नॄ → नरः → नारम् / नाराः → नारायणः / नारदः

Presently (Thursday Nov. 9, 2017) I am studying श्रीमद्भागवते द्वितीये स्कन्धे पञ्चमोऽध्यायः / Just deliberating on श्लोक-s 15 and 16 →

नारायणपरा वेदा देवा नारायणाङ्गजाः /

नारायणपरा लोका नारायणपरा मखाः //15//

नारायणपरो योगो नारायणपरं तपः /

नारायणपरं ज्ञानं नारायणपरा गतिः //16//

Since everything is नारायणपर, to understand this भावः of being नारायणपर, what is basically नारायण ? With this question, I started delving into the etymology of नारायण.

  1. Who is नारायणः ?
    1. Etymologically नारस्य अयनमिति नारायणम्  (षष्ठी-तत्पुरुषः) just as रामस्य अयनमिति रामायणम्
      1. But here we have नारायणः, not नारायणम्
        1. For that, instead of षष्ठी-तत्पुरुषः etymology, we can also put it as नारस्य अयनं यस्मात् सः नारायणः (पञ्चमी-बहुव्रीहिः) OR नारस्य अयनं यस्मिन्स नारायणः (सप्तमी-बहुव्रीहिः)
        2. Whether we take the तत्पुरुष-etymology or बहुव्रीहि-etymology, we have to understand what नार is.
  2. किमिति नारम् ?
    1. नरस्येदम्-अण् = नारम्
    2. नरस्य धर्मो नारम् /
    3. These explanations of नारम् provoke “Who is नरः ?”
  3. नरः [नॄ-नये-अच्] So नरः is from धातुः नॄ /
    1. नॄ+अच् →
      1. First of all अच् = अ Since by हलन्त्यम् (1-3-3) च् → इत् and by तस्य लोपः (1-3-9) च्-कारस्य लोपः / Hence अच् = अ only /
      2. नॄ+अच् = नॄ+अ = न् + अर् + अ = नर /
    2. धातुपाठे → नॄ । भ्वा० सेट् प० । नॄ(म्) न॒ये १.९२१ ॥ also नॄ । क्र्या० सेट् प० । नॄ न॒ये ९.३० ॥ Both as १.९२१ and ९.३०, its meaning is नये.
      1. In Apte’s dictionary नॄ 9 P. 1 To bring to. -2 To lead.
    3. Actually नरः is also प्रथमा विभक्ति, बहुवचनम् of a ऋ-कारान्तं प्रातिपदिकम् नृ.
      1. नृ [नी-ऋन् डिच्च; cf. Uṇ.2.11.] (Nom. sing. ना, gen. pl. नृणाम् or नॄणाम्) 1 A man, a person whether male or female; Ms.3.81;4.61;7.61; नॄन् प्रशंसत्यजस्रं यो घण्टाताडोरुणोदये 1.33. -2 Mankind. -3 A piece at chess. -4 The pin of a sun-dial. -5 A masculine word; संधिर्ना विग्रहो यानम् Ak. -6 A leader.
    4. नरः devoid of नारम् is साक्षात् पशुः पुच्छविषाणहीनः /
      1. The complete सुभाषितम् is साहित्यसंगीतकलाविहीनः साक्षात् पशुः पुच्छविषाणहीनः / तृणं न खादन्नपि जीवमानस्तद्भागधेयं परमं पशूनाम् //
      2. नरः merits to be called as नरः, only if a person has one or the other faculty from among literature, music or arts. Having any of these faculties is नारम्
  4. But I also got a quote – आपो नारा इति प्रोक्ता आपो वै नरसूनवः । ता यदस्यायनं पूर्वं तेन नारायणः स्मृतः ॥
    1. आपः नाराः /
    2. आपः नरसूनवः /
    3. There is some confusion here –
      1. नरसूनवः इति नाराः → आपः नाराः / So in the sequence of genesis आपः being नाराः are after  नरः. So, नरः first and नाराः i.e. आपः next.
      2. But आपः are, where नारायणः resides from time immemorial. The mention आपःअस्य पूर्वमयनम् also seems to suggest that only. Doesn’t that mean आपः precede नरः ?
      3. Also आपः are one of the five fundamental elements.
      4. It is also said that physiologically human body is 70% water.
      5. How then आपः नाराः (नरसूनवः) ?
    4. ता यदस्यायनं पूर्वं = ताः (आपः) यत् अस्य पूर्वमयनम्  /
      1. The word अस्य  also can mean नारायणस्य or नरस्य. But because there is no direct mention of नर, we have to take it as meaning नारायणस्य.
    5. Deliberating on the word स्मृतः, it comes to mind that, one can say,  स्मृतौ उक्तः इति स्मृतः !! Does that mean that नारायण is mentioned as such, more in स्मृति-s than in श्रुति-s ?
  5. Interestingly नारदः [नरस्य धर्मो नारं, तत् ददाति दा-क]
    1. नारदः is an adjective नारं ददातीति नारदः !
    2. नारदः is a compound word नार+द
      1. नारं ददातीति नारदः /
      2. दा-धातुतः क-प्रत्ययेन द-इति उपपदम् ददातीत्यर्थकम् /
    3. वाल्मीकि was a bandit, before he was initiated into तपश्चर्या by नारद. Basically  नारद means, one who imparts नारम्  
    4. A priest conducting a thread-ceremony is also नारद. Actually all teachers and precepts, who initiate a person into humane faculties such as साहित्य, संगीत, कला are नारद-s.
  6. As has been noted earlier, नारस्य अयनं यस्मात् सः नारायणः and now नारं ददातीति नारदः Putting these two thoughts together, we can say that a life is born in नर-form by the grace of नारायण, but he gets the faculties of नारम् when blessed by नारद-s.

शुभमस्तु !


To the meaning derived, that नारद means  preceptor, Shri. R. Y. देशपाण्डे of पुदुच्चेरी lends authenticity, “.. In the सावित्री-आख्यान in महाभारतम् by व्यास, we have the following phrase: भगवानाह नारदो देवसत्कृतः “Revered Narad, respected by the gods also”. “You are my preceptor and my god, देवश्च गुरुर्हि भगवान् मम” — says अश्वपति to him.


Newton’s Laws of Motion and कर्मचोदना

When walking in the park, if I would like to overtake someone walking ahead of me, I need to accelerate. This word “accelerate” brought to mind Newton’s Laws of Motion, wherein in the first law, there is the term “Force” and in the second, “acceleration” implicit in “rate of change of momentum”.

The first law states “Any body continues to be in its state of rest or of uniform motion, unless and until it is acted upon by an unbalanced external force.” What I started inquiring, was, whether there is any external force, when I accelerate my speed of walking. Obviously there is not. It comes to mind that Newton’s laws of motion are not valid for the living world. They are valid only for the non-living world. 

In the living world, actions happen by internal motivation, not necessarily by only an external force. I do not know, how Sir Jagdishchandra Basu established that there is life in plants. My hypothesis would be that, wherever actions happen by internal motivation, there is life. A bud becoming a flower is an action of internal motivation. Or even more simply, a blade of grass spouting out from some seed in the soil is an action of internal motivation. 

Comes to mind an interesting सुभाषितम् –

व्यतिषजति पदार्थानान्तरः कोऽपि हेतुः ।

न खलु बहिरुपाधीन् प्रीतयः संश्रयन्ते ।

विकसति हि  पतंगस्योदये पुण्डरीकम् ।

द्रवति च हिमरश्मावुद्गते चन्द्रकान्तः ।। 

Study of this सुभाषितम् can be read at https://slabhyankar.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/learning-sanskrit-by-fresh-approach-%E2%80%93lesson-23/  Two phrases in the सुभाषितम्, कोऽपि आन्तरः हेतुः “some internal motivation” and प्रीतयः बहिरुपाधीन् न संश्रयन्ते खलु “affections are not interdependent on external appeals” appeal to be so significant and relevant ! 

  • Howsoever ugly a child may be, it is “a darling baby” for its mother and gets the most ardent love from her.
  • It is more wonderful to think of how a chic of a bird gets the urge to take to flight.
    • There is a charming Hindi poem by हरिवंशराय बच्चन about a chic of a bird asking its mother माँ क्या मुझको उड़ना आया ? Mom, am I ready to fly ? नहीं चुरुंगन तू भरमाया।। No dear you are merely in flights of fancy ! But in the last stanza मैं नीले अज्ञात गगनकी, सुनता हूँ अनिवार पुकार। कोई अंदरसे कहता है, उड़ जा उड़ता जा परमार। This blue unknown expanse of the sky is whistling into my ears. I am getting an ardent call from someone inside me, saying, “Fly ! Keep flying, transcending the unknown !! Note, कोई अंदरसे कहता है “call from someone inside me”

The hypothesis then becomes, that, excitements, causing actions to happen, are seemingly different in the living world and non-living world. About the excitements causing actions in the living world, there is also ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं परिज्ञाता त्रिविधा कर्मचोदना (गीता १८’१८) Here, कर्मचोदना the interrelation between excitements and actions is said to be threefold.

Can we say that,

  • a bud of lotus पुण्डरीकम् sensing the day-break पतंगस्योदये is ज्ञानम्,
    • There is excitement and action in every ज्ञानम्, every sensing.
  • the bud itself is परिज्ञाता and
  • the bud blooming open विकसति हि is ज्ञेयम् ?

The simile पतंगस्योदये पुण्डरीकम् विकसति हि seems to become a good explanatory example of ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं परिज्ञाता त्रिविधा कर्मचोदना. 

Just for some play on words, I get to think that instincts and excitements are internal, but excitation is external. In the mention of “external unbalanced force” in Newton’s first law of motion, the word “external” seems superfluous.  Instincts and excitements, though internal are also “unbalanced forces”, rather, “unbalancing forces”. The philosophical advocacy is to train the mind to acquire such steadfastness, that its stability will stay unaffected in spite of all unbalancing forces whatever.

आपूर्यमाणमचलप्रतिष्ठम् ।

समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत् ।

तद्वत् कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे ।

स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी ।। (गीता २’७२)

Meaning, “Just as waters keep flowing into the sea, but the inflows (from rivers) make no difference to the sea, because it is always in an undisturbable state, in the same way, for one, who has attained an undisturbable state, wishes may enter his mind, but would make no difference to him.” Study of this verse can be read at https://study1geetaa2sanskrit.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/studying-gita-and-sanskrit-together-chapter-2-verses-70-to-72/ 

In mechanics there is the term “Inertia”. Newton’s third law of motion says “Action and reaction are equal and opposite”. It is inertia, which defeats the law. If inertia is great, there is no reaction. अचलप्रतिष्ठम् मनः is mind with such inertia, that it remains steadfast against all disturbances, internal or external. Only one with such mind can be at real peace स शान्तिमाप्नोति. For real peace, disprove all Newton’s Laws of Motion !

शुभमस्तु !


Computers and Sanskrit

Computers and Sanskrit


1-1 This compilation was motivated by a note by Dr. Baldevanand Sagar

Use of Sanskrit in Computer Programming

-Dr. Baldevanand Sagar

In July 1987, Forbes magazine published news which surprised the Sanskrit scholars and orientalists. This news filled the hearts of all those who love and study Sanskrit with great joy and enthusiasm as it opened the doors to new fascinating world of Sanskrit studies.

Sanskrit language is extremely rich, powerful and expressive medium. Its potentialities are gradually being appreciated all over the world and its application is being extended in different fields.

To mention a few Indian Institute of Information Technology – IIIT Hyderabad is working on a project called NLP meaning by- Natural Language Processing. The goal of NLP is to build computational methods of national language for its analysis and generation. Similar work is going on at Cdac, Bangalore. The project is called natural language understanding that’s NLU.

Few days back I read a report of a NASA scientist, published in a daily newspaper that NASA, the most advanced research center in the world for cutting edge technology, has discovered that Sanskrit, the world’s oldest spiritual and scientific language is the only unambiguous spoken language on the planet.

Considering Sanskrit status as a spiritual language, a further implication of this discovery is that the age old dichotomy between religion and science is an entirely unjustified one.

It is also relevant to note that in the last decade physicists have begun to comment on the striking similarities between their own discoveries and the discoveries made thousands of years ago in India.

