siddha-mAtrkA script

malaiya at ives.CS.ColoState.EDU malaiya at ives.CS.ColoState.EDU
Thu Jul 13 23:38:58 UTC 1995

Srinivasan Kalyanaraman wrote: "What does siddha-mAtrkA 'mean' when such a 
  name is assigned to an ancient script which originated from brAhmI and spread 
  to Cambodia and Thailand? ....
  siddha-mAtRkA = name of the Indian alphabet derived  from late brAhmI script 
  which is the source of many scripts of south asia; wrongly called kuTila."

Perhaps the name siddha-mAtrkA implied that the script had "perfect"

Al-beruni (b. 973 CE, arrrived in Gazna in 1017) describes siddha-matrika as 
the popular script in the madhya-desh region (around Kannauj), also used by 
scholars from  Kashmir to Varanasi. He mentions several other scripts some of 
which are apparently variations of siddha-matrika, others being somewhat 

One can take the script of inscriptions of Gahadawal and Paramar kings to
be late siddha-matrika. The script is characterized by straight vertical 
and horizontal strokes, rather than circular strokes. Modern Devanagari
is rather close to this script.

All the native scripts of India, Ceylon, Tibet and south-east Asia
are derived from Brahmi. Japanese Katakana and Korean scripts can also be
considered to be influenced by Brahmi derived scripts. Both were invented
by Buddhist monks to represent Sanskrit sounds correctly.

Kutila (6-9th cent) is defined to be the precurser of both Nagari and Sarada.
We can take it to be early siddha-matrika.

We can regard Cambodian and Thai scripts to be descendents of siddha-matrika.
Javanese is derived from pre-Gupta spouth Indian scripts.

The symbols in Mauryan Brahmi have well defined geometrical shapes 
(triangle = e, circle = Th, square = b etc), suggesting it was an
invented rather then a derived script. That would not exclude external

Yashwant K. Malaiya

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list