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Question

Hi all, i would like to ask if anyone knows the difference in meaning between these three pali words:

  • Kamma
  • Kammanto
  • Kammanta

What i've found so far

I can see from looking at the pali words for "right action" that this is called "samma kammanto" (sometimes "samma kammanta"), so i'm guessing that these two are the same?

I'm also guessing that Kamma is a more general term which includes speech and thought/intention as well as physical action?

Context

I'm building a to-do-list and life-organizing application and since i have a Buddhist background i'd like to give the application a name inspired by Buddhism

4

They are basically the same word, though the anta suffix does give it some specific meaning. Remember that the word karma has heavy religious baggage in ancient India every though it simply means action, from the verbal root /kar = "in regards to doing". So kammanta is a way of specifying that one is merely talking about actual mundane action or work. kamma is still often used to mean mundane work, however, e.g.:

tena kho pana samayena aññatarā itthī kammaṃ karoti. aññataro bhikkhu sāratto taṃ itthiṃ etadavoca -- “tiṭṭha, bhagini, ahaṃ karissāmīti

At one time, a certain woman was doing some work. A certain bhikkhu, enamoured with that woman, said this to her: " Rest, sister, I will do it."

(duṭṭhullavācāsikkhāpadaṃ)

Nouns in Pali and Sanskrit are "declined", meaning their endings change depending on how they are used. -o declension is used in Pali for masculine singular nominative (when it is the subject of the sentence) of -a nouns. That's where kammanto comes from.

As to the idea of a task, something one must or should do, there are words like karaṇiya and katabba.

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  • Hi and thank you for your help! I wanted to ask because i'm confused: access to insight is using kammanto when describing right action, wouldn't it be better to use kammanta if that is gender-neutral? Or can kammanto be used also in a gender-neutral way? (Grammar is not my strong suite). Grateful for help with this! – sunyata Apr 23 at 17:30
  • The word is masculine either way; changing the ending to o just means it's the subject of the sentence. – yuttadhammo Apr 23 at 18:32
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Apr 26 at 8:04
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From the New Concise Pali English Dictionary:

kamma neuter work, occupation; activity, performance. act, deed, action or actions of moral import (producing for the agent an inevitable result or consequence in the same or another life; the action appears to exist in some sense until the effect is completed) an official act of the saṅgha (i.e. an action or ceremony agreed on and ratified by a properly constituted group of bhikkhus).

kammanta masculine (& n.) action; work, task, business, occupation (esp. farming, agriculture); place of work (esp. the fields).

Perhaps kammanto is the nominative version of kammanta.

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From the New Concise Pali English Dictionary:

kamma neuter work, occupation; activity, performance. act, deed, action or actions of moral import (producing for the agent an inevitable result or consequence in the same or another life; the action appears to exist in some sense until the effect is completed) an official act of the saṅgha (i.e. an action or ceremony agreed on and ratified by a properly constituted group of bhikkhus).

kammanta masculine (& n.) action; work, task, business, occupation (esp. farming, agriculture); place of work (esp. the fields).

Kammanta is the basic or 'stem' word for kammanta.

Note: In the sutta quote below, the word 'kammanta' has been translated as both 'work' & 'workplace'. In the sutta below:

  • 'kammante' appears to be the accusative (object of a verb) case of 'kammanta' , i.e., "supervising (verb; anusaññāyamāno) the work (object; noun; kammante)"

  • 'kammanto' is the nominative (subject) case of 'kammanta', i.e, "Moggallāna’s workplace or Moggallāna’s work".

For just then the brahmin Vassakāra, a chief minister of Magadha, while supervising the work [plural] at Rājagaha, approached Ānanda at Moggallāna’s workplace [singular] and exchanged greetings with him.

Atha kho vassakāro brāhmaṇo magadhamahāmatto rājagahe kammante anusaññāyamāno yena gopakamoggallānassa brāhmaṇassa kammanto, yenāyasmā ānando tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā āyasmatā ānandena saddhiṃ sammodi.

In your situation, if you named your app 'The Work App' or 'Sunyata's Work App', the Pali would probably be (merely guessing) 'kammanta' because the word 'kammanta' would be an adjective and form the first part of a khammadharaya (merely guessing) word compound, as follows:

When nouns join together with two or more words they are called nominal compounds or samāsa. The first member of a compound can be another noun, an adjective, an adverb, a pronoun, a verbal form, or a numeral. In general the last member of the compound gets inflected according to its declension while the other members keep their stem form

book page 21

Therefore, your app might be called:

  • Kammanta-App (The Work App)

  • Suññatāya Kammanta-App (Sunyata's Work App)

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