Holy Languages Sanskrit Basics

Sanskrit Basics – class #1 – Learning to read & write the Devanagari letters

Holy Languages Sanskrit Basics

Maheshwara Sutras

The Maheshwara Sutras are said to have been revealed to the grammarian and sage Pāṇini by Lord Shiva. These sutras brilliantly organize all the sounds of Sanskrit in 14 sutras. The sutras encapsulate within them the entire grammar of Sanskrit.

Each of the sutras consists of a group of Sanskrit sounds and ends with a “dummy letter” or IT letter which is not a part of the group but is placed there for technical reasons of pronunciation.

For example, in the first sutra. अ इ उ ण्।  the group consists of the vowels अ इ and उ  and the consonant  ण् is the dummy letter or IT.


Devanagari: Transliteration:
१. अ इ उ ण्।२. ऋ ऌ क्।

३. ए ओ ङ्।

४. ऐ औ च्।

५. ह य व र ट्।

६. ल ण्।

७. ञ म ङ ण न म्।

८. झ भ ञ्।

९. घ ढ ध ष्।

१०. ज ब ग ड द श्।

११. ख फ छ ठ थ च ट व्।

१२. क प य्।

१३. श ष स र्।

१४. ह ल्।

1. a i u ṇ2. ṛ ḷ k

3. e o ṅ

4. ai au c

5. ha ya va ra ṭ

6. la ṇ

7. ña ma ṅa ṇa na m

8. jha bha ñ

9. gha ḍha dha ṣ

10. ja ba ga ḍa da ś

11. kha pha cha ṭha tha ca ṭa ta v

12. ka pa y

13. śa ṣa sa r

14. ha l


The following outstanding performance of the Maheshwara Sutras will surely help you to memorize them and taste their beauty:


Holy Languages Sanskrit Basics

A deeper study of the Sanskrit Sounds


Sparśa Vyanjanas (contacted consonants)

Group name Point of Articulation Hard Consonants / unvoiced (aghosha) Soft Consonants / Voiced (ghosha) Nasals (nasika)
Unaspirate (alpa-prana)          Aspirate (maha-prana) Unaspirate (alpa-prana) Aspirate (Maha-prana) Soft
ka varga Gutturals
ca Varga Palatals
ṭa Varga Linguals
Ta varga Dentals
Pa varga Labials



Antastha and Uṣman Vyanjanas ( Semivowels and sibilant consonants)


Point of Articulation Antastha(Semivowels) Ushman(Sibilants)


Holy Languages Sanskrit Basics

Introducing the Sanskrit sounds

The Sanskrit alphabet consists of 45 Varnas (letters or sounds): 12 Swaras (vowels) and 33 Vyanjanas (consonants).
These sounds represent almost all the varieties of sounds that can be pronounced by the human organ of speach.



a   आ ā    इ i    ई ī    उ u    ऊ ū    ऋ       ऌ

e    ओ o    ऐ ai   औ au  


Additional sounds:  Anuswara: अं aṁ   Visarga:  अः aḥ



ka    ख kha    ग ga     घ gha     ङ ṅa

ca    छ cha     ज ja      झ jha      ञ ña

ṭa     ठ ṭha      ड ḍa     ढ ḍha      ण ṇa

ta     थ tha      द da     ध dha      न na

pa     फ pha   ब ba     भ bha      म ma


ya   र ra   ल la   व va

ṣa   श śa   स sa   ह ha


Practice traditional style basic vowels chanting with these village school kids: