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(Source: Milev, Rossen, 2014, Scriptura Mundi, Writings of the world, Vol.

1, Sofia, Balkan Me dia ISSN 0861-5047, pp. 159-193).

Scripts of India
S. Kalyanaraman Roots in Indus-Sarasvati civilization of 4th millennium BCE Ancient Indian scripts date back to ca. 3500 BCE. This early date is validated by the discovery of a potsherd with hieroglyphs at Harappa, an archaeological site of Indus-Sarasvati civilization

which is referred to as Meluhha in cuneiform texts of Mesopotamia and Elam. (S. Kalyanaraman, 2012, Indian Hieroglyphs Invention of writing, Herndon, Sarasvati Research Center http://tinyurl.com/c5ovj5q). The Indus writing system evidenced by Indus script corpora, is hieroglyphic and the underlying language is Meluhha (cognate Samsktam word: Mleccha). The hieroglyphs were used to inscribe -- on seals, tablets, copper plates and even on metallic tools and read rebus, details of processing and trade of bronze-age metallurgical artifacts by artisan guilds. This is the picture from harappa.com of Slide 124. Inscribed Ravi sherd from Harappa, which has been dated in an archaeological context. The origins of Indus writing can now be traced to the Ravi Phase (c. 3300-2800 BC) at Harappa. Some inscriptions were made on the bottom of the pottery before firing. Other inscriptions such as this one were made after firing. This inscription (c. 3300 BC) appears to be three plant symbols arranged to appear almost anthropomorphic. BBC titled the report 'Earliest writing' of May 4, 1999 citing this find, and quoting one of the excavators, Dr. Richard Meadow: ...these primitive inscriptions found on pottery may pre-date all other known writing." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/334517.stm The hieroglyphs of the Ravi sherd were used on tablets, seals and on potsherds in trade contexts. 2949 Dotted circles, three hieroglyphs of grafts.2950 four hieroglyphs of grafts . Rojdi [potsherd with two hieroglyphs of grafts] . Seal impression from Harappa; a woman is carrying a kolom 'graft'. kola woman; kolom 'graft'; rebus: kolami 'smithy, forge' (Meluhha). kharo syllable ko, brhm syllable ko. Hieroglyphs of Indus writing deployed on over 6000 inscriptions of Indus corpora, had a wide geographic contact area, spread from Meluhha to Mesopotamia, as evidenced by the presence of (1)fish hieroglyph on a pot of Susa containing metal artifacts and (2) fish + six dots + spinner + tiger paws on stool hieroglyphs on a bas-relief of Susa. Fish hieroglyph is related by rebus reading to aya fish, rebus: aya metal; spinner hieroglyph is related by rebus reading to kt spinner, rebus: kt wheelwright; six dots hieroglyph is related by rebus reading to baa six, rebus: bhaa furnace; tiger hieroglyph is related rebus reading to kola tiger; kolami smithy/forge; kol pacaloha or alloy of five metals.

While the Indus script as a writing system deploying hieroglyphs served the imperative of documenting bronze-age artisanal production processes and trade transactions, a syllabic script had to be used to denote names. This was exemplified by the combined use of Indian hieroglyphs and both kharo and brhm syllabic scripts on, for e.g., Kuninda punch-marked coins (ca. 2nd -1st century BCE). The rebus readings of the hieroglyphs on the coins are explained in the book Indian Hieroglyphs Invention of Writing (2012). There is a possibility that the two Indian syllabic scripts of the historical periods starting ca. 5th century BCE -kharo and brhm -- adopted the initial consonantal syllable connoted by this hieroglyph since the orthography of the syllable ko in both the scripts seems closely comparable to the hieroglyph of Indus writing. The chronology of evolution of kharo and brhm scripts and their relationship with Phoenician or Aramaic scripts are still debated and unresolved issues. The most frequently used hieroglyph was rim-of-jar as shown on a seal from Daimabad (14th cent.). This connoted kaa kanka, read rebus: furnace (account) scribe. Other high-frequency hieroglyphs in the corpora of over 6000 Indus script inscriptions are presented to demonstrate that the functions of seals were to serve the needs of an artisan guild as a corporate form to control production processes from workers platforms delivered for approval-[jgaa]-- into the guild warehouse. Such a control system enabled the formation of harosheth hagoyim smithy of nations across many bronze-age settlements from Sarasvati-Sindhu river basins to Mediterranean Sea across the Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia. These contact areas may explain the development of Brhm and Kharoh scripts comparable to Phoenecian/Aramaic scripts used by sea-faring traders and artisans who made metal chariots. Many seals depict a hieroglyphic composition: (1) one-horned heifer with pannier and neck-rings; and (2) a gimlet/lathe on portable furnace. Harappa h006 Seal and impression. koiyum heifer (G.) ko horn (Kuwi) koiyum rings on neck; a wooden

circle put round the neck of an animal (Gujarati.) [kh] m A of which one end is formed into a cowl or hood (Marathi). kd to turn in a lathe(B.) knda engraver, lapidary setting or infixing gems (Marathi) k dr turner, brass-worker(Bengali) [ khdakra ] n an engraver; a carver (Oriya). Glyph: sangaa lathe (Marathi) Rebus: [j he] a tally of products delivered into the warehouse for approval, (Marathi). Rebus: ko artisans workshop (Kuwi) meh stake me(h) post (Marathi). Allographs: mea projecting (Te.); meu hill (Ka.) mha antelope, ram. meha polar star (Marathi). mi glamorous fig tree or racemosa. Rebus: me iron (Ho.) mht 'iron'(Mu.) ; m(h) gold(Marathi)