Now, one can easily ask, why has Sanskrit endured. Simple answer for this will be that Sanskrit fundamentally generates clarity and inspiration and the clarity and brilliance of creating expression such as the world has rarely seen.

Another hope for the return of Sanskrit lies in computers. Sanskrit and computers are a perfect fit. The precision play of Sanskrit with computer tools will awaken the capacity in human beings to utilize their innate higher mental faculty with a momentum that would inevitably transform the world.

According to Rick Briggs, a well known researcher at NASA and who has claimed about Sanskrit as computer–language, “.. Sanskrit is such a language in which a message can be sent by the computer in the least number of words. ..”

The scientists believe that Sanskrit is also helpful in speech therapy besides helping in mathematics and science. It also improves concentration. The alphabets used in the language are well developed and scientific and their correct pronunciation improves the tone of speech. It encourages imagination and improves memory retention also.

We can implement Sanskrit words in coding, like coding a musical instrument. The dual case is a unique feature in Sanskrit. The dual case is absent in many languages, this creates confusion while processing duals and plurals ; implementation of Sanskrit prevents this.

As it is already said – the pronunciation and accent of Sanskrit language is based on physics and it is the simplest grammar of the world. So, by implementing Sanskrit we can create effective natural language processor.

As linguists say – “Sanskrit the world’s ancient language has got a wealthy grammar. Because of this well developed and systematic grammar; Sanskrit is the most suitable one for giving an advance artificial intelligence for computers.

All modern languages have etymological roots in classical languages and some philologists say that all Indo-European languages are rooted in Sanskrit, but here we are talking about the computer programming and Sanskrit.

Words in Sanskrit are instances of predefined classes, a concept, which drives object oriented programming , that’s “OOP” today.

For example, in English ‘cow’ is just a sound assigned to mean a particular animal. But if we drill down the word ‘GAU’ Sanskrit word for cow, we arrive at a broad class ‘gam’ which means ‘to move’. From there derive words like ‘gamanam’ ‘gatih’ etc, which are variations of ‘movement’.

All words have this OOP-approach, except that defined classes in Sanskrit are so exhaustive that they cover the material and abstract – indeed cosmic experiences known to man. So in Sanskrit the connection is more than etymological.

It was Maharshi Panini who formalized Sanskrit grammar and usage about many years ago. No new ‘classes’ have needed to be added to it since then. J.J.O’Connor and E.F.Robertson say- “Maharshi Panini should be thought of as the forerunner of the modern formal language theory used to specify computer language”. In their well known article, these two computer-scientists quote: “Sanskrit’s potential for scientific use was greatly enhanced as a result of the through systemization of its grammar by Panini. On the basis of just under 4000 Sutras (rules expressed as aphorism) he built virtually the whole structure of the Sanskrit language, whose general ‘shape’ hardly changed for the next two thousand years”.

According to the historians and scholars- ‘The most ancient language, Sanskrit is such a unique language that provides the root meaning of its every word. For instance, in the word ‘Pitra’ the meaning of the root ‘pa’ lies inherent. But, other languages do not possess this caliber. For instance, we cannot decipher the meaning of’ father’ and ‘pedaer’ from their respective root words in English and Persian’.

Thus, it gets clear that it is this Vedic language- Sanskrit – that taught linguistic skills to the whole world enabling people to speak to each other. It provided us with the very means to communicate us, in fact to not only us but also the computers.

Since programming languages are meant for computers to understand and the space for ambiguity is at best extremely limited, the grammar describing these languages are extremely clear and well – defined in their structure. This is where computer scientists have been working on methods to remove ambiguity from the formulation of rules for communication. A grammar is described as a formal definition of the syntactic structure of a language, usually given in terms of production rules which specify the order of constituents, such as words or phrases and their sub-constituents in a sentence.

In the case of programming language of late, there is a growing opinion in the computer science community that the grammar of the Sanskrit language was defined in an extremely unambiguous and formal manner, almost akin to the definition style of most modern programming languages.

Grammar and philosophy of Sanskrit language continues to impress computer scientists and linguists alike with its perfection and long lasting relevance.

In brief, we can say that there is at least one language, Sanskrit which for the duration of almost 2500 years was a living spoken language with a considerable literary of its own. Besides works of literature value, there was a long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to exist with undiminished vigor until the present century. Among the accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in artificial intelligence.

In my concluding remarks of this radio – talk, I would like to say that America is creating 6th and 7th generation supercomputers, based on the Sanskrit language to their maximum extent. Project’s deadline is 2025 for the 6th generation and 2034 for 7th generation. After this there will be a language revolution all over the world to learn Sanskrit.


In this section I am compiling an interaction I have had with my son Rahul, who has been in the thick of Computer-Technology for more than 24 years now.

(2-1) I wrote to him on Friday, 11th September 2015 –

In respect of the talk about Sanskrit being THE futuristic language for computers, just a thought came to my mind that processors in computers basically run by the logic circuits, which are primarily binary codes.

I want to know from you whether this understanding of mine is correct.

If this is correct, binary code is not specific to any language at all.

My understanding is that it is the COMPILERS, which translate codes written in C++ or whichever computer language to binary.

So, if it is to be proved that Sanskrit would be the most efficient language for computers, one needs to prove that compilers to translate codes in Sanskrit to machine language or binary code will be the most efficient compilers.

I also understand that Sanskrit will be efficient, especially for Artificial Intelligence, because Intelligence is inherent to Sanskrit.

I also understand that computers of the future, may be not too distant a future, will work with phonetic instructions, instead of typed instructions. That will be another strong argument in favor of Sanskrit, because no language can compete with Sanskrit as far as phonetic instructions are concerned. In fact Vedas and all Sanskrit heritage has survived all upheavals – political, societal, wars and strifes – thanks mainly to phonetic instructions, the mainstay of all गुरु-शिष्य परंपरा

I am of course overwhelmed by the fast strides in computer technology, especially the touch screens of smartphones.

It is recognized even in गीता, that the sensory organs or the five senses शब्द, रूप, रस, गन्ध, स्पर्श are the channels for knowledge, hence called as ज्ञानेन्द्रिय-s. The touch screens are just some smartness of the sense of touch स्पर्शज्ञान improvisation over striking keys, which also employed the sense of touch only. But the way one can magnify and reduce images on smartphones and zap the pages on Kindles is all very smart.

Is it true that they have computers having password protection by retina of the user ? That would mean use of रूपज्ञान.

Phonetic instructions would mean शब्दज्ञान. Considering the flow of my thoughts, it seems that phonetic instructions are very much within the realm of possibility. Already there are Karaoke, which compare the sound being INPUT with the sound recorded in the memory of Karaoke devices.

It comes to mind that all computers should in the first place, become Karaoke kind of devices. The technology of these devices should then be taken further to process Programming instructions from phonetic inputs.

Is it not impressive that the technology has so rapidly progressed from स्पर्शज्ञान to now include शब्दज्ञान and may be also रूपज्ञान.

Looks like the situation is becoming right and ripe for Sanskrit to take charge.

Am I on the right track ?

(2-2) Rahul replied on Sunday 27th September 2015 –

The circuits themselves are not binary codes. The circuits connect various processing units inside the computer – the CPU, memory, storage, I/O devices, etc. The CPU has its own instruction set which is called machine language. It is the lowest level instruction set inside the computer and is represented using binary codes. Higher level applications that are written in relatively more user-friendly syntax languages such as C/C++/Java are compiled to create object code that is executable. The compiler is a program that creates an executable version of the application code. This object code is essentially the set of instructions that the processor understands as machine language or binary code. So overall your understanding is correct.

I don’t think that the goal is necessarily to create more efficient compilers. The reason to use Sanskrit as a programming language is to make it “easier” to program, since Sanskrit has a well defined grammatical construct that is not ambiguous, unlike English.  Since the rules are well defined and can be applied uniformly and consistently, the claim is that it should be “easier” to communicate with computers using a natural language like Sanskrit, instead of having “programming languages”. If English had a more defined and consistent structure, imagine that everybody could be a computer programmer, the pace of innovation would be very high because anybody could communicate naturally and write applications that interacted with computers without needing to learn separate languages. But unfortunately that is not the case, and only a very small percentage of population who is able to learn programming languages can create applications.

The claim that Sanskrit can be a good candidate for a programming language was first made in a paper by a NASA scientist in 1985. It was published in the Artificial Intelligence magazine. I have attached that paper here. I have not read it fully but I skimmed through it.

Voice commands are getting more and more sophisticated. Most smartphones now have built-in “assistants”. Apple’s assistant is called Siri. You can communicate with the phone in any language. Siri supports Mandarin, Cantonese, French, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, American, UK and Australian English, Russian, Danish, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish, Thai, Swedish. You can ask questions to Siri such as “What is tomorrow’s weather forecast?”, or “What is the time now in Mumbai?” and Siri responds with information without delay. Right now the voice commands are for  search queries, or some basic system commands such as “Send a text message to Shilpa My flight just landed”.

For Sanskrit to be used as a computer language, we can look at it in two ways:

  1. Sanskrit as an input language
  2. Sanskrit as an interpreted language

For Sanskrit as an input language, the challenge is that computers are getting much smarter by the day to accept inputs in currently widely spoken languages, however deficient they may be. The other challenge is the number of people who know Sanskrit.

For Sanskrit as an interpreted language, should computers internally convert voice/touch/application inputs into Sanskrit? Should Sanskrit become the machine language? Should future processors be based on Sanskrit instead of having their own instruction sets, which are typically a small set? Does that create much more optimized and capable processors and hence computers? I think whoever is conducting any research into this should look into this aspect of using Sanskrit as a machine language instead of a programming language.

In future scenarios where we may have special purpose robots that “learn” from the environment and become smarter, the area of exploration may be whether computers that know Sanskrit can evolve themselves to be smarter computers. If the IBM Deep Blue computer that defeated Garry Kasparov knew Sanskrit as a language for its own “thinking”, could it have been a smaller computer, could it have used less electricity, could it have used less circuitry, etc. Those are the types of questions that need to be asked in connection with Sanskrit as a computer language.

You are very much on the right track.

Here is a good video that you would enjoy: http://www.ted.com/talks/ajit_narayanan_a_word_game_to_communicate_in_any_language?language=en

Rahul had appended the article “Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence” by Mr. Rick Briggs from RIACS, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, California 94305. The article seems to be available for free download as PDF at http://www.aaai.org/ojs/index.php/aimagazine/article/view/466.

(2-2) My rejoinder on Tuesday 29th September 2015 –

I am not convinced that grammatical constructs in Sanskrit would make programming better, than the English language, which is used in programming. Actually the programming codes do not use any such language where grammar of the language would make a significant contribution. Substantially the programming codes are built using some basic logic-routines such as

  • for loops, with their variants such as do while loops, do until loops
  • ‘if-then’ routines of conditional execution of instructions
  • equations using defined variables, which, of course, do not use grammar
  • invoking subroutines

The codes became smarter starting with number of pixels across the screen becoming almost infinite, especially with scrollable screens, number of colors also became large number and recording of sound could also be uploaded into the RAM if not in the BIOS.

I think Object Oriented Programming came in almost as a revolution in the basic concept of programming. It is my guess that this concept of Object Oriented Programming was triggered by the Graphics packages like AUTOCAD, where every line or arc is essentially an object. I would also venture to guess that the PageMaker of Adobe also had this concept of Object Oriented Programming, treating page as comprising definable and re-definable objects. If I know it right, PageMaker has been around for more than two decades.

It comes to mind that cartoon films also have been around on computers for quite some time now..

I am not sure that Sanskrit can make these tasks simpler or more interesting than what has been already achieved by current stage of programming.

I am back to my line of thinking that Sanskrit would be good for computers by its strengths, important among which, according to me are

  • its very well-defined phonetics. Phonetics combined with freedom from syntax in Sanskrit become such a strong combination that just the manner of pronunciation can make a sentence simple affirmative or interrogative or exclamatory or rhetoric or slanted negative
  • That builds in inherent intelligence and in turn Sanskrit should be good for Artificial Intelligence

You have made good mention of “Assistants” as Siri of Apple.

