Sanskrit is the classical language of Indian and the liturgical language
of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is also one of the 22 official languages
of India. The name Sanskrit means "refined", "consecrated" and "sanctified".
It has always been regarded as the 'high' language and used mainly for
religious and scientific discourse.
Vedic Sanskrit, the pre-Classical form of the language and the liturgical
language of the Vedic religion, is one of the earliest attested members of the
Indo-European language family. The oldest known text in Sanskrit, the Rigveda,
a collection of over a thousand Hindu hymns, composed during the 2nd millenium BC.
Today Sanskrit is used mainly in Hindu religious rituals as a ceremonial
language for hymns and mantras. Efforts are also being made to revive Sanskrit
as an everyday spoken language in the village of Mattur near Shimoga in Karnataka.
A modern form of Sanskrit is one of the 17 official home languages in India.
Since the late 19th century, Sanskrit has been written mostly with the
Devanāgarī alphabet. However it has also been written with
all the other alphabets of India, except Gurmukhi and Tamil, and with
other alphabets such as Thai and
Tibetan. The Grantha,
Sharda and Siddham
alphabets are used only for Sanskrit.
Since the late 18th century, Sanskrit has also been written with the Latin
alphabet. The most commonly used system is the International Alphabet of Sanskrit
Transliteration (IAST), which was been the standard for academic work since 1912.
Devanāgarī alphabet for Sanskrit
Vowels and vowel diacritics (घोष / ghoṣa)
Consonants (व्यञ्जन / vyajjana)
Conjunct consonants (संयोग / saṅyoga)
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. Here's a selection
of commonly-used conjuncts:
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ
samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā
adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē.
Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ
santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason
and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
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