Vuttodaya, The Composition of Metre

[5. Visamavuttaniddeso] Fry, Vim, Dhm, Sid exclude -niddeso in the end-title. Sid: Pañcamo Paricchedo; Th: Visamavuttaniddesa-pañcamapariccheda.
The Description of the Disimilar Line Metres

Vattappabhedo Fry: -bhhedo (sic); This title appears as an end title in the manuscripts after v. 125 (S omits it).
The Vatta Section

Introduction to Vatta

It is one of the more curious facts of Indian Prosody that the most common of the metres used in Sanskrit and Pāḷi is so poorly described in the works on the subject. There is not even agreement on the name. Vttaratnākara in its first rule says it is known as Vaktra or Anuṣṭhubha. Many writers refer to it as the Śloka (Pāḷi: Siloka). A term which is used in the Canon ostensibly by the Buddha himself, in Mahāsamayasutta (D. 20, verse 5).

Also the placing of the metre in the descriptions varies. Piṅgala has a special section for it, which, all things considered, seems best; Vttaratnākara places it in the Āryā chapter, between the Vaitālīya and Mātrāsamaka metres (though it is not a measure metre in any way, but a syllabic metre). Vuttodaya has it in the Visamavutta section, though it does not have fixed syllables in all four lines. Vutt omits the true Visamavutta metres like Uggatā, Sorabhaka, and Lalita, which are included in Vttaratnākara.

Again the variations that are described are sometimes incorrect or incomplete. Warder (PM, pg 174) noted that Piṅgala’s description of Pathyāvatta is ‘garbled’; and that Halāyudha gives only a ‘very incomplete description of the vipulā usages’. In the prosodies mavipulā, which is quite common in the Vatta odd lines, is omitted; while tavipulā, which never occurs, is described.

The standard desciption of the Vatta metre in the prosodies is of a metre having a yagaṇa cadence in all four lines, which doesn’t seem to exist in the texts, and the vipulā (variations) that are given, when they are applied to all four lines of a verse, as according to Śrī Saitava they should be, also do not occur.

We are left then with a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and a great deal of confusion in the descriptions, both in the Sanskrit prosodies, and in Vuttodaya, which is based on them.

Because of this it is perhaps best to give here a summary of what the main metre actually looks like in the texts, before proceeding to the description in the verses that follow. The profile of the pathyā form of the metre is as follows:

odd lines:
even lines: ⏓⏓⏓⏓¦⏑−−⏓

The opening in both the odd and the even lines avoids two successive shorts in 2nd and 3rd positions (i.e. ⏓⏑⏑⏓¦). According to ChŚā 5:11: dvitīyacaturthayo raśca, in the even lines the opening ⏓−⏑−¦ is also avoided, and although this rule is omitted by both VR and Vutt., it is applied in the texts.

In the medieval period there are four variations that occur in the odd lines:

navipulā ⏓⏓⏓⏓¦⏑⏑⏑⏓
bhavipulā ⏓⏓⏓⏓¦−⏑⏑⏓
mavipulā ⏓⏓⏓⏓¦−,−−⏓
ravipulā ⏓⏓⏓⏓,¦−⏑−⏓

which are also known as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th vipulās respectively. The word-breaks in mavipulā and ravipulā are omitted in the prosodies, but applied for the most part in the texts themselves.

In the medieval period compounds sometimes cross the seam of the pādayuga, and then the last syllable in the prior line will be light or heavy according to its natural weight. Otherwise it is normally counted as heavy because of the slight pause that follows (pādantagaru).



Pādasyānuṣṭubvaktram; na prathamātsnau; dvitīyacaturthayo raśca; vānyat; ya caturthāt. || ChŚā 5:9–13 ||
Vaktraṁ nādyānnasau syātāmabdheryo ’nuṣṭubhi khyātam || VR 43 ||

Naṭṭhakkharesu pādesu snādimhā; yoṇṇavā Vattaṁ. Th: Nāṭṭhakkaresu; MR14: sṇādimhā; MP, MR14: yonnavā: Fry: yo ’ṇṇava (thereby making a Pathyā line). [116]

Na = no; aṭṭha = eight; akkharesu = in syllables (loc.); pādesu = in a line (loc.); snā = sagaṇa + nagaṇa; ādimhā = after the beginning (abl.); yo = yagaṇa; aṇṇavā = (oceans, of which there are) after four (abl. sing); Vattaṁ = proper name.

