The origins of the āryā metre


Prof. K.R. Norman from Buddhist Philosophy and Culture (Essays in honour of N.A. Jayawickrema), Colombo 1987, pp. 203 - 214, reprinted with the permission of the editor Prof. David Kalupahana.

[Ed: I have expanded most of the abbreviations used in the original for ease of reading]


1. Introduction

[p. 203] 1.1. As is well known, the āryā metre is very common in Jaina Prakrit texts, and it is perhaps not far off the mark to call it the ‘favourite metre’ of early Jaina authors. When European scholars first began to study Jaina texts they were perplexed by the metre, with its distinctive ‘irregular’ sixth gaṇa (bar) in the second line, and much time and effort was devoted, especially by Jacobi, H. Jacobi, “ber die Entwicklung der indischen Metrik in nachvedischer Zeit”, ZDMG 38, 1884, pp. 590-619, and “Zur Kenntniss der Āryā”, ZDMG 40, 1886, pp. 336-42. to examining the way in which the metre had developed from the earlier tradition of Indian metrics.

1.2. In his study of Tamil poetry, George L. Hart III, The poems of ancient Tamil: their milieu and their Sanskrit counterparts, University of California Press, 1975 (= Hart). aimed at defining the cultural milieu in which it was composed and the relationship with equivalent types of Sanskrit and Middle Indo-Aryan, George L. Hart has made an interesting and new suggestion about the way in which the āryā metre came into being, completely rejecting the generally accepted idea that the āryā metre was developed, Hart, p. 206, note 7: “It appears virtually certain that the Pāli gaṇacchandas metres must have come from a southern source.” together with other gaṇacchandas metres from earlier mātrāchandas metres. He points out that when the āryā metre is recited in modern-day Mahārāṣṭra, the usual pattern of 4, 4, 4/4, 4, 4, 4, 2//4, 4, 4/4, 4, 1, 4, 2// is replaced by 4, 4, 4/4, 4, 6, 4//4, 4, 4/4, 4, 6, 1//, i.e. “the sixth caturmātra of the first line comes together with the first two mātrās of the seventh to make two triplet rhythms that are together given the time of a regular caturmātra, while the last caturmātragaṇa of the second half absorbs the short syllable before it and one mātrā of the long syllable after it to produce a similar unit with two triplet rhythms.” Hart, p. 204. This analysis enables Hart to suggest a connection between the āryā metre and a number of Tamil metres which are made up of feet of either four or six mātrās (metrical instants).

1.3. A number of objections may be levelled against Hart’s suggestion. The type of āryā schematized above is the classical form of the metre with a long vowel of two mātrās at the end of each line. In the form in which the āryā is found in Pāli and Prakrit, the final syllable of each line is anceps, i.e. either long or short, so that the final gaṇa often has only one mātrā, not two. There is sometimes a tendency in Jaina texts composed in the āryā metre to lengthen the final syllable, e.g. of 3rd singular indicative endings in -ai to - but since this is also found in the cadence of śloka pādas where such lengthening is not required by the metre, it would seem to be a Jaina scribal idiosyncracy, and not the result of an attempt to conform to the classical āryā pattern. In any case, the lengthening of such particles as ca/ya, pi/vi, and ceva seems not to occur. This means that when the ‘borrowing’ from gaṇas, which Hart describes, takes place, there will be only three mātrās left in the last gaṇa in the first line, and the final single mātrā at the end of the second line would disappear altogether.

1.4. Another objection to Hart’s suggestion arises from the relative chronology of the texts in which the āryā metre occurs. Hart was considering only the āryā verses of Hāla’s Sattasāi, which he dated to the 2nd or 3rd centuries A.D., Hart, p. 207. while [p. 204] he dated the Tamil texts to the 1st to 3rd centuries A.D. Hart, p. 9. Although he mentions the existence of standard āryā verses in Pāli, he rejects Warder’s dating for the texts in which they occur, Hart, p. 206: “It seems to me that the dates which Warder gives for the first use of the new metres in Pāli are much too early.” preferring the 3rd or the 2nd centuries B.C., and he maintains that this is late enough for them to have been influenced by Tamil.6 He makes no reference to āryā verses in Jaina texts, and in particular he makes no mention of the earlier form of the āryā metre called old gīti, See § 3.l-9 below. which occurs in a handful of very early Prakrit and Pāli texts. He does not discuss the occurrence of the veḍha metre See § 4.1-6 below. in early prose texts in Prakrit, Pāli, and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit.

