■■ A single letter of the alphabet in Sanskrit is called akshara. In the Upanishads Brahman, the Unknown is also called akshara. For, akshara has neither any substance nor does it possess any attributes. It is indestructible and undifferentiated. That which is dissoluble and melts away is called kshara and the opposite is a-kshara where the prefix ‘a’ denotes the negative. In other words akshara is to be first understood as the Imperishable, the constant in the universe, it is the Brahman and is the very pivot of this creation.
The word aksha also means the axle or the beam on which the cart’s wheel is balanced so akshara is T.S. Elliot’s ‘still point’, ‘the fixity’ about which all things rotate but it itself remains unmoved. This unbounded sphere ‘whose center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere’ finds an ego-centric limitation, an adjunct within the individual self. This human body is endowed with the organs of speech and here the meaning of akshara becomes the syllable – a small utterance. And this is ‘a’ ( A ) – the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet.