Update: 2020-09-30 06:24 PM -0400


Romabama on Typewriter


by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA), and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL). Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL  Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR 
 - http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

index.htm | Top

Contents of this page

01. Introduction
02. Writing as recording and playback of Speech
03. Basics of Akshara
04. Lakkwak for sculpting Myanmar akshara
05. Circularly rounded shape of Myanmar akshara
06. Myanmar script - the Esoteric Akshara
07. Tantra, Mantra, Yantra, and Mandala
08. Origin of words or Etymology {byoap~pt}
  - commonality between {ba.ma} and Pali {pa-Li.}
  Burmese and Pali : two languages {sa.ka:} we are using every day
09. Burmese-Myanmar language and script
10. Asoka script or Brahmi and Myanmar akshara

"Script unites: Speech divides". Myanmar-script is the unifying element of all the ethnics of Myanmarpr just as the Latin script was the unifying script of the Roman Empire.

Never think of {sa.ka:} and {sa} as separate and different endeavours of humans to communicate with each other. Script is nothing but recording human speech.
See Wikipedia: - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing 200709

Gautama Buddha places great importance on correct usage of speech (and of course the corresponding recording of speech in script). He states: "These two conditions, monks, contribute to the confusion and disappearance of the genuine doctrine; which two?
   An ill-placed terminology (dunnikkhitta ca padavyajanaṁ), and
   a meaning ill-conveyed (attho ca dunnito).
When the terminology is ill-placed, the meaning is also not appropriately conveyed. "
- Aŋguttara-Nikāya, Dukanipāta, Adhikaraṇa Vagga - Sutta 20 Sad'Dhamma . See RBM-intro3.htm (link chk 200829)
I now claim that our teacher, the Buddha, to be not only a Scientist, but a Linguist, as well .

UKT notes
abugida {a.bu-gi-da.}-system of recording speech in script
alphabet {al-fa-bak}-system of recording speech in script
Basics of Akshara
Myanmar English Dictionary (MLC MEDict2006)
Representing the Nya-major {a.}/ {} : I'm no longer using the English-transcription Nya-gyi because of its wrong spelling
  Searching for Nya-major
Sanskrit-Devanagari : {ak~ka.ta. sa.ka:} {d-wa.na-ga.ri-ak~hka.ra}

Contents of this page

01. Introduction

- UKT, 1995Dec26, 031123, ..., 061201, ... , 200705, 200824

Language, the local one, has always been important for a people, and even the Gautama Buddha {gau:ta.ma. boad~Da.} had to step in to settle the language problem:
" I permit you, O Monks, to learn the word of the Buddha in his own language."
-- Cullavagga, V. 33. 1

After coming back from the 1995 Myanmar Independence Day reception held in Ottawa, hosted by our family friends Ambassador Dr. Kyaw Win and his wife Daw Kyi Kyi, it dawned on me that I should embark on a program to write e-mails for people who could speak and write Burmese {ba.ma sa.ka:} and {mrn-ma-sa}. Since e-mails at that time can only be written in Eng-Latin, the script would have to be transcribed Bur-Myan (Burmese speech written in Myanmar script) without the use of any specialized fonts. Transliteration would not do, because though the spelling is right, nobody would be able to read it. It must be transcription.

UKT 200824 The English speakers make spelling mistakes, while the British Colonialists were planning to take possession of our fair country, {mrn-ma pr}. Yet, they do make honest efforts to present the correct spellings. An example is: 
1. Burmese Spelling Book , ABM Press, 1883. Note the spelling of {mrm~ma n-pon:kri:}
- CBennett-BurmeseSpellingBook-1862<> / Bkp<> (link chk 200824)
2. Vocabulary and Phrase Book , by the same author, 3rd., 1886
- CBennett-VocabPhrase<> / Bkp<> (link chk 200824)
The Spelling Book has spellings such as {un.:} having both {auk-mric} "dot-below", and {wic~sa.} "double-dot" at the same time. However, in the Vocabulary and Phrase Book , there are no such spellings. If so, {mrm~ma} is wrong!

UKT 200824: The word "Myanmar" has been misunderstood:
1. all the peoples (ethnics) belonging to the geographical country are Myanmar peoples {mrn-ma lu-myo:}
2. the present geographical country which had changed political boundaries throughout history is Myanmarpr {mrn-ma pr}
3. the basic script written in Ka'gyi-Kha'gw is Myanmar script {mrn-ma ak~hka.ra} : the script used by all the ethnics except a few. "Akshara" is the Sanskrit word equivalent to {ak~hka.ra} in Bur-Myan
4. there is no such thing as Myanmar language {mrn-ma sa.ka:}: every language used by the indigenous peoples is a Myanmar language. We should use the hyphenated word Bur-Myan for the Burmese {ba.ma} speech written in Ka'gyi-Kha'gw or Myanmar akshara {mrn-ma ak~hka.ra}. Thus we should write Bur-Myan, Kayin-Myan, Mon-Myan, Shan-Myan, etc., each hyphenated word showing speech and script. I long to see Kachin-Myan and Chin-Myan - two languages which are using Latin-script.

My moto is "Script unites: Speech divides".
   Myanmar-script is the unifying element of all the ethnics of Myanmarpr.
My moto is not new. The underlying idea is that of Shin Kic'si, the Grammarian praised by Gautama Buddha.

Since I had already written a system - Burmese for Foreign Friends - which  could be easily adapted for this purpose, I started writing to my Burmese friends on the Internet. - BurMyan-indx.htm > B4FF1-indx.htm (link chk 200824)
Note: I wrote this unfinished story for our own amusement, and I listened to it to hear the voice of my dear departed wife. I have to stop writing this story when she died in 2004, soon after which this TIL webpage went on line.

The following were parts of the various emails which I had sent out beginning with the words "Meit sway hkin bya:"

Burmese speaking people on the Internet should be able to email in Burmese. As a temporary measure it would be appropriate to develop a Burmese-Roman script  which we would be able to type out using the English computer-keyboard, which is more or less a typewriter-keyboard.

UKT 200824: The word Burmese-Roman is the former usage when I did not realized Roman is the speech of Rome, and the script is Latin. I've to change my usage to Bur-Lat and emphasize that Romabama is not "Romanized Burmese": It is {ro:ma.ba.ma} "back-bone of Bamah".

I've been trying to come up with a system similar to Malay. In fact I've been trying to do something like this off and on since I was in my teens using my father's typewriter -- that was before Burmese typewriters came into use. However, if I were to transliterate based on English system of pronunciation, I soon got into unsolvable problemss. Why do the English pronounce PUT one way and BUT differently? I think we should use some French way of pronunciation which is more consistent with the spelling. Or Spanish. Alas, I've no knowledge of Spanish which is like French a Romance language.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_languages 200926
"The five most widely spoken Romance languages by number of native speakers are Spanish (480 million), Portuguese (255 million), French (77 million), Italian (65 million), and Romanian (24 million)."

My system which I'm trying to perfect is based on the Burmese way of spelling - not on the Burmese way of pronunciation. So my first rule is to write down the letters of the alphabet with vowels points or points to differentiate the stress. The first 3 letters of the Burmese alphabet: ka. / hka. / ga. /. The dot following ka. is to indicate the stress and is not "full stop" or "period". Can you decipher the following?

ka. / ka / ka: // hka. / hka / hka: // ga. / ga / ga: // gna.  / gna / gna: //
sa. / sa / sa: // hsa. / hsa / hsa: // za. / za / za:// nga. / nga / nga: //
ta. / ta / ta: // hta. / hta / hta: // da. / da / da: // na. / na / na: //
pa. / pa / pa: // hpa. / hpa / hpa: // ba. / ba / ba: // ma. / ma / ma: /
ya. / ya / ya: // ra. / ra / ra: // la. / la / la: // wa. / wa / wa: // tha. / tha / tha: //
aa. / aa / aa: //

The above is how I spelled the basic Bur-Myan consonants.

Quite a few responses came back all written in Romabama!

UKT 200705: Please note that when I wrote the above email, I did not know the difference between an alphabet {al-fa-bak} lit "cowshed"  and an abugida {a.bu-gi-da.} (which I'm now calling Akshara {ak~hka.ra}). I have been going over the following pages over and over again, and have incorporated new findings (at least new to me) and ideas. And you will find many inconsistencies, my oversight, the leftovers from previous versions.

After launching Romabama {ro:ma.ba.ma} (which I'd once called {rau:ma.ba.ma}) on the Internet in 1995, and getting encouragements from places as far away as Sweden, I began to develop it further. And, in order to come across uncommon spellings and usages in Bur-Myan, I embarked in 2005, on a project on medicinal plants of Myanmar. I am in the process of developing a database, Myanmar Medicinal Plants DataBase (MMPDB) online: - http://www.tuninst.net/MyanMedPlants/indx-DB.htm 080801, 200926.

In the process, I came to see the possibility of using Bur-Myan (and Romabama {ro:ma.ba.ma}) as a phonetic script to introduce International Phonetic Script (IPA) to the Bur-Myan speakers, and in some ways to help them learn English-Latin. In the following files, whenever you come across {...}, please note that Romabama is being used.

Contents of this page

02. Writing as recording and playback of Speech

UKT 200901:

I'm viewing Akshara-Syllable Writing system as a form of recording and playback of human speech. However not all languages belonging to the Akshara-Syllable Writing system, such as Skt-Dev and Pali-Lanka, do not come up to my definition because of the lack of certain phonemes. Bur-Myan is the language that comes closest to my definition. Even then, there are other missing phonemes. I hope to make the artificial group of languages, BEPS, to come up to my definition. But first I must analyze Bur-Myan.

BEPS (Burmese-English, Pali, and Sanskrit) as a group does not come, suddenly, out of the blue. It has its origin as BE when I was in my early teens, about 1946. Then it became BEP in about 1999. Finally, as BEPS in about 2011, when I started learning Sanskrit written in Devanagari akshara.

I had thought I was dealing with 2 language groups, the Indo-European (IE), and the Tibeto-Burman (Tib-Bur). After getting into Mon-Myan, I realized that I must also deal with Austro-Asiatic (Aus-Asi). The classification of these language groups are from Historical Linguistics: - https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Historical_Linguistics 200926

Because of its connection of World History, which to me is an account of human follies repeated again, I am beginning to base my views on recording of human speech and ideas in durable marks made on clay, stone and sheets prepared from animal and vegetable sources. There are two systems which I am dealing with: the Alphabet-Letter system, and Abugida-Akshara-Syllable system, the second one being shortened to Akshara-Syllable system. English speech uses the Alphabet-Letter system in the orthographic unit is the Letter which is mute, whereas Akshara-Syllable system uses the Syllable which of course is not mute.

Bur-Myan is a language free of inflexion and tense, and cannot be analyzed by the usual grammatical methods. I'm attempting to analyze it phonetically, primarily, by studying rimes which end in killed-consonants. I'm using Bur-Myan Orthography, editor U (Dr.) Tun Tint, first ed. 1986, as my reference.

Applying my definition narrowly excludes Alphabet-Letter system from "recording and playback", unless you bring in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). In Bur-Myan, we proudly say: writing is correct or true {r:tau.a.mhn), but when read or spoken there are variations because it is mere sound {hpt-tau.a.n}. My endeavour on Romabama {ro:ma.ba.ma} is to prove (or disprove) the motto: {r:tau.a.mhn). With Myanmar Akshara we could write all speeches of the indigenous ethnics - Bamah, Karen, Mon, Shan, etc. - and maintain the unity of the country

Contents of this page

03. Basics of Akshara

From: - Unicode-Ch09.pdf   (link chk 200828) 
Unicode Consortium, Ch 09. South Asian Scripts.
online: http://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode6.1.0/ch09.pdf 140529

The scripts of South Asia share so many common features that a side-by-side comparison of a few will often reveal structural similarities even in the modern letterforms. With minor historical exceptions, they are written from left to right. They are all abugidas in which most symbols stand for a consonant plus an inherent vowel {mw-hkn a.ra.} (usually the sound /a/). [UKT ]

UKT 200901: The term Abugida as a term in linguistics was proposed by Peter T. Daniels in his 1990 typology of writing systems. [1] ... Abugidas include the extensive Brahmic family of scripts of Tibet, South and Southeast Asia, Semitic Ethiopic scripts, and Canadian Aboriginal syllabics. As is the case for syllabaries, the units of the writing system may consist of the representations both of syllables and of consonants. For scripts of the Brahmic family, the term akshara is used for the units. -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abugida 200901

In order to differentiate Abugida from Alphabet, I had used the combination Abugida-Akshara , which had suggested the combination Alphabet-Letter in which the Letter is mute. This immediate brings up the combination Akshara-Syllable showing that the relatively new term Abugida is not really necessary. I now therefore write: Bur-Myan is a language which uses Akshara-Syllable system of speech-to-script writing system, whereas Eng-Lat belongs to Alphabet-Letter system.

With syllables comes up the question of morae which are so important in Japanese Kana language. First, what is kana ?
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kana 200924
"Kana , 仮名, are the syllabaries that form parts of the Japanese writing system, contrasted with the logographic Chinese characters known in Japan as Kanji 漢字.
Now, what is morae or mora ?
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mora_(linguistics) 200924
"A mora (plural morae or moras; often symbolized μ) is a unit in phonology that determines syllable weight, which in some languages determines stress or timing.

Word-initial vowels [ vowel-letters ] in many of these scripts have distinct symbols, and word-internal vowels [ vowel-signs] are usually written by juxtaposing a vowel sign in the vicinity of the affected consonant. Absence of the inherent vowel {mw-hkn a.ra.}, when that occurs, is frequently marked with a special sign . In the Unicode Standard, this sign is denoted by the Sanskrit word virāma {a.t}. In some languages, another designation is preferred. In Hindi, for example, the word hal refers to the character itself, and halant refers to the consonant that has its inherent vowel suppressed; in Tamil, the word puḷḷi is used. The virama sign nominally serves to suppress the inherent vowel of the consonant to which it is applied; it is a combining character, with its shape varying from script to script.

Contents of this page

04. Lakkwak for sculpting Myanmar akshara

Lakkwak for sculpting Myanmar akshara - lakkwak.gif (link chk 200807)

Contents of this page

05. Circularly rounded shape of Myanmar akshara

UKT 150408, 151220, 200824: 

Unlike any other glyphs, there seems to be a well thought out reason for the circularly rounded shape. There are other rounded shapes such as those in southern India, e.g. Tamil, Telugu, and Sinhala. However, most of the shapes though rounded are not circularly-round. It is only the Myanmar akshara that almost exclusively use the circularly rounded shapes.

The perfect circle may be modified by putting dents and breaks on the left, top, right, and bottom, giving 1+8 forms. This is very different from the forms of Hebrew and Latin Alphabet. It shows that the developer (or developers) of the circularly rounded Myanmar akshara were not simple farmers or herders, but highly advanced thinkers. He or they were probably rishis {ra..} residing in the foot-hills of Himalaya range stretching from west to east and turning south into the present-day Myanmarpr. It is significant that the rishis were striving for Perfection - each with his own aim and method.

The Circle represents the idea of Whole or Perfection. The imperfections of the Whole, such as the imperfections of the attitudes such as Anger with rapid beatings of the heart is represented by dent in the Circle on the left, the imperfection of sexual attitude with a dent in the bottom, and the imperfection of mental attitudes with a dent on the top. Such a representations may be found in our Sa-Da-ba-wa Inn or Yantra.

However in other scripts such as the Hebrew, the first letter, "Aleph", from which we get the term "Alphabet" is associated with an "ox". The second letter "Bet" is associated with a "house". Both "ox" and "house" are forms in the material world. The words Aleph "ox" {nwa:} and Bet "house or shed" {tn:koat} has prompted me to call the Alphabet system of representing sound in script as Cow-shed system - {nwa:tn:koat sn-nic}.

The Myanmar script, on the other hand, has association with the "idea of perfection" represented by a rounded Circle, which reminds me of the Buddha. Thus the Akshara system is the Buddha-system {boad~Da.sn-nic}. Please note, whenever I use the word "Buddha" I have in my mind that there had been Perfect Ones before the Gautama Buddha.