The Indian hieroglyphs of Indus writing are comparable to the rebus readings of Egyptian hieroglyphs: Narmer Palette with Egyptian hieroglyphs N'r M'r (Cuttle-fish, chisel) was dated c. 3300 BCE. [(Great Hierakonpolis Palette) Cairo J.E. 14716, C.G. 32169 Hierakonpolis (Horus Temple Main Deposit)]. At the top of both sides of the Palette are the central serekhs bearing the rebus symbols nr (catfish) and mr (chisel) inside, being the phonetic representation of Narmers name. The Narmer Palette is a 63-centimetre tall (2.07 ft), shield-shaped, ceremonial palette, carved from a single piece of flat, soft dark gray-green siltstone. Indian hieroglyph composition of fish + crocodile hieroglyphs is comparable to Egyptian hieroglyph reading Narmer. Glyph: ayo fish (Mu.) Rebus: aya = iron (G.); ayah, ayas = metal (Skt.) Glyph: kru a wild crocodile or alligator (Te.) Rebus: khr a blacksmith, an iron worker (cf. bandka-khr) (Kashmiri) Combined rebus reading: ayakra iron-smith (Pali) This bronze-age tradition of guild control using Indian hieroglyphs continued into the historical periods. Hundreds of hieroglyphs of Indus writing continue to be used on punch-marked coins issued by many mints, from ca. 6th century BCE in a region extending from Gndhra (Afghanistan) to Anuradhapura (Srilanka). Coin of Gurgamoya, king of Khotan. Khotan, 1st century CE. Obverse: Kharoshthilegend "Of the great king of kings, king of Khotan,Gurgamoya. Reverse: Chinese legend: "Twenty-four grain copper coin." Both the words, kharo and brhm as names of scripts are associated with and their roots can be traced in

writing systems of the bronze age of the 4th millennium. A Jaina text, Lalitavistara uses the phonetic variant name Bhambh. The expression namo bhambhiya liviye salutation to the Brhm lipi (script) occurs in Bhagavati Stra. Lalitavistara mentions that Buddha as a boy went to the lipi-sala (writing-school). Neaqrchus, Alexanders General notes that the people of Punjab knew the art of preparing paper out of cotton and tattered clothes for writing purposes. Curtius, another Greek writers, mentions the use of tender bark of certain trees for writing. Possibly, bhurjipatra (bark of bhurj, Himalayan birch tree) was used for writing. The word kharo is cognate with the word, harosheth, smithy in the Biblical phrase harosheth hagoyim (smithy of nations). kharo is a compound of khara + /oha/ho blacksmith + lip (denoting the invention of writing by a metalsmith). khr 1 m. (sg. abl. khra 1 ; the pl. dat. of this word is khran 1 , which is to be distinguished from khran 2, q.v., s.v.), a blacksmith, an iron worker (cf. bandka-khr, p. 111b, l. 46; K.Pr. 46; H. xi, 17); a farrier (El.). This word is often a part of a name, and in such case comes at the end (W. 118) as in Wahab khr, Wahab the smith (H. ii, 12; vi, 17). (Kashmiri) Brhm is associated with creation and knowledge divinities -- Brahma and Sarasvati, as evidenced by Indian sculptural and cultural traditions. The sculptures (pratim) of Brahma at Khajuraho and Aihole show the divinity carrying a manuscript or a stylus. Sarasvati pratim at Dhar is shown carrying a stylus (writing/inscribing instrument). Brahma, Khajuraho (15th cent.) Brahma panel, Aihole (Prince of Wales Museum) (5th cent.) Sarasvati (as Amb), Dhar. (Now in British Museum) An inscription of c. 13th cent. in Sarasvat' temple, called Bhojal, Dhar, India, showing the grammatical rules for the permissible formation of compound syllables in samskta language and writing system apparently used by priests, teachers and students in the temple which was also a school (l).

Statue of Brahma and Sarasvati, Halebid Ganesa as a scribe. Shown with a broken tusk held in his right hand, like a stylus. ca. 1000 CE, 975 CE - 1025 CE. Orissa State Museum, Bhubanesvara, Orissa, India. (Huntington: 0015767). A divinity associated with writing is Gaea or Gaapati, who is depicted in sculptures with one of the two tusks broken and holding the broken tusk in his right hand, like a stylus. The tradition holds that he was the scribe for Vedavysa who compiled the Vedic texts and authored the epic Mahbhrata. Birch-bark manuscript was found in the Bhamiyan cave region in modern Afghanistan, purportedly from the 5th century, on birch bark, and written in the Kharo script. Early extant manuscripts on birch-bark date to the 2nd and 3rd centuries, written in the Kharo script. Bhoja-Patra's use diminished in the Mughal period when paper replaced it as a writing material, but it still has a sacred status in India today.(Susan Sayre Batton, 2000, Separation anxiety: the conservation of a 5th century Gandharan manuscript, WAAC Newsletter, Vol. 22, No. 2) http://cool.conservationus.org/waac/wn/wn22/wn22-1/wn22-105.html

Delhi iron pillar. This is a monument of the bronze-age (coterminous with iron age in India with the finds of iron smelters in Ganga basin at Malhar, Raja-nal-ki-tila and Lohardiva) continuum from the days of Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization. This is a rustless wonder and has been recognized as a metallurgical marvel. On such a pillar, there was an inscription in Brhm. Detail showing the inscription. The pillar, which weighs more than six tons, is said to have been fashioned at the time of
Chandragupta Vikramaditya (375413) of the Gupta Empire. ("Delhi Iron Pillar" (in two parts), R. Balasubramaniam, IIM Metal News Volume 7, No. 2, April 2004, pp. 1117 and IIM Metal News Volume 7, No. 3, June 2004, pp. 513. Delhi Iron Pillar: New Insights. R. Balasubramaniam, Aryan Books International, Delhi, and Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, 2002. "New Insights on the 1600Year Old Corrosion Resistant Delhi Iron Pillar", R. Balasubramaniam, Indian Journal of History of Science 36 (2001) 1-49.)

Kharo and Brhm were based on the Samsktam varaml but the characters used on early epigraphs only a few were deployed to suit the requirements of Prktam language. Aokan Brhm did not have symbols for visarga, jihvmlya (tongue position), upadhmnya (blowing upon, breathing), which were introduced later when the script was used for Samsktam language. Still, the characters of the two scripts had a combination of symbols to distinguish differences I shades of sound together with the depiction of cerebral letters, aspirate consonants, anusvra,anunsika, sibilants s. The decipherment of Aokan Brhm by James Princep in the 18th century CE is a remarkable epigraphical achievement. When Brhm was adopted for other languages, from Gndhra to Srilanka, languages which had evolved and differentiated within the Indian sprachbund, some additional symbols were added to the syllabic repertoire of the scripts. It is still an open question if the characters used in both Kharo and Brhm showed any contacts with other syllabic or alphabetic scripts such as Phoenician or Aramaic and if both the scripts were entirely of Indian origin. Buhlers view was that 22 letters of Brhm script (though written from left to right) were derived from North-Semitic script (written from right to left) and some of them were found in early Phoenician records. (G. Buhler, 1859, Indian Paleography, Calcutta, Ramakrishna Maitra, Indian Studies: Past and Present,

Sambhunath Pandit Street. http://www.scribd.com/doc/64698212/Indian-Paleography-Buhler) A Aokan edicts are found not only in Brhm but also in Kharo and Aramaic, Greek scripts. Use of Kharo spread from Gndhra to Mathura region and was used by Kushan kings. Kharo was also used in an inscription at Bharhut and to mention of the scribe of an Aokan edict at Siddapur (Karnataka). Kharo was not in use beyond 3rd century CE. The continued use of Brhm and scrips derived from Brhm syllabary is an indication that this script was substantially suited to the needs of the languages of Indian sprachbund. The syllabary (varaml, garland of syllables) was also called siddham or siddhamtk, derived (between c. 600 1200 CE) from late brhm, from which are derived syllabaries in scripts like ngar or devangar of north India and Tibetan script. It also gave rise to many local scripts from medieval period. rada script was used in Kashmir valley from 8th cent. CE and was replaced by ngar by the 11th cent. CE. Ngar was used in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh on inscriptions of Silaharas, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Paramaras, Pratiharas, Yadavas of Devagiri and Vijayanagara kings of Karnataka from 8th to 16th centuries CE.The name arose from the practice of writing the word siddham or siddham astu (may there be perfection) as the starting invocation of documents. Siddham is an abugida or alphasyllabary because, each character indicates a syllable. When no other mark occurs, the short a is assumed. To indicate other vowels, the pure nasal (anusvra, marked by a dot above the line ( ), aspirated vowels (visarga) diacritic marks are used. A special mark (virama) is used to indicate that the character stands alone with no vowel, which happens at the end of Samskta words. From about the 7th century CE, Pallava, Chola and Pandya inscriptions are written in Grantha, Tamil and Vatteluttu scripts. Grantha script which has the syllabary of ngar (also Telugu-Kannada scripts) is used for writing Samsktam. Tamil script occurs in Pallava and Chola records of northern Tamil Nadu, while Vatteluttu (which does not have characters to represent ,,s,h, was used in southern Tamil Nadu and also in Kerala. A more cursive form called Koleluttu was used during 14th and 15th centuries CE. Two letters are used to represent the sound n in Tamil occurring initially or medially. Early forms of Telugu-Kannada script are found in inscriptions of early Kadambas Chalukyas, and Banavasi, between 7th to 10th centuries CE. Some samples syllables of siddham k kh g gh c ch j jh














rk a

rk i




rk e

rk ai

rk o


rka u




k ki

k ke


k ko

k au


k a


k ha


gh a



j a a



h a



nd a

ndh a

mp a


m ba

mb ha

















































Alternative forms of conjuncts that contain . a ha a ha

Many of the Buddhist texts which were taken to China along the Silk Road were written using Siddha script. Siddha script was introduced to Japan by Kkai when he returned from China in 806, where he studied Samsktam with Nalanda-trained monks including one known as Praj. By time Kkais time trading and pilgrimage routes over land to India, were closed by the expanding Islamic empire of Abbasids. Korean Buddhists still write seed syllables (in bja


