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Dagdhakshara – Inauspicious Letters In Alphabet

Dagdhakshara means scorched alphabet implying thereby that certain so-considered letters never be used, generally at the beginning of a composition. As such daghaksharas are forbidden at the beginning of any literary work.

In Sanskrit prosody called Pingala Shastra, there are some instructions for poets regarding the use of words. It is believed that the choice of letters, at the beginning of any poetic composition, specially a mahakavya (an epic) or a khanda kavya (near epic poem, or a long narrative in cantos or books), brings either a good or a bad effect on the composer of the poetic work.

Out of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet in Devanagari script, some are called shubha (auspicious or propitious) and some ashubha (inauspicious).

The auspicious letters are fifteen, namely k, kh, g, gh, c, ch, j, , d, dh, n, y, s, sh and k.
The inauspicious letters are nineteen, namely , jh, naa, h, ḍh, , ta, tha, p, ph, b, bh, m, r, l, v, ṣ and .

Among these nineteen inauspicious letters, five are more inauspicious than the rest, and are called dagdhaksharas. These five letters are – jh, bh, r, ṣ and ḥ.

There are some means of avoiding the ill-effects of the daghaksharas. The first word of the composition beginning with a dagdhakshara can be the name of a God or the composition itself benedictory in nature. If the first syllable happens to be guru (a long one), and not a laghu (a short one), then also it is believed that it ceases to affect as a daghakshara.