These three articles on chandassu were posted on telusA
by Sri Prabhakar Vissavajjhala. The only changes
made are to correct the typos pointed out by him 
in a subsequent mail.

                           Chandassu   (1 of 3)                            

What is 'chandassu'? How is it framed?  (confining to telugu language only) 

'chandassu' may be described as the one that designs  the structural
features of 'poetry'.   

If so what is 'poetry'? 

Poetry may be described as the 'mobilizing literature while itself keeps
moving'. (kadalutoo, kadalincE  saahityamE  kavitvamu).  

Doesn't 'prose' move? Can't it mobilize? 

Sure it does. But, certainly not as gracefully, appealingly, memorably and
aesthetically as 'poetry' does as everyone knows. It is easy to feel rather
than to explain.

What makes this difference? Is it 'chandassu'?

'chandassu' only deals with the structural features of poetry. To be very
specific it generates the 'rythm' of the 'literature' only. [Please ignore
the term 'rhyme'in this context. Strictly speaking, 'rhyme' should be
considered in figures of speeches (precisely, Sabdaalankaaraas) but not in
'chandassu'.] 'chandassu' should not be misunderstood as the representation
of 'poetry' as many people tend to do so. chandassu is only a definable
aspect of many definable and indefinable aspects of poetry. 

Why is 'rythm' so important for 'poetry'? Does that bring the initial
beauty to 'literature'? Can't things exist without 'rythm' and still be
I wish people may not ask this question. For, the very existance of the
universe itself is due to the 'rythmic' motion of the planets around the
Sun. By the very rythmic rotation around itself and the Sun, the earth is
resulting in the distinction of time into days, nights and years. If this
rythm in the universe is absent/disturbed for any reason, the world may not
make any sense. Even humans, for that matter all the living beings do keep
maintaining rythms during the daily life as well as the life span (which
are 'bilogical rythms'). Apparently, everything in the universe is rythmic,
either in recognizable or unrecognizable manner.  Coming to 'literature',
even 'prose' is rythmic in an invisible manner due to grammar, without
which a sentence becomes a haphazardous collection of words, which doesn't
make any sense. However, this 'rythm' being very essential (sense-making
oriented) is never considered as a 'rythm' at all. Probably, 'chandassu'
may be described as a recognizable 'rythm' that is atributed to

In essence, one can say one doesn't like a 'rythm' in particular, and it is
unwise to say that rythm is unnecessary.

Humans perceive information through the five 'senses' (vision, hearing,
smell, taste and touch), which are assimilated by brain ultimately. It is
often said that 'sarvEndriyaaNaam  nayanam  pradhaanam' (eye/vision is the
best of all the senses.) However, there is nothing in the 'literature' to
please the physical 'eye'. Literature is fundamentally perceived by
listening or reading, where the 'ear' and subsequently the 'mind' play
critical roles in understanding/appreciating it. Probably, due to
inevitable situations in the past, where recitation was essential because
of the lack of printing and copying facilities, it was more essential to
make 'literature' more appealing by 'physical means'. So, as a matter of
preliminary attraction, the strikingly rythmic patterns that aid the
'literature' are often very successful in catching the ears of the common
public. As the 'rythmic literature' sounds like music, it can drag the
attention of even the uninterested or the disinterested also at times and
makes it long lasting in the minds too. However, a truly sensible,
inquisitive, attentive, dedicated and probing soul always grasps the
message equally from a non/less rythmic and a more rythmic literature in
the same manner. Poetry, obviously, being much more than mere chandassu, as
a matter of fact, with all its visibly flowing flair often stayed
above'prose'in its appealing nature.                            (to be

With regards,
Prabhakar Vissavajjhala

                                Chandassu (2 of 3)  

How is 'chandassu' framed (in telugu)? How many types it is?

'chandassu' is framed based on the number of 'aksharaas' (syllables) in
each and every line (paada) of a poem. As the same lines are repeated
(aavRtta), these are called 'vRttaas'. If all the lines in a poem follow
the same 'types of aksharaas', it is called a 'sama vRtta'. There are 26
types of 'chandassu'. 

Before going into the deatils of them, what is an 'akshara'?

