HAWAIIAN LANGUAGE KARANIYA METTA SUTTA
In the spring of 2020 Vipassana Hawaiʻi was contacted by Khemaratana Bhikkhu – a Buddhist monk living in Aotearoa (New Zealand) – asking if we knew of a Hawaiian language translation of the Karaniya Metta Sutta. He was supporting a local effort to translate the sutta into Maori and felt that a Hawaiian language translation would be of help. The sutta – the Buddha’s own words on loving-kindness – is widely beloved across the Buddhist world and of course the call to share the practice of universal love without discrimination seemed more timely than ever.
After a bit of research we were a little surprised to learn that there was no such translation. Because Buddhism has existed in many forms in Hawaiʻi for so long, we expected we might find a translation somewhere – perhaps from one of the longstanding local Japanese traditions. Even though the Hongwanji and other Pure Land groups don’t follow many of the Pali suttas, there are a number of places of overlap and we do see various Metta sutras in hymn form in those congregations.
Our friend Norman Piʻianaiʻa put us in touch with Kevin Kuniyuki of the Buddhist Study Center in Honolulu who reached out to renowned translator and cultural steward Puakea Nogelmeier to see if he might be interested in getting involved in the project. He was – and he generously offered to work on the translation free of charge. We immediately partnered him up with our friend and scholar Jake Davis to translate the Pāli sutta directly into Hawaiian, rather than using an English translation as an intermediary.
Once Puakea and Jake finished their work, we approached Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani, kumu hula and cultural practitioner on the island of Hawaiʻi to see if she might accept an invitation to come up with the voicing for the oli. Kekuhi was moved by the opportunity and also graciously offered to explore the voicing freely – from the profound generosity of her heart.
It is with profound gratitude, enthusiasm, and most importantly aloha that we present the completed work of this amazing group of people – the product of incalculable momentum of love and generosity that began long before any of our actions were inspired. We are so profoundly humbled and moved by this opportunity to contribute to the Buddhist heritage of Hawaiʻi in a way that acknowledges the primacy our host culture and the complex history of this place and its people – woven together through the moral value we have utmost faith in: unconditional and unbounded love, metta.
Here is a copy of the .pdf file of Puakea’s translation as well as notes from he and Jake that offer meaningful insight into their process:
Listen to Kekuhi‘s voicing and read her notes:
Check out the online presentation of the work we held December 14th, 2020:
Learn more about the important work of Kekuhi and Puakea here:
We encourage you to contribute to the fund supporting their work here:
ALL DONATIONS MADE VIA THIS LINK WILL GO TO SUPPORT PUAKEA’S AND KEKUHI’S ORGANIZATIONS
To hear other versions of the Metta Sutta in Pali, check out:
Dhammaruwan from Sri Lanka starts the chant at minute 2:
Sayadaw U Lakkhana in Burma begins the Metta Sutta at minute 1:07