Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Language Classes
Course Guidance
  • Anand Mishra, M.A.
  • Contact hours:
  • Tues. 02:00-04:00 p.m.
  • (and also by arrangement)
  • South Asia Institute, Room 305
  • (Email:)  E-Mail


“Pāli” is the language, in which the only Buddhist Canon is written, which has been preserved in an Indian language. This Canon belongs to the so-called Southern or Theravāda school of Buddhism.

Pāli is one of the Middle Indian Indo-European dialects (Prākrit). In the beginning, the teachings of the Buddha had been stored over time in various Middle Indian languages, and they have been handed down orally. Later on, they have been written along with commentaries in Pāli in Sri Lanka – according to Sinhala chronicles at the latest in the first century BC.

Pāli has an extensive literature (extra-Canonical and ornate poetry, etc.). Learning this language is particularly important for Buddhism research and is helpful to understand both, philology and history of ideas.

In this course, the students are introduced in the morphology, phonetics, grammar, syntax and the vocabulary of in the Pāli language. The aim of this course is to communicate the language skills which are necessary to enable the students to understand and translate easy and moderate Canonical passages. Prior knowledge of Sanskrit is helpful but not necessary.

Course assessment: Constant attendance, regular homework and a written exam at the end of the semester.

  • WARDER, A. K.:Introduction to Pali. - 2. ed., Pali Text Society (London 1974).
  • GEIGER, Wilhelm: Pali. Literatur und Sprache. Grundriß der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde I, 7 (Straßburg 1916). (A Pali Grammar by W. Geiger translated into English by Batakrishna Ghosh, revised and edited by K. R. Norman. Oxford: Pali Text Society, 2000).
  • VON HINÜBER, Oskar: Studien zur Kasussyntax der Pali, besonders des Vinaya-Pitaka. Münchener Studie zur Sprachwissenschaft. Beihefte. Neue Folge 2 (München 1968).
  • VON HINÜBER, Oskar: Das ältere Mittelindisch im Überblick. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-historische Klasse. Sitzungsberichte, 467. Band (Wien 1986).
  • OBERLIES, Thomas: Pali - A Grammar of the Language of the Theravada Tipitaka, De Gruyter. Indian Philology and South Asian Studies 3 (Berlin 2001).
  • MAYRHOFER, Manfred, Handbuch des Pali, Eine Einführung in das sprachwissenschaftliche  Studium des Mittelindischen, Carl Winter – Universitätsverlag (Heidelberg 1951).
  • RHYS DAVIDS, T. W. und STEDE, William: Pali-English Dictionary, Pali Text Society (Oxford 1972).

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