I am inclined to believe that as it is, the Myanmar akshara has been used since ancient-times to write "ideographs" probably stretching back to the ancient Indus-Saraswati civilization. The Swastika that has been used has circles or large dots which are similar to our Akshara, but blackened to hide the meaning. This ancient civilization was a Bronze Age civilization which has beginnings as far back as 3300 BCE, or about 2000 years before the birth of the Gautama Buddha. More more than 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Indus Rivers and their tributaries, and along the old Saraswati River which is now covered by the sands of the Thar desert.
See Wikipedia: - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_Valley_Civilization 150408, 200926
See also: Counter-intuitive influence of Himalayan river morphodynamics on Indus Civilisation urban settlements, by Ajit Singh, et.al. , in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries
- ASinghEtAl-HimalayaRiverIndusCiviliz<> / Bkp<> 200926
"Here we reconstruct the chronology of a major late Quaternary avulsion in the Himalayan foreland and evaluate its role in urban settlement patterns of the Bronze-age Indus Civilisation (~4.63.9 ka B.P.).   During the early- to mid-third millennium BCE, the Indus Civilisation developed one of the most extensive urban cultures in the Old World (fn.1416). This civilisation was established on the alluvial plains of the IndoGangetic basin in north-western India and Pakistan, with an urban-phase commencing ~4.64.5 ka B.P. (fn.15, 17). It was contemporaneous with and more extensive in area than the earliest urban societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, encompassing an area estimated at ~1 million km2 (fn.14). ... "

Contents of this page

05. Myanmar script - the Esoteric Akshara

UKT 200824

It has been speculated that the Burmese or erroneously dubbed Myanmar people of the upper portion of Irrawaddy were almost wild without any systematic language or script until they got it from the Mons in the lower portion of the Irrawaddy valley. The Mons were slightly better because they got their systematic language and script from a southern Indian people. At one time the Pyus who were soundly defeated militarily by the Mons in about the 5th century were just myth. All these I must refute.

I would have to put forward my own conjecture (just pure conjecture) is that the Myanmar script used throughout the country of Myanmarpr has a very ancient origin hidden in the mists of of lore now slowly coming back to life based on archaeology - not history.

The Myanmar script is based on the idea of "perfection" - not on military conquest of death and destruction - represented by a full Circle an idea  common to the ancients. The Ancients probably got the idea of the Sun disc which most ancients worshipped. I maintain that Myanmar script or Akshara - the unchanging - was invented by the ancients - probably pre-Asoka - maybe [a very big "maybe"]. The perfect script was used to cast magic spells for protection. Of course, evil minded would try to use these spells to harm others. The spells are known as Runes , or in Bur-Myan as Inn { n:} and in Thailand as Yan (shortened from {yn~ta.ra:} meaning "instruments").

rune 1 n. 1. a. Any of the characters in several alphabets used by ancient Germanic peoples from the 3rd to the 13th century. b. A similar character in another alphabet, sometimes believed to have magic powers. 2. A poem or an incantation of mysterious significance, especially a magic charm. [Possibly Old Norse or Old English rn] - AHTD

{ n:} 2 n. cabalistic square or sign composed of mystic figures and characters in a grid. -- MED2010-623

Another meaning in Bur-Myan for the word {g:} is 'a natural pond' whose still waters cover an unknown depth (of meanings). And if you are not careful and without a guide you are bound to get drowned!

  Shown in the inset is the Bur-Myan rune known as the {sa.ma.l:lon: n:} aka {sa.Da.ba.wa. n:} written in Myanmar akshara. The handwritten aksharas looks slightly different, and can be written without lifting the stylus from the medium on which it is being written - a requirement for effective casting. The rune is a logo or an ideograph with a hidden meaning - only known to the master and the student, and is passed down by word of mouth not to be revealed to "unbelieving" folks like you and me.

The {sa.ma.l:lon: n:} is the Mandala which I know how to write. During writing, I must be reciting a Mantra to put "soul" into it. No one has revealed the Mantra to me, so my Mandala or Yan is useless. See
- http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1991/bmar91/mym.shtml 140601
- http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1991/bmar91/mym.shtml 151221

However, the above { n:} gives a message: the message of perfection (revealed to me by an anonymous source).

"Count clockwise. {sa.} means 'the beginning' - you are an imperfection - a circle with an imperfection on the left - an imperfection of "heart", the organ of thinking to the ancients. You must perfect yourself but will not succeed on the first try. {Da.} means the stage after the first try - an imperfection on the bottom - with regards to sexual conduct. Don't despair. Try. {ba.} means the stage after the second try - an imperfection on top. Now the imperfection is in your head - wrong ideas: attachment to material things and ideas. Try. {wa.} means the perfection - a full circle. Now you are perfect."

You may notice that the above { n:} and the right-handed swastika has a strange resemblance. See the swastikas from the Indus-Sarawati civilization shown above. You should note that devices such as { n:} are frowned upon by Theravada Buddhists, but common in Hinduism and other axiomatic religions.

"Yantra , यन्त्र = य न ् त ् र --> {yn~ta.ra:} , is a Skt-Dev word for a mystical diagram, especially diagrams or amulets supposed to possess occult powers in astrological or magical benefits in the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions. Traditionally such symbols are used in Eastern mysticism to balance the mind or focus it on spiritual concepts. The act of wearing, depicting, enacting and/or [mentally] concentrating on a yantra is held to have spiritual or astrological or magical benefits in the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions "
-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yantra 150408


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07. Tantra, Mantra, Yantra and Mandala

- UKT 151221, 180404, 200725, 200824

{mN~a.la.} मण्डल, maṇḍala  literally "circle"

There are two branches of esoteric beliefs, both of which are not acceptable to Theravada {ht-ra.wa-da.} Buddhism. The practices of both esoteric beliefs must be practiced exactly as prescribed according to instructions or Tantra . In order that you don't stray from Tantra, you've to recite the formula or Mantra . Then the object on which you are concentrating your mind becomes Yantra .

One form known as the Right-hand Path professing to be the followers of Gautama Buddha, his teachings, his Arahats and Mahatmas (or Bodaws - living souls with no physical bodies). The next form is the Left-hand Path who are supposed to be followers of Folk religions. I have, personally, contacts with both Paths when I was quite young. And I'm writing this note based on my own knowledge. Both uses the Swastika: the Right-hand Path using the right-handed Swastika, and the Left-hand Path the left-handed Swastika.

Incidentally the Nazi Swastika standing on one of its corners taking on the diamond shape, is not the religious Swastika. Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), trying to get the best of both worlds of esotericism simply made himself a criminal. See Wikipedia on Mahatama:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_Theosophy 180404

It was my father, U Tun Pe, a Theravada Buddhist, and a one-time member of Theosophy Society (Burma), who introduced me to the word Mahatma "lit. Great Soul".  He had followed U Kyaw Dun - his mentor - in Yogic practice, and he warned me of the dangers of these Yogic practices which could make you mad.

UKT 200726: I'm interpreting "Mahatma" as the following which may be error:
Mahatma महात्मा (= म ह ा त ् म ा ) is a combination of 2 words, Maha म ह ा "Great" and Atta अत्मा  = अ त ् म ा "Soul".

At one time, U Kyaw Dun - his mentor told him about Pahtawi Kathine {pa.hta.wi ka.en} 'the Earth-gazing concentration practice of mind concentration. U Kyaw Dun told my father that he would begin this practice even though he fully knew of its danger of going insane.

U Kyaw Dun did began his intention. And he did become insane! He had to leave his teaching job at GTI (the first Govt. Technical-engineering School at Insein), and went back to Arakan his birth-place. My father never forget his mentor and named me Kyaw Dun at birth, which was changed soon after to Kyaw Tun.

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamma%E1%B9%AD%E1%B9%ADh%C4%81na 200725

"Pali kammaṭṭhāna, and its eqivanlent in Sanskrit: karmasthana literally means the place of work. ... . Buddhaghosa uses "kammatthana" to refer to each of his forty meditation objects listed in the third chapter of the Visuddhimagga, which are partially derived from the Pāli Canon. [2]"

From: http://www.aimwell.org/forty.html#TheEarthDevice 200725

"A person who, of the forty subjects of meditation, chooses the earth device pathavī-kasiṇa as the subject of contemplation, should look at a spot of earth on the ground or at a round earth-device and contemplate, saying mentally pathavī, pathavī, pathavī or earth, earth, earth. After repeated contemplation for some time the vivid image of the earth-device will appear in the mind as if it were seen by the eye. This appearance of a mental image is called the acquired image uggaha-nimitta [Usually shiny light of colours - it is a crossroad. You either follow the light or cut it out. My meditation master asked me not to follow it, but to change my breathing rate - if what I was doing was "breathing".]

As soon as this image becomes fixed and steady in the mind one can go to any place and take up a posture of either sitting, walking, standing or lying down. One should then continue to contemplate on the uggaha-nimitta by saying mentally, pathavī, pathavī or earth, earth. "

If improperly employed the Tantric practice would make you the Arigyi {a.r:kri:} of Pagan period - a perfect candidate for King Anawrahta to execute! However, the construction of { n:} or Yan, without sexual-debauchery is still practiced in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmarpr, and Thailand.
See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yantra_tattooing 151222

From Mantra, Yantra and Mandala, the three tools of Tantra
- http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1991/bmar91/mym.shtml 151221, 200726

Much of Tantra is concerned with worship in a ritualistic form, using the three basic tools of mantra, yantra and mandala. This ritual is not based on superstition or blind faith but has been scientifically, systematically and practically designed to direct the whole process of living, towards transcendence. All religions originally used these methods, but now the aim of ritualistic worship has been generally lost sight of and has degenerated into the performance of mere automatic and meaningless actions which are not understood by the practitioner. When this happens no benefit is derived from the ritual.

The modern scientific mind scoffs at rites and rituals as mere superstition because there is no basis for worship in modern scientific thought. However, Tantra utilises systematic ritual with awareness as a means of contacting the things with which science cannot commune, even with its most delicate and complicated instrument. The rites of Tantra do work if performed correctly, and the proof is not to be found in books or theories but in one's own personal experience.

Tantric rites are utilised for involving or tuning in with the different levels of being which are beyond normal perception. They are concerned with worship, set actions, mantras, yantras, mudras end other actions, which make the mind calm, receptive and one-pointed. This is conducive to the experience of meditation which will transform one's understanding and relationship with life, oneself, and other people. Tantra aims at transforming everything in life into a ritual so that the individual performs every action and thought with a feeling of worship and awareness. The action of bathing, dressing, sitting for worship, offering various symbolic sacrifices, the union of man and woman, the stages of development from conception, birth, marriage to death, are transformed into worship.

Inset pix: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Tara 200802
"The Statue of Tara is a gilt-bronze sculpture of the Tara that dates from the 7th-8th century AD in Sri Lanka. Looted by force from the last King of Kandy when the British annexed Kandy in the early nineteenth century, it was given to the British Museum in 1830 by the former British Governor of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was then known), Robert Brownrigg. [1]

In Tantra one has to be continually aware of every action and thought whether it is a set ceremonial worship or an everyday duty. Each act has to be performed with absolute attention, not mechanically or unconsciously, and this awareness and concentration eventually prepares one for meditation. [UKT ]

UKT 151221: From what I understand of the pre-Anawrahta Pagan Arigyi {a.r:kri:} practice of Tantric Buddhism. The Ari claimed that even sexual intercourse between female and male, if done according to Tantric formula, amounts to liberation of the mind leading to eventual liberation from the sufferings of the Samsara {n-a.ra}. Such an attitude can be misused leading to erosion of moral and ethical values which King Anawrahta could not tolerate. He executed the leading male-monks and female-monks, and disrobed the followers. But he did not persecute all Arigyi's - those who did not indulged in sexual misconducts, because by that time his own father the ex-king Kun'zaw had become an Ari.

Tantric worship is not confined to the temple. It is done from the moment one gets out of bed in the morning to the moment one returns to bed at night.


Together with yantra and mandala, mantra is the most important aspect of Tantra - its essence. Almost invariably, these three are used in conjunction with each other to form powerful combinations. The mantra is the vehicle of consciousness, while yantra, mandala or devata is the form of consciousness. The mandala, yantra or devata is the manifested form or configuration of Shakti [identified with Mdaw] while the mantra, which is also Shanti, is the link between consciousness and form. This applies to everything in the world around us. The form is the expression; the mantra is the vehicle of expression.

UKT 180402: Who or what is Shakti [identified with Mdaw]? Based on my studies, I identify her as the Vāmācāra {wa.ma-sa-ra.} वामाचार shown in the PIX.
See Wikipedia: - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vamachara 180402, 200802
"Vamachara is particularly associated with the pancha-makara or the "Five Ms", also known as the pancha-tattva. In literal terms they are: Madya (wine), Mamsa (meat), Matsya (fish), Mudra (cereal)* , and Maithuna (sexual intercourse). [7] Mudra usually means ritual gestures, but as part of the five Ms it is parched cereal. [8] "

* UKT 200901: My interpretation of Mudra {mu.dRa} मुद्रा (= म ु द ् र ा) is the hand or body posture]. It is more likely to be Yogic posture.

Mantra is the direct link with the 'beyond'. The world we know is materialised and shaped through mantra, through sound at all levels and degrees of subtlety. Mantra originates in the substratum of Shiva [UKT ]

UKT 151221: Shiva was probably a later addition because he was a minor god in the Rig Vda. According to Gautama Buddha the later Rishis had altered the work of the original Rishis. I opine that the original Vda was the work of Tib-Bur speakers, and those who altered the ancient works are the IE speakers.

UKT 180402: The original Rishis acceptable to Gautama Buddha are: Vishvamitra {wai~a mait~ta. ra..}, Bhagu {Ba.gu. ra..}, and Yamataggi {ya.ma.tag~gi ra..} * are among the ancient Vedic rishis revered by Gautama Buddha. "In the Buddhist Vinaya Pitaka of the Mahavagga (I.245) [14] section the Buddha pays respect to these rishis by declaring that the Veda in its true form* was became known declared to them (UKT: became due to the yogic practice - not by grace of any axiomatic god)  "Atthako (either Ashtavakra or Atri), Vmako, Vmadevo, Vessmitto (Visvamitra),  Yamataggi, Angiras, Bhradvjo, Vsettho (Vashistha) Vsettho**, Kassapo (Kashyapa), and Bhagu (Bhrigu) " [15] and because that true Veda was altered by some priests he refused to pay homage to the altered version. [16]
[equivalents of Pali to Skt names by Maurice Walshe (2005) translation of Digha Nikaya - see note in
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angiras_(sage) 170618 ]

*UKT 180326: What does Vda in its true form means? The Poannar {poaN~Na:} who believe in Axiomatic beings portray the Veda {w-da.} 'knowledge' to be like a main body (head and torso) with 6 subordinate branches (limbs). The most important part, the head (plus the torso) is the most important and is wholly made up of prayers and incantations to the various Axiomatic beings, headed by a Creator (just an idea - not accepted by Theravada Myanmar-Buddhists.) The limbs described as Vdinga {w-dn~ga.} aka वेदाङ्ग vedāṅga, "limbs of the Veda")

Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedanga 180326
and Dictionary of Pali-derived Myanmar words (in Bur-Myan) - UTM-PDMD by U Tun Myint, Univ. of Rangoon Press, 1968, p302. One of the 6 limbs is #1. Shiksha, शिक्षा śikṣā : phonetics, phonology, pronunciation = {auk~hka}, the study of which is more important than useless prayers.

Anyone, not only the Poannar {poaN~Na:} who profess to be the mouthpiece of the Creator, can acquire knowledge - the Vda - through steadfast study with a concentrated mind (acquired by self-training using Yogic {a.ma.hta.} methods.) using strict logic. The ancient Vedic rishis, were the very ones who had acquired the Vda in its true form. They were self-achievers, not just weaklings who were nothing but self-made servants of the gods. Such a self-achiever is Siddhartha Rishi who acquire the ultimate knowledge or wisdom who finally declared himself to be the Buddha. No wonder he would pay respect to the ancient rishis such as Vishvamitra {wai~a mait~ta. ra..}.

[I base my corrections to the fact that Rishi Siddhartha (before he attained Buddha-hood) was highly learned in these Yogic practices cumulating in starvation which he had practiced for six long years.]
* {wai~a mait~ta. ra..} - UHS PMD0925
  {Ba.gu. ra.e.} - UHS PMD0720 .
  {ya.ma.tag~gi ra..} - not found in UHS.
** I cannot find Pal-Myan spelling of the name so far. Skt-Myan equivalent of the name is {wa.i.S~HTa.} from link to Vsettho in Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vashistha 151125.

UKT 170501: Of the lot, Bhagu aka Bhrigu rishi (a human) chastised all the three Trimurti, for failing in their duties to look after the humans on earth: Mahabrahma (with a curse that no one on earth would worship him), Vishnu-dva (with a kick in the chest) and Shiva-dva (with a curse that he be represented by Lingam the male sex-organ stuck in Yoni the female sex-organ) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhrigu 170501
See videos in the TIL HD-VIDEO and SD-VIDEO libraries
- Hindu-BhriguLaxmiVishnu<> / Bkp<> (link chk 180402)
- Hindu-BhriguParvatiShiva<> / Bkp<> (link chk 180402)

and can be used to retrace the direction of manifestation so that one again merges with consciousness. A mantra is therefore a means to make a 'U-turn' and retrace one's path back to the source.

