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TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION From the remotest times the recitation of Vedic hymns was a very important activity.

The efcacy of any rite was considered to be dependent on the perfect pronunciation of the accompanying prayer or formula. 1 The Brahmans, who were the repositories of the knowledge of the religion and who had to transmit it to later generations, concentrated their attention and efforts on the conservation of the Vedic texts. Developing techniques of accurate recitation was initially a necessity. In later times, even when writing became a common practice, it was not forgotten, nor neglected. It is still practiced in modern times. It is the profession of a few Brahmans who retain its antic form and still refuse to use the help of writing and other tools offered by modem technology. It is a very elaborate art. It includes eleven modes of recitation of the same text. One purpose of this multiplication is the conservation of the text: if a mistake is committed in one recitation, without being repeated in another, comparison between the two recitations helps to detect and to correct it.
1

Cf. George Cardona in: Morphologie. Ein internationales Handbuch zur Flexion und Wortbildung, 1. Halbband, hrsg. von G. E. Booij, Christian Lehmann, Joachim Mugdan, 2000, S. 41ff. (5. Old Indian Grammar), hier S. 42f.: 3. Background 3.1 Preservation of sacred texts and Sanskrit: In order to perform their rites efcaciously, the Aryas had to recite hymns of sacred works faultlessly. Cf. Thomas Oberlies, Der Rigveda und seine Religion, 2012. S. 38: ,,Von unbedeutenden, zumeist die Lautform des Textes betreffenden Kleinigkeiten abgesehen, wurde der Wortlaut der Lieder in ber Jahrtausende unver rein m undlicher Uberlieferung u andert bewahrt, ehe diese fast dreieinhalbtausend Jahre nach ihrer Entstehung erstmals schriftlich aufgezeichnet wurden. Diese Treue der Uberlieferung, wie sie bei kaum einem anderen Werk anzutreffen ist, das zun achst m undlich weitergegeben wurde, ist nicht zuletzt dem Umstand zu danken, da seit fr uhester Zeit der Glaube bestand, nur ein in allen Einzelheiten richtig rezitierter Text k onne die von ihm erwartete Wirkung zeitigen. Cf. Michael Witzel, Rig-Veda. Das heilige Wissen, 2007, S. 475: ,,Die rigvedischen Texte, ber auf denen unsere Ausgaben beruhen, sind m undlich, ohne Kenntnis von Schrift verfat und u mindestens drei Jahrtausende auch so, vom Vater zum Sohn und vom Lehrer zum Sch uler, in einer fr uh berliefert worden. Die Vorstellung, da nur das pr formalisierten Weise u azise rezitierte Dichterwort br ahman die ihm einwohnende Kraft hervorbringt, Himmel und Erde zu bewegen, hat eine sonst nirgendwo beobachtete, getreue Uberlieferung bewirkt, welche die der klassischen oder biblischen bertrifft. Texte bei weitem u Cf. Michael Witzel, Rig-Veda. Das heilige Wissen, 2007, S. 445: ,,Die in den Gedichten formulierte dichterische Rede mu wegen der ihr inh arenten Kraft genau, ohne Abweichungen rezitiert werden. Schon bei der Verwechslung eines einzigen Akzents droht dem Rezitator die Gefahr, da er T 6,3,8). Der urspr seinen Kopf verliert (Indra satru-Legende, TS II 4,12,1, SB ungliche Verfasser, immer ein vedischer R an, ein Besitzer des br ahman (des Gedichts, man .s . i, ist damit ein brahm achte auf den unterschiedlichen Akzent), und sein Name mu genannt und erhalten bleiben und ist es in der Tat bis heute. Cf. Paul Thieme, Gedichte aus dem Rig-Veda, 1969, S. 4f.: ,,Die einzelnen Gedichte sind zum berwiegenden Teil Ausnahmen nden sich vornehmlich in den j u ungeren Schichten zur Rezitation oder zum gesungenen Vortrag beim feierlichen Opfer bestimmt; dementsprechend enthalten sie Anrufungen von G ottern, Einladungen zum Opfermahl oder Lobpreisungen, die zur Begleitung des Mahles vorgetragen werden. Denn das Opfer, das sich allm ahlich, gewissermaen unter unseren Augen, zu immer gr oerer Kompliziertheit entwickelt, zu einem intrikaten Komplex heiliger Handlungen, dessen Studium zu einer veritablen Wissenschaft ausgebaut wird und bei dem es dann berlieferten allein auf die Genauigkeit in der Ausf uhrung der einzelnen Riten und im Vortrag der u Opfergedichte ankommt, stellt urspr unglich nichts anderes dar als eine stilisierte Bewirtung der ,Himmlischen, die als Besuch auf die Erde zum Menschen kommen, von ihm als G aste empfangen und behandelt werden und ihm dann zum Dank als Gegengeschenk eine himmlische Gabe spenden.

