Grantha – 9 – Vowel Signs II



| ॐ नमो लोकजिते । ஓம்ʼ நமோ லோகஜிதே |



सारं तु सारतो ज्ञात्वा ह्यसारं चाप्यसारतः
ते सारम् अधिगच्छन्ति सम्यक् संकल्प गोचराः
ஸாரம்ʼ து ஸாரதோ ஜ்ஞாத்வா ஹ்யஸாரம்ʼ சாப்யஸாரத​:
தே ஸாரம் அதி⁴க³ச்ச²ந்தி ஸம்யக் ஸம்ʼ கல்ப கோ³சரா​:
Having known the essence as the essence, non-essential as non-essential
They attain the essence, feeding on right thoughts

In this lesson, we would be seeing the signs for 4 Vowels and the Ayogavaha-s. 

Vowel Signs 

-e ே* े

The -e Vowel sign is placed before to the consonant as in Tamil ::  பே³ बे be




-ai ை ै

-ai Vowel sign is also placed before the Consonant like Tamil. It is formed by placed two -e signs adjacent to each other: தை⁴ धै dhai




-o ோ* ो 

-o Vowel sign is a composite sign, placed both before and after the consonant :: ஜோ² जो jo




-au ௌ ौ

-au has two forms. The first form is same as Tamil, the next form is without the -e sign. Both forms are seen in usage :: கௌ² खौ khau




The form khau_grantha is also seen as a variant in printings.



The Ayogavaha-s are placed simplex next to the consonant (like the Vowels) :: ப²ம்ʼ ப²: ப²(:)  फं फ: फ(:) phaṁ phaḥ pha(ḥ)




The 9th lesson is over with this.  The lesson will cover the special vowel-less forms that are used in Grantha.



* These forms were introduced the Christian missionary Beschi (a.k.a Viramamunivar) around 1700’s CE. Old Tamil didn’t have special signs of short e and short o. A Pulli was placed on the vowels and the corresponding vowels signs to make them short. The Tamil Grammar treatises (starting from Tolkappiyam) also explicitly specify that short /e/ and short /o/ should have a Pulli. The Missionary Beschi had ignored all that and reformed the Script what he basically saw as an ‘informity’ in the Tamil script (i.e The Vowels taking a Pulli). 


Thus the current எ ஒ and the corresponding Vowel signs ெ ொ , in the pre-Beschi Tamil script indicated the long vowels. The short vowels for these were traditionally formed by placing the Pulli over them as described earlier. He modified the shapes of the vowels & the corresponding signs to create the longer counterparts (ஏ, ஓ,ே ) . So, the Traditional long vowels (those without Pulli) went on to represent the short Vowels, and the new forms created by Beschi denoted the long vowels.


Pre-Beschi e’s and o’s is shown below. Those with Pulli are Short and those without pulli are long.




Grantha didn’t undergo any such reformation, thus retaining the Kombu (ெ) for denoting long e and long o.


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