Grantha – 3 – Consonants – Ka



| ॐ नमो बुद्धाय । ஓம்ʼ நமோ பு³த்³தா⁴ய |




|| ततः प्रवृत्तं मम धर्मचक्रं || தத​: ப்ரவ்ருʼத்தம்ʼ மம த⁴ர்மசக்ரம்ʼ ||

|| निर्वाणशब्दश्च अभूषि लोके || நிர்வாணஸ²ப்³த³ஸ்²ச அபூ⁴ஷி லோகே ||

|| Then rolled my Dharmachakra & the sound of Nirvaana was present in the world ||



In the previous lessons, we have learnt the various vowels, two of the Ayogavāha-s & orthographic items such as Avagraha and Chandrabindu.


Now, we must graduate to the Consonants :-).  In Sanskrit, Consonants are called as Vyañjana व्यञ्जन வ்யஞ்ஜந vyanjana_sanskrit.

The Vyanjana-s are divided into classes called Varga वर्ग வர்க³  varga_grantha. Each Varga ends with a Nasal i.e Anunāsika अनुनासिक அநுநாஸிக anunasika_grantha.


Sanskrit [and of course Prakrit] have separate symbols of Voiced, Aspirated and their various combinations thereof. The main difficulty for an eventual Tamil reader to pronounce Sanskrit [and/or Prakrit] would be pertaining to the pronunciation of Mahāprāṇa महाप्राण மஹாப்ராண mahaprana_grantha Consonants. They must be pronounced with Aspiration i.e with a puff of air [h]. Such as kha gha etc.


On the other hand those consonants without this aspiration are known as Alpraprāṇa अल्पप्राण அல்பப்ராண alpaprana_grantha


We would be seeing a single Varga of the Vyanjanas and one Ayogavaha, the Jihvāmūlīya (along with it the associated Ardha-Visarga symbol)  in this lesson. 



First will be the ka-varga . They come under Kaṇṭhya कण्ठ्य கண்ட்²ய kanthya_grantha, meaning those produced in the throat [Technically, the consonants are produced at the back of tongue. Probably, Throat is an approximation for that position]


 ka க क



 kha க² ख



 ga க³ ग 



 gha க⁴ घ



 ṅa ங ङ


The pronunciation of the letters are the same as indicated by Roman/Devanagari counterparts. So, I don’t intend to comment more on their pronunciation. But as said earlier, the pronunciation of the Mahaprana consonants kha & gha must be given extra care 🙂



Jihvāmūlīya जिह्वामूलीया ஜிஹ்வாமூலீயா jihvamuliya_grantha, literally meaning the “Back of the tongue” is another peculiar sound pertaining to Sanskrit alone. It does not have any separate letter form. It is indicated by a symbol called Ardha-Visarga अर्ध विसर्ग அர்த⁴ விஸர்க³ ardhavisarga_grantha. [Do note that at a different position, the Ardha Visarga represents another ayogavāha namely the Upadhmānīya. Ardha Visarga visually represents both these sounds]


Ardha Visarga



Jihvāmūlīya is formed, when Visarga appears before ka ka_grantha and kha kha_grantha. The Visarga transforms into a Jihvāmūlīya at this position. It is shown by the symbol Ardha-Visarga before these two letters.




The Ardha-Visarga symbol that appears before ka ka_grantha and kha kha_grantha, is prononced as Jihvāmūlīya.


In phonetics, it termed as “Voiceless Velar Fricative”. The sound sample can be heard here:


Letters similar to that in Tamil



Similar Letters

Grantha /a/ & /ka/ have similar forms. But closely note the minute differences between the two letters.




Also, /i/ and /ṅa ங ङ/ are very much similar.  /ṅa ங ङ/ has a short vertical line at the base, which /i/ lacks




The third lesson in this series, ends with this. 


In the next lesson, we will see two Vargas namely, च ச ca-varga & ट ட ṭa-varga.


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