mantra) in a modified form of Siddha. The best-known bja syllable is Om written in varian orthography in Siddham or ngar scripts. The sound is called praava where (lit. "to sound out loudly") and is sacred. Om is pronounced as is Pluti, (indicating a length of three morae) (long or over-long nasalized close-

mid back rounded vowel, [ose), like OOOM, O, though there are other enunciations adhered to in received traditions. It is placed at the beginning of most Hindu texts as a sacred incantation to be intoned at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or prior to any prayer or mantra. The Mkya Upaniad is entirely devoted to the explanation of the syllable. The syllable consists of three phonemes, a vaivnara, u Hirayagarbha and m vara, which symbolize the beginning, duration, and dissolution of the universe and the associated divinities Brahma, Viu, and iva, respectively. In an ancient Indian metaphysical system called Nda yoga, nda (both external and internal -- ahata external sound vibrations and anhata internal sound vibrations characterized as unbeaten, unwounded, intact sound vibrations) constitute the building blocks of cosmos, processes of increased selfrecollectedness and finally awakening of tman true self which is identical with the transcendental self called paramtman, also called Brahman or Ivara. Thus in Indian writing systems, in particular, and in Indian hermeneutics, in general, an ultimate theory of relativity is postulated linking consciousness with cosmos as an integrated knowledge system. Pinis grammar and ik, are part of the vedngas for phonetic, semantic, philological studies in the Indian traditions of education and contain references to lipikara/libikara,writer (who prepares inscriptions) (III.2.21). Vedic texts also refer to akara, grantha ka, paala, which are interpreted as terms associated with texts and writing systems. Kauilyas Arthastra (ca. 4th cent. BCE) provides evidence for the use of writing, since it states: (1) The student should learn after his tonsure ceremony, the alphabet and writing; (2) the king should correspond with his ministers (patrasampreaa); (3) the kind should his spies with signs and writings; and (4) the writer should be an able person in reading documents, prompt in composing and elegant in writing. Terms like likh, lekha, lekhana, lekhaka used in Ramayana and Mahabharata attest to the use of writing. That the early writing systems of 3500 BCE related to inscribed or incised texts by lapidaries as engravers (say, on seals or tablets or metal objects) can be surmised from the semantics of ancient Indian languages of Indian sprachbund: tkirati digs out or up VS., piles up, engraves (Skt.) Pk. ukkira, kra digs, engraves on stone (Pkt.); S. ukirau to engrave (S.) ukru to inscribe (L.); ukkar to dig, engrave (P.); ukar to collect(Garh.); ukar to scrape up, rake out (a fire), scratch, mark (M.)(CDIAL 1723). 1623 Ta. ku (ki-) to scratch, draw lines, scribble, write; n. scratch, mark, stroke, scrawl, writing; kal scratching, marking, drawing lines, writing; ku stroke, line, mark, stripe; kiukku (kiukki-) to scribble, write illegibly, cancel, score out; n. scribble, scoring out anything written; kiukkal scribbling, scoring out; (Tinn.) kcu to scratch. Ma. ku a stripe; kuka to scratch, draw lines; kiukka to erase, strike out; kcukka to scratch (as fowls). Ko. kir a mark, line. Ka. gu to scratch, scrape, draw lines or streaks; n. a line, streak, stripe; ku to scratch, scrape; gu a line, stroke; gku to scratch, scrape, etc.; gcu id., to scrawl, scribble, draw a line or lines over with a pen; n. scratch, line made with a pen, scrawling; gju to draw a line or lines over with a pen; kiuku to scratch out, erase. Ko. gic- (gici-) to make a mark by scratching. Tu. kruni, gruni to scratch, wound

slightly by the nails; kr, gr, gru scratch, superficial wound;g line, stroke, mark; gcuni to scratch over with a pen, scrawl, draw lines; ger a line, row, stroke. Kor. (T.) kt- to scrape. Te. gu to scratch, scrape, (K. also) comb with fingers; gruu scratching, scraping; (K.) giupu to pass fingers through (as feathers of a bird, etc.), pat, stroke; ga, gta stroke, line; gku to scratch, scrape, erase; gcu, gyu to scratch, scrape, draw (as a line on a surface); gu line, mark, stroke; ku layer, stratum, (B. also) line, mark, stroke;giuku, giluku to scribble; jilugu a cursive hand or writing, illegibility; (K. also) vb. to write letters illegibly without leaving spaces; (K.) jru to scratch, scrape;jra line, streak, stripe; gea line. Kol. kira stripe. Nk. (Ch.) khr line. Pa. gr line, mark. Ga. (P.) gri line. Go. (Tr.) kirwnj scratch (Voc. 690); (SR.) gtline (Voc. 1095). Kona (BB) gr id. Kui gra id., mark, scrape. Kuwi (S.) lki garri grnai to underline; (.) giri line; (Isr.) gra line on the palm of the hand. / Cf. Or. gir a line. ? Cf. Skt. kiraka- a scribe. (DEDR 1623). Gu<uzra> {V} ``to ^engrave (cut incised designs)''. !literally.*Des.<ujr-ai->(M) `to repair'.Gu<ukarei> {V} ``to ^scratch (the earth)''. *Loan. <garei> {V} ``to ^grate, to ^scrape(D), to ^scoop out''. *De.<gar->(G) `to drill, to make a hole'. @V0281,(D). #7441.(Munda etyma). The long is considered duhspa difficult. Hence, the difference explanation for 63 var-s excluding the long . This could perhaps explain the presence of a unique sound in Tamil and Malayalam languages: r (sometimes written as ) as in param fruit. (Malayalam). Varaml of Ngar (Samsktam language) paam (Tamil)

4 yamas (nasals) as: 31 svara 33 vyajana


The entire alphabet of samskta is brought together (pratyhra) in 14 ivastras by mentioning the first and the last as follows. Some letters called anubandha indicate that an abbreviation has taken place:

Vyajana + svara results in the articulation of a syllable which is represented in writing. Taittirya Upaniad (1.2.1) has six topics in ik: varah svarah mtr balam sma santnah (letter, tone, duration, force, articulation, combination). The system of varaml or Samskta syllabary propounded in ik, prtikhya and other vedic compositions of Indian phoneticians was uniquely structured and categorised, sequentially labial, dental, retroflex, palatal, velar -- based on the sequence of locations of articulations of sounds by the movement of the tongue, and breath from thorax, from the lips/nose to the throat -- as demonstrated in the diagram. (After Vedic system of sound of language in: Frits Staal, 2006, The sound pattern of Samsktam in Asia an unheralded contribution of Indian Brahmans and Buddhist monks, Bangkok, Samsktam studies central Journal. Journal of the Samsktam Studies Centre, Silpakorn University http://www.scribd.com/doc/83072056/Staal-Frits-Sound-Pattern-ofSamsktam-in-Asia) Velars are produced with the base of the tongue; palatals with the mid-tongue; coronals with the tongue blade; retroflexes with the back of the tongue blade; dentals with the tongue-tip. Certain sounds are breath-reverberant vsnupradna, unvoiced; others are sound-reverberant (ndnupradna), voiced. (Cardona, G., 1980, On the pili ik, in A.L. Basham et al., eds., A corpus of Indian studies: essays in honor of Prof. Gaurinath Sastri, Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Calcutta, pp. 245-256. loc.cit. http://sanskrit1.ccv.brown.edu/tomcat/sl/-/pub/lies_sl.pdf) is organised broadly on the basis of vowels ( lit. 'voice') and consonants ( lit. 'embellishment'), and the series of vowels and consonants is called and , respectively. The canonical order of proceeds from short vowel ( ) to the corresponding long vowel ( ) followed by diphthongs ( /). The

names of vowels consist of their sounds sometimes followed by (lit. 'maker'); thus is called - (ibid.). It is interesting to note that the Devanagari vowels other than following a consonant are written with corresponding to each vowel like , , etc. In other words, compositionally is made up of + , and is made up of + . (http://www.digitalhimalaya.com/collections/rarebooks/ http://www.darjeelingtimes.com/opinions/social/1262-2010-08-19-18-20-43.html) Staal cites Ngojibhaa who ended his Paribhenduekhara with a famous saying: grammarians rejoice over the saving of half a syllable as over the birth of a son (ardhamtrlghavena putrotsavmanyante vaiykarah). The rationality and practicality of the system led to the spread of siddham script across a wide geographical region surrounding India, involving almost all segments of society from traders to children in schools.

Spread of scripts in Asia (After http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Language_travel_from_India.png)


Geographic extent of kharo script (After http://s155239215.onlinehome.us/turkic/31Alphabet/Writing%20Map.gif ) The sequence of the Standard Arabic alphabet and the Indian alphabet is presented as follows in Kitb al-Ayn by al-Khall b. Ahmad (718/19-91 CE), teacher of Sibawayhi, author of the first fully developed grammar of Arabic (said to have been written by Khorasn):

Ancient text of Panini also refers to two languages in ik: Samsktam and Prkt. Prof Avinash Sathaye provides a textual reference on the earliest occurrence of the word, Samsktam : triaicatuh airv varh ambhumate math | prkite samskte cpi svayam prokt svayambhuv || (Pinis ik) Trans. There are considered to be 63 or 64 var-s in the school (mata) of shambhu. In Prakrit and Samsktam by swayambhu (manu, Brahma), himself, these var-s were stated.


This demonstrates that Pini knew both samskta and prkita as established languages. (Personal communication, 27 June 2010 with Prof. Shrinivas Tilak.) Chapter 17 of Bharatamunis Nyastra is a beautiful discourse about Samsktam and Prakrit and the usage of lingua franca by actors/narrators in dramatic performances. Besides, Raja Shekhara, Kalidasa, Shudraka have also used the word Samsktam for the literary language. (Personal communication from Prof. TP Verma, 7 May 2010). Nyastra XVII.29-30: dvividh jtibhca prayoge samudht mlecchaabdopacr ca bhratam varam arit The jtibh (common language), prescribed for use (on the stage) has various forms. It contains words of mleccha origin and is spoken in Bhratavara only Vtstyyana refers to mlecchita vikalpa (cipher writing of mleccha) Vtstyyanas Kamasutra lists (out of 64 arts) three arts related to language: dea bh jnam (knowledge of dialects) mlecchita vikalpa (cryptography used by mleccha) [cf. mleccha-mukha copper (Skt.); the suffix mukha is a reflex of m h ingot (Mu.)] akara muika kathanam (messaging through wrist-finger gestures).

