Tuesday, October 15, 2013

76. Devanāgarī

(देवनागरी लिपि)

The Nāgarī or Devanāgarī alphabet developed from eastern variants of the Gupta script called Nāgarī, which first emerged during the 8th century. This script was starting to resemble the modern Devanāgarī alphabet by the 10th century, and started to replace Siddham from about 1200.
The name Devanāgarī is made up of two Sanskrit words: deva, which means god, brahman or celestial, and nāgarī, which means city. The name is variously translated as "script of the city", "heavenly/sacred script of the city" or "[script of the] city of the Gods or priests".

Notable Features

  • Type of writing system: alphasyllabary / abugida.
  • Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines.
  • Consonant letters carry an inherent vowel which can be altered or muted by means of diacritics or matra.
  • Vowels can be written as independent letters, or by using a variety of diacritical marks which are written above, below, before or after the consonant they belong to. This feature is common to most of the alphabets of South and South East Asia.
  • When consonants occur together in clusters, special conjunct letters are used.
  • The order of the letters is based on articulatory phonetics.

Used to write:

Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Kurukh, Maithili, Marathi, Marwari, Mundari, Nepal Bhasa / Newari, Nepali, Pali, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Saraiki, Sindhi, Sunuwar, Sylheti and many other languages.

Devanāgarī alphabet

Devanāgarī vowels and vowel diacritics

Other symbols

Other Devanāgarī symbols


Devanāgarī consonants

Variant letters

Some letters are two forms: the Classical, Northern or Kalikata (Calcutta) form is used in the north of India; while the Modern, Southern or Mumbai (Bombay) form is used in the south India and has become the standard form.
Devanāgarī variant letters

A selection of conjunct consonants

There are about a thousand conjunct consonants, most of which combine two or three consonants. There are also some with four-consonant conjuncts and at least one well-known conjunct with five consonants.
A selection of Sanskrit conjunct consonants
Complete chart of conjunct consonants
Download the chart (Excel, 39K)


Devanāgarī numerals
More information about the Devanagari Script


Information about Devanagari
An archive of Sanskrit dictionaries, readers & grammars in German, English & Russian. (circa 4000 Mb Book Scans, devanagari fonts): http://groups.google.com/group/Nagari
Devanagari script tutor
Devanagari fonts
Download free devanagari fonts & transliteration macros. History and hi-res scans of Indian typography: http://nagari.southindia.ru


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