On Thursday evening, I caught an auto to travel across Bangalore to meet the guys at Brahmi Computing. Now, the only way I really knew of them till then was through their website and Twitter account, and so I was not only looking forward to meeting them in person, but also finally seeing their Indian language computers and keyboards.
Keyboards and Computers
The Indian language keyboards at Brahmi computing looked very easy to use [the Devanagari keyboard can be seen above], and from the success stories I heard from Mahesh, there should be no reason why they wouldn’t become popular. Sadly, they are not available in the market yet. What is available, though, is their Indian language computer, Chotu, which is a small laptop that doubles as a tablet device.
While this did not strike me while I was at their office, looking at the keyboard now, I wonder if a small change will make them more intuitive –
Original Brahmi Keyboard and its structure
Modified Brahmi Keyboard and its structure
I wonder what Mahesh and Naveen (of Brahmi Computing) would think about this.
Was the scribe a show-off – the inscriptions at Brahmagiri
After demonstrating the keyboards and computers to me, Mahesh shared with me some ongoing research being conducted at Brahmi computing. This research deals with the Brahmi inscriptions at Brahmagiri in Karnataka. This subject is also of special interest to Naveen, who is the resident epigrapher.
These inscriptions are rock edicts from the time of king Ashoka, and were excavated in 1891 by Benjamin L. Rice. Located at Brahmagiri near Siddapur in Karnataka, these inscriptions are believed to be an indication of the southern extent of the Mauryan empire. They establish the identity of Brahmagiri as the ancient site of Ishila, one of emperor Ashoka’s provincial capitals.
These inscriptions are signed written by the scribe Chapada, and what is truly interesting is the fact that while the inscription itself is in Brahmi, the scribe has used Kharoshti in his signature. Kharoshti was used in the north-western region of the empire and this raises important questions about the mobility of scribes, and the emphasis laid on making inscriptions in regional languages even if the scribe had traveled from far. I couldn’t help but wonder (and that too very loudly) if the scribe was just a show-off!
Brahmi Computing’s complete research about these inscriptions should be published some time this year, and I cannot wait to lay my hands on it.