What is Pali literature?

- October 28, 2020


By Samyukhtha Sunil  Religious and mythological texts have become vital mediums that act as a link between us and the gods that we believe in. In Buddhism, this role is fulfilled by the Pali school of literature. Primarily concerned with the Theravada sect of Buddhism, Pali literature became significant to the religion as it spread from India to other South-East Asian countries such as Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia. Pali is the traditional language in which most of these works have been written and orated in.  How did Pali originate? The word Pali simply means ‘a line’ and is regarded as a Middle Indo-Aryan language that is native to India. The earliest known origins of this language are unclear, but it is believed that it began in the kingdom of Magadha in the early 17th century. It was earlier known as Magadhi, named after its place of origin in modern-day Bihar. As the language began to travel through the different regions of the country, slowly spreading to the rest of the continent, it was renamed as Pali, a language which the Theravada Buddhists believed was spoken by Buddha himself.  DID YOU KNOW? Experts believe that Buddha did not teach his disciples in Pali but an earlier variation of Magadhi. The exact language used by Buddha is still unknown! Image: Wikipedia | Design: ACK Design Team Types of Pali literature To understand the origins of Pali literature, one has to first understand the structure of Buddhist scriptures or the Tripitaka. Tripitaka...

Comic of The Month

Prahlad

Prahlad drove his monstrous father to a murderous rage. He insisted on praising Lord Vishnu who was considered a sworn enemy by his father Hiranyakashipu. When he tried to punish his disobedient son, Hiranyakashipu's potent poisons turned to nectar while his lethal weapons fell harmlessly away. In this tale of bloodthirsty revenge, Prahlad's only defence is his devotion which dramatically puts an end to all evil.

20 Minute Read