Symposium On Saṃskṛtam And Tamiḻ

Oldest amongst languages declared ‘Classical’ by the Government of India, Saṃskṛtam (or Sanskrit) and Tamiḻ (or Tamil) have been inestimably valuable storehouses of immense quantities and varieties of knowledge indigenous to Bhāratavarṣa, a region of the world whose 63-verse description in critical edition of the Indian itihāsa, the Mahabhārata, encompasses all of today’s mainland India and more. 

Pitted into separate language families first by colonial writers in the 19th century, these languages have since then been often used as divisive levers by a variety of forces with, some may argue, an excessive focus on how they are different — which they no doubt are — but with far lesser efforts to see how they are similar or how they can be seen together and as parts of a larger whole, rather than only separately or worse, antagonistically. 

INDICA Bhāṣā’s Online Symposium on Saṃskṛtam, and Tamiḻ, planned on the 23rd of March 2024 (Saturday) between IST 0930-1300 hrs (schedule below), looks to add to previous efforts that have striven to address the aforementioned imbalance, by bringing you views of some of the finest minds at the intersection of Saṃskṛtam and Tamiḻ across domains such as aesthetics, ways of life and more. 


Time Name Of The Speaker Topic
9:30 Megh Kalyanasundaram
Director Special Projects, INDICA
Invocation and Concept
9:45 Śatāvadhānī Dr R Ganesh
Polyglot Scholar
On The Common Aesthetics of Saṃskṛtam and Tamiḻ
10:30 Dr T Ganesan
Head, Centre for Shaiva Studies, Pondicherry
Saṃskṛtam and Tamiḻ in the Bhāratīya Śaiva literature
11:15 Dr MA Alwar
Professor, Government Maharaja’s Sanskrit College, Mysuru, Karnataka State University
Saṃskṛtam and Tamiḻ in the Bhāratīya Vaiṣṇava literature
12:00 Sri Rangarathnam Gopu
Co-founder Varahamihira Science Forum and Volunteer, Tamil Heritage Trust
Brāhmī and Grantham: Scripts for Saṃskṛtam and Tamiḻ
12:45 Megh Kalyanasundaram
Director Special Projects, INDICA
Beyond Colonial Divisions: Looking at Saṃskṛtam & Tamiḻ together


Bharatiya Bhasha Family

INDICA’s Center for Bhasha Studies presents Bharatiya Bhasha Family, an online symposium on the 28th of January 2024 (Sunday) between IST 0915 hrs and 1330 hrs. 

The symposium features scholars from multiple disciplines (Linguistics, Archaeology and Genetics) who are involved in advancing the case for a Bharatiya Bhasha Pariwar

The schedule for the symposium is included below: 

Time Speaker Name Topic
9:15 AM Megh Kalyanasundaram
Director Special Projects, INDICA
Invocation And Welcome
9:30 AM Chamu Krishna Shastry
Bharatiya Bhasha Samiti
Bharatiya Bhasha Samiti (Vision)
9:45 AM Awadhesh K. Mishra
Professor of Linguistics
Chief Academic Coordinator
(on deputation),
Bharatiya Bhasha Samiti
India As A Linguistic Area And Diversity In The Unity Of Indian Languages
10:30 AM Gyaneshwar Chaubey
Professor, Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
How Genetics Is Transforming The Age-Old Theories Of The Indian Subcontinent
11:15 AM Sushant Kumar Mishra
Professor, School of Languages and Literature/Humanities, Nalanda University
Peripheral Centricity In Indo-European Linguistic Continuum
12:00 PM Sachin Kumar Tiwary
Assistant Professor, Department of AIHC & Archaeology, at Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
Exploring the Ancient Heritage of India: An Archaeological Perspective
12:45 PM Girish Nath Jha
Chairman of the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology (CSTT)
On The Need For Bharatiya Bhasha Pariwar


Symposium On Svāmī Vidyāraṇya’s Singular Contributions To Bhāratīya Jñāna Paraṃparā

अविद्यारण्यकान्तारे भ्रमतां प्राणिनां सदा ।
विद्यामार्गोपदेष्टारं विद्यारण्यगुरुं श्रये ॥

To souls that wander in utter dismay in the dense woods of mental ignorance, He shows the path of true wisdom; Homage to the great Saint Vidyaranya.

Swami Vidyaranya, also called as Madhavacharya, was a great spiritual master and a civilization builder, who not only protected Hindu civilization at a critical juncture by laying the foundation of the great Vijayanagara Empire, but also made unparalleled contributions to Bharatiya Jnana Parampara.

Swami Vidyaranya’s literary contributions comprise works on Vyakarana, Mimamsa, Dharmashastra, Purana, Jyotishya, Mantra Sastra, music, Darsana and Advaita Vedanta.

The more important of them are Sarvadarshana-sangraha, Jaiminiya Nyayamala, Parashara Madhava, Smriti Sangraha, Madhaviya Shankara Vijaya, Vivaranaprameya Sangraha, Panchadasi, Jivanmukti Viveka, Drig Drisya Viveka, Aparokshanubhuti-Tika, and six Upanishad-Dipikas.

He also presided over the Sringeri Sharada Peetham as its 12th Shankaracharya from1374–1380 CE and made immense contribution for the overall flourishing of Sanatana Vaidika Dharma.

This Symposium seeks to explore the wide-ranging scholarship of Swami Vidyaranya and highlight his contributions to Hindu Shaastra Parampara.

Time Speaker Title of Talk
9.00-9.10 AM Nithin Sridhar
Director & Chief Curator, INDICA Moksha
Opening Remarks
9.10-10.00 AM Dr. Gauri Mahulikar
Academic Director, Chinmaya International Foundation
Inaugural Address: Svāmī Vidyāraṇya: an impeccable Vedāntin
10.00-10.30 AM Prof. Penna Madhusudan
Professor of Sanskrit, Dean, Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University, Ramtek, Maharashtra
Mīmāṃsā through the eyes of Śrī Vidyāraṇya
10.30-11.00 AM Dr. Ganesh Ishwar Bhat
HOD and Professor in Advaita Vedanta Department, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Rajiv Gandhi Campus, Sringeri.
Nature of Ānanda as enunciated in Pañcadaśī (Saṃskṛta Talk)
11.00-11.30 AM Dr. Sammodacharya
Traditional Vidwan and Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, NAIHS, College of Medicine, Nepal
Svāmī Vidyāraṇya’s Kāla-Mādhava: An inclusive text on Calendar keeping and festivals
11.30 AM-12.00 NOON Dr. Satyan Sharma
Guest Faculty at the Department of Sanskrit, Panjab University
A glimpse into Svāmī Vidyāraṇya’s Parāśara-Mādhava.
12.00-12.30 PM Vidwan V Subramanian
Traditional Vidwan and Retired Banker
A bird’s-eye view of Vāsanākṣaya as presented in Jīvanmuktiviveka (Kannaḍa Talk)
12.30-1.00 PM Vidwan Rajaraman PV
Traditional Vidwan and HOD, Artificial Intelligence Department, Adi Shankara Institute of Engineering and Technology in Kalady
Discerning the Seer and the Seen: Exploring Dṛg-dṛśya-vivekah of Jagadguru Vidyāraṇya
2.00-2.30 PM Dr. Janakisharan  Acharya
Dean – Faculty of Darshan in Shree Somnath Sanskrit University
Svāmī Vidyāraṇya’s philosophical reflections in Sarvadarśana-saṃgraha (Saṃskṛta Talk)
2.30-3.00 PM Dr. Pushkar Deopujari
Assistant Professor in Vedanta, Calicut Adarsha Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Kozhikode, Kerala.
Analysis of Śrāvaṇa-svarūpa based on Svāmī Vidyāraṇya’s Vivaraṇa-prameya-saṃgraha (Saṃskṛta Talk)
3.00-3.30 PM Vidwan Manikandan Iyer
Traditional Vidwan and Financial Crime Specialist
Illustrations and analogies by Svāmī Vidyāraṇya in Pañcadaśī
3.30-4.00 PM Vidwan Shankararama Sharma
Traditional Vidwan and Techno-Linguistic Scholar at Vyoma Linguistic Labs
Svāmī Vidyāraṇya’s Purāṇasāra: Unveiling timeless insights from Purāṇas
4.00-4.20 PM Dr. Nagaraj Paturi
Summary and Closing Remarks
4.20-4.30 PM Nithin Sridhar
Director & Chief Curator, INDICA Moksha
Conclusion and Vote of Thanks

Symposium On Vedāṅga-s

INDICA’s Center for Bhasha Studies (CBS) invites you to the fourth online symposium, on Vedāṅga-s, on October 14th, 2023 (Sat), from 0800 to 1300 hrs IST.

