Revival Of Ranjana Lipi


In every writing style, individuals, societies, communities, and nations express their thoughts and feelings uniquely. These styles create a broad spectrum and foster connections among texts and grammatical choices. Nepali Bhasa, the official language of Nepal, employs the Devanagari script, a descendant of the Brahmi script. From this script, several Nepalese writing styles have emerged, such as Prachalit Lipi, Bhujimal Lipi, Ranjana Lipi, and more.

Ranjana Lipi, a Nepalese calligraphic writing style, originated around 1100 CE. It's an abugida writing system that was used by the Newar people in Nepal and Tibet to write Sanskrit and Nepal Bhasa. It is considered the standard Nepali calligraphic script and is known for its artistic expression.

Our introduction to these writings took place during a visit to Thamel, Kathmandu, courtesy of the Bouddha Yubba Community (BYC). It offers classes for people interested in learning these ancient scripts and has organised a visit to a library where they are preserved. The proprietor highlighted the significance of these writings, including Malla's translation of Aesop's Fables into Nepal Bhasa using Devanagari letters, which marked a shift in Nepal Bhasa literature.

Throughout history, these writings faced challenges, including near extinction during the Rana regime. However, awareness campaigns and education efforts helped revive interest in them. Kings once used these scripts on temples, specific papers, and even leaves. Some of these ancient writings have been preserved through chemical treatments and framing. When asked about visitor frequency, the instructor mentioned that Saturdays see more visitors, including foreigners. The place also serves as a workshop where mantras are written using these scripts on Nepali paper, which is ordered and purchased by many, contributing to their income. This not only supports Nepal but also spreads its culture globally.

Ranjana Lipi is now used internationally, especially in Asian countries like India, China, Mongolia, Japan, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, particularly in Buddhist and Hindu contexts. It is used for printing scriptures, literature, high-status documents, and book titles in the Newar language. Despite being endangered, efforts to conserve Ranjana Lipi include its use in temples, preservation, educational programmes, learning apps, classes, and creative designs, making it a vital part of Nepali heritage.

St. Mary's Secondary School, Jawalakhel Lalitpur


Pratika Shakya
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