Ka – first alphabet in Devnagari script

Ka (क) is the first consonant of the Devanagari language. The letter can be traced back to the Brahmi letter (ka). Brahmi script is the oldest writing systems used in South and Central Asia from the 1st millennium BCE. The letter later transformed into the present form of Ka.

The letter is pronounced as [kə] or [k] when appropriate. It is not only in Nepali, Sanskrit of Hindi every other Indic languages have similar sounding letter although it is written in a different script. For example some of the scripts in different languages are:

Conjunction of Ka

When half Ka is used in conjunction with other letters, the shape of the resulting letter is sometimes confusing. Here are some examples:

क् + त(t̪) gives us kt̪ with becomes “क्त” but, traditionally it is written in a irregular form as shown below:

क् + ष(ʂ) become a new letter क्ष (kʂ).
ङ्(ŋ) + क can be written as “ङ्क” but, traditionally it is written as a vertical conjuct ŋk, placing ङ above the क.

Similarly, the following conjunctions are also written as vertical conjunct:

क् + ख(kʰ) gives us kkʰ with the क placed above the ख.
क् + ल(l̪) gives us kl̪ with the क placed above the ल.
क् + व(ʋ) gives us kʋ with the क placed above the व.
क् + न(n̪) gives us kn̪ with the न rotated and placed under the hook of the क.

Like all other letters, Ka letter in conjunction with the twelve vowels result in twelve different sounds like ka, kaa, ki, kee, ku, kuu, ke, kai, ko, kau, kam, kah.

Similar script was used in Bramhi script:

Aryabhata Numerals and Ka

Similar to Greek numerals, ancient mathematician, Aryabhata, had used Devanagari letters to represent numbers. The system was developed in the early 6th century, that was after the invention of Sanskrit numeral system. In the Aryabhata Numerical system, the values of the different forms of क are:

क [kə] = 1 (one)
कि [kɪ] = 100 (hundred)
कु [kʊ] = 10,000 (ten thousand)
कृ [kri] = 10,00,000 (ten lakh)
कॢ [klə] = 10,00,00,000 (ten Karod)
के [ke] = 10,00,00,00,000 (ten Arab)
कै [kɛː] = 10,00,00,00,00,000 (ten Kharab)
को [koː] = 10,00,00,00,00,00,000 (ten Neel)
कौ [kɔː] = 10,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 (ten Padam)

(Read full details of the large numbers in Nepali mathematics.)

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