Sanskrit : Summary


In this lesson, we have seen the aksharas of Sanskrit. The vowels and consonants were introduced independently. The concept of conjunct characters was also discussed and examples of the writing methods for conjuncts were shown.

The student should practice writing the aksharas and slowly develop the skills to identify the aksharas and thus read short sentences.

Typesetting Devanagari

Typesetting Devanagari is a complex job involving careful selection of typefaces for each of the conjuncts. The form of writing the consonants one below the other was not favoured for conjuncts with more than two consonants since this would increase the vertical height of the conjunct. When it was indeed done, the individual consonants had to be reduced in size to such an extent that in some cases intelligiblity became a problem.

We must mention here the contributions from Franz Velthuis, Dominik Wujastyk and more recently Wikner, who have made available a fine facility to print Devanagari through Tex, a typesetting Program developed by Prof. Knuth. Much of the work related to transliterated forms of Devanagari input (such as ITRANS) is credited to their work. In particular, Wikner has designed nearly a thousand conjuncts. The software relating to this is usually seen in the archives for Tex. Interested readers may take a look at Wikner's conjuncts by printing the document sktdoc.600ps available from

[Note: The FTP site appeared to be down at the time this document was converted to Unicode.]

The normal practice in India (during the past 50 years or so) has been to use the half form as well the one below the other form effectively so as not to increase the vertical height of the character. The choice of combining the half forms with vertically arranged combinations was often exercised by the typesetter and so it is not unusual to find different representations for the same conjunct.

Continue to exercise.

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Unicode conversion from original site (IIT Madras) completed by Walter Stanish. Hosted at pratyeka.