Home / Vedas and Vedic System / Vedangas / Chandassastram

Chandassastram

By Dr. Korada Subrahmanyam

The term ‘Chandas’ is used in the sense of Veda and the Vedāṅga. Chandas, the Vedāṅga is described as the feet of Vedapuruṣa. Piṅgalācārya, the author of ‘Chandaśśāstram’ is considered as a popular authority on ‘Chandas’ (meter). While Vyākaraṇa is considered the most important one among the Vedāṅgas, Chandas actually has preference over Vyākaraṇamwhich is sanctioned by both Chandaśśāstram (Piṅgalasūtra 3-2) and Vyākaraṇam (Sūtras 6-1-132 and 8-1-6). Thus in the famous Gāyatrī mantra (Ṛgveda 3-3-10-5) “vareṇyam” is read as “vareṇiyam” so that there is no violation of Chandas (chandobhaṅgaḥ).

There are seven chief meters available in Veda. Chandaśśāstram discusses some Laukika (secular) meters also along with the Vaidika ones.Being a Vedāṅga, Chandas is ultimately useful in attaining Mokṣa.

Origin

The origin of Chandas can be traced to Veda –

त्रीणि छन्दांसि कवयो वियेतिरे ॥ अथर्वसंहिता, १८-१-१७॥

trīṇi chandāṃsi kavayo viyetire ॥ atharvasaṃhitā, 18-1-17 ॥

kavayaḥ = the sages, viyetire = communicated, trīṇi chandāṃsi = three meters.

The sages put all the meters under three headings –

माच्छन्दः, प्रमाच्छन्दः, प्रतिमाच्छन्दः, अस्रीवयश्छन्दः, पङ्क्तिश्छन्दः, उष्णिक् छन्दः, बृहतीच्छन्दः, अनुष्टुप् छन्दो, विराट् छन्दो, गायत्रीच्छन्दः, त्रिष्टुप् छन्दो, जगतीच्छन्दः ॥ वाजसनेयिमाध्यन्दिनशाखीययजुर्वेदसंहिता १४-१८, तैत्तिरीयसंहिता ४-३-७-१॥

mācchandaḥ, pramācchandaḥ, pratimācchandaḥ, asrīvayaśchandaḥ, paṅktiśchandaḥ, uṣṇikchandaḥ, bṛhatīcchandaḥ, anuṣṭupchando, virāṭchando, gāyatrīcchandaḥ, triṣṭupchando, jagatīcchandaḥ॥Mādhyandinaśuklayajurvedasaṃhitā 14-18, Taittirīyasaṃhitā 4-3-7-1॥

mā, pramā, pratimā, asrīvayaḥ, paṅktiḥ, uṣṇik, bṛhatī, anuṣṭup, virāṭ, gāyatrī,  triṣṭup, jagatī– these are the names of different chandas.

Authors of Chandaśśāstram

Earlier to Piṅgalācārya, there were some Ācāryas who compiled treatises on chandas and this fact is known through Piṅgala’s work, viz. Chandaśśāstram – Krauṣṭuki, Yāska, Tāṇḍi, Saitava, Kāśyapa, Rātamāṇḍavya etc. During post-Piṅgala period sage Śaunaka in his Prātiśākhyā dealt with chandas. Kātyāyana’s Ṛksarvānukramasūtram defines the meters that are required in Ṛgveda. In Agnipurāṇa, Garuḍapurāṇa, Nāradīyapurāṇa and Viṣṇupurāṇa, we come across the concepts of chandas.Piṅgala’s Chandaśśāstram, just like Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī, deals with both Vaidika and Laukika chandas and therefore it is considered as Vedāṅgam.

Vaidika-chandas

Initially chandas is put under five headings – anādiṣṭaḥ, bṛhat, ati, kṛti and praciti. Bṛhat chandas is divided into seven – gāyatrī, uṣṇik, anuṣṭup, bṛhatī, paṅktiḥ, triṣṭup and jagatī.

