A Study of the Metre of Pārāyanavagga

There are two metres used in Pārāyanavagga, which are in fact the main metres used in Pāḷi prosody. They are the Siloka and the Tuṭṭhubha, That is, the metres that are otherwise known as Śloka and Triṣṭubh. In this paper, which examines the distinctive characteristics of early Pāḷi metrical composition, I have preferred to use the Pāḷi names for the metres. Although, as I will show herein, these are clearly related to the Sanskrit metres, they nevertheless have to be carefully distinguished from the latter, otherwise there is a danger of forcing Pāḷi forms into classical Sanskrit models to which they do not, in fact, adhere.09 we will examine them in this order.

Siloka

In the Vedas the Anuṭṭhubha metre, out of which the Siloka emerged, can be described as a samavutta metre having the following structure:

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

 

¦

×

 

x 4

sometimes short syllables are found in the 2nd, 4th & 6th positions (though 2 successive shorts in the 2nd & 3rd position was normally avoided).

Now it is very interesting from an historical perspective that in Hemakamāṇavapucchā the metre very much looks like an early form of the Anuṭṭhubha. Of the 18 lines which make up this section no fewer than 14 show the Anuṭṭhubha structure. Two further lines are pathyā (the normal form of the prior line in the Siloka verses), which is also the most normal variation in the Vedas. The other two lines (1084f & 1086a) as they stand are unclear. If we read abhīramiṁ in the first of these lines (with Smith PJ II p. 660), that would once again give an Anuṭṭhubha line. If we correct the second line by excluding -a viññāta- (with Norman GD II, p. 378) that would give savipulā.01

Of the openings 5 show the normal Vedic form ⏓−⏓− (1084ce, 1085bd, 1086d), and the others show syncopated forms that are also common in the Vedas (1084bd, 1085c, 1086bcd, 1087abc).See Arnold's charts on p. 153 of VM.02 So that it appears that all the evidence would suggest that we should probably count this Pucchā as being in Anuṭṭhubha metre.

In the Vedas after some time variations from this basic pattern started to emerge, which eventually gave rise to a new addhasamavutta metre, the Siloka. In canonical Pāḷi the metre is normally described See Warder PM, p. 172ff. Warder refers to this metre as Vatta presumably on the basis of Vuttodaya, and in my Outline of the Metres in the Pāḷi Canon I followed him. However it should be noted that the Vatta metre is described in Vuttodaya as having the same cadence in all 4 lines. Only the Pathyāvatta has alternating cadences. 03 as having a pathyā structure, and 7 variations. They are:

The pathyā or normal structure:

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Odd line:

 

¦

×

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Even line:

 

¦

×

 

x 2

The variations or vipulā, that occur in the prior line:

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

5

6

7

8

 

Anuṭṭhubha

 

¦

×

 

navipulā

 

¦

×

 

bhavipulā

 

¦

×

 

mavipulā

 

¦

×

 

ravipulā

 

¦

×

 

savipulā

 

¦

×

 

tavipulā

 

¦

×

 

There is normally a caesura (word break) after the fifth syllable in the mavipulā, and after the fourth syllable in the ravipulā. It is on the basis of this description that the following analysis has been made.

Normally 2 successive light syllables in 2nd and 3rd positions was avoided. though occasionally it turns up, and in certain works (like the Dhammapada) seems to have been accepted as a legitimate variation.

 

1) The Siloka in the Pucchā

In the Pucchā there are 200 lines in the Siloka metre, of which I count 102 as prior lines. The distribution of the variations in the prior line as presented in the text that follows is like this: It should be noted that lines can sometimes be scanned in different ways, producing different variations. On a small number of occasions I have had to make a choice as to which variation we are dealing with and assign the line accordingly. 04

 

Pathyā = 61 (61%)

