Home Page    First Topic

One: Scansion and Related Matters    Two: Description of the Metres

a: Vatta    b: Tuññhubha    c: Measure Metres    d: Bar Metres    e: Fixed Metres

Three: The Mixing of Metres    Four: Glossary & Index

Five: The Evolution of Vatta & Tuññhubha    Six: Guide to Further Study

    

Two: The Description of the Metres

The Measure Metres

    

Table of Contents

2.9 The measure metres, mattàchandas

2.10 Vetàlãya and Opacchandasaka

2.11 Mattàchandas Periods

2.12 Rathoddhatà and Pupphitaggà

2.13 Vegavatã

2.14 Svàgatà

 

2.9 The measure metres, mattàchandas (màtràcchandas)

These metres have a different method of organising the line: not by counting the syllables, but according to the total number of measures (mattà) there are in a line. In these metres a short syllable is counted as one measure, and a long one as two, and it is therefore possible to determine the exact amount of measures there are in a line. When this is done of course the syllabic length will vary.

What distinguishes the various metres that exist in this class is two things: the number of measures, and the pattern of the cadence. The openings are variable, but come in groups of 2 mattàs. The odd line having 3 such groups (i.e 666), the even 4 (i.e. 6666). The most common forms are outlined below.

Note that a syllable at the end of the line is normally counted as two mattà whether it is long or not, a short syllable counted in this way is called pàdantagaru.

 

2.10 Vetàlãya (Vaitàlãya) and Opacchandasaka (Aupacchandasaka)

The first of these metres, Vetàlãya, has 14 measures in the odd lines, and 16 in the even, with the cadence at the end of each line being 21213.

Opacchandasaka, the second of the metres, has 16 measures in the odd lines, and 18 in the even. The cadence is similar to Vetàlãya, but with an extra long syllable in penultimate position 212123.

The most common forms of the odd lines are:

2

2

1

1

|

2

1

2

1

(2)

3

1

1

2

1

1

|

2

1

2

1

(2)

3

2

1

1

2

|

2

1

2

1

(2)

3

The most common forms of the even lines:

2

2

2

1

1

|

2

1

2

1

(2)

3

1

1

2

2

1

1

|

2

1

2

1

(2)

3

2

1

1

2

1

1

|

2

1

2

1

(2)

3

with occasional resolution of a long syllable giving rise to other patterns in the opening. Through syncopation of syllables in adjacent groups we occasionally find different patterns in the opening of the prior lines, so that sometimes:

2

2

1

1

>

2

1

2

1

1

1

2

1

1

>

1

2

1

1

1

1

1

2

2

>

1

2

1

2

etc.

 

Occasionally we find a short syllable at the beginning of the line, which must be counted as long in order to complete the mattà count (this we may call pàdàdigaru, in compliment to pàdantagaru).

Examples: Vetàlãya, Dhp 15-18, 235-238; Subhà Jãvakambavanikà's gàthàs Thã 367-399; Jaràsutta Sn IV:6

Opacchandasaka, Uragasutta Sn I:1; Cundasutta Sn 1:5; Kàtiyàna's gàthàs Th 411- 416.

Vetàlãya example from Jaràsutta (Sn IV:6) (vs 804):

xxxxxxxxxxxx2211|21212
ŽŽŽŽAppaü vata jãvitaü idaü,

xxxxxxxxxxxx22211|21211
ŽŽŽŽoraü vassasatà pi miyyati,

xxxxxxxxxxxx2211|21211
ŽŽŽŽyo ce pi aticca jãvati

xxxxxxxxxxxx112211|21211
ŽŽŽŽatha kho so jarasà pi miyyati.

 

Opacchandasaka example from Kàtiyàna's gàtha (Th 412):

xxxxxxxxxxxx11211|212122
ŽŽŽŽSayathà pi mahàsamuddavego

xxxxxxxxxxxx22211|212122
ŽŽŽŽevaü jàtijarà 'tivattate taü,

xxxxxxxxxxxx11211|212122
ŽŽŽŽsÖ karohi sudãpam-attano tvaü, 12

xxxxxxxxxxxx112211|212122
ŽŽŽŽna hi tàõaü tava vijjat' eva a¤¤aü.

 

2.11 Mattàchandas Periods

It should be noted that in the early texts the most common opening of the odd lines in Vetàlãya is 2211. In the later period this falls back considerably with the other variations, notably 11211 showing a marked increase, also in the later period the syncopated forms almost come to an end, and runs of short syllables start to appear.

 

2.12 Rathoddhatà and Pupphitaggà (Puùpitàgrà)

These are the two fixed metres derived from the above.

Rathoddhatà (a Vetàlãya even pàda):

8

1

2

1

6

|

2

1

2

1

3

x4

Similarly Pupphitaggà (from Opacchandasaka) in the canon is still somewhat flexible:

6

6

1

1

|

2

1

2

1

2

3

6

6

2

1

1

|

2

1

2

1

2

3

x2

with occasional resolution of a long syllable elsewhere. In its post-canonical form the opening of the first line was fixed as 111111 and the second as 1111.

Note that in both of these metres the fixed forms have unusual variations in the openings, the latter especially showing the classical period's fondness for runs of short syllables.

Examples: Rathoddhatà, early: Gotama's gàthàs Th 258-260; Ambapàlã's gàthàs Thã 252-270; late: Kuõàlajàtaka Ja 536.

Both metres are used independently in Lakkhaõasuttanta D.30.

Rathoddhatà example Ambapàlã's gàthà (Thã 256):

xxxxxxxxxxxx212111|21212
ŽŽŽŽCittakàrasukatà va lekhità,

xxxxxxxxxxxx212111|21211
ŽŽŽŽsobhate su bhamukà pure mama,

xxxxxxxxxxxx212111|21212
ŽŽŽŽtà jaràya valihã palambità,

xxxxxxxxxxxx212111|21212
ŽŽŽŽsaccavàdivacanaü ana¤¤athà.

 

Pupphitaggà example from Lakkhaõasuttanta (D. 30. 1. 12):

xxxxxxxxxxxx111111|212121
ŽŽŽŽTihi purisavaraggalakkhaõehi 13

xxxxxxxxxxxx1111211|212121
ŽŽŽŽcirayapanàya kumàram-àdisanti.

xxxxxxxxxxxx111111|212121
ŽŽŽŽBhavati yadi gihã ciraü yapeti,

xxxxxxxxxxxx1111211|212121
ŽŽŽŽciratara' pabbajatã yadã tato hi,

xxxxxxxxxxxx21111|212121
ŽŽŽŽyàpayati vas' iddhibhàvanàya,

xxxxxxxxxxxx112211|212122
ŽŽŽŽiti dãghàyukatàya tan-nimittan-ti

 

2.13 Vegavatã

This metre has 14 measures in the odd lines, and 16 in the even, as with Vetàlãya, but with a different cadence: 21123.

In the canon the most common forms of the odd lines:

1

1

2

1

1

|

2

1

1

2

3

2

2

1

1

|

2

1

1

2

3

the even lines:

2

1

1

2

2

|

2

1

1

2

3

2

1

1

2

1

1

|

2

1

1

2

3

we sometimes find syncopation producing different patterns in the opening of these lines.

When it attains to its classical form, it is restricted to:

1

1

2

1

1

|

2

1

1

2

3

2

1

1

2

1

1

|

2

1

1

2

3

x2

Examples: Kokàliyasutta (pt) Sn III:10; Vangãsa's gàthàs (pt) Th 1214 - 1222, the latter gàthàs being mixed with Vetàlãya.

Example from Kokàliyasutta (Sn III:10) (vs 673):

xxxxxxxxxxxx11211|21122
ŽŽŽŽAsipattavanaü pana tiõhaü,

xxxxxxxxxxxx211211|21122
ŽŽŽŽtaü pavisanti samacchidagattà,

xxxxxxxxxxxx2211|21122
ŽŽŽŽjivhaü baëisena gahetvà,

xxxxxxxxxxxx211211|21121
ŽŽŽŽàracayàracayà vihananti.

 

2.14 Svàgatà

In the canon this metre has two dissimilar lines repeated to make up a verse, and the structure was still quite fluid:

Svàgatà odd lines:

2

1

2

1

|

2

2

6

3

2

1

1

2

|

2

2

6

3

Svàgatà even lines:

2

1

2

1

2

|

2

6

2

3

2

1

1

2

2

|

2

6

2

3

Note how close this is to Vegavatã at this stage. In the later period however the even line is fixed and repeated four times, so that the structure is then defined as:

2

1

2

1

6

|

2

1

1

2

3

x4

Examples: early, Mahàsamayasuttanta DN. 20 vs 3 (quoted below as the example); late: Jàtakanidànakathà vs 291.

xxxxxxxxxxxx2222|22112
ŽŽŽŽ"Chetvà khãlaü 14 chetvà palighaü,

xxxxxxxxxxxx21212|21122
Žžindakhãlam-åhacca-m-anejà,

xxxxxxxxxxxx2121|22112
ŽŽŽŽte caranti suddhà vimalà,

xxxxxxxxxxxx21122|21122
ŽŽCakkhumatà dantà susunàgà" ti.

     

 End Notes

12 Reading sÖ as short to give the correct opening

13 The text here is based on K.R.Norman's reconstruction in The metres of the Lakkhaõa-suttanta (II). CP IV, pgs 36ff.

14 For this line to scan correctly we need to read Chetva khãla' here.

 

Home Page    First Topic

One: Scansion and Related Matters    Two: Description of the Metres

a: Vatta    b: Tuññhubha    c: Measure Metres    d: Bar Metres    e: Fixed Metres

Three: The Mixing of Metres    Four: Glossary & Index

Five: The Evolution of Vatta & Tuññhubha    Six: Guide to Further Study