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The postulation of segmental units as real components of phonological competence is controversial, despite their widespread acceptance. One aspect of the controversy concerns the similarities between the units of segmental phonology and those of alphabetic writing: the historically and culturally contingent fact that Western society uses alphabetic writing may explain the primacy of segments in modern phonology. The ancient Indian tradition of phonological analysis has been claimed to exemplify a nonsegmental approach, reflecting their lack of influence from alphabetic writing. I show that the ancient Indian phonological tradition was fundamentally segmental, despite lacking any alphabetic influence. In ancient India, segmental units were identified as the basic units of analysis on the basis of purely linguistic considerations.