Virama (Sanskrit: विराम/हलन्त, romanizedvirāma/halanta ्) is a Sanskrit phonological concept to suppress the inherent vowel that otherwise occurs with every consonant letter, commonly used as a generic term for a codepoint in Unicode, representing either

  1. halanta or explicit virāma, a diacritic in many Brahmic scripts, including the Devanagari and Eastern Nagari scripts, or
  2. saṃyuktākṣara (Sanskrit: संयुक्ताक्षर) or implicit virama, a conjunct consonant or ligature.

Unicode schemes of scripts writing Mainland Southeast Asia languages, such as that of Burmese script and of Tibetan script, generally don't group the two functions together.


The name is Sanskrit for "cessation, termination, end". As a Sanskrit word, it is used in place of several language-specific terms, such as:

Name in English books Language In native language Form Notes
halant Hindi हलन्त, halant ?
halanta Punjabi ਹਲੰਤ, halanta ?
Marathi हलंत, halanta ?
Nepali हलन्त, halanta ?
Kannada ಹಲಂತ, halanta ?
Odia ହଳନ୍ତ, hôḷôntô ?
Gujarati હાલાંત, hālānta ?
hosonto Bengali হসন্ত, hôsôntô ?
Assamese হসন্ত, hoxonto / হছন্ত, hosonto ?
Sylheti ꠢꠡꠘ꠆ꠔꠧ, ośonto ? ◌ ꠆
pollu Telugu పొల్లు, pollu ?
pulli Tamil புள்ளி, puḷḷi ?
chandrakkala Malayalam ചന്ദ്രക്കല, candrakkala / വിരാമം, viraamam ?
hal kirima Sinhalese හල් කිරිම, hal kirīma ?
a that Burmese အသတ်, a.satIPA: [ʔa̰θaʔ] ? lit. "nonexistence"
viream Khmer វិរាម, vīrāma ?
toandokheat ទណ្ឌឃាត, toandokheat ?
karan, pinthu, thanthakhat Thai การันต์, kārạnt[1][2] / พินทุ, pinthu / ทัณฑฆาต, thanthakhat ?[3][4] ◌ฺ pinthu is akin to Sanskrit bindu, and means "point" or "dot"
pangkon Javanese ꦥꦁꦏꦺꦴꦤ꧀, pangkon ? ◌꧀
Balinese ᬧᬂᬓᭀᬦ᭄, pangkon ? ◌᭄ Also called adeg-adeg
sukun Dhivehi Dhivehi: ސުކުން, sukun ް◌ Derives from Arabic "sukun"
Srog med Tibetan Srog med Only used when transcribing Sanskrit


In Devanagari and many other Indic scripts, a virama is used to cancel the inherent vowel of a consonant letter and represent a consonant without a vowel, a "dead" consonant. For example, in Devanagari,

  1. is a consonant letter, ka,
  2. ् is a virama; therefore,
  3. क् (ka + virama) represents a dead consonant k.

If this k क् is further followed by another consonant letter, for example, ṣa , the result might look like क्‌ष, which represents kṣa as ka + (visible) virama + ṣa. In this case, two elements k क् and ṣa are simply placed one by one, side by side. Alternatively, kṣa can be also written as a ligature क्ष, which is actually the preferred form. Generally, when a dead consonant letter C1 and another consonant letter C2 are conjoined, the result may be:

  1. A fully conjoined ligature of C1+C2;
  2. Half-conjoined—
    • C1-conjoining: a modified form (half form) of C1 attached to the original form (full form) of C2
    • C2-conjoining: a modified form of C2 attached to the full form of C1; or
  3. Non-ligated: full forms of C1 and C2 with a visible virama.[5]

If the result is fully or half-conjoined, the (conceptual) virama which made C1 dead becomes invisible, logically existing only in a character encoding scheme such as ISCII or Unicode. If the result is not ligated, a virama is visible, attached to C1, actually written.

Basically, those differences are only glyph variants, and three forms are semantically identical. Although there may be a preferred form for a given consonant cluster in each language and some scripts do not have some kind of ligatures or half forms at all, it is generally acceptable to use a nonligature form instead of a ligature form even when the latter is preferred if the font does not have a glyph for the ligature. In some other cases, whether to use a ligature or not is just a matter of taste.

The virama in the sequence C1 + virama + C2 may thus work as an invisible control character to ligate C1 and C2 in Unicode. For example,

  • ka + virama + ṣa = kṣa क्ष

is a fully conjoined ligature. It is also possible that the virama does not ligate C1 and C2, leaving the full forms of C1 and C2 as they are:

  • ka + virama + ṣa = kṣa क्‌ष

is an example of such a non-ligated form.

The sequences ङ्क ङ्ख ङ्ग ङ्घ [ŋka ŋkʰa ŋɡa ŋɡʱa], in common Sanskrit orthography, should be written as conjuncts (the virama and the top cross line of the second letter disappear, and what is left of the second letter is written under the ङ and joined to it).

End of wordEdit

The inherent vowel is not always pronounced, in particular at the end of a word (schwa deletion). No virama is used for vowel suppression in such cases. Instead, the orthography is based on Sanskrit where all inherent vowels are pronounced, and leaves to the reader of modern languages to delete the schwa when appropriate.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "คำศัพท์ การันต์ แปลว่าอะไร?". Longdo Dict.
  2. ^ th:การันต์
  3. ^ "คำศัพท์ ทัณฑฆาต แปลว่าอะไร?". Longdo Dict.
  4. ^ th:ทัณฑฆาต
  5. ^ Constable, Peter (2004). "Clarification of the Use of Zero Width Joiner in Indic Scripts" (PDF). Public Review Issue #37. Unicode, Inc. Retrieved 2009-11-19. {{cite web}}: External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ Akira Nakanishi: Writing Systems of the World, ISBN 0-8048-1654-9, pp. 48.

External linksEdit

  • Blog: Sorting it all Out