In a line of eight syllables, (if) there is no sagaṇa (or) nagaṇa after the beginning (syllable); and yagaṇa after four (syllables) – (that is) Vatta.

The rule that neither sagaṇa nor nagaṇa may appear after the first syllable in the line in effect means that there should not be two light syllables in 2nd and 3rd positions in the line. This also applies for the rest of the metres and variations that are described in this section.

As long as we bear this in mind, we can give the profile for the Vatta metre as described in this verse like this:

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − − ⏓       4x



Pathyā yujo j || ChŚā 5:14 ||
Yujorjena saridbhartuḥ Pathyāvaktraṁ prakīrtitam || VR 44 ||

Samesu sindhuto jena Pathyāvattaṁ pakittitaṁ. b) MK, MR93: Patthyā-; Fry: pakittitam (sic). [117]

Samesu = in the even (loc.); sindhuto = after (oceans, of which are) four (abl.) (not in PED); jena = jagaṇa (inst.); Pathyāvattaṁ = proper name; pakittitaṁ = proclaimed.

(If) in the even (lines) after four (syllables) there is jagaṇa, that is proclaimed (to be) Pathyāvatta.


⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − − ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ×       2x

This is by far the most common form of the metre in the Medieval times. Jinacarita, for example has 328 out of 472 verses in Vatta metre, 98% of which are Pathyā.

Example: Jinacarita, vv. 1-7: The first fifty verses of this poem are all in the Pathyā form of the Siloka metre.

Uttamaṁ uttamaṅgena namassitvā Mahesino
Nibbānamadhudaṁ pādapaṅkajaṁ sajjanālinaṁ,

mahāmohatamaṁ loke dhaṁsentaṁ Dhammabhākaraṁ
pātubhūtaṁ mahātejaṁ Dhammarājodayācale,

jantucittasare jātaṁ pasādakumudaṁ sadā
bodhentaṁ Saṅghacandañ-ca sīlorukiraṇujjalaṁ,

tahiṁ tahiṁ suvitthiṇṇaṁ Jinassa caritaṁ hitaṁ
pavakkhāmi samāsena sadānussaraṇatthiko.

Paṇītaṁ taṁ sarantānaṁ dullabham-pi sivaṁ padaṁ
adullabhaṁ bhave bhogapaṭilābhamhi kā kathā?

Tasmā taṁ bhaññamānaṁ me cittavuttapadakkamaṁ,
sundaraṁ madhuraṁ suddhaṁ sotusotarasāyanaṁ,

sotahatthapuṭā sammā gahetvāna nirantaraṁ
ajarāmaram-icchantā sādhavo paribhuñjatha.



Viparītaikīyam || ChŚā 5:15 ||
Ojayorjena vāridhestadeva Viparītādi || VR 45 ||

Ojesu jena sindhuto tam-eva Viparītādi. a) MR14: sindhuno; b) MK, MP, MR93: Viparitādi. [118]

Ojesu = in the odd (not in PED) (loc.); jena = jagaṇa (inst.); sindhuto = after (oceans, of which are) four (abl.); tam-eva = that; Viparīta = (first half of proper name, meaning:) reverse; ādi = at the beginning.

That which has jagaṇa after four (syllables) in the odd (lines), has Viparīta- at the beginning (of the name).


⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − − ×       2x

The Vivaraṇa has the following rule:

Ojesv-iccādi visamesu caturakkharato parena jena tam-eva Pathyāvattaṁ Viparītādi, Viparītapathyā tyattho.



Capalāyujo n || ChŚā 5:16 ||
Capalāvaktramayujornakāraścetpayorāśeḥ || VR 46 ||

Nakāro ce jaladhito Capalāvattam-iccetaṁ. a) MR93: Takāro. [119]

Nakāro = nagaṇa; ce = if; jaladhito = after (oceans, of which there are) four (abl.); Capalāvattam = proper name; icc = iti = quotation marker; etaṁ = that.

If it has nagaṇa after four (syllables) that is Capalāvatta.


⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − − ×       2x

Nagaṇa occurs frequently enough in the odd lines, but the even line cadence doesn’t occur normally, so it is not possible to give an example here.



