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By Swami Harshananda

Anukramaṇi, anukramaṇika literally means ‘coming in order’.

The Vedas, the basic scriptures, grew in volume in course of time to such a proportion that it became very difficult to retain them in memory.

Realizing this, sages like Śaunaka and Kātyāyana composed special works which gave tables of contents of the Vedas and index of hymns and words also. Such works are called ‘anukramaṇi’ or ‘anu- kramaṇikā.’ They usually give the first words of Vedic hymns, names of ṛṣis (sages), chandas (metre), and the devatās (deities) arranged in the same manner as they occur in the originals.

Śaunaka is said to have written ten such works on the Rgveda like Ārsānu- kramani, Chando’nukramani and Devatānukramani. The famous Brhaddevatā is included in this series.

The anukramaṇi literature pertaining to the Rgveda has been greatly enriched by the Sarvānukramani of another sage Kātyāyana. This is an excellent compendium of all indices in one place. Kātyāyana is reputed to have written an anukramaṇi on the Sukla Yajurveda also. Atri and Cārāyāṇa have authored two independent anukramaṇis on the Krsna Yajurveda. Sāmaveda has two anukramaṇis :

  1. Ārsa
  2. Daivata

The anukramaṇi literature of the Atharvaveda is called ‘pariśiṣta’ (appendix). Of the 70 pariśiṣṭas known to exist, Caranavyuha, the 49th, is the most celebrated. All these works are mostly written in either the śloka (metrical, verse) or the sutra (aphorism) style.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore