Learn Sanskrit through Self Study
Devanagari Script (lesson 0!)
Part-13: Writing methods for Conjuncts
Identifying conjuncts in written
text is important for several reasons. Traditionally, Sanskrit verses were
composed to conform to specific metre comprising a fixed number of aksharas.
Hence the writing systems also provided some mechanism to form conjuncts
from the consonants. The use of the "half form" introduced earlier is a
practice allowed for many conjuncts particularly those which include a
vertical stroke in their shapes. Since the half form is not clearly defined
for all the consonants, special shapes were introduced for some of the
conjuncts. Thus the actual shapes for many conjuncts were altered but in
a way allowing enough clues to identify the individual consonants.
In many cases, the individual consonants
were written one below the other vertically but with reduced sizes to accommodate
writing the conjunct within a vertical span. In some cases, a combination
of "half form" and writing one below the other was adopted. It must be
pointed out that considerable flexibility exists in writing the conjuncts,
though by convention, some shapes have become the standard. Let s look
at some examples.
Samyuktakshar and vowel combinations
The rules for writing syllables
with samyuktakshar and vowels are the same as the ones for writing consonant-vowel
combinations. The matras are used exactly the same way as before and will
apply to the last consonant in the syllable except for "i" where the matra
will appear before all the half-forms when half-forms are used. When the
shape of the conjunct is very different, its shape may be viewed as that
of a consonant itself and the matras added appropriately.
The rules for writing conjuncts are not very rigid. In respect
of Sanskrit, certain conventions are followed in the use of the
nasal consonants and the anuswar. Since the Devanagari script is
also used for other languages such as Hindi and Marathi, one has to
remember the conventions followed in those languages. The conventions
do differ in the use of the nasal consonants and the sibilants.
The writing systems used in India fall under the category of syllabic
writing systems. All the Indian languages which are written in one script or
another strictly follow the rules for writing syllables. The Acharya site
carries a special page describing the
intricacies of the writing systems
of the different languages. The referenced page presents an overview that should
help the reader understand the complexities of the writing systems, specifically from the point of view of different shapes and conventions used in the
Next Section Conjuncts with "ra"
Previous Section Conjunct characters
Start of this Lesson
Generic form of a Consonant
Semi Vowels, Sibilants etc.
Consonant Vowel combinations
Writing methods for Conjuncts
Conjuncts with "ra"
List of Conjuncts
Similar looking Aksharas
Rarely used Aksharas