1.5. Already in the old gīti and veḍha metres the acceptance of the amphibrach /⏑−⏑/ I use // for a short vowel, // for a long vowel, and // for a vowel which is anceps (long or short). in certain gaṇas had been standardized. This is in contrast to the Tamil metres, where according to Hart the rhythm “is not commonly allowed”. Hart, p. 204, The statement is repeated on p. 206. Although he quotes Marr as saying that the rhythm is possible, Hart, p. 204, note 5. he does not make it clear whether it occurs more frequently than the example(s) he quotes. In any case, it is clear that this rhythm is as rare in Tamil poetry as it is common in Prakrit.

1.6. It seems clear that we must conclude that the simple hypothesis that the āryā metre in Middle Indo-Aryan is borrowed from Tamil cannot be upheld, and its origin must be sought elsewhere. I am convinced that Hart was able to make his suggestion, ill-founded as I believe it to be, because (despite the large amount of work which has been done on the problem of the origin of the āryā metre) there is no single modern study devoted to the question. The work already done tends to be scattered through the pages of journals, and books devoted to the study of metre have only a portion devoted to the āryā metre, and are moreover restricted to its occurrence in a single language or dialect. e.g. A.K. Warder, Pāli Metre, London 1967 (= Warder), §§ 195-237.

1.7. In this paper, offered in honour of Professor N.A. Jayawickrama, I wish to state briefly the facts relating to the āryā metre in Middle Indo-Aryan, to put together the views of earlier scholars on the matter, and to give further evidence for rejecting Hart’s suggestion. I hope that a treatment which aims at referring to all the major evidence, albeit very briefly, will help to fill the gap I have just mentioned.


2. The mātrāchandas metres

2.1. The Vedic metres seem to be chants, with // contrasted with //. In the mātrāchandas and gaṇacchandas metres however, // is contrasted with /⏑⏑/, which seems to imply a musical basis to the metres. Warder, §§ 26, 121, 148. In the absence of any other explanation for this change which took place in IA metres at some date after the compilation of the gveda, it seems reasonable to assume that it was due to the indigenous peoples of North India, who combined their music with the IA metres, and produced what we may call ‘folk metres’.

2.2. The mātrāchandas metres seem to show a halfway position between the Vedic metres and the gaṇacchandas metres, because the licence to substitute /⏑⏑/ for // is restricted to the first half of the pāda (= the opening). In the second half (= the cadence) the form is fixed to /−⏑−⏑⏓/ (vaitālīya), /−⏑−⏑−⏓/ (aupacchandasaka), or /−⏑⏑−⏓/ (vegavatī). Warder, § 119. There are a few examples of the alternation between /⏑⏑/ and // in the cadence, e.g. Thī 379a; Sn 83c, 371c, 372c, 533b, 536d, 538d [Abbreviations of titles of Pāli texts are as in the Epilegomena to Vol. I of the Critical Pāli Dictionary (= CPD)].

[p. 205] 2.3. Many authorities agree See Warder, § 143 foll. that the mātrāchandas metres are derived from metres found in the Vedas, with the alternation between // and /⏑⏑/ introduced, e.g. an anuṣṭubh pāda /−−−−⏑−⏑⏓/ with resolution of the third long syllable into two shorts gives the vaitālīya prior pāda /−−⏑⏑−⏑−⏑⏓/. The variation in the length of the opening between the prior and posterior pādas of the mātrāchandas metres can also be paralleled in the mixed metre verses of the gveda. Warder, § 120. It is noteworthy that, even when verses are made by mixing vaitālīya and aupacchandasaka pādas, a prior vaitālīya pāda is always followed by a posterior aupacchandasaka pāda.

