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Warder, A. K. (1954) Pali metre: A study of the evolution of Early Middle Indian metre based on the verse preserved in the Pali Canon. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This is a study of the problems presented by the metres of the Pali Canon, seen in their historical setting as representing the Early Middle Indian phase in the evolution of Indian metre. During this phase, which is regarded as a turning point in the linguistic transition from Old Indian (Vedic) to Late Middle Indian (Apabhramsa), a number of new metres appeared, and an entirely new technique of verification was developed which differed in principle from the old Vedic technique. This new technique was adopted alike for Classical Sanskrit and for the Prakrit vernacular literature of the following centuries, and an understanding of it should enable us to obtain a better grasp of the metrics of these later phases of Indian literature. An attempt is here made to collect and assess all previous contributions to the study of the ancient metres and related subjects, and to show how these many different fields of study are interrelated and can thus be made to contribute to the elucidation of one another's problems. The language of the Canon presents many difficulties which have to be studied before we can tackle the problems of scansion, and at the same time the linguistic and metrical trends constantly interacted on one another. The most important feature of the new metres was their close connection with music, the study of which has proved to be indispensable in our research on the history of Indian literature. The changes in metrical usage provide perhaps the most decisive tests in determining the age of any document in verse (and even in prose composition the current metrical rhythms may be reflected). We should thus be able to reconstruct the history of the ancient literature without relying on subjective opinions, and establish a firm basis for our research on that most interesting phase of the history of Indian civilization which is marked by the rise and fall of the Empire of Magadha (500 B.C.-100 B.C.), and for the confused period which followed.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:20

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