Vipulā yuglaḥsaptamaḥ || ChŚā 5:17 ||
Yasyāṁ laḥ saptamo yugme sā Yugmavipulā matā || VR 47 ||

Same lo sattamo yassā vipulā Piṅgalassa sā. a) MR14, lossattamo; Sid: sattame; [120]

Same = in the even (loc.); lo = light syllable; sattamo = seventh; yassā = that which; vipulā = variation; Piṅgalassa = proper name (gen.); = that.

That which has a light syllable in the seventh (position) in the even lines – that is (called) Pingala’s Variation.

Although the example is the same as the Pathyā form, the description seems to allow for any cadence that has a light 7th syllable in the even lines. In the Sanskrit parallels it is said that the light 7th is confined to the even lines only, but this restriction is only implied by the example in the verse here.



Sarvataḥ Saitavasya || ChŚā 5:18 ||
Saitavasyākhileṣvapi || VR 48 ||

Setavassākhilesu pi. MR14: Sveta-; Laṅk, Th: -ākhilesvapi; [121]

Setavassa = proper name (gen.); akhilesu = in all (loc.); pi = emphatic (untranslated).

(But) in Setava’s (opinion) (it should be) in all (the lines).

These two descriptions of the Vipulā refer to the variations that are to follow. According to Śrī Piṅgala, the metre has the variations only in the prior lines; and has the jagaṇa in the cadence of the posterior lines. According to Śrī Saitava it should have the variation in all four lines This never occurs in the texts. for it to count as Vipulā. It is Piṅgala’s system that is followed in the texts, and Setava’s is seemingly never employed.


[Bhavipulā] The name here, and in the other variations below, follows the Vivaraṇa.

Bhrau ntau ca || ChŚā 5:19 ||
Bhenābdhito bhādvipulā || VR 49 ||

Bhenaṇṇavā tabbipulā. MP: Bhenannavā; Kat, Th: Bhabbipulā. [122]

Bhena = bhagaṇa (inst.); aṇṇavā = after (oceans, of which there are) four (abl.); tabbipulā = taṁ vipulā = that variation.

(If) after four (syllables) it has bhagaṇa, that (i.e. Bha-) is the variation (-vipulā).

Bhavipulā profile (according to Piṅgala):

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ − ⏑ ⏑ ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ×       2x

Bhavipulā profile (according to Setava):

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ − ⏑ ⏑ ×       4x

Bhavipulā is also known as vipulā 2.

Examples of Piṅgala’s Bhavipulā, Nāmarūpapariccheda, This text is mainly written in Vatta metre, and has well over 1,800 verses in that metre. vv. 308-311:

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑−¦¦−−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑− bhavipulā
Dvihetukāmakriyato aṭṭhārasa upekkhakā,
⏑⏑−−¦−⏑⏑−¦¦⏑−−⏑¦⏑−⏑− bhavipulā
sukhitamhā sattarasa vibhāventi vicakkhaṇā.

−⏑−−¦⏑−−−¦¦−−−⏑¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
Kāmapuññā tihetumhā tettiṁseva upekkhakā,
⏑⏑−−¦⏑−−−¦¦⏑−−⏑¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
sukhitamhā tipaññāsa bhavantī ti pakāsitaṁ.

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑−¦¦⏑⏑−⏑¦⏑−⏑− bhavipulā
Tihetukāmakriyato catuvīsati ’pekkhakā,
⏑⏑−−¦⏑−−−¦¦−⏑−⏑¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
sukhitamhā tu dīpeyya pañcavīsati paṇḍito.

⏑⏑−⏑¦⏑−−−¦¦⏑−−⏑¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
Dasa rūpajavamhekādasa dvādasa terasa;
⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑−¦¦−−−⏑¦⏑−⏑− bhavipulā
yathākkamaṁ pañcadasa, āruppā paridīpaye.



Bhrau ntau ca || ChŚā 5:19 ||
Itthamanyā raścaturthāt || VR 50 ||

Evam-aññā ro catutthā. MP, Fry: catuttho. [123]

Evam = this; aññā = another; ro = ragaṇa; catutthā = after the fourth (abl.).

(If) after the fourth (syllable) there is ragaṇa, this is another (variation, i.e. Ravipulā).

Ravipulā profile (according to Piṅgala):

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ − ⏑ − ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ⏓       2x

Ravipulā profile (according to Setava):

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ − ⏑ − ⏓       4x

Ravipulā is also known as vipulā 4.

There is normally a word-break after the 4th syllable, though this goes unnoticed in the prosodies.

