Because the Tipitaka and Atthakatha are the root texts of Theravada buddhism, this limitation on the study of these scriptures becomes not only an impediment to the dissemination of Buddhism, but also opens the way for misconceptions about the Buddha's teaching and thence to the birth of mistaken practices, which, once arisen, can very easily spread. In addition, the difficulty of studying the Tipitaka and commentaries does not aids scholastic research in relation to other academic areas, as mentioned earlier.
The Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha will help to alleviate almost all of these problems, facilitating the speedy and accurate research into these scriptures. It will also facilitate many other kinds of work with these scriptures apart from research purposes.
The many benefits to be expected from studying the Tipitaka and Atthakatha by computer can be summarized as follows:
Searching for data
Comparison of Data
Compilation, especially of dictionaries and encyclopedia
Research and writing
Sanghayana: Sangha meetings for reviewing the Tipitaka
Research, analysis and writing Buddhist-related theses on the international level
The production of the Digital Tipitaka and Atthakatha by Mahidol University is tantamount to preserving Thailand's good reputation as the land in which Buddhism still thrives most and as a centre of study for Buddhism. More importantly, this project is a boon to Buddhist and other scholastic circle around the world.
The most common kind of search within the Tipitaka and commentaries is the search for the source of various Suttas, Jatakas etc. For instance, to search for tha where abouts of the mahasatipatthana Sutta, the Cakkavatti sutta, the Angulimala sutta, or to search for the Somadatta Jataka, the Vanara Jataka, the Mahavessandara Jataka, finding their Volume numbers, page numbers, section numbers and so on. Such searching is child's play for a search program like BUDSIR, which has been designed for much more complex searches.
Essentially, the search capabilities of BUDSIR can be summarized thus:
Word search: both technical terms and ordinary words
- uposaThe student of Buddhism may wish to search for certain terms, such as apanna, karuna, sati, samadhi, sila, tha, dhammadana, pariyatti, paramattha, samaggi, kusala, akusala, punna, papa, dhutanga, vatta, samadana, sanghakamma, sanghadana, atirekacivara, pavarana, kalika, sannidhi, civara, senasan, and so on.
- The student of linguistics may wish to look for some of the many Pali words which have been incorporated into the Thai language, such as anuloma, patilome, pativatta, patirupa, patibhaga, sangharima, pandita, sucaritta, upama, parinna, jati, jivita, avudha, dayada, daraka, dhura, sabha, adita, anagata, paccupanna, dhathu, rajaduta, rajadanda, santi, rajupabhoga, rajkakudhabhanda, rajaputta, rajani, mahesi, jaya, bhagini, orasa, ramaniya, catucakka, and so on.
Searching for names or proper nouns, be it the name of a person, a place, a Sutta, a Jataka, or the name of a section of one of the scriptures, such as Ananda, Lumbhini, Sariputta, Anuruddha, Yasodhara, Patacara, Abhassara, Magadha, Gandhara, Ujjeni, Aciravati, Kapilavatthu, Gijjhakuta, Baranasi, Jivaka, Devadatta, Vesali, Suvannabhumi, Sirima, Veluvana, Jetavana, Licchave, Sumana, Kapijataka, Tevijja Sutta, Rajavagga, and so on.
Search for phrases or text strings : these may be words which come in sets. Such searching will be invaluable for both students of buddhism, grammarians and linguists in searching for factual basis for word usage, or estimating original meanings of word from their contexts, by comparing word usage and word history. Examples of such strings or phrases might be idha va huram va, parimukham satim upatthapeti, acchacchi tanham vivattayi sannojanam, atumari matu mari, maro papima, kiccam bhikkhave khamaniyam kicam yapaniyam, kayanuttha bhikkhave etarahi kathaya sannisinna sannipatita, evam baya kho ...
Searching for passages, which might be for many lines, or may be sayings of the Buddha which will be used for reference when giving teachings, such as attahi attano natho, sabbapapassa akaranam, natthi pannasama abha, pamado macchuno padam, vandako pativandanam, saccam ve amatavaca, dhammacari sukham seti, avijja paramam malam, and so on.
