Home -->  Learn Sanskrit  (lessons)

Learn Sanskrit through Self Study

Devanagari Script (lesson 0!)

Part-4: Generic form of a consonant 

The consonants in Sanskrit are known as "vyanjanani" and total thirtythree in number, though in recent times, a few additional ones have been included in the Devanagari script to support some frequently used syllables from other languages. 

The consonants are grouped into six groups. The first five have five consonants each and the last one has eight. The grouping is based on the natural ordering of sounds such as gutturals, palatals etc., depending on the anatomical region involved in the generation of the sound associated with the consonants. 

An interesting observation is that the letters of Sanskrit are given names exactly matching the sound they represent. A consonant derives its name from the sound when the basic vowel "a" is sounded with the consonant. In Sanskrit and in other Indian languages, each consonant has a generic form in which its pronounciation will not have any vowel sound associated with it.

The generic form applies when more than one consonant is used in forming syllables and there are many such combinations in Sanskrit. It was common practice to introduce the consonants to the children learning the language, not in their generic form but in the form where they are used with the first vowel "a". The writing system in Devanagari has a representation for the generic form of a consonant through the use of a special mark written at the bottom of the consonant's familiar representation. This mark is known as the "nether stroke" or the "halanth".

image of text

Next Section  Gutturals

Previous Section  Support Vowels

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

Today is Jun. 15, 2024
Local Time: 10 35 57

| Home |

Last updated on Oct. 05, 2012     Best viewed at 800x600 or better