Gāyatrī is defined in the Chandaśśāstram as:

पादः॥छन्दश्शास्त्रम् ३-१॥, गायत्र्या वसवः ॥छन्दश्शास्त्रम् ३-३॥

pādaḥ ॥Chandaśśāstram 3-1॥gāyatryā vasavaḥ ॥Chandaśśāstram 3-3 ॥

vasavaḥ = eight letters for, gāyatryāḥ pādaḥ = each leg of gāyatrīcchandas.

There will be eight letters in each leg of gāyatrīcchandas.

Here is an example of gāyatrī – that has got three legs (tripadā):

अग्निमीळे पुरोहितम्।

यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम्।

होतारं रत्नधातमम् ॥ ऋग्वेदसंहिता १-१-१-१ ॥

agnimīḷe purohitam.

yajñasya devamṛtvijam.

hotāraṃ ratnadhātamam ॥ ṛgvedasaṃhitā 1-1-1-1 ॥

I praise, agnim = the God of fire, purohitam = who is the priest of Gods,

yajñasya devam = who illuminates the sacrifice, ṛtvijam = who performs seasonal sacrifices, hotāram = who invites Gods, ratnadhātamam = and who gives attractive wealth.

I pray to the God of fire, who is the priest of Gods, who illuminates the sacrifices, who performs seasonal sacrifices, who invites Gods and who gives attractive wealth.

.

Read More.....

Anuṣṭup is defined as:

[चतुष्पात्] अनुष्टुब्गायत्रैः ॥ छन्दश्शास्त्रम् ३-२३॥

[catuṣpāt] anuṣṭubgāyatraiḥ॥Chandaśśāstram 3-23 ॥

gāyatraiḥ = with eight letters in each leg, catuṣpāt = a chandas having four legs, anuṣṭup = is called anuṣṭup.

A chandas with four legs and with eight letters in each leg is called anuṣṭup.

An example of anuṣṭup is given below:

सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः

सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात् ।

स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वा

अत्यतिष्ठद्दशाङ्गुलम् ॥ ऋग्वेदसंहिता १॰-९॰-१, सामवेदसंहिता ६१७, अथर्ववेदसंहिता १९-६-१,तैत्तिरीयारण्यकम् ३-१२-१॥

sahasraśīrṣā puruṣaḥ

sahasrākṣaḥ sahasrapāt .

sa bhūmiṃ viśvato vṛtvā

atyatiṣṭhaddaśāṅgulam ॥Ṛgvedasaṃhitā 10-90-1, Sāmavedasaṃhitā 617,

Atharvavedasaṃhitā 19-6-1, Taittirīyāraṇyakam 3-12-1 ॥

puruṣaḥ = virāṭpuruṣa, sahasraśīrṣā = has got innumerable heads,

sahasrākṣaḥ = has got innumerable eyes, sahasrapāt = has got innumerable feet, saḥ = such a virāṭpuruṣa, viśvato vṛtvā = having surpassed, bhūmiṃ = the whole universe, atyatiṣṭhaddaśāṅgulam = existed beyond the universe.

The virāṭpuruṣa has got innumerable heads, eyes and feet. He, having surrounded the universe (brahmāṇḍa), existed beyond the universe also.

Number of letters in different Chandas

The number of letters in each chandas is as follows –

चतुर्विंशत्यक्षरा गायत्री ।

caturviṃśatyakṣarā gāyatrī.

gāyatrīcchandas has got twenty four letters.

  • अष्टाविंशत्यक्षरा उष्णिक्।

aṣṭāviṃśatyakṣarā uṣṇik.

uṣṇik chandas has got twenty eight letters.

  • द्वात्रिंशदक्षरा अनुष्टुप्।

dvātriṃśadakṣarā anuṣṭup.

anuṣṭup chandas has got thirty two letters.

  • षट्त्रिंशदक्षरा बृहती।

ṣaṭtriṃśadakṣarā bṛhatī

bṛhatīcchandas has got thirty six letters.

  • चत्वारिंशदक्षरा पङ्क्तिः।

catvāriṃśadakṣarā paṅktiḥ

paṅkticchandas has got forty four letters.

