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Lesson 4: Anusvara and Visarga
In Lesson 1, two elements were briefly discussed namely, the anusvāra and the visarga. The anusvāra is the generic nasal element, while the visarga is the aspirate element. These two are very interesting, for they are neither consonants nor vowels. They are just sound markings. Imagine them as vowel markings without a vowel designated for them (remember, they are not vowels!). This lesson will be devoted to adding the anusvāra and visarga markings.
1. The anusvāra has a very nasal sound. It sounds like the “n” in the French word “bon.” In transliteration, the symbol for the anusvāra is “ḿ”.
2. The visarga has an “aspirate” sound. The visarga is denoted by “ḥ”. For example, “aḥ” is pronounced as “aha.”
HOW TO APPLY ANUSVARA AND VISARGA
Just like the vowel markings, the anusvāra and visarga are applied to the consonant. The anusvāra is placed on top of the consonant, while the visarga is placed on the right side of the consonant. Figure 4.2 shows how the letter “ka” looks like when the anusvāra and visarga are accepted.
Unlike the vowel markings which can only be applied to consonants, the anusvāra and visarga can be applied to vowels. Here is the vowel “i” with the anusvāra and visarga on Figure 4.3
Lastly, a consonant with a vowel marking can also receive an anusvāra or visarga. Notice the syllabs “du” with the application of anusvāra and visarga on Figure 4.4
At this point, it is assumed that one is able to read words in Devanagari using the steps. If one is still not familiar, it is highly recommended to relearn Lessons 2 and 3.
Try spelling these words using Devanagari Script:
1. nṛsiḿha (Lord’s incarnation as man-lion (Nṛsiḿhadeva)
2. kaḿsa (Kamsa: Demon king from early chapters of Krsna’s pastimes)
3. ataḥ (therefore in Sanskrit)
UPDATED: June 16, 2009