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Pali is the language of the Hinayana or Theravada Buddhism, a derivative of Sanskrit. It was the ancient language of the Vedic Aryan peoples, and in its vulgar form was the common language of Magadha. The older Buddhist canon was written in Pali, but it is now employed primarily for the Hinayana; the Mahayana, "Greater Vehicle," rewrote portions of the cannon in Sanskrit. In Pali, the Sanskrit terms such as dharma and nirvana became dhamma and nibbana. Pali was the language used by Indian Buddhists in their cultural, trade, and religious penetration into Southeast Asia, or Indochina. A.G.H.
Rice, Edward, Eastern Definitions: A Short Encyclopedia of Religions of the Orient, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1978, p. 281