|Languages||Nepal Bhasa, Sanskrit|
Disputed Origin of Brahmi Script
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols.|
Nepal script (Nepal Bhasa: नेपाल लिपि) is a group of scripts that developed from the Brahmi script and have been used to write Nepal Bhasa, Sanskrit, Nepali, Maithili language and Braj Bhasha.1 Nepal script is also known as Nepal Lipi and Nepal Akhala and have been used in Nepal since the 10th century.2 The alphabets were widely in use in Nepal and over 46,000 manuscripts written in the alphabets have been archived till date.3
Nepal or Nepalese script4 appeared in the 10th century. The earliest instance is a manuscript entitled Lankavatara Sutra dated Nepal Sambat 28 (908 AD). Another early specimen is a palm-leaf manuscript of a Buddhist text the Prajnaparamita, dated Nepal Sambat 40 (920 AD).5 One of the oldest manuscript of Ramayana, preserved till date, was written in Nepal Script in 1041. 6
Ranjana is the most ornate among the scripts. It is most commonly used to write Buddhist texts and inscribe mantras on prayer wheels, shrines, temples and monasteries. The popular Buddhist mantra Om mani padme hum (meaning ("Hail to the jewel in the lotus" in Sanskrit) is often written in Ranjana.
Among the famed historical texts written in Nepal Lipi are Gopalarajavamsavali, a history of Nepal, which appeared in 1389 AD,12 the Nepal-Tibet treaty of Nepal Sambat 895 (1775 AD) and a letter dated Nepal Sambat 535 (1415 AD) sent by Chinese Emperor Tai Ming to Shakti-simha-rama, a feudatory of Banepa.13 14
The different scripts derived from Nepal script are as follows:15
- Ranjana script
- Kunmol script
- Kwenmol script
- Golmol script
- Pachumol script
- Hinmol script
- Litumol script
- Prachalit Nepal script
Nepal script saw widespread use for a thousand years in Nepal. In 1906, the Rana regime banned Nepal Bhasa, Nepal Sambat and Nepal Lipi from official use as part of its policy to subdue them, and the script fell into decline. Authors were also encouraged to switch to Devanagari to write Nepal Bhasa because of the availability of moveable type for printing, and Nepal Lipi was pushed further into the background.16 However, the script continued to be used in religious and ceremonial purposes till the 1950s.
After the Rana dynasty was overthrown and democracy established in 1951,17 restrictions on Nepal Bhasa were lifted. Attempts were made to study and revive the old scripts,18 and alphabet books were published. Hemraj Shakyavamsha published an alphabet book of 15 types of Nepalese alphabets including Ranjana, Bhujimol and Pachumol.19
In 1952, a pressman Pushpa Ratna Sagar of Kathmandu had moveable type of Nepal script made in India. The metal type was used to print the dateline and the titles of the articles in Thaunkanhe monthly.20
In 1989, the first book to be printed using a computer typeface of Nepal script, Prasiddha Bajracharyapinigu Sanchhipta Bibaran ("Profiles of Renowned Bajracharyas") by Badri Ratna Bajracharya, was published.
Today, Nepal Lipi has gone out of general usage, but it is sometimes used in signage, invitation and greeting cards, letterheads, book and CD covers, product labels and the mastheads of newspapers. A number of private organizations are engaged in its study and promotion.
- Pokharel, Balkrishna (1975). Panchsay Barsha. Kathmandu: Sajha Prakashan. Pages 84 and 96.
- Tuladhar, Prem Shanti (2000). Nepal Bhasa Sahityaya Itihas: The History of Nepalbhasa Literature. Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Academy. ISBN 99933-56-00-X. Page 306.
- Nepal German Manuscript Cataloguing Project
- Sakya, Hemaraj (2004) Svayambhū Mahācaitya: The self-arisen great Caitya of Nepal. Svayambhu Vikash Mandal. ISBN 99933-864-0-5, ISBN 978-99933-864-0-7. Page 607. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- Shrestha, Rebati Ramanananda (2001). Newah. Lalitpur: Sahityaya Mulukha. Page 86.
- Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas
- Bendall, Cecil (1883). Catalogue of the Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the University Library, Cambridge. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 301. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- Lienhard, Siegfried (1992). Songs of Nepal: An Anthology of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas. ISBN 81-208-0963-7. Page 2.
- Shrestha, Bal Gopal (January 1999). "The Newars: The Indigenous Population of the Kathmandu Valley in the Modern State of Nepal)". CNAS Journal. Retrieved 23 March 2012. Page 87.
- "Ranjana Alphabet". Lipi Thapu Guthi. 1995.
- Tuladhar, Kamal Ratna (second edition 2011). Caravan to Lhasa: A Merchant of Kathmandu in Traditional Tibet. Kathmandu: Lijala and Tisa. ISBN 99946-58-91-3. Page 115.
- Vajracarya, Dhanavajra and Malla, Kamal P. (1985). The Gopalarajavamsavali. Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GmbH.
- Tamot, Kashinath (2009). Sankhadharkrit Nepal Sambat. Nepal Mandala Research Guthi. ISBN 978-9937209441. Pages 68-69.
- Rolamba. April-June 1983.
- Shakyavansha, Hemraj (1993, eighth edition). Nepalese Alphabet. Kathmandu: Mandas Lumanti Prakashan.
- Tuladhar, Prem Shanti (2000). Nepal Bhasa Sahityaya Itihas: The History of Nepalbhasa Literature. Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Academy. ISBN 99933-56-00-X. Page 14.
- Brown, T. Louise (1996). The Challenge to Democracy in Nepal: A Political History. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-08576-4, ISBN 978-0-415-08576-2. Page 21.
- Sada, Ivan (March 2006). "Interview: Hem Raj Shakya". ECS Nepal. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- "Nepal Lipi Sangraha". Gorkhapatra. 20 April 1953. Retrieved 7 May 2012. Page 3.
- Tuladhar, Kamal Ratna (22 March 2009). "A man of letters". The Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 23 February 2012.