Comparison of Devanagari fonts on OS X using the 807 documented ligatures of classical Sanskrit, according to the research of Ulrich Stiehl

This short article is from my new blog
The actual work is to be found in the PDF that you can download at the end of the article. It took quite a lot of time to create this chart. As a result I can see that finally the Macintosh has grown up and is supporting Sanskrit without major hassle.

Sanskrit on the Mac
Before OS X 10.10 Yosemite there have been only two fonts in OS X with support for Devanagari characters, this have been Devanagari Sangam MN and Devanagari MT.
Since Yosemite the fonts Kohinoor, ITF and Shree have been added. All 3 come in several styles, making it thereby possible for the first time to write Sanskrit in Italic and other styles right out of the box, without buying additional fonts.

To use Windows OpenType fonts like Sanskrit 2003, Chandas, Uttara and others on the Mac, you have to use at least OS X 10.7 Lion which introduced support for the necessary OpenType features.

The following table is a comparison of several fonts that can be used on the Mac and that are freely available. Despite this free availability, please observe the copyright and license under wich these fonts are distributed.
In the last lines of the table I have counted how many of the 807 ligatures are using a Virama to form the ligature.
The result shows that the fonts Sanskrit 2003, Chandas and Uttara are by far the best, using a Virama only for 6 ligatures out of 807. I am not sure though if this six are an issue with the font being used on the Mac or one with the input method used. It would be interesting to compare this to the same ligatures on a Windows Computer. As I don’t own a Windows computer I leave this to others.

How to type Devanagari on the Mac
Using the Apple Devanagari keyboards:

I would recommend to use LipikaIME on the Mac. With this input method you can type ITRANS and get Devanagari characters as you type. It also features a converter to convert whole files from iTRANS, Kyoto or other encodings to Devanagari or the other way around. Go to
and click on ’Installation Instructions’. There you find the Installer to download. Notice the additional menus in the keyboard chooser, once you select the LipikaIME input method where you can set preferences, convert whole files and set the input and output scheme.

For selecting specific glyphs that are not automatically used by the OS, I would recommend the app ‘Ultra Character Map’ ( which lets you browse all glyphs contained in a font.

‘The Multilingual Mac’ by Tom Gewecke

I thank Ulrich Stiehl for his reasearch ( about the Sanskrit Ligatures that are actually in use in classical Sanskrit and which form the bulk of this table. Any errors found in this table are purely my fault and I would be happy if you notify me.

Download the 49 pages comparison of Sanskrit Fonts on the Mac here:

Sanskrit6.numbers.pdf – 2MB


About Bhusunda

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