Explanation for 'SaDja'

D. Soneji rsoneji at MB.SYMPATICO.CA
Fri Sep 26 22:02:37 UTC 1997

Kowshika Ramaprasad wrote:

>          The few pAdas that follow the above mentioned shlOka are
>          shadjam mayUrO vadati gAvO rishabha bhAshiNah
>          ajA vikantu gAndhAram krounchah kvanati (?) madhyamam
>          pushpa sAdhAranE kAlE pikah kUjati panchamam
>          dhaivatama hasato vAji nishAda bruhmatE(?) gajah ....
>          These assign shadja to peacock, rishabha to bull, gAndhAra
>           to sheep, madhyama to kroucha pakshi, panchama to koel,
>           dhaivata to horse and nishAda to elephant.
>            These assignments have been probably quoted from
>            Bharata's nATya shAstra.

To my knowledge, these assignments are not from the Natyasastra.  While
the Natyasastra makes several references to the saptasvaras as a group
(for example, chapter 28, sloka 19 - sadjasca rsabhascaiva gandharo
madhyamastatha/ pancamo dhaivatascaiva nisadhah sapta ca svarah), it
does not explain their etymological derivations, nor does it associate
them with various animals.  It does however, associate the svaras with
rasas (for example, chapter 29, prose passage between slokas 16 and 17).

Matanga's Brhaddesi, as mentioned in Kallinatha's commentary on
Sangitaratnakara lists possible origins of the names of the saptasvaras.
The comments on sadja are as follows (translation from Sangitaratnakara
of Sarngadeva, ed. and trans. R.K. Shringy and Prem Lata Sharma):

a) it is the precursor (lit. the progenitor) of the six other notes

b) it is brought into being by six other notes, for, as an integrated
part of the heptad (saptaka) it is manifested by the rest of the parts

c) alternatively, it is produced by six organs of the body, viz. the
nostrils, the throat, the palate, the breast, the tongue and the teeth.

(commentary on Sangitaratnakara, Svaragatadhyaya (1), Prakarana 3, sloka

- Devesh Soneji
University of Manitoba

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