Vedāṅga-s—comprising Śikṣā, Vyākaraṇa, Chandas, Nirukta, Kalpa, and  Jyotiṣa—are a “specific body of knowledge, practices, and tools and techniques”[1] that were created to preserve the Veda-s and appropriately use them. Vedāṅga is a combination of two words: Veda and Aṅga. Aṅga (अङ्ग) is used here in the sense of Upakāraka (loosely, useful tool):

“‘अङ्ग’ शब्द का व्युत्पत्तिलभ्य अर्थ है- ‘उपकारक’- ‘अङ्ग्यन्ते ज्ञायन्ते अमीभिरिति अङ्गानि’, अर्थात् जिनके द्वारा किसी वस्तु के स्वरूप को जानने में सहायता मिलती है उन्हें ‘अङ्ग’ कहते हैं। भाषा तथा भाव दोनों दृष्टियों से वेद दुर्बोध है अतः वेद के अर्थज्ञान के लिए उसके कर्मकाण्ड के प्रतिपादन में जो उपयोगी शास्त्र हैं उन्हें ‘वेदाङ्ग’ नाम से अभिहित किया जाता है। वेद के यथार्थ ज्ञान के लिए छह विषयों को जानना परमावश्यक है। वैदिक मन्त्रों का ठीक-ठीक उच्चारण प्रथम आवश्यक वस्तु है। इस उच्चारण के निमित्त प्रवर्तमान वेदाङ्ग ‘शिक्षा’ कहलाता है। वेद का मुख्य प्रयोजन वैदिक कर्मकाण्ड, यज्ञ-याग का यथार्थ है। इसके लिए प्रवर्तमान अङ्ग ‘कल्प’ कहलाता है। कल्प का अर्थ है- ‘कल्प्यते समर्थ्यते यागप्रयोगोऽत्र’ अर्थात् यज्ञ के प्रयोगों का समर्थन जिसमें किया जाय वह ‘कल्प’ है। व्याकरण-शास्त्र पदों के प्रकृति-प्रत्यय का उपदेश देकर पद के स्वरूप का परिचय तथा उसके अर्थ का भी निश्चय करता है। फलतः पदस्वरूप और पदार्थ-निश्चय के निमित्त ‘व्याकरण’ का उपयोग होने से वह भी वेदाङ्ग है । ‘निरुक्त’ में पदों की निरुक्ति बताई गयी है । निरुक्ति की भिन्नता से अर्थ में भिन्नता होती है। इसलिए वेद के अर्थनिर्णय के लिए ‘निरुक्त’ भी वेदाङ्ग कहा जाता हैं । वेद छन्दोमयी वाणी है । छन्दों से परिचित होने पर ही मन्त्रों के उच्चारण और पाठ का यथार्थ ज्ञान हो सकता है। इसीलिए छन्दों की वेदाङ्गता है। ज्योतिष यज्ञ-याग के उचित समय का निर्देश करता है। नक्षत्र, तिथि, मास तथा सम्वत्सर का ज्ञान वैदिक कर्मकाण्ड के लिए आवश्यक है। इसीलिए ज्योतिष की वेदाङ्गता है।”[2]

“Śikṣā is the nose of the Vedapuruṣa, Vyākaraṇa his mouth, Kalpa his hand, Nirukta his ear, Chandas his foot and Jyotiṣa his eye.”[3] “Of the six primary Vedāṅgas, phonetics or Śikṣā (literally meaning “the study” or “teaching”) is usually listed first and is regarded as the most important. Because the Vedas were preserved and transmitted orally, rules for precise pronunciation were crucial for maintaining the accuracy and integrity of the texts. Phonetics emerged as the first branch of linguistics, and its categories—sound, accent, quantity, articulation, recital, and connection —were fundamental for the subsequent development of linguistic studies. Important works on phonetics were composed by Pāṇini, Nārada, Vyāsa, and others.

