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Gathika – A Mode Of Chanting By Hindu Priests

Gathika is one of the four modes of chantings referred to by ancient Hindu musicologists. The chantings were called arcika, gathika, samika and svarantarita, and refer respectively to chantings in one tone, two tones, three tones and four tones. The most interesting thing about these chants is that Hindu priests still use them today.

The advantage of these chantings in simple and musical intonations and in simple rhythmic measures was that it helped one to memorize the subject matter. In the absence of books, one had to memorize everything. God’s names were to be memorized with the help of these simple intonations.

Priests had to memorize entire books of instructions for performing religious rites, and these verses were to be sun in three intonations. These books were called pothis. All pothis were normally read or recited in the three-toned voice modulations. These chantings had no suggestion of music in them. It was the four-toned recitals, chantings in full tetrachord, that brought in music for the first time.

Along with svarantarita or four-toned chants, some sort of systematization of the pauses, punctuations, and accents occurring in the chants was felt. The four-toned chant is quite common in poetry recitation.