Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Discussion on "Kampa" (Vedic intonation) in the Taittriya Shaka (Guest post by R.Ramanathan)

Mr R Ramanathan, the Vedic scholar continues to enlighten us with another feature of oral tradition of Vedas called ‘Kampa’. In this article he describes Kampa, the types of Kampa and the application of Kampa in Taittriya Samhita. A reading of previous articles in this topic would help the reader understand this article better. They are



The Kampa is a Vedic intonation or swara that has a special musical characteristic compared to the other basic 4 swaras. This swara is very rare in the Taittriya shaka but is found more frequently in the Rig Veda, the most famous of those found in the Manyu, Devi and the Pavamana sooktas. But it is slightly different in intonation compared to the Taittriya. One has to approach the proper teachers of the Rig and Yajur Veda to learn the right intonation of that particular shaka of that Veda.

Relevance of this article.

The article will be relevant for people who have started to learn the Samhita, especially the 2nd and the 6th Kandas which have the majority of the Kampas in the Samhita. People who just learn the upayukta portions of the Taittriya will not find this article interesting as such people usually stick to the Rudram, Chamakam, some sooktas etc which has no kampas in them. Also, the ability to distinguish various swaras on listening (Not based on marks in a book) is assumed. A basic knowledge of the 4 fundamental swaras and the Swara rules and Sandhis like, Yan sandhi, savarna deergha, poorva roopa sandhi are assumed. For completion, the definition of each sandhi and its sutra in the ashtadhyayi will be given. But this is not exhaustive and does not give in detailed depth the concepts and exceptions associated with them. Also an understanding of the basic formats of pada and karma paata are assumed.

Types of svaritas

The svarita as per the Ashtadhyayi is
As per this definition the svarita first starts at udatta level momentarily peeks at a higher tone and falls down. Just a small example: नमः॑

The small vertical line on मः॑ indicates that it is a svarita. There are 7 types of svaritas found as listed below

1. Nitya Svarita
2. Abhinihita Svarita
3.Kshaipra Svarita
4. Praslishta Svarita
5. Tairovyanjana Svarita
6. PAdavruttha Svarita
7.PrAtihata Svarita
8. Tairo virama

For this discussion, we will consider only svaritas of types 2, 3, 4 as they are the ones mostly involved in the formation of the kampa. Type 1 occurs naturally in a pada. Usually this svarita occurs immediately after a train of anudattas or the only svarita in the word.

Examples: से॒ना॒न्ये॑, अ॒मा॒वा॒स्यां(||), वी॒र्यं॑.

In these words, the svarita on the last akshara of the word occurs after a train of anudattas. Thus, this svarita is a Nithya svarita.

In the case क्व॑, the word is a single akshara with only one svarita on it. This is an example of a Nithya swarita too. Types 2, 3 and 4 are discussed below.       

Poorva roopa sandhi

The ashtadhyayi sutra for a purva roopa sandhi is
एङः पदान्तादति-6.1.109

This means the vowels in एङः which is the pratyahara that includes and , when occurring at the end of a word (पदान्तादति), and if followed by a short , this short gets absorbed into the previous or . We can give another ashtadhyayi sutra only, as example. For

स्थाने ऽन्तरतम = स्थाने + अन्तरतमः

The at the end of the word स्थाने absorbs the succeeding short
Example for : Take another sutra itself for an example

एचो ऽयवायावः = एच: + अयवायावः

The terminal of the first word absorbs the succeeding short

Yan sandhi

The ashtadhayi sutra for this sandhi
इको यणचि -6.1.77e

The meaning:

The vowels in the set इक (Which has  लृ and its dheerga forms) and set of all vowels अच: are replaced with the consonants in the set यण (This contains with its dheerga forms).

Examples are

यदि + अपि = यद्यपि ( is replaced with )
गुरु + आदेश: = गुर्वादेश: ( is replaced by )
पितृ + उपदेश: = पित्रुपदेश: ( is replaced )
लृ + आकृति: = लाकृति: (लृ is replaced with )

These 2 are the most important sources of Kampas in the atleast the Taittriya shaka. Ofcourse other shakas can have other sandhis as sources of Kampas. With this understanding, let us proceed to define a few concepts related to the swaras.

