The Vedas, the basic scriptures of Hinduism, grew in volume in course of time to such a proportion that it became very difficult to retain them in memory. Realizing this, sages like Śaunaka and Kātyāyana composed special works which gave tables of contents of the Vedas as also index of hymns and words. Such works are called ‘anukramaṇī’ or ‘anu-kramaṇikā.’ They usually give the first words of Vedic hymns, names of ṛṣis (sages) and chandas (metre) as also of the devatās (deities) arranged in the same manner as they occur in the originals.
Śaunaka is said to have written ten such works on the Ṛgveda, like Ārṣānu-kramaṇī, Chando’nukramaṇī and Deva-tānukramaṇī. The famous Bṛhaddevatā is included in this series.
The anukramaṇī literature pertaining to the Ṛgveda has been greatly enriched by the Sarvānukramaṇī of another sage Kātyāyana. This is an excellent compendium of all indices in one place. Kātyāyana is reputed to have written an anukramaṇī on the Śukla Yajurveda also. Atri and Cārāyāṇa have authored two independent anukramaṇīs on the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda.
Sāmaveda has two anukramaṇīs: Ārṣa and Daivata.
The anukramaṇī literature of the Atharvaveda is called ‘pariśiṣṭa’ (appendix). Of the 70 pariśiṣṭas known to exist, Caraṇavyūha, the 49th, is the most celebrated.
All these works are mostly written in either the śloka (metrical, verse) or the sūtra (aphorism) style.
See also BṚHAD-DEVATĀ.