Learning Devanagari

About two weeks ago, to my great surprise, I learned Devanagari.

After gaining an interest in the spiritual practices of India, I took to reading about the Devanagari script. Devanagari is used throughout the Indian subcontinent for writing many of its languages, including Hindi, Nepali, and Sanskrit.

While I was simply expecting to absorb some background knowledge about the script, I ended up absorbing the script itself!

Just through passive exposure, I formed a mental essence of just about every consonant and vowel in the script, reinforcing this nascent knowledge through some rote exercises. I took to practicing my pronunciation of the script’s large array of aspirated consonants and retroflex consonants. I even installed the Bolnagri keyboard layout so I could type the script instead of just writing it.

I am not claiming that I can understand Hindi or Sanskrit, but I seem to be decently capable of sounding out texts written in Devanagari, such as those found on the Hindi Wikipedia.

I am honored to have acquired this small appreciation for a script whose very structure exudes wisdom, to say nothing of the ancient texts it conveys across the millennia.

As a brief demonstration of what I have learned, I am going to type out a haiku in Devanagari using some terms which may be recognizable in the West:

ॐ धर्म कर्म योगी

aum dharma karma yogī

I encourage you to also learn the Devanagari script by reading its Wikipedia article, sounding out its consonants and vowels, and by reading my haiku. For bonus points, look up some of the terms in the haiku and understand what they mean.

I look forward to further improving my comfort with this elegant script and possibly learning more things without even realizing. I hope you will join me along the way!

First published June 30, 2019