Grantha – 16 – Conjuncts V



| ॐ  नमः श्रीघनाय | ஓம்ʼ நம: ஸ்ரீக³நாய |



न पुद्गलो न च स्कन्धा बुद्धो ज्ञानमनास्रवम्
सदाशान्तिं विभावित्वा गच्छामि शरणं ह्यहम्
ந புத்³க³லோ ந ச ஸ்கந்தா⁴ பு³த்³தோ⁴ ஜ்ஞாநமநாஸ்ரவம்
ஸதா³ஸா²ந்திம்ʼ விபா⁴வித்வா க³ச்சா²மி ஸ²ரணம்ʼ ஹ்யஹம்
Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows 
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]

It has been four lessons into Conjuncts and there is still lot more to go [Do Bear !].
We had seen conjuncts upto 3 consonants in a cluster in the last lesson. We will see some more conjunct formation rules in triple consonantal clusters, and then move on to clusters with four or even more consonants. 

Combining-Stacking Conjuncts

So far, the Triple conjunts we had seen were either completely stacking klva_grantha, completely combining ntva_grantha, or used some special signs of -r- and -y- rshcha_grantha.


What if any of the two adjacent consonants forms a combining Conjunct, and the other has only a stacking form ?  As said before in Lesson 13, always the Combining forms have more priority than the stacking form.


The Combining Consonants must be clustered first and then be stacked as required with the remaining third consonant. I know the description is very hazy, let’s see two some examples.


Consider two Samyuktakshara-s ndbha ந்த்³ப⁴ न्द्भ &  stva ஸ்த்வ स्त्व . We’ll apply the above rules to form the Samyuktakshara forms.




As seen above, first the combining conjuncts are formed and then they are stacked. As simple as that 🙂


Now, if both the adjacent consonants have combining forms, which is to be Combined and which is to be Clustered ? Well both !


ndva ந்த்வ न्द्व




Both the above forms are valid. You can choose anything you like !


Quadruple (and more) Conjuncts

Before moving on to Samyuktakshara-s with 4 (or more) consonantal clusters, we’ll sum up the necessary points


  • The stacking limit* of Grantha is three
  • Consider the combining conjuncts as a single written “akshara” during conjunct formation
  • Combining Conjuncts must be formed first before attempting to stacking
  • The pre-consonantal -r- is always considered last while forming conjuncts [except for -ry-]
  • Post-Cononantal -r- and -y- take their usual special forms when appearing as the last part of the cluster.


Now that we know the necessary basic lets move on.


Consider the Samyuktakshara ங்க்ஷ்வ ङ्क्ष्व ṅkṣva which has four consonants.




Essentially, the above is triple-stacked conjunct with three written “aksharas”.


The Stack can have at most three written “aksharas”  and not more than that. When they are four written “aksharas” & all of them show stacking behaviour, the last three consonants are stacked and the first consonant is written with a Virama.


ங்க்³த்⁴வ ङ्ग्ध्व ṅgdhva 




If the first consonant with Virama has a Special Ligated-Virama form it can be used too as in ngdhva_grantha_ligvirama


When a five level stacking is required (which are extremly rare), the first two consonants are stacked with a Virama and then last three consonants are stacked. (2+3)




Some more clusters with four or five consonants:


A complex Samyuktakshara with -y- :  த்ப்ஸ்ய त्प्स्य tpsya




A complex Samyuktakshara with -r- :  ர்த்³த்⁴ம र्द्ध्म rddhma



(Since ddha is a combining conjunct, the stack has been reduced to a dual-level)



1. Grantha can have a four-level stacking, but its very rare.




For all practical purposes, the limit can be taken as three.


2. Some typsetters limit the stacking to a dual-level, in that case instead of a three level stacking, the first consonant has a virama-form and the last two consonant are stacked.




3. Grantha Typesetters have attempted to print the Conjuncts in a number of ways.


For Instance, ந்த்வ न्त्व ntva can take several forms in print.




All of them are valid represenation of /ntva/.


Even the special forms of -r-, -y- are too not mandatory. It is quite valid to write them as stacks instead.




What has been presented here till now is the usual conventions that are mostly applied during the Conjunct formation in Grantha Script. It doesn’t the mean the other possibilities are wrong, just that they are not so usually used. Thats it .


So with this, the entire basics of Grantha script is covered.


(I have skipped the Vedic Grantha with the Svara Markers and other Vedic Characters)


All that we have seen is just bits and pieces of the Aksharas :). 


So, In the next few lessons, we will be seeing some basic Sanskrit words & phrases in Grantha. 



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