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Anukramani means 'enumeration of steps' which provided a table of contents and an index of hymns, giving the exact number of hymns verses words and syllables, as a means of preserving the accuracy of the vedic texts and syllables, and elucidating their mutual relationships.

The final redaction (shaping) of a sacred work was known as a samhita, 'put together', and represented the efforts of several generations of poets, compilers and schools of thought. The composed texts were handed down with their variant readings and finally arranged in a compilation called the samhita although in the vedic context, the samhita refers particularly to the mantra part of the Vedas containing the hymns.

The term `kanda' is loosely used for various divisions of lesser or greater works having the same theme or concerned with the same episode e.g. the seven kandas of the Ramayana. Vedic literature is broadly classified into karma-kanda i.e. those portions dealing with actions or rituals, and jnanakanda, all those dealing with knowledge. Many other descriptive prefixes, suffixes and epithets are applied to the ancient texts, such as vriddha, 'old', brihat, 'great', laghu, 'small', and so forth.

The divisions of a major work are often conventionally named as follows. The mandala `circle', is the largest division. Thus the `Rigveda' consists of the mandala, 'circle', is the largest division. The parva or episode is determined in the anga or limb is also often called a khanda (or skandha, in the puranas) and is a major section of a book. A kanda is further subdivided into adhyaya or prashna i.e. chapters. These are broken up into anuvaka (adhikarana or prapathaka), lesser segments. Still smaller segments are called valli, 'creeper' eg. The sections of the `taittiriya Upanishad', and kandika or pieces. About fifty words form a kandika. These again are divided into varga or classes, the latter into rich (or richa) i.e. verses; the verses into pada or words (not to be confused with the pada of prosody), and words into akshara, 'imperishable' syllables.

Finally, the class of supplementary works called Anukramanis, or \"indices,\" aimed at preserving the Rigveda intact by registering its contents from various points of view, besides furnishing calculations of the number of hymns, verses, words, and even syllables, contained in the sacred book.