Searching for chants, dhamma teachings or teachings on the discipline (vinaya). The student or interested Buddhist may wish to know whether the words that are often chanted, such as the homage to the buddha (namo tassa bhagavato, arahato, sammasambuddhassa) or the phrases for recollecting the qualities of the Buddha (itipi so bhagava...) actually occur in the Tipitaka or not, and if so, where and how they are used, by whom they were spoken, whether they are edited or not, and if so, to see their full context. The student may wish to find the source of teachings often taught in Buddhism, such as kattnnu katavedi, the five precepts, the pathways to ruin (abhayamukha), the four brahmavihara, the four foundations of mindfulness, in the Tipitaka, and to compare the explanations of the Atthakatha and later scriptures. The may wish to know the offence for, and the origination of, such training rules, knows in Pali as sikkhapada, as forbidding bhikkhus from imbibing alcohol, eating at night or not putting away seats or benches after using them, or the origination of the ordination and offering of kathina cloth ceremonies. (To search for the answers to such questions, it is necessary to use the type of searches already covered in points 1, 2 and 3, but in this case the searches may be more complex, involving all three kinds of search.)
Search for words, text strings or passages with BUDSIR enables a level of detail which would be impossible with manually might take a matter of months or years, can be completed within a matter of seconds by BUDSIR. The capabilities of BUDSIR are:
- Displaying the total number of occurrences of a given word or text string within the whole forty five volumes of the Tipitaka. When searching for the word Ananda, for example, the program will tell you with in a matter of seconds that this word appears 1966 times (this capability can also be used with the Atthakatha and other scriptures).
- Displaying a list of each of the volumes of the Tipitaka in numerical order, showing the number of occurrences of the word within each volume.
- Displaying a list of the occurrences of the word in particular pages and sections within each volume.
- Showing each occurrence of the word within its textual context, depending on which page the user chooses to view it. The searched-for word will be highlighted with a green selection band to enable ready viewing.
- Authenticating external references
- Checking the authenticity of words or passages attributed to the Buddha or the Tipitaka.
- Checking that the source of words or passages attributed to the Buddha is rightly quoted in order to either authenticate or rectify such quotes.
- Checking the wording of quoted words or passages, to ascertain whether they are rightly quoted or to rectify them.
- authenticating internal text
- Checking the consistency of word usage throughout the Tipitaka and Commentaries. For instance, a word which appears in some volumes of the Tipitaka as catumaharajika appears in other volumes as catummaharajika; a word which appears as vessavano in some volumes is rendered in other volumes as vessavanno.
- Checking the consistency of passages throughout the Tipitaka and other scriptures. This kink of checking is of vital importance, because the language of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha is very repetitive. There are many passages which occur in many parts of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha, sometimes whole Suttas, sometimes sections or passages. In many cases there are discrepancies in these passages, which may have arisen from faulty memorizing or transcribing.
Checking the sources of such passages as these will enable comparisons and analyses of textual discrepancies to be on the most thorough-going level possible, enabling us to be more assured of deciding on what is correct or incorrect according to the Buddha's teaching. Such checking is of utmost importance in meetings of the Sangha, or Sanghayana, for checking and verifying the contents of the Tipitaka, where the checking of passages and references will be completely comprehensive, free of oversights, unlike manual checking, which is always prone to omissions and oversights.
- Authenticating interpretations or definitions:
Be one a student of Buddhism, of Pali or of Thai language, one will inevitably come across problems with word definitions. In These instances, the program BUDSIR for the Tipitaka and Atthakatha can help in the checking of definitions in every sense of the word, omitting none. for example:
- Checking whether the definition as generally understood (or even as is found in the dictionaries) is valid according to the original usage of the word.
- Checking that all the different interpretations or senses of a word, of which where tend to be numerous, are covered by the available authorities or is there another meaning not yet known to us. New interpretations proposed by others can also be checked.
- Checking the different usages of a word according to its context or prefixes. For instance, the meaning of the word chanda as in 'giving chanda', as in one of the the Iddhipada, as in kamachanda; or the word vara, meaning excellent, or meaning that which helps.
- Checking to see whether the usage of words in the present time, especially in the Thai language, has become distorted with time, by comparing them with their original definitions, contexts or emphasis. Such knowledge is invaluable in the study of the evolution of language, thought, belief, custom and other related factors. For example, words like mana, vasana, parami, sammuti, cuti, sanna, vedana, vinnana, iccha, adhitthana, bhavana, parikamma, nidana and so on.
- Authenticating beliefs and practices
Which are adhered to as Buddhist principles. Such authenticating is more complicated than the previous kinds of work, because in many cases it will not be possible to refer to only one particular part of the Tipitaka, or even to direct references. Such authenticating must be instead based on a thorough knowledge of the principles of Buddhism and a thorough versatility with Buddhist texts, making it possible to bring together different passages or principles of the teaching for comparison, for which the comparison of textual references mentioned in the next point will be invaluable. This kind of work is usually left to those who are truly expert and knowledgeable in the teaching. Such people will rely mainly on their extensive knowledge of the texts, for which BUDSIR is a most effective tool, enabling their work to attain a level of thoroughness and detail which would otherwise be attained only with much difficulty, if at all.
With only the Tipitaka on disk, there is already a foundation of data which is of immense benefit in the study of Buddhism. when the Atthakatha is added to this body of information, the benefits are increased accordingly, expanding the capabilities of study and research considerably.
Having the data from both the Tipitaka and the Atthakatha together in one system has two discernible benefits. Firstly, those benefits to be obtained form the availability of a wider base of data on
which to conduct research, and secondly the benefits of having two bodies of knowledge which can be compared and analysed in unison.
The first benefit is easy to appreciate. This is simply an expansion of the possibilities of work that can be achieved, as has been described in the previous points and will be mentioned again in the
coming points. At the very least, the presence of both the Tipitaka and the Atthakatha will serve to make the study of Buddhism as comprehensive as possible, enabling the establishment of an understanding of the very basics of Dhamma-vinaya.
Without the Atthakatha there is no reference, no explanation of the right way to interpret the teachings found in the Tipitaka. If, on the other hand, there were only the Atthakatha but no Tipitaka, study
would have no base, and could easily become directionless.
In general terms, in addition to its basic value as an reference for the study of the Tipitaka, the Atthakatha is valuable in its own right for research in relation to linguistics, ethical teachings, history, geography and so on, which I will expand on shortly.
However, the benefit which I would like to stress is the second kind of benefit, which is a benefit which gives the study of Buddhism a greater level of profundity and comprehensiveness. This benefit it is which makes full use of the powers of the computer in studying the Tipitaka and Atthakatha, and that is the ability to bring these two bodies of knowledge together for comparison. That is, to be able to compare data in the Tipitaka with related data in the Atthakatha and other scriptures, or between data in the Atthakatha and other scriptures, or even different occurrences of related data within the same scriptures; or to take data from the Tipitaka for comparison with related data in the Atthakatha, and from there to take data from the Atthakatha for comparison with data in the Tipitaka. In regards to this, the program BUDSIR IV included with the Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha is capable of showing data from both scriptures on one screen, in addition to showing an index as well.
Here I would like to give some examples of how this could be used:
The Tipitaka and Atthakatha are from different periods of time. Once the Tipitaka had been finalized, the Atthakatha was still developed for a further number of centuries. These two bodies of data, being on the same subjects and yet separated by a matter of centuries, are two points of reference which can be brought together and compared, showing the evolution and development which took place in these two scriptures over a period of centuries. For example:
- The ways in which understanding, practice and emphasis within the basic principles of Buddhism evolved.
- The changes in society and historical events which took place, including the changes which took place, including the changes within the institution of Buddhism.
