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Pali Language Books & Resources -The List

Pali language books
Learning resources for the Pali student: primers/courses, grammar guides, dictionaries, sutta sources, translations, pdfs, and other references & aids. Including: AK Warder, Collins, Geiger, Duroiselle, & de Silva.

Pali Language Books & Grammar Guides

Basic Pali courses & primers

A Pali Primer; Lily de Silva
Download A Pali Primer, Lily de Silva;  - also  available here and here.
Answers to the exercises.
Bhikkhu Bodhi's  Audio tutorial of Pali Primer by De Silva
Bhante Suddhāso's Video tutorials of Pali Primer; by de Silva
A publication of the Vipassana Research Institute. Basic introductory text, centered on short translation exercises. Less in-depth than some. Recommended to those with little or no experience in classical languages.
An Elementary Pali Course; Narada Thera
Download An Elementary Pali Course; Narada Thera; - also available here and here
This slender volume is intended to serve as an elementary guide for beginners.
The New Pali Course  Ven. Buddhadatta
The New Pali Course - Part III;  by Ven. Buddhadatta
Study guide to Part II;
Basic introduction with exercises, written by a Sri Lankan monk who taught Pali at Ananda College in Sri Lanka.


A New Course in Reading Pali; James W. Gair & W.S. Karunatillake
Download A New Course in Reading Pali; James W. Gair & W.S. Karunatillake - also available here.
This book is intended as an introduction to the reading of Pali texts. It uses readings drawn largely from Theravada canon, both prose and poetry. The reading are in Roman script, and carefully graded for difficulty.
An Easy Introduction to Pali
An new anonymous Pali course with simple and clear explanations.
Pali Made Easy;  Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya
Pali Made Easy;  Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya - also available here

Pali Readers

Pali Buddhist Texts. Explained to the Beginner.  R. Johansson
Pali Buddhist Texts. Explained to the Beginner. by R. Johansson also here
Aimed at the early learner, and focused on conveying key Buddhist concepts while teaching grammar and vocabulary. Includes grammar overview, vocabulary and translation for each selection; with a chapter comparing Pali and Sanskrit.

Buddhavacana by Glenn Wallis
Download Buddhavacana; Glenn Wallis 
A comprehensive Pali reader intended to enable a student to move directly into reading the Pali Nikayas.

Dhammapada by Radhakrishnan
Radhakrishnan, S., The Dhammapada, with Introductory Essays, Pali Text, English Translation and Notes.. For more advanced students, a breakdown of the best known and most-read text of the Pali Cannon. Substantial analysis and explanation of the text included, but no vocabulary.
Dhammapada by Radhakrishnan
See also the University of Taiwan's Digital Library & Museum of Buddhist Studies Reading of the Dhammapada. A complete word by word analysis of grammar and meaning.

Pali Grammar guides

A Pali Grammar for students; Steven Collins
This book is intended for modern students, inside or outside the classroom, as a work of reference rather than a "teach yourself" textbook.
A Practical Grammar Book of the Pali Language; Charles Duroiselle
A Practical Grammar Book of the Pali Language; Charles Duroiselle. Origonally composed in 1906, this text is long out of print, though a revised translation by Eisel Mazard is freely available - also available here. A very concise and thorough grammar guide though there are some typos errors. 

An Introductory Grammar of the Pāḷi Language; Allan Bomhard
Pali Grammar; E Müller
 Pali Grammar; E Müller
Pali Grammar; V Perniola
Pali Grammar; Vito Perniola
  See also: 'Pali Inflection Tables & Short forms' below

Pali Language Books - Advanced

Introduction to Pali; A.K. Warder
A.K. Warder Introduction to Pali Video Tutorials here
The standard text for learning Pali in the West. Very thorough and well designed, covers a broader range and depth than the Pali Primer. Though can be a little advance for the novice.

A Pali Grammar; Wilhelm Geiger
A Pali Grammar; Wilhelm Geiger
Originally published in German in 1916. Historical examination of the phonology and morphology of the language. Also available here and here too.