Last week I was in Borivali at Santosh’s place for Ganapati and had an interesting dialog with Varun. He mentioned to me that Google has an option of phonetic input. I did not know of it or had not noticed it. When I opened Google, back home, I did notice that there is a mike-icon right beside the Search bar.

If Siri is already friendly with so many languages, I am appalled that Sanskrit does not find a mention in your list. I am marking a Cc to Mr. विश्वास-वासुकिजः, who, if my impression is correct, works with Google and has been thickly involved with the “Input Tool” the transcription tool of Google. I would like to have his response on this broad topic of Use of Sanskrit as a Computer language.

(2-3) Mr. विश्वास-वासुकिजः responded very promptly and crisply, saying, “ broadly agree with you.”


Further thinking can branch off in many, many different directions !

(3-1) Title of Mr. Briggs’ article “Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence” itself provokes questions such as –

  1. What is knowledge ?
  2. What is intelligence ?
  3. How and to what degree can intelligence be made artificial ?
  4. What are strengths of Sanskrit, which can help to make intelligence artificial, maybe to much higher degree than by any other language ?

(3-2) If just the manner of pronunciation can make a sentence simple affirmative or interrogative or exclamatory or rhetoric or slanted negative, how can the manner of pronunciation or intonation be included in the translation-procedures or programs of translating a sentence in one language into another language ?

  • (3-2-1) It is realized in Sanskrit grammar that basic vowels can be pronounced in 18 ways – अनुनासिक, अननुनासिक, then ह्रस्व, दीर्घ्, प्लुत and उदात्त, अनुदात्त, स्वरित
  • (3-2-2) Some of the pronunciations of basic vowels, i.e. those single-vowel sounds alone are meaningful. Those meanings of those sounds seem to be universal, i.e. identical in all languages. For example
    • (3-2-2-1) the sound of vowel इ, pronounced as अननुनासिक, प्लुत, उदात्त is a reaction, rather a reflex exclamation of rejection. Example of such reflex exclamation of rejection is, when you get to see an innocent child suddenly thump its hand in something dirty.
    • (3-2-2-2) The sound of vowel अ, pronounced as अनुनासिक, ह्रस्व, अनुदात्त becomes an interjection, by an inattentive person, who realizes that something was being said or discussed and he was not listening. So by such sound of अ, he wants to convey, “Excuse me, I was not listening.”
    • (3-2-2-3) I would love to include audio clips of these sounds, which will readily explain what sounds I have in mind when I say –
      • the sound of vowel इ, pronounced as अननुनासिक, प्लुत, उदात्त
      • The sound of vowel अ, pronounced as अनुनासिक, ह्रस्व, अनुदात्त

(3-3) Since Mr. Briggs’ article appeared in 1985, by now in 2015, a long period of 30 years has elapsed. Why has not a single program in Sanskrit come up, in all such long period of time, at least to demonstrate if not to validate the statements made in his article or by anybody else ? Sanskritists themselves seem to be happy and rejoicing that somebody, somewhere has analysed and applauded strengths of Sanskrit, especially for use in computers.

(3-4) Computers are basically microprocessor-based devices, supplemented with memory-storage and retrieval. Computers have monitors or display-devices where one gets to see the results being output. Computers are also capable of reproducing sounds. It has been quite a long time, that there have been programs on computers to learn playing harmonium.

It comes to mind that Robots are also microprocessor-based devices, supplemented with memory-storage and retrieval and where one gets to see the results by actions executed by the Robot.

Will it not be interesting if there was to be a competition between two Robots, of which one responds to instructions in English and another responding to instructions in Sanskrit ?

Considering what all good things are acknowledged about Sanskrit, a Robot executing instructions in Sanskrit should win !!

(3-5) महर्षि पाणिनि’s अष्टाध्यायी is a computer program by itself. It is a program, because there is some logical sequence among the सूत्र-s. The logical sequence has inbuilt processing प्रक्रिया-s to derive any word in any Sanskrit sentence. By applying the प्रक्रिया-s one can also check correctness of any word in any Sanskrit sentence. That has sealed Sanskrit from any ingress of incorrectness. If anyone composes a Sanskrit sentence with inaccuracies, we can say that it may sound like being in Sanskrit, but cannot be called a Sanskrit composition. Using engineering terminology, we can say that Sanskrit has zero tolerance for inaccuracies.

If this is to be taken as a strong point in favor of Sanskrit, when thinking of Sanskrit as a language for computer-programming, this strength is related to the grammar of Sanskrit. But it has been discussed in (2-3) that Computer programs do not benefit from grammatical strength, because the programs need very little grammatical strength.

Also, even if the grammar of Sanskrit has zero tolerance for inaccuracies, so even if one should always expect the result to be very accurate, the प्रक्रिया-s are not simple. For example, once somebody had asked a question about the derivation of the word अकुर्वत in the very first श्लोक in the very first अध्याय in गीता. The derivation provided by Dr. Nityanand Mishra was as follows –

विवक्षा (Option 1) = कर्त्रभिप्राये क्रियाफलेऽनद्यतनभूते प्रथमपुरुष एकवचनम्

कृ → 3-4-69 लः कर्मणि च भावे चाकर्मकेभ्यः → 3-2-111 अनद्यतने लङ् → कृ + लङ्→ 3-4-78 तिप्तस्झिसिप्थस्थमिब्वस्मस्तातांझथासाथांध्वमिड्वहिमहिङ्, 1-4-101 तिङस्त्रीणि त्रीणि प्रथममध्यमोत्तमाः, 1-4-102 तान्येकवचनद्विवचनबहुवचनान्येकशः → 1-3-72 स्वरितञितः कर्त्रभिप्राये क्रियाफले → आत्मनेपदप्राप्तिः → 1-4-100 तङानावात्मनेपदम् → कृ + त → 3-1-79 तनादिकृञ्भ्य उः →   कृ उ त →   3-4-114 आर्धधातुकं शेषः →   “उ” इत्यस्यार्धधातुकत्वम् →   7-3-84 सार्वधातुकार्धधातुकयोः →   गुणः →   1-1-2 अदेङगुणः →   1-1-50 स्थानेऽन्तरतमः →   अगुणः →   क् अ उ त →   1-1-51 उरण् रपरः →   रपरत्वम् →   क् अर् उ त →   करु त →   3-4-113 तिङ्शित्सार्वधातुकम् →   “त” इत्यस्य सार्वधातुकत्वम् →   6-4-110 अत उत्सार्वधातुके →   क् उ रु त →   कुरु त →   कुरुत →   6-4-71 लुङ्लङ्लृङ्क्ष्वडुदात्तः →   अडागमः →   1-1-46 आद्यन्तौ टकितौ →   आद्यागमः →   अट् कुरुत →   1-3-3 हलन्त्यम् →   टकारस्येत्संज्ञा →   1-3-9 तस्य लोपः →   अ कुरुत →   अकुरुत

विवक्षा (Option 2) = कर्त्रभिप्राये क्रियाफलेऽनद्यतनभूते प्रथमपुरुषे बहुवचनम्

कृ →   3-4-69 लः कर्मणि च भावे चाकर्मकेभ्यः →   3-2-111 अनद्यतने लङ् →   कृ + लङ् →   3-4-78 तिप्तस्झिसिप्थस्थमिब्वस्मस्ताताञ्झथासाथान्ध्वमिड्वहिमहिङ्, 1-4-101 तिङस्त्रीणि त्रीणि प्रथममध्यमोत्तमाः, 1-4-102 तान्येकवचनद्विवचनबहुवचनान्येकशः →   1-3-72 स्वरितञितः कर्त्रभिप्राये क्रियाफले →   आत्मनेपदप्राप्तिः →   1-4-100 तङानावात्मनेपदम् →   कृ + झ →   3-1-79 तनादिकृञ्भ्य उः →   कृ उ झ →   3-4-114 आर्धधातुकं शेषः →   “उ” इत्यस्यार्धधातुकत्वम् →   7-3-84 सार्वधातुकार्धधातुकयोः →   गुणः →   1-1-2 अदेङगुणः →   1-1-50 स्थानेऽन्तरतमः →   अगुणः →   क् अ उ झ →   1-1-51 उरण् रपरः →   रपरत्वम् →   क् अर् उ झ →   करु झ →   3-4-113 तिङ्शित्सार्वधातुकम् →   “झ” इत्यस्य सार्वधातुकत्वम् →   6-4-110 अत उत्सार्वधातुके →   क् उ रु झ →   कुरु झ →   7-1-5 आत्मनेपदेष्वनतः →   कुरु अत् अ →   कुरु अत →   6-1-77 इको यणचि →   1-1-50 स्थानेऽन्तरतमः →   कुर्व् अत →   कुर्वत →   6-4-71 लुङ्लङ्लृङ्क्ष्वडुदात्तः →   अडागमः →   1-1-46 आद्यन्तौ टकितौ →   आद्यागमः →   अट् कुर्वत →   1-3-3 हलन्त्यम् →   टकारस्येत्संज्ञा →   1-3-9 तस्य लोपः →   अ कुर्वत →   अकुर्वत

As can be seen, the derivational analysis led to two different results अकुरुत and अकुर्वत. Actually the विवक्षा-s follows common path

  • from कृ →   3-4-69 लः कर्मणि च भावे चाकर्मकेभ्यः →   3-2-111 अनद्यतने लङ् →   कृ + लङ् →   3-4-78 तिप्तस्झिसिप्थस्थमिब्वस्मस्ताताञ्झथासाथान्ध्वमिड्वहिमहिङ्, 1-4-101 तिङस्त्रीणि त्रीणि प्रथममध्यमोत्तमाः, 1-4-102 तान्येकवचनद्विवचनबहुवचनान्येकशः →   1-3-72 स्वरितञितः कर्त्रभिप्राये क्रियाफले →   आत्मनेपदप्राप्तिः →   1-4-100 तङानावात्मनेपदम् →   कृ + झ →   3-1-79 तनादिकृञ्भ्य उः →   कृ उ झ →   3-4-114 आर्धधातुकं शेषः →   “उ” इत्यस्यार्धधातुकत्वम् →   7-3-84 सार्वधातुकार्धधातुकयोः →   गुणः →   1-1-2 अदेङगुणः →   1-1-50 स्थानेऽन्तरतमः →   अगुणः →   क् अ उ झ →   1-1-51 उरण् रपरः →   रपरत्वम् →   क् अर् उ झ →   करु झ →   3-4-113 तिङ्शित्सार्वधातुकम् →   “झ” इत्यस्य सार्वधातुकत्वम् →   6-4-110 अत उत्सार्वधातुके →   क् उ रु झ →   कुरु झ →  
  • From there, in Option 1 it proceeds as 6-4-71 लुङ्लङ्लृङ्क्ष्वडुदात्तः →   अडागमः →   1-1-46 आद्यन्तौ टकितौ →   आद्यागमः →   अट् कुरुत →   1-3-3 हलन्त्यम् →   टकारस्येत्संज्ञा →   1-3-9 तस्य लोपः →   अ कुरुत →   अकुरुत
  • In Option 2  it proceeds as 7-1-5 आत्मनेपदेष्वनतः →   कुरु अत् अ →   कुरु अत →   6-1-77 इको यणचि →   1-1-50 स्थानेऽन्तरतमः →   कुर् व् अत →   कुर्वत →   6-4-71 लुङ्लङ्लृङ्क्ष्वडुदात्तः →   अडागमः →   1-1-46 आद्यन्तौ टकितौ →   आद्यागमः →   अट् कुर्वत →   1-3-3 हलन्त्यम् →   टकारस्येत्संज्ञा →   1-3-9 तस्य लोपः →   अ कुर्वत →   अकुर्वत
  • Let me confess that I had not gone in detail, into the derivation provided by Dr. Nityanand Mishra and hence had not noted that one gets two different results अकुरुत and अकुर्वत. The two different results are to be taken not as only one being correct and the other wrong, but as both results being correct and being options for each other.
  • This may sound a jugglery in the light of previous statement that grammar of Sanskrit has zero tolerance for inaccuracies.
  • It can be noticed that the derivation involves ‘n’ number of steps and jumps back and forth from chapter 3 to chapter 7 to chapter 1 to chapter 3 to chapter 6 in the portion – 3-4-114 आर्धधातुकं शेषः →   “उ” इत्यस्यार्धधातुकत्वम् →   7-3-84 सार्वधातुकार्धधातुकयोः →   गुणः →   1-1-2 अदेङगुणः →   1-1-50 स्थानेऽन्तरतमः →   अगुणः →   क् अ उ झ →   1-1-51 उरण् रपरः →   रपरत्वम् →   क् अर् उ झ →   करु झ →   3-4-113 तिङ्शित्सार्वधातुकम् →   “झ” इत्यस्य सार्वधातुकत्वम् →   6-4-110 अत उत्सार्वधातुके →   क् उ रु झ →   कुरु झ →
  • Though there is jumping back and forth, of course there is some logic. Since there is logic अष्टाध्यायी is certainly a computer program by itself. I am yearning to see presentation of अष्टाध्यायी in the same style as we see computer programs in C++ or any other computer language.
  • Actually it is almost an unwritten rule that software developers should document the logic either by including ‘un-executable statements or explanations’ right in the code itself or in a manual. But my own experience is that any code does not get firmed up in one go. When one takes a trial run of the code, bugs do crop up. The code gets firmed up only after debugging all the bugs. One is left to wonder whether पाणिनि had to do any such debugging before he firmed up his अष्टाध्यायी, containing as many as 4000 aphorisms सूत्र-s, hence a 4000-statements long code !
  • Maybe, व्याकरणमहाभाष्यम् by पातञ्जलिमुनिः is the ‘documentation’ of अष्टाध्यायी !

(3-6) Yesterday (2nd October 2015) I had a discussion on this subject of Computers and Sanskrit with Mr. Keny, who works with Oracle in Mumbai. It transpired that

  • Robots may not be a good example of AI. Responses of Robots would not be involving ‘decision-making’. Intelligence is in decision-making, especially when one has to choose among options.
  • If IBM’s Deep Blue could defeat Garry Kasporov, as mentioned by Rahul, such computer has to have the intelligence to choose among options. In playing chess, choosing among options involves lot of forward thinking.

(3-7) I spend lot of time (I can admit it to be a waste of time) playing the card-game of ‘Hearts’, available online at http://www.hearts-cardgame.com/

  • Playing it on the computer became interesting and addictive, basically because it is a one-against-three challenge. Yet I have had a good win-percentage.
  • But now I have it on my tablet also. My win-percentage on the tablet is pathetic. It only means that the AI in the tablet is much higher than in the online version.
  • Would it be that if the program be coded using intelligence of Sanskrit, my win-percentage will become zero ? I would not mind, if it would yet help me to upgrade my own intelligence ! For that, not just the executable program, but the code and documentation will have to be available.

शुभमस्तु !


Value-Education – Part 2

Value-Education – Part 2

मूल्याधिष्ठितशिक्षणम् – द्वितीयोऽध्यायः

  1. I had presented some thoughts on Value Education earlier, mentioning “.. Since Universal and eternal values is the important essence of संस्कृत the language and संस्कृति cultural richness, inherent to it, it becomes a point to ponder upon, whether, education, if conducted through courses, syllabi and textbooks compiled in संस्कृत and based on संस्कृत texts will become values-based education. ..”
  1. To take the thoughts further, I get to recall a phrase शुचौ देशे in गीता २-११. The phrase may be translated to mean a sacrosanct site or place or location. This would prompt an enquiry into what a sacrosanct site or place or location is. Here the word देश should be interpreted to mean not just the place or site or location, but all the environmental surrounding there. So,  शुचौ देशे connotes good and conducive environment and in turn understanding the environment and caring for it.
  1. There are शान्तिमन्त्र-s to both begin and close a ritual.
  • One such शान्तिमन्त्र says ॐ द्यौ: शान्तिरन्तरिक्ष शान्ति: | पृथिवी शान्तिराप: शान्तिरोषधय: शान्ति:। वनस्पतय: शान्तिर्विश्वे देवा: शान्तिर्ब्रह्म शान्ति: सर्वँ शान्ति:, शान्तिरेव शान्ति: सा मा शान्तिरेधि ॥ ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति: ॥
  • Another शान्तिमन्त्र of पुरुषसूक्तम् is ॐ तच्छं योरावृणीमहे | गातुं यज्ञाय | गातुं यज्ञपतये | दैवी स्वस्तिरस्तु नः | स्वस्तिर्मानुषेभ्यः | ऊर्ध्वं जिगातु भेषजम् | शं नो अस्तु द्विपदे | शं चतुष्पदे || ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति: ॥
  • The शान्तिमन्त्र-s are sublime. They are sublime also because they evidence care for the environment and also for all living beings.
  • Another famous शान्तिमन्त्र is a prayer ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सह वीर्यं करवावहै । तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ This शान्तिमन्त्र prays for
    • तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु May our learning be brilliant and also
    • मा विद्विषावहै May we never have any rancour
  • The शान्तिमन्त्र-s are sublime. But more importantly they have Value-Education inherent in them.
  1. दासबोध of संत रामदास is really a treatise in Marathi on conducting life, both with social responsibility and individual righteousness.
  1. Traditions in Indian culture detail three-fold approach to conduct of life – धर्म, अर्थ, काम. TirukkuraL in Tamil detail this approach by 133 sets of 10 verses each. It has three sections
  • ARattuppaL with 38 sets (380 couplets) which obviously details अर्थ-aspect i.e. earning and supporting the family, rather one’s practical life
  • PoruTpaL with 70 sets (700 couplets) seems to detail धर्म-aspect i.e. aspects of righteous behaviour
  • KAmattupaL with 25 sets (250 couplets) seems to detail काम-aspect i.e. family-life, especially between husband and wife.
  1. In Sanskrit there is शतकत्रयम् of भर्तृहरि – three centuries of verses सुभाषितानि i.e. good sayings
  • नीतिशतकम् – comprises 100+ verses सुभाषितानि on righteous behaviour
  • शृङ्गारशतकम् – comprises 100+ verses सुभाषितानि on family-life, especially between husband and wife
  • वैराग्यशतकम् – comprises 100+ verses सुभाषितानि on renunciation
  1. In response to my write-up on School Education at https://samskrutacharchaa.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/thoughts-on-school-education/ my son Rahul made an observation that “… One aspect of education that is sorely missed in schools is health and emotional well being. This is different from PE and sports. It is about how to understand and take care of our body and mind, knowledge of healthy eating, and awareness and management of emotions. More than intelligence, this is proven to be a high contributor to a person’s successful life. …”
  1. In गीता especially in 17th and 18th chapter there is good elucidation, rather, three-fold analysis सत्त्व-रज-तम (Best-Average-Bad)-analysis of almost every other aspect of life, such as
  • आहार (गीता १७-८, ९, १०) diet
  • यज्ञ (गीता १७-११, १२, १३) – It is difficult to give a single meaning of यज्ञ. Traditional meaning of यज्ञ as sacrificial ritual of oblation to a fire is grossly misleading. See various types of अग्नि-s  and यज्ञ-s mentioned in गीता itself, ब्रह्माग्नि (४-२५), संयमाग्नि (४-२६), आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नि (४-२७), द्रव्ययज्ञ, तपोयज्ञ, योगयज्ञ स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञ (४-२८).
  • तप – Concept of तप is detailed as being of three types शारीरम् वाङ्मयम् मानसम् in श्लोक-s १७-१४ to १७-१६ and the three-fold सत्त्व-रज-तम-analysis is detailed in श्लोक-s १७-१७ to १७-१९
  • दान – I would think that दान should be understood to mean philanthropy. But in श्लोक १७-२२ indiscriminate philosophy is also chided upon.and is graded into तम-grade
  • त्याग (गीता १८-७, ८, ९) – sacrifice
  • ज्ञान (गीता १८-२०, २१, २२) – knowledge
  • कर्म (गीता १८-२३, २४, २५) – duty and action
  • कर्ता (गीता १८-२६, २७, २८) – doer
  • बुद्धि (गीता १८-३०, ३१, ३२) – intellect and discretion
  • धृति (गीता १८-३३, ३४, ३५) – forbearance
  • सुख (गीता १८-३७, ३८, ३९) – pleasure and/or happiness
  1. There is a composition by the name सदाचारः by श्रीमच्छंकराचार्य
  1. There have been famous stories quite entertaining for children, yet with morals especially in पञ्चतन्त्रम् and हितोपदेशः In पञ्चतन्त्रम्, as is clear from the name itself, the 71 stories are narrated in five sections – मित्रभेदः (22), मित्रसंप्राप्तिः (6), काकोलूकीयम् (16), लब्धप्रणाशः (12) and अपरीक्षितकारकम् (15 stories). The narration and the morals are summarized in as many as 1134 सुभाषितानि.
  1. Looking back at all of my own education I fail to recall whether I had any systematic value-education anytime.

Any education which does not have value-education inbuilt is certainly incomplete education. That needs to be set right. And there is so much literature available in Sanskrit. All that has to be brought into our education system, to build strong forthcoming generations healthy in body, mind and soul.

शुभमस्तु |


Thoughts on School Education

मन्येऽहं शालेयशिक्षणमिति प्रायः तच्छिक्षणम् यत् पञ्चवयसः आरभ्य पञ्चदशवयःपर्यन्तं भवति |

I would think that school education can be taken as the education that would happen over a span of 11 years from an age of 5 years up to the age of about 15 years.

तस्य सामान्यतः त्रयः विभागाः – प्राथमिकम्, माध्यमिकम्, उच्चमाध्यमिकम् च |

This is usually of three stages – Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary.

तथापि मन्येऽहं शालेयशिक्षणस्य उद्दिष्टम् भवति यत् व्यक्तिमत्त्वविकासः भवेत् |

Nevertheless overall objective of school education would/should be to groom Personality development.

व्यक्तिमत्त्वविकासः प्रायः षड्विधैः विषयैः भवति |

Personality Development would have focus on 6 main faculties –

  1. गणितम् Mathematics – Arithmetic अङ्कगणितम् Algebra बीजगणितम्, Geometry भूमितिः Trigonometry त्रिकोणामितिः Calculus कलनगणितम्
  2. भाषाज्ञानम् Language-studies – Grammar व्याकरणम्, Prose गद्यानि, Poetry पद्यानि, Prosody and Figures of speech भाषालङ्काराः
  3. विज्ञानशास्त्राणि Sciences –  Physics पदार्थविज्ञानम्, Chemistry रसायनशास्त्रम्, Biology जीवशास्त्रम् Geosciences भूगोलविज्ञानम्, Astronomy खगोलविज्ञानम्
  4. समाजशास्त्राणि Social sciences – History इतिहासः, Economics अर्थशास्त्रम्, Law न्यायशास्त्रम्, Culture संस्कृतिः, Political sciences राज्यशास्त्रम्
  5. कलाः हस्तकलाः Arts and crafts – Elocution and debate वक्तृत्वम्, Acting अभिनयः, Drawing and painting चित्रलेखनम्, Music संगीतम् (Singing गायनम्, playing instruments वादनम्) Dance नृत्यम्
  6. क्रीडाः Games – Individual वैयक्तिकाः Team games सांघिकाः

एतद्विधे शिक्षणे स्पर्धात्मकः भावः अवश्यं भवितव्यः | संप्रतिकाले भवन्ति स्पर्धाः स्थानीयाः प्रादेशिकाः अन्तर्देशीयाः आन्तर्देशीयाश्च प्रायः सर्वेषु विषयेषु क्षेत्रेषु च | औलिम्पियड्-नाम्न्यः स्पर्धाः गणितविषये विज्ञानशास्त्राणां विषयेष्वपि भवन्ति | यः कोऽपि पाठ्यक्रमः रच्यते तस्मिन् एतावन्नैपुण्यं सहजतया भवितव्यम् | विद्यार्थिभ्यः उत्कृष्टमेव देयम् |

There ought to be a competitive urge inherent in such education. As of now there are competition-opportunities available at local, regional, national and International level, almost in every other subject and field. There are Olympiad-competitions in Mathematics and in Sciences also. Whatever syllabus is structured, that syllabus itself should provide for grooming such competence. Students ought to be offered only the best.

