Sri Devi Kamakshi Sri Sri Sri Adi Sankara Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji Sri Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamiji Sri Sri Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamiji presents several different aspects of The official web site for Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Kanchipuram, India.
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From the foregoing it is clear that Sanskrit has the "f" sound. In fact there is no sound vocalised by humans that is not present in that language. "Zha" is not, as is usually imagined, unique to Tamil. It exists in the Vedic language which is the source of Sanskrit. The "da" in the Yajurveda has to be pronounced as "zha" in the corresponding passages in the Samaveda. In the Rgveda also in some places the "da" has to be similarly pronounced. The very first word in the first sukta of the Rigveda, "Agnimile", has to be pronounced almost as "Agnimizhe" - not a full "zhe" for "le", but almost.

There is a sound very close to "zha" in French. But neither in that language nor in Sanskrit is there a separate letter to represent that sound. "Ja" and "ga" serve the purpose of"zha" in French. In Sanskrit "la" serves the same purpose

(I am told there is "zha" in Chinese. )

The three-dot symbol in Tamil, called "aytam", is present in Sanskrit also. There is a Panini sutra, "h kap pauc". According to it, if a visarga comes before a word beginning with "ka"(Ramah + Karunakarah), it will not have the sound of "h", as mentioned before, but of "h" in the "aytam". Here it is the visarga that is the aytam that becomes the "f" before "pa-kara".

Ramah + panditah =Rama f panditah. This "f" sound is called "upatmaniya". "Tma" suggests the sound created by blowing the pipe to build the kitchen fire. When you blow thus you get the "f" sound. The initial letter of the English word "flute" is "f", is it not?

One more point about "fa". We generally pronounce "fa" as "pa". But it would be wrong to think that we[ in the South] pronounce coffee as "kapi" in the same way. In Sanskrit "kapisa" means dark brown - that is the colour of coffee powder. Our kapisa is the white man's coffee.

What Tamils call kurriyalukaram is present in Sanskrit also -r and l. People write both "Rigveda" and "Rugveda" - the first letter of the word is neither "Ri" nor "Ru". It represents in fact the Kurriyalukara sound. It is between "u" and "i". We write "Krishna" in Roman. In the North some people write the same as "Krushna". It is amusing to listen to Andhras pronouncing "hrdayam" as "hrudayam". Both the "ra-kara" and "la-kara" of Sanskrit have vocalic forms. But in "la-kara" the vocalic form comes only in conjunction with another consonant. In the ra-kara vocalic form we have examples like "Rg", "rsi"; in the "la-kara" vocalic form we have "klpta".

In Sanskrit the vocalic "r" and "l" are not included among the consonants but regarded as vowels: a, a, u, u, i, i, r, l, e, ai, o, au, am, ah.

There is no short "e" or "o" in Sanskrit. I felt this to be a minus point for that language. Parasakti, the Supreme Goddess, is the personification of all sounds. So should there not be all sounds in a language (like Sanskrit)? Why should it lack these two sounds (short "e" and short "o")? On going through Patanjali's commentary on the sutras of Panini, I discovered that Sanskrit too had these short vowels and it was a comforting discovery. Patanjali says that, in chanting the Satyamugri and Ranayaniya Sakhas of the Samaveda the short "e" and "o" are used.

Thus Sanskrit embraces all sounds. It has also a script in which the sound of every letter is determined with the utmost accuracy.

About "Hindu Dharma"
"Hindu Dharma" is a book which contains English translation of certain invaluable and engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at various times during the years 1907 to 1994).
For a general background, please see here