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Participles [active] & Absolute clauses - Part 2

active participles The last post looked at participle acting in passive sentences. In this post we'll continues with participles in active Pali sentences.

Just as a reminder, now that we are with active sentences, the main verb will agree with the agent/subject, which will be in nominative and an active participle formed from a transitive verb may take an object in accusative. e.g.
bhattaṃ bhuñjanto"
"~ eating rice.

Present Participles (Active)

Present participles in English end with ‘–ing’. When acting as non-finite verbs in Pali they specify actions that occur at the same time as the action of the main verb. Note  the  ‘present’ in present participle does not mean present tense but refers to their simultaneous action with the main verb.
For example:
While riding his bike, Jack had a puncture.
They can also act as adjectives:
the bouncing ball
adverbs:
Jack walked  along smiling
or occasionally stand as (action) nouns:
walking is good 

In Pali, like English, the present participle (both active & passive) tends towards the expression of unfinished action and so are more aligned with the imperfect (progressive) verb aspect rather than the perfect (completed). Unlike, past participles, present participle never act alone as the main verb of the sentence, (and only rarely in periphrasis), thus they are always accompanied by another verb. As such they function as verbal adjectives, nouns or adverbs to form phrases or clauses in subordination to the main verb.

Present participles (active), are formed from the present stem of verbs by adding the suffixes –an, -nt or –māna , -ayamāna and declining like nouns. By far the most frequent is -nt which can be attached to most verbs. As with adjectives, present participles agree in number, case, and gender with the nouns they qualify.
addasā
kho
bhagavā
te
bhikkhū
dūratova
āgacchante
aor.
sgl

3rd per

indec
nom
sgl
male

nom/acc
pl
male
3rd pers pron
nom/acc
pl
male


abverb
acc
pl
male
pres part, act

he saw
indeed
the blessed one
they/those
monks
from afar
coming
the blessed one, indeed he saw the monks coming from afar

Notice that the present participle ‘coming’ matches its subject ‘the monks’ in case, number and gender. The 3rd person pronoun ‘te’ here could be taken as either ‘those’ or the indefinite ‘the’. The whole phrase ‘the monks coming’ is in accusative indicating it is the object of the main verb ‘he saw’. Kho is an enclitic providing slight emphasis to the word that precedes it and the fact the main verb is at the beginning of the sentence also adds emphasis.

Notice that participles share the same agent as the main verb of the sentence. This is true of most types of clauses in Pali - the exception being absolute clauses.
kammaṃ
kho
pana
me
karontassa
kāyo
kilamissati
nom/acc
sgl
neut

indec
indec
instru/gen/dat
sgl
male
1st pers
pron

gen
sgl
m,n
pres part

nom
sgl
male

fut, act
sgl

3rd pers

work, action
indeed
yet
by me, my
doing
body
will be fatigued
yet indeed, my body doing work, will be fatigued

OK so working this through, the indeclinables can be taken to the start of the clause. The participle will agree with its subject/agent –who is doing? The only thing in genitive is the pronoun. Which means also the pronoun must be possessive and the thing possessed usually follows, so we get ‘my body doing…’ I think kammaṃ will then have to be in accusative, but it’s obvious from the semantics anyway - ‘my body doing work…’ And this is all the subject of the main verb.
Occasionally if they are not modifying a noun, present participles (like all adjectives) can behave like agent-nouns (usually masculine singular) referring to the ‘one who’ is the doer of the action.

And a present participle accompanied by the particle ‘pi’  may indicates a concessionary clause. E.g.
‘evam pi aham karonto’  = though I act in this way

The Perfect or Past Participle Active

Any past participle in Pali, as described previously, can be used in an active sense. In addition, there are a rare set of past participles formed by adding -vā or vī  (from –vant) to the past passive participle itself which are then specifically active in meaning.

These are sometimes called the perfect participles active. This participle usually implies the possession of the quality of the participle. Generally they can be translated by placing ‘having’ before the participle, which gives them their perfect aspect.
written -> having written / has written
They are used either as verbs, adjectivally or as complements. As verbs they are active and take an agent in the nominative and may take a patient in the accusative.
antavā
attā
hoti
nom
sgl
m
past part, act

nom
sgl
m

pres, act
sgl

3rd pers

(having) an end
(the) self
is
the self is having an end
They can often be found in Locative absolute constructions, but they also allow the creation of sentences where the subject of past participles is placed in nominative rather than the instrumental.

Future active participles

According to Warder (pg.104) an active future participle can be formed, but it is hardly ever used: in the entire Pali Canon there is only one example. Collins identifies a few from the future stem:
 mariss + ant -> marissaṃ 

Verb Aspect & Auxiliary Verbs

I think here I should mention the influence of auxiliary verbs on the sentence aspect. In Pali, like English, the present participle (both active & passive) tends towards the expression of unfinished action and so are more aligned with the imperfect (progressive) verb aspect rather than the prefect. Likewise the past participle tends to align with the perfect aspect.

Warder explains auxiliary verbs on pg.233 of his 'Intro to Pali'. I have to say I can’t decipher much of it. But here is a video tutorial about Aspect and tense in Pali.

Tense vs Aspect & Participles in Pali

Following on from the previous tutorial on tenses of the English Language, this tutorial looks at Tense & Aspect in the Pali language. You will see the difference between inflection and auxiliary verb...

I think generally, the aspect comes from the participle while the tense of the sentence comes from the auxiliary verb tense. Warder comments, 1st & 2nd pers forms of ‘√as’ (atthi) ie. 
asi, attha, asmi, si, smi, asma, asmā, amhi, amha
with a past participle emphasizes the meaning of present perfect. eg. ‘I am done’. This includes constructions with pronouns in 1st or 2nd person with the auxiliary verb implied.

Forms of √hū (hoti) also can imply the perfect. If in the present tense this can be historical present, and continuous with what has happen or what had been done.  Thus in dialogue and direct speech we find √as as auxiliary, in narrative √hu.   The aorist of √hū (ahosi) stresses past perfect.

Locative, Genitive & Accusative Absolute clauses

An interesting clause construction involving participles is the absolute clause (not to be confused with absolutives) . Whereas nearly all clauses in Pali take the same agent as the main verb, absolute clauses do not - their agent being different or impersonal (no specific agent).  They are never full sentences in themselves but are in a way separate from the main clause as the agent and action are different from that of the main clause. Eg. 
Barring bad weather, we plan to go to the beach tomorrow
They always involves a participle (usually a present participle) and a noun, pronoun or phrase all in the same case. Their distinguishing feature is that the agent of the participle is non-specific or different from the agent of the main clause. In other words, there will be no word in the main clause that the noun/pronoun or participle modifies. The participle and its subject noun/pronoun should agree in case, gender & number.

In Pali, the absolute clause looses its normal case based meaning and often takes on the sense of:
  • ‘although…’, ‘despite…’, ‘even though…’, or ‘disregarding…’ another’s wishes.
  • or ‘when’, ‘while’, ‘after’, ‘because’ and ‘although’...
They occur in Locative, Genitive & Accusative cases. With frequency being in that order.

Here are some examples:

Accusative Absolute

santaṃ+yeva
kho
pana
paraṃ
lokaṃ
‘natthi
paro
loko’ti
vācaṃ
bhāsati
Acc
sgl
m
Pres part

indecl
indecl
Acc
sgl
m

Acc
sgl
m




Acc
sgl
fem

Pres,
sgl

3rd pers

existing also

but
other
world
Non existent
other
world
Saying, claim
He/she says
But (despite) the other world existing
He makes the claim ‘the other world is not’
Although very rare it is possible to form an absolute in the accusative case. Analyzing the above the are two clauses. Always tricky, 'sant' here is a present participle derived from atthi, ‘to exist’ often meaning 'there is'. It is inflected as accusative masculine. The matching noun phrase, ‘the other world’ is also in accusative masculine. There is no obvious agent expressed so the agent of the main clause is the implied 3rd person ‘he’ therefore different from that of the participle, thus we can place 'despite' at the head of the subordinate clause.

Genitive absolute

Although more common the genitive absolute is still rare.
tassa
evaṃ
jānato
evaṃ
passato
kāmāsavā’pi
cittaṃ
vimuccati
gen
sgl
m,n
pron

adverb
gen
sgl
m,n
pres part

adverb
gen
sgl
m,n
pres part

abl
sgl
m,n

nom/acc
sgl
neut

pres,act
sgl

3rd pers

he, this, it
thus
knowing
thus
seeing
from desirous inflows
mind
freed
(when) knowing & seeing it thus, his mind (is) freed from desirous inflows

Locative absolutues

By far the most common type of absolute is in the locative case. A locative absolute consists of a noun (or pronoun) and a participle, both of which are in the locative case. While the other absolutes tend to mainly use the present participle, with the locative both past and present participles are common. It tends to carry the meaning ‘when’, ‘while’, ‘after’, ‘because’ and ‘although’. And a past participle tends to indicate an event prior to the main clause.
brāhmaṇo
acira+pakkante
sāriputte
kālam+akāsi,
brahmalokañ+ca
upapajji
nom
sgl
male

loc
sgl
male
past part

loc
sgl
male

acc, aorist
sgl

3rd person

acc
sgl
male

aor.
sgl

3rd pers

the brahmin
shortly departed
sariputta
he time done (died)
and brahma world
he arose
shortly after Sariputta departed, the Brahmin died and arose (in) the Brahma world
'brāhmaṇo' the only nominative is clearly the agent of the main verb. 'Kāla akāsi' literally ‘his time done’, is an euphemism meaning ‘he died’. The locative case ties Sariputta and the adjective ‘shortly departed’ together where pakkanta is a past participle of pakkamati ‘to go, leave’.

jātiyā
sati
jarā+maraṇaṃ
hotī
loc/instr
sgl
fem

loc
sgl
m,nt
pres part of sant

nom/acc
sgl
nt

pres ,act
sgl

3rd per

birth
being/is
decay & death
is
because birth is / due to birth being
decay & death is

'sati' here is the locative of the present participle sant from atthi (being) – and not sati meaning mindfulness! Also do not confuse the present participle sant with the past participle santa from the verb √sam, meaning ‘calmed’. It is tempting to see this as an absolute but I notice there is a clash in gender between  'jāti'=  f, & 'sati' = m,n. therefore jāti might well be in instrumental meaning 'due to'. (?)  However 'sati' as a present participle is often found in locative absolute constructions to express ‘if, because, such being the case’ - some more examples below - and it does very much fit with the context of the sentence.
atthe sati, ‘if there be need’;
evam sati, ‘such being the case’;
payoge sati, ‘when there is occasion’;
puccāya sati, ‘if the question be asked’;
ruciyā sati, ‘had he the desire, if he had the wish’.. 


That's about it for participles. Next we'll look at some Verbals in Pali...

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