Man's 'inner being' is constantly in contact with something much greater than the limitations of individuality, but the average person is not aware of this. Mantra brings about a state of 'resonance' between an individual and the depths of his being. They are the tools through which we can harmonise with the inner cosmic forces.


A yantra is a specific form of mandala consisting of geometrical shapes and figures, and often diagrams of deities (especially in Buddhist Tantra). It is a particularly powerful form of mandala and deep concentration upon it can lead to the realisation of its higher nature. The word 'yantra' means 'instrument, 'machine', 'apparatus', or 'implement'. The yantra is indeed an implement (or tool) because it acts as an instrument for tuning in with consciousness, a spiritual machine for inducing states of meditation.


A mandala is a focus for cosmic powers. During tantric worship and practices the mandala becomes the symbolic centre of the universe. It is laid out according to a fixed plan and its construction is a rite in itself. Everything in the manifested world is a mandala in essence. Each and every object is a focal point of consciousness: every thing is a manifestation of Shakti, an expression of the underlying consciousness. Thus, deep concentration on any form can bring about a realisation of this consciousness.

For this reason, bhakti or devotion is an important part of tantric meditation practices as it supercharges the power of concentration, which becomes more piercing when backed up by the emotion of reverence and love.

Each one of us and our every thought forms a mandala. A man and woman in union [sexual intercourse ?] form a closed unit or circle which can also be a perfect mandala for attaining higher states of consciousness. [UKT ]

UKT 151221: Is the sexual union between the chief guru and his female-disciple? Then the female-disciple as the guru has sexual-union with each of the junior male-disciples to pass on the cosmic powers received from the head-guru. Then each junior male-disciple would have sexual union with their female-disciples. The only requirement seems to be to do the sex-act according to the Tantric-formula! Of course, to enhance the material-body strength each would have to eat meat, eat fish, drink soma, and do yoga - all the five m's
1. māṃsa 'meat',
2. matsya 'fish',
3. madya 'wine',
4. mudrā 'yoga',
5. maithuna 'sexual intercourse
See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panchamakara 151222

The guru is a most powerful mandala as he acts as a magnet to draw down cosmic consciousness. He radiates and glows with the light of this great force. It is through the guru that cosmic powers are unleashed and transmitted to the disciple. This is the grace of the guru mandala.

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08. Origin of words or Etymology - commonality between Burmese and Pali

{byoap~pt} - n. origin or derivation of words; etymology (Pali: {byoap~pt~ti}) -- MEDict317-c2

UKT regret: My position on the pronunciation of a very common word, the word for 'education' has been changed from time to time as my understanding of the subject has changed.

Before 061217: Bur-Myan has incorporated many Pali-Myan words such as {pa.a} pronounced as {p~a}
- (MLC transcript: /|pjin nja|/ MLC MEDict2006-249c2 - notice the /j/ which stands for {ya.pn.} which is not present in the spelling).

In such Pali-derived words, Nya-major {a.kri:} behaves as if it were a horizontal conjunct of two Nya-minors {a.l:}, and because of this, I have been writing as {pi~a}. That was before 061217, and before I delved into killed consonants in the coda.

From 061217 to 080317: Since then, I am finding that {pi~a} is not satisfactory, and have been trying to find a suitable nuclear vowel for the syllable {pi} . The use of MLC transcription with the /j/ sound would bring in more problems. And therefore, I am changing the  spelling, tentatively, to {pa.a}, noting that when r2 consonants are involved, there is the {ya.pn.} sound.

From 080317: I feel that I should look more closely into the pronunciation of Nya-minor {a.} in IPA and then in English. IPA representation of  {a.} is the sound of palatal nasal [ ɲ ]. Notice how the character is written: it reminds me of an elephant, with the "left hook" looking like the "trunk of an elephant". Since {a.} belongs to row#2, the {sa.}-{hsa.} row, and the word for 'elephant' is {hsn} [ɲɪŋ], this should serve as a mnemonic for Bur-Myan speakers.

UKT 200708: It has been some years since I've renamed the five nasals as Semi-nasals, Retroflex-nasal, and True-nasals.
Semi-nasals, r1c5 and r2c5: / {gna.}/{ng} and /{a.}/{}
Retroflex-nasal, r3c5: / {Na.}/{N}
True-nasals, r4c5 and r5c5: / {na.}/{n} and / {ma.}/{m}

From 12xxxx : One thing that I hadn't noticed is that row#2 - the Palatal - is pronounced differently in Burmese, and in English. Bur-Myan pronounces the row as Palatal-stops, and Eng-Lat pronounces as Palatal-affricates. That means, I should be using 2 sets of glyphs.

Palatal stops: ----- {sa.}, {hsa.}, {za.}, ---------- , {a.}/ {}
Palatal affricates: {ca.}, {cha.}, {ja.}, ----------- , {a.}/ {}
Palatal BEPS: / {sa.}{c}, / {hsa.}{ch}, / {za.}{j},

Palatal nasal [ ɲ ] is not common in English. One example that I have found is: <onion> [ˈʌɲən] -- Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatal_nasal 080317. However, DJPD16-380 gives /'ʌn.jən/. The word <onion> /'ʌn.jən/ is a disyllabic word, and the <y> sound of <ny> may be considered to have moved into the next segment.

In the following pages, I will be referring to MLC's Burmese-English Dictionary. The dictionary gives the MLC transliteration and the origin of many Bur-Myan words. See Romabama vowels (link chk 200709)

Contents of this page

Burmese and Pali : two languages we are using every day

- UKT: 061201, ... , 200705

One of my questions is: how close is Burmese (Bur-Myan) to Pali (Pali-Myan)? Bur-Myan is without inflexions, and has a very simple grammar, whilst Pal-Myan is inflected, and has a complex grammar.

Did Burmese originated in areas east of present day Myanmar or in areas west? Is it really true that the group of people speaking Burmese migrated into Myanmar from areas of Tibet (now considered China)? Is it possible that they migrated from India?

Or, is it possible that the Burmese-speaking people had developed independently in areas of Pondaung {poan-tan}?  I do not expect to get definite answers, but a comparison of words of Burmese to Pali should throw some light on my questions.

UKT 080318, 200709: The discovery of pre-human remains at the turn of the century in areas of Pondaung {poan-tan} shows that this area had been inhabited by pre-humans. This in turn suggests that humans must have lived in this area even in prehistoric times. Humans, being humans, must have spoken a language. Note that "language" is sound-through-air communication with syntax. Animals "calls" are not languages because they do not have syntax.

And the theories of migrations, particularly those of the migration routes should be questioned. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991015080116.htm 080318, 200707.
"Researchers from the Myanmar-French Pondaung Expedition Project, led by Dr. Jean-Jacques Jaeger of the Universit Montpellier-II in France, discovered the Bahinia fossil in a layer of red clay, along with a complete lower jaw from a more advanced primate called Amphipithecus. According to Jaeger and his colleagues, both Amphipithecus and Bahinia belong to the primate group called the anthropoids, which includes all fossil and living monkeys and apes."

Since Bur-Myan and Pali-Myan scripts do not use white-spaces to separate the one word from another, we (more specifically, I) have no way of knowing whether a group of syllables form a word, or is just a group of separate monosyllabic words. A case is to consider is the word {n} /njan/.

{n} /njan/ - . v. be noisy. . v. archaic be silent. [ . & 4. not copied] -- MLC MEDict2006-157c1
  UKT 200707: meanings . & . are just the opposite.

UKT 200708: I believe the above mistake by MLC is the result of breaking up the following disyllabic words:
  {hsait-n} /hsei' njan/ - v. archaic be silent; be still. -- MLC MEDict2006-143c1
  {hsu-n} /hsu njan/ - v. be noisy, clamour -- MLC MEDict2006-132c2
It is wrong to split off {n} from the above disyllabic words.

