A report on Sanskrit and Brahmic scripts

Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century. The red horizontal and vertical lines mark low and high pitch changes for chanting.
A Sanskrit Phrase in different Brahmic Scripts.
A 17th-century birch bark manuscript of Pāṇini's grammar treatise from Kashmir
A map of Indo-Aryan languages using their respective Brahmic family scripts (except dark blue colored Khowar, Pashai, Kohistani, and Urdu, not marked here, which use Arabic-derived scripts).
An early use of the word for "Sanskrit" in Late Brahmi script (also called Gupta script): Gupta ashoka sam.jpgGupta ashoka skrr.jpgGupta ashoka t.svg Saṃ-skṛ-ta 
Mandsaur stone inscription of Yashodharman-Vishnuvardhana, 532 CE.
A map of Dravidian languages using their respective Brahmic family scripts (except Brahui, which uses an Arabic-derived script).
Sanskrit's link to the Prakrit languages and other Indo-European languages
A fragment of Ashoka's 6th pillar edict, in Brahmi, the ancestor of all Brahmic scripts
The Spitzer Manuscript is dated to about the 2nd century CE (above: folio 383 fragment). Discovered in the Kizil Caves, near the northern branch of the Central Asian Silk Route in northwest China, it is the oldest Sanskrit philosophical manuscript known so far.
Spread of Brahmic family of scripts (and Kharosthi) from India
A 5th-century Sanskrit inscription discovered in Java, Indonesia—one of the earliest in southeast Asia after the Mulavarman inscription discovered in Kutai, eastern Borneo. The Ciaruteun inscription combines two writing scripts and compares the king to the Hindu god Vishnu. It provides a terminus ad quem to the presence of Hinduism in the Indonesian islands. The oldest southeast Asian Sanskrit inscription—called the Vo Canh inscription—so far discovered is near Nha Trang, Vietnam, and it is dated to the late 2nd century to early 3rd century CE.
Sanskrit language's historical presence has been attested in many countries. The evidence includes manuscript pages and inscriptions discovered in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Central Asia. These have been dated between 300 and 1800 CE.
One of the oldest surviving Sanskrit manuscript pages in Gupta script (c. 828 CE), discovered in Nepal
One of the oldest Hindu Sanskrit inscriptions, the broken pieces of this early-1st-century BCE Hathibada Brahmi Inscription were discovered in Rajasthan. It is a dedication to deities Vāsudeva-Samkarshana (Krishna-Balarama) and mentions a stone temple.
in the form of a terracotta plaque
Sanskrit in modern Indian and other Brahmi scripts: May Śiva bless those who take delight in the language of the gods. (Kālidāsa)
One of the earliest known Sanskrit inscriptions in Tamil Grantha script at a rock-cut Hindu Trimurti temple (Mandakapattu, c. 615 CE)
The ancient Yūpa inscription (one of the earliest and oldest Sanskrit texts written in ancient Indonesia) dating back to the 4th century CE written by Brahmins under the rule of King Mulavarman of the Kutai Martadipura Kingdom located in eastern Borneo
Sanskrit festival at Pramati Hillview Academy, Mysore, India

Sanskrit does not have an attested native script: from around the turn of the 1st-millennium CE, it has been written in various Brahmic scripts, and in the modern era most commonly in Devanagari.

- Sanskrit

Each consonant has an inherent vowel which is usually a short ‘ə’ (in Bengali, Assamese and Odia, the phoneme is /ɔ/ due to sound shifts). Other vowels are written by adding to the character. A mark, known in Sanskrit as a virama/halanta, can be used to indicate the absence of an inherent vowel.

- Brahmic scripts
Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century. The red horizontal and vertical lines mark low and high pitch changes for chanting.

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A northern example of Brahmi epigraphy: ancient terracotta sculpture from Sugh "Child learning Brahmi", showing the first letters of the Brahmi alphabet, 2nd century BCE.

Brahmi script

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Writing system of ancient South Asia that appeared as a fully developed script in the third century BCE.

Writing system of ancient South Asia that appeared as a fully developed script in the third century BCE.

A northern example of Brahmi epigraphy: ancient terracotta sculpture from Sugh "Child learning Brahmi", showing the first letters of the Brahmi alphabet, 2nd century BCE.
A later (mistaken) theory of a pictographic-acrophonic origin of the Brahmi script, on the model of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script, by Alexander Cunningham in 1877.
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Coin of Agathocles with Hindu deities, in Greek and Brahmi.
Obverse: Balarama-Samkarshana with Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ.
Reverse: Vasudeva-Krishna with Brahmi legend:𑀭𑀸𑀚𑀦𑁂 𑀅𑀕𑀣𑀼𑀓𑁆𑀮𑀬𑁂𑀲 Rājane Agathukleyesa "King Agathocles". Circa 180 BCE.
A 2nd-century BCE Tamil Brahmi inscription from Arittapatti, Madurai India. The southern state of Tamil Nadu has emerged as a major source of Brahmi inscriptions dated between 3rd to 1st centuries BCE.
A proposed connection between the Brahmi and Indus scripts, made in the 19th century by Alexander Cunningham.
The word Lipī used by Ashoka to describe his "Edicts". Brahmi script (Li= La+ i; pī= Pa+ ii). The word would be of Old Persian origin ("Dipi").
Connections between Phoenician (4th column) and Brahmi (5th column). Note that 6th-to-4th-century BCE Aramaic (not shown) is in many cases intermediate in form between the two.
The Prakrit word "Dha-ṃ-ma" (Dharma) in the Brahmi script, as inscribed by Ashoka in his Edicts. Topra Kalan pillar, now in New Delhi (3rd century BCE).
Calligraphical evolution: 3rd century BCE calligraphy (top), and a sample of the new calligraphic style introduced by the Indo-Scythians (bottom, fragment of the Mirzapur stele inscription, in the vicinity of Mathura, circa 15 CE). The text is Svāmisya Mahakṣatrapasya Śudasasya "Of the Lord and Great Satrap Śudāsa"
Classification of Brahmi characters by James Prinsep in March 1834. The structure of Brahmi (consonantal characters with vocalic "inflections") was properly identified, but the individual values of characters remained undetermined, except for four of the vocalic inflections. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Volume 3 (March 1834).
Norwegian scholar Christian Lassen used the bilingual Greek-Brahmi coinage of Indo-Greek king Agathocles to correctly achieve in 1836 the first secure decipherement of several letters of the Brahmi script, which was later completed by James Prinsep.
Consonants of the Brahmi script, and evolution down to modern Devanagari, according to James Prinsep, as published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, in March 1838. All the letters are correctly deciphered, except for two missing on the right: 𑀰(ś) and 𑀱(ṣ). Vowels and compounds [[:File:Brahmi script vowels according to James Prinsep March 1838.jpg|here]]. All scripts derived from Brahmi are gathered under the term "Brahmic scripts".
danam
The word Brā-hmī in modern Brahmi font
Brahmi consonants.
Some major conjunct consonants in the Brahmi script.
Early Brahmi vowel diacritics.
The Brahmi symbol for /ka/, modified to represent different vowels
A 1st century BCE/CE inscription from Sanchi: "Vedisakehi daṃtakārehi rupakaṃmaṃ kataṃ" (, "Ivory workers from Vidisha have done the carving").
Middle Brahmi vowel diacritics
1800 years separate these two inscriptions: Brahmi script of the 3rd century BCE (Edict of Ashoka), and its derivative, 16th century CE Devanagari script (1524 CE), on the Delhi-Topra pillar.
