The Agni Purana

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

This page describes Metres of different kinds which is chapter 331 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 331 - Metres of different kinds

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

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

Fire-god said:

1. (The metre) Utkṛti consists of one hundred and four letters. One should drop four letters (step by step) (and get other metres). They would respectively be metres abhi, saṃ, vi, āṅi and pra etc. (prefixed) to Kṛti separately.

2. Then (there would be metres) such as Kṛti, Atidhṛti, Dhṛti, Atyaṣṭi, Aṣṭi, Atiśakvarī, Śakvarī, Atijagatī and Jagatī.

3-4. The metres described hereafter are classical. The Vedic metres beginning with Triṣṭup (in the Vedas) (would be noticed in the same way in the classical), Triṣṭup, Paṅkti, Bṛhati, Anuṣṭup, Uṣṇik and Gāyatrī are said (to be the metres). Supratiṣṭhā (twenty letters), Pratiṣṭhā (sixteen letters), Madhyā (twelve letters), Atyuktā (eight letters) and Uktā (four letters): thus each one has lesser (number of) letters.

5. The fourth part (of a Gāyatrī having twenty-four letters) would be a foot. The Gaṇacchandas[1] is described now. The gaṇas are made up of four syllables. They may be a guru (long syllable) at the beginning, middle or end or two long syllables (or four short syllables).

6. Four syllabic instants and five gaṇas (groups) are said to be the characteristics of the Āryā (metre). When there are seven and a half gaṇas in one half (of a verse) it is Āryā. The other half also (would be similar). (In the Āryā the odd) are not jagaṇa (having long syllable in the middle).

7. The sixth (gaṇa) would be a jagaṇa. (The sixth) may be having all short syllables. When it has all short syllables the foot begins with the second word. (When it is long syllable in the middle or all short syllables) and the seventh (is all short) (the foot begins with) the first (letter). If in the second (half), the fifth (gaṇa be all short) (the foot begins with the first letter of the first half).

8. If in the second half the sixth (gaṇa) (be either long in the middle or all short), the short vowel (is introduced). The variety of Āryā is known as Pathyā if it has three gaṇas (in a foot) in the last half and first.

9. Vipulā (is the next variety) (having no pause in the three gaṇas in the last or first half or both). Capalā is that where the second and the fourth (gaṇas) are long in the middle, (the first is long at the end, the third is two long syllables, the fifth long at the beginning and the rest as usual). Mukhapūrvikā has the characteristics of Capalā in the first half.

10. In the Jaghanacapalā, (there are the characteristics of Capalā) in the second half. Mahācapalā (has the characteristics of Capalā) in both (the halves). Gīti is that where the first half is similar.

11. Upagīti is that where the second half is similar. Udgīti is said to have the order reversed. Āryāgīti (has) eight gaṇas in the (first) half. The metres regulated by prosodial instants (are described) now.

12. Vaitālīya (metre) has seven (syllabic instants) in the first and the second quarter and sixteen lakāras (one mātrā syllables) in the second and fourth and there should be ra, la and ga at the end of both the foot. (If the Vaitāliya) has an additional long syllable (it is known as) Aupacchandasaka[2].

13-15. The Pāṭalikā[3] has bhagaṇa (and two long syllables)

at the end in addition to the above (characteristics). (The lakāra) that has not been described so far (in the above should not be mixed) with the next. The second and third foot in the above should not be employed separately. Prācyavṛtti is shown (now). When in the second and fourth feet, the first lakāra gets mixed up, it is (Prācyavṛtti). If the first lakāra gets mixed up with the third in the first and the third feet, it is Udīcyavṛtti. If the above characteristics are found together in the same it is Pravṛttaka. When all the feet (in the Vaitālīya) have the characteristics of the first and third (letters), it would be Cāruhāsinī. When all the four feet possess the characteristics of the second and fourth (letters), it would be Aparāntikā.

16. It is said to be Mātrāsamaka when there are sixteen lakāras (one mātrā syllable) ending in guru. (At the end one of the two is made guru and the ninth is a lakāra).[4] When there are twelve lakāras and the ninth (retains its own form in a quarter) (it is called) Vānavāsikā.

17. (Where in all the four quarters) the fifth and the eighth (are lakāras and the rest as laid down) (it is) Viśloka. Where the ninth lakāra remains as also the fifth and eighth it is Citrā. If it gets mixed with the next (i.e. the tenth) it is Upacitrā. Pādākulaka is the next (metre).

18-19. (Where there are sixteen lakāras in a quarter it is known as) Gityāryā. (When the two halves of Gītyāryā) are reversed (i.e. one half is all short and the other half is all long) it is Śikhā. When the first half is all short (and second half is all long) it is Jyoti. When the first half is all long (and the second half is all short) it is Saumyā. Cūlikā is said to be having (twenty-nine lakāras in the first half and) thirty one (in the second half) and a long syllable at the end. The number of syllables should be deducted from the number of mātrās so that the remainder would be gurus (long). The number of gurus (long) should be subtracted from the total number of mātrās so that the remaining would be laghu (short).[5]

Footnotes and references:


See ch. 328. vv. 1-3.


The Purāṇa reading Gopuccham [Gopuccha] is obviously incorrect.


The Chandassūtra reads Āpātalikā.


The text in the Purāṇa is corrupt.


The Purāṇa reading is corrupt here.

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