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Paṭibhāna

and
translating AN 4.132

 

[AN 4.132] Paṭibhāno Puggala Suttaṃ the Pali,
Reply, Woodward translation.
Orators, Olds, translation.
A little four-liner about the facility and precision with which persons utter speech or engage in banter or repartee.
The three terms to understand are: paṭibhāna, yutta-paṭibhāno and mutta-paṭibhāno. 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.

 


 

[AN 4.140] Vādī Suttaṃ the Pali,
Expounder, Woodward translation.
Four persons: one able to convey the intent but not the letter; one able to convey the letter but not the intent; one able to do neither and one able to do both.
The Buddha concludes this sutta with the statement that one who has the four paṭisambhidā could not falter in both the conveyance of the intent and the conveyance of the letter. Paṭisambhidā PAṬI: (reflect back on) + SAM = co, con, with; + BHIDA break apart, analyze. That which is reflected back upon analysis ... in this case of the intent, the form, the roots, and the manner of rethorical exposistion of a teaching. (Woodward: the Four Analytical Powers; Bhk. Bodhi: The Four Analytical Knowledges) These are: attha, the spirit or intent of word, phrase or complete exposition; dhamma, one authority (U. Pandi, pg. 377 Points of Controversy) says this is understanding the word, another (the Abhidhamma) understanding the logic behind an expression — it is possible to merge these two sets of ideas ('this is said this way (the word) because people hear this expression thus (the reason)', 'this is said in this order (the word) because in this way it has such and such an effect on the mind (the reason)' 'this is said this way (the word) because this is the order in which the idea expresses its evolution and logical basis (the reason); etc.), but this may be a confusion of this term with the next, and the meaning of 'dhamma' is 'thing', 'form' or 'the Word' and the Abhidhamma always tries to make things appear more obscure than they are and in this case they are trying to make this into knowledge of Dhamma. But that would make this not a universal set of tools of analysis, but one directed at this Dhamma only and usually when Gotama is speaking about his Dhamma he makes it clear that that is what he is doing; nirutti, the knowledge and intuitive knowledge of the roots of both word and phrase and the proper grammatical construction thereof (for example, etymology, or understanding the origin and meaning of an idiomatic expression); (to digress: in what I have called 'Old Pali' where the letter is a syllable, a syllable is a word, and a word is a sentence, the explanation of the word in the science of Nirutti is more along the lines of the explanation of the origins and meaning of the idiomatic expression than the construction of a 'word' from the meaning of it's 'syllables'. A Pali 'word' is something like a Chinese pictogram. And like such, a Pali word can be read forwards and backwards and assumes different meanings with different inflections (rather than being a separate word with 'different' spelling, long ā, etc.) and is to be understood in multiple ways — that is, not in many separate ways but in many ways simultaneously. (the same thing happens in English even today, but the phenomena goes mostly unnoticed ... except in certain cases of madness Obo say! What we have in the dictionaries is a selection from the possibilities, not the entire scope. Not understanding this is the source of many misunderstandings made by modern linguistic analysis. It is a form of linguistic imprisonment constraining us to one reality. ... and it is always breaking down.) and paṭibhāna (see discussion at 132 above), the knowledge of (and inspired access to) retorical expression, enrapturing turn of phrase, tactics in the conveyance of an idea. Ahum.

 


 

References:

[AN 4.230] Kavi Suttaṃ the Pali,
Poets Woodward translation.
Four types of poet.


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