[INDOLOGY] Metrical inconsistencies and tradition

Dominik Haas dominik.haas at univie.ac.at
Mon Mar 30 11:50:59 EDT 2020

Dear Harry,

thanks a lot for the reference, didn't know this one! Even the wrong 
accent is noted there already.

Well yes, mantras like these were called Gāyatrīs. The matter is a bit 
complicated though. As far as I have come to understand it, they were 
called thus because they imitate the famous Gāyatrī verse (Ṛgveda III 
62.10) or are modified versions of it. But this verse acquired the name 
“Gāyatrī” rather late (considering its own age), for the first time 
perhaps in the Taittirīya-Āraṇyaka and then also in later additions the 
Dharmasūtras (in the Mahābharata, too, the verse is called Gāyatrī 
several times, especially in the later strata).

So the point is that the modified Gāyatrīs were perhaps never actually 
thought to be in the /gāyatrī/ metre (not even by its creators, whenever 
they lived), but were only called Gāyatrī because they resemble the 
verse. I normally use /gāyatrī /for the metre and Gāyatrī for the verse 
(I did not do so in my previous email though). So the modified Gāyatrīs 
are probably not examples for metrical license, i.e., they are not 
/gāyatrī/ verses, even though they are called Gāyatrīs.

But it could very well be that some commentator explained them to be in 
the /gāyatrī/ metre, but a /gāyatrī/ metre with extra syllables etc.

Best regards,


*Dominik A. Haas, BA MA*
PhD Candidate, University of Vienna
dominik.haas at univie.ac.at <mailto:dominik.haas at univie.ac.at>
ORCID 0000-0002-8505-6112 <https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8505-6112>
follow my work on

> On Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 8:45 AM Dominik Haas via INDOLOGY 
> <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>> wrote:
>     Perhaps a short note on the modified “Gāyatrīs” in the
>     Maitrāyaṇī-Saṃhitā: the creators of these verses simply inserted a
>     certain deity without too much regard for metre. The non-adjusted
>     accentuation perhaps also shows that the “Gāyatrīs” in this text
>     are more pieced together than composed anew (/pracodáyāt/ is still
>     accented, even though it's now the verb of a main clause – or is
>     there another explanation?).
> Thank you for this Dominik.
> The author in the following link, for the reasons you've mentioned and 
> because the gayatris are  mostly to later deities, argues that this 
> section of the Maitrāyaṇī-Saṃhitā:   is interpolated: 
> https://books.google.ca/books?id=X0JUwf2BXVAC&pg=PA57&lpg=PA57&dq=maitrayani+samhita+x.9.1&source=bl&ots=zfBpMv9w-q&sig=ACfU3U2LME_WHFLc9K4mr4lvOD8UVoCkEg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiIuojYs8LoAhUImuAKHYHQDPEQ6AEwAHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=maitrayani%20samhita%20x.9.1&f=false
> You also asked:
>  I wonder whether and where they are actually called Gāyatrīs?
> If you do a search of the Muktabodha searchable e-text digital library 
> for <gAyatrI> you'll see that throughout the tantric literature these 
> types of mantras are called gāyatrī or gāyatrīmatra or  the deity name 
> compounded with gāyatrī  such as: nṛsiṃhagāyatrī  etc. If I recall 
> correctly they are called gāyatrī much more often than gāyatrīmantra.
> Harry Spier
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