2.4. The mātrāchandas metres in Pāli and Prakrit are found only in texts See Warder, § 217 for Pāli (Dhp, Ud, Vv, Pv, and A, beside Sn, Th, Thī, Cp, Ap, S, Ja, and D). For Ardha-Māgadhī see L. Alsdorf, “Uttarajjhāyā Studies”, IIJ VI, p. 111 (Sūyagaḍaṁga, Uttarajjhāyaṇa, and Dasaveyāliya). which, for various reasons, are thought to be old and composed at an early state of the Buddhist and Jaina religions, when they were still confined to the Magadha region. Warder suggests that the name māgadhikā, which is sometimes given to the vaitālīya metre, probably implies that the metre was invented in Magadha. Warder, § 117.

2.5. The Pāli tradition responsible for transmitting texts in mātrāchandas metres seems to have been ignorant of those metres, and consequently mutilated them badly. Warder, §§ 18, 127. The Jaina knowledge of the metres does not seem to have been much better. Alsdorf, IIJ VI, p. 116. This is presumably because in both traditions the metres dropped out of use at an early date, and knowledge about them disappeared. Knowledge of the mātrāchandas metres did, however, remain in North India after Buddhism and Jainism moved further afield, and we find texts containing mātrāchandas metres in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit and classical Sanskrit, although there they have fixed forms, and lack the flexibility which we find in Pāli and Prakrit. Warder, § 152.


3. The old gīti metre

3.1. If a vaitālīya prior pāda is sung in four-beats-to-a-bar time, then there are bars (gaṇas) of /−−/,/⏑⏑−/, and /⏑−⏑/, with a syllable left over. If a vegavatī prior pāda is sung in a similar way, then there are bars of /−−/,/⏑⏑−/, and/⏑⏑−/, with a syllable left over. If an aupacchandasaka prior pāda is sung in this way, then the extra syllable in the cadence gives another bar of four beats /−−/.

3.2. If the second gaṇa in a vegavatī prior pāda, sung in this way, is ‘syncopated’ from /⏑⏑−/, to /⏑−⏑/, to make a contrast with the third gaṇa, which is also /⏑⏑−/, then we can see how the gaṇacchandas metres evolved from the mātrāchandas metres, Warder (§ 203, 225) follows Jacobi in supposing that the old gīti evolved from the vaitālīya, but it seems necessary to assume a development from the vegavatī. It is, however, possible that Warder is using the term “vaitālīya” to include vegavatī. Since Hart is suggesting an entirely different development, it is not surprising that he finds (p. 206 note 7) “Warder’s attempt to derive the Pāli gaṇacchandas from what he supposes to be an earlier mattachandas ... wholly unconvincing.” with the amphibrach /⏑−⏑/ already in the second gaṇa.

3.3. If a vegavatī prior pāda is followed by a vegavatī posterior pāda, then the additional long syllable (or two short syllables) at the beginning of the posterior pāda combine(s) with the syllable left over at the end of the prior pāda (as seen in § 3.1) to form a fourth gaṇa, while the remainder of the pāda falls into a gaṇa pattern exactly as in § 3.1. Alsdorf (IIJ II, p. 252) quotes Jacobi as noting that apart from the initial mātrās before the “fifth gaṇa”, the posterior pāda is identical with the prior pāda. A ‘syncopated’ gaṇa in the same place in the pāda as described in § 3.2 will give another amphibrach in what is now the sixth gaṇa: /−−/⏑−⏑/⏑⏑−/*///−−/⏑−⏑/⏑⏑−/*/.

[p. 206] 3.4. This is precisely the pattern of the old gīti metre. This name, which is the one used by Warder, Warder, § 198. seems preferable to the name ‘old āryā’ which was used by Jacobi, and following him by Schubring and Alsdorf, H. Jacobi, ZDMG 38, 1884, p. 596; W. Schubring, Ācārānga-sūtra, Erster Śrutaskandha, Leipzig 1910, p. 60; L. Alsdorf, IIJ II, pp. 249 foll. because both lines are the same, as in the case of the classical gīti. In this paper I shall follow Warder, even when I am quoting the views of the afore-mentioned German scholars.

3.5. That this is indeed the origin of the old gīti metre is shown by the fact, first pointed out by Jacobi, Jacobi, ZDMG 38, 1884, p. 596. and echoed by Alsdorf, Alsdorf, IIJ II, p. 252. that in the old gīti the first syllable of the fourth gaṇa, i.e. the one before the caesura, is anceps, which is a certain sign that it was originally the last syllable of a pāda.