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION One mode of recitation is taken as basic. It presents the text in the form it takes when words are bound together according to the rules of phonetic euphonic combination (sam a-p a. tha continuous recitation. . dhi) of Sanskrit. This recitation is called sam . hit It is followed by a recitation where a pause is marked after each word, even after some grammatical components inside the word. This suppresses the euphonic combinations and restores the original form of the words. It is called pada-p a. tha recitation word by word. In the next recitation, the executant groups words by pairs and proceeds word after word: ab, bc, cd. It is called krama-p a. tha recitation step by step. The phonetic combinations are carried out inside each pair. As each word appears twice, successively at the end of a pair and at the beginning of the next one, it comes with its two forms, combined and free. This recitation is the sum of the previous two. akalya, the The xation of the recitation word by word is ascribed to G argya and S recitation pair by pair to B abhravya and G alava. These names are known to P an . ini. We have also other reasons to think that this xation was anterior to the famous grammarian, who is tentatively placed in the 5th century BC. In their turn these three modes of recitation have been taken as the basis for other modes in which the pairs are repeated with an inversion. -p For example, the jat a. tha recitation in the form of meshes, which may be pre.a P an a. tha, repeats it in reverse order, . inian, takes a pair of words from the krama-p then in the original order, and then goes on to the next pair, up to the end of a stanza: ab, ba, ab; bc, cb, bc; ... The dhvaja-p a. tha ag-recitation? joins the rst and last pair of the stanza, then the second and the one before last, and so on, until the last and rst pair are reached respectively: ab, yz; bc, xy; ... ; yz, ab. The most complicated formula is the ghana-p a. tha dense recitation which takes a pair, reverses it, takes it again with the addition of a third word, reverses the sequence of the three words, repeats them in their original order, goes to the next pair, and so on up to the end of the stanza: ab ba abc cba abc; bc cb bcd dcb bcd; ... Example drawn from R . gveda 8.100.11: Sam a . hit dev m acam ajanayanta dev as t am svar up ah savo vadanti | . v . vi . pa rjam s a no mandres an a dhenur v ag asm an upa sus tutaitu || 8.100.11 . duh . am u .. v vi dev m acamajanayanta dev ast am svar up ah savo vadanti | . pa duh s a no mandres urjam an a dhenurv agasm anupa sus tutaitu || 8.100.11 . am ..

..
Gods engendered the goddess Speech. Creatures of all forms speak her. May this amiable Speech, a cow giving her milk of force and vitality, well-praised, come to us.

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION


Die G otter erzeugten die G ottin Rede; diese reden die Tiere in allen Gestalten. Diese wohlt onende Milchkuh, die uns Labung und Nahrung spendet, die Rede soll wohlgepriesen zu uns kommen! Karl-Friedrich Geldner

Pada:
dev m | v acam ajanayanta | dev ah am | vi sva-r up ah savah . | t . | pa . | vadanti | | etu || s a | nah | mandr a | is am | u rjam | duh a n a dhenu| v a k | asm a n | upa | su-stut a|a . . .

Krama:
dev m acam | v acam ajanayanta | ajanayanta dev ah as t am | t am svar up ah . v . | dev . vi . | vi svar up ah pa s avah | vi s var u p a iti vi s va-r u p a h | pa s avo vadanti | vadant ti vadanti| ... upa . . . su-stut a | sus tutaitu | sus tuteti su-stut a | aitu | etv ity etu | .. ..

