Male Homosexuality in India : A close reading of Kamasutra – 1

I have been wanting to write about this for several years but never got around to writing anything at all. It was 9 years ago (I am 26 now) when I first read the Kamasutra completely. While reading the book, I came across the chapter on “oral sex” (Auparishtaka) with references to what appeared as oral sex between men in ancient India. Even though it was more of a passing reference that just bore witness to the fact that such practices already existed in ancient India. It was totally non-judgemental and no eternal damnation of any sort was specified, which was in a way personally very reassuring for me. Perks of following a Dharmic religion, I suppose. young-me surely didn’t want to go to hell. At that time I didn’t have enough Sanskrit to actually go to the source and its commentary and analyze the chapter in detail. But I suppose 9 years later I can do that now!

A close reading of the related verses and its subsquence analysis would be certainly helpful to derive and discuss some actual facts as described in the text itself, which is our primary source. Let’s dive into the source and see what the text itself says about male homosexual practices and perhaps try to make some interesting inferences, observations and analysis along the way. This article focuses mainly on male homosexual practices, I’d assume female homosexual practices will be discussed in future articles.

Now, some briefing about Kamasutra. I’d guess everyone has at least heard about Kamasutra. The text was probably composed around 400 BCE and 200 CE by Vātsyāyana. The extant version consists of 8 sections. The chapter on oral sex (aupariṣṭaka) occurs as the 9th chapter in section 2 on sexual union (sāṃproyogika). There appears to have been several commentaries (vyākhyas) to Kamasutra. Perhaps, one the most important is the Jayamaṅgala commentary written by Yaśodhara around 12th century CE. There is also a contemporary Hindi commentary called Jaya written in the 20th century. But I don’t have acccess to it. So we would be sticking to Kamasutra and its Jayamangala commentary.

In this article, we would particularly be doing a close reading of verse 36 in the 9th chapter of section 2. So let’s dive in!

tathā nāgarakāḥ kecidanyonyasya hitaiṣiṇaḥ |
kurvanti rūḍhaviśvāsāḥ parasparaparigraham ||

And, in the same way (tathā), certain city-dwelling-men (kecid nāgarakāḥ) who desire for one another’s welfare (anyonyasya hitaiṣiṇaḥ) and have established-trust (rūḍha-viśvāsāḥ) do (kurvanti) this service [oral sex] for one another (paraspara-parigraham).

— Verse 2.9.36

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Còmhradh 1

Màmaidh: A Sheumis, Càit’ a bheil thu? Nach eil thu gam chluintinn? A Sheumais!
Seumas: Tha. Tha. Bha mise gur cluintinn. Nach eil sibhse gam fhaicinn?
M: Chan eil, A Sheumais. Tha Màmaidh glè sgìth. Chan eil Màmaidh a’ cluich falach-fead riut. Tha Màmaidh anns a’ chidsin.
S: Uill, Tha fhios aig Seumas!
M: Èist! Thig thugam an-dràsta!
S: Chan eil sibh a’ cluich còmhla rium. Chan eil spòrs agaibh.
S: OK ma-thà. Tha mi a’ tighinn thugaibh.
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Super Human Samurai Syber-Squad


It has been a long time since I wrote anything on the blog about Television. So, let’s rewind to 1995 around 18 years back, while I was doing my 4th grade, during the grand old days of Doordarshan. Doordarshan then had two channels DD National & DD Metro. DD National usually had the boring programmes in Hindi while DD Metro broadcasted foreign TV shows and cartoons in English alongside Hindi/Local programming. Seriously, even in those days Doordarshan seems to have had enough senses to broadcast syndicated overseas programmes in India. Somehow, DD got degraded beyond redemption over the time. 


So, yeah back to the point. At that time, they used to air this series called “Super Human Samurai Syber-Squad“. IIRC it used to air on Thursdays around 4:30 PM. It is one of my all time favourites. Computers were kinda rare in India those days (I got a PC in 1999) and were a bit of an enigma. At that time even in School, I remember we were just allowed to see computer from a distance and not operate. Perhaps, they thought Computers were too much for 4th graders! It was the through the series, I had come across the terms “Digital” & “Cyber” for the first time ever.


