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Learn Sanskrit through Self Study

Devanagari Script (lesson 0!)

Part-19: Summary of the lesson

In this lesson, we have seen the aksharas of Sanskrit. The vowels and consonants were introduced independently. The concept of conjunct characters was also discussed and examples of the writing methods for conjuncts were shown. 

The student should practice writing the aksharas and slowly develop the skills to identify the aksharas and thus read short sentences. The Akshara animation page is a useful resource for learning the stroking order for the Akshars. The page also includes audio examples for learning the correct pronunciation of the Aksharas.

Typesetting Devanagari 

Typesetting Devanagari is a complex job involving careful selection of typefaces for each of the conjuncts. The form of writing the consonsnts one below the other was not favoured for conjuncts with more than two consonsnts since this would increase the vertical height of the conjunct. When it was indeed done, the individual consonants had to be reduced in size to such an extent that in some cases intelligiblity became a problem. 

We must mention here the contributions from Franz Velthuis, Dominik Wujastyk and more recently Wikner, who have made available a fine facility to print Devanagari through Tex, a typesetting Program developed by Prof. Knuth. Much of the work related to transliterated forms of Devanagari input (such as ITRANS) is credited to their work. In particular, Wikner has designed nearly a thousand conjuncts. The software relating to this is usually seen in the archives for Tex. Interested readers may take a look at Wikner's conjuncts by printing the document sktdoc.600ps available from 

The normal practice in India (during the past 50 years or so) has been to use the half form as well the one below the other form effectively so as not to increase the vertical height of the akshara. The choice of combining the half forms with vertically arranged combinations was often exercised by the typesetter and so it is not unusual to find different representations for the same conjunct.

Next Section  Exercises

Previous Section  Rarely used Aksharas

Start of this Lesson



Short Vowels

Long Vowels

Support Vowels

Generic form of a Consonant






Semi Vowels, Sibilants etc.

Consonant Vowel combinations

Conjunct characters

Writing methods for Conjuncts

Conjuncts with "ra"

List of Conjuncts

Similar looking Aksharas

Vedic symbols

Rarely used Aksharas



Listening Practice

  Message of the Gita

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