: Jat .a Ghana: These techniques have been applied to the sacred text of Veda only. One can infer their efciency from the fact that the R . gveda, which is the most ancient Indian text, has been preserved without variant readings. These techniques have ensured the conservation of the form of the text.
Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat, Ancient Sanskrit Mathematics: An Oral Tradition and a Written Literature, in: Karine Chemla (ed.), Historx of Science, History of Text (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 238, 2005), pp. 137 157, here p. 138.

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION ... a degree of limitation and closure, canonical constraint is exercised not only by closure of the different Sam as as regards their material content (which, as we have . hit seen, for the Veda as a whole remains somewhat uid), but more importantly by the concern to preserve the correct phonetic form of the individual mantras and by the formal requirements of the ritual in which these mantras, the r . cs, the yajuses, and s amans, were to be employed. This is apparent from the way in which the r . cs of the R . g-Veda, for instance, are actually incorporated into the sacricial performance. As Renou has noted, in an article rauta rituals, the content of the fragments [of devoted to the place of the R . g-Veda in the s the R g-Veda ] recited is relatively unimportant, once the elementary conditions relative . to meter, name of deity, and number have been satised. He concludes that the employment of the Rgveda in the great ritual does not conform to what one ordinarily expects of citations. Only a minority of the mantras are adapted to a particular act, and then only in limited contexts. The bulk of the selections concern in some cases verses used purely for show ..., chosen for reasons that are extrinsic to their content and their reference as hymns, and in other cases long recitations in which a supercial t of meter, attribution of deity, or number prevails. In other words, it is the formal t of a specic verse at a given moment in the ritual that matters, not the meaning that the verse, or the hymn to which it belongs, might have had in its original context. Ellison Banks Findly has argued, further, that a shift of emphasis from content to form, from the insight expressed in a verse to the correctness of the verses pronunciation, can be seen in the later parts of the R . g-Veda itself, specically in the concept of mantra, which appears most frequently in the latest portions of the collection, namely, in Man .d . alas 1 and 10. She quotes with approval Paul Thiemes comment that a mantra has an effect ... that is conditioned less through its content than its form, a form that must be safeguarded through scrupulously correct recita akalyas padap a. tha was designed tion. 2 It was precisely this correct recitation that S to guarantee. The redactors of the Vedic Sam as appear then to have been less litterateurs than . hit specialists in ritual action. Such specialists were responsible for the elaboration of the Vedic tradition in its Indian context, in interaction with the indigenous peoples, and in the new, more sedentary environment of the Doab that made possible the ourishing of Brahminism. Key in this process were the Yajurvedins. As Louis Renou has observed, It is the Yajurveda that remains the base of the cult and which undoubtedly determined the entire evolution of literary Vedism. It is through this Veda that the notion of br ahman utra, was xed. . a, the category of s
David Carpenter, The Mastery of Speech. Canonicity and Control in the Vedas, in: Laurie L. Patton (Ed.), Authority, Anxiety, and Canon. Essays in Vedic Interpretation, Albany/NY 1994, pp. 19 34, here p. 24.

Cf. Frits Staal, Discovering the Vedas. Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights, New Delhi 2008, p. 205: ... what counts for mantras is not meaning, lat alone social contexts, but form. Emphasis on form is a basic feature of ancient Indian civilization and accounts for much of its emphasis on explicit statements, its scientic creativity and many of its other strenghts.

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION Sanskrit speakers were aware from earliest known times not only of their identity as rya but also of their language as a vehicle of a people who referred to themselves as a culture that set them apart from non-Aryas they encountered in the subcontinent. The . ta) Aryas used this language in ritual contexts and this was the ritually pure (samskr language in which the sacred texts of their culture were composed, a language also used in other elevated contexts. In order to perform their rites efcaciously, the Aryas 3 had to recite hymns of sacred works faultlessly. At the same time, from early on the Aryas spoke vernaculars in their everyday life. Accordingly, texts concerning phonetics iks ) were composed, giving instruction in the pronunciation required to recite the (s .a .a and grammar (vy Vedic texts properly. Siks akaran . a) are ancillaries associated with Vedic texts. There can be no doubt that the preservation of and proper ritual application of these texts played a major role in prompting the attention Indian scholars paid to language. The execution of rites accompanied by the recitation of appropriate texts resulted in the acquisition of merit. The same property was attributed to the correct use of Sanskrit: this too produced merit.
George Cardona in: Morphologie. Ein internationales Handbuch zur Flexion und Wortbildung, 1. Halbband, hrsg. von G. E. Booij, Christian Lehmann, Joachim Mugdan, 2000, S. 41ff. (5. Old Indian Grammar), hier S. 42f.: 3. Background 3.1 Preservation of sacred texts and Sanskrit.

