Chandas, Vedic Meters Details

In Hinduism on 6 Apr 2014 at 18:27

There is a slight confusion while counting the Aksharas or the number of letters in the Vedic Mantras.


What is being passed on as a Mantra containing a specified number of Letters are at variance when the

Mantra is written.


List of  Vedic Chandas

Vedic Meters, Chandas Image Credit: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/


Which should be given importance?


The written Mantra or the The Sound aspect represented by the Meters while reciting the Vedas?


The Sound aspect as intoned is to be followed.


Vedas are called Sruthi, ‘Heard”


They are not meant to be written and transmitted.


The Vedas are Revelations.


They were grasped by the Rishis from the Akasa, in the form of Sound,Sabda.


As such the Vedas have more to do Sounds that have sounds interlocked.


The Vedas are intoned in a specific manner.


The pronunciations, pitch all vary.


They have strict parameters where the Sound rather than Grammar or literary worth is given importance.


The Seven main Chandas(loosely translated as Meters) are,


  • Gayatri: 3 padas of 8 syllables containing 24 syllables in each stanza.
  • Ushnuk : 4 padas of 7 syllables containing 28 syllables in each stanza.
  • Anustubh: 4 padas of 8 syllables containing 32 syllables in each stanza. This is the typicalshloka of classical Sanskrit poetry
  • Brihati : 4 padas (8 + 8 + 12 + 8) containing 36 syllables in each stanza.
  • Pankti : 4 padas (sometimes 5 padas) containing 40 syllables in each stanza.
  • Tristubh: 4 padas of 11 syllables containing 44 syllabes in each stanza
  • Jagati: 4 padas of 12 syllables containing 48 syllables in each stanza.


There are several others such as:

  • Virāj: 4 padas of 10 syllables
  • Kakubh

The main principle of Vedic meter is measurement by the number of syllables. The metrical unit of verse is

the pada (“foot”[1]), generally of eight, eleven, or twelve syllables; these are

termed gayatritristubh and jagati respectively,[2] after meters of the same name.


ṛc is a stanza of typically three or four padas, with a range of two to seven found in the corpus of Vedic poetry.


Stanzas may mix padas of different lengths, and strophes of two or three stanzas.


(respectively, pragātha and tṛca) are common..




The Meters of Sanskrit are slightly different.




The names of the main Çhand are available in the Sanhita and the Brahmanas. This goes to prove that, this organ i.e. Çhand already existed even during the Vedic period. Chand Sutra is the representative volume of this ‘Organ’ of the Veda, created by Sage Pingalacharya. This volume is written in the form of precept and is classified into eight chapters. From the beginning and till the seventh ‘Sutra’ (precept) of the fourth chapter, the characteristics of Vaidic Çhand are described. After that there are descriptions of general Chand (Laukik Chhand).


The binding of stanzas are meters in the Laukik Chhand are not as strict in its prose form, as it in its. Verse form. But in the ‘Vaidic-Chhand’ the purity of the stanzas and meters are strictly applied. In the Nirukta it has been stated that-


Without the Chhand (stanza), one ca not even pronounce.


Even Sage Bharat has declared that there is no existence of word without the stanza (Chhand).


Katyayan has accepted the above mentioned fact-


All the saying of this whole world are bound by the ‘Chhand’. There is no word, which is different from it.

The above statements clearly show that not a single mantra of the Veda is created without the Chhand. Therefore, it can be said that even the mantras of the Yajurveda, which has been written in prose form, are not devoid of the ‘Chhand’. The ancient preceptors have classified ‘Chhandas’ consisting of one letter to one hundred and four letters.

All the mantras of Rigveda and Samveda, which are also known as ‘Richas’, are written in the form of stanzas.

Chhand is the natural medium to express the finer emotions of the heart.



For a Detailed analysis,


a. The following general rules of prosody are to be noted.

1. The end of a verse regularly coincides with the end of a word1
because each
verse in a stanza is independent of the rest in structure.
2. The quantity of the first and last syllables of a verse is indifferent.
3. A vowel becomes long by position if followed by two consonants. One or both
of these consonants may belong to the following word. The palatal aspirate ch
and the cerebral aspirate ëh (óh) count as double consonants.
4. One vowel is shortened before another;2
e and o are also pronounced Õ and Ö
before Ï.
5. The semivowels y and v, both within a word and in Sandhi, have often to be
pronounced as i and u; e. g. siµma for syµma; s£ar for svƒr; v¡ uùµþ for vy
uùµþ; vidƒtheùu aÿjƒn for vidƒtheùv aÿjƒn.
6. Contracted vowels (especially ã and å) must often be restored; e. g. ca agnƒye
for càgnƒye; v¡ ¡ndraþ for vêndraþ; ƒvatu åtƒye for ƒvatåtƒye; µ indra for
7. Initial a when dropped after e and o must nearly always be restored.
8. The long vowel of the genetive p1ural ending àm, and of such words as dµsa,
è½ra, and e (as jyƒ-iùñha for jy‚ùñha) or ai (as ƒ-ichas for ƒichas) must often be
pronounced as equivalent to two short syllables.
9. The spelling of a few words regularly misrepresents their metrical value; thus
pàvakƒ must always be pronounced as pavàkƒ, mÔëaya as m®ëaya, and suvànƒ
nearly always as svànƒ.

I. Simple Stanzas.

2. The Vedic hymns consist chiefly of simple stanzas, that is, of such as are formed of
verses which are all metrically identical. Different stanzas are formed by combining
three, four, five, or six identical verses. The following is an account of the various
types of verse and of the different simple stanzas formed by them.

A. Verse of eight syllables. This is a dimeter verse consisting of two equal members of
four syllables each, the opening and the cadence. In the opening the first and third
syllable are indifferent, while the second and fourth are preferably long. When the
second is short, the third is almost invariably long. In the cadence the rhythm is
typically iambic [ÛÜ], the first and third syllables being almost always short, while the
second is usually long (though it is not infrequently short also). Thus the prevailing
scheme of the whole verse is ÅÜÅÜÐÛÜÛÅÐ.






Enhanced by Zemanta
  1. Very good information about chhandas in Hindu Sanskrit scriptures


  2. While doing Sandhya vandhanam, we recite “pooraadhi saptha vyakrthinaam athri brhu kutsa vashita gauthama kashyapa angira rishihi” and place our right hand over head. then we place our hand in the heart and recite, “Gayathi, ushnik, anushtup brakathi,bankthi dhrushtup, jagathi chandhakumsi” what is the relevance?


  3. You can Google for KDP, kindle direct publishing.you will ger the mechanics of publishing right from formatting to cover page and how to enter pictures. Wish to see your e books soon. Best wishes. Pl.message me if you need any details.


  4. Very good article. I have tied to compare the intricacte patterns involved in the chandas of vedas to the frame structure depicted in Indus seals as according to my research work single horned bull represents a priest reciting the mantras.My book is titled “Symbolography in indus seals” by Rekha Rao., an e-book published by amazon.com.


    • Thank you. Can you tell me the mechanics of publishing through Amazon?I get confused reading their inputs on this. Many readers have been asking me publish. I have material for about four books, each with a different perspecive,including a Photo book.Regards.


  5. Nice article. Thank you for information.


  6. pranavam with devi gayathri chandas and oum namo narayana is also in same metre.how this happens? defenition of devi gayathri chandas?


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: