Did you know the Gītā has verses in only two types of simple meters (chandha)?
One type of meter has 8 vowels (sounds, you could say, or syllables to be more technical)
and the other has 11.
How do we tell them apart? Child's play if you know the trick.. Glance at the verse as it traidtionally appears in devanāgarī in the Gītā. If it is in TWO LONG LINES that means it will have 8 vowels + 8 vowels on the first line and againa 8 +8 on the second.
DaMaR+ae}ae ku-å+ae}ae SaMaveTaa YauYauTSav"
MaaMak-a" Paa<@vaêEv ik-Maku-vRTa SaÅYa
But if it has FOUR SHORTER LINES, Eg
(meter changes to 11 vowels per line) 2.22 #068
vaSaa&iSa Jaq<aaRiNa YaQaa ivhaYa
NavaiNa Ga*õaiTa Narae _Parai<a
TaQaa Xarqrai<a ivhaYa Jaq<aaRNYa(
ANYaaiNa Sa&YaaiTa NavaiNa dehq
Then we can be sure it will have 11 syllables on each line. How can we be so sure? Wel, as mentioned above, the Gītā uses only two types of verses. For other texts, one would probably have to manually count the number of 'sounds' or 'syllables' in each verse to make an approximate determination of which tune to sing it with. (This is not the deep and full science of Chandha, or Vedic Chanting with meter - i am ignorant of that great subject, but i am sharing simple tips enough to get one to sing the Gītā ślokas bhajan style.) It is enjoined that the veda mantras must only be chanted by one living a pure, brahmainiical life and properly initiated into the art, and that those mantras must never be spoken but always chanted only with proper chandha (meter) - some meters can be very complex. However this does not apply for the Gītā, for in the Gītā itself the Lord declares that it is meant for anyone, man, woman, brahmana, śūdra.. and so it is out of His causeless mercy that the Gītā can simply be read normally or sung, like a bhajan - after all, the very word 'gītā' means song.
So I hope these little bits of info get you interested and awaken your curiosity to know some tips on how to change from one tune to the other and back. Visit www.gitajayanti.org main page and download Chapter two from there, and try it out - there are several changes from 8 vowels to 11 and back agian in Chapter Two and also in Chapter 15. See if you can figure it out. The tunes we use are carefully chosen after much analysis and practice - to make it easy, kindergarten or entry level. Of course those who already know sanskṛt may laugh at my oversimplifications here, but I am ignorant, and our objective is to just help people who know nothing of sanskṛt to cross that first hurdle and begin singing along. (Incidentally, one of the easiest ways to do so is to keep singing along to this video - www.gitasingalong.on.to ) Now there's another area for volunteering.. video formats!!
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