एतैः विषयैः शिक्षणं व्यवसायाभिमुखं नापि भवेत् | तथापि विद्यार्थिनः अग्रिमाय व्यवसायाभिमुखाय शिक्षणाय निश्चयेन सज्जाः भवेयुः | पञ्चदशवर्षीयेभ्यः एतावती सज्जता एव प्रायः समीचीनं लक्ष्यमिति मे मतिः |

Study of these subjects may not render vocational aptitude. However students will have right preparation for further vocational education. By my thinking, for 15-year olds, such preparation itself would be a good aim.

वयोमानानुसारिषु पाठ्यक्रमेषु उपरिनिर्दिष्टानां विषयाणां प्रायः एकादशस्तरेषु विश्लेषणं विचारणीयम् |

Curricula graded by age would be detailing the above subjects in 11 stages.

प्रायः ये पाठ्यक्रमाः इदानीं चलन्ति तेषु एतावद्विश्लेषणमस्त्येव |

We can presume that what curricula and syllabi are already operative do have such structure only.

अतः मुख्यतः विचारणीयं कथं पाठ्यक्रमाणां पाठ्यपुस्तकानि संस्कृतग्रन्थानामाधारेण भवन्ति रच्यन्ते वा | यतः संस्कृतज्ञानं प्रायः पद्यात्मकं भवति, तत् स्मृतिसुलभं भवति | एतावत्या सुलभतया यद्भारं विद्यार्थिनः सद्यः वहन्ति तदप्यूनं भवेत् खलु |

What needs to be deliberated is how the textbooks can be prepared based on Sanskrit-texts. Since most Sanskrit texts are in verse form, there is inherent ease for memorizing. Such ease in memorizing would help to reduce the burden of books, which children are carrying these days.

संस्कृतग्रन्थानामाधारेण रचितैः पाठ्यपुस्तकैः न केवलं विषयानां शिक्षणं भव्यम् | तद्विधैः पाठ्यपुस्तकैः राष्ट्राभिमानोऽपि परिपोषणीयः | तद्विधायाः संस्कृत्याः प्रसारणमपि भवति या मूलतः एव वैश्विका अस्ति जगद्धिताय अस्ति |

By such textbooks based on Sanskrit texts, not only would there be education in respective subjects, but there would be grooming of national pride and right orientation into a culture, which has been basically universal in its spirit and thoughts and hence for goodness all across the world.

शुभमस्तु !!


What all should be taught to children ?

किं किं पाठ्यं बालकान् ?

What all should be taught to children

My friend Mrs. Sharavari Keny who has done a course for Nursery Teachers, mentioned to me http://www.teachertrainingindia.co.in/

Truly I got quite some interesting information. There is a menu-item “Courses” where there is a drop-down menu listing

  1. Phonics training
  2. Early childhood education course
  3. Early childhood care-education course
  4. Montessori Training course
  5. Nursery Teacher training Course
  6. Pre-Primary Education Course

(1) A click on Phonics Training leads to following information –

“… Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing of the English language. Phonics involves teaching children to connect sounds with letters or group of letters.

Written language is like a code, so knowing the sounds of letters and letter combinations will help children to decode words as they read. Knowing phonics also helps children to know which letters to use as they write words. Therefore, learning phonics helps children to read and spell well. It creates bright children, boosts and helps them acquire logical skills in reading and writing and prevents rote learning. Since the turn of the 20th century, phonics has been widely used in primary education and in teaching English language literacy throughout the world.

Most children who are poor in reading tend to rely heavily on one reading strategy, such as the use of context and picture clues, and exclude other strategies that might be more appropriate. To become skilled, fluent readers, children need to have a repertoire of strategies to draw on.

One such effective strategy is phonics. Phonics instruction helps students to comprehend text. It helps the student to decode words. Decoding words aids in the development of word recognition, which in turn increases reading fluency. Reading fluency improves reading comprehension because as children are no longer struggling with decoding words, they can concentrate on making meaning from the text. In addition, phonics instruction improves spelling ability because it emphasizes the spelling patterns that become familiar from reading. Studies show that half of all English words can be spelled with phonics rules that relate one letter to one sound. …”

On reading the above, one gets to realize that Phonics training is so very easy with देवनागरी. The final aim of Phonics training is to train children towards spelling of words. In case of देवनागरी training for spelling is just not needed.

With English, however good the Phonics training be, I would guess that it will be hard for children to comprehend why the sound वेअर् has two different spellings – wear and ware (so also for बेअर् – bear and bare टायर् – Tire and tyre). This is because the English, rather, the Roman alphabet is not phonic.

With देवनागरी and also with scripts of most Indian languages, there is no such confusion.

(2) Early childhood education course – A click on this sub-menu item gets one the following information –

“… Early childhood education course judiciously combines theoretical knowledge with practical experience. The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) curriculum has been meticulously planned as per the need of the present day teaching profession. It has incorporated the latest methods and trends of teaching which enable you to meet the demands of the school and the students. It comprises the theory as well as practical subjects.

The theory of Early Childhood Education Course includes topics related to child psychology, school organization, teaching methods and teaching aids, components of child health and nutrition etc. …”

These subjects really are बालमानसशास्त्रम्, शिक्षणसंसाधनानि, बालसङ्गोपनम्

“… The practical part of teacher training includes internship, mock classroom sessions, art and craft, performing arts (rhymes, story-telling, songs) and co-curricular activities like organizing field trips, lesson plans, class observation etc. …”

These courses seem to be available only in English. Should not these courses be in Indian languages for Indian children ?

Coming to the mention of “performing arts (rhymes, story-telling, songs)”, for Indian children,

  • the rhymes and songs should rather be श्लोक-s, स्तोत्र-s, सुभाषितानि
  • the stories should be from पञ्चतन्त्र, हितोपदेश, रामायणम्, महाभारतम्, पुराणानि, अकबर-बिरबलयोः, तेनाली-रामन्-वर्यस्य कथाः. We have such a vast repertoire !

I have seen Indian parents sending their children both to Nursery schools and also to बालसंस्कारवर्ग-s or to शिशुविहार-s, simply because the so-called Nursery schools teach children in English education. This extra activity and anxiety of sending children to बालसंस्कारवर्ग-s or to शिशुविहार-s should just not be necessary, if the education in Nursery schools becomes Indian education, focused on Indian culture भारतीय-संस्कृति

Is it not an irony that Sanskrit is compulsory even in children’s education in St. James School in London, but in India, Indian parents need to send their children both to Nursery schools and also to बालसंस्कारवर्ग-s or to शिशुविहार-s, if at all the बालसंस्कारवर्ग-s or शिशुविहार-s are available in the neighborhood ?!

All this has to change.

Actually, what is new in all this ? Grandmothers had been doing this so very wonderfully for hundreds and thousands of years and with far more love and care and affection and with the smartness of all ancient wisdom, including that of child-care and child-health.

There is no point in lamenting over what went wrong, why it went wrong, how it went wrong. Let us put it back on track. Sooner the better.

शुभमस्तु |


Thoughts on Child-level education

मनस्यागच्छति यत् पाठ्यक्रमाः वयोमानानुसारिणः भवेयुः

Curricula should be graded by age

वयोमानानुसारिणि पाठ्यक्रमे बाल्यावस्थायाः विचारः

Thoughts on Child-level education

पाठनारंभस्तु बाल्यादेवावश्यकः यथा

Education should begin right from childhood

  1. मलमूत्रविसर्जनमत्र तत्र न कर्तव्यमिति पाठनं प्रायः प्रथमम् | दृश्यताम् – Learn how your child can make the switch from diapers to the toilet in a few days – or even an afternoon – with one popular potty training method. (See – http://www.babycenter.com/0_potty-training-in-three-days-or-less_10310078.bc)
  2. कुतूहलं खलु बालसङ्गोपनविषये के विचाराः आयुर्वेदे ? Is there anything detailed in आयुर्वेद about nursing of children ?
  • 2.1 शरीरावयवानां सक्षमता कथं वर्धते स्वभावतः संस्कारैश्च ? How does strength or faculties of limbs and organs develop in the natural course and by training ?
  • 2.2 बुद्धेः सक्षमता कथं वर्धते स्वभावतः संस्कारैश्च ? How does intellectual faculty develop in the natural course and by training
  1. बाल्यमिति आजन्मतः सार्धैकवर्षतावत् अष्टादशमासानां कालावधिः खलु ? Can childhood be considered as the period of 18 from birth to age of one and half years ?
  2. 2002-तमे वर्षे मम पौत्रः सार्धैकवर्षीयः आसीत् | तं अङ्के गृहीत्वा अहं एकां “Toyland Train”-नाम्नीं  DVD-चक्रिकां चालयन्नासम् | तां चक्रिकां वारंवारं दृष्ट्वा श्रुत्वा च बहु हार्दं शिक्षणमभवन्मम पौत्रस्य | किं किमासीत् तस्यां चक्रिकायामित्यस्य विवरणं अस्त्यत्र

In 2002, when my grandson was barely 18 months old, I got a DVD “Toyland Train”. I used to play the DVD taking my grandson in my lap. It is nostalgic for me what amount of training he got by watching and listening and interacting with the DVD. Contents of the DVD can be read here → http://www.amazon.com/Encore-13800-Muppet-Babies-Toyland/dp/B000050AWJ)

Preschool learning software featuring the Muppet Babies, A fun and educational activity at every train stop Learning activities designed to be played at multiple levels, 8 learning areas including shapes, body parts, animals, and more, 5 levels of game play; games suitable for ages 2 to 5

यद्यपि चक्रिका द्विवर्षतः पञ्चवर्षीयाणां बालकेभ्यः इति उल्लिखितासीत् सार्धैकवर्षीयाय मम पौत्राय किमपि काठिन्यं नासीत् | बालकानां ग्रहणशक्तिविषये अस्माकं कल्पनाः विचाराः एव न्यूनाः भवन्तीति मे मतिः अनुभवश्च |

Although they say that the DVD is for children of 2 to 5 years of age, I have direct experience of grasping capacity of children. It seems our own concepts of grasping capacity of children are inferior to actual.

  1. We should have clearer concepts of what children should learn. Nursery rhymes such as “Humpty Dumpty sat on  a wall” are senseless. Instead children can be taught
  • 5.1 श्लोक-s, स्तोत्र-s, सुभाषितानि.
  • 5.2 Reading the clock
  • 5.3 Family-tree – with growing number of small households, close relatives are appearing to be becoming distant relatives.
  1. बाल्यानां शिक्षणं क्रीडयैव भवितव्यम् | Adventures of Tom Sawyer-पुस्तके साधु निर्दिष्टं मार्क-ट्वेन्-वर्येण “Work is what one is obliged to do, play is what one is not obliged to do” कति आह्लाददायकं भवेत्सर्वं शिक्षणं यदि सर्वं क्रीडया एव पठ्यते !! प्रायः कश्चित् तथैव विचारः भास्कराचार्यस्य विचारः यत्तेन तस्य गणितग्रन्थस्य नाम लीलावतीति अभिहितम् | दृश्यतां चित्रेऽस्मिन् किञ्चिदास्तरणं वर्णाक्षराणामङ्कानाम् च

Education of children should happen gamefully. Playschool is a very charming word. How rightly did Mr. Mark Twain coin the phrase in his Adventures of Tom Sawyer “Work is what one is obliged to do, play is what one is not obliged to do”. See below the picture of an alphabet and numbers mat. My son had got one for my grandson.


 Child with soccer ball  Soccer with child

Values-based Education

Since Universal and eternal values is the important essence of संस्कृत the language and संस्कृति cultural richness, inherent to it, it becomes a point to ponder upon, whether, education, if conducted through courses, syllabi and textbooks compiled in संस्कृत and based on संस्कृत texts will become values-based education.

I hence posted following message to a couple of Google-groups, of which I am a member and to others, whom I have known to be interested in most things संस्कृत.

संप्रतिकाले योगोऽभवन्मिलितुं श्रीमन्तं प्रफुल्ल-पण्ड्या-महोदयम् | अभिभावितोस्मि खलु तस्य विचारैः | संक्षेपेण तस्य भूमिका एतावता |

ज्ञातं मानीतञ्च यत् संस्कृतवाङ्मये विविधविषयाणां ज्ञानं निश्चयेन वर्तते | तथापि यदि कस्यापि विषयस्य अभ्यासाः बालवयसः आरभ्य
विश्वविद्यालयीनाभ्यासक्रमेण प्रस्तवनीयाः, कथं भवेत् सः क्रमः केषां पुस्तकानां संहितानां संदर्भग्रन्थानामाधारेण वा |

ज्ञातं मानीतञ्च यत् गुरुकुलाः आसन् | तत्र आचार्याः छात्रान् विविधान् विषयान् पाठयन्तः आसन् | तेषु पाठनेषु क्रमाः अपि आसन्नेव | पाठनाय संहिताः
अप्यासन् | अप्यस्ति कापि उपलब्धिः कुत्रापि कः सः क्रमः कास्ताः संहिताः एतद्विषये ? यद्युपलब्धिर्नास्ति अपि शक्या तेषां पुनर्रचना ?

अधुनापि शालासु, महाविद्यालयेषु विश्वविद्यालयेष्वपि पाठ्यक्रमास्तु सन्त्येव | तथापि न ज्ञातं कस्य विषयस्य पाठ्यक्रमस्य कस्मिन् स्तरे का संहिता पाठनीया
इति | अपि शक्यमेतद्विधं सङ्कलनम् ?

प्रफुल्ल-पण्ड्या-महोदयेन संचालितेन गुजरातराज्यस्थितेन महुवाग्रामस्थितेन शाश्वत-संस्कृति-प्रतिष्ठानेन कृषिविषयस्य पाठ्यक्रमस्य एका पुस्तिका
सिद्धास्ति |

ज्ञायते यत् सर्वस्मिन् भारतवर्षे द्वादशशताब्दतः एकोनविंशतिशताब्दतावत् सप्तशतवर्षाणि तावत् भास्कराचार्याणां लीलावती-बीजगणितमादयः ग्रन्थाः
संहितारूपेण प्रयुक्ताः आसन् | गणितविषये वैदिकगणितसूत्राण्यपि विख्यातानि सन्ति अधुना |

अस्ति मत्सार्धमेकं धनञ्जय-देशपाण्डे-महोदयस्य पुस्तकं “वेदेषु विज्ञानम्” इति |
आयुर्वेदस्तु एकः वेदः एव इति मानीतः | अद्यापि पाठ्यतेऽपि | आयुर्वेदस्य पाठ्यक्रमस्त्वस्ति | किं न तस्मात् शरीरशास्त्रस्य आरोग्यशास्त्रस्य प्राथमिकाः विचाराः बालान् शालासु पाठनीयाः ?

संक्षेपतः सङ्कलनानि कर्तव्यानि सन्ति विविधानां विषयाणां क्रमिताभ्यासाय केषु स्तरेषु काः संहिताः पाठनीयाः इति |

प्रार्थयन्ते सूचनाः विधायकाः टीकाटिप्पण्यश्च |

(2) I got one response मम संदेशस्य उत्तरे प्राप्तः अयं विमर्शः –

संस्कृतमाध्यमेन पाठनाय अधुनाऽपि पर्याप्ता पाठ्यसामग्री इतस्ततोऽस्ति।
तथापि नवीनानां पाठ्यसामग्रीणां निर्माणमाधुनिककालोपयोगितया कर्तव्यमेव।
(3) I replied to this as follows अयं विमर्षोऽपि मया निम्नमिव उत्तरितोऽस्ति –
धन्यवादाः भवतः विमर्षणाय | साधूक्तं यत्
  1. पाठ्यसामग्री इतस्ततोऽस्तीति | यद्यदितस्ततोऽस्ति तस्य विषयानुसारि सङ्कलनं कर्तव्यमिति केचन उपक्रमाः संभवन्ति |
  2. इदमपि साधु यत् नवीनानां पाठ्यसामग्रीणां निर्माणमाधुनिककालोपयोगितया कर्तव्यम् | तद्विधाः केचन अन्याः उपक्रमाः संभवन्ति |

द्वाभ्यामपि दृष्टिभ्यां समवायस्य सदस्याः कति योगदानं दास्यन्तीति ज्ञातुं मम सन्देशस्य भूमिका |

While I keep waiting to receive more responses, to go by the edict “Charity begins at home”, i have started some detailing of this thought by myself. The details as will emerge will be presented in further post(s)

Speech-sounds and their transcription

I have been thinking hard about this issue of transcription, provoked more intensely now, after learning about PARSIL developed by Mr. Shreyas Munshi.

To my mind the need for transcription arises due to the basic fact that commonly available keyboards have Roman characters. But Roman characters have poor linkage with phonetics or phonology. People around the world speak different languages. But when we say that a person is speaking,  what he is doing is producing speech-sounds.  So the problem is about typing all speech-sounds of all languages around the world using commonly available keyboards having Roman characters. This is what is called as transcription or transliteration.

The fact that Roman characters have poor linkage with phonetics or phonology can be explained by the fact that

  • The vowels ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’ and ‘u’ are spread out across the alphabet at 1st, 5th, 9th, 15th and 21st positions. And we also have ‘y’ in 25th position also serving the function of vowel sound.
  • The words ‘err’,  ‘sir’, ‘ton’ and ‘sun’ have different vowels for the same vowel sound. This may not be called as problem with Roman script, but problem arising from the English people having used, in different words, different vowels for the same vowel sound

When thinking of typing all speech-sounds of all languages around the world, one should first of all compile a list of all those speech-sounds. Compiling such a list becomes easy, by taking clue from scripts of Indian languages, because scripts of Indian languages have been, since millenia, methods of writing speech-sounds.

So one view can be that instead of struggling to type all speech-sounds, using commonly available keyboards, which have Roman characters, why not change keyboards to adopt any such script, which inherently has the capability to characterize the speech-sounds ?

But this suggestion of adopting ‘any such script’ raises a corollary question, “which script ?” Since scripts of all Indian languages will be candidates, this corollary question will certainly have political colors and would become difficult to resolve.

Alongside, it comes to mind that two vowel-sounds, which are missing in Indian languages are – (1) the sound of ‘a’ as in ‘cat’ and (2) that of ‘o’ in ‘dog’.

Among Indian scripts, DevanagarI script has one shortcoming, compared to scripts of South Indian Languages, which have distinct characterization for short and long vowel sounds as in ‘get’ and ‘gate’ (or ‘gait’). The South Indian Language-scripts also have distinct characterization for short and long vowel sounds as in ‘poke’ and ‘goat’.

Actually, Sanskrit grammar recognizes that the basic vowel sounds can be pronounced in 18 different ways – (1) nasal अनुनासिक and not nasal अननुनासिक (2) these as short ह्रस्व long दीर्घ and extended प्लुत (3) these further as stressed उदात्त  unstressed or low अनुदात्त  and plain or level स्वरित. One can of course appreciate that it becomes a un-gainful effort to develop a script to characterize all such shades of a basic vowel sound. Yet in Sanskrit texts one does find some thought having been given to this in terms of pronunciation-notations called as स्वरांकन.

As is said, scriptures have been said to have been transmitted through teacher-disciple lineages, with great emphasis on correct pronunciation, rather than by written down texts. In fact it comes to mind that this was so, not because people did not know writing. This was so, because a particular mantra will have its best effect, only from its correct and proper pronunciation. If concept of writing was not there, why would have Vyaasa-maharshi sought Ganesh to write down the Mahaabhaaratam for him ?

DevanagarI script excels in characterization of conjunct consonants. Most number of conjunct consonants possibly come in the word “kaarstnyam” कार्स्त्न्यम्. As can be seen the number of consonants, which are conjunct here, are as many as five, ‘r-s-t-n-y’. In Kannada, this becomes very complicated.

The Tamil script is substantially a uni-level script, except that syllabic consonants need a dot above them. On the aspect of being uni-level, Tamil excels over the Roman, because all letters have almost the same height.

DevanagarI cannot be called as uni-level.

  • A word like Truman ट्रूमन्  has three levels below the line and
  • a word like ‘sarvaiH’ सर्वैः has as many as three strokes above the line, all having single point of coincidence on the line.

In a uni-level script as Tamil the words will become too long कार्स्त्न्यम् = கார்ச்த்ன்யம். Longer the spread of a word, it becomes more difficult to read.

One major problem with Tamil script is that it has very less number of characters, so much so that one has to write ‘gangaa’ गङ्गा as கங்கா literal pronunciation being ‘kankaa’ कङ्का. While on one hand it has very less number of characters, on the other hand, some speech-sounds have more than one characters.

DevanagarI is used by three languages – Sanskrit संस्कृतम्, Hindi हिन्दी and MaraathI मराठी. From the point of phonetics and scripting there are two points to be noted.

  • Hindi has no use of the character “L” ळ. This letter does not find specific mention in Sanskrit grammar also and has much less use, though it is there in the word अग्निमीळे in the very first mantra in Rigveda.
  • Hindi has some consonants with a ‘nuktaa’ a dot under them, connoting special intonation as that of ‘z’ in ‘nazar’. Although I have spelt it with ‘z’, its pronunciation is somewhat like accentuated ‘j’ and is written as नज़र.
  • I would not consider script used for Urdu as Indian script at all for obvious reasons. It has nothing in common with any other Indian script.

Exploring on this subject of speech-sounds and their transcription, I came across ISO 15919 Transliteration of Devanagari and related Indic scripts One can read interesting information about this at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_15919

That raises a question in my mind, “Why are people exercising. putting in efforts to develop transcription systems such as PARSIL, if there has been ISO 15919 already ?”

Another curiosity in my mind is about the need for developing transcription-systems. General thinking about the need for developing transcription-systems seems to be that Roman alphabet has only 26 alphabets, whereas speech-sounds are many more. The thought that Roman alphabet has only 26 alphabets, does not seem to be mathematically correct. If one considers that the capitals make an additional set of 26 characters, we have as many as 52 characters and we also have on commonly available keyboards some special characters as ‘ ` ~ which are not used for any speech-sounds. The commonly available keyboards also have the Control and Alt keys, which have diverse capabilities. If we use these also and assign specific speech-sounds to them, I think we have enough number of characters right there on commonly available keyboards for transcription of any language.

Actually a simple scheme of transliteration is detailed at http://www.aa.tufs.ac.jp/~tjun/sktdic/

transcription scheme 01


PARSIL – Script for all Indian Languages

Below are extracts very kindly shared by Shri. Shreyas Munshi from his book on PARSIL (Phonetic Alphabet for Romanization of Spellings in Indian Languages) Published by Cambridge University Press, Hyderabad, India. It is a paperback edition listed as ISBN 978-93-84463-38-0




1 Preface by Dr R P Bhatnagar
2 Foreword by Dr. Bell
3 Chapter 1 – PARSIL an Overview
4 Appendix A – Explanation of terms used (in alphabetical order)
5 Appendix H – Note from Anja Drame, Vienna
6 Acknowledgements


by Dr R P Bhatnagar

D.Litt. (Honoris Causa), Professor Emeritus,Formerly Professor and Chairman, Dept of English, University of Rajasthan; Guest Professor L N Mittal IIT, Jaipur.

Indian grammarians were the earliest phoneticians. All phonetics in the world today owes a deep debt to PANINI who gave to the world the first scientific Morpho-phonology some 2400 years ago.

The best western phonetic notation, now used all over the world, is IPA or International Phonetic Alphabet, first published in 1888 by the Association Phonetique Internationale, a group of French language teachers founded by Paul Passy. The model used by this was a phonetic script  for English created in 1847 by Isaac Pitman and Henry Ellis.

It will thus be seen that creation of a new scientific phonetic notations is a historical event which redounds to the credit of its creator(s). One such Major event is the creation of PARSIL……

….I have no hesitation in saying that Mr Shreyas Munshi’s original work shall go down in history as a landmark of scholarship and fecundity of mind. He has done yeoman’s service to the cause of pan-Indian language relationships.

…..R P Bhatnagar

Foreword By Dr. Bell

I have watched the development of the ideas underlying this publication for more than a year now and have, in the process, become increasingly impressed by the need for such a system and by the author’s dedication and sophistication. He has, I know, faced and dealt with tough questioning of his intentions and his solutions to the inherent problems of an enterprise such as this and, as a result, has come up with something which he can be proud of and which has substantial potential for positive change in the linguistic ecology of India.

The purpose of this foreword is to place this publication in its historical context. It is important to understand that what you are about to read is not just another pedestrian publication about writing systems and transliteration. It sits squarely in processes of development and language planning stretching over many thousands of years within which, I would suggest, it finds a very significant place.

For tens of thousands of years, the verbal system progressively replaced the gestural as the prime vehicle for the expression of cognitive meaning which it reduced to the subordinate level of “paralanguage”: a secondary, non conceptual, emotionally charged means of communication.

From this point on, “language” came to mean the spoken language and, in terms of prestige, after the reduction of speech to writing (only a few thousand years ago), the written language.

There is, necessarily, no direct link between the sound units of speech and those of any writing system devised to represent them. Sounds are continuous, ephemeral and broadcast multi-dimensionally in the air: letters (or their equivalents) are discontinuous, potentially permanent and represented in two dimensional texts.

The challenge for the creator of a writing system is to find a user friendly way of bridging the gap between the continuous aural nature of speech and the discontinuous visual nature of writing.

Writing systems are not, as might be supposed, straightforward devices for representing sounds. Many of them possess culturally significant value for the communities which use them. The choice of a writing system is far from being a neutral matter. It is a powerful cultural and political issue.

There are many examples worldwide: a major symbol of Kemal Attaturk’s modernizing revolution in Turkey in the 1920s was the replacement of Arabic by the roman alphabet; in the former Yugoslavia, Croatian and Serbian were combined as “Serbo-Croat”, with the first being written in the Roman and the second in the Cyrillic alphabet; “Malay” (in contemporary Malaysia) can be written either in Rumi (based on the roman alphabet) or Jawi (based on Arabic); in pre-Independence India (and present day India and Pakistan) Hindi is written in the Devanagari and Urdu in an Arabic-based script.

Every language in the world is a spoken tongue: the medium of communication within a speech community and the repository of its culture.

The written forms of Indian languages can trace their origins back over millennia and therefore possess enormous cultural value for their speech communities. Any attempt to replace, for whatever reason, these time-honoured writing systems must clash head on with ancient tradition. This is what, bravely (or recklessly, however you wish to look at it) the author of this book has attempted to do.

While accepting and celebrating the traditional writing systems, he has recognized the impediment they place before those attempting to learn a language with a different script from their own and offers a very user friendly system for transliterating Indian (and in principle other languages) into a common system.

The proposal is not in any way intended to devalue or replace the original writing systems but to provide a bridge between languages and cultures and, as a result, a mechanism for bringing Indians, whatever their linguistic and cultural backgrounds, together in the movement towards their recognition of a single, though marvellously diversified, society.

…Prof Roger T Bell, Ex-Professor of Linguistics, University of Westminster, UK and Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguistics (London)

Ch. 1 PARSIL: An Overview

Since the readership of this book is likely to include scholarly linguists as well as lay readers, the subject area of PARSIL necessitates discussion on two different levels. Therefore, this first chapter is written for the benefit of common readers who could be otherwise well-educated but not academically familiar with the subjects of linguistics and phonetics. And yet, hopefully, the contents of this chapter would help even the scholarly linguists get a better overview of the book. The second chapter, although written mainly for scholars, is likely to be of interest to all readers since it provides a gateway into the field of writing systems.

What is PARSIL?

PARSIL is an acronym for Phonetic Alphabet for Romanization of Spellings in Indian Languages. (According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English OUP 1974, an acronym is a “word formed from the initial letters of words in a set phrase”). For example, IPA is the acronym for International Phonetic Alphabet, BCCI for ‘Board of Control for Cricket in India, POP for Plaster of Paris, IMF for International Monetary Fund and so on. PARSIL is a newly proposed writing system which, in essence, is an enriched and expanded Roman alphabet. The Roman alphabet is the alphabet used as the writing system in many modern-day languages, including English. PARSIL may be used for transcribing (graphically representing) Indian Language (IL) sounds as one hears them or for the transliteration of Indian Language (IL) texts (changing the script of IL texts to the PARSIL script). The aim of introducing PARSIL to the English-knowing users of Indian languages is two-fold:

  1. to preserve the sounds of Indian language (IL) words when they are Romanized;
  2. to bring India’s north and south closer phonetically.

General Layout of the Book

While the Table of Contents functions as a primer of the book’s contents, a quick description of the general layout of the book is provided below for the benefit of the readers.

There are ten chapters and ten appendices [Appendices A to J].

This chapter, Chapter One of the book, is devoted to enlightening the lay readers about the general concept and design of the book and the basics of the subject of Phonetics (which forms the basis of this book and with which many readers may not be very familiar). Chapter Two is intended primarily for scholars, but it should be accessible to non-professional readers as well, as mentioned earlier.

Chapter Three lists, describes and discusses, in detail, the PARSIL symbols.

Chapter Four presents a case, in greater detail, for the importance of PARSIL.

Chapter Five tries to respectfully note the idiosyncrasies of the speakers of Indian English (English-speaking Indians with a background of their rich grammatical traditions).

Chapter Six attempts to identify the root cause for the wrong pronunciation of IL words after they are transliterated into the Roman script.

Chapter seven provides the full chart of PARSIL.

While Chapter Eight explains how PARSIL does not adversely affect pure English writing, Chapter Nine demonstrates PARSIL in praxis by providing examples that should allay possible doubts about its viability. Most readers would greatly benefit by reading Chapter Nine after having understood the PARSIL symbols given in Chapter Three.

Chapter Ten is devoted to the attainment of one of the primary reasons for introducing PARSIL to the English-knowing users of Indian languages: to bring India’s north and south closer, phonetically. For this, the chapter takes as an example, a female name spelt with slight difference by north Indians and south Indians as ‘Sujata’ and ‘Sujatha’ respectively (the use of ‘ta’ and ‘tha’ being the difference between the two). The chapter shows how PARSIL can innovatively help both the north Indians and the south Indians in spelling the same name with complete linguistic validity, in one and the same way, as ‘Sujāтā’, where the smallcap letter ‘т’ is used in place of ‘t’ of ‘Sujata’ and ‘th’ of ‘Sujatha’. Similarly, all other words like ‘Sujata’/’Sujatha’ (involving ‘t’ and ‘th’ in their spellings) can be now spelt with complete linguistic purity by using the smallcap ‘т’ in place of ‘t’ and ‘th’ in the spellings. The chapter further tries to point out that the difference in graphic representation comes about because of one sound: the unaspirated unvoiced dental plosive, which is not heard in RP English and for which the normal 26-letter Roman alphabet cannot provide a common, truly representative symbol. (The expression ‘dental plosive’ is explained later in this chapter as well as in Appendix A. ) PARSIL provides the missing phonetic symbol and the name in question can now be spelt in one and the same way, with complete linguistic purity. Similarly, as mentioned above, this would apply to hundreds of similar words like: ‘Geeta’/’Geetha’, ‘Neeta’/’Neetha’ and others, which could then be spelt ‘Gīтȁ’, ‘Nīтā’ and the like, without loss of linguistic and phonetic purity.

After the chapters of the book, ten appendices follow, which will hopefully be of great help to readers. For example, Appendix G provides a tabulated chart for the comparison of alphabets of various writing systems; Appendix F demonstrates how the author has short-cut saved the PARSIL symbols on his keyboard (with the suggestion that the readers may use their own method for short-cut saving the required PARSIL symbols on their keyboards). In Appendix I the reader will find the full chart of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Appendix J discusses the inclusion in PARSIL of symbols for non-IL sounds that have crept in and have virtually got absorbed into the ILs and may very well be relevant in the future.

(After many paragraphs…..)

Limitations of the English Alphabet for IL transliteration

The Sanskrit alphabet has 49 characters (some Indian languages have more), whereas the English alphabet has only 26 characters and thus, transliterating Indian language words into English has naturally proved problematic. Yet, it must be acknowledged here that the currently used phonetic alphabets like IAST have brilliantly tackled the problem. They have used various diacritic marks with the help of which the same letter of the Roman alphabet can be (and is being) used for representing different Sanskrit sounds (and the Devanagari characters used for representing them). For example, in the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST), which is the most popular academic standard for the Romanization of Sanskrit, the normal ‘n’ stands for the dental nasal, ‘n’ with a dot above it [ṅ] stands for the velar nasal, ‘n’ with a dot below it [ṇ] stands for the retroflex nasal, and so on. Unlike most Indian languages, the RP variety of English does not have the sounds represented by the last two symbols [ṅ] and [ṇ].

(After many paragraphs….)

It needs to be mentioned here that the term ‘common reader’ does not stand for an ‘uneducated person’. The book assumes the ‘common reader’ to be an English-knowing user of Indian Languages. He/she would normally know how to use a dictionary and to read the pronunciation usually provided between two slanting lines after the relevant entry of the word in the dictionary.

(After many paragraphs….)

For the practical use of this book, however, the reader may follow the steps enumerated below:

  1. proceed directly to Appendix G, which gives a comparison of PARSIL with other writing systems currently used for the Romanization of Indian language words.
  2. refer to the chapter titled ‘Full PARSIL Chart’;
  3. see Appendix D, which provides examples of PARSIL phonetic symbols in use;
  4. refer to the IPA Chart at Appendix I (‘I’ for ‘India’);
  5. academically oriented readers may further refer to Appendix A of the book for explanation of terms that are used in the book.

It is hoped that the above introductory explanation would help readers in understanding the design of PARSIL symbols and in using them effectively.

End of Chapter one (15 pages)

Appendix A

Explanation of Terms Used (in alphabetical order)

In order to make this book accessible to the readers, given here is the explanation of certain terms used in this book.

For full-fledged definitions and academic details, the readers may refer to an academic book on Phonetics like A Course in Phonetics by Peter Ladefoged. E-books on phonetics are also available.

Allograph: It describes a particular printed or written form of a letter of the alphabet (or more technically of a GRAPHEME, explained in the alphabetical list below). Thus a lower-case 〈a〉, a capital 〈A〉, an italic 〈a〉, and a badly scribbled letter ‘a ’ are all allographs of the same grapheme.

Alveolar plosives: Roughly described, these are the sounds produced when the tip of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge (the area right above the back of the upper teeth), for example the first sounds of RP English T for table and D for doll.

Aspirated / Un-aspirated: Roughly described, an ‘aspirated’ sound is one with a puff of ‘h’ in it; an unaspirated sound has no puff of ‘h’ in it. These sounds may be voiced as well as voiceless (see the last entry in the list below for meaning of voiced and voiceless). For example, the first sound in Hindi ‘bhel’ IPA / bhel / (a popular fast food, especially in Mumbai) is aspirated and the first sound in Hindi ‘bel’ IPA /bel/ (creeper) is unaspirated. Similarly, the first sound of the Hindi word ‘g h ə ɖ ī ’ (moment) represented by digraph ‘gh’ is aspirated; but in Punjabi ‘gəɖɖī‘ (vehicle), the first sound represented by /g/ is unaspirated (un-aspirated voiced velar plosive). Unlike Indian languages, RP English has no aspirated consonants. For example, PARSIL ‘Bhəruch’ (name of a city in the Indian state of Gujarat) was pronounced by the British, during the British Raj, as ‘Broach’ in English, and PARSIL ‘BuDDhist’ (a follower of Buddhism) is pronounced, even today, as ‘Budist’ /bʊdist/ in English.

ASCII: The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII, pronunciation: /ˈæski/ ass-kee) is a character-encoding scheme originally based on the English alphabet. The ASCII codes represent text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices that use text. Most modern character-encoding schemes are based on ASCII, though they support many more characters than ASCII does.

Dental plosives: Roughly described, these are the sounds produced when the tip of the tongue touches the back of the upper teeth, for example the first sounds of Hindi ‘teen’, IPA /ti:n/ (three) and ‘deen’, IPA /di:n/ (poor). RP English does not have these sounds.

