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Triṣṭubh (Sanskrit: त्रिष्टुभ्, IPA: [tɽɪˈʂʈʊbʱ]) is a Vedic meter of 44 syllables (four padas of eleven syllables each), or any hymn composed in this meter. It is the most prevalent meter of the Rigveda, accounting for roughly 40% of its verses.
The tristubh pada contains a "break" or caesura, after either four or five syllables, necessarily at a word-boundary and if possible at a syntactic break, followed by either three or two short syllables. The final four syllables form a trochaic cadence. For example RV 2.3.1:
- a sámiddho agnír níhitaḥ pṛthivyâm
- b pratyáṅ víśvāni bhúvanāniy asthāt
- c hótā pāvakáḥ pradívaḥ sumedhâ
- d devó devân yajatuv agnír árhan
- "Agni is set upon the earth well kindled
- he standeth in the presence of all beings.
- Wise, ancient, God, the Priest and Purifier
- let Agni serve the Gods for he is worthy."
- (trans. Griffith; the translator attempts to imitate the meter in English)
This is to be read metrically as follows:
- a ∪ – – – – , ∪ ∪ | – ∪ – x
- b ∪ – – – – , ∪ ∪ | – ∪ – x
- c – – – ∪ – , ∪ ∪ | – ∪ – x
- d – – – – , ∪ ∪ ∪ | – ∪ – x
with , marking the caesura and | separating the cadence:
- a sámiddho agnír , níhi | taḥ pṛthivyâm
- b pratyáṅ víśvāni , bhúva | nāni asthāt
- c hótā pāvakáḥ , pradí | vaḥ sumedhâ
- d devó devân , yajatu | agnír árhan
The Avesta has a parallel stanza of 4x11 syllables with a caesura after the fourth syllable.
Tristubh verses are also used in later literature, its archaic associations used to press home a "Vedic" character of the poetry. The Bhagavad Gita, while mostly composed in shloka (developed from the Vedic Anustubh) is interspersed with Tristubhs. A particularly long section of Tristubhs is chapter 11, verses 15-50.
- Macdonell, Arthur A., A Sanskrit Grammar for Students, Appendix II, p. 232(Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 1927).
- E. V. Arnold, Vedic Metre in its Historical Development, 1905
- E. W. Hopkins, The Great Epic of India, 1901