / declaration of truth. It implies that, by the power of the truth that is uttered, the well-wishing for others will come true.

4. “Paṭiccasamuppādaṃ vo, bhikkhave, desessāmi vibhajissāmi. Taṃ suṇātha, sādhukaṃ manasi karotha; bhāsissāmī”ti.

paṭiccasamuppāda = dependent origination,
vo = to you,
bhikkhave (voc. plural) = O monks / bhikkhus!
desessāmi = I will teach,
vibhajissāmi = I will analyse / explain,
taṃ = that / it,
suṇātha (imp, second per, p of suṇāti) = (you all) listen,
sādhukaṃ = properly, thoroughly;
manasi karotha (imp, second per, p of manasi karoti) = (you all) attend to / bear in mind;
bhāsissāmī”ti = bhāsissāmi + (i)ti
bhāsissāmi = I will speak

Translation : “Bhikkhus, I will teach you dependent origination and I will analyse it for you. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.”
(By Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Please Note : The above is again a stock phrase / formula used in the Suttas, when the Buddha introduces the theme of the Dhamma teaching he is going to give.

It follows the pattern – “……! (address to the person / group) I will teach you …… (the topic / theme of the Dhamma teaching). Listen to that and attend closely (bear it in mind), I will speak.”

5. Etāni, bhikkhave, rukkhamūlāni etāni suññāgārāni. Jhāyatha, bhikkhave, mā pamādattha; mā pacchā vippaṭisārino ahuvattha.

etāni = these,
rukkhamūla = root / foot of the tree,
suññāgāra = empty hut / dwelling,
jhāyatha (imp, second per, p of jhāyati) = (you all) meditate,
= do not,
pamādattha (PT, second per, p of pamajjati) = (you all) became careless,
pacchā = later,
vippaṭisārī = remorseful, repentant;
ahuvattha (PT, second per, p of hoti) = (you all) became

Translation : Bhikkhus! These are the roots of the trees, these are empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not be heedless or else you will be remorseful later.
Translation : These are the feet of trees, bhikkhus, these are empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not be negligent, lest you regret it later.
(By Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Please Note : When the prohibitive particle is used – expressing ‘do not’, the verb is often in the Past Tense. But as it is an advise / command, and is simply translated as ‘do not do …..’ (whatever action the verb indicates).

6. “Ehi bhikkhū”ti bhagavā avoca. “Svākkhāto dhammo, cara bhrahmacariyaṃ sammā dukkhassa antakiriyāyā”ti. Sā va tassa āyasmato upasampadā ahosi.

ehi (imp, second per, s of eti) = (you) come,
avoca = he said,
svākkhāta = well-proclaimed,
cara (imp, second per, s of carati) = (you) behave, conduct, live;
bhrahmacariya = holy life,
sammā = properly, thoroughly;
antakiriyāyā”ti = antakiriyāya + (i)ti
antakiriyā = ending,
= that (feminine),
va = eva = surely, indeed, emphatic particle;
tassa āyasmato = of that venerable (person),
upasampadā = higher / full ordination,
ahosi = was

Translation : The Blessed One said, “come, bhikkhu! The Dhamma is well-proclaimed. Live the holy life for the complete ending of suffering.” That itself was the full / higher ordination of that venerable (bhikkhu).

Please Note : The first ordination is called as pabbajjā, when a householder goes forth from home-life into a state of homelessness, and becomes a novice (sāmaṇera). The second or higher ordination, upasampadā, is given later wherein the novice is ordained as a bhikkhu. In the early days of the sangha i.e. when the elder bhikkhus were first given ordination by the Buddha, they were often ordained with just these words. The Buddha said to them “Ehi bhikkhu – come, bhikkhu” which itself was their upasampadā (higher ordination). Later, the practice of giving ordination twice – pabbajjā and upasampadā – was established.

7. Saṅkhāre parato passa, dukkhato mā ca attato.

saṅkhāra = formation,
parato = as alien, as belonging to other, not of / belonging to oneself,
passa (imp, second per, s of passati) = (you) see,
dukkhato = as dukkha / suffering / unsatisfactory,
attato = as self

Translation :
“See formations as alien,
As suffering, not as self.

Note : Here, the word saṅkhāra is used in general sense – as something that is formed, is of conditioned / compounded nature – and not as one of the five aggregates of being.

8. Uggaṇhāhi tvaṃ, bhikkhu, imaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ; pariyāpuṇāhi tvaṃ, bhikkhu, imaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ; dhārehi tvaṃ, bhikkhu, imaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ.

uggaṇhāhi (imp, second per, s of uggaṇhāti) = (you) learn,
imaṃ = this,
dhammapariyāya = exposition of Dhamma, Dhamma teaching;
pariyāpuṇāhi (imp, second per, s of pariyāpuṇāti) = (you) master (it), learn thoroughly;
dhārehi (imp, second per, s of dhāreti) = (you) bear, follow, remember

Translation : “Learn that Dhamma exposition, bhikkhu, master it and remember it.”
(By Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

9. Ahaṃ avero homi, abyāpajjho homi, anīgho homi, sukhī attānaṃ pariharāmi.

avera = without enmity, free from animosity;
homi (imp, first per, s of hoti) = may I be,
abyāpajjha = free from malevolence / ill-will / aversion
anīgha = free from anger,
sukhī = happy,
attānaṃ = to self, of self;
pariharāmi (imp, first per, s of pariharati) = may I protect / preserve

Translation : May I be free from animosity … aversion … anger … may I preserve myself happy.

10. Sabbe sattā, sabbe pāṇā, sabbe bhūtā … sabbe devā, sabbe vinipātikā … averā hontu, abyāpajjhā hontu, anīghā hontu, sukhī attānaṃ pariharantu.

sabba = all,
satta = being,
pāṇa = living being,
bhūta = creature, being;
vinipātika = being from lower realm
hontu (imp, third per, p of hoti) = may they be,
pariharantu (imp, third per, p of pariharati) = may they protect / preserve

Translation : All beings, all living ones, all creatures … all deities (all those in celestial realms), all those in states of woe … may they be free from animosity … aversion … anger … may they preserve themselves happy.

The last two sentences, No. 9 and 10 are from Mettā bhāvanā – practice of loving kindness. Please refer to the book, The Gem Set in Gold pages 59-60 for the complete text and translation of Mettā bhāvanā.

Last modified: Thursday, 28 December 2023, 9:41 AM