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A Study of the Metre of Pārāyanavagga
In this paper I have used the following conventions:
⏑ = light syllable
− = heavy syllable
× = anceps (i.e. the syllable may be either light or heavy, but is always counted as heavy)
Before going on to an examination of the metres themselves there are some factors about the scansion of the text that need to be considered here, these concern conjunct consonants, sarabhatti vowels, change of word form owing to the metre, and resolution of syllables.
a) As is well known, there are in Pāḷi conjunct consonants that fail to make the preceding syllable long, as can be seen from their position in certain positions where the weight of the syllable can be considered to be established. The most regular of these conjuncts which fails to make position is br. In the text as here presented we can see that br fails to make position in the following words:
brāhmaṇ-, 979d, Although the text which follows is of Pārāyanavagga as it appears in Cullaniddesa, I have given references to the verse numbers as they appear in the European edition of Sn to facilitate comparison with PJ II & GD II.01 999b, 1006b, 1008b, 1018d, 1028a, 1029b, 1100b, 1125d, 1140b
brahm-, 1024a, 1065a
brūmi, 1046e, 1048d, 1060d, 1078d, 1080f, 1082bg, 1083g
I therefore take it that it also fails to make position at 1081e, and include the reading munī brūsi accordingly, and I have marked short syllables which are followed by br as short in all cases.
When br occurs medially however, it regularly does make position, as can be seen in the following cases:
abravi, 981d, 986d
pabrūhi, 999c, 1036c, 1105e, 1107c,
I have therefore marked short syllables that are followed by br in medial position as being long.
I also take by in byañjanaṁ at 1017b, as failing to make position.
b) Sarabhatti, or partial vowels, are vowels that have been written, but which have to be ignored when determining the metre of the text. When the sarabhatti vowel is ignored it means that there is then a conjunct consonant to be taken into consideration. For example, the word Araha looks like it should be scanned as ⏑⏑⏑, but when we take into account the sarabhatti vowel we find that it needs to be scanned as −⏑. In the text as presented here I have counted sarabhatti vowels in the following words:
Araha, Please note that in this paper and in the text that follows sarabhatti vowels are normally written in superscript as here.02 1003d
c) Change of word form. Sometimes the form of a word is changed to meet the demands of the metre. This usually involves the lengthening or shortening of syllables, or the changing of niggahīta to labial -m (which has the effect of making the syllable light) or dropping it altogether.
The change -ṁ > -m is probably the most frequent in occurence in the texts of all changes that take place with the metre as the cause, but it cannot readily be illustrated as the same change also takes place occasionally in prose, and it is therefore impossible to distiguish where the change has happened solely by reason of the metre.
In the text that follows I note the following changes have taken place with the metre as the cause:
Final i lengthened:
Bāvarī, 981a, 984d, 994b, 995b, 1025b, 1028a, 1029a
munī, 1058b, 1074c, 1075c, 1081e
Medial i lengthened:
anūpadhīkaṁ, 1057b, 1083b
Final i shortened:
Medial a lengthened:
anānuyāyī, 1071d, 1072d, 1073a
Final a shortened:
hitva, 1071b, 1072b
va, 1024a, 1030a, 1082c, 1083c, 1090b, 1091b
Lengthening of u
anūpadhīkaṁ, 1057b, 1083b
Doubling of consonant:
Simplification of consonant:
Loss of final niggahīta:
Assimilation of niggahīta:
jappābhilepanaṁ (= jappaṁ abhi- > jappa' abhi-) , 1033c
etābhinandāmi (= etaṁ abhi- > eta' abhi-), 1057a, 1083a
vācābhikaṅkhāmi (vācaṁ abhi- > vāca' abhi-), 1061b
munīdha (muniṁ idha > muni' idha), 1078b
In order to correct the metre we need to read some normally long syllables as short:
sŏ, 1075a, 1130c
d) In another work See my Outline of the Metres in the Pāḷi Canon03 I have stated that there is an hitherto unrecognised rule in Pāḷi metrical composition, which says that when syllables are resolved it is normally the first 2 syllables of a word that are concerned in the resolution. This should not be taken as affirming that it is always the initial syllables that are affected, as the word in which resolution takes place may be the second member in a compound, or preceded by one or more prefixes, and quite often is itself a prefix. To give an example, in the word paṭivasati, according to the rule we may take the 1st & 2nd syllable as resolved, or the 3rd & 4th; however, there cannot be resolution of the 2nd & 3rd, or the 4th & 5th. There seems to be a small exception to the general rule, in that the negative particle na occasionally appears to form the first half of a resolved syllable, perhaps because there was felt to be a close semantic affinity between the negative and the word it modifies. 04 In the text I have marked what I consider to be unambiguous cases of this rule by underlining in the metrical markings the syllables concerned, they can be seen in the following places, with resolution at the 1st syllable: 984a, 990a, 995cd, 1011b, 1014d, 1015a, 1016a, 1047c, 1050c, 1065a, 1081f, 1086a, 1092f, 1097a, 1102a, 1110c.
