- Shiksha or phonetics or pronunciation
- Kalpa or ritual
- Vyakarana or grammar
- Nirukta or etymology
- Chandas or meter
- Jyotisha or astronomy
Now we shall briefly study about them in the order, given in the Mundaka Upanishad.
Shiksha lays down the rules of phonetics – sounds of syllables, of pronunciation. The function of the Shiksha is thus to fix the parameters of Vedic words. Phonetics is most important in the case of the Vedic language, because we see that change in sound leads to change in results and effect. Hence, Shiksha which is Vedic Phonetics has been regarded as the most important of the six Angas (organs) of the Veda Purusha.Some important Pratishakhyas are:
(1) Rigveda-Pratishakhya of Rigved
(2)Taittiriya-Pratishakhya of Krishna Yajurveda
(3) Vajasaneyi Pratishakhya of Shukla Yajurveda
(4) Atharvaveda-Pratishakhya of Atharvaveda
There are four types of the Kalpasutras:
(1) Shrauta-sutras,dealing with Shrauta sacrifices
(2) Grihya-sutras, dealing with the domestic ceremonies
(3) Dharma-sutras, dealing with the religious and social laws
(4) Shulba-sutras, dealing with the rules of measurement of the fire-altars etc.
Formation of the word is the main subject of grammar. It discusses root (Prakriti) and suffix (Pratyaya) of a word to study its meaning. Panini’s Vyakarana is in the form of sutras or aphorisms. The fourteen Sutras are referred to here, as Maheswara Sutras. They were originated from Nataraja’s damuru sound. They are considered the foundation of grammar. Vararuci has written an elaborate commentary or Vartika. Sage Patanjali wrote commentary or Bhashya on it.
Yaska has mentioned a considerable number of important grammarians as his predecessors in the Nirukta such as Galava, Shakapuni, Katthakya.
Niruka is very important for several reasons. Firstly, it represents the type of the earliest classical style and in this respect stands by itself. Secondly, it is the oldest known attempt in the field of Vedic etymology. As regards the importance of the etymology Yaska himself says that without it the precise meanings of the Vedic stanzas cannot be understood
According to Nirukta the term Chandas is derived from the root Chad (to cover). Meter is called Chandas because it covers the sense of the Mantra. The Chandas is designed for the purpose of securing the proper reading and reciting of Vedic texts. The literature comprising this Vedanga on metrics is equally small.
The texts, dealing with Vedic meters, are as follows:
1. Rikpratishakhya 2. Shankhayana Shrauta-sutra 3. Nidana-sutra of Samaveda
4. Chandas-sutras of Pingala
Each of them contains a section varying slightly from each other on Vedic meters.
It is unfortunate that there is no work available at present dealing with ancient Vedic astronomy (Jyotisha) in the Sutra style. Only we have a small text-book called Jyotisha of Vedic astronomy in verses in two recessions. Generally, Maharshi Lagadha is regarded author of this Vedanga Jyotisha. This is a very difficult text and, therefore, is not clear on several points to scholars even today. Later, we find many Sanskrit treatises on astronomy and mathematical calculations. Bhaskaracharya, Varahamihira and Aryabhatta are known ancient scholars conversant with these scientific subjects. The principles established by them are in use in the modern world. By Dr.Shashi Tiwari (Retd.), Sanskrit Department, Delhi university