Pali at the University of Toronto


Believed by devout Buddhists to be the language the Buddha preached in, Pali has formed and united the contemporary Buddhist world of South and Southeast Asia like no other language. It is the idiom that the Sri Lankan, the Nepalese, the Bangaladeshi, the Thai, the Burmese, the Khmer, the Malay, the Vietnamese, and the Lao Buddhist, to name only some, share, – in their daily recitations, in stories and doctrines, and in much of the religious vocabulary of their respective vernaculars. With origins that date as far back as those of its sister language Sanskrit, Pali opens up a vast literature that covers most of the time span of South Asian religious history. Learning Pali enables students to read the scriptures of Theravāda Buddhism and some of the oldest and best known Buddhist texts, including the Dhammapada and the Jātaka, but also the historiographies of South and Southeast Asian countries, medieval poetry, and meditation manuals, thus opening a window onto the languages, literatures, and practices of the Southern Buddhist world.
 
Christoph Emmrich, who specializes on Theravāda Buddhism in Nepal, Burmese-Pali commentary, and time in Pali literature, is the local faculty doing research on Pali sources.
 
Today, University of Toronto is the only academic institution in Canada that offers regular Pali courses and one of the very few universities in North America where this language is taught at all. Additionally, UofT is the only Western academic institution where Pali is taught, embedded in a specific regional tradition, Burmese Buddhism, and where students, starting from the undergraduate level, are exposed to Pali manuscript culture. Those doing Pali at the University of Toronto can be proud of the fact that it was the academic home of one of the most eminent Pali teachers in the academic study of this language, Professor Arthur K. Warder. Pali is regularly taught at the Department for the Study of Religion on all three levels (beginners, intermediate, and advanced) by Christoph Emmrich, Bryan Levman, and Libbie Mills. Read more here. For a sample syllabus see here.
 
Textbook for Pali used at UofT: James W. Gair and W. S. Karunatillake. A New Course in Reading Pāli. Entering the Word of the Buddha. Reprint. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1998. Find this book here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pali grammar used at UofT: Steven Collins. A Pali Grammar for Students. Bangkok: Silkworm Books, 2006. Available as iBook here.