Sanskrit Lesson

Jetavane'nathapindadasyarame (part two)

"In the Jeta Grove in the Garden of Anathapindada"


-By Bhiksuni Heng Hsien


The acama, pleasure grove or garden, where the Buddha spoke the Shorter Sutra of the Land of Happiness, was located in a vana, wooded grove, purchased from the reluctant Prince Jetr. With the gold from the sale, in an amount sufficient to cover the ground of the woods, the Prince built a fabulous gateway as an entrance to the park. Anathapindada, who had managed to buy the grove from the Prince, and thereby be the one to give it to the Buddha and the Sangha, also spent large sums constructing buildings on the site. Both men were credited with the gift, and so the woods are named for Prince Jetr, and the garden for Anathapindada.

Jetr means 'Conqueror'. It comes from the root ji-, 'conquer,' to which is added the ending -tr, which means 'one who.' This is just like the English ending -or, 'one who,' which is added to the root verb conquer. We could also call him 'Victor' and say that English Victor, 'one who wins,' comes from a root vict- meaning 'win' with the same ending or which means 'one who.' Then why is his name spelled Jetr and not Jitr?

In Sanskrit each vowel has a "weak, a middle, and a strengthened grade.  Considering the basic sounds a, i, u, the middle grade of each is its characteristic (guna) aspect.
            a can't weaken any further and so the weak version of this sound is also a, and strengthened it is ā.

e (pronounced like the ay of English 'day'), weakens to i or ī. and strong appears as ai (pronounced like English 'eye').
           o weakened is u or , and strengthened it is au (pronounced as ow in English 'vow').





Roots are usually mentioned by referring to the weak version of the vowel. In the case of ji-, ‘conquer,’ this is i. But the ending –tr when added to the root is a moderately ‘heavy’ ending and therefore calls for the middle (guna) grade, or e. This is why ‘Conqueror’ is spelled Jetr.

          Why was the Prince given his name?  Three explanations can be made.

  1. because he conquered his enemies; wpe8.jpg (1981 bytes)

  2. because he was born at the time when the king his father had overcome his enemies; and

  3. because such a name was auspicious for a member of the royal line.

Loyal to the Buddha to the end, the Prince was killed by his own half-brother for refusing to participate in the massacre of the Buddha’s clan. Since the Buddha spoke numerous sutras in the Jeta Grove, Prince Jetr’s name is well known to students of the Sutras.


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      If you have questions about the Buddhadharma, about any of the varied cultivation practices, from meditation to reciting the Buddha’s name, questions about the mind problems, like ulcers or perpetual failures at cooking vegetarian food, address them to Vajra Bodhi Sea and receive an appropriate answer.