Sunday, 22 November 2015

A TINY NOTE ON THE ANCIENT SYSTEM OF MEMORIZING THE VEDIC TEXTS

It is common knowledge that the oral tradition of the Vedas (Srauta) consists of several pathas, that is ways of chanting the Vedic mantras. Eleven such ways of reciting the Vedas have survived - Samhita, Pada, Krama, Jata, Maalaa, Sikha, Rekha, Dhwaja, Danda, Rathaa, Ghana, of which Ghana is usually considered the most difficult.The students are first taught to memorize the Vedas using simpler methods like continuous recitation (samhita patha) before teaching them the eight complex recitation styles.

These methods of recitation were devised to maintain the correct pronunciation and intonation of each verse as well as the purity of the words itself. And with several different methods of memorizing the same verse, corruptions that would enter a verse can be corrected with ease thus maintaining the purity of the text. This system of memorizing the scriptures was considered superior to writing because memorizing the texts was the only way of passing on the correct pronunciation and intonation.


Here is an example of the Gayatri mantra recited in the Ghana formation where the original verse is converted into the following sequence.

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
3-4-4-3-3-4-5-5-4-3-3-4-5




"om thatsa vithusa vithusa that that savithur varenyamvarenyagum savithus that thatsa vithur varenyam !savithur varenyam varenyagum savithus savithur varenyambargo bargo varenyagum savithus savithur varenyam bargaha !varenyam bargo bargo varenyam varenyam bargo devasya devasyabargo varenyam varenyam bargo devasya !bargo devasya devasya bargo bargo devasya deemahi deemahidevasya bargo bargo devasya deemahi !devasya deemahi deemahi devasya devasya deemahi !deemahi thi deemahi !

dhiyo yo yo dhiyo dhiyo yo no no yo dhi yo dhi yo yo nahayo no no yo na prachodayathu prachodayathu no yo yo na prachodayathuna prachodayathu prachodayathu yo na prachodayathuprachodayathu ithi prachodayathuom buhu om buvaha om gum suvaha om mahahaom janaha om thapaha ogum sathyamom that sa vithur varenyam bargo devasya dheemahidhiyo yo naha prahothayathuomapo jothirasa amritham brhama boor buvasuar om"



Suggested Links:
1. No Textual Corruption in the Vedas

Thursday, 5 November 2015

PURANIC GEOGRAPHY AND CETUMALA OF BELIZE PLUS A BIT ABOUT KURU AND BHADRSVA-VARSA

The Brahmanda Purana states that the worldly-lotus was born of the navel of Lord Vishnu. In the middle was located Mt. Meru. Round it were four large countries, Bhadrasva (भद्रस्व) to the east, Bharata (भारत) or Greater India, Cetumala (केतुमाल) to the west, Kuravas or Kuru (कुरु) to the north. These four regions, it says, cover the entire region of the earth.


The Worldly Lotus
as described in the Brahmand Purana

Cetumala or Ketumala, as per the Indian scriptures, was located to the western end of the world, in any case to the west of Mt. Meru which was located at the centre of the world. 

Interestingly, the name of the capital of an ancient Mayan state in Belize in Latin America was Chetumal. Chetumal is known to have been occupied from 2000 BC though it might have been inhabited earlier than that. This ancient site is located at present day Santa Rita. Though little structural evidence remains of ancient Chetumal, Santa Rita is indeed the site of some Mayan ruins. 


Pre-Classic era (2500 BC-200 AD) Ruins 
at Santa Rita built over an even more 
ancient site of Cetumal, Belize

Many Mayan sites, including Chetumal seem to have names of Sanskrit and Tamil origin. Chetu (चेतु) is a Sanskrit word that means 'heedfullness'  or 'consciousness'.  One of the meanings of  'Ketu' (केतु) too is 'intelligence' or 'discernment'. Chetumal has no known meaning in the Mayan languages, though Chactemal means Redwood, but it is highly unlikely that an ancient civilization was named after timber - especially when many centres of Maya civilization had names which have close cognates in Sanskrit such as Tikal (Trikaal), Tiwanaku (Devanaku) and Maitili (Mithila).


Kuru and Uttara Kuru of the Mahabharata and the Puranas have long been identified as north Russia and Siberia. Ancient Indian texts refer to Siberia as Uttara-Kuru. 'Uttara' means 'North', 'Kuru' is the name of the Indian tribe that had traveled north. 'Kara', the name of the Sea into which the Angara River falls, is most likely a distortion of the ancient Sanskrit name 'Kuru', though it is sometimes claimed to arise from the Turick 'kara' meaning 'black'. 

In his book 'Ancient Indian Province in Tibet, China and Mongolia: Identification of the Ancient Land of Bhadrāśva, author Shyam Narain Pande associates these three countries with Bhadrasva region of the Puranas. 

1. Ancient Indian Province of Bhadrasva by Shyam Narain Pande
2. Journal-of-the-American-Oriental-Society-1849-Volume-13