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Shiksha is the field of Vedic study of sound, focussing on the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, accent, quantity, stress, melody and rules of euphonic combination of words during a Vedic recitation. Each ancient Vedic school developed this field of Vedanga, and the oldest surviving phonetic textbooks are the Pratishakyas. The Paniniya-Shiksha and Naradiya-Shiksha are examples of extant ancient manuscripts of this field of Vedic studies.
Shiksha is the oldest and the first auxiliary discipline to the
Shiksha literally means "instruction, lesson, study, knowledge, learning, study of skill, training in an art". It also refers to one of the six
The roots of Shiksha can be traced to the
ॐ शीक्षां व्याख्यास्यामः ।
वर्णः स्वरः । मात्रा बलम् ।
साम सन्तानः । इत्युक्तः शीक्षाध्यायः ॥ १ ॥
Om! We will explain the Shiksha.
Sounds and accentuation, Quantity (of vowels) and the expression (of consonants),
Balancing (Saman) and connection (of sounds), So much about the study of Shiksha. || 1 ||
Annette Wilke and Oliver Moebus date the Shiksha text of the Taittiriya Vedic school to be from 600 BCE at the latest. Texts such as this established, among other things, a rational order of the Sanskrit alphabet, state Wilke and Moebus. Other texts, such as Vyasa-Siksa of the Krishna
The ancient Vedic schools developed major treatises analyzing sound, vowels and consonants, rules of combination and pronunciation to assist clear understanding, to avoid mistakes and for resonance (pleasing to the listener). These texts include Samhita-pathas and Pada-pathas, and partially or fully surviving manuscripts include Paniniya Shiksha, Naradiya Shiksha, Bharadvaja Shiksha, Yajnavalkya Shiksha, Vasishthi Shiksha, Parashari Shiksha, Katyayani Shiksha and Manduki Shiksha.