The Vedas are the canonical texts of Sanatana Dharma that have been revealed to our Sages in their moments of deep meditation. Reflecting the fact that these texts are revelations from the Divine, they are also called Apaurusheya (not of human origin). For many millennia, these revealed texts were never written down. They were instead committed to memory and orally handed down in the teacher-student tradition (Guru Shishya Parampara). In later epochs, these compassionate teachers have written down these texts – foreseeing a decline in humankind’s retentive power of the mind due to increased material pursuits. Even so, Vedic tradition still demands commitment to memory via oral practice.
Thus, chanting/reciting these texts from memory is the mainstay of this oral tradition. In chanting, there are at least eight methods of reciting these canonical texts. These methods are called vikrtis. Five of these are widely followed today in traditional Veda Patashalas (Vedic schools). These are called: Samhita, Padam, Kramam, Jata, and Ghanam.
The differences in these chanting methodologies arise in the way words from a sentence are sequenced for chanting.
For example, what we know and love as “Vedic Chanting” is really, the Samhita method. In this method, if a sentence has five words for example, these words are simply chanted in that sequence e.g., 1 2 3 4 5. In this method, some words in the sentence may be “merged” based on the rules of Vedic Sanskrit grammar.
The Padam style of chanting is “almost” similar to the Samhita, except that all the words – even the merged words – are separately chanted.
The Kramam style of chanting takes this to the next level: the sequence of words (fully split, with no merging) is 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5, etc.
Jata and Ghanam styles of chanting are progressively more complex word sequences.
In Veda Patashalas (Vedic schools), students are taught the Samhita text, along with the techniques (or algorithms) for each of the vikritis. With enough practice with these algorithms, students can pick any arbitrary passage from the Samhita texts and chant these “on-the-fly” in any of the other styles by applying the algorithms in real-time!
Often, two groups of individuals chant in these styles – each alternating one sentence or phrase from the Samhita. As the chanting alternates between the groups, this is called “charcha” (discussion).
For the Shivaratri Celebrations at CMSJ, two groups of trained devotees will be chanting the entire Sri Rudram from Krishna Yajurveda in the KRAMAM style. This will be the audible background as our Panditji Sri Ravichandran offers archana to our Lord Jagadeeshwara!
Please note the puja timings and details below: