Please look at the slide show below. Though it is in Kannada script it illustrates the concept clearly and the patterns are easy to observe.
In the samhita pATha., all the words in the Veda Mantra are chanted as it is.
In the pada pATha., the words are seperated. (The sandhis (word-joints) are split and vedic swaras are changed as per known rules).
In the krama pATha, the chanting sequence is the 1st word second word, second word third word, 3 + 4, 4 +5, and so on
In the jaTa pATha, the chanting sequence is 1+2, 2+1, 1+2; then 2+3, 3+2, 2+3 and so on.
In the ghana pATha, the chanting sequence is 1+2, 2+1, 1+2+3, 3+2+1, 1+2+3, similarly for 2 + 3.. and so on.
Since the vedas were preserved in the oral tradition, no one would be able to change a mantra in one of the pAThAs without that change being easily detected and standing out. Different humans knew different pAThAs by heart.
My grandmother told me that there were ghanApATins in our family in the olden days. At that time the family had a gurukulam also. From my great grandfather’s time everyone had an english education only and sanskrit studies were pursued as a much desired option in free time. My grandmother herself studied telugu, sanskrit and hindi. My parents generation studied telugu and english. In my “english medium” generation I am one of the very few of my family who was blessed with opportunity to study sanskrit and the only one who is attempting vedic studies. This makes my family very happy. My guru says that a single brahmagnyani in the family will cause 3 generations on either side to be blessed. How I would love to have a proper gurukula like the one at Sringeri! (see About Ancient Indians for more of this sort of thing.) – Satya
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