Grantha

From Academic Kids

Grantha (from Sanskrit ग्रन्थ grantha meaning book or manuscript) is an ancient script that was prevalent in South India. It is generally supposed to have evolved from Brahmi, another ancient Indic script. It has influenced the Malayalam and Sinhala scripts.

Sanskrit and Grantha

Although Sanskrit is now almost exclusively written in the Devanagari script, the language lacked a standard script during its early history. The Grantha script was used to write Sanskrit in the Tamil-speaking parts of South Asia until the 19th century. In the early 20th century, it began being replaced by the Devanagari script in religious and scholarly texts, and the normal Tamil script (with the use of diacritics) in popular texts.

Missing image
John_3_16_Sanskrit_translation_grantham_script.gif
John 3:16 in Sanskrit, written in the Grantha script

The Grantha script was also historically used for writing Tamil-Sanskrit Manipravalam, a blend of Tamil and Sanskrit which was used in the exegesis of Sanskrit texts. This evolved into a fairly complex writing system which required that Tamil words be written in the Tamil vatteluthu 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 vatteluthu. 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 century.

In modern times, the Grantha script is mainly 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 nāmikarṇa naming ceremony, and to write the Sanskrit portion of wedding invitations 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.

Tamil and Grantha

It is suggested that Tamil was also written using Grantha script at some point in time, but currently Tamil has its own script system.

There have been attempts to mix Sanskrit words into Tamil in the past. Even though there are well-defined rules for writing foreign loan words in Tamil, a small number of people use the letters from the Grantha script for writing such words.

See also: Tamil alphabet

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