Numbered consonants in Tamil script abugida series

From: N. Ganesan (
Date: Tue Jun 28 2005 - 10:25:18 CDT

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    NG >This fact is recorded in the Tamil chapter of the Unicode
    >standard also. The unicode std. mentions using 2,3,4 as
    >subscripts on the Tamil letters (k, c, T, t, p in
    >transliteration). There are hundreds of books existing
    >using 2,3,4 as subscripts or superscripts upon
    > க், ச், ட், த், ப் (= k, c, T, t, p respectively in
    >transliteration) to transliterate voiced and aspirated
    >letters (called varga letters of k, c, T, t, p) on Indic scripts into Tamil.

    Richard Wordingham asked:
    How are they combined with the vowel? Is
     it C + V + subscript/superscript
    digit in Unicode?

    I always think Tamil script books in terms of Venn diagrams. Tamil
    books with no Tamil Grantha letters dwelling in the innermost circle
    (the letters defined in Tolkaappiyam and Nannuul grammars),
    There, Pure Tamil letters only:
    க், ங், ச், ஞ், ட், ண், த், ந், ப், ம், ய், ர், ல், வ், ழ், ள், ற், ன்

    Next, is the circle, in most common use, something like Unicode Tamil
    code chart plus addition for anuswaram and vocalic r. Of course, the
    outermost circle in the Venn chart is the one with numbered (2,3,4
    super- or sub-scripts), vocalic RR, voclaic L, vocalic LL. This
    one-to-one round trip transliteration between other Indic scripts and
    Tamil script. Stripping 2,3,4 will yield the next inner circle. Then
    there are well defined rules to convert all grantha consonants into 18
    "Pure Tamil"
    consonants to reach the innermost circle of the
    Venn diagram, if the user needs/desires it. Another analogy: This Venn
    diagram resembles the famous Hindu temples at Madurai (Meenakshi
    goddess), Srirangam (Vishnu Narayana), Chidambaram (Natarajar, famous
    Chola emperors'
    bronzes in world museums) or Tirupati (Vishnu). Outer prakarams
    (enclosures) lead to innerprakarams, the inner sanctum is the cell, if
    you may, where the godlike Pure Tamil consonants reside.

    Coming to your question of how the numbered
    consonants and their corr. abugida series work,
    please check the Vaishnava slokams page at:

    The last column has the numbered consonants text
    of many Vaishnava slogans. They will have
    most of abugidas and the way numbered consonants
    are employed. Note also the use of U+0bb6 (sha)
    used extensively.

    Naga Ganesan

    Many Vaishnava slokams were written in Tamil Nadu.
    The most famous Bhakti epic in Sanskrit is
    Bhagavatham inspired and written in Tamil Nadu
    (cf. (late) F. Hardy, Virahabhakti. Oxford)
    Bhagavatham is famous in Bengal, and popularized
    in the West by Hare Krishnas.

    Steve Jobs, Apple founder, had good meals at Hare Krishna
    temple in his youth. See his talk at Stanford on the inspiration
    behind aesthetic proportional fonts in PCs etc.:

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