My studies of Sanskrit continue and I am starting to get more familiar with the Devanagari writing system used in the textbook, and for modern Sanskrit studies. However, I also branched out a little bit into learning Siddham as well.
As mentioned in an earlier post, Sanskrit language has no “native” script so various writing systems have been used for time. Devanagari is widely-used script across many northern-Indian languages (Marathi, Hindi, etc) and is great for reading/writing Sanskrit, however, many ancient Buddhist texts were written before Devanagari’s invention, so many texts used older writing systems.
Siddham on the other hand was frequently used for ancient Buddhist writings and is still used in esoteric Buddhist sects, particularly Shingon Buddhism in Japan. So, I’ve dabbled in Siddham a little along with learning Devanagari.
In one of my Japanese language books1 on Sanskrit and Siddham, はじめての「梵字の読み書き」入門 (hajimete no “bonji no yomikata” nyūmon) contains a great chart comparing the Siddham alphabet with Chinese characters, Japanese pronunciation, etc. The chart is very useful, but obviously I can’t post it here since it belongs to the author. So, instead, I am constructing my own chart using information gleaned from the book and my own studies, plus additional information. This chart is not complete, but I will continue updating as time goes on.
Since Siddham and Devanagari are “genetically” related scripts (though, one did not descend from the other), you can see how some letters look similar, while others look quite different.
Note: Siddham is available in Unicode, but it is difficult to view without the right fonts, so I am (shamelessly) posting image files from Wikimedia Commons.
1 Another book I highly recommend if you’re serious about the subject is 梵字必携―書写と解読 (bonji hittei: shakyo to kaidoku)