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Lesson 8: The letter “ra”




This lesson covers the final chapter of learning how to read Devanagari. This chapter covers one letter: letter “ra.” This letter has so many exceptions to the rule on vowel markings and consonant clusters. Therefore, a special chapter must be discussed on “ra.” This will be divided into three sections: vowels u and ū; half-letter form, second-clustered form.


VOWELS “u” and “ū”

“Ra” follows all of the rules of vowel markings except for short “u” and long “ū” to form ru and respectively. Figure 8.1 shows how the ru and should be written.

Figure 8.1



Recall from Lesson 5 and 6, letter “ra” is not a stick letter that there is an explicit “half-form.” There is a consistent form that the half-letter of “ra” (technically “r”) has.  Figure 8.2 shows the half-form and the word “pārtha (another name of Arjuna).” Note that the “r” is on top of the letter.

Figure 8.2



If “ra” is the second letter of the cluster, then “ra” assumed a specialized form. Unlike the consonant clusters from Lessons 5 and 6 where the second letter assumed full form, clusters with “ra” as the second letter allows the first letter to assume full form and “ra” with two special symbols shown in Figure 8.2. The one on the left is for letters with “sticks” while the right is for letters without a “stick.” Except for the explicit consonants mentioned in the last lesson, all consonants obey this rule.

Figure 8.3

These are the only discussion points for the letter “ra



Try spelling these words using Devanagari Script:

1. dharma (religious principle and duty in Sanskrit)

2. vicitravīrya (“father” of Drtarastra, Pandu, and Vidura in Mahabharata)

3. srīmatī (honorable title for a woman in Sanskrit)

4. karuṇā (pity/mercy in Sanskrit)

5. matsya rūpa (Lord’s incarnation of a fish)

6. svārtha (selfishness in Sanskrit)

7. tritīya (third in Sanskrit)

8. dhṛtarāṣṭra (Pandu’s elder brother in Mahabharata)

Transliterate the following Devanagari words.

ANSWERS to Lesson 8

UPDATED: June 16, 2009