The Prosody of the Patna Dharmapada
The prosody of the Patna Dharmapada is essentially the same as the prosody found in the Pāḷi rescension of the text. In the description below I will follow in outline my Introduction to the Prosody of the Dhammapada, and will add in comparative statistics from the Pāḷi text in square brackets.
As in the Pāḷi text we find in the Patna Dharmapada that resolution of a presumed heavy syllable into two light syllables is a common feature of the prosody. Here also we see that the rule of resolution has been adhered to. The rule states that when resolution takes place it always involves the first two syllables of a word (including words that appear in compound, and after a prefix).
In the following text I have counted 67 instances of resolution, roughly half of which involve the 1st syllable in the line. Most of the resoltuions occur in Śloka lines, but some also in Tuṭṭhubha / Jagatī lines, which are marked in red below (the lines marked in green are from a very unusual Aupacchandasaka line).
There is another possible case of resolution at 375a, but I believe there we need to read -
There is also a rule of replacement, where 2 presumed light syllables are replaced by a heavy one, and there we can understand again that it is the first two syllables in a word that are light. Replacement in this text takes place at 115c, 227c, 228c, and 350c, which are all Triṣṭubh lines.
Changes in word form
There are many changes that take place in the forms of words in order to meet the requirements of the metre. Below an attempt has been made to collect all the instances of this phenonema that I have noticed. Some forms are doubtful because of a lack of evidence, and I have tried to err on the side of caution.
long ī at the end of a word (14 instances ): There is a great discrepency between the Pāḷi and Patna texts here, because in the former many present tense verbs have their endings lengthened m.c. (e.g.
long ī medially (13 instances ):
other vowels lengthened medially (1 instance ):
consonants doubled unhistorically (3 instances ):
shortening of vowels (6 instances ):
consonant groups simplified (7 instances ):
anusvāra dropped (12 instances ):
Another important matter affecting the prosody of the text is the inclusion of svarabhakti vowels (broken or partial vowels), which are written in the text, but are normally ignored when reciting. We find svarabhakti vowels in the following words (here and in the text itself I mark svarabhakti vowels with superscript):
It appears that owing to metrical licence these vowels were sometimes pronounced, and we must count the vowel towards the metre in the following words:
Conjuncts not Making Position
In Pāḷi words do not normally begin with a conjunct consonant, There are exceptions such as words like
In Patna on the other hand normally the conjunct is written though in many cases we can see from the metre that this is orthographic only. In the following list I identify the places where I believe we have to ignore the conjunct in order to produce a correct reading metrically:
sometimes a conjunct that appears mid-word also has to be ignored:
but there are also some places where we have to count the conjunct in order to get a good reading metrically:
There are many places where we simply can't tell from the metre whether we should mark the preceding syllable as light or heavy. As the majority have to be marked light, I mark the following as light also:
2: The Metres
In the text which follows there are 1734 lines in all (as against 1733 in the Pāḷi Dhammapada); and just as in the Pāḷi text there are just five metres found in the Patna Dharmapada:
1. Śloka (1393 lines = 696 pādayugas = 80% [86%])
2. Vaitālīya (96 lines = 6% [5%])
3. Aupacchandasaka (88 lines = 5% [0.5%]) The reason for there being a higher percentage of Aupacchandasaka lines in Patna is because of the inclusion of the Uraga Verses, which also accounts for the total percentage of Śloka verses being less.
4. Triṣṭubh (129 lines = 7% [7%])
5. Jagatī (28 lines = 2% [2%])
I will give here a short description of the metres, though they are in all respects similar to the metres we find in Pāḷi Canonical prosody.
The Śloka metre accounts for 80% of the verses in the Patna Dharmapada. It is an eight-syllable ardhasamavtta metre, having a normal or regular structure and 6 variations. The distribution of the lines is as follows:
Pathyā (580 pādayugas, 83% [82%])
mavipulā (44 pādayugas, 6% [7%])
bhavipulā (30 pādayugas, 4% [3%])
navipulā (22 pādayugas, 3% [2%])
ravipulā (9 pādayugas)
savipulā (6 pādayugas)
Anuṣṭubh (3 pādayugas)
The Pathyā (normal) structure is as follows:
As in all the Śloka lines the opening syllable of both the prior and the posterior lines may be a light syllable or a heavy syllable or occasionally two light syllables, when a heavy syllable is presumed resolved. 29 of the Śloka lines (just over 2%) show resolution at the 1st syllable: 8a, 9c, 20c, 21c, 39a, 51c, 61cd, 92a, 107a, 108ac, 113d, 125d, 173d, 178a, 183a, 205ab, 271c, 274d, 283e, 291e, 296d, 299a, 324b, 349a, 357b, 367b. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th syllables are either light or heavy, though sometimes we can see that two lights are avoided in 2nd and 3rd positions, this is by no means always adhered to. Syllables have been changed in weight to avoid this opening at the following places: 40c, 165a, 352b, 353b, 354b, 355b, 356b, and I also count
What was said above about the opening of the prior line also applies to the opening of the posterior line. Then comes the characteristic cadence to the pādayuga (pair of lines), light-heavy-light-heavy. The distinguishing mark of the Pathyā is the cadence of the prior line, and it is mainly the different structure of that section that account for the variations (vipulā).