There are two separate 'telugu' equivalents for English words 'letter' and
'syllable'. The first one is 'varNamu' (letter). This is the basic 'letter'
of the language (telugu) in the alphabets, hence, the name 'varNa
samaamnaayamu'. These are 56 in telugu. However, the equivalent for 
'syllable' in telugu is 'aksharamu'. 'Syllable' is often defined as the
'unit of pronounciation at a stretch' with a collection of letters
(varNaas) in it. However, there is a critical but practical difference in
'English' and 'telugu' here. In English at least on quite a few occasions,
a syllable may be a 'word' (i.e., one syllable words, for eg., pen, gun,
fun, fan, bill, kill, kick, chick, duck, pick etc.) hence, sense-making. 
But certainly not that often, an 'aksharamu' (syllable) can be
'sense-making' (word) in telugu. To my knowledge, 'Sree, stree, lE!, pO!,
raa!,chee!' and a few others may be the only very few exceptions possible.
Also, in telugu , every varNamu (letter) is an aksharamu (syllable), but
every aksharamu can't be a varNamu. For eg. 'a, aa' are both varnaas and
thereby aksharaas also. Whereas, in a word like 'svapnamu', 'sva' is an
aksharamu (syllable), but not a varNamu (letter) as it has two 'varNaas'
(sa and va) in it.  These 'aksharaas' (syllables) are divided into
'laghuvu' and 'guruvu' based on the time period  of pronounciation. (The
scope of the discussion of 'laghuvu' and 'guruvu' distiction is beyond this
article.) These 'aksharaas' (syallables, which very often don't make
complete sense in telugu) are the fundamental aspects in designing the

How many types of 'chandassu' are there?

(chandassu of 'jaatulu and upajaatulu' of telugu literature is beyond the
scope of this article. chandassu of 'vRttaas' is only touched upon here.)

There are 26 types of chandassu. Each 'chandassu' is recognized by the
number of 'aksharaas' present in each line of the poem. As an 'akshara' can
be either a 'laghuvu' or a 'guruvu', the number of variations possible in
each type of 'chandassu' follows a 'binary system'. The names /numbers of
'chandassu' and the numbers of 'sama vRttaas' that can be generated in each
variety are as follows.
 # of chandassu     Name   # of aksharaas    # of sama vRttas
                            per each line         possible 

        1          ukta            1                   2
        2          atyukta         2                   4
        3          madhya          3                   8
        4          pratisTha       4                  16    
        5          suprstisTha     5                  32
        6          gaayatri        6                  64
        7          ushTikku        7                 128
        8          anusThuppu      8                 256
        9          bRhati          9                 512
       10          paMkti         10               1,024
       11          trishTuppu     11               2,048
       12          jagati         12               4,096
       13          atijagati      13               8,192
       14          Sakvari        14              16,384
       15          atiSakvari     15              32,768
       16          ashTi          16              65,536
       17          atyashTi       17             131,072
       18          dhRti          18             262,144
       19          atidhRti       19             524,288
       20          kRti           20           1,048,576
       21          prakRti        21           2,097,152
       22          aakRti         22           4,194,304
       23          vikRti         23           8,388,608
       24          sukRti         24          16,777,216
       25          abhikRti       25          33,554,432
       26          utkRti         26          67,108,864

 Total # of sama vRttaas in 26 chandassus is 134,217,726

Source for the chart: 'sulakshaNa  saaramu' by 'lingamagunTa  timmakavi.
Supposedly a contemporary of 'tenaali raamakRshNa, so belongs to 1550s or

The amazing point is, inspite of the possible generation of millions of
'vRttaas' in 26 chandassus, the chandaah kartaas did not designate more
than 200 vRttaas. The reason is anyone's guess. Not that all the
combinations aksharaas will generate a specific rythm that suits a
meaningful disposition of the 'language' to form the 'literature'. This
truly requires a genius to designate which of these forms or patterns will
suit that particular 'language' (telugu). It requires lots of thorough
knowledge of the language and much more than that. Of course. it is not
known, how and why a triplet akshara unit is considered to set a 'gaNa' to
design the sequence of a chosen 'vRtta'.

Inspite of 200 prescribed 'vRttaas', not more than 45-50 were regularly
used in the various 'kaavyaas' over 1000 years of telugu literature.(to be

With regards,
Prabhakar Vissavajjhala

                              chandassu (3 of 3)

                             List of sama vRttaas'
# of aksharaas  Names of vRttaas        gaNaas                yati
        8       vidyunmaala          ma-ma-ga-ga                5
                bhadrakamu           ra-sa-va                  ....

