Online Pali classes with James Whelan

James Whelan
James Whelan

James’s first contact with Buddhism was as an undergraduate in 1965. Following a period in ashrams in India in 1967-1968, and practice in the Tibetan and Zen traditions back in the UK in the 1970s, he now practises mainly in the Theravada tradition. As a linguist, he has had a lifelong interest in accessing the teachings of Buddhism directly through the original Pali and Sanskrit texts. He has produced an edition of the Bodhicaryāvatāra of Shāntideva, designed to assist readers with even only slight knowledge of Sanskrit to access it in the original. James currently runs Pali classes via Golden Buddha Centre. He plans to continue to produce editions of Pali and Sanskrit texts to make them accessible to English-speakers, and to increase the scope and extent of the online teaching of Pali and Sanskrit.

Keep this link safe for James’s Friday Classes
Zoom link:

Teacher’s note

Programme for teaching by Zoom starting on Friday 10th September 2021:

   ● First hour 14:00 – 15:00 UK time

This is the one we know as the “word clinic”. 

In these Word Clinic Pali classes the primary focus is on the vocabulary and the meanings of the terms used in the text being studied, with secondary focus on the grammar and syntax. A grounding in Buddhist teachings and terms is an advantage.

During this session, we will be continuing our direct study of an original Pali text. We will be resuming from where we left off in July, and restarting with verse 4 of the Karaniya Metta Sutta. After we have finished verses 4 – 10 of the Metta Sutta – on which we expect to proceed at roughly a rate of one verse a week, possibly a little more – we will revert (unless something else is voted for in the meantime) to the Dhammapada. We will resume there at Chapter 5 verse 3.

   ● Comfort break 15:00 – 15:10

During the second hour, 15:10 – 16:10, we will be continuing the formal language and grammar course with Lily de Silva, Pali Primer.   At the end of the previous series in July we had reached Lesson 9, end of the Pali to English translation. We will resume at the start of the English to Pali exercise, page 35 of the printed book. 

These sessions are intended to be be more like university tutorials, where students have committed some serious effort to studying the lessons in advance. They will bring their questions, doubts and difficulties for discussion and elucidation. The core material of the class will be the students themselves taking turns at analysing and explaining the Pali to English exercise sentences, and themselves producing oral Pali versions of the English to Pali sentences.

Questions: Questions will be taken orally during the classes. In addition, any questions on the study material – or on Pali generally – sent by email will also be welcome.

All of the study materials are available variously on YouTube and on my Google Drive.

IMPORTANT: Please familiarise yourselves with the document entitled JPW Study resources – index and hyperlinks. It is to be found on my Google drive. It contains descriptions and links for all the study material, and recommendations for additional material. For the videos and written material most immediately relevant to the forthcoming sessions, see in particular under index headings 2.1 and 3.2.

This document will be periodically updated as more material is created and uploaded.

The document will be found at the above link under folder: 00 Indexes, general guides (the first file tab).  

Weekly update: If anyone wishes to be included on the weekly update I send out in advance of each class, please send me your email to

You may attend one or both classes

Event Details: All meeting times are  BST. If you are not in the 🇬🇧UK, click here to see different time zones on the world clock.

This is a Pali Zoom class from the Golden Buddha Centre, Totnes, on the exploration of the word ‘puñña’ — often translated as ‘merit’.

James Whelan, the speaker, makes it clear, however, that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Buddhist Pali class on line.

Buddhism on Zoom

Golden Buddha Centre Zoom Channel from Totnes.

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