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Learning the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration
You learnt in the sections First Steps and Writing many important things about Sanskrit. And now you will learn a little International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST). Throughout this document we will analyze the IAST scheme. Since IAST is utilized very often, not only on this website obviously, it is very important for you to learn how to read and write in this alphabet. Have at hand the Sanskrit Alphabet.
Let us get down to work!
In this simple table you will be able to understand how IAST works to create special additional characters.
|International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST)|
|"a", "i" and "u" with a hyphen above are protracted doubly|
|Ṛ ṛ||"r" with a dot below (vowel)|
|Ṝ ṝ||"r" with a dot below and a hyphen above (vowel)|
|Ḷ ḷ||"l" with a dot below (vowel)|
"l" with a dot below and a hyphen above (vowel)
--rarely used, hence I generally do not include it in the Sanskrit alphabet--
|The dot above a letter indicates nasalization ("m" and "n" with a dot above them)|
|Ḥ ḥ||"h" with a dot below indicates the vowel named Visarga|
Ṭ ṭ Ṭh ṭh
Ḍ ḍ Ḍh ḍh
Ṇ ṇ Ṣ ṣ
|Consonants pronounced by slightly rolling the tongue back are written with a dot below them ("t", "th", "d", "dh", "n" and "s", all of them with a dot below)|
|Ś ś||"s" with a written accent above is just like English "sh"|
After the Guidelines, we are going to study deeply the subject. You will be able to see the original characters in Devanāgarī, then in IAST. Vowels come first:
And now, let us glance at the consonants. Let us start with the first 25 (Gutturals, Palatals, Cerebrals, Dentals and Labials):
And the Semivowels undergo no changes. Look:
And two Sibilants undergo some change. Look:
It has been a real effort to publish this document. I hope my effort helps you to understand the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST). The ideal situation would be that people knew Sanskrit characters and read everything as it is originally written, but this is generally not possible. For those people that cannot read original Sanskrit yet, IAST is very useful. Best wishes to you and keep studying Sanskrit.
This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.
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