Vedangas are the six forms i.e., the six auxiliary disciples of Vedas. It is said to be the six limbs of the Purusha called Veda.
- Shiksha (Education) – Nose
- Kalpa (Ritual) – Arms
- Vyakarana (Grammar) – Mouth
- Nirukta (Etymology) – Ears
- Chhanda (Metrics) – Feet
- Jyotisha (Astronomy) – Eyes
It is referred to as the nose of the body. Shiksha is related to giving instructions through recitation. It consists of instructions for correct pronunciation and accent of the Samhita texts. It mainly focuses on phonetics and gives the rules for the sound of syllables and pronunciation. Phonetics decides the sound changes while recitation and hence becomes very important for Vedic language. The aim is to attain
- Akshara suddhi – syllable purity
- Swara suddhi – tone and pitch purity
- Maatraa suddhi – durational purity
- Balam – the force of articulation
- Samam – evenness
- Santana – continuity
Kalpa is the arm of the Vedas. It speaks about rules for the right method of performing the rituals. These rules are followed in ceremonies such as weddings, naming functions, and other ceremonies. It has its origin from the brahmana texts of the Veda. These are written in sutra style, referring to sacrifices. Kalpa sutras are divided into
- Srautasutras – contains rules for performing different sacrifices and rituals.
- Smarthasutras – further partitioned into
- Grihyasutras – gives domestic rites and rituals for the three castes namely – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and the responsibilities for the household life.
- Dharmasutras – gives rules for behaviour and talks about the four stages of life
Vyakarana is called the grammar for the Vedas. It is essential for the formation of sentences, phrases, and words. It is the mouth of the Vedas. It is necessary for understanding the Vedas. It is related to the next Vedanga, Nirukta. It is written by scholars named Panini and Yaska. It consists of 4000 sutras which belong to the four padas of the eight chapters. The four divisions are
- Siva sutras – deals with phonetics and intonation
- Ashtadhyayi – deals with sentence structure and construction
- Dhatupadha – deals with root words
- Ganapadha – deals with a group of nouns and phrases
Nirukta is the ear of the Veda purusha. It means etymology and tells why a word is chosen for the context and the meaning of the used word. It is generally called the Kosa or the dictionary. It deals with the interpretation of obscure and difficult words and provides insights into the hidden meaning delivered in the content. Hence, the study of Nirukta becomes essential to understand the concealed meaning and linguistic significance of the texts.
It is regarded as the feet of the Veda Purusha. The word Chhanda is derived from the term Chad meaning to cover. It deals with the metrics to be used in the Vedic hymns. A sloka generally consists of four quarters called paadas. Based on the number of syllables in each paada, there are different meters.
- Gayatri – 8 syllables
- Trishtup – 11 syllables
- Jagati – 12 syllables
Jyotisha is the eyes of the Vedas and it means astronomy or astrology. It gives knowledge about auspicious dates and times for the ceremonies and rituals to be performed. This is determined based on the position of the sun, the moon, the planets, and other heavenly bodies. It is believed that the rituals succeed when performed under the influence of a particular graha, nakshatra, or thithi. This is calculated using some mathematical calculations and hence mathematics forms an integral part of it.