Thus, semantically, mlecchita vikalpa as a writing system relates to cryptography (perhaps, hieroglyphic writing) and to the work of artisans (smiths). I suggest that this is a reference to Indian hieroglyphs. Since the days of Indus-Sarasvati civilization (ca. 3500 BCE) and perhaps, earlier of the paleolithic periods India was considered to be a sprachbund (linguistic area). The sprachbund had daha (dasyu) people who had two types of speech: ryavcas, mlecchavcas grammatically correct speech, ungrammatical speech, according to an ancient text (Manusamhit). This explains the range of languages which were documented during the historical periods as Samskt and Prkts which differentiatd and evolved as a number of Munda, Indo-Aryan, Dravidian languages. The existence of Indian sprachbund is further explained by positing a Language X to explain many substratum words which do not apparently relate to any of the three language families. While the languages differentiated, the scripts of many Indian languages of the historical periods, were principally based on the Vedic sound system of Brhm script exemplified by the scientifically-structured varaml garland of syllables. Thus, most of the Indian scripts, as in the case of other Asian scripts were derived from and patterned after Brhm script. Kharo script, written from right to left, an abugida (or "alphasyllabry"), was in use from the middle of the 3rd century BCE until it died out in its homeland around the 3rd century CE. It was used by the Gndhra culture of ancient Northwest South Asia (primarily modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan) to write the Gndhr language (a dialect of Prktam) and the Samsktam language. It was also in use in Kushan, Sogdiana and along the Silk Road where there is some evidence it may have survived until the 7th century in the remote way stations of Khotan and Niya in the Xinjiang and for Tocharian B in Tarim Basin.


Wooden plate of Tarim Basin, with kharo inscription in a Tocharian language. Kucha, 5th8th century.Tokyo National Museum.

Samsktam and Prktam continue to be the language of inscriptions all over India till late medieval period. In North India Prktam used during the period of Aoka, was replaced by Samsktam about the end of the 3rd century CE while it happened about a century later in South India. Besnagar (Madhya Pradesh) pillar inscription of Heliodoras who was an ambassador from the Indo-Greek king Antialkidas at the court of king Bhagabhadra of Vidisa, belonging to the end of the 2nd century B.C., though written in Prakrit language exhibits some influence of Sanskrit.
Evolution of Indian scripts; (Adapted from Daniels and Bright, The World's Writing Systems.)

Source for the chart:


http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/images/brah11.gif Regional languages of the Indian sprachbund also began to be used on inscriptions. The language of the cave inscriptions found in Tamil Nadu is considered to be an early form of Tamil language. In the cave inscriptions of Tamilnadu, the language of the southern Brhm inscriptions varying in dates from about the 2nd century BCE to about the 2nd or 3rd century CE is said to be early Tamil. Copper-plate charters of the Pallavas, the Choras and the Pyas are written in both Samsktam and Tamil languages, though some of the Pallava grants like Vunnaguruvayapalem plates of Paramesvaravarman I (7th century CE) and Reyjru plates of Narasimhavarman II (8th century CE) are written entirely in Samsktam. Kannaa language is found used in the inscriptions dating from about the 6th century CE onwards. The Halmii (Belur Taluk, Shimoga District) inscriptionsand the Vaiava cave inscriptionat Badami (Bijapur District) in Karnataka State are considered to be the earliest epigraphs written in Kannaa language. AN inscription of Jinavallabha, brother of the famous Kannaa poet Pampa, is written in three languages, viz., Samsktam, Kannaa and Telugu. Telugu language is used in inscriptions belonging to the 6th or 7th century CE while some Telugu place-names are mentioned in earlier records. The Kalamalla inscription of Erikal-Muthuraju Dhanajaya assigned to the last quarter of the 6th century CE is considered to be the earliest record completely written in Telugu. From 15th century CE Malayam language appears in the inscriptions, although in an earlier Tamil inscription of the 13th century CE, Malayam influence is noticed. The Attingal inscription of 1452 CE and the Tonnal inscription of 1474 CE are written in Malayam language. Marathi is found used in early records of the 11th century CE and the earliest epigraph in which this language is used is the Dive Agar copper-plate inscription dated saka 982 or 1060 CE. Oriya language appears in inscriptions from 13th century CE, though the influence of this language in records written in Sanskrit language appears as early as 10th century CE. Some copper-plate grants are partly in Sanskrit and partly in Oriya languages while the Veligalani grant of the Gajapati king Kapilesvara (15th century CE) is written in Oriya, Sanskrit and Telugu. Use of Hindi language is traced to 11th century CE on the basis of a Jaina image inscription found at Shyopur in Madhya Pradesh. Gujarati is used in the records of the 15th century CE (Kathiawar); a few inscriptions of earlier date from the same area are written in Sanskrit and Gujarati. Copper-plates of Tripura king Govindamanikya (15th century CE) are mainly written in Bengali language. Scripts outside India


Evolution of Southeast Asian scripts; Source for the chart:

http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/images/south1.gif Brhm is the source for ancient scripts in Sri Lanka, Burma, and south-east Asian countries: Java, Sumatra, Cambodia. Present alphabets of Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Annam, Cambodia are derived from Brhm. The inscriptions from 4th to 6th century CE are in Samsktam language and in versified form and some scripts are influenced by Pallava-Grantha script.