Kya (vertical assembly of consonants "Ka" Brahmi k.svg and "Ya" Brahmi y.svg), as in "Sa-kya-mu-nī " ( 𑀲𑀓𑁆𑀬𑀫𑀼𑀦𑀻, "Sage of the Shakyas")
Sva (Sa+Va)
Sya (Sa+Ya)
Hmī (Ha+Ma+i+i), as in the word "Brāhmī" (𑀩𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀳𑁆𑀫𑀻).
Early/Middle Brahmi legend on the coinage of Chastana: RAJNO MAHAKSHATRAPASA GHSAMOTIKAPUTRASA CHASHTANASA "Of the Rajah, the Great Satrap, son of Ghsamotika, Chashtana". 1st–2nd century CE.<ref>{{cite book |title=Seaby's Coin and Medal Bulletin: July 1980 |date=1980 |publisher=Seaby Publications Ltd. |page=219 |url=https://archive.org/details/seabyscoinmedalb1980base_r0l5/page/218}}</ref>
Inscribed Kushan statue of Western Satraps King Chastana, with inscription "Shastana" in Middle Brahmi script of the Kushan period (Gupta ashoka ss.svg{{sub|Gupta ashoka sta.jpg}}Gupta ashoka n.svg Ṣa-sta-na).<ref name="JBO">"The three letters give us a complete name, which I read as Ṣastana (vide facsimile and cast). Dr. Vogel read it as Mastana but that is incorrect for Ma was always written with a circular or triangular knob below with two slanting lines joining the knob" in {{cite book |title=Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society |date=1920 |publisher=The Society |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=yKZEAQAAMAAJ |language=en}}</ref>
The rulers of the Western Satraps were called Mahākhatapa ("Great Satrap") in their Brahmi script inscriptions, as here in a dedicatory inscription by Prime Minister Ayama in the name of his ruler Nahapana, Manmodi Caves, circa 100 CE.<ref>{{cite book|last1=Burgess|first1=Jas|title=Archaeological Survey Of Western India|date=1883|page=103|url=https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.35775}}</ref>
Nasik Cave inscription No.10. of Nahapana, Cave No.10.
Gupta script on stone Kanheri Caves, one of the earliest descendants of Brahmi
The Gopika Cave Inscription of Anantavarman, in the Sanskrit language and using the Gupta script. Barabar Caves, Bihar, or 6th century CE.
Coin of Alchon Huns ruler Mihirakula. Obv: Bust of king, with legend in Gupta script (Gupta_allahabad_j.svg)Gupta_allahabad_y.svgGupta_allahabad_tu.jpg{{sup|Gupta_allahabad_mi.jpg}}{{sup|Gupta ashoka hi.jpg}}Gupta_allahabad_r.svgGupta_allahabad_ku.jpgGupta_allahabad_l.svg,<ref>The "h" (Gupta ashoka h.svg) is an early variant of the Gupta script</ref> (Ja)yatu Mihirakula ("Let there be victory to Mihirakula").<ref>{{cite book |last1=Verma |first1=Thakur Prasad |title=The Imperial Maukharis: History of Imperial Maukharis of Kanauj and Harshavardhana |date=2018 |publisher=Notion Press |isbn=9781643248813 |page=264 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=09FqDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT264 |language=hi}}</ref><ref>{{cite book |last1=Sircar |first1=D. C. |title=Studies in Indian Coins |date=2008 |publisher=Motilal Banarsidass |isbn=9788120829732 |page=376 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=m1JYwP5tVQUC&pg=PA376 |language=en}}</ref><ref>{{cite book |last1=Tandon |first1=Pankaj | pages=24–34|title=Notes on the Evolution of Alchon Coins Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society, No. 216, Summer 2013 |date=2013 |publisher= Oriental Numismatic Society |url=http://coinindia.com/galleries-alchon-early.html}} also Coinindia Alchon Coins (for an exact description of this coin type)</ref>
Sanchi inscription of Chandragupta II.

Its descendants, the Brahmic scripts, continue to be used today across South and Southeast Asia.

The underlying system of numeration, however, was older, as the earliest attested orally transmitted example dates to the middle of the 3rd century CE in a Sanskrit prose adaptation of a lost Greek work on astrology.

Telugu script

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Telugu script (తెలుగు లిపి), an abugida from the Brahmic family of scripts, is used to write the Telugu language, a Dravidian language spoken in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as several other neighbouring states.

The Telugu script is also widely used for writing Sanskrit texts and to some extent the Gondi language.

Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra in Siddham on palm-leaf in 609 CE. Hōryū-ji, Japan. The last line is a complete Sanskrit syllabary in Siddhaṃ script.

Devanagari

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Left-to-right abugida (a type of segmental writing system), based on the ancient Brāhmī script, used in the Indian subcontinent.

Left-to-right abugida (a type of segmental writing system), based on the ancient Brāhmī script, used in the Indian subcontinent.

Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra in Siddham on palm-leaf in 609 CE. Hōryū-ji, Japan. The last line is a complete Sanskrit syllabary in Siddhaṃ script.
Vowel diacritics on क
The Jnanesvari is a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, dated to 1290 CE. It is in written in Marathi using Devanagari script.
A few palm leaves from the Buddhist Sanskrit text Shisyalekha composed in the 5th century by Candragomin. Shisyalekha was written in Devanagari script by a Nepalese scribe in 1084 CE (above). The manuscript is in the Cambridge University library.
A mid 10th-century college land grant in Devanagari inscription (Sanskrit) discovered on a buried, damaged stone in north Karnataka. Parts of the inscription are in Canarese script.
Indic scripts share common features, and along with Devanagari, all major Indic scripts have been historically used to preserve Vedic and post-Vedic Sanskrit texts.
Devanagari INSCRIPT bilingual keyboard layout
Devanagari Phonetic Keyboard Layout

In a cursory look, the Devanagari script appears different from other Indic scripts such as Bengali-Assamese, or Gurmukhi, but a closer examination reveals they are very similar except for angles and structural emphasis.

Among the languages using it – as either their only script or one of their scripts – are Marathi, Pāḷi, Sanskrit (the ancient Nagari script for Sanskrit had two additional consonantal characters), Hindi, Boro, Nepali, Sherpa, Prakrit, Apabhramsha, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Braj Bhasha, Chhattisgarhi, Haryanvi, Magahi, Nagpuri, Rajasthani, Bhili, Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Sindhi, Nepal Bhasa, Mundari, and Santali.

A bilingual sign in Malayalam and Latin script (English) at Changaramkulam, Malappuram, Kerala

Malayalam script

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A bilingual sign in Malayalam and Latin script (English) at Changaramkulam, Malappuram, Kerala
The Quilon Syrian copper plates (849/850 CE) is the available oldest inscription written in Old Malayalam. Besides Old Malayalam, the copper plate also contains signatures in Arabic (Kufic script), Middle Persian (cursive Pahlavi script) and Judeo-Persian (standard square Hebrew) scripts.
A medieval Tigalari manuscript (Bears high similarity with modern Malayalam script)
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The Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University is situated at Thunchan Parambu, Tirur, Malappuram
Grantha, Tigalari and Malayalam scripts
Malayalam script in mobile phone
Malayalam letters
Words written in Malayalam script
A Malayalam sign. Notice the word-initial a അ in akkādami, and the vowel sign ē േ in Kēraḷa.
A signboard including Malayalam at Mina, Saudi Arabia
Malayalam vowel signs combined with letter ക (ka)
Malayalam letters on old Travancore Rupee coin
A Malayalam signboard from Kannur, Kerala. Malayalam is official language in the Indian state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puduchery

Malayalam script ( / Malayalam: മലയാളലിപി) is a Brahmic script used commonly to write Malayalam, which is the principal language of Kerala, India, spoken by 45 million people in the world.

It is one of 22 scheduled languages of India Malayalam script is also widely used for writing Sanskrit texts in Kerala.