The short story is this (for the longer vesion there is always Wikipedia !) – There is this high school guy Sam Collins who along with his friends enters the digital world and fights viruses (who appear as monsters in the digital world). Sam takes the form of a cyber avatar named “Servo”, while his three friends operate various armor vehicles in the digital world. Together they form the “Super Human Samurai Syber Squad“. Their arch-nemisis is Malcolm, who assits an evil program called Kilokahn to create viruses and wreak havoc in the world. Each time Malcom and Kilokahn unleash a virus, Sam & his team enter the digital world, destroy the virus and save the world . It was the digital fiction of those days. People traveling into computers, lots of gadgedry, computer talk, fighting etc made the show more attractive.

ஆபிரஹாமிய மதங்களின் அடிப்படை என்ன ?

கிறிஸ்தவம், இஸ்லாம், யூத மதங்கள் ஆகியவையே ஆபிரஹாமிய மதங்கள் என்றழைக்கப்படுகின்றன. இவை அனைத்தும் ஆபிரஹாமை தங்களின் பூர்வீகமாக ஏற்பதினால் இந்தப்பெயர். இவற்றின் கருத்துக்களை ஓரளவுக்கு நாம் பல்வேறுவகைகளில் நாம் கடந்து வந்திருப்போம். ஆனாலும், அவற்றின் நம்பிக்கைகளின் அடிநாதமாக இருப்பது என்னவென்று நாம் தெளிவாக தெரிந்து கொள்வது மிகவும் அவசியம். அப்போது தான் இயேசுவும் வாசுவும் ஒன்று என்பதான பிதற்றலான வரிகளை நம்மில் பலர் கூறுவது எவ்வளவு தவறென்று தெரியும்.
பொதுவாக ஆபிரஹாமிய மதங்கள் அனைத்தும் ஓரிறைக்கொள்கையை உடையவை என்பதை அறிவோம். தங்களுடைய தெய்வத்தை தவிர்த்து உலகில் வேறு தெய்வம் கிடையாது என்ற கொள்கையை கொண்டவை. அப்படியான எந்த தெய்வத்தை அவை வணங்குகின்றன ? “கர்த்தர்” “ஆண்டவர்” என்றெல்லாம் பைபிளில் கூறப்படும் மூல தெய்வம் எது ? எப்போதுமே ஒரு தெய்வம் மட்டுமே வணங்கப்பட்டதா ? பிற தெய்வங்களின் நிலை என்ன ? முதலிய கேள்விகளுக்கான விடையை காண முயல்வோம்.
இதற்கு, 3500 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முற்பட்ட தூர மத்திய கிழக்காசிய பகுதிக்கு நாம் பயணிக்க வேண்டும். இக்காலக்கட்டத்தில், அப்பகுதியில் இஸ்ரேலியர்கள் உட்பட போன்ற பல்வேறு இனங்கள் வாழ்ந்து வந்தன. அவை பல்வேறு தெய்வங்களை வணங்கி வந்தன. ஏல் என்ற படைப்புக்கடவுள் கனானியர்களால் வணங்கப்பட்ட தெய்வம் முக்கியமானதொன்று. இஸ்ரேலியர்கள் யாஹ்வே (பைபிளில் யெகோவா என்று வரும். யாஹ்வே என்பதே மூல பதம்) என்ற போர் தெய்வத்தை வணங்கி வந்தனர். காலப்போக்கில் யாஹ்வே தெய்வம் ஏலின் அனைத்து அம்சங்களையும் கிரகித்துக்கொண்டது. பைபிளின் பழைய ஏற்பாடு (யூதர்களின் தனாக்) ஏல் மற்றும் யாஹ்வே வழிபாட்டர்களின் வெவ்வேறு நூல்களை ஒன்றினைத்தே உருவாக்கப்பட்டது.

