Pratimālā or Antyākṣarī

with Sanskrit verses

Antyākṣarī is a popular pastime, usually played with film songs in recent times. Interestingly this has a history of at least 2500 years. Known as Pratimālā, it is one among the sixty-four art forms mentioned in Vātsyāyana’s Kāmasūtra. As the name suggests, it is the weaving of a garland of poems. Participants recite verses which start with the last syllable of the verse recited by the previous participant. Needless to say, as it is an art form because the verses must ideally be beautiful with rasa, alaṅkāra and other essential elements of kāvya.

The random selection of beautiful verses from various sources, without taking context into consideration, gives rise to joy as does the sight of a garland woven with a variety of beautiful flowers.

16 August 2020 | 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm


Prof. Gauri Mahulikar, Dean, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth


Dr. Ramakrishna Pejathaya, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Kochi

Dr. Nagendra Pavana R. N., Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Kochi

Invited Participants:

  • Muthu Kumar, Madras Sanskrit College, Chennai
  • Guruprasad S. Hegade, Shri Shreemata Sanskrit College, Uttara Kannada
  • Vasudha Neelamana, SreeSankaracharya, University of Sanskrit, Kalady
  • Vinayaka Sharma, Central Sanskrit University, Garli Campus, Kangra
  • Deepika Kaushal, Central Sanskrit University, Garli Campus, Kangra
  • Sahadev Joshi, SGVP Darshanam Sanskrit Sansthanam, Ahmedabad
  • Nandlal, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Gurukul, Katra, J&K
  • Kumar S. Hegade, Shri Shreemata Sanskrit College, Uttara Kannada
  • Shivam Joshi, SGVP Darshanam Sanskrit Sansthanam, Ahmedabad

These are some of the currently observed rules of the game:

1. Verses can be taken from famous poetic works mahākāvyas, khaṇḍakāvyas, campūkāvyas and plays.

2. Verses set to anuṣṭup and other short meters are usually avoided.

3. Verses composed extempore by the participants are not allowed.

4. Verses from vedas, upaniṣads and śāstras are usually not permitted.

5. The participants must recite a verse starting with the last consonant of the previously recited verse.

6. Once a verse is recited by a participant, it cannot be repeated by the same or any other participant.

7. In case of verses ending with a consonant such as त् or म्, the next verse can start with the preceding consonant in that verse.

8. If the last consonant is ख, घ, छ, झ, ट, ठ, ड, ढ, ण, ङ, ञ, थ, ष, which are rarely found in the beginning of a word, then verses starting with vowels may be allowed.

9. Participants failing to recite shlokas following these rules are eliminated.

10. The last round has stringent rules. New rules may be introduced as per requirement. According to current convention, if both the participants are equally strong and the competition shows no signs of ending then they can be asked to compose verses extempore and the winner decided based on the quality of the verse.

Most important thing to bear in mind is that the game is for enjoyment and hence the participants must try to bring out as many good verses known to them rather than trying to defeat the other participants. Pratimālā can also be played with verses composed extempore if all the participants are āśukavis capable of composing quality verses on the spot.

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