3.6. When the second half of the line starts with one long or two short syllables, after a short syllable at the end of the first half, then the fourth gaṇa contains only three mātrās. When we include the possibility of the second half of the line starting, exceptionally, with a long and a short syllable, or even two long syllables, after a long syllable at the end of the first half, we find that the mātrā count of the fourth gaṇa can be anything between three and six mātrās. The recitation of such a line by the modem Mahārāṣṭra method (described in § 1.2) would then, of course, be impossible. This fact helps to confirm the incorrectness of Hart’s suggestion.

3.7. Where the first half of the line ends in a short syllable, and the second half starts with a long and a short syllable, then we have another amphibrach /⏑−⏑/ giving amphibrachs in the second, fourth, and sixth gaṇas. As, in the course of time, under the influence of the fact that the other gaṇas had four mātrās, the four-mātrā pattern of the fourth gaṇa became the standard one, then with a shift of the position of the caesura we have the classical gīti metre. In my examination of the old gīti verses of the eighth chapter of the Uttarajjhāyaṇa-sutta, In Mahāvira and his teachings, Bombay 1977, pp. 13-14 (where I called the metre “old āryā”). I showed how in several verses changes could be made very simply, metri causa (= m.c.), to give the amphibrach pattern. With the standardization of the amphibrach pattern /⏑−⏑/ in the second, fourth, and sixth gaṇas, came its exclusion from the first, third, fifth, and seventh gaṇas.

3.8. The old gīti metre occurs in three suttas in Ardha-Magadhī For Ardha-Māgadhi see Alsdorf, IIJ II, p. 250 (Āyāraṁga 1.9; Sūyagaḍaṁga 1.4; Uttarajjhayaṇa 8); for Pāli see Alsdorf, Die Āryā-Strophen des Pāli-Kanons, Mainz 1968 (Sn 143-52; 915-34; M I 386). and three in Pāli, For Pāli see Alsdorf, Āryā-Strophen, p. 18 (Ja, Ud); Dr Mette has pointed out the existence of eight old gīti verses in the Āvaśyaka-Cūrṇi (“The tales belonging to the namaskāra-vyākhyā of the Āvaśyaka-Cūrṇi”, IT XI, 1983, pp. 129-44). and in a handful of individual verses. These suttas and verses appear in texts which for various reasons are considered to be old, For Sn see M. Winternitz, History of Indian Literature, Vol. II, Calcutta 1933, pp. 92-93; for M see pp. 46-53; for Āyār. see pp. 435-36: for Sūyag. see pp. 438-41; for Utt. see pp. 466-70. and to belong to the earliest strata of Buddhist and Jaina texts, and we may therefore conclude that like the verses in the mātrāchandas metres (§ 2.4) they were probably composed in the Magadha region.

3.9. The old gīti metre appears not to exist outside these texts. The reason for this must be that it is a transitional stage of the metre. Probably its period of greatest use was at a time even before the composition of these early Middle Indo-Aryan texts, and it was just going out of use when they were composed. The classical gīti metre, into which it evolved, was not greatly used, as far as can be judged from the extant Middle Indo-Aryan literature. For the Sattasaī we have: gīti (274), udgīti (598), upagīti (521, 593, 698). For Pāli we have: gīti (Th 91; Thī 216, 505), udgīti (Th 359), upagīti (Th 489, 587, 588, 589, 591). It was, perhaps, somewhere other than Magadha or Mahārāṣṭra, [p. 207] which are the regions from which most of our early Middle Indo-Aryan texts come, where much of the experimentation with the gīti-based metres took place, and where the gīti remained in use until classical Ski times.

