The Agni Purana

by N. Gangadharan | 1954 | 360,691 words | ISBN-10: 8120803590 | ISBN-13: 9788120803596

This page describes abridgement of the rules of metres which is chapter 330 of the English translation of the Agni Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas dealing with all topics concerning ancient Indian culture, tradition and sciences. Containing roughly 15,000 Sanskrit metrical verses, subjects contained in the Agni-Purana include cosmology, philosophy, architecture, iconography, economics, diplomacy, pilgrimage guides, ancient geography, gemology, ayurveda, etc.

Chapter 330 - An abridgement of the rules of metres

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Note: This chapter sums up the third chapter of Piṅgala.]

Fire-god said:

1. When a quarter does not have the sufficient letters it has to be filled with iya etc. The Gāyatrīs are known to have eight in a quarter. The Jagatī (would have)twelve in a quarter. Virāṭ is said to have ten.

2-Sa. The Triṣṭubh has eleven letters in a quarter. There are also others having Ekapāda[1] (one foot) etc. (Gāyatra metre) consists of four feet, six letters in each foot. In some places it has seven letters. The Pratiṣṭhā (gāyatrī) has three feet (having eight, seven and six letters respectively). Vardhamāna consists of three feet having six, eight and eight letters respectively. (The Pratiṣṭhā gāyatrī) has three feet having six, eight and seven letters. The Nāgīgāyatrī (consists of) three feet having nine, nine and six (syllables) respectively. Vārāhī (would have) six, nine and nine (letters). The third one (Virāṭ gāyatrī) having two feet (would have) twelve and eight (syllables) and that having three feet (would have) same syllables as Triṣṭubh (ie., eleven syllables each).

5b. The Uṣṇik metre is described in the Vedas (as having) eight syllables in two feet (and twelve syllables in the third foot).

6-7a. (The variety of) Uṣṇik (known as) Kakub (would have) three feet (consisting of) eight, twelve and eight letters. Pura-uṣṇik would have three feet having twelve, eight and eight letters. the Paro-uṣṇik would be the next (having eight, eight and twelve syllables). A metre with four feet(having seven syllables is also Uṣṇik).

7b-8a. (The metre) with eight letters in each one of the four feet would be Anuṣṭup. It may have three feet also sometimes. It may have eight, twelve and twelve letters. If the middle and end (of a Jagatī is a Gāyatra it is also Anuṣṭup).

8b-11. Bṛhatī would be one foot Jagatī and three feet Gāyatrī. (If the first Jāgata foot is) third (and others Gāyatrī) it is Pathyā (Bṛhatī). (If the first Jāgata foot is) second (and others Gāyatrī) it is Nyaṅkusāriṇī (Bṛhatī). The same is known as Skandho-grīvī according to Krauṣṭuki. The same is known as Urobṛhatī according to Yāska. (If the Jāgatī foot is) at the end (and the rest are Gāyatra) it is Upariṣṭād-bṛhatī. (If the same Jāgatī foot is) at the beginning (and the rest are Gāyatra) it is Purastād-bṛhatī. In some (texts) there would be four feet with nine syllables each (also known as Bṛhatī). In some places (it would have eight letters. Mahābṛhatī is constituted of three Jāgati feet. The same is Satobṛhatī according to Bhaṇḍila[2].

12. If the first two of the four feet (are Jagatī and the other two Gāyatrī) it is Paṅkti. (Another variety of Paṅkti) is Sataḥpaṅkti.[3] Even if it is inreverse order (it is Sataḥpaṅkti)[4]. (If the first two feet are Jagatī) it is Prastāra-paṅkti. (If the Jagatī occurs) in the last two feet it is Āstāra-paṅkti.

13. The Akṣarapaṅkti consists of four feet having five letters in each half of each foot. Padapaṅkti consists of five feet (having five letters in each). (If the first foot has) four letters, (the second) six letters and the last three (five letters) (it is also Padapaṅkti).

14. It would be Jagatī-paṅkti if it has six (Gāyatrī) feet (and Pathyā-paṅkti) if it has five feet. It is said to be Jyotiṣmati Jagatī if it has one foot (Gāyatrī and the other three) Triṣṭubh.

15. The Purastād-Jyotiḥ [=Purastājjyotis] (triṣṭup) consists of (Gāyatrī) in the first (the remaining three being Triṣṭup). The Madhya-Jyotiḥ [=Madhyajyotis] consists of (Gāyatrī) in the middle (and Triṣṭup preceding and succeeding). Upariṣṭājjyotiḥ [=Upariṣṭājjyotis] (consists of three Triṣṭups and a Gāyatri) at the end.

16. It is known as Śaṅkumatī (gāyatri) (if it has one foot having five letters and three having six letters). Kakudmatī (consists of) six (letters in one foot and the usual number in other feet). (The metre) would be (known as) Pipīlikamadhyamā if it has (eight letters in the first and third and three in the middle) in the three feet.

17. If the case is otherwise (i.e. it has few letters in the first and the third and many in the middle) it is (known as) Yavamadhyā. It is known as Nicṛt if (a Gāyatrī having twenty-four letters) has one letter less. If the same (Gāyatrī) has two letters less it would be Virāṭ.

18-22. If (the Gāyatrī) has two additional letters it would be Svarāṭ. In case of doubt (in the case of metre having twenty-six letters whether it is Gāyatrī Svarāṭ or Uṣṇik Svarāṭ), it should be decided on the basis of the first foot. The deities of the metres are: Fire-god, Sun, Soma, Bṛhaspati (preceptor of the celestials), Varuṇa (lord of ocean and morality), Moon, and Viśvedevas. The musical notes ṣaḍja, ṛṣabha, gāndhāra, madhyama, pañcama, dhaivata, niṣāda (should duly be associated with the metres). (The metres beginning with Gāyatrī are) duly white, variegated, tawny, black, blue, red and white. The compositions are of the colour of gorocanā (yellow pigment got from a cow). The metre called Jyotiḥ is black (coloured). The gotras (of the metres beginning with the Gāyatrī) are said to be Agniveśya, Kāśyapa, Gautama, Āṅgirasa, Bhārgava, Kauśika and Vāsiṣṭha.

Footnotes and references:


One foot, two feet etc.


The Chandaḥ Sūtra III. 36 reads as Tāṇḍin.


Having first and third as Jagatī.


I.e., having first and third feet Gāyatrī and the rest Jagatī.

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