Pali is the same as Magadhi?

What are Māgadhī and Pāli?

Are they different or the same?

I found this in the Khandhaniddesa on page 10:
(Vsm_Khandhaniddesa_ebook.pdf) (908.8 KB)

Analytic knowledge of spoken language: There is a true language, a true term on that “attha” (effect) and “dhamma” (cause).
Reading, speaking and reciting it, one hears the words, which are
read, spoken and recited. Hearing those words, distinguishing true
and not true language, the analytic knowledge that arises to the true
language called Māgadhi – the original language of all kinds of
beings – is analytic knowledge of language (niruttipaṭisambhidā).
When someone possessing niruttipaṭisambhidā hears “phasso,
vedanā”, he understands, this is sabhāvanirutti (true, original
language); hearing “phassā, vedano” he understands, this is na
sabhāvanirutti (not the true, original language).

Pali is the word for the texts, Magadhi is the actual language . They are the same.

The standard epigraphical language used in the Gangetic plain and beyond in the last centuries B.C. and a little after was a form of Middle Indian rather close to Pali. We have no reason to believe that any other written language existed in that area at that time. Like Pali it is eclectic with word-forms originally from different dialectics and also with no standardized spelling (as was probably originally the case for Pali). So the first Buddhist texts written down in that area should have been in that form. Since the enlarged kingdom of Magadha eventually extended over nearly the whole Gangetic plain, that language was probably called the language of Magadha, if it had a name. And that of course is the correct name of the Pali language.

Pali is essentially a standardized and slightly Sanskritized version of that language. Māgadhī is a language described by the Prakrit grammarians and refers to a written dialect that developed later (early centuries A.D. ?) from the spoken dialect in some part of ‘Greater Magadha’.

In effect, then, Pali is the closest we can get to the language spoken by the Buddha. And it cannot have been very different — we are talking about dialect differences here, not radically distinct languages.
[Buddha-l] Ready for this, folks? Interesting idea.........
Lance Cousins

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I think this is from the Commentary to the Itivuttaka.

tasmiṃ atthe ca dhamme ca sabhāvanirutti abyabhicāravohāro abhilāpo, tasmiṃ sabhāvaniruttābhilāpe māgadhikāya sabbasattānaṃ mūlabhāsāya ‘‘ayaṃ sabhāvanirutti, ayaṃ na sabhāvaniruttī’’ti pabhedagataṃ ñāṇaṃ niruttipaṭisambhidā (It-a p. 126,13)

another translation is

The lawless communication with respect to these meanings and Dhamma is called genuine linguistic usage. The knowledge as to what is genuine speech and what is not with respect to Māgadhī, which is the genuine linguistic usage and the root language of all beings, is called analytical knowledge into the linguistic usage

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Cullavagga (Vin. II,139):

Now at that time Yameḷu and Tekula were the names of two monks who were brothers, brahmans by birth, with lovely voices, with lovely enunciation. They approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, they sat down at a respectful distance. As they were sitting down at a respectful distance, these monks spoke thus to the Lord: “At present, Lord, monks of various names, various clans, various social strata have gone forth from various families; these corrupt the speech of the Awakened One in sakāya niruttiyā. Now we, Lord, give the speech of the Awakened One chandasas.” The Awakened One, the Lord, rebuked them, saying […]: “Monks, the speech of the Awakened One should not be given chandasas. Whoever should [so] give it, there is an offence of wrong-doing. I allow you, monks, to learn the speech of the Awakened One *sakāya niruttiyā


Sakāya niruttiyāti ettha sakā nirutti nāma sammāsambuddhena vuttappakāro māgadhiko vohāro.
“I ordain the words of the Buddha to be learnt in his own language - in Māgadhī, the language used by the Buddha himself,


Path of Purification Introduction p.xxxviii

The composition of the second part (often called Cú¿avaísa) of that historical poem is attributed to an Elder Dhammakitti, who lived in or about the thirteenth century. Here is a translation of the relevant passage:
“There was a Brahman student who was born near the site of the Enlightenment Tree. He was acquainted with the arts and accomplishments of the sciences and was qualified in the Vedas. He was well versed in what he knew and unhesitant over any phrase. Being interested in doctrines, he wandered over Jambudìpa (India) engaging in disputation.
“He came to a certain monastery, and there in the night he recited Pátañjali’s system with each phrase complete and well rounded. The senior elder there, Revata by name, recognized, ‘This is a being of great understanding who ought to be tamed.’ He said, ‘Who is that braying the ass’s bray?’ The other asked, ‘What, then, do you know the meaning of the ass’s bray?’ The elder answered, ‘I know it,’ and he then not only expounded it himself, but explained each statement in the proper way and also pointed out contradictions. The other then urged him, ‘Now expound your own doctrine,’ and the elder repeated a text from the Abhidhamma, but the visitor could not solve its meaning. He asked, ‘Whose system is this?’ and the elder replied, ‘It is the Enlightened One’s system.’ ‘Give it to me,’ he said, but the elder answered, ‘You will have to take the going forth into homelessness.’ So he took the going forth, since he was interested in the system, and he learned the three Piþakas, after which he believed, ‘This is the only way’ (M I 55). Because his speech (ghosa) was profound (voice was deep) like that of the Enlightened One (Buddha) they called him Buddhaghosa, so that like the Enlightened One he might be voiced over the surface of the earth.
“He prepared a treatise there called Ñáóodaya, and then the Atthasálinì, a commentary on the Dhammasaògaóì. Next he began work on a commentary to the Paritta. When the Elder Revata saw that, he said, ‘Here only the text has been preserved. There is no commentary here, and likewise no Teachers’ Doctrine; for that has been allowed to go to pieces and is no longer known. However, a Sinhalese commentary still exists, which is pure. It was rendered into the Sinhalese tongue by the learned Mahinda with proper regard for the way of commenting that was handed down by the three Councils as taught by the Enlightened One and inculcated by Sáriputta and others. Go there, and after you have learnt it translate it into the language of the Magadhans. That will bring benefit to the whole world.’ As soon as this was said, he made up his mind to set out.
“He came from there to this island in the reign of this king (Mahánáma). He came to the (Great Monastery, the monastery of all true men. There he stayed in a large workroom, and he learnt the whole Sinhalese Commentary of the Elders’ Doctrine (theraváda) under Saòghapála. He decided, ‘This alone is the intention
of the Dhamma’s Lord.’ So he assembled the Community there and asked, ‘Give me all the books to make a commentary.’ Then in order to test him the Community gave him two stanzas, saying ‘Show your ability with these; when we have seen that you have it, we will give you all the books.’ On that text alone he summarized the three Piþakas together with the Commentary as an epitome, which was named the Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga). Then, in the precincts of the (sapling of the) Enlightenment Tree (in Anurádhapura), he assembled the Community expert in the Fully Enlightened One’s system, and he began to read it out. In order to demonstrate his skill to the multitude deities hid the book, and he was obliged to prepare it a second time, and again a third time. When the book was brought for the third time to be read out, the gods replaced the other two copies with it. Then the bhikkhus read out the three copies together, and it was found that there was no difference between the three in either the chapters or the meaning or the order of the material or the phrases and syllables of the Theraváda texts. With that the Community applauded in high delight and again and again it was said, ‘Surely this is (the Bodhisatta) Metteyya.’ “They gave him the books of the three Piþakas together with the Commentary. Then, while staying undisturbed in the Library Monastery, he translated the Sinhalese Commentary into the Magadhan language, the root-speech of all, by which he brought benefit to beings of all tongues. The teachers of the Elders’ Tradition accepted it as equal in authority with the texts themselves. Then, when the tasks to be done were finished, he went back to Jambudìpa to pay homage to the Great Enlightenment Tree. “And when Mahánáma had enjoyed twenty-two years’ reign upon earth and had performed a variety of meritorious works, he passed on according to his deeds”—(Mhv XXXVII.215–47).



Knowledge about enunciation of language dealing with meaning and law (§21): there is the language that is individual essence, the usage that has no exceptions,9 and deals with that meaning and that law. Any knowledge falling within the category concerned with the enunciation of that, with the speaking, with the utterance of that, concerned with the root-speech of all beings, the Magadhan language that is individual essence, in other words, the language of law (dhamma), [any knowledge that] as soon as it hears it spoken, pronounced, uttered, knows, “This is the individual-essence language; this is not the individual- essence language”—[such knowledge] is discrimination of language. who has reached the discrimination of language knows, on hearing the words “phasso, vedaná,” etc., that that is the individual-essence language, and on hearing “phassá, vedano,” etc., he knows that that is not the individual-essence language.