Dhammapada 1 – Grammatical Analysis

Thursday March 30, 2023

Source: buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/

Dhammapada 1

Gāthā Sentence Translation Sentence Structure
Vocabulary&Grammar Commentary Pronunciation


List of Abbreviations

Manopubbaṅgammā dhammā
Manoseṭṭhā manomayā
Manasā ce paduṭṭhena
Bhāsati vā karoti vā
Tato naṃ dukkham anveti
Cakkaṃ va vahato padaṃ

(DhP 1)



All mental phenomena are preceded by mind,
Mind is their master, they are produced by mind.
If somebody speaks or acts
With a corrupted mind,
Hence suffering follows him,
Like the wheel the foot of the bearing animal.

Sentence Structure

List of Abbreviations

Mano+pubbaṅ+gammā dhammā
|              |             |            |
N.n.      Adv.     Adj.m.    N.m.
|              |       Nom.Pl.  Nom.Pl.
|              |_______|            |
|____________|                  |

List of Abbreviations

Mano+seṭṭhā     mano+mayā
|              |            |          |
N.n.    Adj.m.    N.n.  Adj.m.
|          Nom.Pl.    |     Nom.Pl.
|________|           |______|

List of Abbreviations

Manasā ce paduṭṭhena
|             |           |
N.n.    part.    Adj.m.
Ins.Sg.   |       Ins.Sg.

List of Abbreviations

Bhāsati         vā     karoti         vā
|                    |           |              |
V.act.in.     conj.  V.act.in      conj.
3.Sg.pres.      |     3.Sg.pres.       |
|___________|           |________|

List of Abbreviations


Tato     naṃ     dukkham     anveti
|              |              |               |
Adv.   Pron.m.     N.n.       V.act.in.
|         Acc.Sg.   Nom.Sg.   3.Sg.pres.
|              |              |________|
|              |____________|

List of Abbreviations

Cakkaṃ     va     vahato     padaṃ
|                  |           |              |
N.n.         enc.     N.m.        N.n.
Nom.Sg .     |      Gen.Sg.   Acc.Sg.
|                  |           |________|

Vocabulary and Grammar

List of Abbreviations

manopubbaṅgammā: manopubbaṅgamma-, Adj.: preceded by mind. Compound of
    manomanas-, N.n.: mind. The compound form: mano.
    pubbaṅgamma-, Adj.: preceded. This is itself a compound of two words:
        pubbaṃ. Adv.: before. The compound form: pubbaṅ.
        gamma-, Adj., ger.: going. Derived from the verb gam- (to go).
Nom.Pl. = manopubbaṅgammā.

dhammādhamma-, N.m.: here does not mean Buddha's teaching, but should be interpreted rather as "mental phenomena". Nom.Pl. = dhammā.

manoseṭṭhāmanoseṭṭha-, Adj.: having mind as a master. Compound of two words:
    mano: explained above.
    seṭṭha-, Adj.: best, excellent.
Thus the compound literally means "having the mind as the best".
Nom.Pl. = manoseṭṭhā.

List of Abbreviations

manomayāmanomaya-, Adj.: created by mind. Compound of two words:
    mano: explained above
    maya-, Adj.: made of, created by, consisting of, produced by.
Nom.Pl. = manomayā.

manasāmanas-, N.n.: mind (explained also above). Inst.Sg. = manasā.

ce, part.: conditional particle "if".

paduṭṭhenapaduṭṭha-, Adj.: corrupted, spoilt; p.p. of the verb dus- (to become bad or damaged) preceded by the strengthening prefix pa-. Ins.Sg. = paduṭṭhena.

bhāsati: Verb bhās-, to speak. 3.Sg.act.in.pres. = bhāsati.

List of Abbreviations

, conj.: or.

karoti: Verb kar-, to do, to act, to perform. 3.Sg.act.in.pres. = karoti.

tato, Adv.: originally Abl.Sg. of tat- (it), literally "from that". Because of that, thence, thereupon, afterwards.

naṃena-, pron. In Pali used only in Acc.Sg.m. = naṃ (him).

dukkhamdukkha-, N.n.: suffering. Nom.Sg. = dukkhaṃ.

