A Firefly in the Bamboo Reed: Chapata Saddhammajotipala and the Intellectual Foundations of Burmese Theravada Buddhism


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


This dissertation explores the relationship between Pali grammatical scholarship and the establishment of Theravada Buddhism in Burma. Pali "linguistic science" (saddasattha) was more than a simple instrument: it was the core of Theravada scholarship, in which the very substance of the Tipitaka, namely the word of the Buddha (jinavacanam, buddhavacanam), was studied in great detail. The research is based on the Kaccayanasuttaniddesa, a work by Chapata Saddhammajotipala (15th CE). This grammatical work is explored in the context of other works by Saddhammajotipala. Focusing on the Chapata or Sinhala sangha in Burma, the work re-examines the relationship between grammarians and monastic lineages during the Pagan and Ava periods, and shows how Pali grammar was integrated in the doctrine.