The variations make up some 17% of the Śloka lines. The most common one in the Patna Dharmapada is mavipulā which has the following structure:
Many times (though not invariably) we find the opening of the prior line looks like this: −−⏑−¦, and there should be a break after the 5th syllable. If both of these characteristics are missing I think we are no longer dealing with mavipulā, but with an irregular line, and I mark 274a as such.
The other variations are less common and can be distinguished by their prior line cadences:
There is a further variation that turns up at 261c, 339a, and 357a, which I call the Anuṣṭubh variation, owing to its similarlity to the Vedic metre of that name. Its structure is as follows:
That is, the prior line and the posterior line show the same structure. In the Śloka variations there is one other that is tolerated occasionally in the Pāḷi Canonical texts, but which doesn't appear here, that is the tavipulā, which has the following structure ⏓⏓⏓¦−−⏑×.
In this text as it stands there are some Śloka lines that are either short of a syllable or two, as 273b with 6 syllables, and 184a with 7 syllables; or have one syllable extra as at 6d, 73c, 147c, 158a, 174b, 207a, 209a, 212b, 232b, 245c, 257c, 259c, 306b, 307d, 312c, 340a, 360f, and 370d. Most of these lines can be corrected quite easily, and seem to be a question of orthography, rather than malformation. See the notes attending these lines.
Vaitālīya & Aupacchandasaka
These two metres are Mātrācchandas metres, whose structure is defined not by a syllable count, but by the number of mātras there are in a line, In Indian prosody a light syllable (⏑) is counted as one mātra and a heavy one (−) as two. and by structure of the opening and the cadence. In this text there are 96 lines (6% of the total) in the Vaitālīya metre; and 88 (5%) in Aupacchandasaka.
The basic form of the Vaitālīya line is as follows:
We can see from this outline that the opening comes in pairs of two syllables, there being 6 mātra in the prior and 8 mātra in the posterior line. Sometimes syncopation alters this structure, but not in a haphazard way, but always respecting the underlying structure of the line. The cadence, which is similar to that of the Śloka posterior line cadence, is always the same.
The two metres are similar in all respects except that there is an extra heavy syllable in penultimate position in the Aupacchandasaka metre, so that the structure is defined like this:
Sometimes these metres are mixed together in a verse, as at 52, 149, and 151; and we also find one verse having a mixture of Śloka (ab) and Vaitālīya (cd) at 100 and 101.
As the openings in these metres are in every respect similar, they can be treated together for description. In the prior line the form of the openings is as follows:
−−⏑⏑ 3c, 4c, 28a, 33ac, 52c, 104a, 105a, 119c, 131c, 132ac, 137c, 148c, 149a, 150c, 151ac, 160c, 161c, 162c, 213a, 239a, 276c, 277c, 363a, 398ac, 399ac, 400ac, 401ac, 402ac, 403ac, 404ac, 405ac, 406ac, 407ac, 408ac, 409ac, 410ac, 411ac, 412ac, 413c, 414c (58 lines = 62%)
⏑⏑−⏑⏑ 3a, 4a, 78ac, 101c, 118ac, 131a, 137a, 148a, 160a, 213c, 214ac, 239c, 300c, 301d, 362c (18 lines = 19%)
others (18 lines = 19%):
−⏑−⏑⏑ 28c, 52a, 100c, 162a, 362a — this is a variation of the opening listed above, where the 1st syllable has to be counted as light to fit the metre.