  • चतुश्चत्वारिंशदक्षरा त्रिष्टुप्।

catuścatvāriṃśadakṣarā triṣṭup

triṣṭup chandas has got forty four letters.

  • अष्टाचत्वारिंशदक्षरा जगती

aṣṭācatvāriṃśadakṣarā jagatī

jagatīcchandas has got forty eight letters.

Laukika-chandas

Piṅgalācārya defines Laukikachandas –

अथ लौकिकम् ॥४-८॥, आत्रैष्टुभाच्च यदार्षम् ॥४-९॥

atha laukikam ॥4-8 ॥, ātraiṣṭubhācca yadārṣam ॥4-9 ॥

atha = now, after defining Vaidikachandas, laukikam = laukikachandas is being taken up, ātraiṣṭubhāt ca yat ārṣam = till triṣṭupchandas, i.e. six chandas, whatever is defined in Vaidikachandas has to be taken up as it is in Laukikachandas.

The definitions of the six chandas upto triṣṭup, viz., gāyatrī, uṣṇik, anuṣṭup, bṛhatī, paṅktiḥ and triṣṭup have to be taken up as they are in Laukikachandas also. There are some chandas which are considered as both Laukika and Vaidika. And some Laukikachandas is available in Vedas also.

The eight Gaṇas

A short letter, i.e. a short vowel or consonant with a short vowel is called ‘laghu’. A long letter, i.e., a long vowel or consonant with a long vowel, or a short letter followed by a cluster of letters or a consonant, is called ‘guru’. In the Laukikachandas (vṛttam) there are eight gaṇas. Each gaṇa consists of three letters –

आदिमध्यावसानेषु य-र-ता यान्ति लाघवम्।

भ-ज-सा गौरवं यान्ति म-नौ तु गुरुलाघवम् ॥ मृतसञ्जीविनी, उपोद्घातः ॥

ādimadhyāvasāneṣu ya-ra-tā yānti lāghavam।

bha-ja-sā gauravaṃ yānti ma-nau tu gurulāghavam ॥Mṛtasañjīvinī, Introduction॥

ādimadhyāvasāneṣu = in the beginning, middle and end, ya-ra-tāḥ = yagaṇa, ragaṇa and tagaṇa, yānti lāghavam = would have a ‘laghu’, i.e. yamātā, rājabhā, tārāja, bha-ja-sāḥ = bhagaṇa, jagaṇa and sagaṇa, gauravaṃ yānti = have guru in the beginning, middle and end; i.e bhānasa, jabhāna, sayama, ma-nau tu = magaṇa and nagaṇa are, gurulāghavam = all guru and all laghu, i.e. mātārā, nasaya.

The gaṇas (groups of letters) are shown taking a specific wheel of letters – ya mā tā rā ja bhā na sa, as shown in the adjacent figure. The long letters indicate gurus and the short ones laghu. Each gaṇa consists of three letters.

Another method of defining is to state the position of the odd one in the gaṇa. It is said yagaṇa is ādilaghu – it means the first letter of yagaṇa is laghu and due to implication, the rest two letters are guru. Others are similarly defined, as shown below (following the notation of using the symbol “I” for laghu and “U” for guru):

This sūkta is found in the Śuklayajurveda as well; there is a slight change in the third leg, but without a change in the meaning: स भूमिं सर्वतः स्पृत्वा (sa bhūmiṃ sarvataḥ spṛtvā)॥Śuklayajurveda 31-1 ॥

ādilaghuḥ yagaṇaḥ(laghu-initial is ya-gaṇa)                – ya mā tā        – I U U

madhyalaghuḥ ragaṇaḥ (laghu-middle is ra-gaṇa)      – rā jabhā         – U  I  U

antyalaghuḥ tagaṇaḥ(laghu-final is ta-gaṇa)               – tā rā ja          – U U  I

