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Grantha script

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Dharmeshwara Temple Plates HT-34.jpg
Sanskrit inscriptions written in Grantha script � Dharmeshwara temple copper
plates, near Bangalore, Karnataka, India, Vijayanagara Empire.
Languages Sanskrit, Tamil
Time period
6th Century CE -present
Parent systems

Tamil Brahmi

Vatteluttu script

Child systems
Cham script
Tigalari script
Malayalam script
Sinhala script
Dhives akuru
Sister systems
Kolezhuthu, Tamil script
Direction Left-to-right
ISO 15924 Gran, 343
Unicode alias
Unicode range

The Grantha script (Tamil: ?????? ???????, translit. Kiranta e?uttu;

Malayalam: ??????????; Sanskrit: ???????????, translit. grantha lipi) is an Indian
script that was widely used between the sixth century and the 20th centuries by
Tamil and Malayalam speakers in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala,
to write Sanskrit and the classical language Manipravalam, and is still in
restricted use in traditional Vedic schools (Sanskrit veda pa?hasala).[1] It is a
Brahmic script, having evolved from the Tamil-Brahmi.[2] The Malayalam script is a
direct descendant of Grantha, as are the Tigalari and Sinhala scripts.

The rising popularity of Devanagari for Sanskrit and the political pressure created
by the Tanittamil Iyakkam[3] for its complete replacement by the modern Tamil
script (along with the promotion of Devanagari as a pan-Indian Sanskrit script) led
to its gradual disuse and abandonment in Tamil Nadu in the early 20th century,
except for specialised Hindu religious literature. Grantha script still lives in
Tamil Nadu, albeit in reduced state.

1 History
2 Types of Grantha
2.1 Pallava Grantha
2.2 Western Grantha
2.3 Medieval Grantha
2.4 Modern Grantha
3 Grantha encoding
3.1 Vowels
3.2 Consonants
3.3 Consonant clusters
3.4 Grantha numbers
4 Text samples
5 Comparison with other scripts
5.1 Vowel signs
5.2 Consonant signs
6 Unicode
7 References
8 External links

Brahmic scripts
The Brahmic script and its descendants
Northern Brahmic
Southern Brahmic


In Sanskrit, grantha is literally 'a knot'.[4] It is a word that was used for
books, and the script used to write them. This stems from the practice of binding
inscribed palm leaves using a length of thread held by knots. Although Sanskrit is
now mostly written with Devanagari, Grantha was widely used to write Sanskrit in
the Tamil-speaking parts of South Asia until the 19th century. Scholars believe
that the Grantha script was used when the Vedas were first put into writing around
the 5th century CE.[citation needed] In the early 20th century, it began to be
replaced by Devanagari in religious and scholarly texts and the Tamil script (with
the use of diacritics) in popular texts.

The Grantha script was also historically used for writing Manipravalam, a blend of
Tamil and Sanskrit which was used in the exegesis of Manipravalam texts. This
evolved into a fairly complex writing system which required that Tamil words be
written in the Tamil script and Sanskrit words be written in the Grantha script. By
the 15th century, this had evolved to the point that both scripts would be used
within the same word � if the root was derived from Sanskrit it would be written in
the Grantha script, but any Tamil suffixes which were added to it would be written
using the Tamil script. This system of writing went out of use when Manipravalam
declined in popularity, but it was customary to use the same convention in printed
editions of texts originally written in Manipravalam until the middle of the 20th

In modern times, the Grantha script is used in certain religious contexts by

orthodox Tamil-speaking Hindus. Most notably, they use the script to write a
child's name for the first time during the naming ceremony, and to write the
Sanskrit portion of traditional wedding cards and announcements of a person's last
rites. It is also used in many religious almanacs to print traditional formulaic
summaries of the coming year.
Types of Grantha
Pratyahara Sutras in Grantha Script

Grantha script may be classified as follows:[5]

Pallava Grantha
Main article: Pallava script

An archaic and ornamental variety of Grantha is sometimes referred to as Pallava

Grantha. They were used by the Pallava in some inscriptions. Mamallapuram
Tiruchirapalli Rock Cut Cave Inscriptions, Kailasantha Inscription come under this

The Pallavas also produced a distinctive script separate from the Grantha family.
Western Grantha

The Tigalari-Malayalam script is called Western Grantha. Currently two varieties

are used: Brahmanic, or square, and Jain, or round. The Tigalari-Malayalam script
was a variety of Grantha dating from the 8th or 9th century CE. It later split into
two distinct scripts � Tigalari and Malayalam.[6]

This type of Grantha was used by Cholas approximately from 650 CE to 950 CE.
Inscription of later Pallavas and Pandiyan Nedunchezhiyan are also examples for
this variety of Grantha Script.
Medieval Grantha

Inscriptions of the Imperial Thanjavur Cholas are an example for Medieval Grantha.
This variety was in vogue from 950 CE to 1250 CE.
Modern Grantha

Grantha in the present form descended from later Pandyas and the Vijayanagara
rulers. The Modern form of Grantha is very similar to Malayalam script and the
Modern Tamil Script.
Grantha encoding

The font used in the following tables is e-Grantamil taken from INDOLIPI.