Vyākaraṇa (“distinction,” “separation”) is so termed because grammar distinguishes roots, suffixes, and prefixes: it is the science that analyzes the parts and structure of a word and the method for such divisions. It also explains how correct words and sentences are formed from basic elements so that the intended meaning is clearly expressed, and is therefore also a crucial science for both the preservation and the understanding of the Vedas. Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī (Eight chapters) is the foundational text on grammar, along with important commentaries by Kātyāyanīputra (Kātyāyana) and Patan̄jali.

Chandas, or prosody, is the Vedāṅga that gives rules for the various meters in which the Vedas are recited, and lays out their classification and characteristics. The meters are divided into fourteen types ranging from those with twenty-four letters (the gāyatrī ) to those with seventy-six. The word chandas is sometimes used as a synonym for Vedic speech itself, as opposed to common language (bhāṣā).

According to tradition, there were originally some fourteen works of etymology included in the Vedāṅga designated Nirukta. Only one of these survives. The sole extant representative of the Vedāṅga dealing with etymology is the Nirukta by Yāska (dated ca. 500 bce), which is a commentary on an older work (called the Nighantu) consisting of lists, groupings, and synonyms of words from the Ṛgveda. Yāska provides etymologies for these words and explanations of the stanzas from the Ṛgveda in which they occur. In the Nirukta, Yāska says he composed his text to insure that the correct meaning of the Veda is preserved even as people’s abilities decline the further removed they are from the time of the original seers, who “heard” the Veda with direct intuitive insight. Without the aid of etymology, Yāska claims, the meaning of the Veda cannot be properly determined.

Vedic rituals were performed regularly at the various “junctures” of time: sunrise and sunset, the advent of new and full moons, the turn of the seasons, and the beginning of the new year. The ancient Indian science of astronomy developed out of the need for exact computations of the proper times for performing those rituals. Additionally, works on this subject also address what we would label astrology: the casting of horoscopes and predictions made on the basis of the location of the planets and stars, which helped the specialist adduce the most auspicious times for important events.

Finally, the Vedāṅga called Kalpa (from the Sanskrit root meaning “to prepare, design, arrange, or accomplish”) consists of the rules and procedures for the actual performance of rituals. Kalpasūtras were produced by different ritual schools attached to one or another of the Vedas and are named after their mythical or semi-mythical founders (e.g., Baudhāyana, Āpastamba, etc.). A full Kalpasūtra consists of four principal components. First, there is the Śrautasūtra, which deals with the rules for performing the most complex rituals of the Vedic repertoire. Next comes the Gṛhyasūtra, which lays out the injunctions governing performance of the simpler “domestic” or household rituals. Third is the Dharmasūtra, which extends the reach of ruled, ritualized behavior to ethics and purity as they pertain to nearly every sector of daily life. Finally, a complete Kalpasūtra will also contain a Śulbasūtra that gives the rules of measurement for the construction of ritual altars. From this last component developed the Indian sciences of geometry, trigonometry, and algebra.”[4]

With three previous symposiums of INDICA having covered some aspects of Vyākaraṇa, Chandas, and Nirukta, the forthcoming one will focus on some aspects of the remaining three Vedāṅga-s, that is, Śikṣā, Kalpa, and Jyotiṣa.

Megh Kalyan

On Vedāṅga-s: Some Thoughts


Arvind Iyer

Summarising Vyākaraṇa, Chandas, & Nirukta INDICA symposiums


Korada Subrahmanyam

An overview of Śikṣā


Vishvas Vasuki

Kalpa – Embodied Religion


Sushree Sasmita Pati

An overview of Dharmasūtra-s


Aditya Kolachana

Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa


Vanishri Bhat

An overview of Śulbasūtra-s


Megh Kalyan

Closing remarks


To study the Vedāṅga-s is to embark on a journey of discovery. It is to learn about the secrets of language, the rhythms of the universe, the meaning of life itself (and more!). Join us on Saturday, October 14th, 2023, from 08:00 to 1300 hrs IST to explore various aspects of the Vedāṅga-s.

