Ranjana Typeface Nithya

17th March 2024, Kathmandu

Nithya Ranjana is a typeface based on the calligraphic Ranjana script.

Ranjana originated sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries and is used to write Sanskrit and Nepal Bhasa. It was mainly used for writing Buddhist and Hindu texts in South Asia and is also used for cultural contexts by the Newar people of the Kathmandu valley in Nepal. It has a rich legacy in manuscript calligraphy, stone inscriptions, wood engravings, and paintings, but it has had limited digital representation due to its complexity and lack of Unicode support.

The challenge in creating the Nithya Ranjana font was to strike a balance between Ranjana’s heritage and contemporary requirements. Apart from vowels, consonants, numerals, and punctuation marks, Nithya Ranjana supports 750+ unique conjuncts used in Nepal Bhasa, Sanskrit, and Pali. It includes an additional 500+ character-specific matra forms and matra-specific character forms to correctly and elegantly represent its many unique combinations. It has four stylistic sets, one each for alternate conjuncts and above base matras, and two for 40 Kutakshar forms (monogram-style word marks) making it ideal for historical and contemporary usage.

The Ranjana script does not have Unicode support to date. Hence, this typeface is currently available in 2 versions – Nithya Ranjana DU (based on Devanagari Unicode) and Nithya Ranjana NU (based on Newa Unicode). We hope to update it to Ranjana Unicode as and when the proposal for Ranjana Unicode is accepted.

Nepali Lipi – Ranjana Lipi (Typ – Apps on Google Play)  Click Here

This project was initiated and sponsored by Murali K. Prahalad, Ph.D. His interest in helping create a modern font for Ranjana is deeply linked to his passion for preserving the world’s Sanskrit heritage for future generations by ensuring the successful transition of Sanskrit into the digital world. He has a keen interest in scripts that facilitated the spread of Sanskrit literature and knowledge across Asia. This font is named after his eldest daughter Nithya, for whose generation he hopes to preserve this tradition.

Nithya Ranjana is designed, engineered, and maintained by Ek Type, India with support from Callijatra, Nepal. Key contributors to this project are Tathagata Biswas (Type Design), Noopur Datye (Type Design), Ananda K. Maharjan (Script Expert) and Sarang Kulkarni (Project Management).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT by font sponsor Shree Murali K. Prahlad, Ph.D.

At the outset, I would like to acknowledge the people in my life who have been instrumental in inspiring me and supporting me in sponsoring the development of the Nithya Ranjana font. First, I would like to thank my wife Punam for understanding and encouraging my vision to help preserve the world’s Sanskrit heritage for future generations by bringing it into the digital medium. I would also like to acknowledge my father, the late Dr. C.K. Prahalad for first igniting my awareness and curiosity about the treasures contained in Sanskrit and the profound wisdom it holds to help mankind navigate the most pressing challenges of the modern world. In addition, I’d like to thank my mother Mrs. Gayatri Prahalad, my sister Mrs. Deepa Prahalad, and my brother-in-law Ashwin Abhyankar for their encouragement, help, and feedback along the way.

Any work concerning the preservation of the Ranjana script must acknowledge the incredible contributions of the Callijatra team. Their workshops, YouTube videos, and community events have been inspirational. Their work also serves as a reminder that one can never know how far their efforts and passion can radiate. As someone living in San Diego, California, I have been inspired by their online videos and tutorials that impressed upon me the beauty and elegance of this script. They motivated me to research Ranjana more and discover its historical significance and contribute whatever I could to help preserve it. In particular, I want to acknowledge Ananda K. Maharjan who has been a vital consultant as the font was being developed. He has helped guide this project’s efforts as we strived to create glyphs that are true to the aesthetics and disciplined forms of the ancient manuscripts while simultaneously making a character set that could be used in standard IOS or Windows application suites, primary school education as well as text messaging to ensure uptake by the current generation.

Nithya Ranjana Typeface

Lastly, I wish to offer my heartfelt thanks to the EkType team – especially Sarang Kulkarni and Noopur Datye for their belief in this vision and incredible partnership. They have been delightful to work with. Their dedication to reviving historic Indic scripts was evident from the research they did to the continuous consultation with Ananda to ensure that we were striking the right balance of being true to tradition while also creating a font that would be living, vibrant, and broadly usable by the general public. The entire EkType team’s deep commitment to excellence has been extraordinary. That commitment has been evident in their attention to detail, aesthetics, functional testing as well as adherence to budgets and timelines. I simply couldn’t be more appreciative of their professionalism. The final product they have generated is worthy of the Sanskrit ethos of सिद्धिरस्तु or “let it be perfect”.

Credit: Murali K. Prahlad, Ph.D.


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