The easiest way to understand the Sanskrit alphabet is by comparing it with the English language. Because of Sanskrit and English, very different! Remember this quotation “Angrezi is crazy” because you had no idea why C came after D and why do vowels and consonants work together. Well, you are in for a surprise when it comes to Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, vowels and consonants are given separate places, and there is a separate science involved in both of them. Let us begin with vowels.
Vowels can broadly be divided into 7 categories; these categories are made on the basis of the flow of air through those organs of the body which create sound.
- Talaavya or palatal sound: This refers to the vowel, ईand इ, this refers to the roof of the tongue touching the mouth. That is why it is called Palatal sound.
- Katya or Guttural sound: this refers to the sound, आ, and अ, this is when the sound is formed at the back of the oral cavity or at the throat.
- Murdhanya or Retroflex\cerebral: This refers to the vowel ऋand ॠ, this sound is produced by the tip of the tongue when it curls back.
- Oshtya or labial: This refers to the vowels उand ऊ are produced using the lips. It is for this reason that they are called Oshtya.
- Dantya or Dental: This refers to the vowel ऌ, this sound is produced when the tongue reaches the teeth.
- Kantoshtya or labia guttural: This refers to the sound of the vowel ओand औ, this sound is made near the throat by the usage of the rounding of lips and it is produced near the throat.
- Kantataalavya or Palato Guttural: This sound is made by the vowels एand ऐ, this particular sound is made by the tip of the tongue and the palate.
These are the ways in which vowel sounds are produced in the Sanskrit Alphabet.
Besides vowels there are Anusara and Visarga, these are अं produced as being, that is, like the primary sound in the word “come”. Visarga refers to the sound अः that is aha, which usually occurs word finally.
Besides, Swara(vowels), Anusara and visarga, there are thirty-three different consonants, these are: