Publication of the Pāli Prosody Vuttodaya on Ancient Buddhist Texts

I have completed work on a text that has been occupying my attention for the past 15 years. I first started work on it in November 2001, and after comparing 15 manuscripts and editions I had a text ready by the end of 2006.

Vuttodaya has played a central position in the teaching of Pāḷi ever since it was written by Ven. Saṅgharakkhita in the 13th century and is still to this day the main text used in any traditional monastic temple when treating of matters related to prosody.

The text describes in 137 kārikās not only the main Pāḷi verse forms, but also how they are reckoned, the tables that are used to identify them and many other matters related to the science.

The kārikās themselves are extremely concise and even for an effective translation need to be unraveled, but to explain their full implications takes a commentary as well, so that the text is expanded in this edition to over 200 pages and has become a veritable compendium of prosodic knowledge.

For any student studying Pāḷi, especially in its Medieval form, this work is essential to a proper understanding of Pāḷi verse form; but it should be noted that it does not properly describe the forms that are found in the Canon, which, although similar, were still much less defined at that time. For that I would recommend my An Outline of the Metres in the Pāḷi Canon (3rd Revised Edition).

One of the reasons the work on this text took so long is that there were many other works connected to this text that also had to be prepared: first of all editions of the two main Sanskrit prosodies that are background to the text Śrī Piṁgala’s Chandaḥ Śāstram (2003) and a new edition of Vttaratnākara (2004).

Other texts were needed for examples, like Studies in Ven. Buddhadatta’s Prosody (2005), Examples of Classical Metres from Mahāvaṁsa (2002); and I also prepared editions of several important works which used the metres described, such as Jinacaritaṁ and Rhys-Davids’ edition of Dāthāvaṁsa (both 2006).

The work however came to a temporary halt at the end of 2006 as I was hopeful of finding more examples found in the Medieval literature, which were not written specially to illustrate the text.

Over the years however this has proved to be very difficult, as many of the metres described were simply never in use. Even in the exemplary prosodic literature itself many of the metres are not found, as they tend to provide examples of the samavutta metres only. Eventually I have added in whatever examples I could and have left the others to be exemplified by the kārikā itself, which is always written in the metre it describes.

The work is available from the link below in html, pdf and flipbook and I hope the work will be of use to students of Pāli literature. If anyone studying Pāḷi has feedback on this I could then correct the text, and later may look to publish in hard copy also.





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