[INDOLOGY] Pali question

Chris Clark chris.clark at inbox.com
Sun Aug 10 06:43:57 UTC 2014

Dear Gleb,

Let me clarify my previous message. The passage in question forms part of a verse composed in triṣṭubh (Sn 1071). The final vowel of hitvā can be considered to have been shortened so that the ninth syllable of the pāda is light and therefore better adheres to the metre. This is what I meant by saying that hitva is m.c. for hitvā. Needless to say, such metrical licence is common throughout Pāli poetry.

Chris Clark
PhD candidate
University of Sydney


Dear Chris,

Your elucidation is of course legitimate, although I should like to note that K.R. Norman in his revision of W. Geiger's grammar (PTS, Oxford, 2005) has not supplied any additional notes on that matter. He merely states that "hitvā" is a correct form, see §§ 209-210. The early PTS editors didn't have many MSS. at their disposal, and MSS. do contain typos, mistakes and erroneous readings. Newer editions, though not "fully academic", are often more trustworthy. According to the CST 4.0, there are 603 matches for "hitvā" in 111 Pāli "books", while there are no matches for "hitva" at all. But the problem of readings is delicate, so, probably, it's a good idea to wait for the "Dhammakaya edition" academic paleographers' take on this issue. The issue is also discussed in the T. Oberlies' "Pāli" (2001, Berlin, p. 126, § 25), where it is suggested, in short, that "hitva" is a rare, occasional form (which occasionally, not as a rule, happens if a sandhi consonant "m" is inserted: "hitvamaññaṃ"). The point I should I like to stress is that "-tvā" and  "-tva" are not equally legitimate and correct forms. And in my opinion the best answer to the original question "Is hitvā (long a) a legitimate variant..?" would be: "hitvā" is perfectly standard, correct and legitimate, while "hitva" is rare and problematic".

With kindest wishes,
Gleb Sharygin

Insitute of Oriental Studies, Moscow

Ph.D. Candidate

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