[Fwd: Sabda - Bhartrihari]

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jul 18 11:43:16 CDT 2002

--- Vidyasankar <vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> >If we look at the consonants, the last eight,
> namely:
> >
> >y  r  l v
> >sh Sh s h
> >
> >seem to have a special place. It is interesting to
> note that
> y r l v are not really consonants. They are what are
> called diphthongs, and
> arise from combinations of vowels. You can't get k,
> c, T, t, p (varga-s)
> from just vowel combinations, but
> y = i + any vowel other than i,
> v = u + any vowel other than u, etc.
> In fact, all of this is captured succinctly in
> Panini's sUtra, iko yaN aci,
> that we discussed a week or so ago.
> Similarly, the full h can be related to the visarga,
> which is a plosive
> expulsion of air at the end of a vowel sound.
> S, sh and s are also derived from the visarga. That
> is why in sandhi
> situations, the visarga gets converted to one of
> these, e.g. kaH + cana =
> kaScana.
> Therefore, there are no nasal sounds corresponding
> to these sounds, and it
> is not necessary to artificially add them, by
> insisting upon a set of five
> sounds in each varga.

The 8 letters y r l v sh SH s h are the only ones in
Sanskrit whose sounds can be sustained even without
another vowel, and are therefore called "semi-vowels".

You can easily sustain the sound "a" or "e" for a long
period of time, so they are vowels. You cannot sustain
the sounds "k" or "t" for a long time, therefore they
are consonants. Consonants require a vowel in order
that their sounds may be sustained (e.g."ka" or "ta").

You can sustain "y" or "s" for a long amount of time,
however they can also be coupled with a vowel (e.g.
"ya"), so they are "semi-vowels".

There are other sounds that can be sustained for long
periods, e.g. "n" and "m" but they require nasal
airflow for their sustenance, and so are not classed
as semi-vowels.

The above stuff is purely my personal understanding.

> Vidyasankar


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