DEPT. OF ARCHAEOLOGY

Home :: Epigraphy :: Varieties of Inscriptions :: The Grantha Script

BACK

The Grantha Script

Grantha is the name applied to the script used in Tamil Nadu for writing the Sanskrit language. The word Grantha denotes in Sanskrit a literary work.   Evidently the script used for writing the Sanskrit works obtained the same name. At one time it was prevalent throughout South India. When the Malayalam language began to freely borrow words as well as the rules of grammar  from Sanskrit, this script was adopted for writing that language and was known as Arya Ezhuthu . Thus, a similar adoption for writing was also made in the Tulu speaking region. 

Both Grantha and Tamil scripts appear alike in modern forms. The evolution of both scripts from Brahmi was also more or less similar. The development  of Grantha script in Tamil Nadu may be divided into four periods; the archaic and ornamental, the transitional, the medieval and the modern.


Devolepment of Grantha Script in Various Times 


Archaic and ornamental variety is commonly known as Pallava Grantha. Mahendravarman's Tiruchirappalli rock cut cave and other cave temple inscriptions, Narasimhan's Mamallapuram, Kanchi Kailasanatha and Saluvankuppam temple inscriptions, Mutharaiyar's Senthalai inscriptions are examples of this variety. As these are ornamental and florid they could not have been in everyday use; probably they were intended only for incising inscriptions. 



Musical Notes in Grantha Script, Kudumiyanmalai,
Pudukkottai Dist. 6th Century CE

 

The transitional variety of Grantha inscriptions roughly belong to three centuries between 650 CE and 950 CE. Later Pallava's (Nandivarman's Kasakudi, Udayendram plates etc.) and Pandyan Nedunjadaiyan's Anaimalai inscription are samples for this. 

The medieval variety is from about 950 CE to 1250 CE. Inscriptions of imperial Cholas of Thanjavur are examples for this. 

The modern variety belongs to later Pandya's and Vijayanagarar period.

After the introduction of printing machines many Sanskrit books transcribed from palm leaves were printed in Grantha script. After Independence the popularity of Hindi in Deva Nagari script influenced all printing works and Grantha script went out of vogue.

 


Musical instrument's name in Grantha Script , Parivadinida Kudimiyanmalai 7th century C.E



Inscription in Grantha Script, Mahendravarman,
Pallava, 7th Century CE, Tiruchirappalli
vambu , vuka , vvdapu 

 



Printed page in Grantha script


Inscription in Grantha Script, Mutharaiyar Chiefs. 
9th Century CE, Sendalai, Thanjavur Dist.



Grantha script in modern form

 



Pillar Inscription (Broken to several pieces) in Grantha Script, Rajaraja I (985-1012) Rajaraja site museum, Thanjavur 


19th century palm leave manuscript, Kaumara vyakaranam , in Grantha script

 

 

[ Top ]