Ranjana alphabet was derived from the Brahmi script and originally developed in Nepal in the 11th century, which is why some say it should be called the ‘Nepali script’.
“In Nepal the Brahmi developed into the Lichhavi script and the Nepal script, which further was transformed to Ranjana,” says Devdas Manandhar, a forceful proponent for the preservation of Ranjana. “The Nepal script was uniquely Nepali and has a very distinctive way of writing the vowel ‘ae’ which carried over to Ranjana.”
However, other scholars say the script originated in Bengal and transferred to Nepal along with other cultural heritage after Buddhism was overrun in northern India. Buddhist scholar Basanta Maharjan says that the Ranjana letters were beautified, and preserved by the Newars of Kathmandu Valley from where it travelled to Tibet, China and on to Korea and Japan.
“Tibet’s religion and philosophy were influential not just in China but in Mongolia in the north and Kashmir in the west. The version of Ranjana found in all these places is distinctly Nepali, and that is something that we can be proud of,” says Maharjan.