- The evolution of language and word usage, the way in which words took on new shades of meaning in later times or even became distorted; the arising of new words and changes in word usage. As an example, one could search to see whether a particular word used in the Atthakatha was also found in the Tipitaka, or whether a word used in one sense in the Tipitaka is used in the same way in the Atthakatha. A certain teaching may be illustrated with certain words in the Tipitaka, but it may be described in different words in the Atthakatha ... And so on ...
When it is desired to search for a phrase, passage or any other subject of interest on a detailed level, the search may begin at one point in one of the scriptures and from there be connected to other occurrences of the same passage in other texts. For example, a certain passage found in one section of a particular volume can be referenced to other volumes, or an explanation of the subject may be searched for in other volumes; the views of the Atthakatha can be compared, not only in the section of the Atthakatha directly related to that subject, but also in other sections dealing with other subjects. Alternatively, a reference to a subject in the Atthakatha can be referred back to the Tipitaka for authentication.
Comparing data Between volumes or scriptures takes in the searching covered in points A. and B., and is also the base from which the following functions can be performed.
Pali words, Buddhist technical terms and proper names occurring in the Tipitaka and Atthakatha are exceedingly numerous. No-on has ever been able to make a comprehensive compilation of them all. The indexes, dictionaries and encyclopedia so far done have not been conclusive. If we were to rely on manual labour to do such a job, even over a matter of years, it world be very difficult to accomplish, and it is to be expected that such a work would be rife with oversights and omissions. However, the Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha is capable of making complete compilations of words that are free of omissions. Such compilations are immediately ready to be taken for compilation in dictionary or encyclopedia form.
Compilation of dictionaries or encyclopedias must be arranged in alphabetical order, a task which is both taxing and time-consuming. This is especially so in relation to the Tipitaka and its commentaries, which are such vast repositories of data. It is extremely difficult to be assured of a comprehensive compilation, and omissions or mistakes, such as words arranged out of order, are very likely to arise. However, the Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha has compiled every word in these scriptures in an index. This compilation is complete and free of omissions. The words are arranged in alphabetical order, free of error. A compiler of a dictionary or encyclopedia is there by helped greatly, being freed of the excessive burden of looking for the words and arranging them in alphabetical order, leaving only the insertion of definitions to be done.
In compiling dictionaries, there must be both data-searching and data-checking, together with collation, all of which can be done with BUDSIR and the Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha, as has been explained in points A. and B.
In summary, in addition to matters of speed and accuracy, the use of the program BUDSIR will facilitate the work of dictionary compilation in the following ways:
- Compiling all the occurrences of a word in the scriptures without omission.
- Compiling all the meanings of each word occurring in the scriptures.
- Showing all the references, without omission.
- Displaying how the word is used in the scriptures in all its contexts.
- Searching for synonyms and antonyms is made easier.
This kind of function will be invaluable in the production of Thai dictionaries, as well as for the authentication of those already existing.
Research and writing on subjects related to Buddhism must have the Tipitaka as the prime source of reference, because the Tipitaka is the literary basis of Buddhism. The Atthakatha commentaries serve to expand on the basic teachings found in the Tipitaka, and as such serve as a reference to that.
This kind of work often necessitates the compilation and collation of much data, for which the program BUDSIR is invaluable.
Research and writing in general may also be directly related to Buddhism. That is, research may be conducted into the principles of the teaching and discipline (Dhamma-Vinaya), or it may be in relation to the addressing of social problems in the present time, or it may be related to other fields of scholarship. For example, such subjects might be The Principles of the Foundations of Mindfulness, the Buddha's teachings on Insight, the Problem of Good and Evil, Happiness and Suffering in terms of Buddhist philosophy, Buddhism and Economics, Buddhism and Democracy, Buddhism and Psycho-analysis, Freedom according to Buddhism, Comparison of Buddhism with Modern Philosophies, the Buddhist ideal society, the ideal teacher, Pali literature in the Thai language, Buddhist temples, discipline and Thai life, ... etc.
