One of the important factors responsible for the development of any language is its script. According to the experts in the field of paleography, the origins of writing with a definite script might be traced to the period 4000 B. C. The Kannaḍa and the Telugu characters might have evolved around the 5th century A. D. from a South Indian edition of the Brāhmī script.
1 +r+ ZWJ + aj/alai !+<! /')=>§/I f$i fpl §W|iW§/ |f
or jb *♦**“ + ZW3 + uj / e» f m C+i / -> $ / 1,33 + r + ZWJ + enj*ir+S!$, + r+ &i => *}f^3. m +■ F +• ZWNJ + saj + F + + r + ai =>
The Tamil characters were already in use by the 2nd century A. D. Since this script contained only the first and the last letters in each of the five vargas (like ka-varga, ca-varga, viz., ka and ṅ or ca and ñ) and did not have the letters like śa, ṣa, sa or ha, Sanskrit works could not be copied in this script. Grantha script was hence evolved to make for this error. There is evidence of the use of this script in the earliest copper plate inscriptions of the Pallavas belonging to the 5th or the 6th century A. D. Hence it is called as the ‘Pallava Grantha script’ also.
Though this script was used mostly for Sanskrit writings, it seems to have gained greater importance in general use around the 14th century. The Malayālam script is a metamorphosis of the Grantha script. It has been used sometimes as a script for the Tulu language also. The script has 35 letters, of which five are vowels. Two varieties of the Grantha script are found:
- The Brāhmaṇic or the square variety
- The Jaina or the round variety
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore