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Pratishakhyas (Sanskrit: प्रातिशाख्य prātiśākhya), collectively constituting four treatises, are the earliest of the Shikshas: works dealing with the phonetic aspects of the Sanskrit language used in Vedas. These works mainly pertain to euphonic permutation and combination of letters and special characteristics of their pronunciation as they prevailed in various schools of Vedic studies.

Rig Veda[edit]

One of the Pratisakhyas deal with the phonetic aspects of the Rig Veda. The work is generally ascribed to be written by Shaunaka, an ancient rishi (sage). It has been translated into German by Max Müller. A French translation done by M. Regnier is also available.

Yajur Veda[edit]

There are two treatises dealing with phonetic and related aspects of the Yajur Veda. The first, commonly known as the Krishna (Black) Yajur, is known as Taittriya Pratisakhya. Its translation done by Professor Whitney is also available, and the same has been published in the Journal of the American Oriental Society. The second treatise is commonly called the Shukla (White) Yajur, and is known as Vajasaneyi Pratisakhya. The later is believed to have been written by Katyayana. Its translation done by Weber is available.

Atharva Veda[edit]

The treatise pertaining to the phonetic and other aspects of Atharva Veda is also ascribed to the sage Saunaka, and derives its name from him: the Saunakiya Chaturadhyayika, which means the Book having four chapters by Saunak. Whitney has translated the work into English.

Sama Veda[edit]

The name of the pratisakhya belonging to Sama Veda is Rk Tantra. Most of the mantras in Sama Veda are either from the Rk Veda or adapted from it, though sung differently. Hence the name Rk Tantra. The book is available.

See also[edit]


  • A Dictionary of Hindu Mythology & Religion by John Dowson