Shloka or śloka (Sanskrit : श्लोक, romanized: ślōka, lit. 'song', from the root śru, lit.'hear' ) is a poetic form used in Sanskrit, the classical language of India. In its usual form it consists of four pādas or quarter-verses, of 8 syllables each, or (according to an alternative analysis) of two half-verses of 16 syllables each. The metre is similar to the Vedic anuṣṭubh metre, but with stricter rules.
The śloka is the basis for Indian epic verse, and may be considered the Indian verse form par excellence, occurring as it does far more frequently than any other metre in classical Sanskrit poetry.The śloka is the verse-form generally used in the Bhagavad Gita , the Mahabharata , the Ramayana , the Puranas, Smritis, and scientific treatises of Hinduism such as Sushruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita . The Mahabharata, for example, features many verse metres in its chapters, but 95% of the stanzas are ślokas of the anuṣṭubh type, and most of the rest are tristubh s.
One of the Vedic metres is called anushtubha. It has 32 syllables with particular accents. It is the literary ancestor of the shloka which also has 32 syllables but no particular rhyme or accent. A reason for the name shloka is that Maharshi Valmiki who wrote the Ramayana once observed a pair of birds singing to each other in a tree. A hunter came by and shot the male. On seeing the sorrow (shoka) of the widowed bird, he was reminded of the sorrow Sita felt on being separated from Shri Rama and began composing the Ramayana in shlokas. For this he is called the Adikavi (first poet.)
The anuṣṭubh is found in Vedic texts, but its presence is minor, and triṣṭubh and gayatri metres dominate in the Rigveda .A dominating presence of ślokas in a text is a marker that the text is likely post-Vedic.
The traditional view is that this form of verse was involuntarily composed by Vālmīki, the author of the Ramayana , in grief on seeing a hunter shoot down one of two birds in love (see Valmiki).
In a broader sense, a śloka, according to Monier-Williams, can be "any verse or stanza; a proverb, saying".
A Shloka has to be composed in a specific metre (chanDas), with a specific number of lines with a specific number of words per line, each word could be a manTra. For example, vishNu sahasranAma is in anushtupchanDas (two lines of four words each).
A manTra, on the other hand, is prefixed by omkAra (primordial sound) and suffixed by the essential nAma (name) and the salutary word nama (salutation) between the prefix and the suffix. No metre is prescribed. The lyrics in any Vaarnic or matric metres are shlokas. Stanzas from Vedic hymns are not shloka, despite a common mistake.
Each 16-syllable hemistich (half-verse), of two 8-syllable pādas , can take either a pathyā ("normal") form or one of several vipulā ("extended") forms. The form of the second foot of the first pāda (II.) limits the possible patterns the first foot (I.) may assume.
The scheme below shows the form of the śloka in the classical period of Sanskrit literature (4th–11th centuries CE):
The pathyā and vipulā half-verses are arranged in the table above in order of frequency of occurrence. Out of 2579 half-verses taken from Kalidasa, Bharavi, Magha, and Bilhana, each of the four admissible forms of śloka in this order claims the following share: 2289, 116, 89, 85;that is, 89% of the half-verses have the regular pathyā form. Macdonell's chart given above is too restrictive with regard the first four syllables in a vipulā verse. For example, the first quarter verse of the Rāmayaṇa (critical edition) contains a na-vipulā and scans ⏑ – – – ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ – (tapaḥsvādhyāyanirataṃ). Other examples are easy to find among classical poets, e.g., Rāmacarita 1.76 manyur dehāvadhir ayaṃ – – – – ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ –. In the ma-vipulā, a caesura is not obligatory after the fifth syllable, e.g., Śiśupālavadha 2.1a yiyakṣamāṇenāhūtaḥ ⏑ – ⏑ – – – – –.
Two rules that always apply are:
Noteworthy is the avoidance of an iambic cadence in the first pāda. By comparison, syllables 5–8 of any pāda in the old Vedic anuṣṭubh metre typically had the iambic ending u – u x (where "x" represents an anceps syllable).
In poems of the intermediate period, such as the Bhagavad Gita (c. 2000 BCE), a fourth vipulā is found. This occurs 28 times in the Bhagavad Gita, that is, as often as the third vipulā.When this vipulā is used, there is a word-break (caesura) after the fourth syllable:
The various vipulās, in the order above, are known to scholars writing in English as the first, second, third and fourth vipulā,or the paeanic, choriambic, molossic, and trochaic vipulā respectively. In Sanskrit writers, they are referred to as the na-, bha-, ra-, and ma-vipulā. A fifth vipulā, known as the minor Ionic, in which the first pāda ends | u u – x |, is sometimes found in the Mahābhārata, although rarely.
Statistical studies examining the frequency of the vipulās and the patterns in the earlier part of the pāda have been carried out to try to establish the preferences of various authors for different metrical patterns. It is believed that this may help to establish relative dates for the poems, and to identify interpolated passages.
A typical śloka is the following, which opens the Bhagavad Gita:
From the period of high classical Sanskrit literature comes this benediction, which opens Bāṇabhaṭṭa's biographical poem Harṣacaritam (7th century CE):
When a śloka is recited, performers sometimes leave a pause after each pāda, at other times only after the second pāda. (See External links.)
In poetry, metre or meter is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse. Many traditional verse forms prescribe a specific verse metre, or a certain set of metres alternating in a particular order. The study and the actual use of metres and forms of versification are both known as prosody.
In languages with quantitative poetic metres, such as Ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic, Sanskrit, and classical Persian, an anceps is a position in a metrical pattern which can be filled by either a long or a short syllable.
Indian epic poetry is the epic poetry written in the Indian subcontinent, traditionally called Kavya. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which were originally composed in Sanskrit and later translated into many other Indian languages, and the Five Great Epics of Tamil literature and Sangam literature are some of the oldest surviving epic poems ever written.
Triṣṭubh is a Vedic meter of 44 syllables, or any hymn composed in this meter. It is the most prevalent meter of the Rigveda, accounting for roughly 40% of its verses.
Ashtavakra is a revered Vedic sage in Hinduism. His name literally means "eight bends", reflecting the eight physical handicaps he was born with. His maternal grandfather was the Vedic sage Aruni, his parents were both Vedic students at Aruni's school. Ashtavakra studied, became a sage and a celebrated character of the Hindu History(Itihas) Epics and Puranas.
The following is a glossary of terms and concepts in Hinduism. The list consists of concepts that are derived from both Hinduism and Hindu tradition, which are expressed as words in Sanskrit as well as other languages of India.
Vedic metre refers to the poetic metre in the Vedic literature. The study of Vedic metre, along with post-Vedic metre, is part of Chandas, one of the six Vedanga disciplines.
Anuṣṭubh is a meter and a metrical unit, found in both Vedic and Classical Sanskrit poetry, but with significant differences.
Svādhyāya is a Sanskrit term which means self-study and especially the recitation of the Vedas and other sacred texts. It is also a broader concept with several meanings. In various schools of Hinduism, Svadhyaya is a Niyama connoting introspection and "study of self".
According to a widely-held hypthesis, in Greek and Latin metre, brevis in longo is a short syllable at the end of a line that is counted as long. The term is short for (syllaba) brevis in (elemento) longo, meaning "a short [syllable] in place of a long [element]." Although the phenomenon itself has been known since ancient times, the phrase is said to have been invented by the classical scholar Paul Maas.
In Hinduism, an astra was a supernatural weapon, presided over by a specific deity and imbued with spiritual and occult powers that caused its effect or impact. Later the word came to denote any weapon which was used by releasing it from one's hand (e.g. an arrow, compared to keeping it one's hand e.g. a sword. In Ramayana and Mahabharata, Arjuna had more astras than any other warrior. Various texts have stated that Arjuna possessed almost all astras except Narayanastra.
The Bhagavad Gita, often referred to as the Gita, is a 701-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata, dated to the second century BCE. It is considered to be the primary holy scripture for Hinduism, the world's third largest and the oldest religion.
Hansa-Sandesha or "The message of the Swan" is a Sanskrit love poem written by Vedanta Desika in the 13th century AD. A short lyric poem of 110 verses, it describes how Rama, hero of the Ramayana epic, sends a message via a swan to his beloved wife, Sita, who has been abducted by the demon king Ravana. The poem belongs to the sandeśa kāvya "messenger poem" genre and is very closely modeled upon the Meghadūta of Kālidāsa. It has particular significance for Srivaishnavites, whose god, Vishnu, it celebrates.
Kannada prosody is the study of metres used in Kannada poetry, describing the rhythmic structure of a verse. The metres used include some metres borrowed from other traditions, and indigenous metres. Kannada literature, especially Old Kannada poetry, clearly exhibits the importance poets placed on metre. This can be seen in the number of types of metre used in Kannada poetry.
Sanskrit prosody or Chandas refers to one of the six Vedangas, or limbs of Vedic studies. It is the study of poetic metres and verse in Sanskrit. This field of study was central to the composition of the Vedas, the scriptural canons of Hinduism, so central that some later Hindu and Buddhist texts refer to the Vedas as Chandas.
The Bṛhaddevatā, is a metrical Sanskrit work, traditionally ascribed to Shaunaka. It is an enlarged catalogue of the Rigvedic deities worshipped in the individual suktas (hymns) of the Rigveda. It also contains the myths and legends related to the composition of these suktas.
A subhashita is a literary genre of Sanskrit epigrammatic poems and their message is an aphorism, maxim, advice, fact, truth, lesson or riddle. Su in Sanskrit means good; bhashita means spoken; which together literally means well spoken or eloquent saying.
Mandākrāntā is the name of a metre commonly used in classical Sanskrit poetry. The name in Sanskrit means "slow-stepping" or "slowly advancing". It is said to have been invented by India's most famous poet Kālidāsa,, who used it in his well-known poem Meghadūta. The metre characterises the longing of lovers who are separated from each other, expressed in the Sanskrit word viraha विरह "separation, parting".
In Hinduism, Pramāṇas Śāstras refers to the authority of the scriptures with regard to puruṣārtha, the objects of human pursuit, namely dharma, artha, kāma (pleasure) and mokṣa (liberation). Together with smṛti, ācāra, and ātmatuṣṭi, it provides pramana and sources of dharma, as expressed in Classical Hindu law, philosophy, rituals and customs