Cf. Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat, Ancient Sanskrit Mathematics: An Oral Tradition and a Written Literature, in: Karine Chemla (ed.), Historx of Science, History of Text (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 238, 2005), pp. 137 157, here p. 138: The efcacy of any rite was considered to be dependent on the perfect pronunciation of the accompanying prayer or formula.

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION The real precursor of grammar in the realm of the Veda is the Padap at . ha, the word-forword analysis of the continuous (sam a) text of each of the Vedic Sam as (called . hit . hit after this), which must have been composed not long after these (the R kpadap at . .ha around 1,000 B. C., at a semi-educated guess). The Padap at .ha is clearly presupposed by P an . ini. V. N. Jha has shown in a series of articless that the notion of pada, word, as it occurs in the R at . kpadap .ha is used not only of words, but also of nominal stems, or internal words, as he calls them. One reason is that in Sanskrit, the euphonic rules of sandhi, apply not only between words that are in juxtaposition, but also, at least to a large extent, within words between the nominal stem and inexional or derivational sufxes. However, the analysis of the Padap at .ha is often inconsistent and haphazard. Kramap at . ha denotes a mode of recitation, composed probably for mnemotechnic reasons, in which each word of the Padap at .ha is recited twice, but in such a manner, that it is rst linked (through sandhi) with the preceeding pada, and next with the following pada. In other words, if the words of the Sam a are denoted by numerals, the three . hit modes of recitation may be dened as follows: Sam ap at . hit .ha: 1 2 3 4 5 ... Padap at .ha: / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / ... Kramap at .ha: / 1 2/ 2 3/ 3 4/ 4 5/ ... where a dan .d . a / denotes a juncture where sandhi does not apply and the reciter may pause to breathe.
F. Staal, Ritual, Grammar, and the Origins of Science in India, in: Journal of Indian Philosophy 10 (1982), pp. 3 25, here p. 11 and p. 14

Linguistic analysis and modes of Rigvedic recitation The ten sections of the original text of the Rigveda known as Rigveda Sam a were . hit composed orally over a period of many centuries, perhaps overlapping the end period of the Harappan civilization which existed during the period 2500-1900 BC. The poetry was meant to be recited at ritual performances; the three-way accentual system (rising, falling and continuous) was accompanied by a highly developed programme of hand gestures and offerings using a variety of utensils (Dharmadhikari, 1989). To preserve the oral composition accurately, various recitation devices were developed. The original text was learned through its recitation (p a. tha); the Sam ap a. tha involved listening . hit to the srotriya (recitation instructor) and reproducing the metrically arranged syllables. The Sam ap a. tha involved continuous speech patterns with all the morphophone. hit mic sandhi transformations. To facilitate preservation and recitation of the Rigveda, Sh akalya, a pre-Paninian grammarian, 4 created a segmented version known as Padap atha (Jha, 1987). According to Abhyankar and Shukla (1986), the term p ada was orig. inally applied to the individual words which constituted the Vedic Sam a; P an . inis . hit denition of the term p ada is applicable to complete noun-forms and verb-forms and also to prexes and indeclinables where a case-afx is placed and ended (p. 233). The Padap a. tha essentially involved morphophonemic segmentation. The units were marked by two types of pauses: danda (longer duration) and avagraha (shorter duration).
4

Cf. F. Staal, Discovering the Vedas, 2008, p. 77f.: The Padap a. tha was the work of a great scholar akalya. and scientist, the rst great linguist in human history, known as clever (vidagdha) S