4. The veḍha metre

4.1. Akin to the gaṇacchandas metres, and considered to lie between the old gīti and the classical gīti and āryā metres in date of development, W. Schubring, Worte Mahāvīras, Göttingen 1926, p. 3, says: “Vorlaufer der Āryā ist auch der Veḍha.” comes the veḍha, a type of rhythmical prose found in the very oldest prose texts in Ardha-Māgadhi, Pāli, and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, In the Jaina canon they are found in the Samosaraṇa of the Ovavāiya, Jinacariya, Nāyādhammakahāo, Samavāya, Paṇhāvāgaraṇaiṁ, and Sūyagaḍa; in non-canonical Prakrit they occur in the Vasudevahiṇḍi; in Pāli they occur in the Kuṇālajātaka; in BHS they are found in the Lalitavistara and Divyāvadāna. in the so-called varṇakas. Sanskrit varṇaka; Prakrit vaṇṇaya. In Jaina texts they are used especially in descriptive compounds, which become stereotyped and are omitted in the later canonical texts, the word vaṇṇao being written where the compounds are to be inserted. Winternitz expressed doubt as to whether the veḍha was in fact a metre, M. Winternitz, History of Indian Literature, Vol. II, p. 451 note 1: “veḍha is mentioned after gāhā and siloga, but it is not certain whether it here means a metre.” but the quotations given by Dr Mette Adelheid Mette, “Veḍhas in Lalitavistara and Divyāvadāna”, WZKS XVII, 1973, p. 31 note 56: veḍho chanda-jāti; veḍhāḥ chando-viśeṣāḥ; veḍha tti veśṭakāḥ - chando-viśeṣāḥ. make it clear that the Indian tradition did in fact so regard it.

4.2. Jacobi was the first to discover and examine the veḍha, H. Jacobi, “Indische Hypermetra und hypermetrische Texte”, Ind. Stud. XVII, 1885, pp. 389 foll. of which he found some hundreds of examples in the Jaina canon. According to his investigations, it would seem that a veḍha should have an even number of gaṇas, not less than four and extendable to 28, eight being the favourite number. Quoted by Warder, § 219. Each gaṇa should contain four mātrās. Varṇakas which consist of only three gaṇas are, according to Jacobi, Jacobi, Ind. Stud. XVII, p. 393. remains of longer units.

4.3. The veḍha, like the old gīti has amphibrachs, but in the odd-numbered gaṇas, not the even ones. Warder has pointed out Warder, § 219. the similarity in this respect to the later gurviṇī. If we take an aupacchandasaka prior pāda, we have seen above (§ 3.1) that sung to a four-beats-to-a-bar time it gives four bars (gaṇas). If such a pāda has the opening /⏑⏑−/⏑⏑−/, and we assume ‘syncopation’ of the first gaṇa from /⏑⏑−/ to /⏑−⏑/ to make a contrast with the second gaṇa, which is also /⏑⏑−/, then we have an amphibrach in the first gaṇa as well as one in the third, i.e. we have a perfect veḍha on Jacobi’s pattern: /⏑−⏑/⏑⏑−/⏑−⏑/−−/. This shows clearly how the basic veḍha came into existence. The favourite veḍha of eight gaṇas is simply the basic veḍha repeated twice. For the “hypermetric” nature of veḍhas whose gaṇas are not a multiple of four, cf. the “rhythm continued” verses in Sn (see PJ II 642, 644).

4.4. Sen examined the veḍhas in the Paṇhāvāgaraṇāiṁ, and concluded from their form, and from the fact that the classical form of the āryā metre was beginning to appear in that text, that they represented a later form of the veḍha. Amulyachandra Sen, A critical introduction to the Paṇhāvāgaraṇāiṁ, Würzburg 1936, p. 10: “... the weakening of the veḍha rules must be supposed to separate our text from the ‘classical’ veḍha epoch ... the occurrence of a few instances of Gāthā [= āryā] brings our text to so late a stage in the veḍha epoch as to synchronize with the beginning of the last stratum of metrical composition [i.e. those texts in which Gāthā (āryā) of the common form predominates]”.

4.5. The veḍha occurs in Pāli in the canonical prose of the Kuṇālajātaka, V. Trenckner (Mil 426 ad 205,10) seems to have been the first to notice canonical prose in the Kuṇālajātaka (the only Jātaka in which prose occurs). H. Oldenberg also refers to the fact (JPTS 1910-12, p. 26 note 3), without acknowledgement to Trenckner. E. Leumann seems to have been the first to notice veḍhas in the Kuṇālajātaka, probably in 1910, although his observation was not published until 1934 (Ubersicht über die Āvaśyaka-Literatur, Hamburg 1934, p. 4 note *). Warder does not refer to veḍhas in Pāli. and has been investigated by Bollée. WB Bollée, Kuṇāla-jātaka, London 1970 (= Bollée), pp. 169-72. He has pointed out the existence of several veḍhas there with odd numbers of gaṇas, up to 17 in number, which goes against Jacobi’s findings that they should consist of an even number of gaṇas. Some of the 18 veḍhas which occur in that text lack the first gaṇa, Vedhas, no. 3, 4, 5, and 18 in Bollée’s list. i.e. the amphibrach /⏑−⏑/ is in the even gaṇas. This may be due to corruption. As Bollée points out, Bollée, p. 167. it is no wonder that the varṇakas, being in a more obscure metre than the āryā, were liable to corruption and addition. Since the varṇaka is used in the Kuṇāla-jātaka for stereotyped descriptions of flowers, trees, etc., it would not be surprising if other names and attributes were inserted Bollée, p. 168. into the compounds by those who did not realise that they were metrical.

