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Adopting the “Ṡāradā ŌṂ” for Bronze

If you scroll through this blog, you’ll see my love for Unicode and the great work that they do. And my passion for languages, scripts, transliteration, fonts, encodings, ancient India and so on. So, I decided to “adopt” a Unicode character in the Sharada script, specifically the ŌṂ syllable (U+111C4, 𑇄[1]).

The Unicode Consortium officially acknowledged my contribution on their Twitter handle about this:

Unicode thanks Satish

— The Unicode Consortium (@unicode) May 10, 2023

It is visible in on their official website too, rewarded with a Bronze badge[2]. It took them about a week to approve my adoption.

Satish is the official bronze sponsor of the Sharada OM character, 𑇄
Satish is the official bronze sponsor of the Sharada OM character, 𑇄

Web Archive link, and a screenshot for future-proofness.

Why Kashmiri?

One can write any number of pages on the importance of Kashmir, especially its links with Kashmiri Shaivism and Bhagavatpāda Adi Shankara’s Sharada Peetha. On a personal note though, there are two reasons:

  1. Bhagavad Ramanujacharya travelled from the Tamil province in south India to Kashmir in north India to obtain the rare Bodhāyana-vṛtti commentary on the Vedanta Sutras. It is on the basis of this Kashmiri manuscript that he modelled the unmatchable Ṡrī-bhāṣya. Impressed by this, goddess Ṡrī Sarasvatī Devī herself conferred the title “Bhāṣyakāra” on him.
  2. The Kashmiri manuscripts of the Mahabharata are the most “uncontaminated”, as shown by V.S. Sukhthankar in Prologmena to the Critical Edition of the Mahabharata. Specifically, manuscripts written in the Ṡāradā script are accorded primary importance. The same claim holds true of the Malayalam manuscripts for the southern recension. I’ve ever since been fascinated by the Kashmiri and Malayalam recensions of MBh.

Why Ṡāradā script?

The Ṡāradā script is used somewhat rarely today, mostly by Kashmiri Hindus, especially to write Sanskrit and sometimes Kashmiri[3]. So selecting the Sharada script is my way of asserting Indic-Hindu identity of Kashmiri language and script.

Why Ōṃ?

Om is the most prominent syllable (and symbol) of Dharmic religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism). It can be written in various ways in a myriad scripts. So selecting OM is my way of reclaiming Kashmir’s unity within Hinduism and the broader Hindu culture.

On a practical note, there are not that many Unicode codepoints for the praṇava:

  1. U+0950 DEVANAGARI OM, ॐ
  2. U+0AD0 GUJARATI OM, ૐ
  3. U+0BD0 TAMIL OM, ௐ
  8. U+111C4 SHARADA OM, 𑇄
  9. U+11350 GRANTHA OM, 𑍐
  10. U+11449 NEWA OM, 𑑉
  11. U+114C7 TIRHUTA OM, 𑓇
  12. U+118FF WARANG CITI OM, 𑣿
  13. U+11D98 GUNJALA GONDI OM, 𑶘
  14. U+1F549 OM SYMBOL (emoji), 🕉

As of today, the following codepoints have already been adopted – Devanagari, Jain, Tamil, Grantha and Tibetan. So, I just tossed it in favour of SHARADA OM since it was unclaimed by anyone else and it was granted in about a week!

  1. You’ll need a Sharada font to see this character.  ↩

  2. Website takes a while to load, Ctrl+F ‘satish’ if you’re lost.  ↩

  3. Kashmiri Muslims use the non-native Arabic script for Kashmiri. They don’t care about Sanskrit or Indic scripts.  ↩