Saturday, 26 March 2011

Use of Verse and Prose Media


In the teachings of the Buddha verse and prose media has been used more often than not. In preaching instruction and discussion the Buddha use prose, the verses were mostly to introduce a subject or to make a summery at the end and on the other hand verses helped disciples to keep the contents in memory in brief form also quickly. In question and answer method verses were used more often and they are recorded in all the five ñikAyas of the SuttapiTaka. The Vutthisutta of SN has the following verses representing the discussion between disciples and the Buddha.

KiMsu uppatataM seTThaM - kiMsu nipatataM varaM,
kiMsu pavajamAnAnaM - kiMsu pavadataM varaM.

= What is the best among arising? What is the best in falling?
What is the best in wanderers? What is the best among speaking?

This was like a puzzle that was in folk literature in the Buddha’s time. So the general answer was as follows.

BIjaM uppatataM seTThaM - vuTThi nipatataM varaM,
gAvo pavajamAnAnaM - putto pavadataM varaM.

= Seed is best among arising, Rain is best among falling things,
Cow is best among wanderers (those who can walk) Son is best among speakers.

The Buddha gave a different answer to this age old question.

VijjA uppatataM seTThaM - avijjA nipatataM,
sangho pavajamAnAnaM - Buddho pavadataM varaM.

= Knowledge is best among arising, Ignorance is best in falling,
Community is best among wanderers, The Buddha is best among speakers.

In the Buddha’s use of prose four fold methods are recorded in early literature.

1.  EkasaMvyAkaraNīiya – Analyzing one topic
2.  PatipucchAvyAkaraNīya – Question and answering method of analyzing
3.  VibhajjavyAkaraNīya – Detailed analysis
4.   Thapanīya – Observing silence

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