ādiguruḥ bhagaṇaḥ (guru-initial is bha-gaṇa)              – bhā na sa      – U  I  I

madhyaguruḥ jagaṇaḥ (guru-middle is ja-gaṇa)          – ja bhā na       – I U  I

antyaguruḥ sagaṇaḥ (guru-final is sa-gaṇa)                 – sayamā         – I  I  U

sarvaguruḥ magaṇaḥ (all-guru is ma-gaṇa)                  – ya mā tā        – U U U

sarvalaghuḥ nagaṇaḥ (all-laghu is na-gaṇa)                 – na sa yā        – III

Three Kinds of Laukikacchandas

Halāyudhabhaṭṭa in his commentary, viz. Mṛtasañjīvinī, says that there are three kinds of chandas in Loka –

आदौ तावद्गणच्छन्दो मात्राच्छन्दस्ततः परम्।

तृतीयमक्षरच्छन्दः छन्दस्त्रेधा तु लौकिकम् ॥ मृतसञ्जीविनी, ४-११॥

ādau tāvadgaṇacchando mātrācchandastataḥ param.

tṛtīyamakṣaracchandaḥ chandastredhā tu laukikam ॥Mṛtasañjīvinī, 4-11॥

ādau tāvat = in the beginning, gaṇacchandaḥ = it is gaṇachandaḥ, tataḥ param = next to that, mātrācchandaḥ = it is mātrāchandaḥ, tṛtīyam = the third one is called, akṣaracchandaḥ = akṣaracchandaḥ, laukikam chandaḥ tu = the laukikachandas is, tredhā = of three types.

The Laukikachandas is divided into three types – gaṇacchandaḥ, mātrācchandaḥ, akṣaracchandaḥ.

Vṛttam and Jāti

In Laukikacchandas there are two kinds of stanzas with four legs –

पद्यं चतुष्पदी तच्च वृत्तं जातिरिति द्विधा ॥ मृतसञ्जीविनी ५-१ ॥

padyaṃ catuṣpadī tacca vṛttaṃ jātiriti dvidhā ॥ mṛtasañjīvinī 5-1 ॥

padyam = a verse, catuṣpadī = consists of four legs, tat ca dvidhā = and that is of two types, vṛttam jātiḥ iti = vṛttam and jātiḥ.

The verse, consisting of four legs, is of two types – vṛttam and jātiḥ.

For instance, Vaṃśasthavṛttam is defined as:

जगती ॥ ६-१७ ॥, वंशस्था ज्तौ ज्रौ ॥६-१८ ॥

jagatī॥ 6-17 ॥, vaṃśasthā jtau jrau ॥6-18॥

jagatī = the following vṛttas fall under jagaticchandas ॥ 17 ॥jtau jrau = ja, ta, ja, ra – these gaṇas make, vaṃśasthā = vaṃśasthavṛttam ॥ 18 ॥

Ja-ta-ja and ra – these four gaṇas make vaṃśasthavṛttam and the same falls under jagatīcchandas. Thus, the sequence of letters would be (laghu = I and guru = U):

I U I      U U I      I U I     U I U

An example of a verse in vaṃśasthavṛttam is given below:

जतौ तु वंशस्थमुदीरितं जरौ॥मृतसञ्जीविनी ६-१८॥

jatau tu vaṃśasthamudīritaṃ jarau॥ Mṛtasañjīvinī 6-18 ॥

jatau jarau tu = the gaṇas, viz., ja, ta, ja and ra, udīritam = are said to be, vaṃśastham = vaṃśasthavrttam.

The above line is now parsed by arranging into groups of three letters each and the pattern is marked to show that it conforms to the definition of vaṃśastha
jatau tu    vaṃśastha—-mudīri—-taṃ jarau               I  U  I        U  U  I       I   U I         U  I  U

n addition to the eight gaṇas introduced above, namely ya-ma-ta-ra-ja-bha-na-sa, two more letters are used below: “ga” stands for a single guru and “la” stands for a single laghu. Here are definitions of some other vṛttas are given below along with the sūtra and the sequence of gaṇas in them.

