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Season 3 - Episode 8

Conjunct Consonants

10 min - Tutorial
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Anuradha takes us through the conjunct consonants in Sanskrit—ksa, tra, and jna. We look at their written forms, both devanagari script and the English transliterative, and explore the logic of how we make each sound using touch, sound, breath, and nasal actions.
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Apr 03, 2015
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Namaste dear Sanskrit Yoga family. We've almost got there. We have looked at what all the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet look like and sound like corresponding to the five places of pronunciation. Basically we've covered it all. Now we just have three conjunct consonants or letters that are combined together that often figure as part of the Sanskrit alphabet system. So the three letters that combine together are the ksh which is a combination of k and sh, ksh. The second one is the thr, th and r, thr. And the last one is the jnya, j and nnya. You say that very fast, it becomes the jnya. Now these three letters are important because in terms of the visual of these letters they look slightly different from just a mere combination of the two sounds.

We'll just try and see what the pictorial representation of these sounds look like. They're important words in the yoga world. For example, the goal of all yogic practices is moksh. That's the letter ksh. And the generous goddess of abundance, Lakshmi, has the same letter in it. So it's an important letter that you realise. And then we have the other sound tr, like in mantra. It's a soft sound. It's not a mantra, remember. It's a mantra. Or you have tantra, yantra, all these sounds. We also have the last letter which is the jnya, which is important in the yoga tradition because it corresponds to that knowledge that liberates everybody.

So it's pronounced as a jnyanam. I'd like to point out that sometimes the sound is also pronounced as jnya. There are variations. But if one goes to the root of the sound itself, how it is formed, it is a combination of j and nnya. And I think that in honesty to the sound tradition of the Sanskrit language, it would be pronounced probably as the nnya. That's the most honest way of saying it, I think. But you might hear other teachers who say different things. And yeah, try it out. So these are the conjunct consonants.

So the first one was a combination of these letters k and sh. I'll write it and show it to you. It was a combination of the guttural k. Now, when you don't put this line, it implies that the letter is the full guttural sound of k with the vowel a, k. When you add the small dash below it, then it becomes the element of touch alone minus the vowel. So it's the k. That is combined with the sh. And that gives us the ksh. Try and say that, ksh, which looks like this. It's a very beautiful letter to try and draw. We'll come to that lesson as well. And I hope you'll stay with me till then. So that's the k and sh leading to the ksh. In transliteration, which is the representation of the sound in the Roman script, we have the k plus the sh, the cerebral sibilant, which has a dot below it.

It then becomes the... Sanskrit is very much like mathematics. You can literally add all the sounds systematically and each of those sounds will be respected as you do with numbers. So it's a ksh. Got that? Ksh. Very nice. Say the word moksh. Lakshmi. Beautiful. Now we do the next letter, which is the tr. The tr is a combination of t and r. Is the dental th sound. And because it's just half the sound, we add the dash below it is the t plus the cerebral semi vowel r. That together will give us the tr. Do you have that? In the transliterated form, it's the t plus the r, r and a. This gives us the tr. You have that? The word mantra. Say that? Lovely. Yantra. Trikonasana. Fantastic. The last of the Kanjang consonants is the jnya, which is a combination of j, which is a palatal sound.

Half of that. Plus the nasal of that same group, nnya. This gives us the jnya. Say that? Jnya. The transliterated form, j plus nnya, gives us the jnya. You have that? Jnya. And some important words, jnyanam. You just have to make sure that you very quickly go from j into the nnya. Jnyanam. And then another word, yajnya. Meaning the offering or the sacrifice. Should we try saying that together? Kshra, tr, jnya. Once more, kshra, tr, jnya. Your turn. Super. Once last, we'll do it together. Kshra, tr, jnya. There. Now you can breathe freely as we've gone through the entire system of the Sanskrit alphabet.

Starting from the vowels, right up to the Kanjan consonants. And by doing this, we have covered all the sounds of creation.


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