Yes, it's a tr (त्र ).
I found this text in google books by doing a word search
Personally I have never seen this ligature before. Looks like some archaic symbol from the past. It is not used in modern Devanagri any more.
The same book can be read here: https://archive.org/stream/KathaSaritSagaraOriginalText/katha_sarit_sagara#page/n25/mode/1upMy version of the text is by Pt. Durgaprasad and Kashinath Pandurang Parab, Bombay 1889. Might be "archaic" On the margin, by 11th century AD the oral transmission would not be relevant I think.
Thank you both for informing me, it is enough to move forward with these parables. Probable typos are on my part as I have re-typed this.
I am reasonably sure that it is supposed to be "ttr", i.e. mittrasya, and not a misprint. Whether the character is archaic, I don't know. You'd probably know that (certain?) consonants (I am sure about the stops - not sure about the others - have to check the grammar books later) can de optionally geminated/degeminated in Sanskrit right before "r" and after a short vowel. So, mittra = mitra, pattra = patra, etc. It does not matter whether it was etymologically a "tr" or a "ttr", both forms are acceptable.
If you have access to Whitney's "Sanskrit Grammar", please refer to sections 229 and 232. It says, Indian grammarians had a lot of disagreement about this sort of gemination - whether and where they are allowed or required. Pāṇini describes it as optional for the first consonant in any consonant cluster after any vowel (even if the vowel is in the previous word). Prātiśākhya's require it mandatorily. But both of them acknowledge authorities who deny its existence altogether. Given such disagreements, Pāṇini's position of optionality is, in my opinion, the most accurate.
This is valuable information. So if this three pronged symbol is indicative of germination, does it mean that plain old त्र should be spoken with a non-germinated sound?
tarshkya jii has clearedthe mistery. More likely it is a misprint, one of the reasons why traditional scholars always believed in oral transmission.
.. but Bengali has no vocalic R. ..
Thanks Dib. I concur that as long as there is no phonological distinction between germinate and non-germinate pronunciation, it really is just an academic question.
You mentioned that Bengali has no vocalic R. By vocalic-R I am assuming you are mentioning the R in Sanskrit words like मातृ , पितृ (maatri, pitri) etc. But like every IA language, Bengali must have a ton of Sanskrit words in unaltered forms, some of them containing vocalic-Rs. So do you mean to say that Bengali pronunciation of these words consciously differs from Sanskrit?