Historically, did the Sanskrit alphabet (varnamala) contain two 'la' consonants (vyanjan varnas)? It seems there was one in the 'ya' series (varga) and another one in the 'sha' series.

Current texts on Sanskrit or Hindi grammar and Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskrit#Phonology) show an alphabet with only one 'la' but this blog post (https://shubhamalock.com/remedies/mantra-suitability/) and the repeated occurrence of 'la' in the "kulakul chakra" in these two translations of the Sanskrit work "Brihat Tantrasara" - 1 2 have led me to believe otherwise.

Plus there is also the fact that the Unicode section on Devanagari contains two code-points U+0932 and U+0933 corresponding to 'la'.

  • The answer is already a better informed one that I could give, but at least I want to mention that the is present somewhere on Wikipedia, just not on the Sanskrit page. Also it seems to be in use in modern languages such as Marathi. Feb 21, 2021 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


There are two laterals in Vedic Sanskrit, transliterated as l and , and rendered in Devanagari as ल and ळ. is not part of Paninian (Classical) Sanskrit, so if by Sanskrit you mean Paninian Sanskrit, then no. The harder question is about "alphabet" and "historical". ळ has been used for some time to write that sound of Vedic Sanskrit, but it is a short period in the scheme of the history of Sanskrit. A distinction is available in Brahmi script (which is not a single uniform thing) between 𑀴 [ḷa] and 𑀮 [la], but the script is also used to write Tamil, and it is unlikely that any ancient uses reflect Sanskrit usage as opposed to some other language. Since the Vedas are transmitted orally, extant written Vedic texts are fairly new, at most from the twelfth century. I would conclude that the phonological distinction is very old (also not robust), and the writing distinction is modern.

  • Thanks for your answer.
    – chhatra
    Feb 21, 2021 at 19:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.