I claim Bur-Myan words to be polysyllabic which is against what authorities like A. Judson. See:
- Grammar of Burmese Language, by A. Judson, 1883, in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries:
- AJudson-GrammBurLang<> / Bkp<> (link chk 200308)
Downloaded text in TIL non-PDF (Webarchive) libraries
- AJudson-GrammBurLang<> / Bkp<>
"1. The Burmese language is written from left to right, and without any division of words.
"2. The pure Burmese is monosyllabic, every word consisting of one syllable only; but the introduction of the Pali language, with the Boodhistic religion, has occasioned the incorporation of many polysyllabic words of Pali origin into the pure Burmese." 
3. The form of the letters, the order of the vowels and consonants and the classification of the latter, prove that the Burmese alphabet is but one modification of the ancient Nagari; as the Pali language itself as used by the Burmese, is but a modification of the Sanscrit.
On Grammatical Case: "57. The relations of nouns expressed in most languages by prepositions or inflections, are in the Burmese language expressed by particles affixed to the noun, without any inflection of the noun itself. "

UKT 200709: I must now respectfully ask: how did Rev. Judson came up with the idea that pure Burmese is monosyllabic? No doubt, he valued Pali and Sanskrit, but I must say he had not studied the Burmese language enough to conclude that "pure Burmese is monosyllabic".

UKT 191120: From the above, you can see that the usual comparison involving inflexion cannot be used in BEPS. I will have to compare phoneme by phoneme which is feasible because in BEPS there is a strict one-to-one correspondence between phoneme and grapheme.

The structure of the Burmese word and white space
 Rev. A. Judson wrote in 1883, in his Grammar of Burmese Language:
 2. "The pure Burmese {ba.ma-sa.ka: sic-sic} is monosyllabic, every word {waad] consisting of one syllable {sa.ka:n-su.} only; but the introduction of the Pali language, with the Boodhistic religion, has occasioned the incorporation {pa-wn} of many polysyllabic {n-su.tw:} words of Pali origin {pa-Li.ak sa.ka:mya:} into the pure Burmese."

It has been argued that because of monosyllables {n-su.lon:hkyn: mya:}, there is no need {ma.lo} to introduce white space {kra:kwak-hpu} between words. White spaces should be introduced into the writing system, whenever there is a pause in spoken language to make reading easier.
   Note: We have an efficient translation system for the official language and there is no need for me to introduce "new" methods. What I am trying to write is for the man-on-the-street .

See: Romabama Rules: RBM-RULES >
> RBM-Rule 3 (Extended Latin alphabet) on diacritics and other signs for the introduction of {n} for {::tn}

My question is: why does {n} have such contradictory meanings over the years. Or, is it a case of mis-interpretation by MEDict? Is it possible that  {hsait-an} is a single disyllabic word? In that case giving {n} as "be silent" is wrong. Whatever the case may be, Bur-Myan writers should be taking care of white spaces to separate one word from the next. A case for my peers in Myanmar Language Commission (MLC), the publisher of MEDict, to consider.

I spoke (on Christmas Day of 2006) to my good friend U Tun Tint (retired editor, now advisor to MLC) about this problem and have pointed out the importance of white-spaces. One of his responses is that Burmese language has been described as a monosyllabic language, and that every syllable (even in a "disyllabic" word) has a meaning of its own -- as claimed by Sanskrit-Devanagari writers. I pointed out to him that it is probably true in writing Myanmar script, and, in writing Devanagari {d-wa.na-ga.ri} script. However, when we need to transcript Burmese (Bur-Myan to English (Eng-Latin) for international use, we do need white-spaces. This point, my good friend accepts.

If you are in Myanmarpr to study Buddhism, you'll notice that Bur-Myan and Pali-Myan are so intertwined, that we switch without effort from one language to another and back without realizing that we are doing it. It is because both languages belong to the same linguistic group - Tib-Bur. It is not so with Pali in other languages. We'll touch upon this subject in the next page:
-- RBM-intro2.htm , and go into: Comparing Pali-Myan to Pali in other scripts

Contents of this page

09. Burmese-Myanmar language and script

The Bur-Myan script is an abugida {a.bu-gi-da.}, not an alphabet {al-fa-bak} . The term abugida is a recent introduction into Linguistics.

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abugida 200709
   "Abugida as a term in linguistics was proposed by Peter T. Daniels in his 1990 typology of writing systems. [1]. As Daniels used the word, an abugida is in contrast with a syllabary, where letters with shared consonants or vowels show no particular resemblance to one another, and also with an alphabet proper, where independent letters are used to denote both consonants and vowels. [UKT ]
   "The term alphasyllabary was suggested for the Indic scripts in 1997 by William Bright, following South Asian linguistic usage, to convey the idea that "they share features of both alphabet and syllabary." [2] [3] "

UKT 200709: Though I've come across the term alphasyllabary soon after it was proposed, I decided not to use it simply because of its long spelling. I had decided to use Abugida , even though we have our own term Akshara {ak~hka.ra}. I've noticed the writing systems are nothing but recording the human speech {sa.ka:} in script {sa} - with aim of play-back of script to speech. The writing system was invented by Ancients thousands of years before electronic machines were invented to record and play-back human speech. The aim was to have a one-to-one correspondence between Phoneme (speech unit) and Grapheme (script unit).

Using this idea of one-to-one correspondence, we see that alphabet (notably the English-alphabet derived from Latin) is a complete failure. In Phonetics , "Never pronounce an English word as it is spelled". It is exactly the opposite in Akshara {ak~hka.ra}. In Burmese we are told "Pronounce a word as it is spelled". For, the word or reading is transient - it is lost as soon as uttered: {hpt-tau. a.n}. The script or writing is a permanent correct record: {r:tau. a.mhn}.

I had a living exchange on this point with a couple of Linguists as I as ventured into Linguistics and Phonetics in the early of Tun Institute of Learning online. To sum up:

English writing based on alphabet: no one-to-one correspondence between speech and script - a non-phonetic script.
Burmese writing based on akshara: almost one-to-one correspondence between speech and script - a phonetic script.

Now back to Abugida. Let me drop the term and use the term Akshara {ak~hka.ra} with the Syllable (pronounceable) consonants as the basic unit. Alphabet, on the other hand, has the Letter (non-pronounceable) consonants as the basic unit. I'll now designate the two systems of writing as: Alphabet-Letter system and Akshara-Syllable system

Almost all the western European languages, using the basic Latin script are non-phonetic. To make them somewhat phonetic, especially between English and French, International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) was invented just less than 200 years ago.  At present the word "language" means the spoken form, and the word "script" means the written form.

It is probable that even before the various scripts were invented, the ancient Asian phoneticians had a devised a system to standardise the various human sounds by pinpointing the places in the mouth (and perhaps in the voice-box) where the sound had originated. For example, in case of consonants, the places of articulation (POA) are given as shown in the diagram on the left.

The smallest unit of sound (and its written form) is known as the Akshara {ak~hka.ra}.

The names of the POA used by the Eastern linguists, and those of their contemporaries in the West (IPA) differ. Remember, the 'gutterals' are velars, and the 'cerebrals' are retroflexes. Moreover, the Eastern linguists count the POA starting from the interior of the mouth toward the lips:

{wag}-aksharas ({wag} means group-able)
1. Gutterals, {ka.}-group, velars
2. Palatals, {ca.}/{sa.}-group, palatals
3. Cerebrals, {Ta.}-group, retroflexes
4. Dentals, {ta.}-group, alveolars and dentals
5. Labials, {pa.}-group, labials

c1 and c2 are voiceless (vl.); c3 and c4 are voiced (vd.). and c5 are nasals (vd. nasals).

{a.wag}-aksharas (non-groupable) are mostly fricatives and approximants. Three sounds belonging to this that are of interest to me are, IPA [θ], [s] and [ ʃ ]. How are they represented in Burmese-Myanmar, English-Latin, and Hindi-Devanagari. Starting from English-Latin the language that has been studied more extensively than the other two, we see that [θ] is realised in the English word <thin> /θɪn/. ([θ] is the vl. form, whereas [] is the vd. form. [] is realised in the English word <that> /t/)

From: http://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode4.0.0/ch10.pdf

"The Myanmar script is used to write Burmese, the majority language of Myanmar (formerly called Burma). Variations and extensions of the script are used to write other languages of the region, such as Shan and Mon, as well as Pali and Sanskrit. The Myanmar script was formerly known as the Burmese script, but the term "Myanmar" is now preferred.

"The Myanmar writing system derives from a Brahmi-related script borrowed from South India in about the eighth century for the Mon language. The first inscription in the Myanmar script dates from the eleventh century and uses an alphabet almost identical to that of the Mon inscriptions. Aside from rounding of the originally square characters, this script has remained largely unchanged to the present. It is said that the rounder forms were developed to permit writing on palm leaves without tearing the writing surface of the leaf.

"Because of its Brahmi origins, the Myanmar script shares the structural features of its Indic relatives: consonant symbols include an inherent "a" vowel, {mw-hkn-a.ra.}; various signs are attached to a consonant to indicate a different vowel; ligatures and conjuncts are used to indicate consonant clusters; and the overall writing direction is left to right. Thus, despite great differences in appearance and detail, the Myanmar script follows the same basic principles as, for example, Devanagari."

Before proceeding further, I must reiterate that Language is the spoken form and that and Script is the written form. In the country of Myanmar, the script we use to write the spoken word is the Myanmar script. The majority of the population, write their speech - the Burmese speech - in Myanmar script. Similarly, the Karens, the Mons, the Shans and few other minority ethnic groups write their speech in Myanmar script. Thus, when I write "Burmese-Myanmar", it is not a redundancy, but a necessity.

The same can be said of the Devanagari script. Hindi and Sanskrit are written in Devanagari. Thus we can say Hindi-Devanagari, and Sanskrit-Devanagari.

Bur-Myan script is phonemically very similar to Hindi-Devanagari. This is due to the fact that both Devanagari and Myanmar are descended from a script found on the stone pillars of the Emperor Asoka, who reigned in the area where Gautama Buddha was born about 250 years before. The language of the Buddha and Asoka was known as Magadhi which was later known as Pali. Pali is the sacred language of the Theravada Buddhism, the religion of the majority of the population in Myanmar.

Though we have no vocal recordings of the Buddha's words, if only we can glean from the script the information about the phonemic principles used, we would be able to guess the way the Buddha had spoken. This question is very dear to my heart as to many Buddhists the world over.

Therefore, I am interested in the earliest script that was found on stone pillars on the Indian subcontinent. That script was found on Asoka pillars, and so the script should be rightly called the Asoka script or Asokan. However, due to various historical events, the script is now known as the Brahmi, or the script developed by the Brahmans. We should note that the Brahmans were in the employ of Asoka as scribes and secretaries, and the question remains who was the person responsible for developing the script: the employer or the employee.

Contents of this page

10. The Asoka script or Brahmi and Myanmar akshara

UKT 200715: Where would the Pyu script fit in? See RBM-intro2.htm - update 2020Jul 
and go to Mon-Myan : the controversial language and script

The first recorded script in areas south of the Himalayas is now known as the Brahmi {brah~mi}. It was clearly built on phonological principles, and unlike the alphabet {al-fa-bak} (which has been built up haphazardly from a "cowshed" script), is a syllabic script and it should be rightly called an alpha-syllabic script.

Devanagari and Myanmar, among others, are believed to have been descended from {brah~mi}. Such scripts are now known technically as "abugidas" or as I'm now doing "Aksharas". On the right is shown, the first five aksharas of both the Asoka script and Myanmar. We notice that at least three of the five characters are quite similar.

A remarkable aspect of the Myanmar script is the roundness of the characters. It is said that "the rounder forms were developed to permit writing on palm leaves without tearing the writing surface of the leaf". Pix on the right (the first in message, the second in regular type-characters) shows the Sadabawa Inn conveying a message showing how imperfections of a human being can be overcome to become a "perfect man" represented by a full rounded-circle.

UKT 200709: The above remark on the "roundness" of the characters show that the person had not written much on palm leaves. The circle can be modified in many ways to meet the requirements of the language, and each can be made to represent an idea. I suggest it is the brain child of a single individual, just as the most fundamental law of Buddhism is - the Principle of Suffering by Gautama Buddha. The use of the circle is by an individual not by a committee of linguists , not developed haphazardly as the "alphabet" the "cowshed" system of speech to script recording.

My study of the magico-religious nature of the aksharas has shown that the roundness was probably based on the belief in runes. If you pronounce the aksharas as {sa. Da. ba. wa.}, it gives you a right-handed rune with its own magical powers. However, if you pronounce it in the opposite way, {wa. ba. Da. sa.}, it gives you a left-handed rune, which is also believed to be equally powerful but in the opposite way. This reminds me of the left-handed Swastika of the Nazis which is different from the right-handed Swastika -- the religious symbol of the ancient Indo-Aryans. The aksharas within the rune are all based on the "circle" which in itself has its own magico-religious significance similar in nature to the pentagrams of the what is now called witchcraft. You should also note the the "Star of David" is also a religious symbol. For a short introduction into the Burmese belief in runes, see Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism, by Dr. Htin Aung, Religious Affairs Dept. Press, Burma, 1981. The book was available online http://web.ukonline.co.uk/buddhism/, however, it is no longer available.

Before we leave the short account of the roundness of the Myanmar akshara and the belief in runes, here is some more about the Circle. Imagine yourself sitting on the ground, and with your extended right hand, touch the ground to make a mark. Turning yourself clockwise slowly, without raising your hand that is touching the ground, you can make a perfect circle. This circle, with you "inside", is supposed to give you protection against what are known as "astral" forces. These practices known as {s: hkya.} (MLC MEDict2006-121c2) were done by the ancients, and secretly still by quite a large majority in Myanmar, if not physically, mentally. Such as episode is mentioned in the Myanmar version of Ramayana, where Rama placed Thita (Sita) inside such a circle before he went out to hunt the golden deer, the guise put on Gambi the sister of the demon king Ravana.

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UKT notes


Everything2.org http://www.everything2.org/index.pl?node=abugida 080317
Ancient Scripts www.ancientscripts.com/ethiopic.html 080318
Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abugida 080317, 200709
"An abugida /ɑːbʊˈɡdə/ (from Ge'ez: አቡጊዳ abugida) , or alphasyllabary, is a segmental writing system in which consonantvowel sequences are written as a unit; ... "
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ge%CA%BDez_script 200709
"Geʽez (Geʽez: ግዕዝ, Gəʿəz) is a script used as an abugida (alphasyllabary) for several languages of Eritrea and Ethiopia. ... Geʻez has 26 consonantal letters."
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabet 200709
"The English word alphabet came into Middle English from the Late Latin word alphabetum, which in turn originated in the Greek ἀλφάβητος (alphabētos). The Greek word was made from the first two letters, alpha (α) and beta (β). [7] The names for the Greek letters came from the first two letters of the Phoenician alphabet; aleph, which also meant ox, and bet, which also meant house."
UKT 200709: I always remember the meaning of the term "alphabet" as "cowshed" writing system.

UKT: [{...}] are my additions. {...} -- Romabama word.

From Everything2

An abugida, also called an alphasyllabary, is a writing system wherein the basic symbols represent a consonant plus an unmarked vowel [the inherent vowel, {mw-hkn-a.ra.}, similar to English short <a>.]. When a different vowel is wanted, a diacritic or some other modification is made to the sign. The sign used to indicate the vowel is dropped is called a virama, or a "vowel killer" {a.t}].
   The word "abugida" comes from the first few signs of the Ethiopic Amharic script, which is an example of an abugida. Devanagari is another abugida, used in India.

..., the term abugida, like alphabet and abjad, is a kind of acronym of the names of the first few symbols in one of the writing systems it refers to. All three terms reflect the order of symbols found in a single family of scripts, those of the Semitic languages and Greek; so in this sense all three terms are cognate or at least closely parallel formations.
   Other names that have been used for abugida include neosyllabary, pseudo-alphabet, and semisyllabary, according to The World's Written Languages edited by Peter T. Daniels and William Bright (Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 4). Daniels argues that these terms wrongly make the abugida seem derivative of a syllabary or alphabet.

From Wikipedia

An abugida (from Geez bugida ) [{ is a segmental writing system in which each letter (basic character) represents a consonant accompanied by a specific vowel [inherent vowel {mw-hkn-a.ra.}], similar to English short <a>.}]; other vowels are indicated by modification of the consonant sign, either by means of diacritics or through a change in the form of the consonant. In some abugidas, the absence of a vowel is indicated overtly. About half the writing systems in the world, including the extensive Brahmic system used for most Indo-Aryan languages, are abugidas.

The following is from Ancient Script  www.ancientscripts.com/ethiopic.html 080318
" The elegant Ethiopic script is another interesting story in the family tree of Proto-Sinaitic script. Ethiopic is an offshoot of the South Arabian script, as shown by similarities in the forms of the letters, and in the order of the letters. In fact, the earliest inscriptions in Ethiopia were in the South Arabian script. However, by around the 4th century CE, a new feature was developed that distinguished it from South Arabian. Vowels were "written" by adding strokes to the consonant following somewhat regular patterns. In a way, this is very similar to Brahmi-derived scripts. Some scholars have in fact proposed that Ethiopic's vowel marking system was originated from Indian influence, but it is equally likely that the system was developed in situ especially since many other Semitic scripts were already experimenting with marking vowels.
   "Another feature that distinguishes Ethiopic from other Proto-Sinaitic-derived scripts is that it is written from left to right rather than right to left in Hebrew and Arabic. Ethiopic originally followed the right-to-left convention of Semitic scripts, but it switched to a left-to-right direction under influence from Greek. [{Why not from India? My theory is that the Indian Ocean with very regular trade winds was being crisscrossed since the time of the Pyramids.}]
   "The Ethiopic script was used for the [Christian] liturgical language Ge'ez as well as modern languages like Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia), Tigre, Tigrinya, and other languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The "Classic" Ethiopic script was tailored for the Ge'ez language, and so many new signs have been derived for modern languages."