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Kamadeva-OldKamadeva – The God of Love is perhaps the one of the most famous deities of Hinduism. As the Indian counterpart to cupid, he is the presiding deity for love, desire & attraction.His usual epithet is Manmatha which is explained as mato manaso manthaḥ manmathaḥ : He churns the heart and hence Churner of Hearts [Manmatha]. Love/Desire being formless he is also called Ananga [The one without body]. He has a parrot as the vehicle and carries a bow made of sugarcane strung with bees, using which he shoots flower-arrows to instill passion among people.
Contary to the Victorian inspired puritanism which was established in post-independant India, Ancient and Medieval India were very expressive of desire.  Love (and as an extension Sex) had a deep and importance place in ancient India. The various Kamashastras – Kāmasūtra, Ratirahasya, Anaṇgaraṇga, Nāgarasarvasva – that spans across various periods of history bear witness to this factor. Maithuna (copulation) was one of the Pañcamakāra-s (Five M’s) behind the theory of Indian Tantra. 
As a matter of fact, Kamadeva himself was worshipped as a deity in Ancient India, and there were supposedly specific temples dedicated to Kamadeva. People prayed to Kamadeva to fulfil their desire (which was mostly for a loved one). For Instance, The Tamil epic Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi dated to the 10th century, speaks of a princess named Suramañjarī  who visits the temple of Kamadeva and prays for attaining the man she desires (i.e the protagonist of the Epic, Jīvaka). The text also refers to the fact that the idol of Kamadeva was made of Gold in that temple.

[…] செம்பொன் மாடம் புக்கு அநங்கன் பேணி வரம் கொள்வல் நாளை என்றாள் […]

[…] cempoṉ māṭam pukku anaṅkaṉ pēṇi varam koḷval nāḷai eṉṟāḷ […]

[…] visiting the golden Temple [I shall] worship Ananga and pray for the boon [of attaining my desired man] tomorrow she said […] (Verse 2052)


[…] காமன் மாடத்துள் இழிந்து […] சூடு அமை மாலை சாந்தம் விளக்கொடு தூபம் ஏந்திச் […] தொழுது நிற்பத் […]

[…] kāmaṉ māṭattuḷ iḻintu […] cūṭu amai mālai cāntam viḷakkoṭu tūpam ēntic […] toḻutu niṟpat […] 

[…] Entering the temple of Kamadeva […] carrying Garland, Lamp & Incense […] they were worshipping [him] […] (Verse 2055)

As we could see, worshipping and praying to Kamadeva fulfilment of desires was pretty much a common practice in ancient times. However, as it happens, the worship of Kamdeva vanished in India as time passed.
A few mantras dedicated to Kamadeva are being presented here. They are extracted from the text “Mantra Mahodadhi” (Greate ocean of Mantras) composed by “Mahīdhara“. It is a medieval text composed around 16th century, explaining various rituals for deities of the Hindu pantheon along with their mantras.

Kama Bīja – Seed Syllable of Kamdeva

The Kama Bija is as follows:
As the Bija of Kamadeva, it is often associated with Vashikarana (attraction).  
The mantra invoking Kamadeva along with the Bija:
klīṁ kāmadevāya namaḥ 

Kāmadeva nāmāṣṭakam  – Eight Names of Kamadeva

cupidNamashtakams are a group of eight special names used to praise a deity. Mantramahodadhi presents the names along with the Praṇava (oṁ), kāma bīja (klīm), name in the dative case (caturthī) and finally ending with the homage (namaḥ)


oṁ klīṁ kāmāya namaḥ 

oṁ klīṁ bhasmaśarīrāya namaḥ

oṁ klīṁ anaṅgāya namaḥ

oṁ klīṁ manmathāya namaḥ 

oṁ klīṁ vasantasakhāya namaḥ

oṁ klīṁ smarāya namaḥ

oṁ klīṁ ikṣudhanurdharāya namaḥ

oṁ klīṁ puṣpabāṇāya namaḥ 


Here Kamadeva is praised using his various epithets.


Kāma : Love/Desire

Bhasmaśarīra : Ash-Bodied. For Shiva had burned Kamdeva with this third eye and turned him into Ahses.

Anaṅga : Formless 

Manmatha : Churner of Hearts 

Vasanta-Sakha : Companion of Spring 

Smara : Recollected thought [of love]

Ikṣudhanurdhara : Carrier of Sugar-cane bow

Puṣpabāṇa : The one with flower arrow


Kama Gayatri

Gāyatrī is one of the famous metres in Sanskrit prosody. The mantras composed in Gayatri metre are referred to as Gayatri Mantras assuming the name of the metre. The usual form of the Gayatri metre consists of 24 syllables split into 3 metrical feet (pāda) of 8 syllables each. This is known as Tripāda Gāyatrī. The most famous Gayatri mantra is the one present in the Vedas, dedicated to the Sun. However, other deities also have specific mantras composed in the Gayatri metre. 



The Gayatri of Kamadeva:


kāmadevāya vidmahe |

puṣpabāṇāya dhīmahi |

tanno’naṅgaḥ pracodayāt ||

Mantramahodadhi expounds the benefit of chanting the Kamagayatri as:


gāyatryeṣā budhairuktā japtā janavimohinī


This (eṣā) Gayatri [when] spoken (uktā) & chanted (japtā) by the learned (budhaiḥ) [causes] attraction of people (janavimohinī)


Verses Invoking Kamadeva

The 23rd chapter of Mantramahodadhi describes in detail the rituals pertaining to woshipping Kamadeva. Here are a few invocatory verses extracted from the rituals.


namo’stu puṣpabāṇāya jagadānandakāriṇe |

manmathāya jagannetraratiprītipradāyine ||


Homage to the (namo’stu) carrier of flower arrows (puṣpabāṇa), the creator of world’s joy (jagat-ānanda-kārin) |

The churner of heart (manmatha), and the bestower (pradāyin) of pleasure (rati) and love (prīti)  [which is] the eye of the world  (jagannetra) ||


devadeva jagannātha vāñchitārthapradāyaka |

kṛtsnān pūraya metvarthaṁ kāmān kāmeśvarīpriya ||


Oh ! God of Gods (devadeva), Lord of the world (jagannātha), bestower (pradāyaka) of the desired (vāñchita) material gains (artha) |

Completely (kṛtsna) fulfill (pūraya) material gains (artha) [and] desires (kāma) for me (me), Oh ! lover of Kameshvari (Rati) (kāmeśvarī-priya) ||


Miscellaneous Mantras 

There are two other Mantras of Kamadeva of which I couldn’t trace the source. I give them as such, I am not sure of the validity and correctness.


oṁ namo bhagavate kāmadevāya śrīṁ sarvajanapriyāya sarvajanasammohanāya jvala jvala prajvala prajvala hana hana vada vada tapa tapa sammohaya sammohaya sarvajanaṁ me vaśaṁ kuru kuru svāhā|
oṁ namo bhagavate kāmadevāya indrāya vasabāṇāya indrasaṁdīpanabāṇāya klīṁ klīṁ sammohanabāṇāya blūṁ blūṁ saṁtāpanabāṇāya saḥ saḥ vaśīkaraṇabāṇāya kampita kampita hūṁ phaṭ svāhā |

oṁ namo bhagavate kāmadevāya śrīṁ sarvajanapriyāya sarvajanasammohanāya jvala jvala prajvala prajvala hana hana vada vada tapa tapa sammohaya sammohaya sarvajanaṁ me vaśaṁ kuru kuru svāhā


oṁ namo bhagavate kāmadevāya indrāya vasabāṇāya indrasaṁdīpanabāṇāya klīṁ klīṁ sammohanabāṇāya blūṁ blūṁ saṁtāpanabāṇāya saḥ saḥ vaśīkaraṇabāṇāya kampita kampita hūṁ phaṭ svāhā 



1.The Festival of Kamadeva in Ancient Tamil Nadu, S. Ramachandran :

