First Shloka (श्लोक) of Sanskrit Sanskrit

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Following Shloka is credited as first Shloka of Sanskrit language.

मानिषाद प्रतिष्ठां त्वं

अगमः शाश्वतीः समाः ।

यत् क्रौंचमिथुनादेकं

अवधीः काममोहितः ॥

mā niṣāda pratiṣṭhāṁ tvam

agamaḥ śāśvatīḥ samāḥ

yat krauñcamithunādekam

avadhīḥ kāmamohitam

You will find no rest for the long years of Eternity, For you killed a bird in love and unsuspecting

हे निषाद, तुम अनंत वर्षों तक प्रतिष्ठा प्राप्त न कर सको, क्योंकि तुमने क्रौंच पक्षियों के जोड़े में से कामभावना से ग्रस्त एक का वध कर डाला है ।

So what makes a Shloka?

A Shloka in its usual form consists of four pādas or quarter-verses, of 8 syllables each or of two half-verses of 16 syllables each.It need to be  lyrical. Word arrangement should be such as to make the reading easy, fluent and sound musical.

This Shloka was uttered by Valmiki Ji at a moment of intense anguish. This is why Valminiki Ji is also called Adi Kavi or First Poet. The following is the brief story

Valmiki Ji was going to the river Ganges for his daily ablutions. A disciple by the name Bharadwaja was carrying his clothes. On the way, they came across the Tamasa Stream. Looking at the stream, Valmiki said to his disciple, “Look, how clear is this water, like the mind of a good man! I will bathe here today.” When he was looking for a suitable place to step into the stream, he saw a crane couple mating. Valmiki felt very pleased on seeing the happy birds.

Suddenly, hit by an arrow, the male bird died on the spot. Filled by sorrow, its mate screamed in agony and died of shock. Valmiki’s heart melted at this pitiful sight. He looked around to find out who had shot the bird. He saw a hunter with a bow and arrows, nearby. Valmiki became very angry. His lips opened and he cried out the above mentioned Shloka

What is the difference between a Shloka and Mantra?

 A Shloka has to be composed in a specific meter (chanDas) , having a specific number of lines with specific number of words per line, each word could be a manTra.

A manTra, on the other hand, is prefixed by omkAra (Primordial sound) and suffixed by the essential nAma (name) and the salutary word nama: (salutation) in between the prefix and the suffix. e.g. ॐ नमः शिवाय is a mantra.

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