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.
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
The main principle of Vedic meter is measurement by the number of syllables. The metrical unit of verse is
the pada (“foot”), generally of eight, eleven, or twelve syllables; these are
A 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-
CHHANDOBHUTMIDAM SARVAM VANGMAY SYAT VIJANATAH|
NACHCHHAND NA CHAPRISHTE SHABDASHCHARATIKASHCHAN||
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
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
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.