• Syllables are basically pieces of sound that have only one vowel on which the syllable is pronounced. Hence, syllables play an important role to be able to pronounce words as without syllables it words become meaningless (There’s no need to memorize them because you can probably figure out all of them through trial and error.)
Syllables: a, ā, ki, ye, o, ghai, au

• When the anusvāra or visarga appears, it ends the syllable.

• Syllables: aṃ, kaṃ, kāṃ, aḥ, kaḥ, kāḥ

Syllables  Non-syllables
a, ā, ki, ye, o, ghai, au  k, r, oa, ua, ia, y, l, ava

However, syllables changes when anusvāra and visarga appears;

Syllables  Non-syllables
am, kam, kām, ah, kah, kāh ma, ha

It is very important that a syllable should always start with a consonant. However, it can start with a vowel, but with following conditions.

  • If a syllable is at the beginning of the line then it starts with a vowel

There are some examples of how the syllables should be written properly which will help you get an idea of it.

Following is the correct way to write a syllable;


And following are the mistakes that you might mak

1.   tvām-a-haṃ-śṛ-ṇo-mi
2.   tvā-mah-aṃ-śṛ-ṇo-mi
3.   tvā-ma-haṃ-śṛṇ-o-mi
4.   tvā-ma-haṃ-śṛ-ṇom-i
(The syllables here are separated by “-“sign)

A syllable can end with a various number of consonants, but it must stop when a nasal and a stop appears.

Following are the correct ways:

1. kṛt-snam
2. kārt-snyā
3. man-tri-tam

Following are the incorrect ways:

1. kṛts-nam
2. kārtsn-yā
3. mant-ri-tam

Light and heavy syllable
It is very easy to understand, a syllable that ends with a short vowel is supposed to be a light syllable whereas the rest of them are a heavy syllable.

Light   Heavy 
a, ka, ra, hu, dhi, khṛ, ni  

ar, kap, kā, kāp, ā, ār, kār, aḥ, ghaḥ, gāḥ, aṃ, naṃ, kaṃ


However, all the consonants in a syllable are treated equally

In Sanskrit, the light syllable is called “laghu” whereas; heavy syllables are called “guru” which is related to the English word “grave

Analyzing syllables

Syllables are required to be properly placed in a sentence to convey proper meaning.

ad-yaus, ā-sa, sa-mā-sa, kṛt-snam

This is the correct way of writing syllables in a sentence. However, we should also consider that, what are the possible mistakes that can occur while placing a syllable.

 a-dyaus, ās-a, sam-ā-sa, kṛts-nam

 Some other examples

To understand the placing of syllables in a sentence, we need to consider some examples so that by analyzing them, we will get the idea of how the syllables are placed. Let us take the example of a line from Kalidasa’s poem, where the lover is asking the clouds to send his message to the beloved one,

                             kaścit kāntāvirahaguruṇā svādhikārapramattaḥ

                           śāpenāstaṃgamitamahimā varṣabhogyeṇa bhartuḥ

For a well-learned student, it is easy to find out that there are total 17 syllables present in the sentence. However, it is not possible for the beginners to recognize them. So let us begin by splitting the sentences in light and heavy syllables so that we can understand more efficiently.



(Red color represents heavy syllable and the blue represents light syllable)

As you can see here very well that a combination of light and heavy syllable is quite necessary to form a sentence. Without syllables, sentences won’t make sense and will fail to portray the meaning.