Çhandas Vedanga (Sanskrit: "meter") — auxiliary Vedic texts on the metrical rules of poetic writing. Çhanda is among four linguistic skills taught for mastery of the Vedas and the rites of yagna. Çhandas means "desire; will; metrical science." The most important text on Çhandas is the Çhanda Shastra, ascribed to Pingala. Its knowledge is most essential for the correct pronunciation of the Vedic mantras.
Just as the knowledge of the internal system of the human-body is most essential for a physician, in the similar way the knowledge of Çhand is most essential for a 'Vaidic' (one who studies the Veda). Without its appropriate knowledge the mantras of Vedas can never be correctly pronounced. The knowledge of deity, sage, and Çhand is very essential for each Sukta (Vedic text, collection of mantras) of the Veda. Sage Katyayan has clearly stated that, one who studies or chants the mantras; or teaches them to others; or performs oblation without having the appropriate knowledge of its Çhand, 'Sage' and the deity, all of his objectives remain unfulfilled.
The names of the main Çhand are available in the Sanhita and the Brahmanas. This goes to prove that, this organ i.e. Çhand already existed even during the Vedic period. Chand Sutra is the representative volume of this 'Organ' of the Veda, created by Sage Pingalacharya. This volume is written in the form of precept and is classified into eight chapters. From the beginning and till the seventh 'Sutra' (precept) of the fourth chapter, the characteristics of Vaidic Çhand are described. After that there are descriptions of general Chand (Laukik Chhand).
The binding of stanzas are meters in the Laukik Chhand are not as strict in its prose form, as it in its. Verse form. But in the 'Vaidic-Chhand' the purity of the stanzas and meters are strictly applied. In the Nirukta it has been stated that-
Without the Chhand (stanza), one ca not even pronounce.
Even Sage Bharat has declared that there is no existence of word without the stanza (Chhand).
Katyayan has accepted the above mentioned fact-
CHHANDOBHUTMIDAM SARVAM VANGMAY SYAT VIJANATAH|
NACHCHHAND NA CHAPRISHTE SHABDASHCHARATIKASHCHAN||
All the saying of this whole world are bound by the 'Chhand'. There is no word, which is different from it.
The above statements clearly show that not a single mantra of the Veda is created without the Chhand. Therefore, it can be said that even the mantras of the Yajurveda, which has been written in prose form, are not devoid of the 'Chhand'. The ancient preceptors have classified 'Chhandas' consisting of one letter to one hundred and four letters.
All the mantras of Rigveda and Samveda, which are also known as 'Richas', are written in the form of stanzas.
Chhand is the natural medium to express the finer emotions of the heart. The poets try to find the body for the soul (poetry) by the help of Chhand. The chief objective of the mantra if to please the deity, during the oblation. The chanting of the mantras are undoubtedly the chief medium of pleasing the deities. In this regard, the importance of Chhand is obvious.
According to Yask, the term Chhand is derived from the root 'Chhand' which means to cover up. So, Chhand are the coverings by which the Vedas remain covered.
One of the main characteristics of the Vaidic Chhand are that normally all of them are based on the calculation of letters or alphabets. This implies that they do not follow the rule of 'sequence of the major or minor form of the letters'.
According to the scriptures there are two types of Chhand-
1. Varnik Chhand (alphabetical stanzas)
2. Matrik Chhand (stanzas containing short vowels)
In the Vedas, we normally find the former type of Chhand. The descriptions of Chhand of each 'Samhita' are minutely described in the contexts of 'Pratishakhya'. Katyayan has authentically instructed about the Chhand of each mantra of Rigveda in 'Sarvanukramam'.
'Chhand' has been extensively described in Pratishakhya, especially Rik-Pratishakhya (Patal 16-18) similarly it also contains described of other Vaidic Chhands.
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