Authorship is an invaluable undertaking, and such authorship (relying on the Buddhist scriptures) has already been done, by both Thai scholars and scholars of other nationalities. However, such work is still in limited quantities because in the past there were no tools to aid in such work. Such work required an extensive knowledge of and versatility in the Tipitaka and a great amount of effort in compiling the Buddha's words and events from the scriptures which were related to specific people, places, ideas or passages into one cohesive whole. Examples of such works are Putthaprawat jahk Phra Oht, Ariyasat jahk Phra Oht and Padtijjasamupbaht jahk Phra Oht by Venerable Ajahn Buddhadasa, The Word of the Buddha, by Nyanatiloka, Some Sayings of the Buddha, by F.L. Woodward, The Life of the Buddha, by Venerable Nanamoli. With the Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha, and using BUDSIR, such work will be much easier and faster. In the compilation of 'abbreviated Tipitakas', the same applies.
One of the ways in which the Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha can be of great benefit is in the reviewing of the Tipitaka (Sanghayana) consist of two main duties, much as has been already
mentioned (in the functions of the Digital Tipitaka). Thai is, search and checking, as has been explained in points A. and B., as well as comparison of data as in point C.
One of the greatest benefits of the Digital Tipitaka and Atthakatha is that in checking these scriptures, we are assured of a very high level of accuracy, consistency and conclusiveness which could not be obtained with manual checking. Such manual checking, even if it is carried out by the most expert and astute of analysts, connote escape oversights, inconsistencies and omissions. The Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha, using BUDSIR, in addition to being extremely fast, is extremely efficient and accurate. In regard to this, I would like to give example of one kind of function which manually is extremely difficult to achieve, but which is quite simple and easy with the aid of a computer.
- Making indexes, both for individual volumes or for the entire 115 volumes, with the program BUDSIR is both comprehensive, guaranteed free of omissions, and accurate. Indexes for the 45 volumes of the Tipitaka and for the 70 volumes of the Atthakatha already exist.
- Bringing together all the occurrences of related words or phrases (from among a number or all of the volumes present) for comparison can be done with both a high degree of speed and accuracy, making the work of analysis of the data much more comprehensive.
- Having decided on changing (the spelling of) a certain work, with only one command, every occurrence of that word, without omission, throughout the hole 115 volumes, is changed in a matter of seconds. If such a task were to be done manually it would take an enormous amount of time, and in fact would be well nigh impossible to accomplish.
- Correcting, changing, inserting, or removing data, or re-paragraphing or inserting headings, are a very simple matter for a computer.
In summary, checking of the Tipitaka by computer will be more economical in terms of time, cost and effort than checking by manual means.
In the present time, more and more people from the Western Hemisphere are finding an interest in studying the teachings of Buddhism. There is more research and writing on Buddhist related subjects, an interest in meditation practice, and there are attempts to apply Buddhist concepts to other fields of knowledge, and even an interest in the Pali language as the key to delving into the Tipitaka and other Buddhist scriptures, which are the source material for the Buddha's teachings. This research is both on a freelance basis and also on the level of Universities, and scientific and cultural or, in some countries, linguistic, Institutes.
The Tipitaka and Atthakatha used by Western students is printed in Roman script, the main source being that published by the Pali Text Society in England. The Pali Text society has long printed the whole of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha, a Pali dictionary and texts for researching the Tipitaka which at the present time are the standard. Even works by some Thai scholars have been printed by the Pali Text Society. In the present time there have already been some individuals and institutions contemplate the study of the Tipitaka through computer, but these efforts have yet to bear fruit.
The Digital Edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha is capable of transcribing all of the Pali passages from Thai script into Roman script as desired in the flick of a switch (This is in addition to the separate Romanized version of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha, which is also on disk.). As such, this is the first international edition of the Tipitaka and Atthakatha on computer disk. This project is thus a great boon to the study of Buddhism and the Pali language on a universal level, which can be made use of by both Buddhist scholastic circles on Eastern countries, such as Japan, Sri Lanka, Burma, and India, and in Western countries, such as England, Germany, and the United States.
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