at the 3rd: 1003d, 1116c; 4th: 1084c, 1135c; 5th: 995d, 1131a; 6th: 1023a, 1130c; 7th: 1002a, 1149d.
There are some others which may be considered ambiguous, and which therefore need to be examined carefully.
1) The scansion of the line Avijjāya nivuto loko at 1033a looks like this ⏑−−⏑⏑⏑−−−. The rule of resolution would say that if there is resolution here it is at the 5th (i.e. nivuto). If that is so then it leaves the metre slightly wrong, as there is no vipulā showing the necessary pattern (⏓−−⏑−−−×). In his notes in GD II (pg 367), Norman puts the resolution at the 4th, if that is so then what we have is an acceptable Siloka pathyā variation. The line however is in reply to the question Kenassu nivuto loko? It may be, therefore, that the line here should simply be regarded as containing 9 syllables, a situation which has arisen because this is an answer that has been given in imitation of the question line.
2) At line 1040e we find the following: Kaṁ brūsi Mahāpuriso ti? The line is virtually repeated in the answer at 1042c, exchanging Taṁ for Kaṁ, which makes no difference metrically.05 The scansion reads −−⏑⏑−⏑⏑−⏑. According to the rule the resolution must be at the 6th in puriso, but again that leaves the metre slightly wrong (−−⏑⏑−−−⏑), as the mavipulā, which it closely resembles normally has a heavy 4th syllable. Norman (GD II, p. 368) counts the syllable as resolved at the 3rd, which would give an acceptable savipulā. However, we many times find in the texts that purisa must be read as posa, which is an alternative form of the word.
There is another line, at 1140a, which involves resolution, which leaves the line irregular. In this case, however, there is nothing that goes against the rule as such, but rather even with its aid we are still left with a slightly irregular line, in this line the resolution cannot be at any other syllable. There are a couple of other ambiguous cases, at 1122c, & 1146c. But again we are not dealing with alternative explanations. Either there is resolution, or the metre is incorrect. If there is resolution in these cases we have to count a normally long syllable as short in order to make the resolution, by reading na tŭyhaṁ, -uyh- in Tuyhaṁ is normally read as a long syllable, cf., cf 1030a & 1061b06 & ĕvam respectively.
Given that there are 27 unambiguous cases In Aṭṭhakavagga I count the following as unambiguous: At the 1st: 774b, 783b, 787a, 791a, 796a, 827c, 830d, 831b, 832b, 862b, 863b, 869c, 870c, 876d, 888c, 889c, 890c, 893c, 895b, 900d, 901b, 907d, 908d, 909d, 963a, 965a, 969cd, 970d, 971d, 973ad; 3rd: 967a; 4th: 823a, 938d; 5th: 790d; 6th: 823c, 959a; 7th: 841a; to give jagaṇa ⏑−⏑ in the Old Gīti verses: 920d, 922d, 923b x 2, 924d, 925b, 929b x 2 (total: 47 instances).07 where we can count the rule of resolution as upheld; and a further 4 where resolution has probably taken place (and if so, it has taken place in line with the rule); and only 2 (or 3, if we count the virtual repetition of 1040e at 1042c), which may give slightly better interpretations if we go against the rule, I take it that the rule can be considered well founded on the evidence that has been presented here. No metrical rule is upheld 100%, of course, but we may take it that there is a rule if it is normally adhered to. I may add that as far as I have been able to discern the rule holds even better in medieval metrical compositions, but I am unable to bring the evidence forward at this point. There is a compliment to this rule, which I call the rule of replacement. This states that when replacement takes place it always does so after a caesura (cf. 1064c, 1068cd, 1076b, 1103d in the text). This shows that the presumption is that the first two syllables of a word are the ones that are being replaced. This further helps to confirm the rule, of course.08 The rule is of quite some importance it should be noted, as when it is taken into consideration it can help to identify correctly the variation that is being used in Siloka lines, and the underlying gaṇa structure in the bar metres.
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last updated: March 2011