Diphthong: In phonology, a diphthong (also called gliding vowel), refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. In the RP variety of English, /e/ of ‘get’ glides into /i/ of /sit/ to produce the diphthong /ei/ of ‘eight’. In most dialects of English, the words eye, boy, and cow contain examples of diphthongs. In the International Phonetic Alphabet, pure vowels are transcribed with one letter each, as in English ‘sun’ [sʌn]. Diphthongs are transcribed with two letters, as in English ‘sign’ [saɪ̯n] or ‘sane’ [seɪ̯n]. The two vowel symbols are chosen to represent the beginning and ending positions of the tongue, though this can be only approximate.

Fricatives: Consonants, such as / f /, /v/, / θ / or / s / in English, produced by the forcing of breath through a constricted passage in the mouth, accompanied by audible friction, are called fricatives.

[In Sanskrit, the fricatives sh, ʂ and s are called ‘ushmən’ (heat producing sounds, the sibilants). /θ/ is not a Sanskrit or IL sound. The IL sound that comes acoustically close to it is ‘aspirated, unvoiced, dental plosive’ which may be transliterated in PARSIL as ‘тh’. The /f/ and /v/ are also not Sanskrit or IL sounds but because of influence of English, they are often pronounced as substitutes for the IL /ph/ and /w/. Till the writing of this book, the sounds f/ph and v/w are not meaning changing phonemes in IL].

Grapheme: The term grapheme stands for a minimal unit in a writing system, consisting of one or more symbols to represent a distinctive, ‘meaning-changing’ sound (called phoneme) in a language. The grapheme is to writing what the phoneme is to speech. In spelling systems that are non-phonemic – such as the spellings used most widely for written English – multiple graphemes may represent a single phoneme. For example, the word ‘ship’ contains four graphemes (s, h, i, and p) but only three phonemes, because ‘sh’ is a digraph (a pair of characters used to write one phoneme like ‘ea’ in ‘meat’ or ‘th’ in ‘path’). Conversely, a single grapheme can represent multiple phonemes: the English word ‘box’ has three graphemes, but four phonemes: / bɒks /.

Harvard-Kyoto: It’s a writing system for Indic languages. Compared to IAST (described below), Harvard-Kyoto, as a writing system, looks much simpler. It does not contain all the diacritic marks that IAST contains. This makes typing in Harvard-Kyoto much easier than in IAST. The short coming, if we say so, is that Harvard-Kyoto uses capital letters that appear unexpectedly in the middle of words and often make it difficult for a lay man to read.

Homograph: A homograph is a word or a group of words that share the same written form but have different meanings.

Homonym: In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings (in other words, are both homographs and homophones), usually as a result of the two words having different origins.

IAST: The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is the most popular academic standard for the Romanization of Sanskrit. IAST is the de-facto standard used in printed publications, like books and magazines, and with the wider availability of Unicode fonts, it is also increasingly used for electronic texts. Apparently, (unlike PARSIL) IAST was developed (and most competently at that!) before the Unicode Consortium published its exhaustive inventory of distinctive fonts, subsets and characters of languages of the world.

IPA: This is the abbreviation for the International Phonetic Association; it also stands for the International Phonetic Alphabet, which is used by many dictionaries to indicate pronunciation.

ITRANS: ITRANS is often said to be an extension of Harvard-Kyoto. Many web pages, as well as forums, are written in ITRANS. The ITRANS transliteration scheme was developed for the ITRANS software package, a pre-processor for Indic scripts. The user enters data in Roman letters and the ITRANS pre-processor converts the Roman letters into Devənāgərī (or other Indic scripts). Ref Wikipedia, ITRANS was developed by Avinash Chopde.

Minimal Pairs: In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words in a particular language, which differ in only one phonological element, such as a phoneme, and have a distinct meaning for each. For example, English ‘pin’ and ‘tin’, and Sanskrit ‘Tarun’ and ‘Varun’ constitute minimal pairs.

Palatal (sound): This is formed with some part of the tongue near or touching the hard palate posterior to the teeth ridge; for example, the ‘y’ of ‘yes’ and the ‘sh’ of ‘ship’ in English.

Phonemes: In most general terms, it may be said that two sounds are ‘phonemes’ in a language if substituting one for the other changes the meaning of a word. For example, /r/ and /l/ are phonemes in English because in the word ‘rip’, if the sound /l/ is substituted for the sound /r/, the word becomes ‘lip’, the meaning of which is altogether different from the original.

Phonetic transcription: This is the graphic representation of the sounds of a language using special, pre-agreed, graphic symbols (called phonetic symbols) so that these sounds can be reproduced later by reading out the said symbols. For example, the phonetic transcription, using the IPA symbols, of the Sanskrit word for ‘action’ as heard by a phonetician will be /kərmə/ (note, it is ‘as heard’, not ‘as written’ or ‘as silently read out’).

Retroflex: (adjective) bent or turned backward

Retroflex plosives: Roughly described, these are the sounds produced when the tongue curls backwards and back of the tip touches the palate; for example, the t-sound heard in Hindi ‘tamaatar’, /təma:tər/ tomato and the d-sound in Hindi ‘daaku’, IPA /ɖa:ku/ robber.

RP (Received Pronunciation): The accent of standard English. It is also referred to as BBC English or Queen’s English.

Sibilants: Among the fricatives, ‘sibilants’ are the ‘s’-like sounds. In English they are: /s/ in ‘bus’, /z/ in ‘buzz’, and the sounds represented by the IPA symbols / ʃ /, /ʒ/ / ʧ / and /ʤ/ in ‘hush’, ‘leisure’, ‘church’ and ‘judge’ respectively. In Sanskrit, they are ‘sh’ as in ‘Shyam’ proper noun, ‘ʂ’ as in ‘səṭkoɳ’ hexagon and ‘s’ as in ‘Sonī’ (Indian surname meaning ‘goldsmith’).

Transliteration into English: Changing the letters of words of a language into the corresponding characters of the Roman alphabet of English is called transliteration of those words into English. An example of such transliteration is changing the Sanskrit word for ‘action’ from Devanagari script to the spelling ‘karma’ in Roman script or changing it to ‘kərmə’ in PARSIL. Transliteration, unlike ‘phonetic transcription’ (described in an earlier paragraph under that heading), does not indicate pronunciation.

Translation: ‘Translation’ is quite different from ‘Transliteration’. It must be noted that translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. But while doing so, care is taken to see that the meaning is preserved.

Unicode: Unicode is a computing industry standard allowing computers to consistently represent and manipulate text expressed in most of the world’s writing systems. Developed in tandem with the Universal Character Set standard and published in book form as The Unicode Standard, Unicode consists of a repertoire of more than 100,000 characters.

Voiced/Voiceless: a voiced sound is one in which the vocal cords vibrate, and a voiceless sound is one in which they do not. For example, the first sound of the English word ‘bin’ is voiced, and that of ‘pin’ is voiceless.

Appendix H

Contribution from Vienna, Austria, by Ms Anja Drame

Deputy Director and Member ISO TC/37

Topic: PARSIL and International Standardization

For readers of Shreyas Munshi’s book on PARSIL, I have the pleasure of submitting my contribution, as follows:

Shreyas Munshi, the author of the book ‘Introducing PARSIL’, needs to be commended for more reasons than just writing the book. In my opinion, the reasons for which he needs to be commended are three in number:

One, for his bold attempt at shedding the old mindset and ‘going all out’ in taking full advantage of the advanced and advancing PC technology for transliteration of Indian language words into English, which is now a ‘global language’;

Two, for opting in favour of ‘standardization’ by downloading and using the internationally accepted standard IPA symbols and the Unicode fonts, and

Three, for presenting the reader-friendly special purpose phonetic alphabet PARSIL to the world-wide English-knowing users of Indian languages.

Munshi himself, probably, does not realize it but since I have been actively involved in the field of intercultural communication and in the development of international standards for the last so many years, I view PARSIL from a different perspective…an international perspective.

In the author’s own words, he has “envisioned PARSIL not as a ‘one-off’ innovation but as a dynamic writing system open to continual improvement”.

With such a lofty visionary philosophy, I can easily see PARSIL’s potential to grow into a standard which would help not only the Indians, but also the international community, to study, and benefit from, the scores of centuries old, culturally rich, Indian languages. Now they need to learn only the languages of India, not their scripts.

Standardization (I talk about it again and again and whenever I get an opportunity because that is my chosen field of activity!) which PARSIL could bring in, could make the above mentioned potential surely realizable.

In addition, Munshi perhaps does not see what I can foresee because of my experience in the field of standardization;

and that is that PARSIL, because of standardization of phonetic symbols, could open up a brand new industry in India: that of transliteration (at present, it is only the translation industry). I can explain it as follows:

Surveys and reports bring out the important fact that a good percentage of India’s young today study or want to study in English medium schools. They do speak their mother tongue at home and with their close friends but most of them do not know how to read their mother tongue and write in it. And because of this, they often remain unaware of the rich culture and beauty contained in the literature of their own mother tongues. Here, the reader-friendly PARSIL using the internationally accepted standardized symbols would now help such children, for the first time, to actually enjoy ‘reading’ the language, the spoken form of which, as Munshi says, they already know!

The reader-friendly PARSIL can work and create even new employment opportunities and bring diverse groups together.


While I have many people to thank for this bold presentation, I must honestly state that there are three persons whose names easily come first to my mind.

First of all, I must thank Prof Ravi Kumar, the founder president of Indian Translators Association and Convener of the “National Conference: Language & Translation Industry of India –  Opportunities and Challenges, 17-18 April 2009, New Delhi”, for inviting me as a Guest Speaker at the Conference and giving me an opportunity to make, in front of an enlightened group of Indian and International scholars, a power-point presentation of my small Research work on a writing system for transliteration into English of Indian language words. He and his highly qualified wife Ms Jaspreet Kaur, in their professional wisdom, saw some merit in what I had to say and invited me to speak, although I am not a translator!

My grateful thanks go also to Prof R P Bhatnagar, Ex-Professor and Chairman of Department of English, University of Rajasthan, and Prof Roger T Bell, Ex-Professor of Linguistics, University of Westminster, UK and Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguistics (London), for more than one reason.

The eighty-plus Dr Bhatnagar advised me to go full steam ahead and make my research available to society in general for gainful use. He, later, was kind enough to agree to write a Preface for my book.

Dr Bell, as a linguist, introduced me for the first time in my life to the language EWE spoken in Togo; Dr Bell brought to my notice how EWE has developed a writing system using the IPA and non-IPA Phonetic symbols. Encouraged by those words, I got down to putting my humble research effort into the form of a small book. Prof Bell has made very valuable comments and suggestions on my submission and has also graciously obliged me by writing the Foreword to my book.

Besides the above three scholars, I am highly indebted to the scholarly lady Ms Anja Drame from Vienna, Austria. Ms Drame is the Deputy Director and Member ISO TC/37. She has been relentlessly working for international standardization and after painstakingly reviewing my presentation, has written an elaborate article on the topic: “PARSIL and International Standardization” and to do justice to her zeal and passion for the subject, I have assigned a full appendix for her writing (Appendix H).

Proofreading is a difficult job and it becomes all the more demanding when the writing, of the type as is mine, includes not only technical and non-technical terms but also some innovative symbols; and for executing this arduous task of initial proof reading, and for making many valuable suggestions (many of which I accepted), I sincerely thank Prof Zarine Arya, ex-Head of the Department of English, Kirti College, Mumbai. After her initial proof reading, I have made changes and additions, because of which, I am told, a fresh proof- reading would be required.

My grateful thanks go also to Dr Dhananjay Madhukar Vaidya, who, besides being a Medical Graduate and Researcher (MBBS,PhD) at the Johns Hopkins Institute, Baltimore, Md, USA is an accomplished Sanskrit scholar. Dr Vaidya has helped me via emails in understanding many issues of Sanskrit including the ‘anuswaar’ by giving good doubt-removing examples. His profile on the Google says all about his research work in the medical field as well.

And finally, I must thank Cambridge University Press India, Hyderabad for his exacting evaluation of my work and conveying to me that “CUP India will be happy to accept” my publishing proposal. If my humble submission reaches people engaged in the field of transliteration, my grateful thanks would certainly go to CUP for publishing my book.

Shreyas Munshi, MA (Linguistics)