[1] Mahadevan et al (2022:38)

[2] उपाध्यायबलदेव (1997:9)

[3] Saraswati (2008:278)

[4] “Vedāṅgas” in


B, Mahadevan, Vinayak Rajat Bhat, and Nagendra Pavana R.N. 2022. Introduction to Indian Knowledge System – Concepts and Applications. PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Saraswati, Chandrasekharendra. 2008. Hindu Dharma : The Universal Way of Life. Mumbai Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Upadhyaya , Baldev. 1997. संस्कृत-वाङ्मय का बृहद् इतिहास. Vol. II (द्वितीय खण्ड) वेदाङ्ग. Lucknow: उत्तर प्रदेश संस्कृत संस्थान.

“Vedāṅgas.” Encyclopedia of Religion. (September 19, 2023).

Symposium On The Art & Science Of Sutra-s

INDICA invites you to The Art & Science of Sūtra-s, an online symposium planned on July 30th, 2023 (Sunday) between IST 08:30 hrs-16:00 hrs.

Brevity and Accuracy, highly valued in scientific and technical communication in contemporary times, have been integral to Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) courtesy of Sūtra-s. A common traditional definition of a Sūtra is the following:

अल्पाक्षरं असंदिग्धं सारवत् विश्वतोमुखम्।

अस्तोभं अनवद्यं च सूत्रं सूत्र विदो विदुः ॥

(alpākara asadigdha sāravat viśvatomukham

astobha anavadya ca sūtra sūtra vido vidu ||)

Meaning: “The knowers of Sūtras called that (statement) as Sūtra which consists of very few syllables, is free from ambiguity, full of essence, which is comprehensive in application yet devoid of superfluous adjuncts and contains no objectionable word.” (59.117, The Vāyu Purāa Part I, Page 429, G.V. Tagare, 1987, Motilal Banarsidass)

Sūtra-s are often misunderstood, however, as just maxims, aphorisms, or brief statements. There is a lot more to Sūtra-s, though. For instance, many Sūtragrantha-s (loosely, Sūtra texts) have been absolutely central to both the genesis and subsequent development and propagation of different Śāstra-s.

Register for INDICA’s online symposium The Art & Science of Sūtra-s on 30th July (Sunday) to explore the world of Sūtra-s, including but not limited to their classification, methods involved in their formation, relationship with and variations across Śāstra-s, their impact on the development of Śāstra-s, cross-cultural comparison with Western concepts (such as laws and theorems), and their relevance to and utility for diverse contemporary fields such as education, psychology, and technology (amongst others).

Target Audience:

This symposium welcomes scholars, researchers, educators, students, practitioners, and enthusiasts interested in exploring the historical, philosophical, linguistic, and practical aspects of Sūtra-s. Participants from various disciplines, including philosophy, linguistics, mathematics, spirituality, and more, will find value in this interdisciplinary dialogue which aims to foster cross-cultural dialogue, inspire new perspectives, and highlight the timeless relevance of these concise statements of wisdom. Join us to delve into the depths of Sūtra-s and unlock their transformative power.


8.30 AM Dr. Nagaraj Paturi
Dean, Indian Knowledge Systems, INDICA
Welcome Address & Concept Of The Symposium:
Sutras, A Unique Technique Of Vedic Knowledge Systems
9.15 AM Swami Advayananda
President of Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF) and as a Trustee of Chinmaya Vishwa Vidyapeeth (CVV)
Inaugural Address: Sutra Is The Basic Foundation Of
Indian Knowledge Systems
10.00 AM Dr. Jammalamadaka Suryanarayana
Senior Project Manager, Siddhanta Knowledge Foundation, Chennai
The Sutra Composition Process: The Case Of Nyaya Sutras
10.45 AM Jammalamadaka Srinivas
Director, School of Sastric Learning, Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University, Ramtek, Maharashtra
Exploring The Background Of Concise Expression Of Chanakya In Arthasastra
11.30 AM Prof. Madhusudan Penna The Sutra Creation And Technique Of Application Of Yoga Sutras
12.15 PM Prof. Gauri Mahulikar
Dean & Professor, Chinmaya Vishwa Vidyapeeth, Kochi
Critical Analysis Of The Brahmasutras And Concept Of Chatussutri