List of Abbreviations

anveti: verb i-, to go, preceded by prefix anu- (with, along, following). 3.Sg.act.in.pres. = anveti.

cakkaṃcakka-, N.n.: wheel. Nom.Sg. = cakkaṃ.

va, enc.: as if, like.

vahatovahant-, Adj.: bearing, carrying. Here N.m.: bearer, carrier. Derived (pr.p.) from the verb vah-, to carry. Gen.Sg. = vahato.

padaṃpada-, N.n.: foot. Acc.Sg. = padaṃ.

List of Abbreviations

    The first word of the first sentence (manopubbaṅgammā) is a compound and forms an attribute to the subject of the sentence (the second word, dhammā). Compounds are very common in Indian languages, more so in Sanskrit, but to some extent also in Pali. The concept, which in English needs several words (preceded by mind) can be conveyed by only single word ("mind-preceded") in Pali. The whole compound is in nominative plural to agree with the subject.

    The subject (dhammā) is also in nominative plural. As the verb is "to be", it is again omitted.

    Next are two more attributes of the subject (manoseṭṭhā and manomayā). Again, they are both compounds ("mind-mastered" and "mind-produced") and they are also in nominative plural, as they have to agree with the subject. Here ends the first sentence of this verse.

    As we can see from the second sentence, the syntax is rather free. It is especially true in the poetry, although even the prose is syntactically much more free than in other languages.

    The subject is omitted in this sentence; it is the third person singular pronoun (he or she or generally "one"). The main verbs are bhāsati and karoti ("speaks" and "acts"). They are connected by two conjunctions  (or) as is common in Pali -- in English we could use the pair "either-or". They are in the third person (denoting "one"), singular, present tense and indicative mood.

    The attributes to the verbs (manasā paduṭṭhena) are in the Instrumental case. This case expresses the instrument by which the action is done. It is an answer to the question "[By] whom?" "[By] what?". They must agree with each other in case and number.

    Note that the particle "ce" (if) occurs between two words of the attribute (manasā ce paduṭṭhena). Usually we would expect it at the end of the main sentence (manasā paduṭṭhena bhāsati vā karoti vā ce), but in the poetry this syntax is allowed.

    Next sentence is subordinated to the main sentence. It begins with and adverb (tato; thus, therefore) linking it to the previous sentence.

    The subject here is dukkha (suffering). It is in nominative singular. The main verb (anveti; follows) is in third person, singular, present tense and indicative mood.

    The object is naṃ (him; meaning the one who acts or speaks with a corrupted mind). It is in accusative case.

    Next is a clause cakkaṃ va vahato padaṃ (like the wheel the foot of the bearing animal). The verb is omitted (the verb anveti, follows, is implied from the previous sentence). The object padaṃ (foot) is in nominative case. Its attribute vahato (bearer's) is in genitive case. This case expresses a relation between two nouns. It can be translated by "of". It is an answer to the questions "Whose?".

    Cakkaṃ (wheel) is the object in this sentence. It is in accusative case.

    Again, we can note that the enclitic va (as, like) is placed just after the object. Usually we would expect this syntax: cakkaṃ vahato padaṃ va.


    In this verse (and the following one, DhP 2) some philosophical observations are made about the nature of our mind. It says that all the mental phenomena, happiness or suffering, joy or sorrow are made by, or are the outcome of, the quality of the mind. These mental phenomena are (according to the teachings of Abhidhamma) feelings (vedanā), perception (saññā) and volitional activities (saṅkhāra). And because these phenomena are created by, or so closely related to, the mind, they are always "colored" in the same way as the mind is. If the mind (as in this verse) is corrupted, full of evil thoughts, then only suffering and sorrow awaits us as a result of this. In other words, the mind, creating these mental phenomena simply creates them "to its own image". Therefore, negative thinking always brings with it suffering and sorrow, just as the wheel follows in the path of the animal carrying the charriot. We experience suffering only because our minds are not purified, we are not awakened. To purify the mind is to get rid of suffering once and for all.


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List of Abbreviations

Dhammapada 1 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 2 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 3 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 4 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 5 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 6 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 7 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 8 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 9 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 10 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 11 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 12 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 13 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 14 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 15 – Grammatical Analysis

Dhammapada 16 – Grammatical Analysis

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