A Chera era Grantha inscription.

Grantha script

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A Chera era Grantha inscription.
8th century Velvikudi grant inscription in the Grantha script (Sanskrit language).
Pratyāhāra Sūtras in Grantha Script
The word 'Grantha' in modern Grantha typeface
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A manuscript page
A Vedic text's palm leaf manuscript (Samaveda) in Grantha script
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The Grantha script (கிரந்த எழுத்து; ഗ്രന്ഥലിപി) is a South Indian script, found particularly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

This early Grantha script was used to write Sanskrit texts, inscriptions on copper plates and stones of Hindu temples and monasteries.

Brahmi script, Kanheri Caves

Kannada script

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Brahmi script, Kanheri Caves
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Clock in Mysore with Kannada numerals

The Kannada script (IAST: Kannaḍa lipi; obsolete: Kanarese or Canarese script in English) is an abugida of the Brahmic family, used to write Kannada, one of the Dravidian languages of South India especially in the state of Karnataka.

Kannada script is also widely used for writing Sanskrit texts in Karnataka.

Sample of the Odia alphabet from a Buddhist text from around 1060 AD, written by Sarahapada

Odia script

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Sample of the Odia alphabet from a Buddhist text from around 1060 AD, written by Sarahapada
Temple inscription showing 13th century Siddhaṃ script variant ancestor of modern Odia script at Ananta Vasudeva Temple
15th century copper plate grant of Gajapati emperor Purushottama Deva, showing the distinct formation of the shape of the modern Odia script
Development of Odia scripts
A detailed chart depicting evolution of the Odia script as displayed in a museum at Ratnagiri, Odisha
Om symbol
Om symbol (joint variant)
Consonant ligatures
Karani script sample from Purnachandra Odia Bhashakosha
Development of ancient numerals in Odia
Palm leaf manuscript written in Odia language
Palm leaf manuscript written in Odia language
Palm leaf-jatak manuscript
Jataka
Palm leaf manuscript of Draupadi Lakhabindha in Odia
14th-century Adhyatma Ramayana manuscript written in Sanskrit, Odia script
Dahuka boli
Guru Gita, Skanda Purana, Sanskrit, Odia script
Odia manuscript
Odia manuscript
Odia manuscript
Odia calligraphy

The Odia script (ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଅକ୍ଷର) is a Brahmic script used to write primarily Odia language and others including Sanskrit and other regional languages.

Southeast Asia

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Geographical south-eastern region of Asia, consisting of the regions that are situated south of Mainland China, east of the Indian subcontinent, and north of Australia.

Geographical south-eastern region of Asia, consisting of the regions that are situated south of Mainland China, east of the Indian subcontinent, and north of Australia.

States and regions of Southeast Asia
A political map of Southeast Asia
Megalithic statue found in Tegurwangi, Sumatra, Indonesia 1500 CE
The Austroasiatic and Austronesian expansions into Maritime Southeast Asia.
Bronze drum from Sông Đà, northern Vietnam. Mid-1st millennium BC
Spread of Hinduism from South Asia to Southeast Asia
Borobudur temple in Central Java, Indonesia
Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Wapauwe Old Mosque is the oldest surviving mosque in Indonesia, and the second oldest in Southeast Asia, built in 1414
Strait of Malacca
Colonial boundaries in Southeast Asia
Fort Cornwallis in George Town marks the spot where the British East India Company first landed in Penang in 1786, thus heralding the British colonisation of Malaya
Duit, a coin minted by the VOC, 1646–1667. 2 kas, 2 duit
Relief map of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia map of Köppen climate classification
Komodo dragon in Komodo National Park, Indonesia
The Philippine eagle
Wallace's hypothetical line divides Indonesian Archipelago into 2 types of fauna, Australasian and Southeast Asian fauna. The deepwater of the Lombok Strait between the islands of Bali and Lombok formed a water barrier even when lower sea levels linked the now-separated islands and landmasses on either side
The Port of Singapore is the busiest transshipment and container port in the world, and is an important transportation and shipping hub in Southeast Asia
Along with its temples Cambodia has been promoting its coastal resorts. Island off Otres Beach Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Population distribution of the countries of Southeast Asia (with Indonesia split into its major islands).
Ati woman in Aklan – the Negritos were the earliest inhabitants of Southeast Asia.
Spirit houses are common in areas of Southeast Asia where Animism is a held belief.
The Mother Temple of Besakih, one of Bali's most significant Balinese Hindu temples.
Thai Theravada Buddhists in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The prayer hall of the Goddess of Mercy Temple, the oldest Taoist temple in Penang, Malaysia.
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei, an Islamic country with Sharia rule.
Roman Catholic Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the metropolitan see of the Archbishop of Manila, Philippines.
A Protestant church in Indonesia. Indonesia has the largest Protestant population in Southeast Asia.
Jewish Surabaya Synagogue in Indonesia, demolished in 2013.
Burmese puppet performance
Paddy field in Vietnam
The Royal Ballet of Cambodia (Paris, France 2010)
Angklung as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Thai manuscript from before the 19th-century writing system
Sign in Balinese and Latin script at a Hindu temple in Bali
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Bangkok, Thailand
Singapore
Manila, Philippines
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Jakarta, Indonesia
The UN Statistics Division for Asia are based on convenience rather than implying any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories: 
Central Asia
Eastern Asia
Northern Asia
South-eastern Asia
Southern Asia
Western Asia
Map showing the divergent plate boundaries (oceanic spreading ridges) and recent sub-aerial volcanoes (mostly at convergent boundaries), with a high density of volcanoes situated in Indonesia and the Philippines.
The Mayon Volcano, Phillipines
Bái Đính Temple in Ninh Bình Province – the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam

Sanskrit and Pali became the elite language of the region, which effectively made Southeast Asia part of the Indosphere.

This is shown through Brahmic forms of writing present in the region such as the Balinese script shown on split palm leaf called lontar (see image to the left – magnify the image to see the writing on the flat side, and the decoration on the reverse side).

The consonant ক (kô) along with the diacritic form of the vowels আ, ই, ঈ, উ, ঊ, ঋ, এ, ঐ, ও and ঔ.

Bengali alphabet

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The consonant ক (kô) along with the diacritic form of the vowels আ, ই, ঈ, উ, ঊ, ঋ, এ, ঐ, ও and ঔ.
The consonant ligature ndrô (ন্দ্র) : ন (nô) in green, দ (dô) in blue and র (rô) in maroon.
An example of handwritten Bengali script. Part of a poem written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1926 in Hungary.

The Bengali alphabet or Bangla alphabet (বাংলা বর্ণমালা, Bangla bôrṇômala) is the alphabet used to write the Bengali language based on the Bengali-Assamese script, and has historically been used to write Sanskrit within Bengal.

It is recognisable, as are other Brahmic scripts, by a distinctive horizontal line known as a mātrā (মাত্রা) running along the tops of the letters that links them together.

Excerpt from "My experiments with truth" - the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi in its original Gujarati.

Gujarati script

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Abugida for the Gujarati language, Kutchi language, and various other languages.

Abugida for the Gujarati language, Kutchi language, and various other languages.

Excerpt from "My experiments with truth" - the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi in its original Gujarati.
The standard Gujarati InScript bilingual keyboard layout to type Gujǎrātī Lipi in Windows OS based computers.
INSCRIPT Keyboard - available for MS Windows, Linux, Unix, Solaris.

In accordance with all the other Indic scripts, Gujarati is written from left to right, and is not case-sensitive.

Consonants (vyañjana) are grouped in accordance with the traditional, linguistically based Sanskrit scheme of arrangement, which considers the usage and position of the tongue during their pronunciation.