1.30 PM Sri Karthik Sharma K
Asst. Professor, School of Vedic Knowledge Systems, Chinmaya Vishwa Vidyapeeth, Kochi
Brahmasūtreṣu Tātparya-Nirṇāyaka-Vicārapaddhatiḥ
2.15 PM Dr. Pavankumar Satuluri
Asst. Professor, School of Linguistics & Literary Studies, Chinmaya Vishwa Vidyapeeth, Kochi
Comparison Of Ashtadyayee Sutra Paddhati With Sutra Paddhati In Other Shaastras and TG Gramar Of Chomsky
3.00 PM Dr. Sivakumari Katuri
Asst. Professor (Contract), Central Sanskrit University,
Rajiv Gandhi Campus, Sringeri
AndhravyakaraNe Sutrarachanayaam PaaNineeyaprabhavaha
3.45 PM Megh Kalyanasundaram
Director – Special Projects, INDICA
Vote of Thanks


Symposium On Yāskācārya’s Nirukta

INDICA’s Center for Bhasha Studies (CBS) invites you to an online symposium on Yāskācārya’s Nirukta on Sunday, July 2nd, 2023, from 4:00 to 7:30 PM IST.

The Nirukta is one of the six Vedāṅga-s, or auxiliary disciplines of the Vedas. It is considered the “ear of the Vedapuruṣa,” (Sarasvati, 2008, p. 345) or an essential text for understanding the Vedas. Attributed to Yāskācārya, a Ṛṣi who has been called “the first etymologist of the world,” (Mishra, 2022, p. 234) the Nirukta is a commentary on the Nighaṇṭu, a compilation of Vedic words.

The Nirukta is the earliest surviving work of its kind, and it aims to decipher the meaning of Vedic passages through etymological analysis of words, keeping in mind the context of the Vedic texts. In his introduction to Nirukta published over a 100 years ago, Lakshman Sarup—the first person to submit a DPhil thesis at Oxford—elaborated, in substantial detail, on Yāska’s contribution to etymology, philology, and semantics. Sarup observed that Yāska was “the first writer on etymology” (Sarup, 1920, p. 56) and “the first to treat it as a science by itself.” (ibid.) He also noted that some of Yāska’s arguments about words were “strikingly modern.”  (Sarup, 1920, p. 65)

David Zilberman has rightly called the Nirukta a “polythematic” (Zilberman, 1988, p. 90) text, meaning that it covers a wide range of topics related to language and meaning. It is a profound and important work, and despite being “… the world’s first text of interpretation…”  (Kapoor, 2013, p. 94), it appears to not be as well-known (Poll) as it should be. This symposium aims to contribute to addressing this lack of awareness.

Join us on Sunday, July 2nd, 2023, from 4:00 to 7:30 PM IST to delve into the profound insights of Yāskācārya’s Nirukta.


Kapoor, K. (2013). Conceptualizing India—The Given and the Borrowed. In A. N. Balslev (Ed.), On India: Self-image and Counter-image. Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd. Delhi. 

Mishra, S. (2022). The Rishi Tradition of Bhārat. Subbu Publications. Bengaluru.

Saraswati, C. (2008). Hindu Dharma : The Universal Way Of Life. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Mumbai.

Sarup, L. (1920). THE NIGHAṆṬU AND THE NIRUKTA: The oldest Indian treatise on Etymology, Philology and Semantics [INTRODUCTION]. London. 

Zilberman, D. B. (1988). The Birth of meaning in Hindu thought (R. S. Cohen, Ed.). Reidel.


1 Megh Kalyanasundaram
Director-Special Projects, INDICA
Invocation And Symposium Overview 4:00 PM
2 Prof. Gauri Mahulikar
Academic Director of Chinmaya International Foundation, Ernakulam, Kerala
Study Of Some Homonyms In Nirukta (In The Light Of Durgacharya’s Commentary) 4:15 PM
3 Dr. Vasantkumar M. Bhatt
Professor (Retd.), Sanskrit Scholar, Author, and Manuscriptologist; Retired in 2015 as Director of the School of Languages, Gujarat University,
Insights About And From The Nighaṇṭu And The Nirukta 5:00 PM
4 Dr. Korada Subrahmanyam
Sanskrit Grammarian & Scholar, Professor (Retd.)
Niruktam Is The Tail End Of Vyakaranam 5:45 PM
5 Megh Kalyanasundaram
Director-Special Projects, INDICA
Beyond Etymology: Nirukta’s Significance For Global Histories Of Science, Technology And Indian History Of Writing & Knowledge Systems 6:30 PM
6 Dr. Nagaraj Paturi
Senior Director & Chief Curator, INDICA
Multiple Levels Of Meaning, Nirukta’s Lessons For Contemporary Lexicography 7:00 PM


