Cakkhupala Workbook Completed

Yay, after lots of work (and equal amounts of procrastination), I’ve finished a rough version of the Cakkhupālattheravatthu, with both word-by-word and proper translations for Pali study. It’s probably full of errors, so please take the time to let me know of them if you find any. The PDF is here:

Here’s the working introduction:


This workbook started as an online word-by-word translation exercise on our otherwise disused Pali forum ( As other duties encroached, the exercise was discontinued. Then, this year I was asked to teach Pali by several members of our community. In the beginning, after our grammar lessons, I would use random texts from the Tipitaka to point out examples of what we had studied, as a means of providing some level of guided immersion as quickly as possible. At one point in a course this August, I remembered the work done for our forum and printed up the first part of it in much the form that it is found in the workbook, giving it to my guinea pig student together with a dictionary and what basic grammar we had studied to date, and had him work on it by himself. The results were impressive, whether from his own aptitude or the nature of the exercise I can’t say yet, but it was enough to make me continue translating and giving him the text as homework until he left. Thinking it might be of benefit on a wider scale, I have completed the workbook and present it here.

About the Text

The Cakkhupālattheravatthu is the commentary to the first verse of the Dhammapada. It comprises one of the many little-known stories of the Pali literature, mostly comprised of the Dhammapada and Jātaka commentaries. The Dhammapada stories are what are used in Thailand as the standard text of study for new Pali students, since the language is simpler and more grammatically proper overall than the Canonical texts, and the stories are inspiring even when the work of translating them is not.

How To Use

The workbook is split into sixteen parts or lessons, each of which is further divided into three sections – the Pali and a translation on one page and a word-by-word literal translation on the next. The idea behind this format, worked out by my student and myself, was that he should use the first two sections of each part of the workbook to come up with the third, hence its being on a separate page. This idea is in line with how Pali used to be taught in Thailand, where students would be given one book with the Pali and another with the translation, and would have to come up with the word-by-word translation themselves. Here it is given as a reference, but the idea is to attempt to use the proper translation as a guide to translating the Pali word-by-word yourself, using only a simple Pali-English dictionary. For the purpose, I would recommend the excellent CPED by Buddhadatta Thera, available on-line or probably by order. You could also use the Digital Pali Reader or the Android Tipitaka apps which both have Pali-English dictionaries and are available for download at


Here’s where I get to rant about how silly it is for Buddhists to copyright their work, but I’m running out of room, so I’ll just say that, as with all of my work, if you are using it for the non-commercial promotion of the Buddha’s teaching, you have my blessing. If you are using it for some other work, you don’t have my blessing. Regardless, you are free to do what you want with it without fear; I would never dream of suing anyone for their use of something I have given them.


October 31st, 2012

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