[Advaita-l] Question/Clarification on Chanting Vaidika mantras

Balasubramanian Ramakrishnan rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Fri Nov 3 07:35:43 EDT 2017

The following verse is found in many shikShA-s including the pANinIya

gItI shIghrI shiraH kampI tathA likhitapAThakaH |
anarthaj~no.alpakaNThashca ShaDete pAThakAdhamAH ||

The (person) who sings, recites too fast, shakes the head, and reads from a
Unaware of the "meaning", recites too softly - these are the six types of
bad reciters.

Five defects are explicitly about  bad recitation, with the odd not knowing
the meaning. Reading from a book makes one not aware of phonological
subtleties. People who always rely on books can reliably be known to not
good reciters, this has been my observation. It's just impossible for
people who do not memorize properly to chant well.  This does not mean that
all chanters without books are good, many just memorize stuff wrong. The
other things are clear and about proper recitation. shiraH kampanam results
in improper recitation due to motion of the head, which basically mixes up
svara-s. The commentator on the sarvasammata shikSha actually offers the
best interpretation of the term anarthaj~na, given the fact that all others
have to do with correct production of the sounds.Only this is about the
"meaning", which is kind of odd. He does not even treat the other 5 defects
in his commentary (sandhi split below).

an-arthaj~naH iti | udAttAdi-j~nAna-shUnyaH iti arthaH | kutaH iti ukte yat
jAti hanane doshaH tat jAtihananaM bhavet |

What leads to a defect, is denoted as the defect itself. The meaning is
that mispronouncing svara-s changes the meaning. So since it's the cause of
giving the wrong meaning, it's denoted as not knowing the meaning.
Fantastic unified interpretation of this shloka. So the defect is not
about  "not knowing the meaning", but chanting the wrong svara-s, which
changes the meaning. Correct chanting is paramount.


On Sun, Oct 29, 2017 at 6:31 AM, Balasubramanian Ramakrishnan <
rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com> wrote:

> This is from the pANinIya shikShA and repeated in many other shikShA-s. A
> commentary I have read on one of the other shikShA-s (forget which one now,
> might be the vyAsa) is perceptive. He says that the artha here refers to
> the accents, udAtta, anudAtta, etc., since these are crucial to the
> meaning. Understanding the actual meaning is secondary.
> In fact, understanding the meanings in Vedic mantra-s is secondary to the
> point of almost irrelevance. Correct chanting is paramount.
> Rama
> On Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 12:26 PM, Venkatesh Murthy via Advaita-l <
> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>> Namaste
>> Giti Sighri Sirahkampi Tatha Likhitapathakah
>> Anarthajno lpakanthasca Sadete Pathakadhamah   - From Sage of Kanchi

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