How Vedas Chanting Learned Demo

Hinduism does not have written Texts of the Vedas, the Hindu scripture.

They are at least 5000 years old.

Yet we pronounce the Vedic Texts as they were from about the time they were composed.

Added to this is the fact that persons separated by about 3000 miles, whose mother tongues differ, Vedas are intoned identically!

( this applies to the same Saka or branch and the Sutra of the Veda concerned)

Sanskrit is difficult  by modern standards and Vedic Sanskrit is tougher.

The Oral tradition has been followed and the passages or lengthy.

A portrayal of Vyasa, who classified the Vedas...
A portrayal of Vyasa, who classified the Vedas in to four parts, and author of the Mahabharata, which includes the widely read Bhagavad Gita. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How is this possible?

The recitation of Vedas is also conditioned by the Matras, the time taken to recite a Syllable and the pauses one makes while rendering the Vedas.


Neither the Sruthi, the syllable nor the intonation Swara should be in disharmony.


The synchronized  rendering of Sruthi (Syllable) and Swara,Tone  makes the rendering of the Vedas effective.


There are different ways/types of rendering the Vedas.


Rules have been set forth to combine words and syllables so that they are not altered.


According to this the words of a mantra are strung together in different patterns like “vakya”, “pada”, “karma”, “jata”, “mala”, “sikha”, “rekha”, “dhvaja”, “danda”, “ratha”, “ghana”.



The chanting of the scripture up to the advanced stage is called “ghana”. “Pathin” means one who has learnt the “patha”.


When we listen to ghanapathins chant the ghana, we notice that he intones a few words of a mantra in different ways, back and forth.


There are other methods of chanting like karma, jata, sikha, mala.


The  purpose of these methods is to ensure that even not even a syllable of a mantra is altered to the slightest extent.


The words are braided together.

“UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of Vedic chant a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 7, 2003. Wayne Howard noted in the preface of his book, Veda Recitation in Varanasi, “The four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) are not ‘books’ in the usual sense, though within the past hundred years each veda has appeared in several printed editions. They are comprised rather of tonally accented verses and hypnotic, abstruse melodies whose proper realizations demand oral instead of visual transmission. They are robbed of their essence when transferred to paper, for without the human element the innumerable nuances and fine intonations – inseparable and necessary components of all four compilations – are lost completely. The ultimate authority in Vedic matters is never the printed page but rather the few members … who are today keeping the centuries-old traditions alive..

The various pathas or recitation styles are designed to allow the complete and perfect memorization of the text and its pronunciation, including the Vedic pitch accent. Eleven such ways of reciting the Vedas were designed – Samhita, Pada, Krama, Jata, Maalaa, Sikha, Rekha, Dhwaja, Danda, Rathaa, Ghana, of which Ghana is usually considered the most difficult.

The students are first taught to memorize the Vedas using simpler methods like continuous recitation (samhita patha), word by word recitation (pada patha) in which compounds (sandhi) are dissolved and krama patha (words are arranged in the pattern of ab bc cd…); before teaching them the eight complex recitation styles.

A pathin is a scholar who has mastered the pathas. Thus, a ghanapaathin has learnt the chanting of the scripture up to the advanced stage of ghana. The Ghanapatha or the “Bell” mode of chanting is so called because the words are repeated back and forth in a bell shape. The sonority natural to Vedic chanting is enhanced in Ghana. In Jatapatha, the words are braided together, so to speak, and recited back and forth.

The samhita, pada and krama pathas can be described as the natural recitation styles or prakrutipathas. The remaining 8 modes of chanting are classified as complex recitation styles or Vikrutipathas as they involve reversing of the word order. The backward chanting of words does not alter the meanings in the Vedic (Sanskrit) language.

How to remeber easily, Mnemonic Devices.

Prodigious energy was expended by ancient Indian culture in ensuring that these texts were transmitted from generation to generation with inordinate fidelity.Towards this end, eight complex forms of recitation or pathas were designed to aid memorization and verification of the sacred Vedas. The texts were subsequently “proof-read” by comparing the different recited versions.

Some of the forms of recitation are —

  • The jaṭā-pāṭha (literally “mesh recitation”) in which every two adjacent words in the text were first recited in their original order, then repeated in the reverse order, and finally again in the original order.[7] The recitation thus proceeded as:


word1word2, word2word1, word1word2; word2word3, word3word2, word2word3; …

  • In another form of recitation, dhvaja-pāṭha (literally “flag recitation”) a sequence of N words were recited (and memorized) by pairing the first two and last two words and then proceeding as:


word1word2, word(N-1)wordN; word2word3, word(N-3)word(N-2); …; word(N-1)wordN, word1word2;

  • The most complex form of recitation, ghana-pāṭha (literally “dense recitation”), according to (Filliozat 2004, p. 139), took the form:


word1word2, word2word1, word1word2word3, word3word2word1, word1word2word3; word2word3, word3word2, word2word3word4, word4word3word2, word2word3word4; …These extraordinary retention techniques guaranteed the perfect canon not just in terms of unaltered word order but also in terms of sound. That these methods have been effective, is testified to by the preservation of the most ancient Indian religious text, the Ṛgveda (ca. 1500 BCE).[7] Similar methods were used for memorizing mathematical texts, whose transmission remained exclusively oral until the end of the Vedic period (ca. 500 BCE).,,,


Watch the Following  Demo.

This is the verse.

Rig Veda Verse  Book 1, Hymn 23.png
Rig Veda Verse Book 1, Hymn 23





Author: ramanan50

Retired Senior Management Professional. Lectures on Indian Philosophy,Hinduism, Comparative Religions. Researching Philosophy, Religion. Free lance Writer.Blogger

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