Project Information

Project Management
Dr. Petra Kieffer-Pülz
Wissenschaftliches Pāli

Wissenschaftliches Pāli


Further information


The Buddhist canon, written in the Middle Indian Pāli language, is explained in its entirety by commentaries (aṭṭhakathā, "exposition of the meaning", from the 5th century AD), which in turn are explained by sub-commentaries (ṭīkā, 10th-20th centuries). All commentaries written since the 5th century AD have survived to the present day. They often discuss the meaning of a text in the dialectical-dialogical form of a written dispute, usually in a formalised structure. In the process, an assertion made is often refuted by other assertions, which are then followed, usually in the last place, by the proven doctrine. Objections and rebuttals are often introduced by conventional words or idiomatic expressions which have a special meaning or function in this context.

The aim of the project is to investigate these structures and to identify the special vocabulary that has not yet been systematically identified, grammatically described or recorded in lexicons. The aim is to contribute to the development of commentaries that have hardly been researched to date and to deepen our knowledge of the recent Pāli language (5th-19th centuries). The material basis is all commentaries (5th-20th century AD) on the entire Buddhist canon. Since the scientific commentary style of the Pāli recognisably reflects the so-called Bhāṣya style of Sanskrit commentaries, parallels to or deviations from scientific Sanskrit are recorded.

"Scholastic Pāli" is a project funded by the DFG within the framework of the "Centres for Pāli Lexicography" at the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz.

Report 2012