−⏑⏑− 150a, 161a, 276a, 286a
−−− 149c, 301a
⏑−⏑⏑⏑⏑ 119a — the 2nd syllable is probably to be counted as light
−⏑−⏑ 277a, 300a, 363c — this is a syncopated form
−⏑⏑⏑ 413a, 414a — these two lines are irregular, being one mātra short
The most common posterior opening looks like this:
⏑⏑−−⏑⏑ 4b, 28b, 78d, 131bd, 132bd, 137d, 148b, 149b, 150d, 151b, 160b, 213d, 239d, 276bd, 277d, 300bd, 362b, 363b, 398bd, 399bd, 400bd, 401bd, 402bd, 403bd, 404bd, 405bd, 406bd, 407bd, 408bd, 409bd, 410bd, 411d, 412d, 413bd, 414d (53 lines = 56%)
the following three are variations on this line:
⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑⏑ 161b — with 3rd syllable resolved
−⏑−−⏑⏑ 28d, 148b — with pādādiguru
⏑⏑−⏑⏑⏑ 162d — with light 4th syllable
−−−⏑⏑ 3d, 4d, 33bd, 52bd, 78b, 100d, 101d, 119b, 120b, 137b, 148c, 150a, 151d, 161d, 162b, 213b, 214bd, 239b, 277b, 301bc, 362d, 363d, 411b, 414b (28 lines = 30%)
others (10 lines):
−⏑⏑−⏑⏑ 3b, 118b, 149c, 301e, 412b
−−−− 101b, 118b
−⏑−⏑⏑⏑ 119d — with syncopation
−⏑−⏑⏑− 120d — with pādādilaghu and syncopation
⏑−⏑−−⏑⏑ 160d — irregular with 10 syllables and syncopation
Triṣṭubh & Jagatī
The Triṣṭubh and Jagatī are syllabic metres (
In this text there are 129 lines in Triṣṭubh metre and 28 in Jagatī. There is usually 4 lines to the verse, but 291 and 329 contain 6 lines; and very unusually 247 has 7 lines. Verses written in Triṣṭubh metre prevail, while there are only 2 verses in Pure Jagatī, the others are mixed.
Pure Tristubh: 9, 10, 30, 65, 80, 84, 85, 109, 114, 121, 134, 143, 144, 195, 196, 210, 227, 228, 238, 246, 290, 291, 293, 332, 381
Pure Jagatī: 156, 278
Mixed Triṣṭubh/Jagatī: 71, 89, 115, 211, 247, 260, 302, 326, 329, 350
Mixed Triṣṭubh/Śloka: 11 ab = Śloka, cd = Triṣṭubh.
The outline of these metres is as follows:
In the opening we sometimes find the 1st syllable has been resolved ⏑⏑−⏑−¦ (9c, 115d, 144d, 291e, 350b, 381d); and occasionally we come across the Vedic opening: ⏓−−−¦ (vv. 109bd, 196b, 247d) .
The breaks come in various forms, with the structure −⏑⏑ prevailing (78%), no matter where the caesura is found:
¦−,⏑⏑ 9a, 10ac, 30d, 65c, 71ab, 80b, 84ad, 114ad, 121ac, 134b, 143c, 156ab, 195ad, 210cd, 211cd, 246cd, 247a, 260abcd, 278a, 290c, 291de, 293c
,¦−⏑⏑ 9b, 10b, 30b, 65b, 71c, 80ad, 85b, 89b, 109a, 114c, 115d, 121bd, 134a, 143a, 144abd, 156d, 195c, 196abd, 210b, 227ad, 228ad, 238abd, 246a, 247fg, 278c, 290ab
¦−⏑,⏑ 9c, 30a, 65ad, 84b, 85d, 89c, 115ab, 134c, 143d, 144c, 196c, 210a, 211ab, 238c, 291c
,−¦−⏑⏑ 9d, 71d, 156c, 247e, 278d
also with resolution:
,¦⏑⏑⏑⏑ 109c, 114b
we find the ravipulā, navipulā and savipulā breaks occasionally (13%):
,¦−⏑− 109bd, 134d, 143b, 247d, 293b
¦−,⏑− 227b, 228b
¦⏑,⏑⏑ 84c, 89ad, 291b, 293d, 302d
,¦⏑⏑− 11c, 85a, 246b, 247b, 291a
as in the Pāḷi verses there are many irregular breaks (9%), which include the following:
¦−,− 115c, 227c, 228c — replacement of two presumed light syllables by one heavy at the 6th
,¦−− 290d, 291f — replacement of two presumed light syllables by one heavy at the 5th
¦−,⏑⏑− 85c — pausing at the 5th and restarting from the same position
¦−,−⏑− 293a — pausing at the 5th and restarting from the same position
¦−,−⏑ 80c — pausing at the 5th and restarting from the same position, with the 6th replaced
,¦−−⏑ 195b — having an irregular heavy 6th syllable
,¦−−−− 10d, 11d — very irregular lines
247c — a malformed line
last updated: October 2007