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 [Dhamma Talk]


AN 4.132

A little four-liner about the facility and precision with which persons utter speech or engage in banter or repartee.

Read the Sutta

Recommended translation: Orators, Olds, translation
Index to available translations: AN 4.132

The three terms to understand are:

yutta-paṭibhāno and

Yutta = yoked;
mutta = free
paṭibhāna = paṭi + bhāna = re(flect back on) + bhāna.

The trouble starts with the meaning of 'bhāna'. PED does not list this term. Points of Controversy has it coming from 'bhā' 'to become apparent'; possibly it comes from 'bhāṇaka' reciting, or 'bhaṇati, to speak, say, tell, recite, preach.

Woodward translates paṭibhāna 'reply'.

Bhk. Bodhi translates 'discernment'.

In their discussion of terms in Points of Controversy pg. 377, Shwe Zan Ang and Mrs. Rhys Davids describe the meaning as being 'that by which things knowable become represented, are present'. (Which requires some paṭibhāna to understand.) Or 'analytic insight'.

A footnote there translates the term 'rhetorical gift'.

My reading says this term refers to the product of discernment in speach, not the thinking processes that precede speech. Also it looks to go beyond mere reply and include spontaneous recitation. So I would settle on re-citation. That would result in the 'literal' translation:

One has yoked-recitation not free-recitation;
one has free-recitation not yoked-recitation;
one has yoked-recitation and free-recitation;
and one has neither yoked-recitation nor free-recitation.

Now is that 'yoked to the topic,'
'speaking precisely,' or
yoked in the sense of restrained, constrained;
or is that 'speaking concisely'?

Is 'free recitation' unrestrained recitation or easily flowing recitation and in either case is the negative 'constrained recitation'?
and does that mean 'constrained to the topic' or
'speaking concisely'? Obo say!

Both Woodward and Bhk. Bodhi appear to be following their understanding of the commentary. Woodward has 'to the point' and 'diffuse'. He has abridged person #3 to: 'he who does both'. Unabridged this becomes 'to the point and diffuse'. At best, this needs to be heard as 'on point and in detail.' Person 4, who is neither, would be one who was 'neither to the point nor difuse' for which we might be thankful at least for the brevity.
Bhk. Bodhi has translated 'incisive and 'free-flowing'. Incisive, in meaning number 2, (not as in #1, cuttingly): precisely and with exactitude. Yoked to the topic, free in terms of readiness of wit. Bhk. Bodhi's translation of 'paṭibhāno' as 'discernment' makes these aspects of 'discernment'. But reciting or discerning, it is at least possible to be both precise and have free-flowing thoughts or speech or to be neither precise nor have free-flowing thoughts or speech.
Woodward complicates the issue noting the commentary on the Puggalapaññatti as suggesting the meaning for 'yutta' as 'succinct'; 'mutta' as 'rambling'. This would alter the meaning to:
One has succinct speech/discernment not rambling speech/discernment;
one has rambling speech/discernment not succinct speech/discernment;
one has succinct speech/discernment and rambling speech/discernment;
one has neither succinct speech/discernment nor rambling speech/discernment.
Between Woodward and Bhk. Bodhi, Bhk. Bodhi's solution works the best if read without discernment. (Sorry, couldn't help myself. To be precise, I was feeling unconstrained.)
I dipped my oar in with my own solution which takes a little from here and a little from there.

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