It is common knowledge that the oral tradition of the Vedas (Srauta) consists of several pathas, that is ways of chanting the Vedic mantras. Eleven such ways of reciting the Vedas have survived – Samhita, Pada, Krama, Jata, Maalaa, Sikha, Rekha, Dhwaja, Danda, Rathaa, Ghana, of which Ghana is usually considered the most difficult.The students are first taught to memorize the Vedas using simpler methods like continuous recitation (samhita patha) before teaching them the eight complex recitation styles.
These methods of recitation were devised to maintain the correct pronunciation and intonation of each verse as well as the purity of the words itself. And with several different methods of memorizing the same verse, corruptions that would enter a verse can be corrected with ease thus maintaining the purity of the text. This system of memorizing the scriptures was considered superior to writing because memorizing the texts was the only way of passing on the correct pronunciation and intonation.
Here is an example of the Gayatri mantra recited in the Ghana formation where the original verse is converted into the following sequence.
“om thatsa vithusa vithusa that that savithur varenyamvarenyagum savithus that thatsa vithur varenyam !savithur varenyam varenyagum savithus savithur varenyambargo bargo varenyagum savithus savithur varenyam bargaha !varenyam bargo bargo varenyam varenyam bargo devasya devasyabargo varenyam varenyam bargo devasya !bargo devasya devasya bargo bargo devasya deemahi deemahidevasya bargo bargo devasya deemahi !devasya deemahi deemahi devasya devasya deemahi !deemahi thi deemahi !
dhiyo yo yo dhiyo dhiyo yo no no yo dhi yo dhi yo yo nahayo no no yo na prachodayathu prachodayathu no yo yo na prachodayathuna prachodayathu prachodayathu yo na prachodayathuprachodayathu ithi prachodayathuom buhu om buvaha om gum suvaha om mahahaom janaha om thapaha ogum sathyamom that sa vithur varenyam bargo devasya dheemahidhiyo yo naha prahothayathuomapo jothirasa amritham brhama boor buvasuar om”