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION According to Jha (1987), danda represents intervention by the length of time required to pronounce a short vowel (ekamatra) between the two nished words; whereas, an avagraha represents the intervention by the length of time required to pronounce a consonant (ardhatnatra) between two phonological units (p. 13). The Padap a. tha does not provide semantic paraphrase of the Sam a text; rather it gives . hit word isolates of the continuous text which is purely formal analysis (Jha, 1987). Sh akalyas understanding of Rigvedic phonology is indicated by his analysis of the two different sources of nal /h/: one derived from /r/ of a verb form; the other derived from /r/ of a noun form (Jha, 1970, p. 90). The P adakara (Padap a. tha creator) did not pay attention to morphologically conditioned changes. As for the chronology of the creation of Padap a. tha, Staal (1986, p. 000) argues that, perhaps it was created rst for S amaveda, around 1000 BC. More striking is the creation of Kramap a. tha which involves recitation of the words of a hemistich (ardharca) taken two at a time, in a chainlike manner, concluded with parigraha (repetition of a word with /iti/ interposed). The two words taken together form a sub-unit called varga. The Kramap a. tha of a hemistich involves several vargas, the rst one consisting of the two initial words, and the succeeding ones having the last word of the preceding varga coupled with the word following it. The process continues until the last word of the hemistich is covered up. In the Kramap a. tha, words within one and the same varga only are combined by sandhi rules. According to the distinguished Sanskrit scholar, Devasthali (1978, p. 574), the following illustrates the three types of recitation of the G ayatr mantra from the Rigveda (3.62.10) 5 :
Sam a: tatsaviturvaren mahi / dhiyo yo na prachodayat // . yam . bhargo devasya dh . hit P ada: to t/ savitu / varen mahi / dhiva / ya / na/prachodayat // . yam . / bhargo devasya dh Krama: tatsavitu / savituvaren yam / varen yam bhargo hhargo devasya / devasya dh mahi / dh mahiti . . . . dh mahi // dhivo ya / yo na / na prachodayat / prachodayaditi prachodayat //

In addition to the three p athas for recitation, several derivatives of the Padap a. tha known as vikruti were created. In Kramap a. tha, the arrangement is /ab/bc/cd/de/, while (braid), the order of the P in the vikruti called jat adas is /abbaab/ bccbbc/ cddccd .a / deedde/, and in the vikruti ghana (bell), the sequence is /abbaabccbaabc / bccbbcddcbbed / cddccdeedccde/. Still more complicated were the vikrutis known as mala (garland), shikha (topknot), rekha (row), dhvaja (ag), danda (staff), ratha (chariot), and so on. The tradition of Vedic recitation in the Sam a, Padap a. tha, Kramap a. tha, and the pashas in several . hit vikrutis is alive in present-day India.
P. G. Patel, Linguistic and Cognitive Aspects of the Orality-Literacy Complex in Ancient India, in: Language & Communication, Vol. 16,1996, No.4, pp. 315 329, here p. 318f.

Cf. F. Staal, l. c., 2008, pp. 213 221.

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION The earliest literary creations of India, the Vedas, and the scholarly and philosophical works following them, were composed orally and for centuries transmitted as such. To maintain oral learning and storage, the process of speech production was studied, which in my view was the beginning of speech science, in particular, and linguistics, in general. Of particular importance are the methods of recitation and the different types of text and metrical arrangements (Patel, 1996). The subsyllabic unit, matra, was taken as a timing unit, the duration of which can be shortened or lengthened to create melodic meters. The text was decomposed and arranged in different ways known as pathas and vikrutis. The word vikruti means deformation; the process involved subsyllabic segmentation, rearrangement of these units, and their synthesis, which involved morphemic, syllabic, and phonemic units. The terms pada and patha warrant a brief explanation. While matra was a basic unit of syllabic quantity, that is, duration, the term patha was created to deal with the level which connects matras to grammar and meaning. According to Abhyankar and Shuklas (1986, p. 233) A Dictionary of Sanskrit Grammar the term pada was originally applied to the individual words, which constituted the Vedic samhita text, that is the continuous text that was recited. Paninis denition of pada included complete nounforms and verb-forms as well as prexes and sufxes. The units were marked by two types of pauses: danda (longer duration) and avagraha (shorter duration). According to Jha (1987, p. 13), danda represents intervention by the length of time required to pronounce a short vowel (ekamatra one matra) between the two nished words, whereas, an avagraha represents the intervention by the length of time required to pronounce a consonant (ardhamatra half matra) between two phonological units. The concept patha played a crucial role in the way the original text was segmented and reorganized for recitation and oral learning. The continuous text known at samhitapatha was transformed into a segmented text known as padapatha by Shakalya, the rst truly gifted linguist whom Panini recognized as a worthy predecessor The creation of padapatha required a mastery of morphophonemics in Vedic Sanskrit, that is the changes that take place when the sounds at the edges of the adjoining morphemes are joined. This process is known as sandhi, which constitutes well-dened rules. The creation of the kramapatha is a much more complicated process. Thebest authoritative source for the different types of vikruti with formation rules and illustrations is K. V. Abhyankar and G. V. Devasthalis 1978 monograph, Veda-Vikruti-Lakshana-Samgraha. For our purpose, we will take a simple example from an article on kramapatha by Devasthali (1978, p. 575), who is an acknowledged authority on the topic: samhita samhita pada pada krama krama