Symposium on Chandas: Cadences of Indic Thought

The term ṛc (ऋच्) occurring in the name Ṛgveda (ऋग्वेदः) itself has a meaning of “verse”. During learning and recitation of the Veda mantra-s in the traditional manner, it is customary to acknowledge the name of the poetic meter or Chandas (छन्दस्) of the mantra, along with the names of the Ṛṣi (ऋषिः) who first witnessed the mantra and the Devatā (देवता) to whom it is addressed. Along with the discipline of correct utterance of letters that is Śikṣā, and the disciplines of correctly determining the form and function of words that are Vyākaraṇa and Nirukta, the discipline of prosody that is Chandaḥ-śāstra has been accorded the status of a Vedāṅga, a limb of the Veda. Metric verse stands out as an appealing and enduring medium for the expression of Bhāratīya thought, be it the hymns of the Veda, epic and devotional poetry, or treatises on the sciences and arts encompassing both śāstra and kāvya. A testimony to the enduring appeal of the metric verse medium to Bhāratīya hearts and minds across time and space, is that this medium over all others was chosen for Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa from deep antiquity and Kālidāsa’s Raghuvaṃśa in the Classical Period, and also in the Rāmāyaṇa relived by Kambaṉ in Tamiḻ or Tulasīdāsa in Avadhī or Kṛttivāsa in Bāṅgla closer to our times. Sayings which are recalled by Bhāratīya-s to this day and serve to connect them with both the sacred and worldly wisdom of the ages, such as Subhāṣita-s in Saṃskṛtam, kuṟaḷ-s in Tamiḻ, or dohā-s in Avadhī, are in metric verse. The origin of Chandas is close to the revelation of the Veda itself, and it seems like the effect of Chandas ever since has been to set the cadences of Bhāratīya thought itself.

The Chandaśśāstra of Piṅgala, a definitive pioneering text in Chandas like the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini in Vyākaraṇa, enumerates poetic meters occurring in the Veda corpus. The problem of enumerating possible meters in verses of a given length, both in Piṅgala’s text and in later texts based on it such as Halāyudha’s and Virahāṅka’s in the second millennium CE, stimulated early Indian efforts in the field of Combinatorics. Chandas, like Vyākaraṇa, developed as a śāstra in its own right, as well as a discipline of expression for other śāstra-s. Poetic meters employed in śāstra and kāvya literature, as enumerated in the 10th century Vṛttaratnākara compendium of Kedārabhaṭṭa, are more numerous than those occurring in the Veda. Of these meters, many that can be recognized as descendants of the Chandas families in the Veda, occur alongside meters such as Āryā which have extensive presence in Prākṛta literature besides Saṃskṛtam. It is in the Āryā meter that the Āryabhaṭiyam, the pioneering mathematical treatise in Saṃskṛtam, and the Gāhā Sattasaī, the pre-eminent poetic compilation in Prākṛta, are both written. The utility of metric verse in aiding memory reinforced by strong initial impression and aesthetic appeal has been recognized and harnessed by thinkers and expositors through the ages. While original verses of the Bhagavadgītā which is mostly in the classic anuṣṭup meter continue to be committed to memory, commentators who provided expositions in prose return to verse to provide summaries that will last in the minds of readers, like Abhinavagupta in tenth-century Kāśmīra giving Saṃskṛtam summary verses in the anuṣṭup meter in his Gītārthasaṅgraha, and D V Gundappa in twentieth-century Karṇāṭaka giving Kannaḍa summary verses in classic Kannaḍa meters in his Jīvanadharmayoga. On etymological grounds, Chandas is said to have the functions of both a protective covering and ornamental covering, and both these aspects are on display in how verses simultaneously preserve the memory and embellish the appearance of worthy ideas. 

