Written by Sri Swami Chandrashekarendra
Siksa sastra may be said to be a "guard" to ensure the right enunciation
a (Vedic) mantra. But it is Chandas that determines whether the form of
the mantra is right. Of course the form of a mantra can never be wrong.
The mantras, as mentioned so often, were not created by the sages and
are not the product of their thinking. It was Bhagavan who caused them
to be revealed to them. Man, beast, tree and other sentient creatures
and insentient objects of creation exist as they should be according to
law of nature. In the same way, the metre of a Vedic mantra must be
naturally correct. However, Chandas helps us to find out whether a
mantra or sukta that is being taught or chanted has come down to us in
its true form. We may check the hymn according to its metre and if we
find it faulty we may correct it in consultation with people who are
in such matters.
Apart from the mantras, which appeared on their own, are the
composition of poets. Chandas is of help in giving shape to poetic
and imagination. Like tala to music is chandas to poetry.
It is because poetry is composed according to a certain measure and its
rhythm determined in a certain order of syllables that it acquires a
definite form. It is also easy to memorise. Modern society is discarding
those rules of discipline meant to give it a definite character and
In keeping with this new trend, poetry too is being written without any
metre and "poets" compose as they please. People don't realise that to
be free means to be firmly attached to a system, that discipline is the
road to a higher freedom.
Chandas is the means by which we ensure that the Vedic mantra is
preserved in its original form, it being impossible to add one letter to
take away another. The very purpose of the Vedas is the raising up of
Self. Must we then permit a single sound to be added to it or be taken