Examples of Piṅgala’s Ravipulā, Nāmarūpapariccheda, vv. 1288-9:

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑−−¦¦−−−−¦⏑−⏑− ravipulā
Tato virāgānupassī nibbinditvā virājayaṁ,
⏑−⏑−¦−⏑−−¦¦−⏑−−¦⏑−⏑− ravipulā
tathā nirodhānupassī bhūmidhamme nirodhayaṁ.

−−⏑⏑¦⏑−−⏑¦¦⏑⏑−−¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
Pakkhandanapariccāgapaṭinissaggato pana,
⏑⏑−−¦−⏑−−¦¦−⏑−⏑¦⏑−⏑− ravipulā
paṭinissaggānupassī sikkhatī ti pavuccati.



Bhrau ntau ca || ChŚā 5:19 ||
No ’mbudheścennavipulā || VR 51 ||

Noṇṇavā ce Navipulā. MP: Nonnavā; Sid omits ce (by mistake); [124]

No = nagaṇa; aṇṇavā = after (oceans, of which there are) four (abl.); ce = if; Navipulā = proper name.

If after the fourth (syllable) there is nagaṇa, (that is) Navipulā.

Navipulā profile (according to Piṅgala):

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ×       2x

Navipulā profile (according to Setava):

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ×       4x

Navipulā is also known as vipulā 1.

Examples of Piṅgala’s Navipulā, Nāmarūpapariccheda, vv. 282-3:

⏑−⏑−¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦−−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑− navipulā
Tihetukāmacutiyā sabbā pi paṭisandhiyo,
⏑−−−¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦−−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑− navipulā
dvihetāhetucutiyā kāmāvacarasandhiyo.

−−⏑⏑¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑− navipulā
Rūpāvacaracutiyā sahetupaṭisandhiyo,
−−−−¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦−⏑−−¦⏑−⏑− navipulā
āruppāruppacutiyā heṭṭhim-āruppavajjitā.



Bhrau ntau ca || ChŚā 5:19 ||
To ’bdhestatpūrvānyā bhavet || VR 52 ||

Toṇṇavā tathāññā siyā. MP: Tonnavā. [125]

To = tagaṇa; aṇṇavā = (oceans, of which there are four) after four (abl.); tathā = in the same way; aññā = another; siyā = will be (fut.).

In the same way (if) after the fourth (syllable) there is tagaṇa, (that) will be another (variation) (i.e. Tavipulā).

Tavipulā is very rare indeed, and it’s not clear if it ever used as a real variationin the Medieval period, It does occur occasionally in the Canon. though it is, of course, possible theoretically.


Tavipulā profile (according to Piṅgala):

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ − − ⏑ ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ×       2x

Tavipulā profile (according to Setava):

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ − − ⏑ ×       4x

Tavipulā is also known as vipulā 6.

Examples of Piṅgala’s Tavipulā, Nāmarūpapariccheda, vv. 638-9:

−⏑−−¦⏑−−−¦¦−−−−¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
Appamāṇā paṇītā ca dhammā lokuttarā matā,
−⏑−⏑¦−−⏑−¦¦−⏑−⏑¦⏑−⏑− tavipulā
saṁkiliṭṭhasaṁklesikā dvādasākusalā tathā.

⏑−⏑−⏑¦−−⏑−¦¦−−−−¦⏑−⏑− tavipulā
Asaṁkiliṭṭhasaṁklesikā This line has 9 syllables. dhammā tebhūmakāpare,
⏑−−−¦−−⏑−¦¦⏑⏑−−¦⏑−⏑− tavipulā
asaṁkliṭṭhāsaṁklesikā nava lokuttarā siyuṁ.

* * *

Now that the variations have been described, we may note that three have been omitted.

The first is Mavipulā, which, though it has not been described, does in fact appear quite often as a variation in the texts.

Mavipulā profile:

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ − ,− − ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ×       2x

Mavipulā is also known as vipulā 3.

There is normally a word-break after the 5th syllable.

Examples of Mavipulā, Nāmarūpapariccheda, vv. 859-61:

⏑⏑−⏑¦⏑−−−¦¦⏑−−−¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
Iti taṁ tam-upādāya samaññātā tathā tathā,
−−⏑−¦−,−−−¦¦−−−⏑¦⏑−⏑− mavipulā
saṅkhā samaññā paññatti vohāro ti pakāsitā.