The nithyatva of a swara

What is meant by Nithyatva of a swara is the retention of the intonation across various recitation formats like the pada and Samhita. The udatta is the intonation type that retains its nature across the pada and Samhita i.e. an Udatta akshara in the pada paata will have the same udatta intonation in the Samhita paata. One more example of such a nitya swara is the nitya swarita discussed in the initial part of this write-up.  This svarita is a stable svarita and doesn’t vary. For example, in the Taittriya Samhita 1st Kanda, 8th prashna 6th anuvaka, the famous प्र॒ति॒पूरु॒षम् anuvaka the following line exemplifies a nitya svarita

गृ॒ह्याः(||) स्मः तेभ्यः॑(|| means deerga swarita)

The Dheertga svarita here is a nitya svarita. The most important thing to note that this dheerga svarita did not become an anudaata as a Thairovyanjana swarita (TVS) would, even though the next akshara स्मः was an udatta. This happens as in the case of नमः॑ नमः॑ the pada paataa form which is common in the Rudra prashna. The Samhita paata is मो॒ नमो॑ मृग॒युभ्यः॑. The highlighted portion indicates the transformation of the TVS into an anudatta because the next was udatta. This did not happen in the first example (1.8.6). Thus, this is an example for the nityatva of the svarita.

The Abhinihita and the kshaipra svaritas

Now we are equipped to deal with the definitions for the Abhinihita and Kshaipra. 

Examples for the Abhinihita svarita

This svarita is formed due to the poorva roopa sandhi discussed above.

ब्रा॒ह्म॒णो(||)ऽस्य॒ मुख॑मासीत्(|| indicates the deerga svarita)

The pada format for the above is
ब्रा॒ह्म॒: + अ॒स्य = ब्रा॒ह्म॒णो(||)ऽस्य॒ मुख॑मासीत्

The : has an udatta. Due to “rutva sandhi” on the visarga : changes to णो. The अ॒ (short ) in अ॒स्य has anudatta. Applying the rules of Abhinihita sandhi, the अ॒ gets absorbed into the previous णो indicated by the ““. The important point is the swara of णो the changes from udatta to a deerga svarita.

Another example is 1st kanda. 5th prashna 1st anuvaka (The highlighted part)

सो॑ऽरोदीद्= सः + अ॒रो॒दी॒त्॒

In the first example, the स्य in अ॒स्य retains it udatta character after the sandhi. In the 2nd example the ऽरोदीद् is prachaya.

Note that for sandhi and swara purposes the Abhinihita svarita is treated as nitya because even though the swara is a deergaswarita the udatta cannot be lost as it is an unchanging swara as Krishna says in the Geeta. Thus, the nitya character of the udatta sticks to the Abhinihita svarita.

An example for the Kshaipra svarita:

 A Kshaipra svarita is formed because of the Yan sandhi discussed above.


त्रि + अ॒म्ब॒क॒म्॒ = त्र्य॑म्बकम्

त्रि is udaata and अ॒म्ब॒क॒म्॒ is sarvaanudata. But due to the rules of yan sandhi discussed above, the त्रि and अ॒ coalesces to form त्र्य॑ with the resultant svarita as the final swara of the sandhi. Note here again the udatta of त्रि has undergone a swara change to svarita. This kshaipra svarita is also a nitya  svarita AKA as Jaatya svarita, like the Abhinihita svarita. Here अम्बकम् is prachaya in character.

6th kanda 4th prashna 2nd anuvaka
अ॒भ्य॑म्रियत॒ = अ॒भी + अ॒म्रि॒य॒त॒

The भी in अ॒भी coalesces with अ॒ of अ॒म्रि॒य॒त॒ as per rules of yan sandhi resulting in भ्य॑ with a final swarita as the result.

What is a Kampa

With this background being set we are now equipped to deal with the kampa swara. The kampa is musical in intonation and the correct intonation must be learnt from a competent guru of that shaka. Without the loss of generality across shakas, technically a kampa swara occurs when 2 continuous aksharas with swaras that are of the nitya type (udatta, the above 2 svaritas etc) follow each other. Here we deal only with examples from the Taittriya shaka only.  Usually the kampa is denoted by a between the two aksharas that form the kampa. The following are the characteristics of the kampa in the Taittriya Shaka.

1.     The kampas in the Samhita portion occurs between 2 sequential aksharas, both having a svarita swara on them. This svarita is mostly of the Abhinihita and kshaipra type. Generally, any svarita of the nitya or jaatya type formed by a sandhi.

2.     There are no kampas in the Samhita for 2 sequential aksharas that are both udatta, or one is svarita (Kshaipra or abhinihita) and other is anudatta. This is called a udatta kampa (Atleast one akshara  has to be udatta for an udatta kampa). May be other vedas like the Rig Veda have them. But this is not the general character of the Taittriya Samhita.

3.     The exception to the above rule is that in the Aranyaka 2nd prashna.  in the kooshmanda mantras found this prashna we find udatta kampas. Examples for this given later.

Examples of kampa swaras found in the Samhita.

The classic and most immediate example found in the Samhita is in 6th kanda 4th prashna 2nd anuvaka. This has 2 kampas formed between 3 words as given below.

वृ॒त्रम॑ह॒न्थ्सोऽपो ऽभ्य॑म्रियत॒

Notice the 2 kampa marks found in this example. This kampa is formed as a result of 3 aksharas formed with an abhinihita svarita, followed by an akshara , again with an abhinihita svarita, followed by an akshara with a kshaipra. We will break down this example into the pada paata  
सः अ॒पः अ॒भी। अ॒म्रि॒य॒त॒

Forming the Samhita paata from the above pada paata sequence, we see the following

1.     From the rule of Abhinihta swarita सः+ अ॒पः = सो॑ऽपः.

2.     Now this सो॑ऽपः is followed by अ॒भी. Thus, further combining by the rule of Abhinihita svarita we get
         सो॑ऽपः+ अ॒ (Of अ॒भी) = सो॑ऽपो॑ऽ

3.     Now the भी of अ॒भी combines with अ॒म्रि॒य॒त॒ to form as per yan sandhi rules a kshaipra swarita  
सो॑ऽपो॑ऽभी + अ॒म्रि॒य॒त॒ = सो॑ऽपो॑ऽभ्य॑म्रियत

At end of step 3 we can see 3 sequential aksharas that are svaritas, 2 abhinihitas and one kshaipra. Since it is difficult to chant 3 successive svaritas or that for that matter even 2 successive svaritas, the chanting process is smoothened out by using the musical kampa which starts from the base value, rise momentarily and falls. As said the actual chanting of a kampa can vary between shakas and the nuances needs to be learnt from a guru. This kampa illustrates the type found as per point 1 of the previous section.

Kampas within one word

In the example above the kampa occurs at word boundaries. But it is possible for a Kampa to occur in the middle of one word only. Such a kampa occurs in Taittriya samhita 6th kanda 1st prashna 11th anuvaka, 75th panchashat

ए॒ष पति॒र्विश्वान्य॒भि धामा॒नीत्या॑ह॒ विश्वा॑नि॒ ह्येषो॑ऽभि
Let us see how this Kampa arose. Giving the pada paata format for the above
 ए॒षः पतिः॑ 2 विश्वा॑नि अ॒भीति॑ धामा॑नि इति॑ आ॒ह॒ 3 विश्वा॑नि हि ए॒षः अ॒भीति॑

First please note that the last word or pad is just अ॒भी and the इति॑ has a special function the details into which won’t be dealt here. Applying sandhi rules as seen in the previous examples

1.     हि + ए॒षः = ह्ये॑षः as per yan sandhi and kshaipra swarita rule.

2.     ह्ये॑षः+ अ॒भि = ह्ये॑षो॑ऽभि:again as per Yan sandhi and swarita rules

3.     Thus, we see 2 successive kshaipra svaritas formed within a single word ए॒षः due to the formation of 2 yan sandhis with each akshara of the word, resulting in 2 kshaipra svaritas resulting in a kampa in between the aksharas of a single word.

Udatta kampa

Generally as discussed above a kampa can occur when two successive aksharas, that have swaras that are nitya by nature (Udatta and nitya svarita) or are considered as nitya or jaatya svarita, because a udatta (Since udatta is nitya by nature) was involved in the formation of a svarita due to sandhi,s like Kshaipra and Abhnihita as discussed above.

 In the taittriya Shaka we see that the general rule for Kampas to occur, are the occurrences of 2 successive svaritas nitya or otherwise. This is especially true in the case of the Samhita. An udatta kampa by definition occurs between two aksharas in which one is udatta(The other akshara has to be a swarita of the jaatya type-Kshaipra and Abhinihita).

That this type of Kampa does not occur in the Samhita but occurs In the 2nd prashna, 6th anuvaka, 9th panchashar of the Aranyaka which is considered to be from the Kataka. This is a part of the Kooshmanda

यत्र॑ सु॒हार्द॑स्सु॒कृतो॒ मद॑न्ते वि॒हाय॒ रोग॑न्त॒न्वा स्वायाम्

Note that the word न्त॒न्वा has a svarita on न्वा. Since the preceding has an anudatta, this is a nitya swarita (As defined above)s. The next word स्वायाम् has an udatta on स्वा but the svarita will not follow the rule of the normal tairovyanjana swarita and the swarita on न्वा will not become an anudatta. But since 2 nitya swaras, a nitya svarita and an udatta occur successively a kampa occurs between them. This is one characteristic which makes this prashnam of the Aranyakam quite atypical compared to the rest of the Taittriya shaka.


1.     All the examples have been copied from a site developed by Shree Ramanuja Parankushachar my Veda guru. One can find the pada and karma paata for the entire Samhita. Also, there is excellent material on other vedas and vedangas like Vyaakaranam.

2.     The kampa is can represented in some texts as