The glyphs below denote the late form of Grantha Script, which can be noticed by
its similarity with the Modern Tamil Script.

Grantha Vowels.svg

Grantha Consonants.svg

As with other Abugida scripts Grantha consonant signs have the inherent vowel /a/.
Its absence is marked with Virama:

Grantha Halant.svg

For other vowels diacritics are used:

Grantha Matras.svg

Sometimes ligatures of consonants with vowel diacritics may be found, e.g.:

Grantha VowelLig.svg

There are also a few special consonant forms with Virama:

Grantha FinCons.svg
Consonant clusters

Grantha has two ways of representing consonant clusters. Sometimes, consonants in a

cluster may form ligatures.

Grantha ConsLig.svg
Ligatures are normally preferred whenever they exist. If no ligatures exist,
"stacked" forms of consonants are written, just as in Kannada and Telugu, with the
lowest member of the stack being the only "live" consonant and the other members
all being vowel-less. Note that ligatures may be used as members of stacks also.

Grantha SubLig.svg

Special forms:

Grantha Ya.svg ?ya? when final in a cluster, and Grantha r.svg ?ra? when non-
initial become Grantha yvat.svg and Grantha rvat.svg respectively. These are often
called "ya-phalaa" and "ra-vattu" in other Indic scripts.

Grantha yrLig.svg

Grantha r.svg ?ra? as initial component of a cluster becomes Grantha

reph.svg(called Reph as in other Indic scripts) and is shifted to the end of the
cluster but placed before any "ya-phalaa".

Grantha RephLig.svg
Grantha numbers

Grantha Numbers.svg
Text samples

The Grantha text of each sample is followed by a transliteration into Latin (ISO
15919) and Devanagari scripts.

Example 1: Taken from Kalidasa's Kumarasambhavam

Grantha Kalidasa Kumarasambhavam.svg

astyuttarasya? disi devatatma himalayo nama nagadhiraja?.

purvaparau toyanidhi vagahya sthita? pr?thivya iva manada??a?.

???????????????? ???? ????????? ??????? ??? ??????????

????????? ??????? ?????? ?????? ???????? ?? ?????????

Example 2: St. John 3:16

By comparing the old print from 1886 with the modern version given below one
may see the difficulties the typesetter had with Grantha.

John 3 16 Sanskrit translation grantham script.gif

Grantha Text2.svg

yata isvaro jagatittha? prema cakara yannijamekajata?

putra? dadau tasmin visvasi sarvamanu?yo yatha
na vinasyananta? jivana? lapsyate.

?? ?????? ???????? ????? ???? ?????????????

?????? ??? ??????? ???????? ??????????? ???
? ???????????? ????? ?????????

Below is an image of a palm leaf manuscript with Sanskrit written in Grantha

Tamil-Palm-1 (cropped).JPG
Comparison with other scripts
Vowel signs
Grantha script vowel comparison with Malayalam, Tamil, Sinhala

Note: As in Devanagari ?e? and ?o? in Grantha stand for [e?] and [o?]. Originally
also Malaya?am and Tami? scripts did not distinguish long and short ?e? and ?o?,
though both languages have the phonemes /e/ /e?/ and /o/ /o?/. The addition of
extra signs for /e?/ and /o?/ is attributed to the Italian missionary Constanzo
Beschi (1680�1774), who is also known as Viramamunivar.
Consonant signs

Grantha ConsComp.gif

The letters ? ? ? and the corresponding sounds occur only in Dravidian languages.

Another table that compares the consonants ka , kha, ga , gha, ?a with other
Southern Indic scripts such as Grantha, Tigalari, Malayalam, Kannada and Sinhala.

Tigalari script comparison chart..jpg

Main article: Grantha (Unicode block)

Grantha script was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of
version 7.0.

The Unicode block for Grantha is U+11300�U+1137F:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C
U+1130x ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??
?? ??
U+1131x ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??
?? ?? ?? ??
U+1132x ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??
?? ?? ?? ??
U+1133x ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??
?? ?? ?? ??
U+1134x ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??
?? ??
U+1135x ?? ??
?? ?? ??
U+1136x ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??
U+1137x ?? ?? ?? ?? ??


1.^ As of Unicode version 12.0

2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points



"Grantha". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2012-03-11.

Singh, Upinder (2008-01-01). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From
the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. ISBN 9788131711200.
The Tamil Purist Movement: A Re-evaluation, by K.Kailasapathy
BANARASIDASS, 1900. 15. Print.
"EPIGRAPHY � Inscriptions in Grantha Script". Retrieved 2012-03-11.

"Tulu-Malayalam script (writing system) � Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2012-03-11.


Reinhold Gr�nendahl: South Indian Scripts in Sanskrit Manuscripts and Prints,

Wiesbaden (Germany) 2001, ISBN 3-447-04504-3
K Venugopalan: A Primer in Grantha Characters.
Tamil script Tamil script

External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grantha script.

Quick facts about Grantha at

Article at Omniglot
Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department � Grantha Webpage
Digitised Grantha Books

Online Tutorial for Grantha Script


Types of writing systems


Tamil language


Kawi family

Learn Grantha Basics :