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Notes on Chandas shAstra – 2

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paribhAShA is a technique used by various sUtrakAras where they lay out some ground rules. This section typically contains definitions of technical terms, mnemonics, general rules. The main text then just uses the short hand laid out in the paribhAShAs.

One may refer to some sample paribhAShAs of Apastamba: (Ap. Sr. Su 14.12 – 16)
12. ‘juhoti’ – when this is said, one has to understand sarpirAjya is sacrificed
13. adhvaryu is understood as the kartA – performer
14. juhu is understood as the pAtraM
15. If juhu is used at another yaGya karma, sruva is to be used
16. Oblation is made in the AhavanIya fire

Likewise, pi~Ngala starts the sUtras with paribhAShAs. An inherent property of a syllable in Chandas shAstra is reckoned as its ‘weight’. A syllable could be guru (heavy) or laghu (light). A guru syllable is indicated by ‘S’ and a laghu by ‘|’ in metrical texts.

Here are some rules:
1. A syllable containing a dIrgha/pluta – long vowels and diphthongs is heavy.
2. A syllable that is followed by two (or more) consonants is heavy even if the syllable contains short vowel. This rule still applies if the vowel is at the word end and the cosonant cluster is at the beginning of the next word, as long as the words are in the same verse.
3. AnusvAra, visarga are considered as consonants for the rule in #2.
4. The syllable ‘Lh’ /’Dh’ found in some RV mantras are considered as double consonants for the rule in #2.

With these, the sUtra defines the gaNas based on weights of a triplet. The first sUtra is “dhI shrI strI M”. This means the triplet of 3 heavy syllables is indicated by ‘ma-gaNa’ (triguruM viddhi makAraM). Once we understand the principle, we can understand the sUtra that defines 2^3 = 8 gaNas for all the laghu-guru combinations in a triplet. Putting these together:

sUtra              Notation       gaNa                Notes
dhI shrI strI M SSS magaNa triguruM viddhi makAraM – know 3 heavy syllables as ‘ma’ gaNa
va rA sA y |SS yagaNa laghvAdisamanvitaM yakArAkhyaM – the triplet starting with light syllable is called ‘ya’ gaNa
kA gu hA r S|S ragaNa laghumadhyamaM tu rephaM – the triplet with light syllable in the middle is ‘ra’ gaNa
va su dhA s ||S sagaNa sakAramante guru nibaddhaM – the triplet with heavy at the end is ‘sa’ gaNa
sA te kva t SS| tagaNa laghvantyaM hi takAraM – the triplet with light syllable at the end is ‘ta’ gaNa
ka dA sa j |S| jagaNa jakAramubhayorlaghu vijAnIyAt.h – triplet with light syllable on either side, know it as ‘ja’ gaNa
kiM va da bh S|| bhagaNa AdiguruM cha bhakAraM – triplet with heavy syllable at the beginning is ‘bha’ gaNa
na ha sa n ||| nagaNa nakAramiha paingale trilaghuM – In pingala’s work, the triplet with 3 light syllables is ‘na’ gaNa

Halayudha conceives these sUtras as a repartee between an AchArya and his student.

Acharya: dhI shrI strI; varA sA – Once you obtain knowledge (dhI – intellect)  you will obtain wealth (shrI) and hence you will obtain a woman (strI) for a bride (varA).

Student: “kA guhA” – guhA is a sthAnavAchaka, i.e. word indicating a location. Where does such an intelligent man stand?

Teacher: – vasudhA – on the earth. The intelligent man wins the earth, no need to worry.

Student: sA te kva? – Whence does he gain that?

Teacher: gR^ihe – in the gR^ihasthAshrama

Student: kadA saH – When does the gR^ihastha gain that intellect

Teacher: dhrAdi paraH – By contemplating and reflecting, the man gains insight and gains the knowledge (dhAraNA arthAvabodhaparaH).

Student: kiM vada – Tell what should I do now to start gaining that intellect.

Teacher: na hasan.h – Don’t laugh (and goof around; i.e. take things seriously).


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