Beach 2: First Steps in the Ascent to the Divine

Wave 5: Ancient Scriptures of Hinduism

Drop 1. SRUTI

 page 2 

Other Drops:  smRti:   itihAsa:     purANa:    Agama:    darSana




This page is to give a faint glimpse of  how the vedas in spite of its massive content, (Rg veda and Yajur veda have 153,826 words 109,287 words respectively)  have been  preserved from generation to generation though it was all done only by oral transmission.  All this has been  preserved  (till today) for more than five millenia (at least three millenia acc. to western calculations)  without ever putting them into writing. This must be considered a great lingusitic achievement of which India can be legitimately proud. The literature, which consists of diverse poetical and prose compositions were simply learnt by rote, the training being given by the teacher saying each word or combinations of words once with the proper incantations (called svaras) and the students saying it twice. They then learnt to recite it  in continuous form along with the incantations. The continuous recitation of a vedic text is called samhita pAtha. The accuracy of the text is preserved  by resorting to an artifice of nine  different techniques or modes of recital.

The first is the pada pATha, which simply recites each word of the text separately; pada means word; pAtha means reading.The euphonic changes that occurs from the samhita pATha to the pada pATha is itself very technical (Sanskrit grammar would be crucial here) but makes sense. In addition, there are eight other techniques of recitation, the sole purpose of each is to preserve the original samhita text without the loss or addtion of a single syllable or svara. The svaras are a significant part of the recital of the vedas, whatever be the mode. The eight modes are called:

krama, jaTa, ghana, mAlA, ratha, SikhA, daNDa and rekhA.

 In each mode the order of recital of the words is specified as a particular permutation of their original sequence. We give below a sentence from the Yajur veda, obviously without the svaras, in its original samhita pATha form, also its pada text and then the order of the words in the ghana recital. A pundit who has learnt the ghana recital of one complete veda (he takes thirteen years of whole time work to reach that stage) is called a ghana-pAThi.

First we give the rule for the ghana mechanics of recitation: If the original order of words in a sentence is:


The ghana recital goes as follows:





5 iti 5.


Example: samhita sentence:

eshAm purushANAm-eshAm paSUnAM mA bher-mA ro-mo eshAM kincanAmamat  //


Oh God! Do not frighten these our men and animals, may none of these perish or lack health.

pada text:

eshAM/purushANAM/eshAM/paSUnAM/mA/bheH/mA/arah/mo-iti-mo/eshAM/ kim/chana/Amamat/Amamad-ity-Amamat/


Note: The ninth break here and the last break are the results of a technicality which you may ignore, unless you want to specialise in this art.


Now for the ghana recital(without the svaras; with the svaras it would be a delight to hear). The recital is a non-stop recital, except for a half-pause at the place shown by / . There is no break anywhere else. The hyphens shown are for requirements of those who can decipher the grammar ; they will  not be  reflected in the recital.


eshAM-purushANAM-purushANAm-eshAm-eshAM purushANAm-eshAm-eshAm purushANAm-eshAm-eshAm purushANAm-eshAM /

purushANAm-eshAm-eshAM purushANAM purushANAm-eshAM paSUnAM paSunAm-eshAm purushANAm purushANAm-eshAM paSUnAM /

eshAM paSUnAM paSUnAm-eshAm-eshAM paSUnAm-mA mA paSUnAm-eshAm-eshAM paSUnAm-mA /

paSUnAm-mA mA paSUnAM paSUnAm-mA bher-bher-mA paSUnAM paSUnAm-mA bheH /

mA bher-bher-mAmA bher-mAmA bher-mAmA bher-mA /

bher-mAmA bher-bher-mAro aro mA bher-bhermA araH /

mA ro aro mAmA ro momo aro mA mA ro mo /

aro mo mo aro aro mo eshAm-eshAm mo aro aro mo eshAM /

mo eshAm-eshAm mo mo eshAm kim kim-eshAm-mo mo eshAm kim / mo iti mo/

eshAm kimkim-eshAmeshAM kim-cana cana kim-esham-eshaM kim-cana /

kim cana cana kim kim canAmamad-Amamat cana kim kim canAmamat /

canAmamad-Amamac-cana canAmamat /

Amamad-ityAmamat /


The significant point to note here is that in Sanskrit the order of words does not matter. If you do it with an English sentence like:

Rama vanquished Ravana

It will go like this:

Rama vanquished vanquished Rama Rama vanquished Ravana ‘Ravana vanquished Rama’ Rama vanquished Ravana … and so on.

You can see the absurdity now. In Sanskrit this absurdity would not arise. So a ghana recitation is supposed to be equivalent to a recitation of the veda 13 times and to that extent is multifold fruitful! The 13 is because except for two beginning and two ending words in  a sentence the others are repeated 13 tiumes. (You can check it with the word paSUnAM above).


Copyright Ó V. Krishnamurthy     Oct.23, '99           Homepage      CONTENTS         NEXT