Vedic meter

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Vedic meter refers to the poetic meter in the Vedic literature. The study of Vedic meters, along with post-Vedic meters, is part of Chandas, one of the six Vedanga disciplines.[1]

Overview[edit]

The major Vedic meters[2][3]
Meter Structure Mapped
Sequence[2]
Usage[4]
Gayatri 24 syllables;
3 verses of 8 syllables
6x4 Rigveda 7.1.1-30, 8.2.14[5]
Ushnih 28 syllables;
2 verses of 8;
1 of 12 syllables
7x4 Rigveda 1.8.23-26[6]
Anushtubh 32 syllables;
4 verses of 8 syllables
8x4 Rigveda 8.69.7-16, 10.136.7[7]
Brihati 36 syllables;
2 verses of 8;
1 verse of 12;
1 verse of 8 syllables
9x4 Rigveda 5.1.36, 3.9.1-8[8]
Pankti 40 syllables;
5 verses of 8 syllables
10x4 Rigveda 1.191.10-12[9]
Tristubh 44 syllables;
4 verses of 11 syllables
11x4 Rigveda 4.50.4, 7.3.1-12[10]
Jagati 48 syllables;
4 verses of 12 syllables
12x4 Rigveda 1.51.13, 9.110.4-12[11]

There are several other minor metres found in the Vedas, such as:[citation needed]

  • Virāj: 4 padas of 10 syllables
  • Kakubh

Gayatri meter[edit]

The shortest and most sacred of Vedic meters is the Gayatri metre.[12] It consists of three octosyllabic feet (pada, 3x8) with 24 syllables.[12][13] The following is an example of a Rigvedic hymn in Gayatri meter:

The hymn:
इन्द्रमिद्गाथिनो बृहदिन्द्रमर्केभिरर्किणः इन्द्रं वाणीरनूषत ॥१॥

Transliteration in 3x8 format:
indram id gāthino bṛhad
indram arkebhir arkiṇaḥ
indraṃ vāṇīr anūṣata

Musical beats:
_ ᴗ _ _ / ᴗ _ ᴗ ᴗ // _ ᴗ _ _ / ᴗ _ ᴗ ᴗ // _ _ _ _ / ᴗ _ ᴗ ᴗ

DUM da DUM DUM / da DUM da da // DUM da DUM DUM / da DUM da da // DUM DUM DUM DUM / da DUM da da

Translation:
The chanters have loudly chanted to Indra,
the singers have sung their songs to Indra,
the musicians have resounded to Indra.

— Rigveda 1.7.1, Translator: Frits Staal[13]

Depending on the emphasis (da or DUM), the Vedic poets developed many varieties of each meter, including the Gayatri. Of these, 11 varieties of Gayatri meter were particularly used in the Rigveda.[14] Each eight syllable line of the Rigveda, is almost exactly equivalent to the Greek iambic dimeter.[15] The sacred Gayatri meter of the Hindus consists of three of such iambic dimeter lines, and this embedded meter alone is at the heart of about 25% of the entire Rigveda.[15] The only meter more commonly used in Rigveda, than Gayatri, is the Tristubh meter consisting of 4x11 structure (44 syllables). The structure of Gayatri and other Vedic meters is more experimental and flexible than post-Vedic meters.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ James Lochtefeld (2002), "Chandas" in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A-M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 0-8239-2287-1, page 140
  2. ^ a b Annette Wilke & Oliver Moebus 2011, p. 392.
  3. ^ Tatyana J. Elizarenkova (1995). Language and Style of the Vedic Rsis. State University of New York Press. pp. 111–121. ISBN 978-0-7914-1668-6. 
  4. ^ Horace Hayman Wilson 1841, pp. 418-422.
  5. ^ Arnold 1905, pp. 10, 48.
  6. ^ Arnold 1905, p. 48.
  7. ^ Arnold 1905, p. 11, 50 with note ii(a).
  8. ^ Arnold 1905, p. 48, 66 with note 110(i).
  9. ^ Arnold 1905, p. 55 with note iv, 172 with note viii.
  10. ^ Arnold 1905, pp. 48 with table 91, 13 with note 48, 279 with Mandala VII table.
  11. ^ Arnold 1905, pp. 12 with note 46, 13 with note 48, 241-242 with note 251.
  12. ^ a b Annette Wilke & Oliver Moebus 2011, pp. 392-394.
  13. ^ a b Frits Staal (2014). Gerald James Larson and Eliot Deutsch, ed. Interpreting across Boundaries: New Essays in Comparative Philosophy. Princeton University Press. pp. 217–219. ISBN 978-1-4008-5927-6. 
  14. ^ Horace Hayman Wilson 1841, pp. 418-421.
  15. ^ a b A history of Sanskrit Literature, Arthur MacDonell, Oxford University Press/Appleton & Co, page 56
  16. ^ Stephanie Jamison; Joel Brereton (2014). The Rigveda: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press. pp. 71–75. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1. 
Bibliography

External links[edit]