A verse of lines in Sanskrit, typically recited as a prayer. Shloka (meaning "song", from the root śru, "hear") is a category of verse line developed from the Vedic Anustubh. It is the basis for Indian epic verse, and may be considered the Indian verse form par excellence, occurring, as it does, far more frequently than any other meter in classical Sanskrit poetry. The Mahabharata and Ramayana, for example, are written almost exclusively in shlokas. The traditional view is that this form of verse occurred to Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, on seeing a hunter shoot down one of two birds in love.
The shloka is treated as a couplet. Each hemistich (half-verse) of 16 syllables, composed of two Pādas of eight syllables, can take either a pathyā ("normal") form or one of several vipulā ("extended") forms. The form of the second foot of the first Pāda (II) limits the possible patterns the first foot (I) may assume, as in the scheme below.