History and Literature, (contd. from Wiki article)
Ge'ez literature is dominated by the [Christian] Bible including the Deuterocanon. Most of its important works are also the literature of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which include Christian liturgy (service books, prayers, hymns), Lives of Saints, and Patristic literature. This religious orientation of Ge'ez literature was a result of traditional education being the responsibility of priests and monks. "The Church thus constituted the custodian of the nation's culture", notes Richard Pankhurst, and describes the traditional education as follows:

Traditional education was largely biblical. It began with the learning of the alphabet, or more properly, syllabary... The student's second grade comprised the memorization of the first chapter of the first Epistle General of St. John in Geez. The study of writing would probably also begin at this time, and particularly in more modern times some arithmetic might be added. In the third stage the Acts of the Apostles were studied, while certain prayers were also learnt, and writing and arithmetic continued. ... The fourth stage began with the study of the Psalms of David and was considered an important landmark in a child's education, being celebrated by the parents with a feast to which the teacher, father confessor, relatives and neighbours were invited. A boy who had reached this stage would moreover usually be able to write, and might act as a letter writer.

However works of history and chronography, ecclesiastical and civil law, philology, medicine, and letters were also written in Ge'ez.

The Ethiopian collection in the British Library comprises some 800 manuscripts dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries, notably including magical and divinatory scrolls, and illuminated manuscripts of the 16th to 17th centuries. It was initiated by a donation of 74 codices by the Church of England Missionary Society in the 1830s and 1840s, and substantially expanded by 349 codices, taken by the British from the Tewodros II's capital at Magdala in the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia [{timeline in Myanmar: the reign of King Mindon (1853-1878}].

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- n. 1. The letters of a language, arranged in the order fixed by custom. 2. A system of characters or symbols representing sounds or things. 3. The basic or elementary principles; rudiments. [Middle English alphabete from Latin alphabētum from Greek alphabētosalpha alpha; See alpha b ēta beta; See beta ] -- AHTD

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_alphabet 200710

The history of alphabetic writing goes back to the consonantal writing system used for Semitic languages in the Levant in the 2nd millennium BCE. Most or nearly all alphabetic scripts used throughout the world today ultimately go back to this Semitic proto-alphabet. [1]. [UKT ]

UKT 200709: How can we accept that "Most or nearly all alphabetic scripts used throughout the world today ultimately go back to this Semitic proto-alphabet" when clearly Cuneiform script could not have been derived from haphazardly derived scripts. More clear-cut is the circularly rounded Myanmar script which can be modified with dents and cuts to produce more shapes to represent various phonemes.

Its first origins can be traced back to a Proto-Sinaitic script developed in Ancient Egypt to represent the language of Semitic-speaking workers and slaves in Egypt.

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Myanmar English Dictionary (MLC MEDict2006)

There are different versions of Myanmar English Dictionary by  MLC (Myanmar Language Commission). What I am using now mostly is the 2006 version. Please remember, that the present work is not a dictionary. Whenever you come across a dictionary meaning attributed to MEDict, there is a strong possibility that it is my interpretation of the original entry in the MEDict. And if there were a mistake, it is mine.

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Representing Nya-major : {a.}/ {}
Searching for Nya-major

UKT080317, 200710: I'm no longer using the English-transcription Nya-gyi because of its wrong spelling: instead I'm using the term Nya-major.

Representing {ky} with the nuclear-vowel < > has never been easy for me. The fact that the nuclear vowel is a checked vowel does not help me either. A checked vowel is a vowel followed by a "killed" consonant, and in this case it is <> which has no equivalent in English, Pali, and Sanskrit.

In fact Nya-major is a lost phoneme present only in Bur-Myan. This means, I will have to choose the Romabama vowel arbitrarily. The pronunciation given by MLC is also not very helpful. The spelling {ky} is given as /[kji]/ (MLC MED2006-034c2), is exactly the same as {kyi} /[kji]/ (MLC MED2006-028c1). It is wrong. Therefore, as a first approximation, I will consider the killed Nya-major to have no role in pronunciation other than to modify the preceding vowel in the rime {} (no equivalent in English).

According to DJPD16-009, "Pronouncing the letters AE", "The vowel digraph is a fairly low-frequency spelling. ... When not followed by <r>, the pronunciation is usually one of /iː/, /ɪ/ or /e/, the latter being most common in American-English pronunciation..." This makes me conclude that its pronunciation would be close to Bur-Myan {i}. Thus, Romabama will transcribe: {ky} /kji/. -- UKT 080317.

I've said above that Nya-major is a lost phoneme. If it is lost, I must search for it. I've done such searching in the case of {gna.}/ {ng}. The problem was why there are no words beginning with velar Semi-nasal {gna.}/ {ng}. I've found words and syllables beginning with {gna.} in Newari and Nepali. Now, Nya-major {a.}/ {} is also a Semi-nasal. It is a palatal. Now, I've found a trace of it in Mon-Myan {gn~r}, and Bur-Myan {gnra}. See con04.htm

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From: Introduction Why Study Sanskrit, Introduction,  http://acharya.iitm.ac.in/sanskrit/why_sans.php 080318
UKT: The website, Acharya, has a disclaimer on the page: "The Views expressed here are specific to the Samskritapriyah group and the Samskrit Education Society. IIT Madras, has only made available the web pages as a courtesy to the group."

Sanskrit is a Scientist's paradise
"Sanskrit, the vocabulary of which is derived from root syllables, is ideal for coining new scientific and technological terms. The need to borrow words or special scientific terms does not arise."

The letters of Sanskrit
"Sanskrit comprises fifty one letters or aksharas. In other languages, we refer to the letters of the alphabet of the language. We know that the word alphabet is derived from the names of the first two letters of Greek. The term alphabet has no other meaning except to denote the set of letters in the language. 
   "In contrast, the word "akshara" in Sanskrit denotes something fundamental and significant. One of the direct meanings of the word is that it denotes the set of letters of Sanskrit from the first to the last. The word also means that the sound of the letter does not ever get destroyed and thus signifies the eternal quality of the sound of the letters. The consequence of this meaning is that the sound of a word is essentially the sounds of the aksharas in the word, a concept which will help simplify text to speech applications with computers. 
   "There are two aspects of non-destruction in the above explanation. The first one refers to the phonetic characteristics of the language, i.e., in any word, the aksharas retain their sound. The second aspect of non-destruction, amazingly, is that the aksharas retain their individual meanings as well! To give an example, the word "guru" {gu.ru.} गुरु consisting of the aksharas "gu" and "ru" stands for a teacher -- one who dispels darkness (ignorance) of the the mind (person). "gu" means darkness and "ru" means the act of removal.

UKT 200710: The translation of the word "guru" {gu.ru.} गुरु is mine, from: - m.  a spiritual parent or preceptor (from whom a youth receives the initiatory mantra- or prayer, who instructs him in the śāstra-s and conducts the necessary ceremonies up to that of investiture which is performed by the ācārya- - Monier-Williams:Skt-Dict

   "The popular Sanskrit language is based on root syllables and words. Unlike the other languages of the world, every word in Sanskrit is derived from a root. It is a well accepted fact that all Indo-European languages have a common origin. On the basis of the above mentioned fact that all the words of Sanskrit are traceable to specific roots, a feature not seen in other languages, one can presume that Sanskrit is most certainly the origin." 

UKT: Curiously, all the three official publications of MLC, MOrtho, MEDict and MMDict do not list {gu.ru.}. They listed only {gu}, e.g.,

{gu} /|gu|/ - n. 1. cave. 2. cave-shrine. 3. tomb. [Pali, {gu.ha}] -- MLC MED2006-085c

The following is from {pa-Li. aBi.Daan-hkyoap} by {l-ti paN~i.ta.} U Maung Gyi: (in Burmese-Myanmar)

{gu.ru.} - n. teacher. -- p200.

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