v ajes asahirbhava . u s

v ajes asahi: / bhava / . u / s

v ajes asahi: / s asahirbhava / . u / s

The derivatives of the padapatha and kramapatha were called vikrutis, which were also performed orally for recitation. In the kramapatha, the arrangement is ab, bc,

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION cd, de, while in the type of vikruti called jata (braid), the order of the padas is /abbaab/bccbbc/cddecd/deedde/ and in the vikruti ghana, (bell). the sequence is /abbaabccbaac/bccbbcddcbbcd/cddccdeedccdev/. The vikrutis mala (garland), shika (topknot), and rekha (row), among others, were much more complicated. The tradltion of Vedic recitation in samhitapatha, padapatha, kramapatha, and the pathas in several vikrutis is alive in present-day India in specic areas. The ancient Indian literature was composed on different types of metrical arrangement. Pandits recited them frequently on occasions which were the core of religiouscultural routines. The practice of recitation exists in varying degrees in the various geographic-linguistic regions in present-day India. What is striking is that folk songs, wedding songs, lullabies, and childrens poetry in contemporary India follow the ancient metrical tradition which accentuates the aks . ara in the rising, falling, and continued patterns.
Purushottam G. Patel, Reading Acquisition in India. Models of Learning and Dyslexia, 2004, p. 38f.

ABHYANKAR, K. V. and DEVASTHALI, G. V. 1978 Vedavikrtilaksana-Samgraha. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona. ABHYANKAR, K. V. and SHUKLA, J. M. 1986 A Dictionary of Sanskrit Grammar. Oriental Institute, Baroda. DEVASTHALI, G. V. 1978. Kramapatha. Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (Diamond Jubilee Volume), 573 582. JHA, V. N. 1987 Studies in the Padap athas and Vedic Philogy. Pratibha Prakashan, Delhi. PATEL, P. G. 1996 Linguistic and Cognitive Aspects of the Orality-Literacy Complex in Ancient India. Language & Communication, Vol. 16, No.4, 315 329 PATEL, P. G. 1993 Ancient India and the current orality-literacy theory. In Scholes, R. J. (Ed.), Literacy and Linguistic Analysis, pp. 199-208. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ. PATEL, P. G. and SOPER, H. 1987 Acquisition of reading and spelling in a syllabophonemic writing system. Language and Speech 30, 69 81. STAAL, J. F. 1961 Nambudiri Veda Recitiaton. Mouton, The Hague.. STAAL, J. F. 1975 The concept of metalanguage and its Indian background. Journal of Indian Philosophy 3, 315 354. STAAL, J. F. 1986 The Fidelity of Oral Tradition and the Origins of Science. NorthHolland Publishing Company, Amsterdam.

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TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION S. Radhakrishnan, The Cultural Heritage of India, Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Calcutta, 1958, p. XLIX, identied ve modes of recitation:

(1) Continuous Recitation (Sam a-P at . hit . ha ) This was the normal text governed by the rules of metre and rhythm. (2) Word Recitation (Pada-P at . ha ) Each word in the text was recited separate from the compound, in its own specic accent. (3) Step Recitation (Krama-P at . ha ) Each word was recited twice, being connected both with what precedes and what follows. eg.ab, bc, cd. etc. -P (4) Woven Recitation (Jat at .a . ha ) The word combinations were recited twice, the second time in reverse order. eg. ab, ba, ab, bc, cb, bc. etc. (5) Compact Recitation (Ghana-P at . ha ) In this instance the order was as follows : ab, ba, abc, cba, abc, bc, cb, bcd, dcb, bcd. etc. The above system of recitation has achieved great success in protecting the text from interpolation, modication or corruption.
Chandraprakash Debipersad, Orality and the Sixteen Sansk aras, Diss. University of Natal, Durban, 1995, p. 16.

