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Vedic Recitation & Svaram : NarayaNOpanishad

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Sep 12 1998 - 09:09:09 PDT

Om NamO BhagaavthE Veda PurushAya !

VedAkhilO Dharma Mulam .
( The entire VedAs are the root of Dharmaam)

"asmin KaalE vikshEpa bhUyishtathvAth 
Guru Saasthra sampradhAya dhourbalyAth 
virala sraddhatthvAccha ---" 

so says Swami VimalAnandhA 
in his introduction to MahA NaarAyaNOpanishad 
( part of KrishNa Yajur Vedam ) .This particular
upanishad is also called " Yajnikyupanishad " 
because of the recognition of Yaj~nAthmA NaarAyaNA 
being the seer of this part of the Vedam .This Upanishad
is the tenth prapAthaka of the TaittirIya AraNyakam 
and is a Khila (supplementary passage ).  

In his above observation on MahA NaarAyaNOpanishad ,
there are three  key word groups:
1) "VikshEpa BhUyishtathvAth : " ( casting away 
liberally or mainly ) , The "kshEpa" portion of VikshEpam 
is common to the word Kaala-kshEpam , the time honored
way to learn about grantha chAthushtyam at the feet 
of one's AchAryan . 

2) " SampradhAya dhourbalyAth" :
( the feebleness of the tradition of AchAryA-SishyA 
connection to learn Vedams thru Adhyayanam and
the poor understanding of Saasthrams without 
Guru kula route ) 

3) " virala sraddhathtvaacccha " :
( thin or little sraddhA )

Here , Swami VimalaanandhA is referring to 
the decline of the proper  way to recite VedAs 
with the FOUR accents , UdAttha or acute accent ,
anudAtha or low acccent , Svaritha or samAhAra 
accent produced by the combination of the acute 
and the low accents and the Eka sruthi or prachya ,
where the above three accents become indistinct .
Swami Vimlaanadaa is also lamenting here about 
the lack of  understanding the meanings of the Vedams
and Upanishads thru AchArya Mukham in the traditional
patasAlAs soon after the sacred thread ceremony 
and before entering grahasthAsramam .

What the Swami said about MahA NaarAyaNOpanishad is
valid for other Upanishads and Vedams as well and particularly
for an Atharva Veda Upanishad like NaarAyaNOpanishad .
The great efforts of the Late Kaanchi PeriyavAL 
helped to preserve and protect the Atharva Vedam 
thru support for it to be learnt and retained 
in the traditional , ancient manner with the right svaram ,
sandhi , breath control et al .THERE IS HENCE 
this context was not to suggest that there are no 
svarams for the passage from NaarAyaNOpanishad . 
Yes , there is .I was saying that this may not be 
prevalent in usage in the most precise way .
Hence some may recite it without svaram ,
which is not the correct procedure .  

That there are paata bhEdhams in recitation of 
the Vedams and Upanishads is also well known . 
For instance , there is a Draavida Paatam and 
Andhra Paatam for MahA NaarAyaNopanishad . 

Of the nine saakhAs of Atharva Vedam recorded 
by Patanjali Maharishi -- Paippalaada , Tauda , 
MuNDa ,SaunakIya ,Jaajala, Jalada , BhrAmavEda , 
Devadarsa and ChAraNavaidya --only two ( SaunakIya and 
PaippalAda ) are curently available and they are 
extent in Kashmir and Northern part of India . 
Sri KrishNan and his group did a yeoman service 
recently in recording the entire Atharva Vedam by 
accessing the Veda pandits in the North .I am glad
that I have this precious recitation . 

I am not sure to which recital tradition the NaarAyaNOpanishad 
belongs among Atharva saakhAs . It does not matter 
as long as the time honored and traditional 
recitation is maintained. In Bhagavadh
ArAdhanam , miniscule sections of Atharva Vedam is included
by us in Souhern part of India , where most of 
the people are Yajus sAkhAdhyAyins . This miniscule
amount from Atharva Vedam is included for completeness of 
the Chathur Vedams in the AarAdhanam for the Veda Purushan .

In villages like the one that my ancestors come from ,
there were salakshaNa ganapAtis and Dhvi Vedis , Thri VedAs
and ChathurvEdhis and the villages having the latter 
type of Vedic scholars were called Chathur Veda 
Mangalam .Today , this village of ours six miles
from Oppiliappan Koil and three miles from Poudarikapuram
is shining by name only .Villages like Poundarikapuram 
got that name because of experts , who had performed the 
great Soma Yaagam called PoundarIkam .