       10       maNi rangamu         ra-sa-sa-ga                6

       11       indra vraja          ta-ta-ja-ga-ga             8
                upEndra vraja        ja-ta-ja-ga-ga             8
                rathOdhatamu         ra-na-ra-va                7
                svaagatamu           ra-na-bha-ga-ga            7
                tOvakamu             bha-bha-bha-ga-ga          7

       12       bhujanga prayaatamu  4 ya                       8
                indra vaMSamu        ta-ta-ja-ra                8
                vamSastamu           ja-ta-ja-ra                8
                sragviNi             4 ra                       7
                druta vilambitamu    na-bha-bha-ra              7
                tOTakamu             4 sa                       9
                tOdakamu             na-ja-ja-ya                8

       14       vana mayUramu        bha-ja-sa-na-ga-ga         9
                vasanta tilaka       ta-bha-ja-ja-ga-ga         8
                madana               -------do----------        9

       15       maalini              na-na-ma-ya-ya             9
                sarasaamkamu         sa-ja-sa-sa-ya             10
                sugandhi             7 ha-ga                    9

       16       panca caamaramu      ja-ra-ja-ra-ja-ga          10
       17       SikhriNi             ya-ma-na-sa-bha-va         13
                pRdhvi               ja-sa-ja-sa-ya-va          9/12
                mandaakraanta        ma-bha-na-ta-ta-ga-ga      11

       18       matta kOkila         ra-sa-ja-ja-bha-ra         11
                tarali               bha-sa-na-ja-na-ra         11

       19       SaardUlamu           ma-sa-ja-sa-ta-ta-ga       13
                taralamu             na-bha-ra-sa-ja-ja-ga      12
                mEgha visphUrjitam   ya-ma-na-sa-ra-ra-ga       13
                candrakaLa           ra-sa-sa-ta-ja-ja-ga       11

       20       mattEbhamu           sa-bha-ra-na-ma-ya-va      14
                utpalamaala          bha-ra-na-bha-bha-ra-va    10
                amburuhamu           bha-bha-bha-bha-ra-sa-va   13

       21       campaka maala        na-ja-bha-ja-ja-ja-ra      11
                sragdhara            ma-ra-bha-na-ya-ya-ya      8,15

       22       mahaa sragdhara      sa-ta-ta-na-sa-ra-ra-ga    9,16
                maanini              7 bha-ga                   7, 13, 19
                taraLamu             7 na-ga                    13

       23       kaviraaja viraajitam na-6 ja-va                 8, 14, 20

       24       kraUnca pada         bha-ma-sa-bha-na-na-na-ya  11, 19

       25       saadhvi              bha-na-ja-na-sa-na-na-bha-ga8, 15, 22

       26       prabhu               3 na-5 ja-va                9, 15, 21
                malayajamu           na-ja-na-sa-na-na-bha-na-va 8, 15, 22
                mangaLa mahaaSree    bha-ja-sa-na-bha-ja-sa-na-ga-ga 9, 17

 In addition to the above 45,  there are 5 more frequently used vRttaas. 

       27      laakshaNee vRtta    bha-na-na-na-na-bha-na-na-sa    16

       29      ramaNaka vRtta      9 na-va                         9,17,25

       30      layagraahi          bha-ja-sa-na-bha-ja-sa-na-bha-ya
                                    praasa yati at 9,18,27
       34      layavibhaati        na-sa-na-na-sa-na-na-sa-na-na-sa-ga     
                                    praasa yati at  10,20,30               
               danDakamu           sa-na-ha- n(ta)--------ga       or
                                   All of it is considered as one 'paada'  
                                   without praasa and yati

Merits and demerits of 'vRtta chandassu':

While compilation of tremendous 'poetic'literature is the major merit, the
usage of 'vyardha padaas' to suit 'chandassu' (filler words) is the major
demerit. While 'chandO haters' try to 'overplay' this aspect, 'chandO
lovers' overlook this. Keeping this unresolvable issue aside, one got to
accept that amazing skills of composing 'poetry' were evident on quite a
few occasions in the telugu literature, where unparallel talents were
brought into existance to express human feelings comprising of 'nava

While 'chandO haters' think that 'gaNa' oriented 'vRtta' chandassu is a
hurdle, the 'chandO lovers' feel that as a 'cherishable challenge'. While
creating rythm in the literature is the major function  of 'chandassu', a
maatraa chandassu, that is not bound by any 'sequences of gaNaas' can also
be rythmic, which is also chandassu. However, it is unfortunate that both
the'chandO haters' and 'chandO lovers' totally ignore this aspect very

By all means, 'chandassu' should aid and enhance the beauty of the
'language' and 'literature' as an undercurrent. Poetry (not chandassu)
should reflect the brilliance and elegance of the poet, but not his/her
labour in creating poetry. Afterall, poetry is for 'appealing', so it
shouldn't created in an 'appaling' manner. 

With regards,
Prabhakar Vissavajjhala 

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