[p. 208] 4.6. On the other hand, it is not impossible that the Pāli veḍhas may represent a genuine variety of the standard veḍha with amphibrachs in the even, not the odd, gaṇas, and which therefore stands to the standard veḍha in just the same way as the āryā stands to the gurviṇī. Possibly, however, they represent a later development. Bollée points out Bollée, p. 168. other examples of metrical licence not found in the Ardha-Māgadhī veḍhas, which supports the view that the Pāli form of the veḍha is slightly later than the Ardha-Māgadhī form.


5. The āryā metre in Pāli.

5.1. It is generally agreed Warder, § 227, quoting Jacobi. that there was an historical development from the old gīti to the classical form of the metre. As Alsdorf states, Alsdorf, IIJ, II p. 252. the classical gīti orginated from the coalescence of the two (originally separate) pādas of the old gīti, combined with a shift of the caesura. Some trace of the older caesura position is perhaps to be seen in those āryā verses which do not have the caesura at the end of the third gaṇa, in which case the fourth gaṇa is (almost) invariably /⏑−⏑/ or /⏑⏑⏑⏑/. Alsdorf, Thera- and Therī-gāthā, 2nd edition, London 1966, Appendix II, p. 234. The other gaṇacchandas metres, including the āryā with its truncated second line, were derived from the classical gīti by introducing various types of ‘syncopation’ and/or rest towards the end of the line. Warder, (§ 228) rejects the idea of a musical “rest” in favour of syncopation.

5.2. Further evidence for the belief that the old gīti, by way of the classical gīti, is the origin of the gaṇacchandas metres is given by the fact, pointed out by Warder, Warder, § 203. that six of the nine classical gaṇacchandas metres have gīti as part of their name. The fact that their names are derived from gīti suggests that the metres themselves were derived from the gīti metre.

5.3. Hart, however, suggests Hart, p. 207. that by the time the āryā and gīti metres appeared in Pāli, Pāli literature had been exposed to Southern elements in Central India, and perhaps in Ceylon as well. He is able to make such a suggestion because, as stated above (§ 1.4), he reject’s Warder’s dating of the new metres to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., A.K. Warder, /ntroduction to Pali, London 1963, p. 358. and favours dates in the 3rd or 2nd centuries B.C. at the earliest. Hart, p. 207.

5.4. It has already been stated (§ 3.8) that the old gīti metre occurs in Pāli only in old texts, which can be dated much earlier than the 3rd or 2nd centuries B.C., and can reasonably be assumed to have been composed in the Magadha region. Even verses in the classical form of the āryā metre occur in texts which can be assumed to have been composed before the time of the Third Council, See Norman, EV1, London 1969, pp. xxvii-xxix, and EV11, London 1971, pp. xxvii-xxxi. which took place c. 250 B.C. during the reign of Aśoka. There is, in fact, abundant evidence that the gaṇacchandas metres were not in general use in Pāli outside Magadha.

5.5. It is clear that the knowledge and understanding of the old and classical forms of the gīti and āryā metres were lost at a comparatively early date. The total number of verses in gaṇacchandas metres in Pāli is about 450, Alsdorf, Thera- and Therī-gāthā, 2nd edition, London 1966, Appendix II, p.233. and there is a tendency for them to be corrupted into the śloka metre, which was the more common metre [p. 209] in later Pāli texts. This tendency was aided by the fact that some pādas can be scanned as both gaṇacchandas and śloka, as Alsdorf notes. ibid., p. 234. There was, however, no tendency for śloka pādas to be corrupted into gaṇacchandas pādas.