(Source: GS Gai, ed., 1986, Introduction to Indian Epigraphy, Mysore: Central Institute for Indian Languages http://www.ciil-ebooks.net/html/iie/contents.htm)


The Kharosthi Script was more or less contemporarily with the Brahmi script, appearing around the 3rd century BCE mainly in modern-day northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, although some examples do occur in India. Like Brahmi, Kharosthi seemed to have been developed for Prakrit dialects (which was the common speech of everyday life as opposed to Sanskrit which was the liturgic language). For instance, the earliest example of Brahmi and Kharosthi did not have the dipthongs /ai/, /au/, and the vocalic /r/ and /l/, which existed in Sanskrit but not in Prakrit. In particular, Kharosthi seemed to be used primarily for the Prakrit dialect of Gandhari, the language of the ancient kingdom of Gandhara. The evidence for this is in the form of a diacritic mark that denotes a transformation of an intervocalic constant (sometimes from a stop to a fricative), which existed in Gandhari. Structurally, the Kharosthi and the Brahmi are nearly identical. The "letters" in both represent a constant followed by the short vowel /a/ (we'll denote this a "C-a" sign). Both denote change in vowel by adding marks to a sign. Consonant clusters are formed in both system by juxtaposing two signs closely together, sometimes forming a ligature. There are some difference, though. For one, while Brahmi had different signs for different initial vowels, Kharosthi used the same marks that change vowels in C-a signs on the sign for initial /a/ to denote other initial vowels. Another difference is that while Brahmi differentiated long and short version of the same vowel, Kharosthi used the same sign for both. Eventually the Kharosthi Script fell out of use by the 3rd or 4th century CE, and the descendent of Brahmi eventually took hold in the northwestern South Asian. This is the basic Kharosthi script.


And an example of strokes added to indicate different vowels following the consonant /k/.

http://www.ancientscripts.com/kharosthi.html Kharosthi alphabet Origin The Kharosthi alphabet was invented sometime during the 3rd century BC and was possibly derived from the Aramaic alphabet. It was widely used in northwest India and central Asia until the 4th century AD. Unlike the Brahmi script, which was invented at around the same time and spawned many of the modern scripts of India and South East Asia, Kharosthi had no descendants.


Kharoshti was deciphered by James Prinsep and others around the middle of the 19th century. Since then further material has been found and the script is now better understood. Notable features Kharosthi is a syllabic alphabet - each letter has an inherent vowel /a/. Other vowels are indicated using diacritics.

It was written from right to left in horizontal lines.

Used to write: Gandhari and Sanskrit Kharosthi alphabet Consonants


Brahmi Quick Facts Type Location Time Direction Syllabic Alphabetic South Asia 5th century BCE to 4th century CE Variable (Horizontal) Genealogy Brahmi

The Brahmi script is one of the most important writing systems in the world by virtue of its time depth and influence. It represents the earliest post-Indus corpus of texts, and some of the earliest historical inscriptions found in India. Most importantly, it is the ancestor to hundreds of scripts found in South, Southeast, and East Asia. This elegant script appeared in India most certainly by the 5th century BCE, but the fact that it had many local variants even in the early texts suggests that its origin lies further back in time. There are several theories on to the origin of the Brahmi script. The first theory is that Brahmi has a West Semitic origin. For instance, the symbol for a resembles Semitic letter 'alif. Similarly, dha, tha, la, and ra all appear quite close to their Semitic counterparts. Another theory, from a slightly different school of thought, proposes aSouthern Semitic origin. Finally, the third theory holds that the Brahmi script came from Indus Script. However, at least in my personal opinion, the lack of any textual evidence between the end of the Harappan period at around 1900 BC and the first Brahmi and Kharoshthi inscriptions at roughly 500 BC makes the Indus origin of Brahmi highly unlikely. Yet on the other hand, the way Brahmi, and its relative Kharosthi, works is quite different from Semitic scripts, and may point to either a stimulus-diffusion or even indigenous origin. The situation is complex and confusing, and more research should be conducted to either prove or disprove any of the theories. Brahmi is a "syllabic alphabet", meaning that each sign can be either a simple consonant or a syllable with the consonant and the inherent vowel /a/. Other syllabic alphabets outside of South Asia include Old Persian and Merotic. However, unlike these two system, Brahmi (and all subsequent Brahmi-derived scripts) indicates the same consonant with a different vowel by drawing extra strokes, called matras, attached to the character. Ligatures are used to indicate consonant clusters. The following chart is the basic Brahmi script. There are many variations to the basic letter form, but I have simplified it here so that the most canonical shape is presented.


And an example of strokes added to indicate different vowels following the consonants /k/ and /l/.

The Brahmi script was the ancestor of all South Asian Writing Systems. In addition, many East and Southeast Asian scripts, such as Burmese, Thai, Tibetan, and even Japanese to a very small extent (vowel order), were also ultimately derived from the Brahmi script. Thus the Brahmi script was the Indian equivalent of the Greek script that gave arise to a host of different systems. You can take a look at the evolution of Indian scripts, or the evolution of Southeast Asian

scripts. Both of these pages are located at the very impressive site Languages and Scripts of India. You can also take a look at Asoka's edict at Girnar, inscribed in the Brahmi script.

http://www.ancientscripts.com/brahmi.html Comparison of Brahmi, Kharosthi Myanmar and Telugu scripts


Vowel aksharas

Consonant aksharas

Selected Indian languages: alphabet comparison Gutturals














And here are the vowels . Again many many thanks to Golshani . Vowels


Source: http://www.ukindia.com/zalph.htm


The following is the basic Kashmiri script.

