Monday, June 18, 2018

A discussion on elongated vowels in the Taittriya Shaka (Guest post by R.Ramanathan)

Mr R.Ramanathan, the Vedic scholar had been from time and again enlightening us with rare gems from Vedas and this time he has written for us a short article on some of the elongated vowels with particular reference to Pluta (प्लुत), which means protracted. The article introduces us to newer horizons in understanding the oral tradition that highlights how accents are related to the emotions and the contexts. For first time readers, I suggest a reading of two previous articles by Mr Ramanathan to get a better grasp of this article.  The links are

Now on to his article on Pluta….

Objective and audience

This small write up attempts to explain in some detail the semantics of various elongated vowels and its usage patterns in the various portions of the Taittriya Shaka, with special reference to the Atreya-Oukhya Shaka that is currently in vogue in most of south India. Many concepts can be the same across various shakas of the Krishna Yajur Veda or even other Vedic shakas. Differences and nuances of pronunciation are to be learnt from the Praatishakya literature of that Vedic shaka under the guidance of a competent Guru.

The intended audience are those who are currently doing proper adhyayanam of the above mentioned Shaka or any other shaka under competent gurus with the proper anushtanas from the Adhyayana parampara only and not for people who have learnt from youtube, CDs or smart phone apps, or “Self-taught”. Also, some familiarity of the Panini sutras and the Maaheshvara sutras along with the basic four Vedic Swaras the Udatta, Anudatta, swarita prachaya with the rules of interactions amongst themselves are assumed.

The reason I point out people who learn through other un authorized means is not due to any personal hatred for them. But many of these people who learn from these other sources are found wanting in actual practice of anushtanams and do not take the acharams seriously and are not actually seriously bothered about right intonation.
Now for the subject matter.

What are elongated vowels?

As per the Maheshvara sutras of panini the entire set of vowels can be
abbreviated by the pratyahara
अच्. This encompasses all the 16 Sanskrit vowels from now on called as swaraaksharas. Each vowel has 3 forms 1. Hrasva(Short) 2. Dheerga(Long) and 3. Pluta (Protracted). The first 2 are known commonly in all Indian languages and so the discussion will be centered around Pluta and its varieties.

In Devanagari, the representation for the above 3 is as below the same is applicable for other varnas too,

Thus in theory there are 16 possible plutas for each swara akshara. But note that in a given shaka not all vowels have pluta forms.

Types of elongated vowels in the Taittriya shaka

The Taittriya has the following types of elongated swaraaksharas.
1.     Ranga Dheerga: This is a form of a Dheerga which is pronounced longer than a proper two maatra Dheerga but is stopped before a pluta. It is indicated by (2) and not (2).  Examples for these are found in the taittriya Aranyaka first prashna. The important point is that it occurs in words with anusvaaras(म्)
नि॒ध॒न्वेव॒ ता (2) म् इ॑मिà(Aranyaka 1st prashna 12th anuvaka)
दे॒वा(2)म् उप॑प्रैथ्स॒प्तभिः॑->(Aranyaka 1st  prashna 13th  Anuvaka)

2.      Pluta and Ranga pluta: Pluta is pronounced for 3 maatras and the Ranga Pluta till the breath is exhausted though denoted by 4 in brackets. Classic example of an anuvaka that has both the types is found in the Rajasuya prashna which is the1st kanda 8th prashna 16th anuvaka. This is the chant of the Ritwik called the Brahma who does abhisheka of the new Saamrat.

Pluta: धृ॒तव्र॑तो॒ वरु॑णः प॒स्त्यास्वा साम्राज्याय सु॒क्रतु॒र्ब्रह्मा() न् त्वरा॑जन् ब्र॒ह्माऽसि॑ सवि॒ताऽसि॑ स॒त्यस॑वो॒ ब्रह्मा() न् त्वरा॑जन् ब्र॒ह्माऽसीन्द्रो॑ऽसि
The dheerga
the end of ब्रह्मा(3) is elongated to 3 maatras
Ranga pluta: In the same Anuvaka, in panchashat 32 we see a ranga pluta with a (4) in brackets. Though it is 4 it means that you have to elongate the vowel till the breath is exhausted. Note the anusvara/anunaasikya part on it like in point 1.
सुश्लो॒काँ (4) सुम॑ङ्ग॒लाँ (4) सत्य॑रा॒जा न्
Another example is from 7th kanda 4th prashna 20th Anuvaka
लाजी () ञ्छाची () न््यशो॑ म॒मा (4)म्
Again note the anuswaara on the Ranga. So the gist is Ranga(2) or Ranga(4) occurs only for words with Anunaasika/Anuswaara sounds.

Conditions under which Plutas can occur

Since the pluta and Ranga versions are just vowel elongations, they do not fall into the category of a proper swara like say Udatta or swarita. Thus, they do not have hard rules for occurrence nor can be derived from Paninis rules as for the 4 basic swaras. But we can qualitatively ascertain the situations they can occur.

1.     Discussions of various options possible in either a ritual act or otherwise.

For example in the Agnishtoma soma sacrifice, in the 6th Kanda, 1st prashna, Anuvaka 9, a doubt occurs as to whether the soma creeper bought has to be purified.

ब्र॒ह्म॒वा॒दिनो॑ वदन्ति वि॒चित्यः॒ सोमा () वि॒चित्या () इति॑

It means “Brahmavaadis say, Should the soma be purified or not”

Purified ->
वि॒चित्यः॒ सोमा ()

Not purified: 
वि॒चित्या ()  

Thus this shows the act of “Thinking out aloud”. This is a very common usage of the pluta. But remember that not all cases of Brahma Vaada or debate need to have a pluta in it. For indication of ascent or satisfaction.

2.     In the 7th kanda 1st prashna 5th Anuvaka, in a discussion between the deities Soma, Indra and Yama in the allocation of cows, Soma first finds the cows, Indra comes following him Yama comes later and asks that may he have a share in it too. The other too say “So be it”. This ascent is indicated by a pluta.
सोमो॒ वै स॒हस्र॑मविन्द॒त्तमिन्द्रोऽन्व॑विन्द॒त्तौ य॒मो न्याग॑च्छ॒त्ताव॑ब्रवी॒दस्तु॒ मेऽत्रापीत्यस्तु॒ ही() इत्य॑ब्रूता॒ :
ही() indicates ascent by Indra and soma

3.     Indication of emotions or surprise:

The most famous example being found in the Taittriya Upanisad. A rishi singing in absolute bliss. The pluta here indicates the joy here.

एतथ्साम गा॑यन्ना॒स्ते हा () वु॒ हा () वु॒ हा () वु॑ अ॒हमन्नम॒हमन्नम॒हमन्नम् अ॒हमन्ना॒दोऽ 
हमन्ना॒दोऽहमन्ना॒दः अ॒हश्लोक॒कृद॒हश्लोक॒कृद॒हश्लोक॒कृत् अहमस्मि प्रथमजा ऋता () स्य॒  
पूर्वन्देवेभ्यो अमृतस्य ना () भा॒इ॒ यो मा ददाति इदेवमा () वाः॒ अ॒हमन्न॒मन्न॑म॒दन्त॒मा () द्मि॒

4.     Indicating deep philosophical thinking

This is related to point 1. But does not involve various options but involves only the curiosity of the thinker.

उ॒ता वि॒द्वान॒मुल्लोँ॒कं प्रेत्य॑ कश्च॒न ग॑च्छ॒ती () आहो॑ वि॒द्वान॒मुल्लोँ॒कं प्रेत्य॑ कश्चि॒थ्सम॑श्ञु॒ता () उ॒
Basically the question is “Where would a dying person go? Where would he stay after exiting here?” The pluta here in the boldened texts indicate the curiosity of the questioner.

5.     Indication of sounds like say that of a flying object. 

In the Pravargya prashna Aranyaka 8th prashna(Of Dravida paata 6th of Andhra paata)1st anuvaaka, while explaining the reason why the pravargya is performed, The devas won the war against asuras with Vishnus help with the agreement that the credits for the victory would be divided equally. But it seems Vishnu ran away from the Devas and sat with his chin on his bow gloating over this greatness. The Devas sent some termites to bite of the bow string. As the string was taut the tip of the bow on which Vishnu rested his head coiled up like a spring and cut his head off. The head flew through the air. The sound made by the head is indicated by a Ranga pluta here.

तत्प्र॑व॒र्ग्य॑स्य प्रवर्ग्य॒त्वम् यद्घ्राँ (4) इत्यप॑तत्

The boldened text indicates the “Ghang” sound made by Vishnu’s head when flying through the air.

These are the typical cases when plutas and it varieties can occur.

Grammatical and shaka specific characters of plutas

1. It is not necessary that pluta for all the 16 vowels need to occur in a shaka. In the Taittriya for example pluta forms exists for all fundamental swaraaksharas


The लृ varnas do not have pluta forms in the Taittriya Shaka with only the dheerga forms being found()
2. Among the derived vowels    , pluta forms exists for only . But it does not exist directly but is split into its constituent vowels. For example
 = (or) +
To give an example for this, in the 1st kanda 4th prashna is called Graha prashna. The mantras are used to fill up the soma grahas in the Soma sacrifice. The mantra is as follows (27th anuvaka)

बृह॒स्पति॑सुतस्य इन्द्रो इन्द्रि॒याव॑तः॒ पत्नी॑वन्तं॒ ग्रहं॑ गृह्णा॒म्यग्ना() पत्नी॒वा() स्स॒जूर्दे॒वेन॒ त्वष्ट्रा॒ सोमं॑ पिब॒ स्वाहा

Actually the word
अग्ने is split into

अग्ने = अग्ना(3) + (ग्ने = ग्ना + )

The pluta is applied to ग्ना and them after a gap (Virama of ½ matra) the is chanted. This is as per Panini sutra
Pluta pragrihyam achi nityam          

If there is an अच्(Vowel) after a pluta(An elongated vowel) there should be no sandhi or coalesce of these two vowels and in the chant this absence of sandhi is shown by a small gap of ½ matra.

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