I know that quatrains are called pAdas in Sanskrit. But what is the technical term for couplets in Sanskrit? I'm having lots of trouble identifying this.

  • I mean two pAdas. For instance, if you were to define a new pATa using just the first 2 lines of gana pATa, would you call each line a pAda or something else?
    – Jonathan
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 0:37
  • You could ask this on Sanskrit Area 51 for a better answer. Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 6:10
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    Quatrains are not called pādas. A pāda is a quarter (one-fourth) of a verse. (It is coincidence that it also means “foot” (not to be confused with what is called “foot” in English in the context of poetry); that's because most animals have four feet.) Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 6:09
  • This is off topic to Hinduism
    – user9392
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 17:23

1 Answer 1


The most common name in Sanskrit is śloka (श्लोक). A single śloka contains 2 lines of Sanskrit text, usually consisting of an equal amount of syllables. Lots of Sanskrit poetic works contain only a single meter for their śokas, but there are many kinds of meters and multiple can be used by a single work.

In order to understand the anatomy of a śloka, such as what is meant by pāda (or, ‘foot’), you can look at various pages on the internet, such as wikipedia

The śloka is treated as a couplet. Each hemistich (half-verse) of 16 syllables, composed of two pādas of eight syllables, can take either a pathyā ("normal") form or one of several vipulā ("extended") forms.

The śloka form was developed from the anuṣṭubh, but you can find a more extensive list of meters in this document.

Update: according to the Nāṭyaśāstra 15.89-90, an authorative work on prosody, a couplet is termed ''sampad'' (alternative spelling ''sampat''):

“A couplet in which the number of syllables is neither in excess nor wanting is called a regular one (sampat).”

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    I believe the term shloka is misleading. Many sholaks are also written using pAdas, implying 4 lines. Yes, some are written in 2 lines. Thus, shloka is an umbrella term and by simply saying shloka, one wouldn't be able to extract that there are only 2 lines. For instance, a wide range of poetry, such as majority of Raghuvamsa and Vishnu SahasranAmam use anushtup chandas. But thank you for your answer!
    – Jonathan
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 0:41
  • I understand what you mean now. In Sanskrit prosody, the term pāda refers to both a quatrain (or stanza) and to a foot of the meter, referring to a repeating pattern of syllabels. I though you were referring to the latter. Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 8:15
  • Right. So, any terminology for couplets specifically?
    – Jonathan
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 22:28
  • Well, my best guess would be ardhapāda, literally translating to “half the fourth part” (Monier-Williams). But I will keep looking for official terms. Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 9:27
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    Another possible term could be dvipadī (academia.edu/6353023/…) or dvipada, which literally translates to couplets: “The Dwipada is the easiest of all metres, being written, as the name imports, in couplets ; which generally rhyme together in prasa ; while other metres require four prasas.” (archive.org/details/…) Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 9:37

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