Vowels and other attachments:


Bengali is a Nagari-derived script that appeared in eastern South Asia around the 11th century CE. It is still currently used in Bangladesh, as well as the state of West Bengal in India (hence the script's name) on the eastern part of India. The old Bengali script (11th century CE) is also the parent to many other scripts of eastern India, such as Oriya, Manipuri, and Maithili. The Bengali script is used to writer languages in eastern India such as Bengali, Assamese, and Manipuri.

Once again, like other South Asian writing systems, vowels following a consonant other than the default /a/ is written with extra strokes, as in the following example:



The basic signs of the Oriya script.

As in other South Asian scripts, vowels other than the default /a/ are indicated by extra strokes:

http://www.ancientscripts.com/oriya.html The following is the basic set of signs in the early Landa script.

http://www.ancientscripts.com/landa.html The following is the basic Sarada alphabet from the 9th century CE.


Note: Sarada is also alternatively known as Sharada, Sarda, and Sharda. http://www.ancientscripts.com/sarada.html


The Takri script derives from the Sarada script and was used in the western regions of the Himalayas. By the early 20th century, the Takri script has been replaced by Devanagari. The following is the basic Takri script.

Similar to other South Asian scripts, representation of vowels other than /a/ is achieved using diacritical marks called matras placed around the letter.

http://www.ancientscripts.com/takri.html The following is the basic set of signs in the early Landa script.



Tamil Brahmi Script


Development of the Tamil Brahmi Script into Vattezhuthu and Tamil Script


Geneaology of Brhm syllabary in Modern scripts of South Asia

Source: http://www.ancientscripts.com/sa_ws_cmp.html


Source: http://www.koausa.org/Languages/Sharda.html


Arabic numerals using Scripts from India

Photo: From top - Modern Arabic (western); Early Arabic (western); Arabic Letters (used as numerals); Modern Arabic (eastern); Early Arabic (eastern); Early Devanagari (Indian); Later Devanagari The system of numeration employed throughout the greater part of the world today was probably developed in India, but because it was the Arabs who transmitted this system to the West the numerals it uses have come to be called Arabic. After extending Islam throughout the Middle East, the Arabs began to assimilate the cultures of the peoples they had subdued. One of the great centers of learning was Baghdad, where Arab, Greek, Persian, Jewish, and other scholars pooled their cultural heritages and where in 771 an Indian scholar appeared, bringing with him a treatise on astronomy using the Indian numerical system. Source: http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/IHAME/Ref6.htm Grantha script in modern form


Source: http://www.tnarch.gov.in/epi/ins3.htm Comparison of Grantha with other Cognate Scripts


Vowel signs

Note: As in Devangar e and o in Grantha stand for [e] and [o]. Originally also Malayalam and Tamil scripts did not distinguish long and short e and o, though both languages have the phonemes /e/ /e/ and /o/ /o/. The addition of extra signs for /e/ and /o/ is attributed to the Italian missionary Constanzo Beschi (16801774).


Consonant signs The Tami letters and the ligature

ka are called "Grantha letters" and

not Tamil, as they were introduced from Grantha into the Tami script to render non-Tamil words (Sanskrit, Pali in early days now it is used to many other languages). The letters and the corresponding sounds occur only in Dravidian languages.

Source: http://www.enotes.com/topic/Grantha_script

(p.30) The Proximate Source of the Siamese Alphabet Cornelius Beach Bradley Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association , Vol. 43, (1912), pp. 23-33 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/282748

Thai alphabet for Sanskrit These are the Thai letters used to write Sanskrit.

Urdu has been written with a version of the Perso-Arabic script since the 12th century and is normally written in Nastaliq style. The word Urdu is Turkish for 'foreign' or 'horde'. Urdu abjad


The letter nn-e unnah appears only at the ends of words. Urdu numerals


Further reading:

http://www.ancientscripts.com/brahmi.html http://www.omniglot.com/ http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/scripts.html Languages and scripts of India malaiya@cs.colostate.edu http://malaiya.tripod.com/ranjana/ Ranjana (Lantsa) script Christopher John Fynn Verma, T.P., 1971, Paleography of Brahmi script in North India from c. 236 BCE to c. 200 AD , Varanasi, Siddharth Prakashan http://www.payer.de/exegese/exeg03.htm#Schriften Einfhrung in die Exegese von Sanskrittexten : Skript (Historical classification of Brahmi derived scripts; Introduction to the exegesis of Sanskrit texts: Script) http://titus.uni-frankfurt.de/texte/tocharic/index.html Digitization of Tocharian Manuscripts (Manuscript images) http://www.virtualvinodh.com/grantha-lipitva Grantha script lessons by Vinod http://asi.nic.in/asi_epigraphical_sans_antiquity.asp Epigraphical Studies in India - Sanskrit and Dravidian; Antiquity of writing in India, The early scripts and Pioneers of Indian Epigraphy