Monday, 18 March 2019

11 Ways of Reading Vedas

History of Vedas : A Brief Introduction

In ancient times,advanced beings that walked the Earth exhibited extraordinary powers.

For instance,they could reduce their respiratory rate to a level which a normal person would fail to sustain or withstand extreme temperatures

By the same token,they could perceive sounds that are otherwise inaudible to a normal person ( The human auditory system is only able to pick up sounds within the frequency of 20 hertz to 20 000 hertz ).

These Rishis,in their meditative state,heard and received various forms of sounds from the cosmos.Concomitantly,they were endowed with the truths of the universe.

These great Rishis then orally recited the Vedas they received and passed on the universal knowledge in sound-form to disciples.This is how the Vedas reached mankind.The original name for the Vedas is 'Shruti' - simply meaning , 'that which was heard'.

In our culture,sound is the pendrive through which we transferred data.

The booklet for Vedic script in Prashanti Nilayam has its title expressed as 'Shruti' rather than ' Vedas',emphasising the sound aspect of Vedas.

The core of the Vedas is sound energy - the most powerful force of the universe.The Rishis experienced divinity and cosmic truths through the sounds.Therefore,by reciting these sounds,one creates the vibrations that match these cosmic frequencies and this eventually leads to the experiential realisation of the Vedas.

List of some women who received the Vedas

“Sound or vibration is the most powerful force in the universe. Music is a divine art, to be used not only for pleasure but as a path to Awakening.” – Paramahamsa Yogananda

This was how the Vedas were passed on generations after generations with preservation to the minutest detail.

The Vedas were not given script form until recently ( some 1000 years back - when Veda Vyasa had to pen these sound format when people started to neglect chanting.It was Veda Vyasa who compiled the Vedas into four divisions - Rig,Yajr,Sama and Atharva ) 

Essentially,the Vedas were preserved only by oral recitation.Veda chanting is bound to svaras ( intonation - the uprising and downfalling pitch in recitation) and pronunciation,which must be always preserved.

Video : Veda Chanting by European Veda Union.Take note of how the pitch rises and descends throughout the recitation.

Hence,a system was erected by our ancients.Today, computing devices use encoding and redundancy schemes to preserve data in a binary system.Similarly, the ancients devised a method to preserve the sounds and intonations of the Vedas.

In this method,the sounds of a Veda mantra are linked together in different patterns according to hierrarchy.

These patterns preserved the purity of the sounds,intonations,pronunciation and accent.

Eleven modes of recitation were traditionally devised.They are as below :

The numbers indicate the sequence in which you recite the Vedic portion.For example,let us take the well known Gayatri Mantra of Rig Veda...

Gayatri Mantra in GhanaapaTham by Whatsapp Veda Learner Shravanti

' tat (1) savitur (2) varenyam (3)  bhargo (4)  devasya (5) ....'

So if we recite it in Ghanam ( refer picture above ), the most complex among the 11 methods, it would sound something like : 

' tat (1) savitur (2) savitur (2) tat (1) tat (1) savitur (2) varenyam (3) varenyam (3) ... and so forth..

The 3rd form - Krama would produce it as ...

tat (1) savitur (2) savitur (2) bhargo (3) bhargo (3) devasya (4) ... and forth

Krama is listed 3 in the hierrarcy,therefore being much less complex than the 11th one - Ghanam.

Recitation in these complex forms is also said to amplify the effect of the Veda mantra.For example,chanting it in ghanam mode is said to amplify its effect a thousand fold !

I recently taught the kids ( Veda Class,Nandi temple,Sungai Petani ) the Ghanam format ( most complex mode among the 11 styles ) of Gayatri Mantra and the group recitation was mind-blowing.Video shown below : 

Below : AIMST University Veda Class,Malaysia -  Recitation of last stanza of Medha Suktam , Yajur Veda in Ghanam Mode.This was ethereal 

Those who have mastered Veda recitation up to Ghanapaathah are called Ghanapaatin.

The main objective of reciting the Vedas in these different ways is to make no mistake in the original meaning and sound pattern of the words.Remember that Vedas are shruti and sound is utmost crucial here.Vedas are also called 'apaurusheya' - not of human origin.The Rishis were only the receivers of these sounds.Like a radio receiving signals from a station.

Video : AIMST Vedam team and the Sungai Petani Veda Class kids reciting Ganapati Prarthana in Ghanam mode 

Sound format was our storage device-and its capability is astounding.The ancients were very much aware of the power of sound energy.

At present, a lot of brahmins who were assigned the task to propagate and safeguard the Vedas do not take effort to learn them. As such, there are very few Ghanapaatins among us - which is depressing.We now rely on written script so that the existing Vedas can be preserved.Humanity has already lost a huge portion of the Vedas.

Since Vedas are now accessible to the globe, I hope for a brighter future, with people irrespective of societal background taking interest to learn the Vedas.

And this serves as my inspiration to teach Ghanapaathah in my Veda classes.I understand that traditionally,one should progress step by step through the modes instead of jumping to ghanam directly.I express my limitations in conducting weekly Veda classes in urbanised area ( not traditional pathsala ) and I am urged to adopt certain shortcuts to give the best of the Vedic essence to my students.

Also Read :

(1) Amount of Vedas Lost


  1. Thanks Vinnith for your contribution. I have seen your videos. It is very good that some one is taking time to post videos on usual mistakes done by many folks in chanting and giving corrections.
    May God bless you and your shine in your objective of promoting Vedas

    1. Thanks for your feedback sir <3 I will do my best