−−⏑−¦−,−−−¦¦−−−−¦⏑−⏑− mavipulā
Ālambaṇaṭṭhākārena santābhāve pi vatthuto,
−−−−¦⏑−−−¦¦−−−−¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
cintāvohāranipphannā atthacchāyā va bhāsinī.

−−−−¦−,−−−¦¦−−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑− mavipulā
Paññāpīyattā paññatti, nāmāyam-iti bhāsitā.
⏑−−⏑¦⏑−−−¦¦−−−⏑¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
Upādāya ca paññatti sā evopanidhāya ca.

Next is the Anuṭṭhubha or Javipulā variation, which in the early Canonical period, as I have shown elsewhere, is influenced by the Vedic form of the metre. See my study of Pārāyanavagga.

Javipulā profile:

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ×       2x

Example of Anuṭṭhubha, Nāmarūpapariccheda, v. 33:

−−−−¦⏑−⏑−¦¦−⏑−−¦⏑−⏑− Anuṭṭhubha
Lobho lobhe tu diṭṭhi ca diṭṭhiyutte viyuttake,
−−⏑⏑¦⏑−−−¦¦⏑−−−¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
māno ca thinamiddhaṁ tu sasaṅkhāresu pañcasu.

Savipulā, which was a popular variation to the Vatta in the Canonical period, is very rare in the Classical period.

Savipulā profile:

⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ ⏑ − ⏓
⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ⏓ ¦ ⏑ − ⏑ ×       2x

Savipulā is also known as vipulā 5.

Examples of Savipulā, Nāmarūpapariccheda, vv. 746-8:

⏑−−−¦−−−−¦¦⏑⏑−⏑¦⏑−⏑− mavipulā
Avijjāsaṅkhārānaṁ tu gahaṇe gahitā va te,
−⏑−−¦⏑⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑−−¦⏑−⏑− savipulā
taṇhupādānabhavā pi iti pañcettha hetuyo.

−⏑−−¦⏑⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑−⏑¦⏑−⏑− savipulā
Taṇhupādānabhavānaṁ gahaṇe gahitā puna,
⏑−−−¦−−−−¦¦−−−−¦⏑−⏑− mavipulā
avijjā saṅkhārā cā ti pañcevetthā pi hetuyo.

−−−⏑¦⏑−−−¦¦−⏑−⏑¦⏑−⏑− pathyā
Viññāṇādisarūpena dassitaṁ phalapañcakaṁ,
−−⏑−¦⏑⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑− savipulā
jātijjarāmaraṇena tad-eva gahitaṁ puna.

* * *

Atrānuktaṁ gāthā || ChŚā 8:1 ||

Viṣamākṣarapādaṁ vā
Pādairasamaṁ daśadharmavat |
Yacchando noktamatra
Gātheti tatsūribhiḥ proktam || VR 195 ||

Na dissatettha yaṁ chandaṁ payoge dissate yadi,
Visamakkharapādan-taṁ Gāthā sāmaññanāmato. c) MK: visa- is missing from the start of this line (elipsis); Laṅk, Kat, Th: -pādaṁ; d) MR14: tathā. [126]

Na = not; dissati = seen; ettha = here; yaṁ = that; chandaṁ = metre; payoge = practice; dissate = is seen (pres. ind. med.); yadi = if; Visama = dissimilar; akkhara = syllables; pādan = line; taṁ = that; Gāthā = proper name (means verse, or stanza, untranslated); sāmañña = general; nāmato = named as (abl.).

If there is a metre that is not seen here, but is seen in practice, which has lines with syllables that are dissimilar, that is generally named as Gāthā.

The verse in VR comes at the end of an extensive description of the true Viṣamavtta metres, and the example therefore is also written in Viṣama-style.

The verse in Vuttodaya comes after the description of the Vatta metre, and is therefore translated into the Vatta metre. It maybe that Ven. Saṅgharakkhita wanted this verse to cover the other Vipulā uses that are not described herein, but which he would, of course, have been aware of.

Iti Vuttodaye Chandasi Visamavuttaniddeso Nāma Pañcamo Paricchedo MK, MP, MR14, Fry, Vim, Dhm, Sid: Iti Visamavuttaparicchedo pañcamo; MR93: Iti Visa[ ]vuttaparicchedo pañcamo (elipsis); Th: -vutti-.
Such is the Fifth Chapter in the Prosody the Composition of Metre
which is called The Description of the Dissimilar Line Metres