Prodigious energy was expended by ancient Indian culture in ensuring that these texts were transmitted from generation to generation with inordinate delity. Towards this end, eight complex forms of recitation or p a. thas were designed to aid memorization and verication of the sacred Vedas. The texts were subsequently proof-read by comparing the different recited versions. Some of the forms of recitation are -p The jat a. tha (literally mesh recitation) in which every two adjacent words in .a the text were rst recited in their original order, then repeated in the reverse order, and nally repeated again in the original order. The recitation thus proceeded as:
word1word2, word2word1, word1word2; word2word3, word3word2, word2word3; ...

In another form of recitation, dhvaja-p a. tha (literally ag recitation) a sequence of N words were recited (and memorized) by pairing the rst two and last two words and then proceeding as:
word1word2, word(N-1)wordN; word2word3, word(N-3)word(N-2); ...; word(N-1)wordN, word1word2;

The most complex form of recitation, ghana-p a. tha (literally dense recitation), took the form:
word1word2, word2word1, word1word2word3, word3word2word1, word1word2word3; word2word3, word3word2, word2word3word4, word4word3word2, word2word3word4; ...
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedic chant

TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION Our ancestors devised unique methods to protect and maintain the basic Veda mantras in its original form through various patterns and combinations of recitation.

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a p a. tha () which is a The basic mantra is called v akya () or sam . hit full sentence. Splitting them word by word is known as pada p a. tha (), which gives the knowledge of each word to the student. Next is krama p a. tha (), where the rst word of the mantra is added to the second, the second to the third and so on, until the whole mantra is completed. This method enables the student not only to know individual words but also how to combine words in recitation and the changes in svara that occur as a result of such combination. Both pada and krama methods of chanting retain the natural order of words of the samhita p a. tha and so are known as prakr . ti ( ) or natural. For example, if we take sentence consisting of six words a-b-c-d-e-f, in sam a p a. tha, it will be chanted as . hit six separate words a, b, c, d, e and f in pada p a. tha, and it will be recited as a-b, b-c, c-d, d-e, and e-f in krama p a. tha. Actually, a reciter procient in chanting in the krama format is honored as a kramavit ( )! In addition, they devised eight other combinations which do not follow the natural order, and are known as vikr . ti ( ) or articial order. They are , jat .a m al a , ikh s a , rekh a , dhvaja , dan .d . a , ratha and ghana . and ghana are prevalent (or, only!) practices in the Kr Among these only jat .s .a .a .n Yajur Veda which is mostly predominant in the South. In Sukla Yajur Veda, which is mostly predominant in Banaras and in the North, (the Madhyandina and Kanva schools) all the eight vikritis were practiced. However, today, there may not be any scholars at all who might know all these vikritis. (braid) p Jat a. tha .a format becomes, In the above example, the six words in the line, when chanted in the jat .a a-b-b-a-a-b; b-c-c-b-b-c; c-d-d-c-c-d; d-e-ed-d-e; e-f-f-e-e-f and so on. As can be seen, the forward-reverse-forward arrangement of words resemble the way ladies braid their ! hair, and so this practice of chanting is termed jat .a Ghana (bell) p a. tha This is one of the most popular format of recitations and requires years of learning and practice by the student. A scholar procient in recitation in this format is honored as a ghanap athi. Here the arrangement of words take the shape of a bell. For example, the group of words a-b-c-d-e-f mentioned earlier, when chanted in the ghana format will be, a-b-b-a-a-b-c-c-b-a-a-b-c; b-c-c-b-b-c-d-d-c-b-b-d; and so on.

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TECHNIQUES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION Please note that, what was originally six words in the sam a, evolve in to about . hit sixty words in the ghana format a ten fold increase in this case that gives an idea of how complex the chanting can become with larger sections of the mantras. We can now appreciate the rigor a ghanapathi has to go through in his education to learn, by heart, the thousands of mantras, to be able to recite in ghana format.
Dr. S. Yegnasubramanian, Vedic Chanting a Perfectly Formulated Oral Tradition, 2007.