A query about Sanskrit Prosody

SATHAYE AVINASH sohum at convex.cc.uky.edu
Thu Aug 7 13:16:03 UTC 1997

Dear Indologists,

Here is a query originally posed by D. Knuth.

In Sanskrit prosody there are short syllables (la), long syllables
(gA)  and 8 gaNA's formed by the triples of these.
There is a well known way of memorizing their names and definitions
by the aphorism:


The way to use this aphorism is:

1.	the first letters list the names of the gaNA's

2.	and the pattern is noted by the triple of syllables starting
from it. 

For example, the gaNa "ya" has pattern ya-mA-tA or short-long-long. 

This clever way of getting all the 8 combinations is
presented as an exercise in Computer Science books related to coding
theory. (Not in relation to prosody, of course(:-))

The question is where and when was this wonderful device invented.
Many people know this by word of mouth, but no reference has yet been

Any clues?

P.S. One can get even more clever by dropping the last la-gA part, but
imagine the syllables arranged in a circle for the purposes of
deducing the patterns.

|Avinash Sathaye Phone:(606)277-0130(Home), (606)257-8832(Office) |
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