It is said that Sanskrit was introduced to human civilization by the sages of Sanatan Dharma (the ancient most form of Hinduism) along with the divine scriptures, especially the Rig Veda and the Upanishads.
A famous verse in Sage Panini’s Ashtadhyayi says that the Panini grammar that is in use now is graced by Lord Shiva. Hence the first known organized sounds are known as the Maheshvara Sutra – Maheshvara being another name of Lord Shiva. Here is the verse from Panini’s Ashta-Dhyayi:
“At the end of His Cosmic Dance,
Shiva, the Lord of Dance,
with a view to bless the sages Sanaka and so on,
played on His Damaru fourteen times,
from which emerged the following fourteen Sutras,
popularly known as Shiva Sutras or Maheshvara Sutras”
The fourteen sounds of the Maheshwara Sutra, also known as the ‘akshara-samamnaya’, or the ‘recitation of phonemes’, is also the most ancient known Sanskrit alphabet sequence. It is at the same time a powerful Mantra and the vibrations of its sound are known to have healing powers. Here are the sounds:
1. अ इ उ ण् | 2. ऋ ऌ क् |
3. ए ओ ङ् | 4. ऐ औ च् |
5. ह य व र ट् | 6. ल ण् |
7. ञ म ङ ण न म् | 8. झ भ ञ् |
9. घ ढ ध ष् | 10. ज ब ग ड द श् |
11. ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व् | 12. क प य् |
13. श ष स र् | 14. ह ल् |
The fourteen sutras contain all the letters of the Sanskrit varnamala- the svaras (vowels) and all the vyanjanas (consonants). The sounds of the alphabet originated from Lord Shiva’s ‘damru’, which might therefore have been some kind of a sound device.
The Sanskrit alphabet sequence is known as the ‘Varna-mala’. The word ‘varna’ (वर्ण) means a ‘syllable’ and all the energies related to that syllable – colour, presiding force, the mouth part used to pronounce each syllable, the related body part etc.
In his paper ‘Mantra & Initiation’ by Pandit Rajmani Tignuit wrote, “….on a more subtle level, the Sanskrit phonemes relate to the energy currents which lie deep within the interior of the human body. Each of the 72,000 currents has a distinct sound, although they are too diffuse and vague to be enunciated distinctly. Moreover, the yogis have identified places in the body where two or more energy currents cross. In mantra shastra, the point where two energy currents intersect is called a sandhi, the point where three energy currents cross is called marma shthana, and the point where more than three energy currents converge is called a chakra. Here at the chakras, the vibratory patterns of energy are strong and vibrant. At the center of each chakra a distinct sound predominates, and other distinct sounds are centered around it. That is why, in kundalini yoga, each chakra is represented as having a particular letter at its center, as well as a letter on each petal…….. “.
In kundalini yoga, each chakra is represented as having a particular letter at its center. The Maheshwara Sutra is a healing mantra too as mentioned above and is chanted to revive the sick or dying.
Akshara – The Forgotten Periodic Table