[INDOLOGY] Metrical inconsistencies and tradition

Harry Spier vasishtha.spier at gmail.com
Mon Mar 30 18:13:54 EDT 2020

It was just pointed out to me off-list that  the  gāyatrī to gaṇeśa
in the gaṇeśātharvaśīrsam,
, the meter is called  nicṛdgāyatrī = broken  gāyatrī, but I don't see why
the meter is called "broken gāyatrī .  Its three lines of 8 syllables
each.  Or are there other rules for  gāyatrī meter other than number of

saiṣā gaṇeśavidyā | gaṇaka ṛṣiḥ | nicṛdgāyatrī chandaḥ | gaṇapatir devatā |
oṁ gaṁ ||

ekadantāya vidmahe vakratuṇḍāya dhīmahi | tan no dantī pracodayāt ||


Harry Spier

On Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 11:51 AM Dominik Haas <dominik.haas at univie.ac.at>

> 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
> __________________
> *Dominik A. Haas, BA MA*
> PhD Candidate, University of Vienna
> dominik.haas at univie.ac.at
> ORCID 0000-0002-8505-6112 <https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8505-6112>
> <https://univie.academia.edu/DominikHaas>
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> On Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 8:45 AM Dominik Haas via INDOLOGY <
> 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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