Pāli Level 4 – Poetry and Commentaries
This course studies two advanced aspects of Pāli literature: Pāli metre and commentarial Pāli. By covering all of the most important metres from the Pāli Suttas, the course will equip you to understand the grammar of Pāli verse texts, and to chant them correctly. And by studying key sections of Buddhaghosa’s commentary on the Mahā-paribbāna Sutta, the course will allow you to deepen your knowledge of Pāli grammar, and enrich your understanding of the Pāli tradition.
Like all other levels of the Pāli Online Course, Level 4 contains 24 lessons, each with one lecture, several exercises and further materials such as factsheets covering the essential points from the lesson and vocabulary lists. All this enables you to learn whenever and wherever you want, fitting the learning into your individual schedule.
Level 4 is split into two sections: lessons 1-12 cover Pāli metre, and lessons 13-24 cover commentarial Pāli. Both sections of the course are cumulative, meaning that the lessons build upon each other. You are free to navigate through the course as you like, but we advise that you work through each section of the course successively, i.e. studying lessons 1-12 and 13-24 in their regular order.
Access to a Pāli dictionary is helpful throughout the course – luckily, one of the best complete dictionaries is available for free online, as a searchable database: The Pāli Text Society’s Pāli English Dictionary
A few facts about this Pāli course:
Content: 24 Lectures, amounting to 3.5 hours + 24 Factsheets + 24 Vocabulary Lists + hundreds of exercises
Duration: 4-5 weeks based on 3-4 hours of self-study per week
Difficulty: Expert (advanced previous knowledge, equivalent to the content of Pāli Level 1-3, is required)
Note that once bought, your access to the course does not expire. When we update the course – for example by adding material or exercises – you will automatically have access to the new version.
This course is called Pāli Level 4, but Levels 1-3 cover most of the grammar and syntax. Level 4 is a specialized course that dives deep into Pāli poetry and commentarial literature.
Learning Objectives for Pāli Level 4:
- Understanding the grammar of the metres of Pāli verse texts
- Understanding how to chant Pāli verse texts correctly
- Developing a good working knowledge of:
- The Anuṭṭhubba, Tuṭṭhubba, Jagatī, Vetālīya and Opacchandasaka metres
- Understanding the difference between syllable and measure metres
- Gaining skill in reading verses from the Dhammapada, and several Suttas from the Suttanipāta:
- The Uraga, Muni, Khaggavisāṇa, Brāhmaṇadhammika and Jarā Suttas
- Understanding the historical background to the composition of the Pāli commentaries
- Understanding the main grammatical features of commentarial Pāli, including:
- The diverse functions of ti clauses
- The extensive use of abstract formations
- The use of bahubbīhi compounds in explanatory glosses
- The meaning of technical vocabulary
- The citation of alternative Theravāda interpretations, and debate with them
- Gaining skill in reading several important sections of Buddhaghosa’s commentary on the Mahāparibbāna Sutta, including:
- The opening section of the text (the nidāna): the Buddha is in Rājagaha, and Buddhaghosa explains why king Ajāsattu wanted to attack the neighbouring state of the Vajjis.
- The section on the Four Noble Truths: Buddhaghosa explains these as the truths which cause the ‘noble state’.
- A long analysis of the different stages of the Buddhist path: the stream enterer, the once-returner and the non-returner.
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