2. Civaka Cintamani with Tamil commentary

3. Mantra Mahodadhi with Hindi commentary :

4. Amarakhosha with Sanskrit commentary : 


Vajra Ananga Manjushri – The Buddhist Kamadeva

ma_sinhalaAmong the Bodhisattvas in the Mahayana pantheon, Manjushri is probably the most popular Bodhisattva after Avalokitesvara. Similar to Avalokitesvara, Manjushri also assumes several forms for the benefit of sentient beings. In one specific form, Manjushri assumes the form of Kāmadeva – The god of desire. This form of Manjushri is called as “Vajra-Anaga” (with Sandhi: Vajrānaṅga). “Vajra” is the usual prefix to Buddhist Tantric deities, “an-anga” : Without-Body is an epithet of Kamadeva. Vajra-Ananga is usually invoked for the Tantric “Vashikarana” (Attraction) ritual to attract a women of love towards a man. 
In an esoteric sense, Manjushri – The Bodhisattva of Wisdom, taking the form of Kāmadeva – The god of desire, represents the transformation of “desire” into “wisdom”. Tantra is oriented towards the chanelling of negative forces, and the transformation of those forces into Wisdom. Vajra-Ananga is a direct representation of that transformation. The afore mentioned Tantric Vashikarana ritual of attaining woman, may look very materialistic from an outside world view (and perhaps be used even for worldy purposes). But the real esoteric meaning of the ritual is to attain wisdom (Prajna) [which is always personified as a women]. 
Vajrananga-vigrahaThe Iconography of Vajra Ananga is described in the Sadhana mala as below:
vajrānaṅganāma ārya-mañjughoṣaṁ pītavarṇaṁ ṣaḍbhujaṁ mūlabhujābhyāṁ ākarṇapūrita raktotpala kalikāśarayukta kusumadhanurdharaṁ; dakṣiṇadvayena khaḍgadarpaṇabhṛtaṁ vāmayugalenendīvara raktāśokapallavadharaṁ; akṣobhyādhiṣṭhita jaṭāmukuṭinaṁ pratyālīḍhapadaṁ ṣoḍaśavarṣākāraṁ mahāśṛṅgāramūrtiṁ paśyet 
The worshipper should think himself as Arya-Manjughosha in the form of Vajrananga with yellow complexion, and six arms. With the two principal hands he draws to the ear the bow of flowers charged with a arrow of a red lotus bud; the remaining right hands carry the sword and the mirror, while the two left hold the lotus and the Ashoka bough with red flowers. He bears the image of Akshobhya on his Jatamukuta, stand int he Pratyalidha attitude, appears a youth of sixteen years and displays the intense Shringara Rasa

Invocation of Vajra Ananga 

Nāgarasarvasva is a Kamashastra text written by a Buddhist named Padmashri. It is not known whether Padmashri was a monk or not. But it was not uncommon for celibate authors composing Kāmashāstra (Vātsyāyana was himself celibate during the composition of Kāmasutra). The date of work is undecided between 800 CE and 1400 CE. Most probably it was composed around 11th century CE.

Usually Kāmadeva is invoked in the works of Kāmashastra, but being a Buddhist Padmashri invoked Bodhisattva Manjushri.

muhūrtamapi yaṁ smarannabhimatāṁ manohāriṇīṁ
labheta madavihvalāṁ jhaṭiti kāminīṁ kāmukaḥ |
tamullasitaḍambaraṁ surucirāṅgarāgāruṇaṁ 
namāmi sumanaḥśaraṁ satatamāryamañjuśriyaṁ ||
Thinking of whom [for] even a Muhurta [of Time] , Men who desire the
desired beautiful passionate loving woman may get [her] immediately |
He [who has] splendid appearance, [who has] a body radiant of red-passion
I constantly pay homage to [that] [Bodhisattva] Arya Manjushri [who has] flower-arrows || 


Expectedly, he is invoking Manjushri assuming the form of Kamadeva a.k.a Vajra Ananga Manjushri. As we had earlier seen, the Bodhisattva’s Vajra-Ananga form is used in the Tantric ritual of Vashikarana. The first part of the invocation is probably a direct reference to this. The second part describes Manjushri as Kama Deva himself.
Some suggest the verse to be a pun referring to both Kamadeva and Manjushri. The term “Manjushri” can very well be used as an epithet of Kamadeva, but a Buddhist author won’t ever use the prefix “Arya” (noble) to refer a Deva. So it can be only be the case, where the author pays homage to Manjushri in the form of Kamadeva i.e Vajra-Ananga. [Alternatively, it may refer to another form of Manjushri, Vajra-Rāga (Vajra-Passion) who also holds a bow and arrow. ]
It also suggests that the lay people yearning to unite with their loved ones, were probably invoking Bodhisattva Manjushri to fulfil their desires. Infact, in another section of this Kamashastra text, Padmashri advises to invoke Tārā for the birth of a male child.


1. Nagarasarvasva (in Sanskrit) (1966), Srivenkateshvara Book Agency, Kolkata
2. Bhattachacharyya, Benoytosh (1958): Indian Buddhist Iconography.
3. Benton, Catherine (2006) : God of Desire: Tales of Kamadeva in Sanskrit Story Literature (Suny Series in Hindu Studies) 
4. Ali, Daud (2011) : Padmashri’s Nagarasarvasva and the world of Medieval Kamashastra, Journal of Indian Philosophy, 39, 41-62  
5. Donaldson, Thomson (2001): Iconography of the Buddhist Sculpture of Orissa


Vishnu in Buddhism

vi_ranjanaIt’s well-known that Buddha was at a later phase included into the Hindu pantheon as an avatar of Vishnu. This myth is frequently invoked by the modern Hindus to encompass Buddhism as a part of Hinduism. What is not well known is the status of Vishnu as a deity within Buddhism per se. In the previous article, we had seen the status of Shiva in Buddhism, and now we analyze in detail the status of Vishnu vis-à-vis Buddhism.

Compared to Shiva who has relatively more references in the Mahayana Buddhist sutras and the numerous Vajrayana Tantras (where he appears as Rudra, to be always subdued by the wrathful Buddhist deities at the end), references to Vishnu are quite less. This perhaps may be due to the fact that, the later Buddhists were in a position to directly interact more with the Shaivaites than the Vaishnaivites.

Theravada Buddhism

As already referred in the “Shiva in Buddhism” article, Theravada Buddhism is quite orthodox in admitting deities into its fold. Rather than integrating the deities directly into the religion, it tends to keep the deities in the periphery as local deities to be worshipped for favor or as Dharmapālas (Dharma Protectors).

Sri Lanka

visnu-upulvanIn Sri Lankan Theravada, Vishnu is worshipped as “Upulvan” (Pali. Uppala-Vaṇṇa). The equivalent Sanskrit title is “Utpala-Varṇa” (Blue-Lotus-Colored). Vishnu is frequently depicted as blue colored (Blue being a euphemism for the original Black color of the deity). Vishnu as Upulvan is the Kshetra-Pāla (Protector of the Land) of Sri Lanka. Buddha before his parinirvana seems to have seen the island of Sri Lanka as the future place where his shāsana (law) will flourish. Therefore, he orders Indra for its protection. Indra then entrusts the protection of the island to Vishnu (Incidentally, Vishnu originally seems to have been subordinate to Indra in the Vedas. This seems to preserve the early status of Vishnu as a sub-ordinate deity).

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பௌத்த கலப்பு சமஸ்கிருதம்

buddha2யாவத கேசி த³ஸ²த்³தி³ஸி² லோகே ஸர்வத்ரியத்⁴வக³தா நரஸிம்ʼஹா: |
தாநஹு வந்த³மி ஸர்வி அஸே²ஷாந் காயது வாச மநேந ப்ரஸந்ந: ||
— ப⁴த்³ரசரீப்ரணிதா⁴ந ஸ்தோத்ரம்
தத: ப்ரவ்ருʼத்தம்ʼ மம த⁴ர்மசக்ரம்ʼ ||
நிர்வாணஸ²ப்³த³ஸ்²ச அபூ⁴ஷி லோகே ||
— ஸத்³த⁴ர்மபுண்ட³ரீக ஸூத்ரம்
பௌத்த தர்மம் தோன்றியதில் இருந்து பௌத்த கருத்துக்கள் அனைத்தும் வெகுஜன தளத்தில் புழங்கும் மொழியினை அடிப்படையாக கொண்டே வெளிப்படுத்தப்பட்டு வந்தன. த்ரைலோக்ய நாயகரான புத்த பகவானும் தமது தர்மத்தை மக்களுக்கு உகந்த மொழியிலேயே உபதேசித்தருளினார்.
ஒரு சமயம் சதுர்மஹாராஜர்களான – குபேரன் (வடக்கு), திருதராஷ்டிரன் (கிழக்கு), விரூடகன் (தெற்கு), விரூபாக்ஷன் (மேற்கு) – ஆகிய சதுர்திக்பாலர்களுக்கு பகவான் தர்மோபதேசம் அருளிக்கொண்டிருந்தார். அப்போது முதல் இரண்டு திக்பாலர்களுடன் சமஸ்கிருதத்திலும், மூன்றாவதான தக்ஷிணதிக்பாலரிடம் தமிழிலும், நான்காவதான பஸ்²சிமதிக்பாலரிடம் மிலேச்ச மொழியிலும் உபதேசித்தாக சீன திரிபிடகத்தில் கூறப்பட்டுள்ளது. சபையின் மொழியையே தமது மொழியாக கருதி மக்களுக்கு ஏற்ற வண்ணம் தர்மத்தை உபதேசிப்பதாக தீர்க்க ஆகமத்தில் பகவானே அருளியுள்ளார்.


ஆதிநாதன் தமிழ்-பிராமி எழுத்துரு



பகவான் (ஆதிநாதர்) இவ்வாறு சொல்லி அவர்களை ஆசிர்வாதவசனங்களால் வாழ்த்தித் தமது ஹிருதயகமலத்தெழுந்தருளியிருந்த ஸ்ருததேவியினை ஸ்வர்ணபட்டகத்தின் மிசை பூஜாபுரஸ்ஸரம் அதிவசிப்பித்து, ஸ்ரீஹஸ்தமிரண்டினுலும் ஒரு முறையிலேயே எழுத்தினையும் எண்ணையும் அவர்கட்குக் காட்டியருளினர்.


அங்ஙனம் காட்டி அவருள் பிராம்மியென்னும் பெண்ணிற்கு தக்ஷிண ஹஸ்தத்தால், ‘சித்தந்நம:’ என்றெடுத்துக் கொள்ளப்பட்ட மங்களத்தையும், அகராதி ஹகாராந்தமாகிய ஸ்வரம் வியஞ்சனமென்னும் இரண்டு பேதத்தினை உடைத்தாகியதும், அயோகவாகங்கள் இரண்டாகவுடையதுமாகிய அக்ஷரமாலையினையும், சம்யோகாக்ஷரங்களது பிறப்பினையும் உபதேசித்தனர்

— ஆதிபர்வம், ஸ்ரீபுராணம்

தமிழ்-பிராமி எழுத்துமுறை பழந்தமிழை முதன் முதலாக எழுத பயன்படுத்தபட்ட பண்டைய எழுத்துமுறை ஆகும். இது இந்திய அளவிலான பிராமி எழுத்துமுறையின் தமிழ்மொழிக்கான தழுவல். இரண்டாயிரம் ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு தமிழ் மொழி தமிழ்-பிராமி எழுத்துக்களிலேயே எழுதப்பட்டு வந்தது. பழந்தமிழுக்கான மிக முந்திய கல்வெட்டுகள் அனைத்தும் தமிழ்-பிராமி எழுத்துமுறையிலேயே உள்ளன. பொது சகாப்தம்.நான்காம் நூற்றாண்டு வரையிலும் தமிழ்-பிராமி வழக்கில் இருந்தது. பின்னர்  பொது சகாப்தம் ஐந்தாம் நூற்றாண்டளவில், இது வட்டெழுத்தாக உருமாற்றம் பெற்றது.


பண்டைய தமிழ்-பிராமி எழுத்துமுறைக்கான முதன் முதல் யூனிகோடு எழுத்துருவான, “ஆதிநாதன் தமிழ் பிராமி” எழுத்துருவை  வெளியிடுகிறோம்.


இந்த எழுத்துரு “ஓப்பன் ஃபாண்ட் லைசன்ஸ்”இன் கீழ் வெளியடப்படுகிறது. இதன் மூலம் எவரும் இந்த எழுத்துரு இலவசாமாக பயன்படுத்தி, மாற்றி, பகிர்ந்துக்கொள்ள இயலும் (ஓப்பன் ஃபாண்ட் லைசன்ஸ்’இன் கட்டுப்பாடுகளுக்கு உட்பட்டு). எழுத்துருவுடன், இன்ஸ்க்ரிப்ட் முறையிலான தட்டச்சிற்கான என்.ஹெச்.எம் ரைட்டரின் எக்ஸ்.எம்.எல்’இன் கோப்பும் தரப்பட்டுள்ளது. அத்துடன் எழுத்துருவை பற்றிய கூடுதல் விபரங்களும் அதை பயன்படுத்துவதற்கான வழிமுறைகளும் அடங்கிய கையேடும் உள்ளது.



Tamil-Brahmi is the earliest script used to write Old Tamil. Tamil language has since then been written in wide range of continuum of scripts. Tamil-Brahmi is in principle an adaptation of the Brahmi script with several additional features being added to cater the idiosyncrasies of the Tamil language.

The earliest inscriptional evidences for Old Tamil occur in Tamil-Brahmi. The conventional consensus for the upper bound dating for Tamil-Brahmi is 3rd Century BCE. Though there have been recent contending evidences for pushing the dates further back as far as 5th Century BCE, they do not have mainstream acceptance. Tamil-Brahmi had been in vogue for several centuries since it adaptation until it morphed itself into the more cursive Vaṭṭeḻuttu around 5th Century CE.

The present Tamil script is not a descendant of Tamil-Brahmi. The precursor to the present Tamil script originated around 7th century CE as a derivative of Pallava Grantha with hybrid elements of Vaṭṭeḻuttu. Vaṭṭeḻuttu itself was in vogue in Tamil Nadu until 11th century CE, until it was completely usurped by the then more prevalent Pallava-derived Tamil script.

The Character set of Tamil-Brahmi is as follows:



The Independant vowel /ai/, /au/ and /o/ have been reconstructed



/ja/, /śa/ are reconstructions



Dependant vowel signs /e/, /au/ are reconstructions.

Features of Tamil-Brahmi

Characteristic Tamil Consonants

Tamil-Brahmi was in most part visually identical with Brahmi with minor differences (such as the shape of /ma/), but suitably adapted to represent Old Tamil. Tamil-Brahmi retained the voiceless unaspirated plosives, but had done away with the other plosives which were voiced, aspirated or both except for /dha/. /dha/ was retained on religious grounds to correctly spell the Jaina Prakrit word dhamma (< dharma). Tamil-Brahmi also used the letters for the fricatives /sa/, /śa/, /ha/ which occur in various inscriptions.

The most important feature of the Tamil-Brahmi script was the presence of the characteristic Tamil consonants – ழ /ḻa/ ள /ḷa/ ற /ṟa/ ன /ṉa/. They were all systematically derived from the other consonants of the nearest phonetic value – /ḻa/ was derived from /ḍa/, /ḷa/ from /la/, /ṟa/ from /ṭa/ and /ṉa/ from /na/.

Vowel Notation System

The other important differentiating feature was the vowel notation systems used to represent the vowel-less consonants. Unlike the Prakrit languages which had no word-final consonants, most of the Tamil words had them. Hence it was necessary to come with a vowel notation system to denote word final consonants and which could also avoid the cumbersome and complex conjunct formations.

As a result Tamil-Brahmi had evolved three different types of notation systems.

Consider the word – ஸாலகன் sālakaṉ



Tamil Brahmi I

ஸாலாகான /sā/lā/kā/ṉa/ 


The consonant didn’t have the inherent /a/. /ā/ vowel sign also denoted /a/. The ambiguity rested in reading the vowel sign either as /a/ or /ā/. The absence of any vowel sign denoted the pure consonant.

Tamil Brahmi II

ஸாலகன /sā/la/ka/ṉa/
The consonant assumed the inherent vowel /a/. However the absence of it was unmarked and had to be deduced through context. Vowel sign /ā/ was unambiguous.

Tamil Brahmi III

ஸாலகன் /sā/la/ka/ṉ/


The absence of inherent vowel was clearly marked using a dot, which later on became the distinguishing character for Tamil (at least theoretically). Once the dot Virāma was developed it went on to be used to represent short /e/ and short /o/.
The converter follows the TB III convention during transliteration.

Variants of Tamil-Brahmi

Tamil-Brahmi has two distinct phases of development:

Early Tamil-Brahmi


This lasted from 3rd Century BCE to 1st Century CE. Two different vowel notational systems TB I and TB II were in use.

Late Tamil-Brahmi


The phase from 2nd Century CE to 4th Century CE is Late Tamil-Brahmi. The shapes of the characters progressively became more cursive giving rise to the early Vaṭṭeḻuttu characters. The systems TB II and TB III were in use.


Apart from the above there are other peculiarities which are discussed in detail in the “Orthography” & “Paleography” chapters by Iravatham Mahadevan in his “Early Tamil Epigraphy”.



For proper display of Tamil-Brahmi, a Unicode Brahmi is required.  Download Adinatha Tamil Brahmi font .

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Internet Explorer (and other windows applications) under Windows 7 SP1 displays Unicode Brahmi text properly. For older versions of Windows, please Update the USP10.dll in Windows/System32 folder to the version: 1.626.7601.17514


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Sample Text

ஆதிநா ளரசர் தங்க ளருங்குல மைந்து மாக்கி
ஓதநீ ருலகின் மிக்க வொழுக்கமுந் தொழிலுந் தோற்றித்
தீதுதீர்ந் திருந்த பெம்மான் திருவடி சாரச் சென்று
நீதி நூற்றுலகம் காத்து நிலந்திரு மலர நின்றார்