Palindromes in Sanskrit – The Most Complex and Exquisite

via published on October 22, 2009

Palindromes of considerable complexity were experimented with in Sanskrit poetry. An example which has been called “the most complex and exquisite type of palindrome ever invented”, appears in the 19th canto of the 8th century epic poem sisupala-vadha by Magha. It yields the same text if read forwards, backwards, down, or up:

    ra-sA-ha-vA vA-ha-sA-ra-
    (nA da vA da da vA da nA
    ra sA ha vA vA ha sA ra
    kA ya sA da da sA ya kA
    sa kA ra nA nA ra kA sa)

(note: hyphen indicates continuation of same word). The last four lines are an inversion of the first four and are not part of the verse. They are only included here so that its properties can be more easily discerned, as the up-and-down reading depends on re-reading the text back up again in each column.

The stanza translates as:

    [That army], which relished battle (rasAhavA) contained allies who brought low the bodes and gaits of their various striving enemies (sakAranAnArakAsakAyasAdadasAyakA), and in it the cries of the best of mounts contended with musical instruments (vAhasAranAdavAdadavAdanA).

Note:A palindrome is a word, phrase, number or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction

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