 

Chandas Vttam Definition Gaa Sequence
Gāyatrī Tanumadhyā tanumadhyā tyau ॥6-2॥ ta-ya
Uṣṇik Kumāralalitā kumāralalitā jsau g ॥ 6-3 ॥ ja-sa-ga
Anuṣṭup Māṇavakākṛīḍitam māṇavakākṛīḍitam bhtau lgau ॥ 6-4 ॥ bha-ta-la-ga
Anuṣṭup Vidyunmālā vidyunmālā bhau gau ॥ 6-6 ॥ bha-bha-ga-ga
Bṛhatī Bhujagaśiśusṛtā bhujagaśiśusṛtā nau m ॥ 6-7 ॥ na-na-ma
Bṛhatī Halamukhī halamukhīrnau s ॥ 6-8 ॥ ra-na-sa
Paṅktiḥ Rukmavatī rukmavatī bhmau sgau ॥ 6-11 ॥ bha-ma-sa-ga
Paṅktiḥ Upasthitā upasthitā tjau jgau ॥ 6-14 ॥ ta-ja-ja-ga
Triṣṭup Indravajrā indravajrā tau jgau  g ॥ 6-15 ॥ ta-ta-ja-ga-ga
Triṣṭup Upendravajrā upendravajrā jtau jgau g ॥ 6-16 ॥ ja-ta-ja-ga-ga
Jagatī Vaṃśasthā vaṃśasthā jtau jrau ॥ 6-28 ॥ ja-ta-ja-ra
Jagatī Toṭakam toṭakaṃ saḥ॥ 6-31 ॥ sa-sa-sa-sa
Atijagatī Praharṣiṇī praharṣiṇī mnau jarau g trikadaśakau ॥ 7-1॥ ma-na-ja-ra-ga
Atijagatī Rucirā rucirā jbhau sjau g caturnavakau ॥ 7-2 ॥ ja-bha-sa-ja-ga
Atiśakvarī Vasantatilakā vasantatilakā tbhau jau gau ॥ 7-8 ॥ ta-bha-ja-ja-ga
Atiśakvarī Mālinī māliniī nau myau y ॥ 7-14 ॥ na-na-ma-ya-ga
Aṣṭiḥ Ṛṣabhagajavilasitam ṛṣabhagajavilasitam bhrau nau ngau svaranavakau ॥7-15॥ bha-ra-na-na-na-ga
Aṣṭiḥ Hariṇī hariṇī nsau mrau slau gṛtusamudraṛṣayaḥ॥7-16॥ na-sa-ma-ra-sa-la-ga
Atyaṣṭiḥ Mandākrāntā mandākrāntā mbhau ntau tgau g samudrartusvarāḥ॥7-19॥ ma-bha-na-ta-ta-ga-ga
Atyaṣṭiḥ Śikhariṇī śikhiariṇī yamau nsau bhlau gṛturudrāḥ॥7-20॥ ya-ma-na-sa-bha-la-ga
Dhṛtiḥ Kusumitalatāvellitā kusumitalatāvellitā mtau nyau yāvindriyartusvarāḥ॥7-21॥ ma-ta-na-ya-ya-ya
Atidhṛtiḥ Śārdūlavikrīḍitam śādūlavikrīḍitaṃ msau jsau tau gādityaṛṣayaḥ॥7-22॥ ma-sa-ja-sa-ta-ta-ga
Kṛtiḥ Vṛttam gliti vṛttam॥7-24॥ ga-la-ga-la-ga-la . . .

The last one ‘Vṛttam’ has twenty letters in each leg, with a guru and laghu alternating.

Devatas and Svaras of the Chandas

Piṅgalācārya provides with the list of Gods and Svaras associated with each chandas:

अग्निः सविता सोमो बृहस्पतिर्मित्रावरुणाविन्द्रो विश्वे देवा देवताः॥३-६३॥

agniḥ savitā somo bṛhaspatirmitrāvaruṇāvindro viśve devā devatāḥ॥3-63॥

agniḥ = Agni, savitā = Savitṛ, somaḥ = Soma, bṛhaspatiḥ = Bṛhaspati, mitrāvaruṇau = Mitra and Varuṇa, indraḥ= Indra, viśve devāḥ = Viśvedevas, devatāḥ = these are the Gods [associated with various chandas].

