The Tradition of Vedic Chanting.. preserved by Namma Sampradaya
THE VEDAS AND VEDIC CHANTING
UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of Vedic chant a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 7, 2003.
The Vedas are a vast collection of hymns that were heard by ancient Indian sages when they were in a deep meditative state. Collectively they are the most authoritative source of Indian wisdom as they contain information on every conceivable subject from the relationship between a teacher and student to the structure of the human system, from the relevance of nature and the elements in our lives to the technical know-how necessary to build weapons, from the origin of the universe to simple social etiquette and more. Thus, the Vedas have for thousands of years been the primary source of reference.
Sanskrit, the classical Indian language, was the language of the Vedas. Over the years the vast information contained in the Vedas was preserved and transmitted from one generation of teachers and students to the next in an oral manner. There were no books or pens or laptop computers to facilitate taking notes. All teaching and learning was done orally. There were certain basic rules of Vedic chanting that had to be adhered to without compromise. It is because of the rules and pedagogy of chanting that until today, the Vedas are chanted exactly as they were several thousand years ago.
In the Indian tradition, the concept of education implied a thorough study of the Vedas and the dedicated practice of Vedic chanting. At the crux of this study was the relationship between teacher and student. In learning Vedic chanting, a student was expected to listen to his/her teacher and then to chant exactly as the teacher did. This process was called “adhyayanam.“ The Vedic tradition remains till today one of the important foundations upon which rests the entire gamut of Indian thought, knowledge, culture and beliefs
The oral tradition of the Vedas (Śrauta) consists of several pathas, "recitations" or ways of chanting the Vedic mantras. Such traditions of Vedic chant are often considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence, The various pathas are designed to allow the complete and perfect memorization of the text and its pronunciation, including the Vedic pitch accent.
Mainly the students are first taught the samhita patha, that is the text with sandhi applied. Other pathas include vakya, pada, krama, jata, mala, sikha, rekha, dhvaja, danda, ratha, ghana.
The chief purpose of such methods is to ensure that not even a syllable of a mantra is altered to the slightest extent, which has resulted in the most stable oral tradition of texts worldwide.
Vedic examination system even today are essentially of Oral nature, due to the importance of Oral Tradition; requiring the examinee to be ready to answer instantly any question from any chapter studied from the first day of his study. Even as examination systems around the world keep changing, the tradition of the Vedic Examination System has remained unchanged since time immemorial.