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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

 

Five: The Evolution of Vatta & Tuññhubha

    

In order to give a broader perspective on the nature of Pàëi verse composition a sketch is presented here of the development of two of the metres in their Vedic, Pàëi, and Classical forms. The Vedic period probably starts around 2000 B.C.; the Pàëi canonical period begins around the turn of the 6th century B.C. and continues up until the 2nd century B.C.; which is when the Epic and Classical period roughly begins. There is some overlap, but nevertheless we can broadly distinguish these three periods, and point out how the metres were developing.

1) Anuùñubh / Vatta / øloka

In the early part of the èg Veda the Anuùñubh was a samavçtta metre showing the following structure:

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

 

3

2

3

2

|

1

2

1

3

 

x4

sometimes short syllables are found in the 2nd, 4th & 6th positions, though 2 successive shorts in the 2nd & 3rd position was normally avoided (as it was in the other periods also). Interestingly enough, in the light of later developments, the cadence 1223 almost never occurs.

Over time variations from this basic pattern started to emerge, which eventually gave rise to a new metre having two dissimilar lines, which we may describe thus:

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Odd line:

 

3

2

3

2

|

1

2

3

3

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Even line:

 

3

3

2

3

|

1

2

1

3

 

x2

By the time of the Pàëi canon the samavçtta Anuùñubh as an independent metre had more or less fallen into disuse, and the Vatta had emerged as a definite aóóhasamavutta metre, the normal pattern of which can be described thus:

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Odd line:

 

5

3

3

3

|

1

2

2

3

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Even line:

 

5

3

3

3

|

1

2

1

3

 

x2

As shown in a previous chapter (2.4), in the early period there were 7 variations allowed in the prior line, including the Anuññhubha. By the end of the canonical perod, the Anuññhubha variation was normally avoided.

In the Classical period (which includes post-canonical Pàëi works), not only the Anuññhubha, but the 5th & 6th vipulàs had also fallen into disuse. Other changes that had taken place were the normal avoidance of resolution; and of the pattern 212 in the 2nd, 3rd & 4th syllables of the posterior line. There also emerged the possibility of treating the pàdayuga as a single line of 16 syllables with a compound crossing over into the second half of the line, avoiding the normal word break.

In the Classical øloka the pathyà structure accounts for 85% - 95% of all prior lines, and the metre then can be described thus:

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Odd line:

 

3

3

3

3

|

1

2

2

3

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Even line:

 

3

3

3

3

|

1

2

1

3

 

x2

with one or other of the first 4 variations only occasionally appearing in the prior line.

 

2) Triùñubh / Tuññhubha / Upajàti

The Triùtubh is the most popular metre in the èg Veda, accounting for approximately 2/3 of all the lines in that collection (of about 10,000 verses). In the Vedas there are two main forms of the metre distinguished by the position of the caesura:

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

 

8

9

10

11

 

1)

 

3

2

3

2,

|

1

1

2

|

2

1

2

3

 

x4

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

 

8

9

10

11

 

2)

 

3

2

3

2

|

3,

1

1

|

2

1

2

3

 

x4

 

 

Note that the caesura, whether it occurs after the 4th or the 5th syllable, is normally followed by two short syllables. The openings occasionally appear as 3122, and the break sometimes shows other patterns: with the early caesura ,212 ,121 ,111 ;;with the later caesura 1,21 are fairly common.

In the early period mixing Jagatã lines into Triùñubh verses was normally avoided, but in the late period it is acceptable and quite common.

In the very earliest part of the Pàëi period also mixing of the two metres was normally avoided, later, as we have seen (2.6ff 3.2), it is normal to find the two metres mixed together in composition, whichever one predominates. The pattern in the early and middle Pàëi canonical period can be described thus:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

5

2

7

2

|

3

1

i

|

2

1

2

3

x4

The most significant changes are the possibility of resolution, particularly of the 1st syllable; the establishment of the break 211 as the dominant form, the loss of the two distinct forms, and with that the loss in the significance of the caesura.

Even in the late part of the canon the Tuññhubha has been replaced by the Classical Upajàti, which is more restricted than its earlier counterparts, having the normal pattern:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

3

2

1

2

|

2

1

1

|

2

1

2

3

x4

Sometimes Vaüsaññhà lines appear in the verses which add something to the variety.

 

    Home Page

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