The various gods associated with various chandas are: Agni, Savitṛ, Soma, Bṛhaspati, Mitra and Varuṇa, Indra and Viśvedevas.

स्वराः षड्जर्षभगान्धारमध्यमपञ्चमधैवतनिषादाः ॥ ३-६४ ॥

ṣaḍjarṣabhagāndhāramadhyamapañcamadhaivataniṣādāḥ॥ 3-64॥

svarāḥ = svaras are, ṣaḍja-rṣabha-gāndhāra-madhyama-pañcama-dhaivata-niṣādāḥ = ṣaḍja, ṛṣabha, gāndhāra, madhyama, pañcama, dhaivata and niṣāda.

Ṣaḍja, ṛṣabha, gāndhāra, madhyama, pañcama, dhaivata and niṣāda (which are also notated as sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-da-ni in Carnatic and Hindustani music) are the svaras associated with various chandas.

The Gods and Svaras associated with different chandas are given below:

No. Chandas Devatā                                          Svara

1         Gāyatrī                Agniḥ (Fire)                                   Ṣaḍjaḥ (sa)

2         Uṣṇik                   Savitā (Sun)                                   Ṛṣabhaḥ (ri)

3         Anuṣṭup               Somaḥ (Moon)                              Gāndhāraḥ (ga)

4         Bṛhatī                  Bṛhaspatiḥ (Jupiter)                       Madhyamaḥ (ma)

5         Paṅktiḥ                Mitrāvaruṇau                                 Pañcamaḥ (Pa)

6         Triṣṭup                 Indraḥ                                            Dhaivataḥ (da)

7         Jagatī                   Viśve devāḥ (all the Gods)           Niṣādaḥ (ni)

Bibliography

  1. Piṅgalācārya, Chandaśśāstram with Mṛtasañjīvinī, Chowkhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 1986.
  2. Ṛgvedasaṃhitā, Nag Prakash, Delhi, 1994.
  3. Yajurvedasaṃhitā, Nag Prakash, Delhi, 1994.
  4. Taittirīyasaṃhitā with Sāyaṇācārya’s Commentary, 8 Vol.s,2nd edition, Edited by Kāśināthaśāstrī Āgāśe, Anandasrama Press, Pune, 1940 – 1951.
  5. Sāmavedasaṃhitā, Nag Prakash, Delhi, 1994.
  6. Athavavedasaṃhitā, Nag Prakash, Delhi, 1994.
  7. Aṣṭādhyāyīsūtrapāṭhaḥ, Narayana Misra, Chowkhamba Publishers, Varanasi, 1998.
#mk-accordion-59c132445ec42 .mk-accordion-pane{ background-color:rgba(255,255,255,0.01); }
.button-59c1324464733 { margin-bottom: 15px; margin-top: 0px; min-width: 0px !important; } .button-59c1324464733 { background-color:#617ad3; } .mk-button.button-59c1324464733.flat-dimension:hover { background-color:#d86447 !important; }
.button-59c1324464dec { margin-bottom: 15px; margin-top: 0px; min-width: 0px !important; } .button-59c1324464dec { background-color:#617ad3; } .mk-button.button-59c1324464dec.flat-dimension:hover { background-color:#d86447 !important; }
.button-59c1324465499 { margin-bottom: 15px; margin-top: 0px; min-width: 0px !important; } .button-59c1324465499 { background-color:#617ad3; } .mk-button.button-59c1324465499.flat-dimension:hover { background-color:#d86447 !important; }
.button-59c1324465b5e { margin-bottom: 15px; margin-top: 0px; min-width: 0px !important; } .button-59c1324465b5e { background-color:#617ad3; } .mk-button.button-59c1324465b5e.flat-dimension:hover { background-color:#d86447 !important; }