Use of Devanagari for Sanskrit

Benjamin Fleming fleming_b4 at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 4 17:08:13 EDT 2007

Dear George Heart

I cannot speak broadly to the phenomenon, but I can note the patterns that
we find in MSS of the Shiva Purana in particular. The older MSS I examined
at the University of Madras were all Sanskrit-Telugu (ca. 17-19th c.),
whereas the Devanagari MSS at the Adyar library were typically much newer.

Hope that helps,

Best Wishes,

Benjamin Fleming

On 9/4/07 3:40 PM, "George Hart" <glhart at BERKELEY.EDU> wrote:

> In a draft about unicode Eric Muller has written "By the eleventh
> century, the modern script known as Devanagari was in ascendancy in
> India proper as the major script of Sanskrit literature."  This seems
> wrong to me -- certainly, in South India grantha, Telugu, Malayalam
> and Kannada scripts  continued to be used for Sanskrit into the 20th
> century and, to some extent, are still used (e.g. by priests in the
> Murugan temple in Concord, CA).  I would be interested in getting
> some feedback on this matter -- when and where did Devanagari become
> standard for Sanskrit?  I would guess that it begins fairly early in
> the North and only reaches South India in the 20th century.  Many
> years ago, I purchased 2 large collections of Sri Vaisnava books from
> the estates of two devotees who had passed away (their children had
> no use for them, sadly).  The books, all of which were published in
> the first half of the 20th century, include perhaps 1/3 Sanskrit
> texts.  Of these about 1/10 are in devanagari, 75% are in Telugu
> script and 15% are in grantha.  The collections also include a large
> number (30%) of Tamil books printed in Telugu script -- which enables
> one to write Sanskrit phonemes which are not represented in the Tamil
> script.  The rest are Tamil books in Tamil script, with Sanskrit
> (quoted and used liberally by commentators) generally in grantha.  It
> is worth remembering that after 1100 or so, the majority of Sanskrit
> writers have been South Indians -- at least that is what I have
> read.  George Hart

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