Syntax of the Cases in the Pali Nikayas; A. Wijesekera

Pali-English Dictionaries - pdfs

Pali-English Dictionary;  (PED) The Pali Text Society
Pali-English Dictionary; PED: The Pali Text Society, T.W. Rhys Davids and W. Stede.  Also here.
 Online searchable version
Still the comprehensive standard - representing more than 20 years effort on the part of T.W Rhys Davids. Contains most Pali words to be found in the Tipitaka, with English definitions and Sanskrit roots.

A Dictionary of Pali   Margaret Cone
A Dictionary of Pali A-Kh - Margaret Cone 
A Dictionary of Pali G-N - Margaret Cone
A major new dictionary of Pali from the Pali Text Society. This is a truly significant publication for both Pali studies and Buddhist studies more generally. Set to replace the Rhys Davids PED dictionary, though only two of the planned 4 volumes are yet published.

Much smaller than the Rhys Davids PED dictionary. Written by a monk, aimed at the student. The CPED (also here) focuses on the meanings of Pali terms as they are traditionally conceived in the Theravada tradition, but makes note of modern Western interpretations as well.
Online version also: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

A Dictionary of the Pali Language; R.C. Childers
The Student’s Pali-English Dictionary; U Phe Mon Tan

 See also: 'Online Dictionaries' below

 Pali Inflection Tables & Short forms

by Bhikkhu Nyanatusita

Histories and Literature Guides

von Hinuber's, A Handbook of Pali Literature. A survey of the available Pali literature, with descriptions of the contents and history of the texts of the Tipitaka. Also includes a general overview of the history of the Pali language, and its scholarship in the modern era.

Norman, K.R., Pali Literature
Norman, K.R., Pali Literature Including the Canonical Literature in Prakrit. A general survey of Pali literature, similar to that of von Hinuber, but more precise and focusing primarily on works available in Romanised editions.

A History Of Pali Literature by Bimala Churn Law
A History Of Pali Literature by Bimala Churn Law. (Also here) This book, published for the first time in 2 volumes in 1933, has become a classic in Pali studies. It presents an exhaustive picture of the Pali Literature, both canonical and post-canonical, giving summaries of all the Pali books.

Pali Resource Websites

Online Pali Dictionaries

Critical Pali Dictionary CPD   (good but incomplete, The entries cover the range from "a" to "kāpurisa".)

Pali Suttas

Sutta Central - The Pali Canon in Roman script with translations in many languages, along with partial parallel versions of Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit etc. Full text search and even dictionary lookup.
The Pali Canon - The complete Pali Canon in multiple scripts at  This is the Burmese edition finalized in May 1956.
Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project - a public domain electronic version of the Pali Canon

Similarly allows full text search, dictionary look up and the choice of multiple scripts.

Guides to structure of Canon


Pali-English Sutta Translations


Ajahn Thanissaro
Michael Olds
Bhikkhu Sujato
Translations in English, Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit at  Sutta Central 
Anandajoti Bhikkhu

pdf, epub etc

Bhikkhu Bodhi
Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli
Maurice O’C. Walshe
This website reviews the modern translations of the suttas and provides links and an overview of the many Translators of the Pāli canon.

Other Pali Language Resource Lists

Pali Scripts and Alphabets

Some Pali study forums that might be of help

Pali Language Translation Tools


Leigh Brasington has composed a Free Unicode Word Processor and Database tool called the Unicode Document Processor. The tool is useful for accessing an offline version of the PED dictionary, and a translated database of the suttas.

Pali Lookup

Pali Lookup also provides an offline Pali-English dictionary, but includes some other very useful functions such as providing a word usage count and inflection tables for pāli nouns, adjectives and verbs. Supposedly v 4.0 can be sourced from software.informer, but if this doesn't work (it didn't for me), you can source  Pali Lookup v 2.0 here or from the BPS Library here. You may need to install CSX fonts. Download the zip file and install in windows fonts folder.

Digital Pali Reader (DPR)

[Hot News. The Digital Pali Reader (DPR) is now available online as a webpage.
Digital Pali Reader (alpha) and Using the DPR]
Digital Pali Reader from Pali.Sirimangalo.Org provides a database of the Tipiṭaka in romanised script with a search facility and the inbuilt dictionaries allow for instant lookup of words. See my blog post on the  Digital Pali Reader options  and DPR Video tutorials.

Tipitaka-Pali-Projector (TPP)

Similar to DPR, a project by Bhante Subhuti providing the Tipiṭaka in romanised script with a search facility and the inbuilt dictionaries allow for instant lookup of words. The project aims to produce the best Pali reader possible. There's now a standalone version for download from: Tipitaka-Pali-Projector. And the TPP YouTube channel providing help.

Popular posts from this blog

What is Pali Language? A little history

In all these grammar tutorials we have never stopped to ask: What is Pali?” “What does the word mean?” “What are the origins of Pali? And this is what we will investigate in this post.... Who Speaks the Pali language? Well, let's get the obvious answer out of the way: Pali is the language, in which, the scriptures of Theravada school of Buddhism have been preserved and passed down. True. Today Pali is studied mainly to gain access to Theravada Buddhist scriptures, and is frequently chanted in a ritual context. But when we say a ' language ', most languages are named either after a population or a region, and we have no evidence of a region called Pali or even a population of Pali speakers... So what is going on?

Learn Pali: Best way to start? 5 Tips to make it easy

Once people have answered the question: Why learn Pali?  The next query is: How do I learn Pali? Here’s the way I suggest you begin with your study of Pali. Build foundations for language learning Start at the right level Stick with it Build vocabulary Make use of the Pali language tools 1 Build foundations for language learning One thing that you really should have before beginning to learn Pali is a basic understanding of general grammatical terms and concepts. Many of the Pali language grammar guides seem to assume you have studied Sanskrit or Latin before. If you haven’t, and you really don’t know the difference between a subject and an object, or the meanings of such terms as nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, or declension and conjugation - then perhaps you should spend some time studying English grammar. I found that even though I'm a native English speaker I had to do this in order to progress. And, while I have made a certain effort to e

Sutta Number to PTS reference converter

Type a Sutta name or number into either of the search boxes and hit 'return' to search that column of the table!

Simple Present tense - Verb Conjugation - Part 1

The inflection of verbs is known as “ conjugation ”. It consists of changes in form to show differences in person, number, tense, mood, and voice. In this post we will start our look at the present tense in Pali. By now you may have realised that the available tools (DPR & Pali Lookup) are good but not infallible when it comes to detecting the inflections of Pali verbs. Nouns tend to be straightforward, there are many groups but the ending are fairly regular. However, verbs and their derivatives can be very irregular and multitudinous and not all the variations are caught by the automated parser - nor the dictionary. This then can cause the amateur translator hours of frustration in their attempts to search for that one illusive word not in the dictionary.

Pali Alphabet & using the PED Dictionary

How is the alphabet arranged? How do you use a Pali dictionary? Well the Pali alphabet runs as follows. a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, e, o (ṃ*) k, kh, g, gh, (ṅ) c, ch, j, jh, ñ ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, (ḍh), (ṇ) t, th, d, dh, n p, ph, b, bh, m y, r, l, (ḷ), (ḷh), v, s, h Vowels first, then consonants. [Note the letters in brackets have no entries in the dictionary.] Pali is a phonetic  language so each entry above represents a single sound. Every letter always has the same pronunciation regardless of its context, no letter has more than one pronunciation, and no sounds are represented by more than one letter. For pronunciations see this video: The Pali Alphabet & Pronunciation Guide | Learn Pāli Basics A tutorial on how to pronounce the Pali alphabet [in Roman script], its phonetics, and why the niggahīta turns into a nasal - featuring how Pali characters are pronounced - with animations of where... or visit this   YouTube playlist of Pali pronunciation .