View Full Version : Anunāsika (anusvāra) or candrabindu

28 June 2015, 06:22 PM
Namaste everyone!

Today, I was at temple for the Suṃdarakāṇḍa Pārāyaṇa and used the time to read and compare saṃskṛtaṃ with IAST romanization of the scripture. What caught my attention was the usage of both anusvāra with only a dot above letters and candrabindu with the half-moon under a dot.

As a matter of fact, the book passed out to anyone needed to follow along looked familiar as it is "Śri Rāmacaritamānasa (The Mānasa lake containing the exploits of Śri Rāma), Descent Five, Sundara-Kāṇḍa," which I have a copy of from the Gītā Press. Looking at the front of the book more closely, I see that it has Hindi text included.

Here are examples in the images.

I give up. It's not possible to upload image files here. You'll just have to figure out what I mean, since I cannot even copy and paste from that book, either.

Some words have the anusvāra (dot only above the clothes line) at the beginning of the word, in the middle, and sometimes at the end. Most of the time, the candrabindu shows up at the end of the word, unless there is a matra above the clothesline which doesn't give enough space for the candrabindu. I have seen the candrabindu show up in the middle of the word as well.

If you read the book here - http://www.gitapress.org/BOOKS/English/1318_Shri_Ramcharitmanas_Web.pdf - you'll see what I mean. Why do they use both the anusvara and the candrabindu?


29 June 2015, 10:48 AM

Why do they use both the anusvara and the candrabindu?
It made me curious too, so I did a search of 'difference between anusvara and chandrabindu'. To my surprise, several sites popped up including a wikipedia page for each of the two words.


The most I could find was "In Standard Hindi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Hindi), the anusvāra is traditionally defined as representing a nasal consonant homorganic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homorganic_consonants) to a followingplosive (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plosive), in contrast to the candrabindu (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candrabindu) (anunāsika), which indicates vowel nasalization (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasal_vowel). In practice, however, the two are often used interchangeably"; if that makes any sense to you. I doubt we currently have anyone in the forum, specializing in the nuances of sanskrit to explain it beyond what is in the wikipedia. But, somebody might surprise us.


29 June 2015, 12:48 PM
Namaste Believer,

That was as far as I got yesterday. Shrugs... I have no idea what the first statement means. Wait, let me reread this, and then go back to that book to see if it matches what's supposed to happen.

First, I'll note now so I don't forget. The first statement means several things. Homorganic means groups, and in this case, it means groups of consonants that happen in the same place within the mouth, thought the ACTION of what HAPPENS there may be different. Groups like (m, p, b) and (t, d, s, z, n, l) come to mind. The "nasal consonant" is referring to the (m, n) group. A plosive is a stop consonant, where air flow is stopped completely, like t, d, k, g, b, p. Candrabindu seems to indicate that you nasalize the vowel without changing what happens to the following consonant.

Now, let me try to put this together. Anusvāra means "after-sound." I believe this means that the nasalization occurs AFTER the vowel sound (after all, a syllable normally means the consonant/vowel combination). This means if you have śaṃkara, it means to pronounce it as śaṅkara. This means that the nasalization occurs not on the vowel during anusvāra, but immediately before the k sound. You pronounce the a as fully open and not nasalized, and then drop the velum or velar flap down right before the k sound. Don't be fooled by the look of the anusvāra in IAST, which just happens to look like an m with a dot under it. They had to assign the anusvāra SOME KIND of a letter to make it distinguishable from a period at the end of a sentence or abbreviation. Now, homorganic means that the anusvāra pronunciation must match the following consonant in WHERE IN THE MOUTH it occurs. Go back to the śaṃkara/śaṅkara example. Notice how the ṅ and k sounds happen in the same place in the mouth. The other example of anusvāra with the m sound instead of the n sound in the previous example is saṃbuddha to be pronounced as sambuddha. Notice how the ṃ and b happens in the same place of the mouth - on the lips. The location of the nasalization contact area has to match that of the plosive following the anusvāra. So on for saṃjaya/sañjaya.

Apparently, Hindi vis-a-vis Saṃskṛtam, candrabindu is used mainly in Hindi where there is room above the syllable affected, and is replaced by anusvāra when the consonant's matra extends above the clothes line, because it is important that it is clear that the candrabindu clearly belongs to the consonant below it and not the next consonant. It's hard to read when the candrabindu overlaps a part of the matra - is it e or ai that I'm reading behind the candrabindu? According to the information, in classical Saṃskṛtam, the candrabindu is used ONLY over an lla conjunct. However, as I have seen in the book questioned, that is not the case with the particular text being used. It apparently means to nasalize the vowel sound of the syllable ONLY and DO NOT put a nasalized consonant in front of the stop or consonant following said syllable. I will use parenthesis as the "candrabindu" to illustrate my tentative understanding. I see "manah(u) sakala" to mean that you nasalize the u sound ONLY and do not put an n consonant in front of the s of the next word. This is anunāsika. Imagine speaking an entire sentence of English in a completely nasal voice. You never make the nasal n or m sound in front of a consonant that is not fronted by m or n, only by some vowel directly. I have to remember that this is Hindi text, not Saṃskṛtam text in this particular book.

However, here - http://www.ubcsanskrit.ca/lesson3/sandhirules.html -
final त or न before ल -
त becomes ल्;
न becomes ’candrabindu’ anusvāra (ँ) + ल
tān lokān becomes t(ā)llokān - as I said before, I think it means to nasalize the letter a and go directly to the letter l without inserting a nasal n before the l sound.

Looking at Dakśinamūrti Stotra, I do see something over the letter v that looks like the candrabindu turned 90 degrees CLOCKWISE, but is attached to the clothesline, similar to what you would see in ī in independent form, not in the i in dependent form.

29 June 2015, 01:36 PM
Would you say that the anusvāra (anunāsika) works as a short-cut device? You would simply write a dot over the letter instead of writing out the nasal consonant homorganic, just like consonant conjuncts would save space and time. I just learned here that anunāsika has five places of occurance, depending on the varga of the consonant sound - http://all-about-sanskrit.blogspot.com/2012/11/samskrit-or-sanskrit-mighty-anusvara.html