Anuṭṭhubha = 16: 1041a, 1053c, 1054c, 1066c, 1067c, 1084ce, 1085c, 1086c, 1087ac, 1095ac, 1099c, 1106c, 1116c,

navipulā = 2: 1110a, 1111c

bhavipulā = 1, 1112a,

mavipulā = 4: 1036c, 1105e, 1107c, 1114c, 1119c, (cf. 1040e, 1042c)

ravipulā = 2: 1037a, 1046a, 1062a,

savipulā = 5: 1034a, 1036a, 1088a, 1089a, 1098a,

tavipulā = 2: 1092a, 1093a

irregular = 5: 1033a, 1077a, 1115a, 1118a, 1119a

As can be seen from this by far the most important variation is the Anuṭṭhubha, which constitutes some 15% of the total. This figure includes the lines in Hemakamāṇavapucchā. If we count these as belonging to the Anuṭṭhubha metre, and exclude them from the Siloka statistics, then the Anuṭṭhubha variation would amount to 6% less. Although this has a bearing on what follows, the overall position is not affected one way or the other.05 Note also the high number of variations that are savipulā, having some 5% of the total. According to my calculations in Aṭṭhakavagga Anuṭṭhubha constitutes no fewer than 20% of the total (out of Siloka 116 prior lines): 781a, 814c, 815c, 850c, 851a, 853c, 854a, 855a, 856c, 859ac, 860a, 861c, 938c, 941c, 945c, 947a, 949c, 950c, 953a, 954c, 958a, 960c. There however savipulā is negligible (one case at 940b); while mavipulā takes 7% of the total 817c, 818c, 858a, 937a, 938c, 939c, 947c, 952c.06

These figures are of importance because in the later development of the metre in the canon the Anuṭṭhubha and savipulā are normally avoided in the Siloka prior lines, They do not seem to be ever totally excluded. Note that also the 6th (if it is a variation) is also normally avoided in the later works.07 which then sees a corresponding increase in the occurrence of the pathyā, and the first 4 variations. With the help of these characteristics it is possible to determine whether verses belong to the early or to the middle and late periods.

 

2) The Siloka in the Vatthugāthā

When we examine the Vatthugāthā, which on linguistic and doctrinal evidence can be shown to be late in composition, Good sources for an examination of the linguistic and doctrinal evidence are N. A. Jayawickrāma, A Critical Analysis of the Sutta Nipāta, which was reprinted in the Pāli Buddhist Review 1, 3 (1976), and the same author's The Sutta Nipāta: Pucchās of the Pārāyana Vagga, published in the University of Ceylon Review (photocopy only available to the present writer). See also Norman's extensive discussion of the linguistic materials in GD II.08 we can see that there has been an evident shift in the way the metre is composed. In this section there are 222 Siloka lines, exactly half of which are prior lines. The statistics for the variations are as follows:

Pathyā = 80 (72%)

Anuṭṭhubha = 1: 1004a

navipulā = 7: 977a, 1001c, 1013a, 1015a, 1021a, 1025c, 1027a

bhavipulā = 5: 980a, 984a, 1003a, 1007c, 1016c, 1028c

mavipulā = 9: 985c, 997c, 999c, 1002a, 1003c, 1015c, 1017a, 1030c

ravipulā = 4: 976c, 982a, 1013c, 1022c

savipulā = 2: 1008a, 1012c

tavipulā = 0

irregular (9 syllables) = 2: 991c, 1026a

Evidently the Anuṭṭhubha and savipulā have fallen out of favour, and there has been a marked increase in the occurrence of the pathyā, navipulā and mavipulā.

 

3) The Siloka in the epilogue

When we compare the Siloka lines in the epilogue we can see that they clearly belong to the early period. Of the 41 prior lines in that section, 5 are Anuṭṭhubha, 1135ce, This is counting 1135e as a prior line Anuṭṭhubha, but it may be an even line, in which case we would have to leave it out of the reckoning. In any case the overall figures are not affected.09 1137c, 1139c, 1141c. The other statistics for this section are as follows:

navipulā = 0

bhavipulā = 2: 1125a, 1128a

mavipulā = 5: 1130ac, 1131c, 1145c, 1147c

ravipulā = 1: 1138a

savipulā = 2: 1125c, 1128c

tavipulā = 0

irregular = 4: 1127ac, 1130a, 1140a

These figures clearly show that the epilogue is early in composition, and was probably made at the same time as the Pucchā themselves. This is further confirmed by the fact that Cullaniddesa has a full commentary on these lines.