It is in the realm of kāvya that the artistic possibilities of Chandas are experienced in all their grandeur. The most acclaimed poets in Saṃskṛtam including canonical Pañcamahākāvya-s have valued the discipline of consistently composing all verses in a sarga or chapter in a single meter. While there is artistic freedom in choosing meters, some meters have come to be naturally associated with genres, like the meter Mandākrāntā for the dūta-kāvya genre addressed to messengers for a lover like Kālidāsa’s Meghadūta, and the meter Vasantatilakā for Suprabhātam class of stotra-kāvya accompanying morning worship at temples. Verses of praise being rendered musically goes all the way back to the Veda, where some mantra-s belonging as ṛk-s in the Ṛgveda and recited to invite the presence of deities, are also sung as sāman-s of the Sāmaveda in the presence of the deities. Stotra-kāvya-s or devotional poetry both historically and in modern times, and dṛśya-kāvya-s or Sanskrit drama of ancient times both served to bring Chandas on stage in unison with other performing arts such as music and dance. Verses from the itihāsa-purāṇa and kāvya corpuses can be seen coming most alive in the company of music and dance during Yakṣagāna, Kucipuḍi and Kathakaḷi performances. As a Vedāṅga, Chandas has been likened to the feet of the Veda-puruṣa, and this seems a fitting characterization in the realm of art as well where Chandas has borne aloft the spoken and written word to the heights of expression and experience. The emphasis of this symposium is on Chandas as part of the integral infrastructure of Śāstra, Kāvya and Nāṭya.


Time Speaker Name Topic
09:30-09:35 Megh Kalyanasundaram Invocation and Welcome
09:35-09:45 Arvind V Iyer Symposium Concept
09:45-10:15 Sreelalitha Rupanagudi & Raghavendra Hebbalalu The Rhythm of Chandas – A Practical Demonstration
10:15-10:45 GSS Murthy Modern explorations into the ancient world of Sanskrit Chandas
10:45-11:15 Shashikiran BN Chandogati: Unravelling the Beauty of Poetic Metres
11:15-11:45 Dr. Shankar Rajaraman The interface of Chitrakavya and Chandas
11:45-12:15 Dr. Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy Verslation, Meters & Music
12:15-12:30 Arvind V Iyer Symposium Summary
12:30-13:00 Dr. Nagaraj Paturi Impressions and Closing remarks


Building संसाधनी (Saṃsādhanī) – A Sanskrit Computational Toolkit

INDICA’s Center for Bharatiya Languages presents a conversation with Dr. Amba Kulkarni on the 31st of March 2023 (Friday) between 1800 and 1900 hrs IST. This talk looks to introduce the listeners to संसाधनी (Saṃsādhanī), the impressive Sanskrit Computational Toolkit built under the inspiring leadership of Professor Kulkarni at the University of Hyderabad. Join in to get introduced to that intersection of Sanskrit, Grammar, Computational Linguistics, and Technology that has featured, and continues to feature, some of the most cutting-edge developments.

An Introduction to Kannada Literature

INDICA’s Center for Bharatiya Languages welcomes you to a conversation with Professor K.S. Kannan, Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj Chair in IIT-Madras, on the topic An Introduction to Kannada Literature on the 28th of January 2023 at IST 1800 hrs. This conversation, in English, intends to serve as an introduction to some facets of Kannada literature. Kannada, as some might know, is one of the six languages indigenous to India recognised by the Government of India as a ‘Classical’ language. As per this press release found on the Press Information Bureau website (, the criteria to determine the declaration of a language as a Classical language have been: i) High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years; (ii) A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers; (iii) The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community; (iv) The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

An Introduction to Tamil Literature

INDICA’s Center for Bharatiya Languages welcomes you to a conversation with Pradeep Chakravarthy on the topic An Introduction to Tamil Literature on the 18th of February 2023 at IST 1800 hrs. This conversation, in English, intends to serve as an introduction to some facets of Tamil literature. As some might know, Tamil is one of the six languages indigenous to India and recognised by the Government of India as a ‘Classical’ language. Tamil was recognised as a Classical language by the Government of India (GoI) in 2004, making it the first among six that has been designated as ‘Classical’ by the Government of India. As per this press release found on the Press Information Bureau website (, the criteria to determine the declaration of a language as a Classical language have been: i) High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years; (ii) A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers; (iii) The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community; (iv) The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.