Grantha – 8 – Vowel Signs I



| ॐ नमो मारजिते । ஓம்ʼ நமோ மாரஜிதே |



बुद्धज्ञानम् अनन्तं हि आकाश विपुलं समं 
क्षपयेत् कल्पभाषन्तो न च बुद्धगुणक्षयः 
பு³த்³த⁴ஜ்ஞாநம் அநந்தம்ʼ ஹி ஆகாஸ² விபுலம்ʼ ஸமம்ʼ
க்ஷபயேத் கல்பபா⁴ஷந்தோ ந ச பு³த்³த⁴கு³ணக்ஷய​:
The Buddha’s knowledge is endless, just like the Great Sky
While speaking of it aeons may be destroyed, but the Buddha’s virtues will never decay.

Grantha being a Brahmi-derived script, is an Abugida. Therefore it uses special vowel signs to denote the Consonant-Vowel combinations. (Tamil: உயிர்மெய்யெழுத்துக்கள்  उयिर् मॆय्यॆऴुत्तुक्कळ् uyirmeyyeḻuttukkaḷ ). The various Vowel signs are appended before/after/above the consonants to denote the Vowel Sound.

The Vowel Signs are nearly the same as in Tamil [except for the Sanskrit-specific Vocalic Vowels R_Grantha RR_Grantha lR_grantha lRR_Grantha ] so it will be breeze to pick them up 🙂
(The Circle that appears in some of the examples denote the consonant position)
We’ll see the first 10 Vowel signs in this lesson.

Vowel Signs


The Virāma, [ the Grantha Equivalent of the Tamil Puḷḷi புள்ளி पुळ्ळि  (Dot) ் ] is used to denote the pure consonant.  It is placed to the top of consonant, it is similar to the Telugu Virāma sign. ( )


Pure consonant gh : घ् : க்⁴



The Virāma Sign may also be placed next to the Consonant gh_spaced_virama, instead of the placing it in the on the top . 


Apart from these, there are special forms to denote the Vowelless consonants, which will be dealt later



Like all Indic scripts, a-grantha is inherent in the consonant. it has not have any specific sign associated with it


-ā ா ा

The -ā Vowel sign is placed next to the consonant :: சா चा cā




-i ி ि

-i Vowel sign is placed at the top of the Consonant, also extending to left of the consonant :: லி लि li




-ī ீ ी

-ī Vowel sign is placed at the top of the Consonant :: தீ³ दी dī




-u ு ु

-u Vowel sign is placed to the left of the Consonant. Unlike Tamil -u, in Modern printed grantha -u doesn’t ligate with the preceding consonant. However, in the Medieval/Manuscript Grantha, -u is found ligated with the consonants :: ஸு सु su




-ū ூ ू

Similar to – u, -ū is also placed next to the consonant. Though unligated in the Modern form, it is found ligated in the Medieval variant :: ஜு जु ju




-ṛ ்ருʼ ृ

-ṛ Vowel sign is placed to the left of the consonant. As like -u/ū it was ligated in Medieval/Manuscript grantha, but is unligated in the Modern printed Grantha :: ப்⁴ருʼ भृ bhṛ 




-ṝ ்ரூʼ ॄ

-ṝ Vowel sign is placed to the left of the consonant :: க்³ரூʼ गॄ gṝ




-ḷ ்லுʼ ॢ

-ḷ Vowel sign is simply lR_grantha placed next to the consonant. It doesn’t have special vowel sign :: க்லுʼ कॢ kḷ




Very rarely, the Vowel lR_grantha is also placed below the consonant kl_subbase_grantha.


-ḹ ்லூʼ ॣ

-ḹ Vowel sign is placed next to the consonant :: க்லூʼ कॣ kḹ



It can also have below-consonant form like -ḷ


ṭa ட ट

tta_grantha has special forms with Virama, /i/ and /ii/ Vowel signs respectively. Similar to Tamil, where special forms such டி டீ exist for ட.




The remaining vowels & Ayogavāhas will be covered in the following lesson.


BTW Wish you all a prosperous and happy New Year 2011 🙂



nūtana saṁvatsarasya śubhāśayāḥ | नूतन संवत्सरस्य शुभाशयाः | நூதந ஸம்ʼவத்ஸரஸ்ய ஸு²பா⁴ஸ²யா​:


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