[INDOLOGY] Metrical inconsistencies and tradition

victor davella vbd203 at googlemail.com
Mon Mar 30 07:33:51 EDT 2020

Dear Harry,

I don't know very much about Vedic meter, but I think in general we must be
aware that we are not only dealing with a fairly long span of time but also
with changes in genre. The later point is very important for Sanskrit
during the classical period because texts continued to be written in
different genres that have different standards for grammar and meter. The
rules for Kāvya are fairly strict and that is why commentators tend to
discuss, defend, reject, and at times accept (even if begrudgingly) various
anomalies. A few of these debates I have tried to follow somewhat
exhaustively (or rather ad nauseum) over the course of 1400 years and in as
many sources as I could access. I would emphasize two things: there is
usually great variety in how commentators understand certain forms, which
grammars/commentaries they hold to be authoritative, and how they interpret
Pāṇini's (or Candra's etc.) rules; 2. we have access to a fairly limited
amount of the discourse, especially if we think of how many millions of
people read and discussed mahākāvyas like the Raghuvaṃśa, so one should be
cautious with the interpretation of the data and generalizations.

When people wrote in very obviously non-standard Sanskrit, they generally
did so under the name of a great sage or with the claim of divine
revelation, etc. This gives the author more leeway to include archaisms and
other non-standard forms. The Bhāgavatapurāṇa is perhaps the greatest

Specifically on meter, I don't know what the communis opinio is anymore,
but I recall that with the supernumerary syllables in Vedic meters---and
with other oddities---we should perhaps not be so quick to restore or label
such things as "wrong". In later times, the Vedas simply are and are not
subject to any rule or criticism. I don't believe we have any roughly
contemporaneous criticism of Vedic poets so it is difficult to know how
such meters were perceived at or around the time of their composition. For
classical kāvya-meter, I know of only one real issue that arrises from time
to time and that is the application of the muta cum liquida rule, i.e, that
a short vowel before consonant clusters like *pr* are counted as laghu. I
have spoken with some other colleagues who have noticed that it seems to
apply more frequently in Purāṇic-like texts and hope to write something
about, but perhaps an article already exists on the topic. In case this
should be of interest to anyone, I simply paste below the email I sent to
my students some time back.

All the Best,

Just a short note about meter. Thanks to a helpful conversation with
Vladimir the other day, it has come to my attention [ultimately from Haru]
that I should, for the sake of completeness, mention that the basic rules
for determining a guru syllable require an addendum. In the overwhelming
majority of cases, a short vowel followed by any two consonants will be
counted as metrically heavy (guru). However, there are a few rare
occurrences where we can apply the so-called *muta cum liquida* rule, which
might be familiar to some of you from Latin and Greek metrics. In short, a
stop plus *l *or *r *need not make the preceding syllable heavy, i.e., it
can be either laghu or guru. For example,

albānīque patrēs, atque altae moenia Rōmae.

"And the Albanian fathers as well as the walls of lofty Rome"

Here *pa* is scanned as laghu before *tr* and the second foot is a dactyl
(= bha-gaṇa).

In Sanskrit such an indulgence is rather rare and appears to be more
frequently applied in Prakrit poetry and "Epic" Sanskrit.  In the latter
case several types of consonant clusters do not cause the preceding
syllable to be guru. See Oberlies *A* *Grammar of Epic Sanskrit *p. XXXVII.
For Prakrit, see  Prākṛtapiṅgalasūtra 1.4 (
and the examples in the commentary by Lakṣmīnātha Bhaṭṭa:

ceja sahaja tuhũ cañcalā sundarihradahĩ valanta /
paaü ṇa ghallasi khallaṇā kīlasi uṇa uhlasanta //

"My heart! you are by nature fickle [yet] you've returned to the abyss of
this beauty. You do not set foot [anywhere else]. You fool! yet again you
play [there] trembling with delight."

The point beging that for the Doha meter (13-11-13-11 mātrās) to work, the
*i* before *hr* and the *u* before *hl* must be scanned laghu.

For Sanskrit, see Vṛttarantākara 1.10f. with the commentary of
Bhaṭṭanārāyaṇa. The kārikā itself is rather restrictive (only before the
beginning of a pāda), but in the commentary, Bhaṭṭanārāyaṇa furnishes
additional examples from Kālidāsa  (Kumāsambhava 7.11b
gṛhītapratyudgamanīyavastrā) and Māgha (Śiśupālavadha 10.50a prāpya
nābhihradamajjanam āśu), as well as from the Rāmāyaṇa. In the examples,
which contain variant readings from standard editions, the *a* before *pra* and
the *i* before *hra *must be scanned laghu.

There are further discussions (Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇa 1.123 and the
footnotes to Piṅgala's Chandaḥśāstra pp. 4f., ed. Kedāranātha 1938),
and Śaraṇadeva also mentions the problem as well as the variant reading of
Śiśupālavadha 10.60 with hrada in his Durghaṭavṛtti ad P. 1.4.11,  but alaṃ

On Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 12:27 AM Harry Spier via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Dear list members,
> Victor Davella wrote:
> . . .according to the standards as reported in sources spanning some 1600 years
> and very much still current today, it is absolutely necessary to adhere to
> grammatically correct Sanskrit and the rules of meter  . . .
> It also seems that earlier there wasn't so much a concern.
> Of the 12 Gayatri mantras at  Maitrāyaṇī-Saṃhitā  2-9-1, three of those
> gayatri mantras have extra syllables.
> And see this post of Madhav's
> http://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology_list.indology.info/2015-
> January/040590.html  which concludes:  the Brāhmaṇa texts were not
> bothered by deviations of meters up to two syllables".
> Why the change in attitude towards meter?
> Harry Spier
> tat puruṣāya vidmahe mahādevāya dhīmahi /
>      tan no rudraḥ pracodayāt //
>      tad gāṅgaucyāya vidmahe girisutāya dhīmahi /
>      tan no gaurī pracodayāt //
>      tat kumārāya vidmahe kārttikeyāya dhīmahi /
>      tan naḥ skandaḥ pracodayāt //
>      tat karāṭāya vidmahe hastimukhāya dhīmahi /
>      tan no dantī pracodayāt //
>      tac caturmukhāya vidmahe padmāsanāya dhīmahi /
>      tan no brahmā pracodayāt //
>      tat keśavāya vidmahe nārāyaṇāya dhīmahi /
>      tan no viṣṇuḥ pracodayat //
>      tad bhāskarāya vidmahe prabhākarāya dhīmahi /
>      tan no bhānuḥ pracodayāt //
>      tat somarājāya vidmahe mahārājāya dhīmahi /
>      tan naś candraḥ pracodayāt //
>      taj jvalanāya vidmahe vaiśvānarāya dhīmahi /
>      tan no vahniḥ pracodayāt //
>      tat tyajapāya vidmahe mahājapāya dhīmahi /
>      tan no dhyānaḥ pracodayāt //
>      tat paramātmāya vidmahe vainateyāya dhīmahi /
>      tan naḥ sṛṣṭiḥ pracodayāt //MS_2,9.1//
> and see this
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