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II. Sanskrit Forms - Sloka

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

Indian Poetry

Sanskrit Verse


Sloka, is the most common Sanskrit meter and is a descendant of the older Vedic gayatri and could be considered one of the cross over forms during the overlapping period between the Vedas and the development of Sanskrit from 700 to 200 B.C. The sloka, meaning "song", although metric, is not considered poetic. It functions more as the equivalent to Western prose with lines and meter and is often used in narratives or epics. A "narrative song" sounds like a Sanskrit ballad form to me.


It, like the gayatri, is a stanzaic form with 8 syllable lines but unlike the gayatri which is predominantly iambic, the sloka padas are broken by a trochaic cadence alternating with an iambic cadence.


The defining features of the sloka are:

  • stanzaic, written in any number of couplets made up of 2 hemistiches. The hemistiches can be broken into 4 lines or padas creating quatrains, 4 lines or padas
  • syllabic, either 2 lines of 16 syllables each or 4 hemistiches of 8 syllables each.
  • metric, alternate hemistiches of trochaic and iambic patterns.


    Born of the Earth by Judi Van Gorder

    The colors born from in the earth

    when worn upon the skin of man,

    taproot purpose often ignored,

    instead becomes excuse to hate.

Other Sanskrit Forms

8. Kakuhb

9. Mandakranta

10. Sloka



Regional Forms:III.Bengali, IV.Hindi, V.Kashmiri, VI.Marathi and VII.Teluga

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