By Swami Harshananda
Modes of Chanting
The Vedas are the basic scriptures of the religion. The Samhitās are the core part of these Vedas. These Samhitās had to be committed to memory and passed on orally from generation to generation. Even now they have been preserved in a pure form. This was possible only due to the unique system of chanting that has evolved through these generations. There are various modes of chanting them. They are:
As per Ṛgveda Samhitā
These four modes of chanting can be explained more clearly by choosing one sentence from the Ṛgveda Samhitā and working upon it.
iin osadhayah sarh vadante somena II saha rājñā I
i osadhayah I sarh I vadante I l 2 3 II II somena I saha I rājñā I 4 ~~5 6
i i osadhayah sarh I sarh vadante I 1 2 2 3 II M vadante somena I somena saha I 3 4 4 5 ll n saha rājñā I rājñeti rājñā I _5 6 6 _ 6
i i osadhayah sarh samosadhaya 1 2 2 1 1 osadhayah sarh I 1 2 i sum vadante vadante sarh 2 3 3 2 l sam vadante I 1 3
i i osadhayah sarh samosadhaya l 2 2 1 1 i osadhayah sarh vadante 1 2 3 i i vadante samosadhaya osadhayah 3 — 2 l l i sam vadante 2 3 i sam vadante vadante sarh 2 3 3 _ 2 i ll sarh vadante somena.... 2 3 — 4
Splitting of Verses
- When the text of the Samhitā is broken into the constituent words as per the rules of the prātiśākhyas, we get the padapātha first. The other pāṭhas or readings can be got by a permutation and combination of the words of the padapātha. By numbering these words, the other pāṭhas can be shown as follows:
- Kramapātha—1+2, 2+3, 3+4, 4+5, 5+6.
- Jaṭāpāṭha—1+2, 2+1, 1+2; 2+3, 3+2, 2+3; and so on.
- Ghanapāṭha—1+2, 2+1, 1+2+3, 3+2+1, 1+2+3; 2+3, 3+2, 2+3+4, 4+3+2, 2+3+4 and so on.
Since the words are repeated several times in different ways, not only the words but also the svaras or intonations have been preserved over the centuries.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore