| ॐ नमो भगवते । ஓம்ʼ நமோ ப⁴க³வதே |
There are fourteen Vowels in Sanskrit. They are called Svara-s स्वर ஸ்வரம். Tamil: உயிர் எழுத்து uyir ĕḻuttu उयिर् ऎळुत्तु
a ī i ī u ū ṛ ṝ | अ आ इ ई उ ऊ ऋ ॠ । அ ஆ இ ஈ உ ஊ ருʼ ரூʼ
ḷ ḹ e ai o au | ऌ ॡ ए ऐ ओ औ । லுʼ லூʼ ஏ ஐ ஓ ஔ
The are 5 Short Vowels which are called Hrasva-s ह्रस्व ஹ்ரஸ்வம் – Tamil: குறில் kuṟil कुऱिल् . They have length of one Mātrā मात्रा மாத்ரா – மாத்திரை i.e Mora
a i u ṛ ḷ | अ इ उ ऋ ऌ । அ இ உ ருʼ லுʼ
Classical Sanskrit lacks short e and short o (எ ஒ ĕ ŏ), however these sounds are present in the Vedic variant as the Allophones of short a अ அ.
They are 9 Long Vowels which are are called Dīrgha-s दीर्घ தீ³ர்க⁴ம் – Tamil: நெடில் nĕṭil नॆटिल्. These are pronounced with two Mātrā-s .
ā ī ū ṝ ḹ e ai o au | आ ई ऊ ॠ ॡ ए ऐ ओ औ । ஆ ஈ ஊ ரூʼ லூʼ ஏ ஐ ஓ ஔ
The Diphthongs are called Sandhyakṣara सन्ध्यक्षर ஸந்த்⁴யக்ஷரம் – Tamil: இணை எழுத்து iṇai ĕḻuttu इणै ऎऴुत्तु. All the Diphthongs are long vowels in Sanskrit.
Unlike Tamil, In Sanskrit /e/ and /o/ are also considered diphthongs, along with /ai/ and /au/
e ai o au | ए ऐ ओ औ । ஏ ஐ ஓ ஔ
Apart from Hrasva-s and Dirgha-s, there is Pluta प्लुत ப்லுதம் – உயிரளபெடை. They are pronounced with 3 or more Mātrā-s.
In Tamil, the corresponding short vowel is added to make the preceding vowel over-long. Depending on the Mātrā-s to be extended, the equivalent number of short vowels should be added. As in மரூஉ मरूउ marūu (with 3 Matras). Since, the long vowel must get one extra Mātrā, a single short ‘u’ is added.
However in Sanskrit, the corresponding Mātrā length should be appended. For instance, the Tamil example, if written using Sanskrit convention, will be written as मरु३ marū3 மரூ3. In Grantha, the corresponding Tamil numeral is added. But sometimes, the following sign is also seen in some Manuscripts.
(Note: Tamil & Grantha share the same numerals – 0 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 :: ௦ ௧ ௨ ௩ ௪ ௫ ௬ ௭ ௮ ௯ )
Ayogavāha are letters in Sanskrit which do not exist independently. They depend on a Vowel to exist. In Tamil, the equivalent term is சார்பெழுத்து.
There are four Ayogavāha-s :
- Anusvāra अनुस्वार அநுஸ்வாரம்
- Visarga विसर्ग விஸர்க³ம்
- Jihvāmūlīya जिह्वामूलीय ஜிஹ்வாமூலீயம்
- Upadhmānīya उपध्मानीय உபத்⁴மாநீயம்
aṁ aḥ a(ḥ) | अं अः अ(:) | அம்ʼ அ: அ(:)
The symbol Ardha-Visarga is used to denote both the Jihvāmūlīya & Upadhmānīya.
The are 2 more symbols in Grantha
- Candrabindu चन्द्रबिन्दु சந்த்³ரபி³ந்து³
- Avagraha अवग्रह அவக்³ரஹம்
am̐ ‘ | अँ ऽ | அம் ̐ (அ)
The Consonants of Sanskrit, can be summarized with all their Attributes as follows.
Sparśa : Plosives – The 25 Varga Consonants from Ka to Ma. They are classified into five based on the place of articulation.
(* Though they are usually termed as kaṇṭhya < kaṇṭha : Glottal. They are articulated at the Velar Position i.e J
The Un-Voiced (Aghoṣa) Varga Consonants are known as Kaṭhina (Hard Consonants).
ka kha ca cha ṭa ṭha ta tha pa pha | क ख च छ ट ठ त थ प फ । க க² ச ச² ட ட² த த² ப ப²
The Tamil Equivalent term would be வல்லினம் valliṉam वल्लिऩम् (வல்* < வன்மை means Strong/Hard in Tamil ) . The Tamil Valliṉam class consists of க ச ட த ப ற | ka ca ṭa ta pa ṟa | क च ट त प ऱ (Tamil lacks Aspirated (Mahāprāṇa) Consonants & ṟa is unique to Dravidian languages)
The Voiced (Ghoṣa) non-nasal Varga Consonants are called Mṛdu (Soft Consonants)
ga gha ja jha ḍa ḍha da dha ba bha | ग घ ज झ ड ढ ब भ । க³ க⁴ ஜ ஜ² ட³ ட⁴ ப³ ப⁴
In Tamil, the Voiced consonants are mere positional variant of the Unvoiced consonants. Hence, they are not distinctly represented in Tamil.
The Nasal Varga Consonants are called Anunāsika. They are considered Alpaprāṇa (Unaspirated) and Ghoṣa .
ṅa ña ṇa na ma | ङ ञ ण न म । ங ஞ ண ந ம
They Equivalent Tamil classification is மெல்லினம் mĕlliṉam मॆल्लिऩम्. This Mĕlliṉam class consists of ங ஞ ண ந ம ன (The extra consonant ன ऩ ṉa is unique to Dravidian Languages). Interestingly, the Tamil name means மெல்* < மென்மை Soft. The Tamils considered the Nasals as soft sounds while, for the Sanskritists the Voiced sounds were Soft .
The next set of Consonants, are the Antaḥstha : Semi-Vowels.
ya ra la va ḽa | य र ल व ळ । ய ர ல வ ள
The Equivalent Tamil Class is இடையினம் iṭaiyiṉam इटैयिऩम्. This iṭaiyiṉam class has ய ர ல வ ழ ள | ya ra la va ḻa ḽa | य र ल व ऴ ळ (ழ ḻa ऴ is again a unique Dravidian character). Antahstha carries the same meaning as well. Antahstha means -in between-. Even in Tamil இடை* implies -in between-. These letters that were between Vowels and Consonants i.e Semi-Vowels, hence named so.
The Antahstha are all Alpaprāṇa & Ghoṣa.
The last set of characters are the ūṣman : Fricatives.
śa ṣa sa ha | श ष स ह । ஸ²(ஶ) ஷ ஸ ஹ
The Ushman consonants are all Mahaprāṇa. Among them śa ṣa sa are Aghoṣa, while ha is Ghoṣa.
Characters same as Tamil
A number of Grantha characters are nearly same as the equivalent Tamil characters. However, do note the subtle differences from the Tamil Equivalent. (Grantha ட has a short vertical bar attched, & Grantha ஜ ,த ந, ஹ have their descenders above, to ease the Formation of Conjuncts.
Characters similar to Tamil
There are some characters which are somewhat similar to the Tamil letters. These are listed below along with the Tamil characters.
There are few characters which are closely resemble in shape. However, do note the distinct variant strokes and shapes that differentiate the characters.
Now that the Consonants and Vowels are completely covered. In the next lesson, we will move on with the Vowel Signs.