Inview of the complexity of the Grammar and the need to
follow praathisAkhya granthams to settle issues related
to the proper accent , our elders have settled strictly 
on aural teaching and rote memory to protect and preserve the 
Sruthis . A dimension of the complexity can be indicated by 
one of the Four accents , SvaritA  . The svaritA itslef is 
classified into nine sub-categories . The four of the nine
key ones are : jatya , ksaipra , praslista and abhinihita .

The euphonies ( Sandhis ) complicate matter further .
For instance in Ksaipra sandhi , the two words 
Vaaji and arvan unite to form Vaajyarvan .
Before sandhi , the Va in Vaaji was anuddhAtham . 
in the word arvan , the first two letters are
also anuddhAtham .

After Sandhi , in the word Vaajyarvan formed 
by vaaji and arvan , Va portion of this word 
is anuddhAtham and " jya " portion is uddhAtham .

As a result of these Sandhis , different changes 
in accents result according to the different 
schools of SamhithAs . 

The matter is more complicated by Undulations or KampAs .
This is a result of residual accentuations , like
gamakams in Music , where ten are known . Kampitha
Gamakam is the one most relevant here and the players
of ViNA are familiar with it . ShyAmA Saasthris krithis have 
some beautiful kampitha gamakams . These are found ,
where Jatya , Ksaipra , praslista and abhinihita svaritAs
are followed by an uddAta or a straight svartA .
The situation is like a metal plate or a tuning fork
struck with another piece of metal . There are 
residual vibrations ( KampAs ) . 

Each of the saakhAs denote the Vedic accents differently , which 
adds to more complications in reading them . The notation
system for indicating accents (SvarAs )is for instance
different for the two remaining sAkhAs of the 
Atharva Vedam .

to protect and preserve the accents , sandhis 
and the most important meanings resulting from 
such proper usage .One can bypass the Guru ,
(Guru Mukham anadhIthya ) , if you happen to be blessed 
by the ParamaachAryan as in the case of PeriyAzhwAr.
I will now the strange meanings that result from
the shift in accents in Vedic Passages .
For example ," nathasya prathimAasthi 
( Yajur Vedam XXX11.2) can also be recited as
" na tasya prathimAasthi" . The first rendering 
conveys the meaning ( There is an idol of the
inclined one ). The second type of rendering 
means " There is no idol for the one described ).
Using traditional grammar directives , the second
way of rendering is considered correct to give
the intended meaning .

Another passage traditionally cited to indicate 
the entirely different meanings thru shift of accents
in just one word , Jayaa and its derivative :

hanO vruthram jayA apa: ( Rg Vedam : I.80.3)

jayO mE savya aahitha: ( Atharva Vedam VII.52.8)

In Rg Vedic rk , in the word JayA , the sharp
( UddhAtham ) is on yaa prtion of jayA . This is
called adi-udatta) and with this accent , the 
meaning of this passage is : O IndrA ! May You
win over waters(apas) ".

In the Atharva manthram , the sharp  accent is on
the yO section of JayO and this leads to a different 
meaning " Victory is assuredly in my left hand " . 

Additional examples from Rg Vedam , where a slight 
change in accent gives an entirely different meaning
are :

jatara: fire or stomach
yama: by whom one goes or Vaivasvata Yama dharman
( Here the first meaning is from sharp accent on "Ma" and
the second meaning from the low accent on "Ya" ) .
Sathyam : truth or poverty 

There is so much to learn and observe . I have covered 
some of these intricacies and classifications in 
the monograph that I wrote few years ago for my own
understanding by a preliminary study of various
works on this subject . I am sure that I know very 
little and stand before Veda Purushan with a bowed head .

The conclusion is that , please do not learn 
Vedic recitation from books and recordings , but
wherever possible , please learn from the ones ,
who have had adhyayanam from authentic persons ,
who have learnt it the proper way .

On this day before Sri KrishNa jayanthi , it is 
appropriate to remember that our Lord born in 
the dark night , learnt the VedAs by being a student
at the feet of a proper AchArya although He is
the Veda purushan Himself , just to remind us
the importance of the ancient guru kulam tradition .
This is what the Guru Kulam project of the Ahobila 
Matam decribed by a recent posting by Sriman 
Dileepan and Sriman RajAji Raghavan on behalf of
the Ahobila Matam 600th anniversary celebrations 
is relating to . 

NamO NaarAytaNA , NamO NaarAyaNA 
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri SadagOpan