Brāhmī Alphabet    Brāhmī lipi

The Brāhmī alphabet is the ancestor of most of the 40 or so modern Indian alphabets, and of a number of other alphabets, such as Khmer and Tibetan. It is thought to have been modelled on the Aramaic or Phoenician alphabets, and appeared in India sometime before 500 BC. Another theory is that Brāhmī developed from the Indus or Harappa script, which was used in the Indus valley until about 2,000 BC.

The earliest known inscriptions in the Brāhmī alphabet are those of King Asoka (c.270-232 BC), third monarch of the Mauryan dynasty.

Brāhmī was used to write a variety of languages, including Sanskrit and Prakrit.

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: abugida - each letter represents a consonant with an inherent vowel. Other vowels were indicated using a variety of diacritics and separate letters.
  • Letters are grouped according to the way they are pronounced.
  • Many letters have more than one form.
  • Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines

Vowels and vowel diacritics

Brāhmī vowel diacritics

Consonants

Brāhmī consonants

Sample text

Sample text in Brāhmī
Asokan Edict - Delhi Inscription

Transliteration

devānaṁpiye piyadasi lājā hevaṁ āhā ye atikaṁtaṁ
aṁtalaṁ lājāne husa hevaṁ ichisu kathaṁ jane
dhaṁmavaḍhiyā vāḍheya nocujane anulupāyā dhaṁmavaḍhiyā
vaḍhithā etaṁ devānaṁpiye piyadasi lājā hevaṁ āhā esame
huthā atākaṁtaṁ ca aṁtalaṁ hevaṁ ichisu lājāne katha jane

Translation

Thus spoke king Devanampiya Piyadasi: "Kings of the olden time have gone to heaven under these very desires. How then among mankind may religion (or growth in grace) be increased? Yea, through the conversion of the humbly-born shall religion increase"

Source: http://www.virtualvinodh.com/brahmi-lipitva/144-asokan-edict-delhi

Some modern descendants of Brāhmī

Bengali, Devanāgarī, Gujarāti, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Khmer, Malayalam, Oriya, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan

Links

Information about Brāhmī
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C4%81hm%C4%AB_script
http://www.virtualvinodh.com/brahmi-lipitva
http://www.ancientscripts.com/brahmi.html
http://www.nibbanam.com/Brahmi/brahmi.htm

Brāhmī fonts
https://sites.google.com/site/brahmiscript/

The Edicts of King Asoka
http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/ashoka.html

ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical & medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic, Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham, Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic, Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform: http://guindo.pntic.mec.es/~jmag0042/alphabet.html

Writing system used to write Sanskrit

Brāhmi, Devanāgari, Grantha, Kharoṣṭhi, Śāradā, Siddham, Thai, Tibetan

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

Ahom, Badaga, Balinese, Batak, Baybayin (Tagalog), Bengali, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese, Chakma, Cham, Dehong Dai, Devanagari, Dives Akuru, Ethiopic, Evēla Akuru, Fraser, Gondi, Grantha, Gujarati, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Hanuno'o, Javanese, Jenticha, Kaithi, Kannada, Kharosthi, Khmer, Khojki, Kulitan, Lanna, Lao, Lepcha, Limbu, Lontara/Makasar, Malayalam, Manpuri, Modi, Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, Mro, New Tai Lue, Oriya, Pahawh Hmong, Pallava, Phags-pa, Ranjana, Redjang, Shan, Sharda, Siddham, Sindhi, Sinhala, Sorang Sompeng, Sourashtra, Soyombo, Sundanese, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Takri, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Tigalari (Tulu), Tikamuli, Tocharian, Tolong Siki, Varang Kshiti


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