|L (a soft or vowel sound 'l') is the
sound of form and stability. It gives joy, harmony, contentment, and
These five basic sounds create the five orders of consonants, which reflect and expand their meaning. A
creates the gutturals; K, KH, G, GH, NG. I creates the palatals; C, CH, J,
JH, NY. U creates the labials; P, PH, B, BH, M. R creates the cerebral set (pronounced with
the tongue curled back towards the palate) of T, TH, D, DH, N. L creates the labial set (pronounced
with the tongue behind the teeth) of T, TH, D, DH, N. These are the twenty-five constants of Sanskrit.
There are sixteen vowels in Sanskrit. A, I and U have short and long
forms. The long form of A is pronounced like in 'father', the long form of E as in 'sheet', the long
form of U as in 'boot'. Combined forms or diphthongs are E, AI, O, AU. E is pronounced as our long
vowel A as in 'rate'. AI is pronounced as our long I as in 'site'. O
is pronounced as in 'home' and AU as in 'ouch'. Short and long forms
of a soft semi-vowel R and L also exist, though they seldom actually
occur. An aspiration of the vowel sound is recognized as the letter AH, and a nasalization of the
vowel sound as the letter M.
An intermediate class between the vowels and consonants is the nine semi-vowels and aspirants. These
are Y, R, L, V, H, S, Sh (palatal), Sh (cerebral), Ksh (the Sanskrit
equivalent of the Greek X).
These fifty letters form the garland of the Goddess, the Kundalini, which is the power of speech. They
reside in the different chakras of the subtle body.
In the Upanishads, the series of vowels represents the Spirit or consciousness (Indra). Consonants
represent matter or death, as they are based on limitation. A consonant cannot be said without a
vowel. The intermediate class of the semi-vowels and aspirants represents the
creative power through which Spirit becomes matter (Prajapati).