5.6. As Alsdorf states, ibid., p. 233. the āryā metre fell into disuse in Pāli after the ‘emigration’ of the language from India to Ceylon. The only examples of āryā verses known to me in pre-sixth century A.D. non-canonical Pāli are in texts which are probably to be regarded as of North Indian origin or authorship, e.g. there are āryā verses in the Netti-pakaraṇa, Nett 1-5 (pointed out by Leumann, according to Nett pp. xxii foll.). The text is probably Northern according to āṇamoli (The Guide, London 1962, p. xxviii). and the introductions and conclusions by Buddhaghosa to his commentaries are also in the āryā metre. e.g. Sv 1-2; Ps I 1-2; V 109-10; Spk 11-2; III 308; Mp I 1-3; V 98-99.


6. The āryā metre in Prakrit

6.1. As in the case of Pāli, the development from the old gīti to the later form of the metre must have taken place early on in Prakrit, for the classical form of the āryā metre is already found in the oldest texts of the Jaina canon. W. Schubring, Worte Mahāvīras, Göttingen 1926, p. 3. The Uttarajjhāyaṇa-sutta has over 100 āryā verses, although some may be later interpolations, L. Alsdorf, The Āryā stanzas of the Uttarajjhāyā, Mainz 1966, pp. 5-8. and the nijjuttis (some of which are regarded as canonical) are almost entirely in the āryā metre. Whereas the use of the āryā metre in Pāli ceased when Buddhism migrated from Magadha, there was no break in the Jaina tradition, and the āryā metre became the favourite metre of Jaina authors.

6.2. The metre was also used in Hāla’s Sattasaī, a secular text in Mahārāṣṭrī. Hart, as stated above (§ 1.4), dates this text to the 2nd or 3rd centuries A.D., Hart, p. 207. but I see no reason for not dating, at least some portions of it, to an earlier date. I see no cause to reject a theory than an anthology was made by a king called Hāla in the 2nd century A.D., but the date of the collection has no bearing upon the date of the composition of individual verses, except for those which are ascribed to the compiler of the anthology himself. The linguistic evidence which has been used to date the material is by no means as conclusive as some scholars have thought. Keith A.B. Keith, History of Sanskrit Literature, London 1928, p. 224. placed most emphasis upon the weakening of consonants in the Sattasaī (i.e. the development to -y-), and claimed that this could not have happened until A.D. 200. According to Mehendale, M.A. Mehendale, Historical grammar of inscriptional Prakrits, Poona 1948, pp. 210-13. however, the change occurs in inscriptions of the 1st century B.C. There is now evidence that it occurred in pre-Pāli Prakrit, See K.R. Norman, “Four etymologies from the Sabhiya-sutta, § 7.1, in Buddhist Studies in honour of Walpola Rahula, London 1980, and Lüders, Beob., §§ 88-115. and so the linguistic evidence could support an origin as early as the 3rd century B.C.

6.3. The āryā metre was widely used at a later date in Mahārāṣṭra by Jaina authors, and were it not for the existence of the Sattasaī it would seem probable that the knowledge of the metre was brought with Jainism to that country from Magadha. The earlier, however, we date the Sattasaī the less likely it is that this was so, and we must consider other possibilities. Clearly the metre could have developed independently in the two countries, or it could have originated in Mahārāṣṭra and thence been taken to Magadha, or it could have originated in a third country and been introduced into both from there.


7. Conclusions

[p. 210] 7.1. We must assume that when the Indo-Aryans entered India from the North-West at some time in the second millenium B.C., they found North India populated by peoples who spoke Dravidian languages. As the Indo-Aryans conquered the country, and imposed their language upon the subject peoples, certain aspects of the Dravidian languages and culture inevitably remained and left their mark upon the invaders. It is to this Northern Dravidian influence T. Burrow, “Sanskrit and the pre-Aryan tribes and languages”, in Collected papers on Dravidian linguistics, Annamalainagar 1968, p. 325. that we can ascribe the Dravidian words which we find in early Sanskrit, rather than to borrowing by the Indo-Aryans from the Dravidians whom they found as their southern neighbours in classical times. ibid., p.326.

7.2. Among the cultural influences, which the Indo-Aryans adopted from the Dravidian sub-strate they absorbed within themselves, were music and metre. The imposition of the brahmanical religion upon the subjected peoples led to their knowledge of Vedic metres, but their tendency to sing rather than to chant, and to make use of musical syncopation, led to a flexibility being introduced into the old Vedic metres in a way which completely transformed them.

7.3. Under the influence of the indigenous music which allowed an alternation of // and /⏑⏑/, the Vedic metres developed into the mātrāchandas metres. The same music, with four beats to a bar, led to the division of the newly developed mātrāchandas metres into bars with four beats in each (gaṇas), some of which could be varied considerably in form, while others (sometimes the odd bars, and sometimes the even ones), were much more restricted in form. Certain patterns of these bars gave the form of the old gīti metre. From this developed the classical gīti, from which came the āryā metre.

7.4. In the gaṇacchandas metres which we find in the earliest Pāli and Prakrit texts available to us, which we can confidently date to the earliest period of Buddhism and Jainism, i.e. the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., and locate in Magadha, we find that the use of the amphibrach /⏑−⏑/ was already established in fixed positions. This must rule out any direct connection with the Tamil metres, where the use of amphibrachs is very limited, as we have seen above (§ 1.5).

7.5. Although our evidence for the early use of the āryā metre is virtually confined to Magadha (Pāli and Ardha-Māgadhī) and Mahārāṣṭra (the Sattasaī), it is not necessary to assume that the āryā metre was evolved in one or other of these two countries and then carried to the other. Whichever way the movement went, it is clear that the metre must have been known in the areas between the two regions. This opens up the possibility that the place of origin of the metre could have been in some third place.

7.6. If we assume that the development just described (§ 7.3) was centred upon an area somewhere between Magadha and Mahārāṣṭra, then we can assume that the metres were carried eastwards and westwards, probably by travelling folk musicians [p. 211] who used the metres for secular purposes. When the metres reached Magadha and Mahārāṣṭra, the period of experimentation in their use was nearly over, and in their early forms (old gīti and veḍha) they did not find great favour. There are only limited traces of the old gīti metre in texts derivable from Magadha, as stated above (§ 3.8), and no example of the metre is found in texts from Mahārāṣṭra. Even the mātrāchandas metres upon which the gaṇacchandas metres were based did not prove very popular in those areas. There are only limited traces in texts from Magahda, and none in those from Mahārāṣṭra.

7.7. It seems likely that the experimentation which led to the later forms of the gaṇacchandas metres, including the classical gīti, also took place outside Magadha and Mahārāṣṭra, for as stated above (§ 3.9), the gīti and allied metres, except for the āryā, are rare in both Pāli and Prakrit. Nevertheless these metres remained in use somewhere outside the two regions, and were used again much later in classical Sanskrit.

7.8. The āryā metre won the battle to be the most popular gaṇacchandas metre. It could, by coincidence, have done this independently in both Magadha and Mahārāṣṭra, but it seems likely that it won the battle outside these two areas, and was carried into both of them. It arrived in Magadha in time to be adopted by both the Buddhists and the Jains, probably because it was a folk metre, which therefore appealed to both religions because it represented a rejection of the brahmanical metres, just as they favoured non-brahmanical Middle Indo-Aryan dialects rather than the brahmanical Sanskrit.

7.9. The Buddhists adopted the āryā metre just before they closed their canon and took it to Ceylon. They had not had sufficient experience of the metre before they left for it to have become part of their literary tradition, and they consequently made no further use of it, with the exception of the texts mentioned above (§ 5.6). The Jains remained in North India, adopted the āryā metre and made great use of it.

7.10. The āryā metre arrived in Mahārāṣṭra in time for it to have become the dominant metre for secular poetry long before the Sattasaī was compiled, which accounts for the almost complete exclusion of other metres from that text.

7.11. Although in the first section of this paper I rejected Hart’s suggestion about the origin of the āryā metre from Tamil metres as being untenable, it is nevertheless clear that some indigenous (Dravidian) influence played a part in its origin. Perhaps the difference of our views can be summed up by saying that by Hart’s thesis the relationship between the gaṇacchandas metres and the Tamil metres would be that of mother and daughter (or perhaps of sisters); by my reckoning they are no more than very distant cousins.